David Abulafia

Are all great civilisations doomed?

4 May 2024 9:00 am

If plague, war or natural disasters don’t destroy our own, then ‘a cascading systems failure’ seems likely, on past evidence, says Paul Cooper

Trinity College Cambridge has rushed to judgement on Captain Cook

28 April 2024 4:00 pm

Cambridge has made a mistake in returning to the tribe that made them some spears collected by Captain Cook’s men…

A wealth of knowledge salvaged from shipwrecks

3 February 2024 9:00 am

Goods found on board can illuminate trade routes and global connections, often going back thousands of years, in ways no other archaeological sites can

The danger of returning the Ghanaian ‘Crown Jewels’

27 January 2024 5:30 pm

I put the case in last week’s Spectator that museums in this country have been gripped by a sort of…

Does it matter if Hannibal is played by a black man?

16 December 2023 5:30 pm

It is becoming a familiar conundrum: whether to employ actors who match the ethnicity of the person they are portraying.…

Was the Black Death racist?

23 November 2023 10:05 pm

Even the Black Death of the mid-fourteenth century, we are now being told, practised racial discrimination as it raged through…

Tracey Emin and the problem with museum trustees

19 November 2023 6:00 pm

The Royal Academy has nominated Tracey Emin to be a trustee of the British Museum. There is quite a fanfare…

Why are Cambridge University’s librarians judging ‘problematic’ books?

28 October 2023 5:00 pm

Librarians across Cambridge University are on the look out. Their target, among the ten million-odd volumes in the main library…

Sic transit gloria mundi

8 July 2023 9:00 am

Katherine Pangonis also traces the histories of Tyre, Antioch, Syracuse and Ravenna, once proud centres of government, trade and culture

Our future life on Earth depends on the state of the ocean

27 May 2023 9:00 am

As the world’s thermometer, the ocean keeps everything in balance, but carbon emissions and our use of it as a dumping ground is threatening its life, says Helen Czerski

Why is Netflix pretending that Cleopatra was black?

18 April 2023 9:49 pm

‘I remember my grandmother saying to me: I don’t care what they tell you in school, Cleopatra was black.’ So…

Was Leonardo da Vinci’s mother a slave?

18 March 2023 5:00 pm

There is great excitement in Italy, which has spilled over into the British press: Carlo Vecce, a professor from Naples,…

Captain Cook’s Aboriginal spears belong in Cambridge, not Australia

4 March 2023 1:44 am

On the eve of the First World War, Trinity College, Cambridge deposited four spears collected by Captain Cook during his…

Why has president Xi got my book about the Mediterranean?

15 January 2023 7:00 pm

A few days ago, an email arrived from someone I know in China: my book The Great Sea had been…

Harry isn’t the first rebellious ‘spare’

14 January 2023 9:00 am

Rebellious ‘spares’ are a feature of history

Why the Rosetta Stone shouldn’t be returned to Egypt

5 December 2022 2:14 am

The Rosetta Stone is said to be the most visited object in the British Museum. By and large the most…

Courage on the high seas

27 August 2022 9:00 am

The Shetland Islands and the Faroes may seem to be somewhere out there in distant waters, marginal and in the…

The culture wars have crept into Oxbridge admissions

14 May 2022 9:00 am

The negative discrimination of Oxbridge admissions

Bitter harvest – how Ukraine’s wheat has always been coveted

16 April 2022 9:00 am

Publishers love books with ambitious subtitles such as ‘How Bubblegum Made the Modern World’, and this one’s, about American wheat…

Were old children’s history books racist?

5 March 2022 9:00 am

Are children’s history books racist?

Masters of the opium trade: the fabulous wealth of the Sassoons

19 February 2022 9:00 am

David Abulafia admires the shrewdness, generosity and panache of the Sassoons over many generations

Why does Priyamvada Gopal find ‘eloquence’ troubling?

13 January 2022 6:15 pm

Why should anyone feel insulted when they are described as ‘eloquent’? Priyamvada Gopal, professor of post-colonial studies at Cambridge University, felt…

Rhodes, Columbus and the next heritage battle

17 October 2021 5:31 pm

On 12 October this year, Columbus Day, a statue of the Italian in Belgrave Square was vandalised by activists from…

What’s behind Cambridge’s anonymous reporting system?

10 July 2021 9:00 am

What’s behind Cambridge’s anonymous reporting system?