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Ancient Writings

There are literally thousands of incredible texts that have survived from the ancient world, which are etched onto copper, beautifully inscribed on papyrus, chipped onto tablets, and even written using the ink of ground down gold and precious stones. Here we feature many ancient writings, which have served to open a window onto the daily lives of our ancestors and enhanced the knowledge we hold about our ancient past.

Detail of the runic inscription found on one of the copies of the golden horns of Gallehus housed at the Moesgaard Museum.

Futhark: Mysterious Ancient Runic Alphabet of Northern Europe

Runes are the characters of the earliest written alphabet used by the Germanic peoples of Europe called Futhark. The runic alphabet was used within Germanic languages but primarily in Nordic...
An authentic codex, left, as opposed to a modern forgery, right, which is crude by comparison and betrays all of the hallmarks of modern manufacture: not the uneven patina, which is obviously applied and not accrued by age.

Controversial Lead Codices With Earliest Written Account of Jesus Confirmed Authentic

In 2007, Jennifer Solignac and David Elkington were shown images of a newly discovered set of books, of codices. They were surprising in one particular way: they were composed almost entirely of...
Example of a lamb stew with vegetables. (Jo del Corro/CC BY 2.0) “Hen with Herbs”. Laura Kelley recreates Recipe 2 from Yale tablet 8958. (Laura Kelley) Lamb shanks in a stew. (E4024/CC BY SA 4.0) YBC 4644, a tablet with a Babylonian recipe, ca. 1750 BC. (Yale University Library)

Three Babylonian Recipes From 1600 BC You Can Make At Home Today

Ever wanted a taste of life in an ancient civilization? The oldest cookbook ever found was made sometime around 1600 BC in the ancient city of Babylon. It’s a set of cracked tablets engraved by an...
Herodotus and Thucydides

Thucydides Versus Herodotus: Who Was the Real Father of History?

By Ben Potter / Classical Wisdom There has been a great deal of focus on the differences between Herodotus and Thucydides. Both men have been granted the 'father of history' accolade, but...
Colossal statue of Amenhotep III in the British Museum. (Public Domain) Background: Detail of Amarna letter: Royal Letter from Abi-milku of Tyre to the king of Egypt. (CC0)

To the King, My Sun, My God, the Breath of My Life… Amarna Letters Paint Remarkable Picture of Ancient Egyptian Rulership

“Your city weeps, and her tears are running, and there is no help for us. For 20 years we have been sending to our lord, the king, the king of Egypt, but there has not come to us a word from our lord...
One of the poisonous books. SDU, Author provided

Deadly Poison Discovered on Medieval Book Covers Could Have Killed

Some may remember the deadly book of Aristotle that plays a vital part in the plot of Umberto Eco’s 1980 novel The Name of the Rose . Poisoned by a mad Benedictine monk, the book wreaks havoc in a...
Agastyar, Father and Chairman of first Tamil Sangams, Madurai, Pandiya Kingdom. (CC BY SA 2.5) Detail of ancient Tamil script found on the temple walls of the Tanjore Bragadeeshwara temple.

Sangam Literature: These Tantalizing Tales Offer a Window into Ancient Tamil Life

“In their antiquity and in their contemporaneity, there is not much else in any Indian literature equal to these quiet and dramatic Tamil poems. In their values and stances, they represent a mature...
Agni, a deity which appears in the Atharva Veda. (Public Domain) Background: Detail of Codex Cashmiriensis folio 187a from Atharva-Veda Saṁhitā second half, by William Dwight Whitney and Charles Rockwell Lanman.

The Atharva Veda: Popular Religion, Charms, and Ancient Hindu Spells

Thou who art neither alive nor dead, the immortal child of the gods art thou, O Sleep! Varunânî is thy mother, Yama (death) thy father, Araru is thy name. We know, O Sleep, thy birth, thou art the...
A romanticized 19th-century recreation of King John signing Magna Carta. (Deriv.) (Public Domain) Background: Detail of Cotton MS. Augustus II. 106, one of only four surviving exemplifications of the 1215 Magna Carta text.

The Magna Carta: Did a Tyrannical English King Really Set the Stage for Liberty?

The Magna Carta is often lauded as an important milestone in human history. It is said to have guaranteed individual rights, the right to justice, and the right to a fair trial, as well as...
Section of the Carta Marina, 1527-39

Magic Mountains and Sea Serpents: the Secrets of Early Arctic Maps

By Tom Harper / The Conversation What comes to mind when you think of the Arctic? Ice, I imagine, polar bears, a barren cold landscape. And most would assume that these associations have remained the...
Mahabharata War.

The Mahabharata: Unforgettable Lessons in An Indian Epic of Family Fighting

Poets have told it before, poets are telling it now, other poets shall tell this history on earth in the future. - (The Book of the Beginning), Mahabharata The Mahabharata (which may be translated...
2,000-Year-Old Scorched Scrolls of Herculaneum

Secrets in 2,000-Year-Old Scorched Scrolls of Herculaneum to be Revealed with New Tech

An enormous wealth of knowledge locked within hundreds of ancient papyrus scrolls scorched by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, may now be revealed thanks to new technology which may enable...
Using Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), this picture of the Antioch tablet was compiled. Source: Paula Artal-Isbrand, conservator at the Princeton Art Museums, with permission of Alexander Hollman

First Jewish Curse Found: Chariot Racer Hexed by Calling on Balaam’s Angel

Experts have made the remarkable discovery of a curse on a lead amulet from the Eastern Roman Empire. According to the Jerusalem Times, experts were shocked when they finally deciphered the message...
"Three visits to the thatched cottage" (三顧茅廬), the second visit is depicted here. Portrait at the Long Corridor of the Summer Palace, Beijing. This is a scene from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms - A Well-Loved Chinese Classic

When saying the names Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, although the surnames are different, yet we have come together as brothers. From this day forward, we shall join forces for a common purpose: to...
Engraving found in Crimean cave on flint flake from Kiik-Koba layer IV.

Engraved Crimean Stone Artifact May Demonstrate Neanderthal Symbolism

A flint flake from the Middle Paleolithic of Crimea was likely engraved symbolically by a skilled Neanderthal hand, according to a study published May 2, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by...
Shaman, Shaman and Chief from Father Crespi tablets photos. Images provided by the author.

Representation of Sumerian Elites Detected in the Crespi Gold Tablets

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Sumerians had established a colony in South America called Kuga-Ki. Kuga-Ki was the "Tin Land of the West" or the "Sunset Land", in Sumerian inscriptions...

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