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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.

Traité des Fardements et Confitures, Lyon 1556.

Treatise on Make-up and Jam: A Bestselling Cookbook by Nostradamus

It is undeniable that Michel de Nostredame (more commonly known as Nostradamus) is most renowned for his published collection of prophecies known as Les Prophéties , or in English as The Prophecies...
Opening from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, 1440. The Morgan Library & Museum.

Beautiful, Decorative, and Sometimes Crude: Illuminated Manuscripts and Marginalia

Illuminated manuscripts are manuscripts that are covered with painted ornaments presented under several forms. These documents are perhaps most commonly associated with the European Middle Ages...
“The Alchymist, in Search of the Philosopher's Stone” by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1771.

From Magic to Science: The Intriguing Ritual and Powerful Work of Alchemy

Throughout time, history has recorded numerous rituals and magic practices, some more bizarre than others. While alchemists were preoccupied with finding the Philosopher's Stone and the elixir of...
Burning witches and holding others in the Stocks, 14th century.

The Malleus Maleficarum: A Medieval Manual for Witch Hunters

The Salem witch trials, which began in 1692 in Salem Village, Massachusetts bay colony, are one of the most well-known and notorious witch trials in history. Yet, this was not the only case of these...
Painting entitled ‘Abulcasis blistering a patient in the hospital at Cordova.’

Al-Zahrawi: The Legacy of the Father of Modern Surgery

The period from the 8th century until the 13th century AD is commonly referred to as the Islamic Golden Age. During this era, the Islamic world produced numerous scholars who contributed greatly to...
The Laguna Copperplate Inscription.

The Laguna Copperplate Inscription: An Ancient Text That Changed the Perception of the History of the Philippines

The Laguna Copperplate Inscription is the name of an inscription written on an artifact that has great significance for the understanding of the history of the Philippines during the 10th century AD...
Strange beasts, mythological and real, graced the pages of ancient bestiaries.

Bestiary, The Book of Beasts: Compendiums of Medieval Monsters and Moral Lessons

During the Middle Ages the phoenix rose from its ashes to be reborn, dangerous dragons battled elephants to the death, and the pelican tore out its own breast to feed its young with its life’s blood—...
Quedlinburg Castle and Monastery, Quedlinburg, Germany where the Annals of Quedlinburg were written.

The Annals of Quedlinburg: Rare Example of Female Scholarship in Medieval Europe

Mention medieval scholarship , and the first image that most people will have would probably be that of a monk with a quill in his hand and an open book before him. The most well-known scholars of...
The world’s first-known abecedary in ancient Egyptian hieratic script has been deciphered by a Dutch Egyptologist.

Scholar deciphers oldest known alphabet primer, in ancient Egyptian

A Dutch Egyptologist recently deciphered the oldest known abecedary or alphabet-like primer on a 3,500-year-old shard of pottery from an Egyptian tomb excavated 20 years ago. The earliest alphabets...
A detail of the basalt Rosetta Stone

The father of Egyptology suffered a tragic death after deciphering the Rosetta Stone

A mystery surrounds the death of a 19 th century Frenchman who unraveled a great mystery—the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Jean-Francois Champollion died young after deciphering the Rosetta Stone,...
A collection of tablets displaying Indus Valley script.

Decoding the mysterious ancient Indus Valley script will shed light on powerful ancient civilization

Linguists have cracked many tough scripts, from Mesopotamian cuneiform to Egyptian hieroglyphic to Central American Mayan glyphs, but there are a few ancient, mysterious scripts still in the field...
Section of the Derveni Papyrus

The Derveni Papyrus: The Most Ancient Book in Europe Involved in a Campaign Against Orpheus?

The Derveni Papyrus has recently been inscribed as one of the works for protection within the Memory of the World Register by UNESCO. Named as the ‘Most Ancient Book in Europe,’ the history of the...
A five-volume treatise concerning medical matters, Dioscorides, De Materia Medica, Byzantium, 15th century.

Could ancient textbooks be the source of the next medical breakthrough?

The discovery that won the latest Nobel Prize for Medicine wouldn’t have been much of a revelation to doctors in ancient China. Pharmaceutical chemist Tu Youyou established that the compound...
The text resembles Cyrillic letters, according to experts.

Is The Book of Veles a great Slavic text or a charlatan’s forgery?

The Book of Veles is so controversial it is banned in Russia. Its supporters say it lays out cultural, religious and historical facts about Slavs from the 7 th century BC until the 9 th century AD,...
The Blinding of Vasilko of Terebovl from The Tale of Bygone Years/The Primary Codex. (15th Century).

The Precious Knowledge of the Hypatian Codex: Detailed Chronicle of the Southern Rus

The Hypatian Codex , known also as the Hypatian Chronicle , is said to be the main source of information for the history of the Southern Rus’ (Kyivan Rus’.) The Hypatian Codex was discovered by the...
Fuenta Magna

Fuente Magna, the Controversial Rosetta Stone of the Americas

By April Holloway | The Epoch Times The Fuenta Magna is a large stone vessel, resembling a libation bowl, that was found in 1958 near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. It features beautifully engraved...

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