Myths & Legends

All over the world there are extraordinary stories—stories that once upon a time were believed to be true but are today limited to the sphere of ancient myths and legends. The question remains, are those myths and legends stories something that existed in the minds of our ancestors, or were they based on true events? It is true that most of those ancient myths and legends stories appear to the scientific world as fictitious products of vivid imaginations whose goals were purely to explain phenomena beyond their comprehension. Yet is it not arrogant to accuse our ancestors of being uncivilised and ignorant in one breath, then offer them praise and admiration over their monuments, buildings, art, sculptures, and societies in the next? This only proves that our modern society has two contradictory attitudes toward our past.

In this section we will explore some of the most amazing myths and legends from around the world—legends that may hold truths that can unlock the secrets of our ancient origins.

Depiction of the hanging of Elizabeth Wilson, with William Wilson coming with the pardon (from a later edition of The Pennsylvania Hermit).

The Pennsylvania Hermit: The Woeful Tale of a Grieving Brother’s Broken-hearted Hermitage

William “Amos” Wilson, who is known also as the Pennsylvania Hermit, is a figure in the folklore of Pennsylvania, more specifically of its south-eastern and south-central regions. William lived...

A Hopi Hero’s Journey: How the Snake Clan Came to Arizona

Joseph Campbell, in his classic book The Hero With A Thousand Faces explores in depth the universal mythic narrative of the culture-hero (traditionally male) who goes forth not to conquer but...
Members of Hatshepsut's trading expedition to the mysterious 'Land of Punt' from this pharaoh's elegant mortuary temple at Deir El-Bahri.

Will We Ever Discover the Elusive Land of Punt?

The Land of Punt was an important location thousands of years ago. Ancient Egyptian writing suggests Punt was a rich location that prospered between 2450 BC and 1155 BC. People from the famous...
An octopus and fish. Scandinavian mythology claimed the Kraken was a sea monster that looked like an octopus or a squid – but was much bigger.

Are Fossils Linked to the Legendary Kraken Enough to Prove its Terrifying Existence?

Scandinavian mythology claims the Kraken swallowed up whales and devoured ships. It has been described as a huge version of an octopus or squid. Legends have even claimed the terrifying sea creature...
The Nightmare, circa 1790 by Johann Heinrich Füssli; Deriv

The Night Mare and Being Ridden by the Hag

Most people today who have heard that ‘the Nightmare’ is an actual being in European folklore and not just a certain type of dream-state, associate the being with horses. A mare is indeed a horse—but...
An illustration of the ‘Black Dog’ series by Dusty Crosley, a twisted Halloween tale of horror written by Terry Lambert.

Tricking and Treating Has a Long History

Over the past few decades, Halloween celebrations have gained in popularity , not only with children and families, but with all those fascinated with the spooky and scary. As a scholar of myth and...
'The Premature Burial’ by Antoine Wiertz

How Long Have We Believed in Vampires?

Vampires have a contested history. Some claim that the creatures are “as old as the world”. But more recent arguments suggest that our belief in vampires and the undead was born in the 18th century,...
“Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf in the forest” (1881) by Carl Larsson.

Humans Traveled Far and Wide Before Little Red Riding Hood Ever Made It Through the Woods

“Little Red Riding Hood” is a fairytale most children have heard. But if you’re not familiar, it tells the story of a young girl who wears a red velvet hood and cape and travels alone through a...
Amaterasu, a major goddess of Japan.

Solar Goddess Amaterasu, Divine Ancestor of the Japanese Imperial Family

Amaterasu is a major goddess in the Shinto religion. Although she is considered primarily to be a sun goddess, she is also believed to be the ruler of the Takama no Hara (the High Celestial Plain),...
Oceanides, Gustave Dore (1860-1869).

The Secret of Long Life? It’s All in the Water: Sacred Springs & Holy Wells

The belief in sacred springs and holy waters goes far back into the earliest religious myths of humankind, and is ubiquitous across every continent. An ancient primordial connection between water and...
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...
The ride to Asgard" by Peter Nicolai Arbo. 1872.

The Twelve Most Important Gods in Norse Mythology

BY THORNEWS In the beginning there were only native forests and wasteland. The Aesirs, one main group of Norse gods, cleared places to stay, both for themselves and the humans. They named the human’s...
Open Book Photo

How Much of What We Believe About Ancient History is Really True? Thinking Critically about Myths and Legends

A legend is a tale regarded as historical even though it has not been proven, and the term “myth” can refer to common yet false ideas. Many myths and legends describe our history, but they are often...
Sak K'uk'/Lady Cormorant – Public Domain, Palenque, Mexico, Jiuguang Wang - CC BY SA 2.0

Temples of Palenque Reveal Story of Lady Cormorant and Her Three Sons, The Triad Gods

In the mountain rain forest of Chiapas, México, sits the ruins of Palenque, considered the most beautiful ancient Maya city. Silhouetted against a backdrop of natural hills and valleys, the elegant...
From Giovanni Battista Belzoni: Egyptian race portrayed in the Book of Gates.

The ‘Dynastic Race’ and the Biblical ‘Japheth’ Part II: Ethnology and Influence

In Part I, the author pieced together the possible genealogy to be found in Mesopotamia and Egypt, taking as his starting point the Biblical account of human developments in the region after the...
King Haraldr hárfagri receives the kingdom out of his father's hands. From the 14th century Icelandic manuscript Flateyjarbók.

Icelander Sagas May Have More Truth to Them than You Think

Myths and legends – purely the creation of creative and imaginative minds, right? Not necessarily. Numerous stories, sagas, and texts from the ancient past have been proven to hold facts. For example...

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Top New Stories

Statue of Roman Soldier (Public Domain), and Roman Cavalry Reenactment  (CodrinB/CC BY-SA 3.0); Deriv.
With the Amanus Pass secured, Roman general Publius Ventidius Bassus, on the mission given by Antony to retake Asia-Minor, pushed south into Syria. Prince Pacorus of Parthia of was done fighting, at least for now, and abandoned the province to the Romans in late 39 BCE. With the Parthians out of the way, Ventidius led his forces to the province of Judea.

Human Origins

Thinking Man? By Moncloa
Homo Sapiens represents the last of a long line of hominin races that once consisted of five different species spanning four continents. Today, we are the last humans, that is, the last of the genus Homo. Our closest living relatives are chimpanzees and gorillas. We, however, stand out in many ways from them. We have unparalleled capacities for abstract thought, language skills, and social cohesion.

Ancient Places

Sculpture of a head from 950-1150 AD found at Building Y in the Tajin Chico section. On display at the Tajin site museum, Veracruz state, Mexico
El Tajin is a Mesoamerican archaeological site located in the North of the state of Veracruz, near the Gulf Coast of Mexico. The city, one of the most flourishing of the Classic and early Post-classic period, was only rediscovered in 1785, immediately capturing the imagination of European travelers with its imposing jungle-covered ruins and unusual architecture.

Opinion

Sculpture of a head from 950-1150 AD found at Building Y in the Tajin Chico section. On display at the Tajin site museum, Veracruz state, Mexico
El Tajin is a Mesoamerican archaeological site located in the North of the state of Veracruz, near the Gulf Coast of Mexico. The city, one of the most flourishing of the Classic and early Post-classic period, was only rediscovered in 1785, immediately capturing the imagination of European travelers with its imposing jungle-covered ruins and unusual architecture.

Our Mission

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.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

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)