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death

A man marrying a deceased woman in China

Ghost Marriages: Love For the Living and the Deceased

The tradition of the ghost marriage is one that supposedly stretches back to the first imperial dynasty of China: the Qin Dynasty, dating from the years 221 BC – 206 BC. The most comprehensive early...
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...
 Illustration of Dante’s Paradise by Giovanni de Paulo.

What is Heaven?

Joanne M. Pierce / The Conversation When a family member or a friend passes away, we often find ourselves reflecting on the question “Where are they now?” As mortal beings, it is a question of...
Amiternum funerary procession relief.

Mimes, Paid Grievers, and Masks: The Insane Theatrics of Ancient Roman Funerals

Two thousand years ago, funerals weren’t the quiet, somber affairs we have today. They were loud, boisterous shows that started with a massive procession of people parading down the streets, pounding...
‘The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra’, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

Searching for the Lost Tomb of Antony and Cleopatra

Mark Antony and Cleopatra are among the most famous pairs of lovers from the ancient world. Following their defeat at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, their final refuge from the victorious Octavian...
The Mysterious Village of Dargavs, Russia

City of the Dead: The Mysterious Village of Dargavs, Russia

Often referred to as the City of the Dead , the village of Dargavs is considered to be one of the more mysterious sites in Russia. Hidden away in one of the five mountain ridges somewhere in the...
Henry Wallis – Poet Thomas Chatterton’s death by arsenic.

Death by Wallpaper: When Arsenic in the Walls Was Killing Children

Wallpaper isn’t as popular as it once was, and perhaps the reason for this falling out of fashion was its ability to kill! In 1778, a Swedish Chemist named Carl Scheele created a brilliant green...
Kamehameha the Great

Secret and Safe: Hawaiian Royal Burials and the Missing Bones of Kamehameha the Great

The magical properties associated with the bones of Hawaiian kings were valuable to the ancient Hawaiians, and were even seen potentially dangerous. Great rites and elaborate ceremonies were...

Daily Prayers with Decomposing Corpses: Death Chairs at Aragonese Castle

The Aragonese Castle is a castle built on top of a rocky islet next to Ischia, a small Italian island on the northern end of the Gulf of Naples. Whilst a stronghold is said to have already been built...
Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal: The Mighty Mesopotamian Goddess of the Underworld

“Namtar made his voice heard and spake, addressed his words to Ereshkigal, "Send me to Anu your father, and let me arrest the god! Let me take him to you, that he may kiss you again!" - Excerpt from...
Decorations placed around a coffin at a home funeral in Da Nang, Vietnam. At left, placed in front of the coffin, is an altar featuring a framed photo of the deceased and a pot for offering joss sticks. At right are a number of flower bouquets with attached condolences, and in the background are a number of vertical banners, also offering condolences.

Traditional Funerary Rites Provide a Glimpse at Mystery Neolithic Vietnamese Culture

3,000 years ago, a small community on a Vietnamese island disappeared. No one is certain why, but even their very existence is a surprise. Luckily for archaeologists, it seems that their traditional...
A bottle of an elixir.

Seeking Life but Finding Death: Deadly Chinese Elixirs of Immortality

The elixir of immortality (known also as the ‘elixir of life’) is a legendary substance found in many ancient cultures. This elixir is expected to grant eternal life to the person who consumes it...
The 10 skeletons were arranged in a spiral pattern found at Tlalpan, Mexico City

Discovered! Ancient Mexican Spiral of Death

Ten ancient skeletons have been unearthed in Mexico this week including a baby of around one-month-old! Ritualistically deformed, in that their skull shapes and teeth had been altered, they were...
‘Lucretia’ by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Lucretia’s suicide is a well-known example of suicide in ancient Rome.

Petitioning for Death: Did Ancient Romans Really Ask for Permission to Commit Suicide?

Cases of suicide are known to have occurred in ancient Rome, as they have been recorded by ancient writers. But there are many questions surrounding this subject that have yet to be fully answered. A...
Top image: A woman in traditional Chinese dress. Source: CC0

When Concubines Fought Back: The Plot to Eliminate a Mad and Sadistic Emperor

The Renyin Plot was an assassination attempt carried out on the sadistically violent Jiajing Emperor, who was the ruler of China’s Ming Dynasty during the 16th century. The assassins almost succeeded...
Bust of Aeschylus, Zappeion, Athens. (Tilemachos Efthimiadis/CC BY SA 2.0) Illustration of the death of Aeschylus.

Eagle Mistakes Bald Head for a Rock: The Bizarre Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Aeschylus

Aeschylus, widely regarded as the “Father of Tragedy,” was one of the first of classical Athens’ great dramatists. He raised the emerging art of tragedy to new heights of poetry and theatrical power...

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