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The Wild East, Part 3: Hell Freezes Over

Even in death, his enemies feared him so much they gave him a hero’s funeral. Meet Yermak Timofeyevich, the man who (almost) conquered Siberia. The sun rose over a sea of pines and birches: green sentinels arrayed from snow-capped mountains down through tundra, taiga and grassland, where bull-elks bellowed to greet the light. Dawn’s chill […]

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The Wild East, Part 2: Last Stand at Kazan

They carved out an empire from the ashes of Mongol conquest – then died defending their home. Meet the Kazan Tatars, who taught the Russian steppe about Persian elegance. The army surrounding the fortress were a kaleidoscope of cultures and centuries. Red-coated Muscovite infantry primed their muskets next to engineers trained at faraway European universities. […]

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The Wild East, Part 1: A Mirror Frontier

They battled for centuries over thousands of miles of perilous wilderness. Meet the heroes and villains of the Eastern frontier. The native warriors nervously eyed the colonial army on the far side of the river. Proud and fearless though they were, and intimately familiar with this forest and prairie, they recognized in these European invaders […]

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Mysteries of Primeval China, Part 4: Chieftains of the Eastern Bay

They colonized the Pacific, raised labyrinthine temples, and laid the foundations of imperial rule. Meet the Hemudu culture — China’s first great sea power. As the people dragged their long canoes up onto the beach, they gazed up at the mountainous jungles of what seemed an untouched paradise. The sky was bright blue, and birds […]

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Mysteries of Primeval China, Part 3: Bronze Kingdom of the West

They forged mighty weapons and traded across the Eurasian steppe — yet their true identity remains a mystery. Meet the progenitors of China’s Bronze Age. Sometime around 4000 BCE — when Egypt and Sumer were just beginning to build their first cities — a few hundred nomads gathered on the banks of China’s northwest Yellow […]

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Mysteries of Primeval China, Part 2: Who Killed the Gods?

Gods and monsters are surprisingly scarce in China’s earliest recorded legends. Who killed them off — and why? To understand the heart of a civilization, we have to start with its myths. How did the world get to be the way it is? Where did people come from? What are we doing here, and what’s […]

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Mysteries of Primeval China, Part 1: Into the Labyrinth

They wove silk, carved jade, and raised great walls — all without meeting one another! Meet the inventors of Chinese civilization. In the 6600s BCE — a full three thousand years before construction began on Egypt’s Great Pyramid — the people of China’s Yellow Riverplain had already developed a taste for the finer things in […]

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Great Empires of North America, Part 6: Masters of the Plains

They subjugated Texas, collected tribute from Mexico, and made white people their slaves. Meet the Comanche — original conquerors of the Wild West. For as long as anyone could remember, the people had roved freely across the open plains. Here on the steppe-land, there were no walls to hem them in. No mountains to halt […]

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Great Empires of North America, Part 5: The League of Peace and Power

They created North America’s first  democracy, and played chess with European empires. Meet the Iroquois — the Northeast’s unstoppable Native confederacy. He was called the Peacemaker — and people would later say he was born of a virgin. Driven to anguish by his people’s ceaseless cycle of warring, kidnapping and torture, he “set his teeth […]

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Kingship, Knowledge, and the Path to Gnosis

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