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From forest cottages and Antarctic cruises to Chengdu and Greece in London

Classical discoveries: Some humans begin to suspect the existence of laws of nature

Signs of a distinctive, new and eccentric pattern of human behaviour began to occur in what became the most famous of all the Greek city states – Athens. Long before the Persians razed the city to the ground in 480BCE this city had become a laboratory for experiments in novel human behaviour. In c594BCE, a poet called Solon won a victory for the city by capturing the nearby island of Salamis. He used the considerable power and prestige gained from this triumph to seize political control.

Age of heroes: How violence between mediterranean civilisations became the stuff of legends

The period between 1400BCE and 1100BCE set the stage for some of the most epic military struggles of all time, including the legendary Trojan Wars, supposedly fought between a confederation of small Greek states and the people of Troy, a city in western Asia Minor. Accounts of the wars are contained in the Greek poet Homer's Iliad and Odyssey which, although partly mythological, provide a vivid account of the chaos and violence of the late Mediterranean Bronze Age.

A military revolution: How bronze age innovations ushered in an age of violence and inequality

About 3,000 years ago, from around the Black Sea, came a troublesome trilogy of innovations – horses, chariots and bronze weapons – that gave some people a huge military advantage over others. They did not hesitate to exploit it. Soon, the whole Eurasian world was locked in an arms race. Civilisations rose and fell, and warfare became endemic. Disputes erupted between Eastern and Western peoples (initially Persians and Europeans); a race called the Jews got caught in the middle. Meanwhile, in Greece and Asia Minor, enough people became sufficiently prosperous and secure to experiment with new lifestyles and ideas that would form the foundations of Western culture.

Minor British Institutions: The county of Rutland

Is it appropriate that the county arms and flag of Rutland feature an upturned horseshoe? The county's luck certainly ran out in 1974, a year of shame when many of the nation's idiosyncratic counties were welded together.

Aristotle and Alexander: The man who codified Greek ideas about nature, and the man who spread them abroad

Greek philosophers were edging towards the radical idea that there were no gods who controlled the destiny of life on earth from some detached mountaintop. Rather, it was man himself who, thanks to his own brainpower, could decipher the laws of the universe to become master of all nature.

Pandas prepare for return to Britain after 16 years

Edinburgh Zoo hopes to be first to host the animals in this country since 1994 as Prime Minister backs deal

Simply sensational: Mark Hix uses cheaper cuts of meat to create some heart-warming Asian stews, and save on washing up, too.

If I've been out for a night on the town I usually end up in a restaurant in London's Chinatown with a craving for a beef flank hot-pot or a comforting stew made from the cheaper cuts of meat which yield a real depth of flavour when slowly cooked. But these Asian classics are easy to make at home, too; so why not treat your mates to a great dinner party without breaking the bank?

Hui beef stew with chickpeas

Serves 4

China Witness, By Xinran, trans. Julia Lovell, Esther Tyldesley & Nicky Harman

As she took her leave of Yao Popo, a medicine woman she had met by chance on the step of her ramshackle shop in Xingyi, south China, Xinran asked her to share the three happiest and unhappiest times in her life. Yao Popo was fairly certain about her list: the second hardest thing, she said, was "bringing up seven children in a tiny room of only twelve metres square". The second hardest thing.

The Investment Column: Carpetright floored by retail slowdown

AG Barr; Et-China

Three killed in Chinese earthquake

A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck China's southwestern Sichuan province today, killing three people, state media has said.

Panda cub dies three days after birth

A panda cub has died three days after its celebrated birth following a rare success in artificial insemination, a Japanese zoo said today.

Dr Dre's son dies

Dr Dre's 20-year-old son has died, the rapper's publicist said last night

Morales poll win fails to ease tensions

Confirmed in office in a landslide recall election vote, the Bolivian President Evo Morales now plans to push through major constitutional reforms early next year that will further antagonise his rightist opponents.

Torch relay visits Sichuan earthquake zone

After a controversial journey dogged by international protests over China's crackdown in Tibet, the Olympic torch made a poignant visit to the Sichuan earthquake zone, shortly before the region was hit by a 6.0 magnitude aftershock yesterday.

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Day In a Page

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
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Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

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Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

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The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

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Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

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