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Chamber of torture devices and ancient punishments in Prague Castle

9 Methods of Ancient Punishment That’ll Make You Squirm

For as long as societies have had to deal with crime, they’ve had to deal out punishment. In some, places, and situations the process was only meant to humiliate the guilty, but most of the following...
Suspects in Ancient India Forced to Chew Rice to Determine Their Guilt.

Ordeal of Rice: Suspects in Ancient India Forced to Chew Rice to Determine Their Guilt

The ordeal of rice is a divine method of proof that was employed in ancient India. This ordeal involves suspects chewing on rice grains and then spitting them out. The condition of the grains is then...
Patrician Ladies with Plebeian Slave in background.

The Patricians and the Plebeians: A Very Roman Social Struggle

During the time of the Roman Kingdom and the Roman Republic, Roman society was divided between two important classes – the patricians and the plebeians. Originally, the patricians were part of the...
Statue of Rollo, Duke of Normandy in Ålesund, Norway. The Clameur de Haro is traditionally believed to have been a plea towards this ruler.

Clameur de Haro: Feudal Law Brings Construction Project To a Standstill

Rosie Henderson, from Guernsey, activated the ancient Norman rite of Clameur de Haro in protest of “the narrowing of a road” which she claims “would endanger pedestrians and motorists,” according to...
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...
Tyr, Gleipnir and Fenrir.

Tyr: The Norse God of Law and War Breaks a Promise

The Norse god Tyr is not very well-known, at least when compared to such names as Odin and Thor. But he is also part of the Aesir tribe in the Norse pantheon and Tyr could be called the bravest of...
Venus and Mars, c 1485. Tempera and oil on poplar panel, National Gallery, London.

Trial by Public Performance: The Impotence Trials of Pre-Revolutionary France

The impotence trials of prerevolutionary France sound a bit like a political joke. France had mostly squelched the ability for couples to divorce, and it was in the wake of this that the impotence...
‘The Divorce of the Empress Josephine’ (1843) by Henri Frédéric Schopin

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Divorce Laws Have Evolved, But One Country Is Holding Back

Divorce can be traced all the way back to ancient Greek and Roman societies. But the idea of marriage in these cultures was different from what is found in modern Western society, so it makes sense...
A cylinder seal impression, ca. 2100 BC, sometimes interpreted as Ur-Nammu (seated) bestowing governorship on Ḫašḫamer, ensi of Iškun-Sin.

The Code of Ur-Nammu: When Ancient Sumerians Laid Down the Law, Everyone Obeyed

The Code of Ur-Nammu is the oldest surviving law code. This text was written on clay tablets in the Sumerian language and is reckoned to have been produced towards the end of the 3rd millennium BC...
A Viking Warrior

Never Offend a Viking or ‘The Thing’ Might Just Decide Your Fate

BY THORNEWS If you offended a Viking, a normal reaction would be to kill you on the spot. If the murder took place in daylight with witnesses present and without trying to hide his act, the...
Mrs. Joan Howard, nicknamed Indiana Joan, is a 95-year-old woman accused of tomb raiding in the 1960s and 1970s.

Indiana Joan’s $1 Million Artifact Collection Has Got Her in a Spot of Bother

Ninety-five-year-old Joan Howard proudly showed off her collection of ancient artifacts to a local newspaper in Australia, not realizing that he story was to spark a worldwide controversy. Now...
Collection of Egyptian Art, design by Anand Balaji

Ostraca: Voices from the Place of Truth—An intimate glimpse into New Kingdom Egypt

Athenians meted out harsh punishments to those who fell afoul of prevalent laws or societal norms. If citizens had done something terrible, they ran the risk of being exiled from the city for up to...
King Shapur of Persia Humiliating Emperor Valerian (Public Domain) Background: court of the emperor Valerian, painting circa 1450. (Public Domain); Deriv.  By Martini Fisher

What Really Happened to Valerian? Was the Roman Emperor Humiliated and Skinned at the Hands of the Enemy?

The death of Valerian is traditionally known as one of the most dramatic and unfortunate of all the deaths of the Roman emperors. The widely accepted story is that Valerian wanted to end the war with...
The Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) provided an incredibly clear view of the medieval text.

6th Century Roman Law Text Discovered After Being Hidden for Centuries Inside Parchment Recycled as Medieval Bookbinding

The secrets within medieval manuscripts can be read once again, thanks to modern technology and new imaging techniques. Experts now suggest that computational imaging and signal processing advances...
Yorkshire Photo Walks (Tom Marsh/CC BY 2.0), and Grey Lady. (CC BY 2.0); Deriv.

Staked Through the Heart and Buried at the Crossroads – The Profane Burial of Suicides

I uncovered a curious tale about a scrubby patch of land while writing a book on the folklore and history of East Anglia. Marked on modern maps as Lushbush, you pass it heading eastwards out of the...
Grisly Tales Marriage and Murder – Who were the Ancient Danites & Danaan? Part II

Grisly Tales Marriage and Murder – Who were the Ancient Danites & Danaan? Part II

The Danaan and Danites are a mystery people for many historians. Speculated to have been Greek seafarers in the late Bronze Age, they are also closely associated with the Sea Peoples who ravaged the...

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