poison

It’s Driving Them Out of Their Minds: The First Big Poisoning in Ancient Rome

It’s Driving Them Out of Their Minds: The First Big Poisoning in Ancient Rome

There were quite a few methods of offing rivals available to criminals in ancient Rome, but poisoning became a popular one by the early imperial period. Perhaps the first widespread ring wreaking...
The Medieval ring found in Kavarna, Bulgaria (Image: Kavarna Municipality)

Jewelry to Die For: 14th-Century Bulgarian Ring with a Killer Dose

When a medieval ring was uncovered by Bulgarian archaeologists excavating the remains of the medieval fortress on Cape Kaliakra, near the town of Kavarna on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, they were...
Alexander on his deathbed, surrounded by mourners, and dictating his will to his notary, Unknown Flemish artist

The Cold Case of Alexander the Great: Have Toxicologists Finally Explained His Untimely Death?

It might be a surprise to learn that Alexander the Great was only 32 when he died in Babylon in June 323 BC. In a short period of 12 years as ruler he managed to create an empire stretching from...
Painting from the Ajanta Caves, India.

The Venomous Visha Kanyas Versus the Thugs: Which Would You Prefer Were Real?

Even a touch can kill. The Visha Kanyas were supposedly poisonous young women who operated as executioners in ancient India. Any contact with these toxic ladies would mean death. However, no one can...
Hannibal Barca (by Sébastien Slodtz) and Battle of Zama, 202 BC

Inside the Mind of Hannibal: What Caused Him to Become Rome’s Most Hated Man?

Watching your father’s brave, heroic and selfless act in order to preserve your own life must leave a permanent mark. They were fearsome and powerful Vetton warriors, and when they saw his father’s...
Hercules and Deianira circa 1475–80.

An Unfortunate Fate and Nasty Gods: The Tragic Story of Mythical Deianira and Her Lover Hercules

Deianira became a famous heroine after the release of the TV show ''Hercules,'' with Kevin Sorbo, and the Disney movie about the mythical hero. Her real story, although still juicy, isn't the same...
Exhibit featuring Mongolian arrows, and Mongolian soldier model

How Did They Do It? Masters of the Steppe: Armed to the Teeth with Weapons and Poison—Part II

Much is known about the ancient Mongol military and their incredible victories on the battlefield, but little is ever discussed about their arms, armor, horses, and logistics. What gear did they use...
Herbs to Kill or Heal? Was this 17th Century Faux-Book for a Poisoner or Apothecary?

Secret Stash of Lethal Poisons Hidden in 17th Century Book. Was This Really an Assassin's Cabinet?

When photos of the faux-book first began to circulate online it was considered a hoax. The image was featured on the ArtefactPorn subreddit and commenters quickly denounced it as a fake, a mere...
The Black Masses of La Voisin: How a Fortune Teller Became a Murderess in the French Royal Court

The Black Masses of La Voisin: How a Fortune Teller Became a Murderess in the French Royal Court

Catherine Monvoisin was a woman with a dark story. Her life influenced the world of the occult and the court of Louis XIV, a famous king whose golden palace brought him immortal fame and countless...
A 16th century bezoar in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienne

Bezoars: The Sought After Ancient Jewels Made from Animal Stomach Growths

There is an urban legend fueled by the movie Beverly Hills Cop that people have around 5 pounds of undigested meat in their stomach by the time they are middle-aged. Not so. But bezoars, which are...
Deriv; Werewolf costume and natural landscape

Werewolf Hunting #101 – In Search of Legends, and Busting Folklore Myths

Imagine you have been invited to meet in an abandoned cemetery to go on a werewolf hunt on the night of the next full Moon but you don’t know what to pack? It may sound like something out of a cheesy...
Mithridates VI of Pontus: The Poison King of Pontus and Aggravation to Rome

Mithridates VI of Pontus: The Poison King of Pontus and Aggravation to Rome

Mithridates (spelled also as Mithradates) VI, whose full name is Mithridates VI Eupator Dionysius, was a famous king of Pontus, a Hellenistic kingdom in Asia Minor of Persian origin. Mithridates...
Mithridates VI of Pontus: The Poison King of Pontus and Aggravation to Rome

Mithridates VI of Pontus: The Poison King of Pontus and Aggravation to Rome

Mithridates (spelled also as Mithradates) VI, whose full name is Mithridates VI Eupator Dionysius, was a famous king of Pontus, a Hellenistic kingdom in Asia Minor of Persian origin. Mithridates...
Mix of ancient weapons

Ten Diabolical Weapons and Strategies of War from the Ancient World

Warfare has been a part of the human condition throughout recorded history. While weapons, strategies, and tactics have changed, there are a number of methods that have been used across the millennia...
Paracelsus

Paracelsus: the Father of Toxicology and the Enemy of Physicians

Toxicology is a branch of knowledge dealing with the scientific study of the characteristics and effects of poisons on living organisms. The man considered to be the ‘father’ of this discipline is...
Image from an illuminated manuscript depicting a Byzantine siege of a citadel. A tactic of ancient biological warfare was to hurl infected dead bodies over city walls.

The Devastating and Diabolical Ancient Origins of Biological Warfare

History paints a bleak picture of the devastating effects that disease, contamination, or poison can have on humans. But with those hard lessons came experience and knowledge, and mankind has...

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Ancient Places

Some of the Mitla mosaics.
Unique and curious designs plaster the walls of the most popular Zapotec archaeological site in Mexico. They are called the Mitla mosaics and are unrivalled in their precision and quality of workmanship. But a mystery surrounds the carved symbols as some researchers suggest they contain a coded language just waiting to be deciphered.

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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)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)