Underworld

Detail of two ancient Egyptian 'gate spells'. On the top register, Ani and his wife face the ‘gates of the House of Osiris'. Below, they encounter the 'mysterious portals of the House of Osiris in the Field of Reeds'. All are guarded by unpleasant underworld protectors.

Through the Twelve Chambers of Hell: The Afterlife in Ancient Egypt

Death, the ancient Egyptians believed, was not the end of our struggles. They believed in an afterlife and that the worthy would go on to paradise, but their dead didn’t simply pass over to the other...
The Spirit of the Dead Keeps Watch’ (1892) by Paul Gauguin.

Ghost Beliefs in Polynesia: When Spirits Return and Possess

A belief in ghosts is held by many cultures (both modern and ancient) around the world. Some of these ghost beliefs are well-known, whilst others, such as those held by the Polynesians, are less so...
Figurines representing three of the ten judges of Diyu and Red Maw

Journey to Hell, Featuring Torture and Never-ending Bureaucracy: Understanding the Underworld in Chinese Mythology

“Each of the criminals is bound to an iron pillar and the ox-headed demon is in the process of administering punishment—using iron or copper blades he peels the skin of the person's face, just as a...
Statue of Persephone, circa 525 BC and painting The Deluge

Hell on Earth? Is the REAL location of the Ancient Underworld Right in Front of Us?

The myth of the underworld, much like the myth of the lost paradise and the worldwide deluge, is a universal one. Cultures from all across the world, past and present, widely separated and with...
Santa Compaña: A Procession of Souls That Spreads Fear Through the Villages of Iberia

Santa Compaña: A Procession of Souls That Spreads Fear Through the Villages of Iberia

Picture a group of the dead passing down the street next to your house. They sing out deathly stories and spread a creepy energy that makes you feel your skin crawl. You want to escape, but you can’t...
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...
Descent to the Underworld: The Little-Known Practices and Symbols in Ancient Mythology of the Great Below

Descent to the Underworld: The Little-Known Practices and Symbols in Ancient Mythology of the Great Below

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious...
The Nine Worlds of Norse Mythology

The Nine Worlds of Norse Mythology

Modern heathenism has been fascinated by the concept of the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology and readily provides the names of these worlds and their meanings. Academics are equally guilty. Whereas...
For Good and Evil: Witch Bottles as Countermagical Devices Through History

For Good and Evil: Witch Bottles as Countermagical Devices Through History

In 16th and 17th century Europe, witchcraft was deemed a serious threat and court records attest to the terror evoked by suspected sorcery. Judges gave serious consideration to the danger posed by...
Maya cenote named Samula near Valladolid, Mexico.

Secret Underground Cavern Thought by the Maya to be Portal to the Underworld

The ancient Maya who populated the Yucatan Peninsula in the first millennium AD believed that there were three ways for the living to enter Xibalba, the world of the dead: through deep caves, through...
Deriv; Inside Temple Edfu and stars

Sky Religion in Ancient Egypt: Temples and Magick - Part I

“In the beginning Egypt was not” The Sky Religion in Egypt: Its Antiquity and Effects by G A Wainwright; published in 1938, is one of the classic enabling texts of Egyptology, and I am going to use...
A 19th-century interpretation of Charon's crossing by Alexander Litovchenko.

Charon, Son of Night and Shadow, Ferrier of the Dead

In days of old, the dead were buried with a silver coin (the shiner the better) so that the souls of the faithful departed could pay the toll to the deathless demon ferryman of the underworld: Charon...
A reconstruction of Pakal's tomb in the Museo Nacional de Antropología

BREAKING: Underground Tunnels Found Beneath Pakal Tomb in Maya Site of Palenque

Archaeologists at the world-renowned Maya site of Palenque in Mexico have made a surprising discovery beneath the Temple of Inscriptions, the impressive funerary monument built for Maya ruler Pakal...
Dragon Sculpture, China.

The Bird and the Serpent: From the Neolithic Goddesses to Ancient Chinese Symbols of Nobility and Benevolence

Victorian art critic, John Ruskin, in his book Proserpina , calls himself “the gentle and happy scholar of flowers”. A large part of his work is an attempt to connect nature, art and society. To...
Demons practicing cannibalism

Ancient Demons and Their Infernal Legacy

Demons have existed in myths and legends since ancient times. In the hierarchy of evil, as laid out in grimoires and occult texts, each demon has a name and a precise function. In medieval times,...

Pages

Top New Stories

Antarctica.
On a chilly winter day in 1929, Halil Edhem, the Director of Turkey's National Museum, was hunched over his solitary task of classifying documents. He pulled towards him a map drawn on Roe deer skin. As Halil opened the chart to its full dimensions (two feet by three feet wide or 60 X 90 cm) he was surprised by how much of the New World was depicted on a map which dated from 1513.

Myths & Legends

Deriv; Lunar phases, The Brothers Grimm and goddess Nut
The fairytale of Snow White was written by the Brothers Grimm during the mid-19 th century, and like all of their fables it was written as a parable and therefore infused with layers of hidden...

Ancient Places

Antarctica.
On a chilly winter day in 1929, Halil Edhem, the Director of Turkey's National Museum, was hunched over his solitary task of classifying documents. He pulled towards him a map drawn on Roe deer skin. As Halil opened the chart to its full dimensions (two feet by three feet wide or 60 X 90 cm) he was surprised by how much of the New World was depicted on a map which dated from 1513.

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)