The Ancient Roots of Doomsday Prophecies

The Ancient Roots of Doomsday Prophecies and End of the World Beliefs

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Doomsday prophecies are as old as recorded time.  For as long as humans have existed, there has been a fear of an apocalypse or ‘end of times’, when the gods wish vengeance upon their people, when humans pay for the sins of their fathers and forefathers, and when the demons of the world rise up and devour all that is good.  Prophecies of the end of times stem from the mythologies of civilizations past: the Norse story of Ragnarök, the tale of Noah and the Flood, and the Biblical apocalypse.  Though these civilizations are all thousands of years in the past, the same fear that drove them to make these myths—the fear of the unknown—continues to haunt the human race today.

Supposedly, the earliest prediction of the end of the world came from the Assyrians, a powerful Mesopotamian culture that lasted for roughly two thousand years.  A tablet was found dating back to sometime between 2800 and 2500 BCE that bears the first known prophecy of the end of days.  According to the translation, it claims that the earth was in its final days in those years, and that the world was slowly deteriorating into a corrupt society that would only end with its destruction.  Though it is not known who wrote this inscription, and where specifically the tablet came from, it is a fervent example of how far back in human history apocalyptic prophecies world began.

An Assyrian Tablet from 2800 BC bears the first known prophecy of the end of the world.

An Assyrian Tablet from 2800 BC bears the first known prophecy of the end of the world. Photo: Assyrian Tablet from Nineveh, northern Iraq. Credit: The British Museum

In Norse mythology, Ragnarok is a series of apocalyptic events that will define the end of the world, where giants of frost and fire will together fight the gods in a final battle that will ultimately destroy the planet, submerging it under water. According to the legend, the world will resurface, the surviving and returning gods will meet, and the world will be repopulated by two human survivors.

The downfall of the AEsir

'The downfall of the AEsir'. The heavens split and the 'Sons of Múspell' ride forth upon the AEsir at Ragnarö. The Norse apocalyptic battle, Ragnarok. ( Wikimedia Commons )

Numerous other prophecies have appeared throughout history pertaining explicitly to the mortal fear of the ‘Second Coming of Christ’ —the belief that a day will come when humankind would be judged for all of their sins, and Christ would battle the Anti-Christ, Satan, and a False Prophet in the biblical Armageddon. The Four Horsemen, traditionally named War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death, will ride during the Apocalypse. Most, if not all, prophets claimed that preceding the enormous battle would be the Rapture, where the purest of humankind would be removed from the Earth before the battle between Christ and the Anti-Christ.  The expectation of this event and the fear of what would happen to humankind during it called for various people from numerous religious and ethnical backgrounds to try to predict the event so those alive could prepare for what they believed was an inevitable end, and so those soon to be born could be taught to live a pious life to survive such an ending.  The belief in Armageddon and the Rapture primarily stems from the Bible and biblical translators and interpreters, however the cryptic and symbolic language used in the text creates quandaries about the appropriate date and time of the so-called Second Coming.

Four Horsemen of Apocalypse

Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnetsov. Painted in 1887. ( Wikimedia Commons )

It was also feared for a long time that the year 1000 AD would be the end of the world.  Y2K created the same type of millennia fear, as it was assumed that the '00 of 2000 would be misread in computers as 1900 and create a bug that would force all technology to fail, causing worldwide confusion and tremendous destruction.  New millennia, years ending in '99, and the beginning of new centuries have all been subject to doomsday prophecies in the past, and the present era is no exception to that.  Uncertainties about the future continue to plague the human race, such as the recent belief that cataclysmic events would transpire on or around 21 December 2012, a date regarded as the end-date of a 5,126-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar.

Mayan calendar on parchment.

Mayan calendar on parchment. Source: BigStockPhoto

More recently, there has been a doomsday theory put forward in relation to the four blood moons appearing in the twelve months between April 2014 and September 2015, which are said to be an indication of the end because such an occurrence is so rare.  Despite the advancement of the human race, and the technological tracking abilities at their disposal, new and unknown events and situation remain terrifying, leading many people around the world, known as ‘Doomsday Preppers’ to continue preparing for the ‘end of the world as we know it’, seeing such as efforts as a more ideal option than risking being blindsided.


"It is clear that fear is the driving factor behind the prophecies of doomsday throughout human history."

No, it's not clear. It's extremely ignorant to assume that. You seem to jumble all "fears" into the same category in this rubbish article.

I think the most "clear" thing, is that something will indeed happen, and has happened prior. That's what was written. That it will simply happen again. Fear? No.

I agree with what You have written, spot on, dude !

No, it's not clear. It's extremely ignorant to assume that. You seem to jumble all "fears" into the same category in this rubbish article.

"I think the most "clear" thing, is that something will indeed happen, and has happened prior. That's what was written. That it will simply happen again. Fear? No."

And yet again how many people invariably know or understand basic concepts of right and wrong by that same "little voice called consciousness" and cannot dismiss it no matter the situation? We were made to know! For it never to be absolutely dismissed in exactly the same way. Death is nothing to fear, and every ounce of pain you've ever felt invariable taught you that it abates for one reason or another given time. People work themselves into manic states over many things, but Proverbs 16:9 speaks to these things. "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps."

A very wise man once said to me: “The only difference between history and mythology is that mythology is true.” If you don’t get that, then you probably won’t get the rest of my comment.

The author is quite correct that the End of Days scenario, usually some sort of flood or cataclysm, is found in the myths of all cultures, but myths were not created to record history or to predict events other than those in the heavens. It is a metaphorical teaching about astronomical cycles, and anyone can predict the end of an astronomical cycle if they know how to measure it, which the ancients did. It is usually described as some sort of flood in the ‘waters of the firmament’ or a cataclysm in the heavens; it wasn’t about such a disaster on Earth. The waters of the firmament were part of their cosmological cognitive framework.

A recent example of this metaphor in action was the much touted End of the World ‘prophesied’ in the Mayan calendar of 2012. Those of the more observant among us will have noticed that the world didn’t end on December 21 2012, or even come close to it. There was no great deluge or cataclysmic asteroid attack ... that’s because the calendar is recording an astronomical cycle. The ancient myths, included those cited by the author above, also contained information about these cycles but in the form of a metaphor. An astronomical cycle can sometimes billions of years and the stories contained in the myths describe the birth, death and then rebirth of those cycle, usually in the form of the birth, death and resurrection of a saviour king.

All of this lore had been hidden from us in the last centuries by those who have a vested interest in keeping us ignorant and fearful. Therefore, the propagation of myths as literal history is encouraged by religions and academia.

Roberto Peron's picture

So refreshing to read a comment written by someone who actually knows what in the hell they are talking about.  And your last paragraph says it all in a nutshell.  Quote:

"All of this lore has been hidden from us in the last centuries by those who have a VESTED INTEREST in keeping us ignorant and FEARFUL.  Therefore, the propagation of myths as literal history is encouraged by religions AND academia."

It's all about control of the masses and keeping us in subjection to their TERROR!  

Thank you Ishtar.


myths may be related to the inner process of transformation. The destruction of the personal world of an individual and the recreation of a new world. We are heroes of our own stories and on our journey at some point we do see the end of "times"....the end of the old world and the beginning signs of a new. Maybe it is just perception that is changed as the initiate sees the signs of change and know without a doubt that the Phoenix is about to burn up in order to create a new world from the ashes. "What God did not create will turn to ashes" reminds me that what I see around me is illusion and distorted images. What is real will remain as the Lion retakes the throne of this world from the Lizard.

Actually, that should be the Lion RETAKES the throne of this COSMOS from the Lizard. The Lion, the beginning and the end.

It’s always amusing when people give credence to old tales simply because they are old. Or they’ve been placed into a collection of tales such as the Bible. It floors me to now end that Christians refer to Revelations, yet there is no historical basis on which to give it any value. It was written by an unknown person, some think named ‘John’, but accepted as not the supposed John the apostle. Not only because it does not match the writing style of works credited to him, but because it contains flat out contradictions of works credited to him. It also contains information, bits of word usage and writing style that are later than John the apostle.

Revelations was not even going to be included in the Bible by the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. It was only after lobbying that they chose to include it.

How people can point to Revelations as-if it has any hint of credibility is beyond me. Not to mention that Mankind has been through countless cycles of ‘deprived times’ in the 1,900 years since it was written. Just how bad does ‘bad’ have to be before things actually start to happen? The old ‘Just wait….’ line is so worn out.

If the Torah and Bible set the standard by which fact is established, we’d best be prepared for the coming of Zeus, Venus and Horus.

While it's true that there is still debate (and rightly so) amongst biblical scholars as to the authorship of the book titled "The Revelation (Apocalypse -Greek) of Yahoshua haMashiack" as to the authorship of the work - and for the most part because of the few reasons you cite - one point not usually addressed, as far as the language used in "Revelation" not being exactly similar to the language used by John "the Apostle" (the purported author) in his other works, is that, by the author's own admission, these were not his words - this was a dictated work - one that he was instructed to write down - these were not the words of John the Apostle but those of the one who dictated them - if there are disimilarities with the writing style and the words used by the Apostle John in his other works this needs to be considered and taken into account -

As far as the totally erroneous misinformation about the Council of Nicea 325 C.E. (called by Constantine) to determine the books that would and or would not be included in the "NT" canon (this was already determined some 125 to 150 years prior to the time of the council)
all one needs to do is to go back to the source material concerning this matter and the truth is easily detemined -

One should not use a work of fiction such as "The DaVinci Code" as a source of fact and the basis for his or her statements - one's presumptive ignorance becomes plain to even a casual student of history and is visible for all to see -

If you don't want to take the time to research the source material for yourself this video will do that for you:

While the whole thing is informative (35mins) - starting at the 26:00 minute mark will take you to the relevant information (source material) as far as what the Council of Nicea was convened for and what the outcome of it was - and this by those who were actually there - not a writer of agenda driven fiction or writers of agenda driven pseudo scholarship -

As far as the totally "worn out line" about "old tales", "myths" and the "no more than lessons in morality" regurgitation - it should be noted that the Hebrew Scriptures have more historic and actual archaeological evidence pointing to their validity than any other ancient text of similar relevance - (are there any?)

And even though you mix Greek and Egyptian "mythology" - Zeus, Venus and Horus returning?
You and most others are in for quite a surpise -

The Hebrew scriptures/Torah are . Joshua sacked Jericho and Ai? Really.... Jericho not only was the victim of an earthquake, but it shows absolutely zero signs of being sacked or an invading force. It also was dead about 220 years before Joshua was even born. Also, Jericho and Ai died-out about 1,000 years apart...

Tall tales .

Unfortunately you rely on outdated (debunked) agenda driven "archaeology" concerning Jericho and Ai -
Look into it more fully - subsequent archaeological research/digs - (with an honest effort to learn the truth) and you'll see the "biblical narative/account" aligns with the subsequent discoveries uncovered -

As far as the "Hebrew Scriptures/Torah" being "" - this was fairly well dismissed as even a remote possibility with the discovery of "the Dead Sea Scrolls" in 1947 and the now decades long study of their contents - the accuracy of the transmission throughout the centuries of all of the biblical books that were found blew even the most ardent of skeptics out of the water - the disciplined approach of the Hebrew scribes for copying manuscripts proved itself a most reliable method as the accuracy was close to flawless - even the ardent skeptics had to admit as much -

Again - an honest effort at uncovering the truth of these matters for oneself and not just jumping on the bandwagon of agenda driven, stunted pseudo archaeology and scholarship would lead you to a fuller knowlege of the truth as well as saving you from displaying a less than clear understanding of the subjects you purport to know so much about -

An alternative vision could be that these apocalyptic tales are faint memories of past events, such as the Younger Dryas cataclysm or the Thera explosion. These warnings might well become couched in metaphor & distortion over time & attributed to the world of the spiritual &/or the supernatural.

Peter Harrap's picture

Apocalypses are records of visions from God. In the Apocrypha there are Apocalypses of Peter, Paul, and a couple of others. There's loads of them in other books and other religions as well

At the time they were written, they were generally understood as such, and you will notice that John "saw" in the past tense, all the way through, as he records the visions he declares come to him via the Holy Ghost from Jesus somewhere else.  John says so if you can be bothered to read what he says!!

He wanted what Christ had experienced and claims he got it. These revelations form a part of what meditation can get you, if you do as Jesus tells you to and leave everything and get involved 100% with getting to God. It is the end of Yoga. Yoga is NOT just gymnastics: Yoga means union with God, nothing less. Free and available to anyone so inclined

These revelations happen to whoever gets the favour of Almighty God, they have no more to do with material existence or physical history than does a film in the cinema, but like them they can contain, apparently, battles, Gods and all kinds of violent stuff- or they did in John's case .

THey are included to encourage you to both fear and flee our violent existence, and to concentrate your mind on ha Ha! the "end of the World"  which is what occurs after you renounce the world, as it is when each of us later dies.

The world ends FOR YOU when you die. ts a metaphysical joke like that daft one philosophers have when they ask you whether it matters that a tree has fallen in the forest. They ask whether the tree has indeed fallen if nobody was there to observe it.

Of course the tree fell and died, but the forest and the rest of Creation just carries on regardless.

You will die, they say, your death will come and your absence will not change anything.  Its what you do with your life that matters

I think these comments are spot on. It is interesting to note that when one believes in something they will find evidence to support that belief. You or I might see a large forest fire believing first that every now and then areas of the earth get dry and are possibly ignited by man or nature. To others it's evidence supporting some structure of the beginning of a prophetic doom scenario. To me there is a level of distortion between ideas of an event and honestly I make judgements between them based on my preferred beliefs. I think most of revelations is a massive and collective distortion continuously reinforced and it would be nice if those ignorant ideas were discarded in favor of less limiting and fear driven notions.
Thanks to the poster who mentioned societies confusion between metaphor and taking things literal. Thank you for being aware.

Eschatology is a complicated area in the study of belief and religion. It's definitely not well served by a simplistic overview. Some of the comments have been insightful and interesting, though, with the exception of the usual conspiracy theorists. Isn't it odd how those nasty academics spread their evil lies for free but we have to BUY the books of people who apparently know the real truth? Nothing generates opinions thick with confirmation bias like the end of the world.

Tsurugi's picture

I was with you until you said academics spread their lies "for free". Not true, sir. Most academics are in fact well-paid, usually using public funds, i.e., taxes taken from everyone by goverments using threat of force.
And when those same academics write books, guess what? You still have to buy it....and pay tax on it.

Nothing is free. Ever. Anywhere. Everything has a cost, and not all costs are able to be measured monetarily.

Looking at this another way, we should have more suspicion of things disseminated "freely", not less. A lie is no good to its creator if he cannot tell it to anyone. It only can benefit him if he gets it out there. So he is more likely to spread it "freely", than someone who has something of true worth.

Anyway. Carry on.

In the book of Enoch is a scripture that tells when this world will end. It will end when God says it will end and could be millions of years yet in the future. It is about who killed Able, son of Adam and Eve. I think almost everything written in the bible has already happened even to the 'rapture' as written in Matthew chapter 27 starting with verse 51.This event happened all over the world. The only thing left is Revelations chapter 13. The Beast chapter. But is is what is IN your forehead, not on your forehead. One world system.

Time to wake up America! September is National Preparedness Month. Babylon the great will soon fall and three days of darkness will follow. Receive Jesus Christ into your heart to be protected from the wrath to come! Heaven and earth will be shaken and there will be chaos on the streets so please stay inside with your family tomorrow! Get into the ark before it's too late because you DO NOT want to be left behind. Many will have to die for their faith but will still go to heaven as long as they DON'T take the mark of the beast mandated by Obama through the NWO. All the signs are here and the Palestinians received approval by the UN to raise the flag and divide Israel. God will bring judgment to this world by 9-13 and the rapture will occur on 9-15. God bless and please click share so your loved ones can have time to prepare!

Here it is people! This masterfully done bible code video is proof that the bride is taken out of here on September 15th! This is when the last blast of the feast of trumpets will occur. Please watch this to the end so you will understand what the blessed hope is. Thank you Jesus, we cant wait to see you in your glory!

This is Your Message From God. You Have A Decision To Make Today that Will Have An Eternal Impact...

If you are a Christian please watch this video to prepare yourself for the blessed hope and may God keep you and your family safe...

No matter what the Tetrad of the Blood Moons does or does not do, the Godzilla El Nino is supposed to bring rains of near Biblical proportions nonetheless.

Good comments all, but there is something being overlooked, and that is the ancients' universal claim, and reason for all of this mythological recording: As above, so below.

Otherwise, why bother? An eclipse, on it's own, is simply not a big enough deal to bother with so much hand-wringing. But, if very real, and still remembered, global cataclysms had coincided with such 'wonders in the heavens', then it seems much more plausible that entire nations would want to ensure their children were adequately warned and prepared. Just in case.

Moreover, as Graham Hancock has, I think, very convincingly shown, while there may not have been a flood quite in the way it seems to have been portrayed by the ancients, there was, nonetheless, a global flood, and that the continental shelves are proof of this.

Likewise the Tower of Babel. The mythologists now reveal that there was 'a' Tower of Babel. (Even the Egyptians recorded it in their own way.) And it did fall, quite calamitously. But we also find that many ancient sites were built around towers. And they all fell for one reason or another, sometimes under quite mysterious, almost 'heaven-sent' circumstances, such as at the site now called Mohenjo-daro, or the city of the dead. Could it be the real genesis of the Sodom and Gomorrah legend?

In any case, things seen in the heavens above were universally determined by the ancients to have very real, very clear, and often very frightening parallels on the ground, no corrupt, manipulating priesthood required.

The earliest known undecipherable cuneiform writing is from around 23 - 24 century BCE and it is Akkadian and Summerian not Assyrian .... Assyrian empire came much later .... So how can this tablet be from 2800 BCE .... It is obviously based on a poor source or it is fake ...

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