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death

Kamehameha the Great

Secret and Safe: Hawaiian Royal Burials and the Missing Bones of Kamehameha the Great

The magical properties associated with the bones of Hawaiian kings were valuable to the ancient Hawaiians, and were even seen potentially dangerous. Great rites and elaborate ceremonies were...

Daily Prayers with Decomposing Corpses: Death Chairs at Aragonese Castle

The Aragonese Castle is a castle built on top of a rocky islet next to Ischia, a small Italian island on the northern end of the Gulf of Naples. Whilst a stronghold is said to have already been built...
Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal: The Mighty Mesopotamian Goddess of the Underworld

“Namtar made his voice heard and spake, addressed his words to Ereshkigal, "Send me to Anu your father, and let me arrest the god! Let me take him to you, that he may kiss you again!" - Excerpt from...
Decorations placed around a coffin at a home funeral in Da Nang, Vietnam. At left, placed in front of the coffin, is an altar featuring a framed photo of the deceased and a pot for offering joss sticks. At right are a number of flower bouquets with attached condolences, and in the background are a number of vertical banners, also offering condolences.

Traditional Funerary Rites Provide a Glimpse at Mystery Neolithic Vietnamese Culture

3,000 years ago, a small community on a Vietnamese island disappeared. No one is certain why, but even their very existence is a surprise. Luckily for archaeologists, it seems that their traditional...
A bottle of an elixir.

Seeking Life but Finding Death: Deadly Chinese Elixirs of Immortality

The elixir of immortality (known also as the ‘elixir of life’) is a legendary substance found in many ancient cultures. This elixir is expected to grant eternal life to the person who consumes it...
The 10 skeletons were arranged in a spiral pattern found at Tlalpan, Mexico City

Discovered! Ancient Mexican Spiral of Death

Ten ancient skeletons have been unearthed in Mexico this week including a baby of around one-month-old! Ritualistically deformed, in that their skull shapes and teeth had been altered, they were...
‘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...
Top image: A woman in traditional Chinese dress. Source: CC0

When Concubines Fought Back: The Plot to Eliminate a Mad and Sadistic Emperor

The Renyin Plot was an assassination attempt carried out on the sadistically violent Jiajing Emperor, who was the ruler of China’s Ming Dynasty during the 16th century. The assassins almost succeeded...
Bust of Aeschylus, Zappeion, Athens. (Tilemachos Efthimiadis/CC BY SA 2.0) Illustration of the death of Aeschylus.

Eagle Mistakes Bald Head for a Rock: The Bizarre Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Aeschylus

Aeschylus, widely regarded as the “Father of Tragedy,” was one of the first of classical Athens’ great dramatists. He raised the emerging art of tragedy to new heights of poetry and theatrical power...
Detail of a bronze statuette of Pazuzu, circa 800 BC - circa 700 BC. Pazuzu was an Assyrian evil spirit believed to frighten away other evil spirits - protecting humans against plagues and misfortunes.

Mesopotamian Ghostbusters: The Evil Acts of Assyrian Ghosts and How They Were Vanquished

Assyria, like Mesopotamia in general, has always excited the Western imagination. Assyrian beliefs about the spiritual world are no exception. The Assyrians believed that ghosts could return from the...
Manananggal, mythical creature of the Philippines

The Shocking Demon that Brings Plague and Devours Babies: Ancient Goddess & Evil Widow Rangda in Balinese Mythology

All eyes focused on the figure of Rangda as she emerged from the inner part of the temple, about a third of the way through the Barong dance (an ancient dance which predates even the Hindu influences...
16th or 17th century painting of the ‘Dance of Death.’ The living weren’t always scared of the dead.

Dance Macabre: How the Dead Danced with the Living in Medieval Society

Ashby Kinch / The Conversation In the Halloween season , American culture briefly participates in an ancient tradition of making the world of the dead visible to the living: Children dress as...
Detail of ‘Sisyphus’ by Antonio Zanchi.

Sisyphus: King Cheats Death, Annoys Zeus, and Receives Never-ending Punishment in the Greek Underworld

Doomed to forever roll a huge boulder up a steep hill, Sisyphus is a figure in Greek mythology who represents an impossible task. As his punishment in the Greek Underworld, each time Sisyphus neared...
Shakespeare’s ghosts meet quantum entanglement. “Spectrum appearance of Banquo”by Gustav Dore (Wikimedia Commons/WikiPaintings) and ‘Quantum Space’

Shakespeare’s Ghosts Live! What Secret Messages do The Spirits Reveal about the Nature of Reality?

When one of us began studying psychology he was told that if the aim was to understand human relationships, it would be better served by studying literature—especially Shakespeare. Since then, at...
A depiction of Quetzalcoatl as a feathered serpent in Teotihuacan

The Rise of Quetzalcoatl: From Plumed Serpent to Creator God

Quetzalcoatl was one of the most important gods in the ancient Mesoamerican pantheon. Its iconic appearance is identified in the name of this god. Quetzalcoatl is a combination of two Nahuatl (the...
Elkhound, a Viking Dog.

Viking Dogs Followed Their Masters to Valhalla

By THORNEWS Large amounts of animal bones have been found in Viking Age ship graves. For example, there were eight large sighthounds (Old Norse: mjór) buried on both sides outside the ship In the...

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