Avid explorers Joanna Gillan and her Greek husband Ioannis Syrigos set up a website, ancient-origins.net, to share their passion for travel and ancient history with their followers.
“It started off as a personal passion, but became a full-time job for both of us, and it is now the number one ancient history website in the world in terms of number of visitors,” Joanna says.
“We love learning about and experiencing other cultures and have spent time living in Australia, UK, Greece, Ecuador, and now Ireland, and travelling to hundreds of historic sites around the world.”
Their largest following is on Facebook, with over 600,000 fans of their page and almost 250,000 members of their Facebook group.
These direct significant traffic to their website and generate discussion.
“We post about anything and everything ancient, from human origins to mythology, archaeology, interesting artefacts, ancient places around the world, significant events in history, ancient mysteries, amazing manuscripts from the past, lost cities, and new discoveries.”
The Dublin-based couple travel to exotic places and sometimes find themselves in unusual circumstances.
On one occasion, Ioannis and a colleague were put on trial when they accidentally entered a tribe’s land in Ecuador.
“They quickly found themselves surrounded by a group of armed men, who took them back to their village and placed them on trial,” Joanna explains.
They had to stand in front of over 100 villagers and attempt to explain in broken Spanish that they were friendly and were unaware they’d walked onto their land. The villagers then voted to decide if they were guilty and what their fate would be.
“They ended up having to pay a sum of money to get released.
"By that time, it was midnight and they were in the middle of the Amazon with no concept of direction or how they could get back to the Shuar community they had been staying with.
“To make matters worse, they were told that another neighbouring group were known to cut off the heads of anyone that invaded their territory.
"They managed to convince some of the men to escort them off their land and send them on the right track back to the friendly community.”
Today, Joanna and Ioannis enjoy the flexibility of their online endeavours.
“One of the reasons we decided to start our own project together was freedom,” Joanna says.
“The biggest advantage to having an online business is flexibility.”