The Best Ancient History Podcasts

Listen and Learn about Antiquity

Ancient historians and archaeologists have made leaps and bounds in technological advance including chronicling their adventures and research on podcasts! They regularly share their expertise on all things antique in every possible streaming format. Here are a few free audio spots that feature ancient history - up close and personal.

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Melvyn Bragg moderates "In Our Time.". Karwai Tang/Contributor/Getty Images

The dry voice of Melvyn Bragg anchors the BBC’s stellar In Our Time, which gathers a handful of academics each episode to offer opinions on a given topic. The round-table format – which Bragg regularly interrupts, of course – allows for each scholar to give their points of view on subjects ranging from philosophy and science to history and religion.

Here, you can hear Paul Cartledge give his two cents on Athenian historian Thucydides or famed archaeologist Sir Barry Cunliffe share his knowledge of the technological innovations of the Iron Age, beginning around 1000 B.C. Nor does In Our Time limit itself to Western culture: check out episodes on the Aztecs, the Great Wall of China, and the Bhagavad Gita. More »

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The Byzantines sure loved their mosaics. Print Collector/Contributor/Getty Images

Okay, so it’s not technically ancient history, but the story of Byzantium – a.k.a. Constantinople and the Rome of the East – is just plain fascinating. Don't miss The History of Byzantium, a podcast that outlines the highs and lows of a thousand years of the Byzantine Empire – from the fifth to fifteenth centuries A.D. More »

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One of many early depictions of Jesus. This one's a fresco. Culture Club/Contributor/Getty Images

Part of the L.A. Review of Books, Marginalia covers all things literary, historical and cultural. One recent highlight was a chat with historian Douglas Boin, who discussed his intriguing new book, Coming Out Christian in the Roman World: How the Followers of Jesus Made a Place in Caesar’s Empire. Want to learn with what’s new in ancient Judea and understanding of material culture? Marginalia’s got you. There are also written articles on all things ancient for the literary types. More »

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The truly colossal Colosseum. John Seaton Callahan/Contributor/Getty Images

Khan Academy is a top source of free digital learning … and its Roman section is no exception! Get an intro on ancient Roman civilization and art that it evolved alongside the city’s politics. Learn about some standout masterpieces and how they relate to the distinct periods in Roman history which they were produced. Check out the Painted Garden from the Villa of Livia (wife of Emperor Augustus), or the Flavian Amphitheater – a.k.a. the Colosseum. More »

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The Standard of Ur, one of the aforementioned objects. Print Collector/Contributor/Gettty Images

Archaeologist Sophie Hay recommends BBC’s A History of the World in 100 Objects. These items all reside in the British Museum and come from every period in history … but they come to life on series of podcasts presented by Neil McGregor, director of the museum. McGregor walks you through the evolution of humankind by discussing each object and its relevance to contemporary material culture. Want to know what friezes tell you about Confucius? How artifacts better inform you about sex in antiquity? He has you covered. More »

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Julian the Apostate strikes a pose. Print Collector/Contributor/Getty Images

Looking to dive in deep to everything Italian and learn about some radical Romans? Then The History of Rome is for you. Not only does podcaster Mike Duncan provide information about every stage of Roman history, but he also serves up extra details about given topics. Curious about the Wall of Theodosius? Duncan dishes up photos of the structure from a family trip to Constantinople/Istanbul. Wondering how Julian the Apostate got his nickname? Duncan’s on the case!

Though it has since concluded, The History of Rome's backlist episodes is one that any podcaster would envy. Duncan has since moved on to Revolutions, a series discussing the great rebellions of history. Will any Romans crop up along the way? Listen and learn! More »

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Egypt's crowning glory: the pyramids. Christopher Garris/Contributor/Getty Images

Pharaoh by pharaoh, Egyptologist Dominic Perry shares his wisdom with the world on the Egyptian History Podcast. The New Zealand-based historian has gained a substantial Internet following for his meticulous commentary on every era of Egyptian culture. For more of Dominic's insights on Egypt, read his Reddit Q&A here or dive deeper into his own academic research. More »

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Caesar, the man himself. Culture Club/Contributor/Getty Images

Immerse yourselves in all things Caesar with the aptly-titled Life of Caesar. History buffs Cameron Reilly and Ray Harris, Jr., discuss the vita and legacy of one of history’s most polarizing figures. You can even upgrade your membership and become a “consul” to get extra podcast info.

That might be worth it, considering there's a lot more to Caesar than meets the eye. Did you know he was kidnapped by pirates whom he later punished with crucifixion? That his assassination involved more than just two guys named Brutus and Cassius, but was actually a complex endeavor with earth-shaking results? Get to know Julius - the man, the myth, the legend - on this podcast. More »

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Akhenaten and Nefertiti - Amarna style!. Print Collector/Contributor/Getty Images

Lucas Livingston of the Art Institute of Chicago provides expertise on dozens of ancient artifacts. Curious about the origin of the color-changing Lycurgus Cup? How did Egyptian art change – or not change – over time? Want to know more about the Amarna style of Akhenaten? This man is on it! More »

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Various Academic Sites

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Oxford University isn't just pretty: it also has great podcasts!. Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Lots of universities feature their star classicists dishing about their latest discoveries or topics of research. Some highlights include offerings from the University of Warwick, University of Cincinnati, Oxford University, and Harvard University. Authors also discuss their new releases on Blackwell's. Any podcast featuring the stellar Mary Beard  is also worth a listen.

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A Roman cavalry soldier. Anton KuchelmeisterWikimedia Commons Public Domain

Not surprisingly, there's a ton of material on how different societies went to war. Caesar even wrote the book - or scroll - on military memoirs, chronicling his conquests and civil war experience in The Gallic Wars and The Civil Wars, among others. Besides, the Egyptians loved to show off their chariots, while the Celts were renowned for their ferocity.

How did the ancients fight? The History Network has you covered. Wondering how the Celts warred with their enemies? How people started galloping into battle and created the cavalry? What did Rome have against the Sassanids that created a big conflict? Among the hosts who answer these questions are archaeologist Josho Brouwers, Roman historian Lindsay Powell, and Jasper Oorthuys, the man behind Ancient Warfare Magazine. With these experts at the helm, there's no archaeological stone left unturned. More »