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Ancient Traditions

Ancient Origins brings you articles related to Ancient Traditions from all over the world. Find related articles in the sections of history, archaeology, human origins, unexplained, artifacts, ancient places and myths and legends.

Detail from an illustration of a body in its coffin that starts to bleed in the presence of the murderer during a cruentation 1497.

The Bizarre Importance of Bleeding Bodies in Medieval Trials

The history of criminal justice and forensic science is really interesting because of all the absurd rituals and superstitions courts relied on to determine guilt or innocence right up until the 19th...
Carvings depicting the Chinese Zodiac on the ceiling of the gate to Kushida Shrine in Fukuoka, Japan.

The Whimsical Legend of How the Chinese Zodiac Animals were Chosen

According to Chinese culture, each year is related to an animal or 生肖 (‘Sheng Xiao’, which literally means ‘birth likeness’). There are 12 animals, and together, they make up the Chinese zodiac. The...
Painting of an ancient Egyptian woman being served beer.

Provocative Yet Sacred: The Ancient Egyptian Festival of Drunkenness

The Festival of Drunkenness is a religiously significant celebration that was held annually (said to be biannually in some places) by the ancient Egyptians. The background story for the celebration...
The Wicker Man (1973) movie screenshot.

The Fearsome Wicker Man: An Eerie Way Druids Committed Human Sacrifice

The wicker man is purported to be one of the means by which the ancient druids made human sacrifices. According to a number of classical authors, the druids partook in human sacrifice, though these...
Goddess Council 4900-4750 BC Neolithic Culture of Cucuteni-Tripolye exposed in Cucuteni Museum of Piatra Neamt

Ancient Ink: How Tattoos Can Reveal Hidden Stories of Past Cultures

The English word tattoo is commonly said to be derived from the Polynesian word tatau or tatu . This Polynesian word means ‘to mark something’. Additionally, this word is an onomatopoeia, and is...
Arde Lucus Gladiatrix

Gladiatrix: Female Fighters Offered Lewd Entertainment in Ancient Rome

Female gladiators (gladiatrix) were just a thing of legend for many years. However, decades of research have made it possible to finally confirm their existence and importance in the Ancient Roman...
Stone ‘mushroom’ formations in Bulgaria.

Mushroom Monuments of Thrace and Ancient Sacred Rites

Throughout northeastern Greece, western Turkey, and Bulgaria, in the region known in antiquity as Macedonia, Anatolia, and Thrace, there are numerous megalithic natural rock formations that resemble...
Tzolkin section in the Dresden Codex, starting from the day 1, Manik'.

Sacred Calendars and New Years: Cycles of Time and Ages

The global holiday of a new year symbolizes all we have experienced for the duration of the year, and all our hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Such observances date back over 4,000 years, often...
A traditional imzad instrument, made by local craftswomen and played only by women.

Reviving the Music of their Foremothers: A Traditional Tuareg Instrument for Women Makes a Comeback

A traditional stringed gourd instrument of the Tuareg people in Africa, played only by women because of the threat of a curse upon men who play it, is making a comeback. Only two women were known to...
Pankratiasts fighting.

Pankration: A Deadly Martial Art Form from Ancient Greece

Pankration was one of the most popular combat sports in ancient Greece. It combined two other popular sports of antiquity, wrestling and boxing, but kicking was allowed as well. The name Pankration...
Re-creation of the port at Eridu, an ancient “Court of the King of the World”.

The Royal Road of the King of the World, and the Ancient Center of the Earth

The Royal Road of the King of the World is a 20-degree band around the Earth that has 30 degrees north latitude as its center. This band is not, technically, the geographical center of the Earth,...
Amulet of a Ba. Egypt, Ptolemaic Period, 332-30 B.C. Jewelry and Adornments; amulets. Gold with inlays of lapis lazuli, turquoise, and steatite.

Warding Evil and Welcoming Luck: Protective Amulets of the Ancient World

In the past, human life was vulnerable to disaster; Disease, wars, famine, natural disasters and many other factors could easily claim the lives of individuals. For this reason, people sought all...
Full moon over a winter landscape

Rare Holiday Full Moon Will Provide Special Christmas Light for First Time since 1977

A full-moon calculator indicates the moon was full on December 25, 1 AD, in the old Western calendar, and it will be full again this year, 2015 years later. This is the first time we have had a...
Painting entitled ‘Saturnalia’ (1783) by Antoine Callet.

Saturnalia: The December Festival of Joy and Merriment in Ancient Rome

Saturnalia was a festival celebrated by the ancient Romans. Originally, this celebration was held annually for a day on the 17th of December, but the festival was so popular that it was extended to a...
16th Century depiction of execution of a prisoner by Ottoman soldiers.

Execution by Elephant: A Gory Method of Capital Punishment

Elephants have played a number of important roles in human history. In some cultures, the elephant is a revered creature. In Buddhism, for example, the vivid dream of Buddha’s mother which foretold...
‘Ayurvedic Medicine. Man of the Medical caste, masseuse.’

Ayurvedic Medicine: A Traditional Knowledge of Life from India that Has Endured the Passage of Time

Ayurveda, known also as Ayurvedic medicine, is an ancient medical system that has its roots in India, and has been considered by many as one of the oldest healthcare systems in the world. In today’s...

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