All  

Ancient Origins Tour IRAQ

Ancient Origins Tour IRAQ Mobile

Mercury

Mercury figurine was discovered in Kent, England and dates back 2,000 years. Source:  © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Excavations in Kent Reveal Mercury Figurine and Roman Settlement

Excavations at Smallhythe Place in England’s Kent have revealed both a medieval shipbuilding site and an earlier Roman settlement. The latter yielded the unexpected find of the head of a figurine...
The mummy of Anna Catharina Bischoff (CC). Inset: Boris Johnson (Open Government License)

Boris Johnson’s Mummified Ancestor Died from Pathogen, Not the STD Syphilis

New research reveals Boris Johnson’s mummified Swiss ancestor did not die of syphilis , as has long been believed, but of an unknown pathogen. In 1787, at 68 years old, a woman called Anna Catharina...
Some of these ancient medical treatments will make you understand how the ‘mad doctor’ trope got started. Source: vchalup / Adobe Stock

Murderous Medicine: Six Strange and Horrifying Ancient Medical Treatments

The medical field has advanced significantly compared to where it was fifty years ago, let alone over 1,000 years ago. Although modern technology has allowed us to understand more about the human...
Temple of the Great Jaguar at Tikal in Guatemala, where high levels of mercury have been found. Source: IBRESTER / Adobe Stock

Meta-Study Shows Ancient Maya were at High Risk of Mercury Poisoning

The Maya Empire dominated large swaths of Mesoamerica for more than 3,000 years. But despite their impressive record of survival, the Maya civilization did not live completely in harmony with their...
The First Emperor of China was Killed by an Elixir of Immortality. Source:  ЮРИЙ ПОЗДНИКОВ / Adobe Stock

The First Emperor of China Took an ‘Elixir of Immortality’ Made of Mercury and it Killed Him

The First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, was terrified of death and much of his reign was focused on the search for immortality and the Elixir of Life. Ironically, Qin Shi Huang died from the toxic...
Left; 1660 chart illustrating Tycho Brahe’s model of the universe Right; Portrait of Tycho Braha, Skokloster Castle, Source: Left; Public Domain, Right; Public Domain

Tycho the Psycho? Meet One of History’s Maddest Scientific Minds Ever!

Tycho Brahe, the 16th century Danish astronomer, alchemist, astrologist, and scientist (1546-1601) was a force to be reckoned with – the true epitome of the brilliant, mad scientist. In the backdrop...
Queen Elizabeth I as depicted in the film Mary, Queen of Scots. Credit: Focus Features

Was Queen Elizabeth I Killed by her Poisonous White Makeup?

Queen Elizabeth I was one of the most successful, celebrated queens in British history. The daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn , she came to the throne on November 17, 1558, following the death...
Could the Mercury poisoning spike discovered in Iberian Copper Age bones be evidence that cinnabar powder was ingested during rituals? The healing art in pre-historic times, by Ernest Board. Source: Wellcome Trust / CC BY 4.0

Did Ritual Use of Cinnabar Cause Mercury Poisoning in Ancient Iberia?

A team of 14 biologists, chemists, physical anthropologists and archaeologists from the University of Seville have published a new study in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology . The...
Builders of Teotihuacan Had Remarkable Knowledge of Science and Engineering

Builders of Teotihuacan Had Remarkable Knowledge of Science and Engineering

In the heart of central Mexico, surrounded by majestic mountains and volatile volcanoes, is the Valley of Mexico Basin. There, hidden in plain sight stands Teotihuacan, a vast vexing complex of...
A collection of the medieval bones at the chapel in Montella, Italy. Source: University of Southern Denmark

Bone Analysis Reveals Disturbing Habits of Medieval Danes and Italians

A fascinating, and exceptionally niche, new scientific study has looked at the mineral content of medieval bones of Danish and Italian people. The results paint a fresh picture of the lifestyle...
The ancient Maya may have abandoned Tikal after its water became toxic. Source: Ingo Bartussek /Adobe Stock

The Ancient Maya Poisoned Tikal’s Drinking Water

Reservoirs in the heart of an ancient Maya city were so polluted with mercury and algae that the water likely was undrinkable. Researchers from the University of Cincinnati found toxic levels of...
The palace of Medina Azahara near Cordoba in Andalusia, Spain had a quicksilver pool to entertain guests. Source: rudiernst /Adobe Stock

Ancient Gateway to Quicksilver Palace Discovered In Spain

The city-palace Medina Azahara (the shining city) was situated four miles west of Córdoba in the foothills of the Sierra Morena and was built around 936-940 AD by Abd-al-Rahman III, the first Caliph...
Several of the ancient pigments were deadly. Photo source: Ezume Images / Adobe Stock.

Poisonous Pigments: History’s Deadliest Colors

Throughout history, ancient civilizations have been using all kinds of ingenious ways to create pigments for the coloring of clothing, objects and even buildings. While some of the pigments were...
The Secret Tomb of the First Chinese Emperor

The Secret Tomb of the First Chinese Emperor Remains an Unopened Treasure

The tomb of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, despite being involved in one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all times, endures as a mystery to archaeologists and historians as...
Illustration of a winged helmet.

Did Ancient Warriors Really Go to Battle Wearing Winged Helmets?

The winged helmet is a type of helmet that is found in mythology as well as history. In the realm of mythology, such helmets are associated with the Greek god Hermes (known also as Mercury by the...
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...
Venus and Anchises

Explainer: The Gods Behind the Days of the Week

The Roman weekday ‘dies Veneris’ was named after the planet Venus, which in turn took its name from Venus, goddess of love. The origins of our days of the week lie with the Romans. The Romans named...
A 17th century condom from Sweden.

Ancient Methods of Contraception – Even Tutankhamun Wore Protection

In today’s society, there are various forms of contraceptives available on the market. Some of these, like the combined oral contraceptive pill (often referred to just as ‘the pill’), for instance,...
‘An alchemist being tempted by Luxuria.’ Oil painting after Marten de Vos.

Spiritual Alchemy – Casting Light on a Secret Science

Spiritual alchemy is closely linked to secret knowledge and many who have attained this level of wisdom later decided to withdraw from it as they found they were not ready to receive it. The purpose...
Detail of a rattle, 1100-1470 AD, Chimu, north coast Peru, gold or gold-plated silver - Art Institute of Chicago.

Golden Years: Metal Coating Techniques Used 2000 Years Ago Outshine Modern Methods

Ancient technology used by craftsmen 2000 years ago to apply thin films of metal onto their statues surpassed modern standards for producing DVDs, solar cells, and electronic devices. It makes you...
An artistic representation of Al-Muqanna, the Veiled Prophet.

Second Moon Uprising: How Science and Skullduggery Helped an 8th Century Prophet Raise a Revolt

“The 'Moon of Nakhshab' was an artificial moon which Hakim Ibn-e 'Ata, known as Muqanna' (the Veiled One), caused to arise from the Pit of Nakhshab. This moon had been prepared by means of [magical]...
A Shining Example of Roman Craftsmanship: Unveiling the Superb Berthouville Treasure

A Shining Example of Roman Craftsmanship: Unveiling the Superb Berthouville Treasure

A remarkable silver treasure discovered in France in 1830 is one of the most impressive collections of extremely well-preserved Roman artifacts. Even though almost two centuries have passed since it...
The skull of a young girl who suffered from syphilis; she would have been a candidate for treatment with mercury in the Middle Ages.

A Toxic Price to Pay: Wealthy citizens in medieval Europe had poisoning from lead-glazed plates

Rich city dwellers in medieval northern Europe had elevated lead and mercury levels that probably caused them serious health problems. Fewer rural people, who were poorer, had elevated heavy metals...
‘The Elevation of the Great Elector into Olympus’. Ceiling painting (detail: Mercury), City Palace, Potsdam

Two thousand year old Mercury figurine found in Yorkshire

A metal detector enthusiast has discovered a 2000-year old figurine depicting the Roman god Mercury in a field near Selby, Yorkshire, UK. It is the 1,000 th officially recorded archaeological find of...

Pages