Ancient Traditions

Skulls from the Andean Paracas (top left). (CC BY-SA 3.0); Paracas skull at Ica Museum(right). (CC BY 2.0); Child head shaping methods (bottom left).

Elongated Skulls Increased Kudos in Ancient Peru

Archaeologists dig them up all over the ancient world from Egypt to Peru, and now, these curious elongated skulls are believed to have been “status symbols,” according to a recent paper in Current...
Detail of ‘Solitude’ (circa 1890) by Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton.

Alone Need Not Be Lonely: What Joyous Solitude of Early Hermits Can Teach Us

Kim Haines-Eitzen / The Conversation In today’s world, loneliness seems to have reached epidemic proportions. Countless studies have highlighted the serious and negative impact that loneliness has on...
George Catlin, Tchung-kee, a Mandan Game Played with a Ring and Pole", 1832-3.

Ancient North Americans Played High-stakes Games

University of California, Santa Barbara From games of chance to tests of physical skill, ancient North America Indians took their sport and recreation seriously, research shows. “Games are ubiquitous...
Albany Bulb Sea Witch Prays to the Pink and Purple Sky.

Untwisting the Knotted History of Sea Witches

You might have noticed that Ursula, the antagonist in Disney's The Little Mermaid (1989), was a sea witch disguised as a half-human, half-octopus mythological hybrid creature . And, the antagonist of...
Ninja warrior

Ancient Psycho Secrets of Ninja Assassins

Ninjas or shinobi ("to sneak”) have become kings of popular culture and their acrobatic trained-killer antics have been featured in hundreds of movies and television series. These deadly mercenary...
‘Lucretia’ by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Lucretia’s suicide is a well-known example of suicide in ancient Rome.

Petitioning for Death: Did Ancient Romans Really Ask for Permission to Commit Suicide?

Cases of suicide are known to have occurred in ancient Rome, as they have been recorded by ancient writers. But there are many questions surrounding this subject that have yet to be fully answered. A...
Yacouba Sawadogo planting.

The Man Who Stopped a Desert Using Ancient Farming

Desertification is a serious problem facing numerous countries in the world today. Various measures have been taken to counter the negative effects, with some providing better results than others. A...
A tsunami stone.

Japanese Tsunami Stones: These Centuries-Old Monuments Save Lives Today

Japan is often struck by earthquakes due to its position on the Pacific Ring of Fire. At times, these seismic activities result in tsunamis - a ‘seismic or tidal sea wave’. Although such a deadly...
"Ertränken im Fass oder Sack", a 1560 sketch showing ‘punishment of the sack’.

Mythbusting Ancient Rome: Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Early Roman history is full of stories about the terrible fates that befell citizens who broke the law. When a certain Tarpeia let the enemy Sabines into Rome, she was crushed and thrown headlong...
Detail of ‘Iwatake mushroom gathering at Kumano in Kishu.’

Zombie Powder, Bird Saliva, and Rotten Shark: Would You Try These Ancient Foods?

Ancient tribal cultures all over the world partook in perilous hunting, fishing, and food gathering adventures. Hearths appear 250,000 years ago - which is the accepted archaeological estimate for...
A depiction of a tree of life or axis mundi.

The Axis Mundi: Sacred Sites Where Heaven Meets Earth

What do Mount Fuji in Japanese culture, the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, Mecca in Islam, and the Black Hills for the Sioux all have in common? They are all examples of a belief in the axis...
These Norwegian children have traveled back to the Viking Age and practice archery.

Born for Valhalla: How Viking Children Learned the Art of War

By ThorNews We know from the sagas that Viking boys were trained in the art of war. The Viking’s success in killing and oppressing everyone who stood in their way was no accident: The warrior...
Venus and Mars, c 1485. Tempera and oil on poplar panel, National Gallery, London.

Trial by Public Performance: The Impotence Trials of Pre-Revolutionary France

The impotence trials of prerevolutionary France sound a bit like a political joke. France had mostly squelched the ability for couples to divorce, and it was in the wake of this that the impotence...
Elf Fantasy Fair 2010 hurdy gurdy.

The Hurdy Gurdy Was Essential Medieval Entertainment Enjoyed by Merrymakers Across Europe

The hurdy gurdy is a musical instrument, or more precisely, a string instrument, that traces its origin to the Middle Ages of Europe. The hurdy gurdy was initially used to play sacred music, before...
Stalk of basil.

Sacred Plant of Eternal Love and Healing: The Mythology and Magic of Basil

In Mediterranean cuisine it is the symbol of summer and its origins are lost in the mists of time. Fragrant and delicate with its green leaves it manages to tantalize the most demanding palates, it...
Fireworks over a golden temple.

Rebirth and Rejuvenation: How Have Ancient New Year’s Traditions Influenced Festivities Today?

January 1st, New Year’s Day, is often ushered in with fireworks and festivities beginning on December 31st. Although this practice is the norm in many places around the world, not every culture has...

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At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

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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)
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