Browse Primary Sources
Locate primary sources, including images, objects, media, and texts. Annotations by scholars contextualize sources.
Graphic of a tree crosscut showing rings

Tree Rings as Climate Archive

World historians who study environmental history sometimes sometimes seek out atypical sources to conduct their research.

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Coral image shows a series of wavy striped lines

X-ray of a cross-section of a coral core

World historians who study environmental history sometimes sometimes seek out atypical sources to conduct their research.

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Mesoamerican Pictogram

Between 1541 and 1542 Antonio de Mendoza, viceroy of New Spain, commissioned a Mesoamerican Codex containing text and Aztec pictograms. This image is one example.

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Horace, “Cleopatra Ode”

Given Horace’s position in Emperor Augustus’ court, it is not surprising that his description of Cleopatra is wholly negative. This text relies on “sourcing” and an understanding of the author’s bias and motivation for a proper reading. He describes Cleopatra as a “deadly monster” although he does, at least, admit to her bravery in submitting to the venom of the serpent.

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Antony’s Meeting with Cleopatra from “Life of Antony”

Cleopatra’s claim to the Egyptian throne very much resided in her relationship and alliance with Caesar. Upon his death in the Senate, Cleopatra had lost her guarantor. Antony’s arrival in Egypt provided a second opportunity for her to secure her throne through a powerful alliance.

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Cleopatra’s Meeting with Caesar

Cassius Dio’s history of the meeting between Cleopatra and Julius Caesar uses powerful word-choice to develop a characterization of the female Egyptian ruler. After Pompey’s assassination, Cleopatra immediately develops a scheme to ally with Caesar. Dio uses words like “beauty,” “striking,” and “charming” to describe her and explains that she had the “power to subjugate” anyone.

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Advice to Bride and Groom (versus 14 and 18)

Plutarch’s Advice to a Bride and Groom reveals the author’s views that submissiveness is the proper behavior for a Roman patrician’s wife, which reflects the general gender norm of ancient Roman culture. The wife ought to mimic the husband’s mood at all times: to be happy when he is happy and serious when he is serious.

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Aristotle’s Metaphysics

Metaphysics, written around 350 BCE, is among Greek philosohper Aristotle's most notable works. The text includes an excerpt from part seven of the ten part work.

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Seneca the Younger, Moral Letters to Lucilius

Moral Letters to Lucilias was written by the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger around 65 CE. There are 124 letters in the collection. The text presented is an excerpt from letter 41 titled "On the God within Us."

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Sophocles, Oedipus the King

Oedipus the King, also known as Oedipus Rex, is an ancient greek play written by the Athenian philosopher, Sophocles, around 420 BCE. The text presented is an excerpted portion from the second half of the play.

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