Ancient Traditions

A traditional imzad instrument, made by local craftswomen and played only by women.

Reviving the Music of their Foremothers: A Traditional Tuareg Instrument for Women Makes a Comeback

A traditional stringed gourd instrument of the Tuareg people in Africa, played only by women because of the threat of a curse upon men who play it, is making a comeback. Only two women were known to...
Pankratiasts fighting.

Pankration: A Deadly Martial Art Form from Ancient Greece

Pankration was one of the most popular combat sports in ancient Greece. It combined two other popular sports of antiquity, wrestling and boxing, but kicking was allowed as well. The name Pankration...
Re-creation of the port at Eridu, an ancient “Court of the King of the World”.

The Royal Road of the King of the World, and the Ancient Center of the Earth

The Royal Road of the King of the World is a 20-degree band around the Earth that has 30 degrees north latitude as its center. This band is not, technically, the geographical center of the Earth,...
Amulet of a Ba. Egypt, Ptolemaic Period, 332-30 B.C. Jewelry and Adornments; amulets. Gold with inlays of lapis lazuli, turquoise, and steatite.

Warding Evil and Welcoming Luck: Protective Amulets of the Ancient World

In the past, human life was vulnerable to disaster; Disease, wars, famine, natural disasters and many other factors could easily claim the lives of individuals. For this reason, people sought all...
Full moon over a winter landscape

Rare Holiday Full Moon Will Provide Special Christmas Light for First Time since 1977

A full-moon calculator indicates the moon was full on December 25, 1 AD, in the old Western calendar, and it will be full again this year, 2015 years later. This is the first time we have had a...
Painting entitled ‘Saturnalia’ (1783) by Antoine Callet.

Saturnalia: The December Festival of Joy and Merriment in Ancient Rome

Saturnalia was a festival celebrated by the ancient Romans. Originally, this celebration was held annually for a day on the 17th of December, but the festival was so popular that it was extended to a...
16th Century depiction of execution of a prisoner by Ottoman soldiers.

Execution by Elephant: A Gory Method of Capital Punishment

Elephants have played a number of important roles in human history. In some cultures, the elephant is a revered creature. In Buddhism, for example, the vivid dream of Buddha’s mother which foretold...
‘Ayurvedic Medicine. Man of the Medical caste, masseuse.’

Ayurvedic Medicine: A Traditional Knowledge of Life from India that Has Endured the Passage of Time

Ayurveda, known also as Ayurvedic medicine, is an ancient medical system that has its roots in India, and has been considered by many as one of the oldest healthcare systems in the world. In today’s...
Famous structure of the Nuragic civilization. Su Nuraxi of Barumini, included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 1997

The Mysterious Nuragic Civilization of Sardinia

Throughout the ancient island of Sardinia, the story of the indigenous Nuragic civilization lies obscured by unanswered questions. Although one can examine thousands of their laboriously-assembled...
“The Alchymist, in Search of the Philosopher's Stone” by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1771.

From Magic to Science: The Intriguing Ritual and Powerful Work of Alchemy

Throughout time, history has recorded numerous rituals and magic practices, some more bizarre than others. While alchemists were preoccupied with finding the Philosopher's Stone and the elixir of...
Bronze Age skeleton found at Stragglethorpe, during archaeological work on the Highways Agency scheme, England. Representational image only.  (CC BY 2.0)

Solved: the mystery of Britain’s Bronze Age mummies

Whenever mummies are mentioned, our imaginations stray to the dusty tombs and gilded relics of ancient Egyptian burial sites. With their eerily lifelike repose, the preserved bodies of ancient...
Artwork depicting a Tibetan Mastiff from the Qing Dynasty.

A Loyal Companion and Much More: Dogs in Ancient China

It is generally accepted that the dog is one of the earliest animals that was domesticated by human beings. In today’s society, the dog is regarded by many as ‘man’s best friend’. This view has been...
: “The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899). The painting shows common misconceptions about the event that persist to modern times: Pilgrims did not wear such outfits, and the Wampanoag are dressed in the style of Native Americans from the Great

The American Tradition of Thanksgiving: A Harvest Festival with Roots in the Old World

As the leaves turn beautiful golden and fiery red hues, and the weather gets colder and people prepare for the oncoming winter in the Northern Hemisphere, Americans enjoy the annual celebration of...
Painting of Orixas dancing.

Candomble: The African-Brazilian Dance in Honor of the Gods

Candomblé (meaning dance in honor of the gods ) is a religion found primarily in Brazil with a number of elements derived from African cultures. It not only incorporates some religious aspects of...
N’anga (spiritual healer or herbalist) of the Shona people. Great Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe.

Traditional African Medicine and its Role in Healing in a Modern World

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it has been estimated that “about 80% of the population in developing countries depend s on traditional medicine for their Primary Health Care (PHC)...
Volunteers carefully clean and store the abandoned bodies in the hopes relatives will retrieve them. If not, the bodies are eventually cremated.

Thai Buddhists observe an ancient tradition of honoring the unclaimed dead

A medieval Buddhist tradition started by a Buddhist monk centuries ago has people this month in Thailand exhuming and painstakingly cleaning the remains of 3,890 people who were buried without their...


Ancient Technology

Grinding stone, Dendera Temple, Egypt.
Most people know of the great construction achievements of the dynastic Egyptians such as the pyramids and temples of the Giza Plateau area as well as the Sphinx. Many books and videos show depictions of vast work forces hewing blocks of stone in the hot desert sun and carefully setting them into place.

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Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)