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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.

Making Peace in Ancient Syria: A Long-Awaited Egyptian–Hittite Peace Treaty

Making Peace in Ancient Syria: A Long-Awaited Egyptian–Hittite Peace Treaty

In 1259 BC two of the most powerful ancient armies met near the city of Kadesh in what is now Syria. The number of victims and descriptions of the epic battle are still the cause of scientific debate...
Making Peace in Ancient Syria: A Long-Awaited Egyptian–Hittite Peace Treaty

Making Peace in Ancient Syria: A Long-Awaited Egyptian–Hittite Peace Treaty

In 1259 BC two of the most powerful ancient armies met near the city of Kadesh in what is now Syria. The number of victims and descriptions of the epic battle are still the cause of scientific debate...
Creatures of the Land, Sea and Heavens: Ancient Beliefs in Animal Counterparts

Creatures of the Land, Sea and Heavens: Ancient Beliefs in Animal Counterparts

Until the Age of Enlightenment, it was widely believed that every land creature had its counterpart in the sea (and perhaps even in the heavens). The classic example of this belief is the horse,...
Retaining Ancient Ways: Codex Runicus, How the Runic Script Survived in the Middle Ages

Retaining Ancient Ways: Codex Runicus, How the Runic Script Survived in the Middle Ages

Runic script was developed in Scandinavia between the 2nd and 8th centuries AD. It was originally used for short inscriptions. After the Viking Age, this famous form of writing was altered to compete...
Tabula Cortonensis: A 2,200-year-old Tablet with a Bronze Key to Understanding the Etruscan World

Tabula Cortonensis: A 2,200-year-old Tablet with a Bronze Key to Understanding the Etruscan World

2,200 years ago, a pair of skilled Etruscan hands crafted a tablet that became a key to the language of this remarkable civilization. This unique bronze artifact is known as the Tabula Cortonensis...
Inscribed Curse on the Sarcophagus of King Ahiram Displays Earliest Use of Phoenician Alphabet

Inscribed Curse on the Sarcophagus of King Ahiram Displays Earliest Use of Phoenician Alphabet

The Sarcophagus of King Ahiram (spelled also as Ahirom) is an incredible monument that was unearthed in Lebanon. As its name suggests, the sarcophagus belonged to a king by the name of Ahiram, who...
Hidden in the Glyphs: Deciphering Bilingual Mayan-Olmec Text

Hidden in the Glyphs: Deciphering Bilingual Mayan-Olmec Text

In my book, Olmec Language and Literature , I explain how I deciphered the Olmec language. One of the most important documents used in my research was a Bi-lingual Mayan-Olmec text inscribed on a...

Song of Seikilos: Oldest Known Musical Composition Lay Hidden on a Flower Stand in Turkish Garden

The Song of Seikilos is the oldest complete surviving music composition in the world engraved in a marble stele that served as a flower stand. The beautiful composition, also known as the ‘Seikilos...
Aerial view of Thebes' Ramesseum, showing pylons and secondary buildings and the Medical Papyri.

Revealing the Ramesseum Medical Papyri and Other Remarkable Finds from the Temple of Ramesses II

The mortuary temple of Ramesses II is one of the most magnificent temples in the Theban necropolis in Upper Egypt. It was discovered by Jean-Francois Champollion, the same man who deciphered the...
Galdrabok, The Medieval Grimoire That Sheds Light on the Occult Practices of Iceland

Galdrabok, The Medieval Grimoire That Sheds Light on the Occult Practices of Iceland

Perhaps not as well-known as other grimoires, the Galdrabok , an Icelandic ‘book of magic’, is one of the most important surviving documents for the practices and understanding of occult practices in...
Star Maps and the Secrets of Senenmut: Astronomical Ceilings and the Hopi Vision of Earth

Star Maps and the Secrets of Senenmut: Astronomical Ceilings and the Hopi Vision of Earth

The builders of the pyramid complex in Egypt had a very good astronomer. We call him Senenmut (the Mother’s Brother, or the Uncle). Today, our astronomers are so good that they build computer...
Does the Ipuwer Papyrus Provide Evidence for the Events of the Exodus?

Does the Ipuwer Papyrus Provide Evidence for the Events of the Exodus?

The Ipuwer papyrus, also known as the ‘Admonitions of Ipuwer’, is a controversial text that describes starvation, drought, death, and violent upheavals in ancient Egypt, with some maintaining that it...
Behistun Inscription, The Rosetta Stone of Persia

Behistun Inscription, The Rosetta Stone of Persia

The Behistun Inscription is an engraving located on the cliff of Mount Behistun (said to have had the meaning of ‘place where the gods dwell’ in antiquity). This inscription was written in three...
The Westcar Papyrus and the Miracle Stories of the Old Kingdom

The Westcar Papyrus and the Miracle Stories of the Old Kingdom

The Westcar Papyrus has afforded us the earliest series of wonder tales known to exist in the world; but it has also yielded the hint of a sudden revolution in Egyptian history. So writes James...
Words from the Ancient Past: The Sogdian Ancient Letters

Words from the Ancient Past: The Sogdian Ancient Letters

The Sogdians were a people of Iranian origin who lived in the fertile valleys of Central Asia between the sixth century BC and tenth century AD. The secret to the Sogdians’ success was their knack...
Spells, Invocations and Divination: The Ancient History of Magical Grimoires

Spells, Invocations and Divination: The Ancient History of Magical Grimoires

Grimoires are books containing magic spells and instructions for the making of amulets and talismans, but some of them also contained directions on how to summon and control demons. Grimoires have...

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