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Ancient human remains.

Nine Weird and Wonderful Facts about Death and Funeral Practices

It might not be something you want to think about very often, but it turns out that the way we treat our dead in the modern age is heavily influenced by the way our ancestors treated theirs. When you...
Relief of a funeral procession from the tomb of Merymery in Saqqara; design by Anand Balaji

Sem Priests of Ancient Egypt: In the Service of King and Country—Part II

An appointee of the Pharaoh himself, the role of the sem priest carried immense political and religious weightage. In many ways, this class of priest served as the bridge between the ruler and the...
Scene on the north wall in KV62 shows King Aye as sem priest, performing the “Opening of the Mouth” ritual on the mummy of Tutankhamun; design by Anand Balaji

Sem Priests of Ancient Egypt: Their Role and Impact in Funerary Contexts—Part I

The office of sem or setem priest of Ptah, the patron god of the craftsmen in Memphis, Lower Egypt, was a prestigious one. Considered a sacred feline with a connection to the Heliopolitan cult via...
A Mayan zoomorphic ceramic of a chihuahua with a corn cob in its mouth.

Corn Dog Was on the Mayan Menu but Was Very Different to Today’s Handheld Snack

A new study shows that animal domestication was not only a question of food for the ancient Maya. Remains of a variety of species, including small dogs, large cats, and some turkeys, suggest the Maya...
Aerial photo of woodhenge discovered at Little Catwick Quarry, Yorkshire.

Yorkshire’s First Woodhenge May have Served as an Ancient Sauna

A team of archaeologists from Yorkshire have uncovered a 4,000-year-old “woodhenge,” thus a wooden circle that some now believe might have been used as a sauna. East Yorkshire’s First Woodhenge...
Pictorial representation of Pyramid in Teuchitlán Guachimontones Museum.

Were Mexico’s Circular Pyramids Really Made for a Flying Ceremony?

Guachimontones (known alternatively as Huachimontones) is an archaeological site located in the western Mexican state of Jalisco. This is an important site of the Teuchitlan tradition, which was a...

A Hopi Hero’s Journey: How the Snake Clan Came to Arizona

Joseph Campbell, in his classic book The Hero With A Thousand Faces explores in depth the universal mythic narrative of the culture-hero (traditionally male) who goes forth not to conquer but...
Chicanná: Enter the Maya House of the Serpent Mouth

Chicanna: Enter the Maya House of the Serpent Mouth

A menacing serpent-like monster glares down at you as you cross the plaza of Chicanná in Mexico. While it is certainly an unnerving thought, you decide to step inside the gaping serpent’s mouth...
Image during part of the funeral ceremony for Thailand’s deceased King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The Grand Funeral of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Intricate Buddhist Funerary Rites

For Thai Buddhists, funerals are extremely important moments, as they represent rebirth and the passage from one existence to another. The elaborate funeral rites recently held in honor of Thailand’s...
Detail of ‘Shaman’, (1930) by Arman Manookian.

The Real Story of Shamanism: No Need to Don a Headdress or Take Hallucinogens

Over the centuries, many of the world’s natural mystics have succumbed to pogroms of elimination or the steady erosion of traditional practices – witches burnt at the stake, indigenous peoples forced...
Detail of the kudu engraving which is said to depict female initiation rituals in the Namib desert thousands of years ago.

Rock Art Rituals: Namib Desert Engravings Provide Fascinating Insight into Ancient Initiation for Girls

When it is carefully examined, rock art in the Namib Desert may shine light on forgotten rituals and practices from thousands of years ago. One particularly interesting feature appears to show...
‘La Doncella’ (the Maiden), one of the mummified ‘Children of Llullaillaco’ in Salta province, Argentina.

Analysis Shows Children were Given Drugs and Alcohol before Ritual Sacrifice 500 Years Ago

The remarkably preserved mummified remains of three children were found on the summit of Volcan Llullaillaco in Argentina over a decade ago. The ‘Maiden’ was 13 years old when she met her demise and...
A pair of dogs/wolves and the moon

Butchered Dogs Consumed by Bronze Age Wolf Warriors in Rites Ceremonies

Archaeologists claim that remains of dogs and wolves found at the Srubnaya-culture settlement of Krasnosamarskoe in the Russian steppes, dating back to 1900–1700 BC, indicate that a ritual took place...
Where the Fairies Dwell: Irish Ringforts in Our World and Theirs

Where the Fairies Dwell: Irish Ringforts in Our World and Theirs

A cloud of mystery looms over the ringforts that speckle the countryside of Ireland. More than 45,000 ringforts have been documented throughout Northern Europe and yet little is known about the date...
A Polish Stonehenge? Discovery of New Burial Mounds May Rewrite History

A Polish Stonehenge? Discovery of New Burial Mounds May Rewrite History

A group of previously unknown burial mounds has been discovered near Czaplinek in north-western Poland. The most interesting feature found so far is a stone ring, which is shaped similar to the world...
Ten Unusual Ancient Traditions that Would Not Thrive Today

Ten Unusual Ancient Traditions that Would Not Thrive Today

Cultures evolve or change over the ages; this is an undeniable fact. However, many of the practices of ancient people and cultures would be practically incomprehensible for most people today. Be they...

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