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Ancient Writings

There are literally thousands of incredible texts that have survived from the ancient world, which are etched onto copper, beautifully inscribed on papyrus, chipped onto tablets, and even written using the ink of ground down gold and precious stones. Here we feature many ancient writings, which have served to open a window onto the daily lives of our ancestors and enhanced the knowledge we hold about our ancient past.

The futhark on the Vadstena bracteate.

Unearthing Ancient Magic in The Runes –Messages with Hidden Symbols and Powerful Numbers

The etymology of the word “rune” means: “to carve, or to cut.” In Low German the word is “raunen.” As the runes were cut and carved into wood, metal or stone, the word “rune” was analogous to the...
Making Medieval Magic: Countering Infections and Poison with Nine Potent Herbs

Making Medieval Magic: Countering Infections and Poison with Nine Potent Herbs

Many old spells have been lost or forgotten over the years, but careful readers of medieval books can still recognize some of them tucked within old tomes. There is a spell from a 10th-century book...
2,000-Year-Old Carving and 16th Century Manuscript Reveal Some Maya Came from Across the Sea

2,000-Year-Old Carving and 16th Century Manuscript Reveal Some Maya Came from Across the Sea

The Popol Vuh, a corpus of mythological and historical narratives according to the Quiché-Maya people, and Izapa Stela 5, a carved stela found at the ancient Mesoamerican site of Izapa in Mexico,...
Curses and Cures: The Magic and Medicine Found on the Spectacular Metternich Stela

Curses and Cures: The Magic and Medicine Found on the Spectacular Metternich Stela

The Metternich stela is one of the most remarkable stelae related to magic and medicine in ancient Egypt. The text carved in the stone from the 30th dynasty is a fascinating source of forgotten...
Rest Like an Egyptian: Lifting the Lid on the Elaborate Phoenician Tabnit Sarcophagus

Rest Like an Egyptian: Lifting the Lid on the Elaborate Phoenician Tabnit Sarcophagus

There is a remarkable sarcophagus that many tourists mistake for an elaborate ancient Egyptian creation. The perception is understandable as this kind of burial is often related to the rulers who...
Justice, Myths, and Biblical Evidence: The Wealth of Information Held in the Ebla Clay Tablets

Justice, Myths, and Biblical Evidence: The Wealth of Information Held in the Ebla Clay Tablets

The Ebla clay tablets have provided researchers with a wealth of information regarding cultural practices and myths, judicial affairs, ancient languages, business, and foreign and domestic policies...
The Vedas: Ancient Mystical Texts Offer Charms, Incantations, Mythological Accounts and Formulas for Enlightenment

The Vedas: Ancient Mystical Texts Offer Charms, Incantations, Mythological Accounts and Formulas for Enlightenment

The Vedas are the sacred scriptures of Hinduism and are regarded as the oldest religious texts in the world. Thought to have been composed at least 3,500 years ago, the Vedas are a collection of...
Instructions of Shuruppak: 4,600 Years Ago, A Sumerian King Instructed His Son on How to Behave

Instructions of Shuruppak: 4,600 Years Ago, A Sumerian King Instructed His Son on How to Behave

The Instructions of Shuruppak are a set of 4,600-year-old Sumerian proverbs given by a king to his son, which essentially set out how he should behave. The ancient inscriptions were engraved in...
The Kesh Temple Hymn: 5,600-Year-Old Sumerian Hymn Praises Enlil, Ruler of Gods

The Kesh Temple Hymn: 5,600-Year-Old Sumerian Hymn Praises Enlil, Ruler of Gods

Like many foundational inventions that we use every day, such as wheels and law codes, the Ancient Sumerians living in Ancient Mesopotamia, the so-called cradle of civilization, created the oldest...
The Descent of Inanna into the Underworld: A 5,500-Year-Old Literary Masterpiece

The Descent of Inanna into the Underworld: A 5,500-Year-Old Literary Masterpiece

The Descent of Inanna (known also as ‘Inanna’s Descent to the Netherworld / Underworld’) is a piece of work in the literary corpus of ancient Mesopotamia. This story, which was originally written in...
Making Peace in Ancient Syria: A Long-Awaited Egyptian–Hittite Peace Treaty

Making Peace in Ancient Syria: A Long-Awaited Egyptian–Hittite Peace Treaty

In 1259 BC two of the most powerful ancient armies met near the city of Kadesh in what is now Syria. The number of victims and descriptions of the epic battle are still the cause of scientific debate...
Making Peace in Ancient Syria: A Long-Awaited Egyptian–Hittite Peace Treaty

Making Peace in Ancient Syria: A Long-Awaited Egyptian–Hittite Peace Treaty

In 1259 BC two of the most powerful ancient armies met near the city of Kadesh in what is now Syria. The number of victims and descriptions of the epic battle are still the cause of scientific debate...
Creatures of the Land, Sea and Heavens: Ancient Beliefs in Animal Counterparts

Creatures of the Land, Sea and Heavens: Ancient Beliefs in Animal Counterparts

Until the Age of Enlightenment, it was widely believed that every land creature had its counterpart in the sea (and perhaps even in the heavens). The classic example of this belief is the horse,...
Retaining Ancient Ways: Codex Runicus, How the Runic Script Survived in the Middle Ages

Retaining Ancient Ways: Codex Runicus, How the Runic Script Survived in the Middle Ages

Runic script was developed in Scandinavia between the 2nd and 8th centuries AD. It was originally used for short inscriptions. After the Viking Age, this famous form of writing was altered to compete...
Tabula Cortonensis: A 2,200-year-old Tablet with a Bronze Key to Understanding the Etruscan World

Tabula Cortonensis: A 2,200-year-old Tablet with a Bronze Key to Understanding the Etruscan World

2,200 years ago, a pair of skilled Etruscan hands crafted a tablet that became a key to the language of this remarkable civilization. This unique bronze artifact is known as the Tabula Cortonensis...
Inscribed Curse on the Sarcophagus of King Ahiram Displays Earliest Use of Phoenician Alphabet

Inscribed Curse on the Sarcophagus of King Ahiram Displays Earliest Use of Phoenician Alphabet

The Sarcophagus of King Ahiram (spelled also as Ahirom) is an incredible monument that was unearthed in Lebanon. As its name suggests, the sarcophagus belonged to a king by the name of Ahiram, who...

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