Top 11 Best Ancient History Podcasts

Listen and learn about antiquity

Caucasian woman listening to headphones at computer desk
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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.

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In Our Time

Melvyn Bragg moderates 'In Our Time.'
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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 BCE. In Our Time doesn't limit itself to Western culture: Check out episodes on the Aztecs, the Great Wall of China, and the "Bhagavad Gita."

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The History of Byzantium

The Byzantines sure loved their mosaics.
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Okay, so it’s not technically ancient (or rather classical) history, but the story of Byzantium–also known as 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 CE.

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One of many early depictions of Jesus. This one's a fresco.
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Part of the L.A. Review of Books, Marginalia covers all things literary, historical and cultural. One recent podcast featured a review of Eve Krakowski’s "Coming of Age in Medieval Egypt," which focuses on the struggles of the minority Jewish communities.  

Want to learn with what’s new in ancient Judea and understanding of material culture? Marginalia’s got you covered. There are also written articles on all things ancient for literary types.

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Khan Academy

The truly colossal Colosseum
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The 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.

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A History of the World in 100 Objects

The Standard of Ur
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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 are brought to life on a series of podcasts presented by Neil McGregor, director of the museum.

Even though the podcasts have been archived, you can still find useful bits, such as when 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 do artifacts better inform you about sex in antiquity? That's what you'll find here. 

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Mike Duncan's History of Rome

Julian the Apostate strikes a pose
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Looking to dive in deep to everything Italian and learn about some radical Romans? The History of Rome podcast 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!

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Egyptian History

Egypt's crowning glory: the pyramids
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Pharaoh by the 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 or dive deeper into his own academic research.

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Life of Caesar

Caesar, the man himself
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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.

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Ancient Art

Akhenaten and Nefertiti - Amarna style!
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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!

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Various Academic Sites

United Kingdom, England, Oxford, Courtyard of Christ Church
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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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Ancient Warfare Magazine (History Network)

A Roman cavalry soldier

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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.

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Silver, Carly. "Top 11 Best Ancient History Podcasts." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Silver, Carly. (2021, February 16). Top 11 Best Ancient History Podcasts. Retrieved from Silver, Carly. "Top 11 Best Ancient History Podcasts." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 10, 2022).