For everyone who's just started following my feed — first off, welcome to a journey through the obscure, forgotten and neglected corners of #history and #archaeology.

Here's a thread of my most recent Twitter threads, so you can catch up on our latest discussions!
Most recently, I went to see #BlackPanther in #Namibia — and spent the next few days talking about great #African empires and kings, as well as the African origins of language and human culture.
In particular, we talked about the #Himba people, who I think are some of the coolest folks in Africa, for all kinds of reasons.
I've also been obsessed with the history of #Comanche people, and the great empire they built on the American plains in the 1700s-1800s.
That led to a thread about obese #Comanche chiefs in the 1800s — yes, they are very much a thing — and what they may tell us about the formation of ancient states, including the first #Sumerian cities.
I've been doing some in-person exploration of palaeolithic (stone-age) cave paintings in South Africa:
The climax of that adventure was my exploration of [UNDISCLOSED LOCATION], one of the oldest sites of human habitation on earth... which most Africans don't even know exists.
I recently learned that Rembrandt was one of the first European artists to admire the art of Mughal India.

This discovery led me down a research rabbit hole, which revealed some surprising facts about interactions between 16th-century Europe and Asia.
I spent this March backpacking through Madagascar.

I created this thread to share my firsthand observations on daily life in this fascinating country, which few outsiders ever get to see.

#travel #ttot
This April, I got to dance all night at a traditional Bedouin wedding in the Egyptian desert.

And of course, I documented the whole evening right here on Twitter.

#Egypt #travel #ttot
I started this thread to talk about about some beautiful Russian photos from the 1800s…

But it quickly turned into a discussion of Russia's diverse past and present — including dozens of unique cultures and ethnicities almost unknown outside Asia.
This past summer, I toured the Alhambra in Granada, Spain — a masterpiece of architecture that led to a thread about the illustrious Almoravid Empire, and the beautiful culture they create in Islamic Spain.
As I backpacked through Serbia and Bosnia, I discovered the wonders of Old Slavic calligraphy and painting — 1,000-year-old art forms that are still alive and thriving in the Balkans today.
But I'm fascinated by much more than just history and art!

For example, I've been obsessed with the Ediacaran period, 500 million years in earth's past — and the weird organisms, not quite plant or animal or fungus, that inhabited that primordial epoch.
All my life, I've been drawn to the mysteries of the ocean — worshiped by ancient Sumerians as the "Abzu," primal source of life and creativity.

So I made a thread about the emotions the sea awakens in me — and in many other writers throughout history.
My mom always said I'd grow up to be an author / illustrator of children's books.

Although her prediction hasn't *quite* come true, I do like to weave my discoveries into stories for children.

For example, here's a little tale about ancient Mesopotamia.
Continuing my series on great Native American empires, here's a thread on the Haudenosaunee, a.k.a. the Iroquois Confederacy.

They're still alive and well — but you won't learn most of their history in school! Get the real story here.
These days, I've been returning to one of my lifelong favorite genres: weird fiction.

Weird tales are not quite fantasy, or sci-fi, or horror — but they sit at the root of all three.

The emotions they aim to evoke, above all, are AWE and WONDER.
In particular, I've been having a wonderful time delving into the writings of Clark Ashton Smith.

Smith's weird tales and poems were highly popular in the 30s, but he doesn't get much recognition these days.

So I made this thread to reawaken his memory.
Here's a quick thread I made on Chicago's Whitechapel Club, whose "president" was Jack the Ripper.

Part secret society, part goth convention, they adorned their clubhouse with murder weapons and skulls.

Sometimes history is weirder than fiction.
I've spent the past few months studying Mandarin Chinese — and I've been making progress!

Here's a thread I made on the challenges of learning a non-Indo-European language — along with a few insights and tips I've picked up along the way.
And it's not just the Mandarin language that fascinates me — it's the whole concept of a logographic writing system.

My curiosity about the history of Chinese writing led me to some amazing realizations:
And then there was the day I decided to give shoutouts to all my favorite extinct animals...
...and don't even get me started on minerals 💎
My research on the brilliant, cruel, complex Assyrian emperor Ashurbanipal led to this thread — and ultimately a full-length article — comparing him with the character of Kurtz in "Heart of Darkness."
In March 2019 I attended the @TheOuterDark Symposium of the Greater Weird, which led to me resurrecting my macabre neo-Victorian magazine "The Willows" as a hardcover anthology:
If you've ever wondered what social media would've been like in the 1600s, look no further than this thread on the Transactions of the Royal Society,

a.k.a. the "Undertakings, Studies and Labours of the INGENIOUS in Many Considerable Parts of the World."
If you're a novelist, artist, or other creative by trade, this thread will save you a lot of wasted time and energy, by explaining exactly why social media is NOT a good place to generate sales — with MATH!

It also has tips on how you CAN sell your work!
The movie "Midsommar" really messed me up emotionally — and it unexpectedly brought up some old traumas from my childhood.

This thread has NO SPOILERS.

It's about how our sincerest desires to follow "The Rules" can lead us to some very dark places.
Aaaaaand here's another biographical thread I did on the weird writer Arthur Machen.

Dude was a staunch Catholic but also obsessed with ancient pagan rites and "little people." Led him to all kinds of uncanny proto-Lovecraftian places.

Check it out:
Here's "That Thread" where I said everything I've been wanting to say to Gen X and the Baby Boomers, and did my best to bridge some generational communication gaps:
And here, a conversation with a friend sparked an excited data dump about Coptic people, who have kept their traditions alive for thousands of years with breathtaking grace and dignity:
In this thread, I took all of you on a visit to one of my favorite places on earth: The 13th-Century Mongol Village, home of Genghis Khan's royal yurt, Mongolian scribes and warriors, and a shamanic ritual space:
And in this thread, a passage comparing Greek and Norse mythology sparked a discussion about where myths come from, who writes them down, and why:
Was ancient China *really* so distinct from the rest of Asia — or were its western tribes part of a steppe-spanning civilization of pan-Asian warrior nomads?

That's the possibility I examine in this thread:
And here, I explore the cultural origins of Austronesian peoples throughout the South Pacific — who, as it turns out, may be close relatives of the people who founded China's very first imperial dynasties:
You can follow @writingben.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

Latest Threads Unrolled: