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Ancient Origins Tour IRAQ

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Myths & Legends

All over the world there are extraordinary stories—stories that once upon a time were believed to be true but are today limited to the sphere of ancient myths and legends. The question remains, are those myths and legends something that existed in the minds of our ancestors, or were they based on true events? It is true that most of those ancient myths and legends appear to the scientific world to be fictitious products of vivid imaginations whose goals were purely to explain phenomena beyond their comprehension. Yet is it not arrogant to accuse our ancestors of being uncivilised and ignorant in one breath, then offer them praise and admiration over their monuments, buildings, art, sculptures, and societies in the next? This only proves that our modern society has two contradictory attitudes toward our past.

In this section we will explore some of the most amazing myths and legends from around the world—legends that may hold truths that can unlock the secrets of our ancient origins.

Krampus is a Christmas Devil. Source: Sergio Delle Vedove / Adobe Stock

Krampus: The Terrifying Christmas Devil Who Punished Naughty Children

In European folklore, Krampus is the antithesis of Santa Claus . The equivalent of a Christmas Devil, Krampus is a horrific beast that hunted down misbehaving children and whipped or terrified them...
Left: Standing nearly 9 feet tall, this Coatlicue statue is one of the Aztec Empire's largest surviving sculptures. As was typical of Aztec sculptures, all sides of the statue were decorated.    Right: A modern reimagining of Coatlicue. Source: Left: Luidger / CC BY SA 3.0; Center: Public Domain), Right: Public Domain

Coatlicue: Fearsome Fertility Goddess of the Aztecs

Coatlicue was one of the most important gods in the Aztec pantheon. Not only was she the goddess of fertility, but she also gave birth to Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war and the sun. Her high...
Top image: In the Norse creation myth, worlds of fire and ice emerge from the abyss at the beginning of the universe.	Source: ivanovevgeniy / Adobe Stock

Norse Creation Myth: Fire and Ice from the Abyss

The Norse people were the ancient tribal communities of Scandinavia, who in the modern day are often referred to or thought of as the Vikings (who were actually a subset of them). Like many other...
The little-known medieval hero known as Hereward the Wake. Source: Kathy / Adobe Stock

Hereward the Wake – Original Robin Hood or Fictional Medieval Hero?

Famous legendary figures like King Arthur and Robin Hood have one foot planted in fact and one firmly planted in fiction. This is also true for Hereward the Wake, an Anglo-Saxon nobleman who helped...
Visiting mythical places, like the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland pictured, helps us connect with our past, as well as nature. Source: drimafilm / Adobe Stock

Live the Legend: 8 Mythical Places That Actually Exist

When it comes to ancient mythology it can sometimes be difficult to separate fact from fiction. While most myths are obviously fictional, they often contain at least a grain of truth. The ancients...
Ulysses (Odysseus) and the Sirens of Greek mythology in a painting dating to circa 1909 by Herbert James Draper. Source: Public domain

Seductive Sirens of Greek Mythology and How Heroes Resisted Them

Sirens are a type of creature found in ancient Greek mythology. Commonly described as beautiful but dangerous creatures , the sirens are remembered for seducing sailors with their sweet voices, and,...
The mysterious story of the Man from Taured. Source: MedRocky / Adobe Stock

The Mysterious Man from Taured – Evidence for a Parallel Universe?

The Man from Taured, sometimes referred to as the Taured Mystery or the Man without a Country, is an urban legend about a man who arrives at a Japanese airport from an unheard of country called...
Pan and Selene, by Hans von Aachen. Source: Pan and Selene, by Hans von Aachen. Source: Public domain

Celestial Goddess Selene: The Ancient Greek Goddess of the Moon

With silver wings and a golden diadem, the goddess Selene shone brightly throughout the lands of ancient Greece. As the goddess of the moon , Selene captivated the hearts of ancient poets, authors,...
Medieval Knight. Many of the Knights of the Round Table were fated to an early death. Source: Tony Marturano / Adobe Stock

King Arthur's Tragic Knights of the Round Table

Few stories in English folklore have had the staying power of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. While many people are familiar with the legend, few people realize how many different...
Pegasus of Greek mythology is depicted as a majestic, white, winged-horse. Source: Viks_jin / Adobe Stock

Pegasus of Greek Mythology: Majestic Winged Horse of Mount Olympus

Pegasus is the majestic flying horse of Greek mythology , best known for its association with the heroes Perseus and Bellerophon. Traditionally depicted as a pure white horse with wings, the Pegasus...
Was King Arthur's Guinevere a Real Historical Queen?

Was King Arthur's Guinevere a Real Historical Queen?

There is perhaps no more famous character in British legend than that of King Arthur. For centuries, people have been reading tales of King Arthur and his knight’s exploits. Of all the characters...
Depiction of Valhalla, where Odin held court at Asgard, from the 1878 staging by Hermann Burghart of Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner. (Public domain)

Asgard: The Fabled Home of the Aesir Gods of Norse Mythology

Asgard was the home of the mighty Norse gods, from where they watched over the other eight realms and administered justice. It was also the final resting place of the dead and where Odin, King of the...
The story of Icarus as depicted by Torre de la Parada in the 1630s. Source: Public domain

Dreams of Human-Powered Flight: Daedalus and the Story of Icarus

Daedalus, the legendary inventor of ancient Greek mythology, joined the court of Minos, the ruler of Crete, as the king's star engineer. Within the stories of Ovid, Homer or even Pausanius, Daedalus...
Left; Aztec god Xochipilli as described in the 16th century Codex Borgia, Right; Xochipilli, Aztec terracotta Lombards Museum. Source: Left; Public Domain Right; CC BY 3.0

Xōchipilli: Fun-Loving Aztec God of Sex, Drugs, and Music

The Aztecs were known for their many unique deities, but one of the most fascinating is Xōchipilli, the Aztec god of flowers, love, art, and fertility, as well as patron of homosexuality. Xōchipilli’...
A modern depiction of the Aztec fertility goddess Tlaltecuhtli. Source: Public Domain

Tlaltecuhtli: Fearsome Fertility Goddess of the Aztecs

Tlaltecuhtli was a Mesoamerican earth goddess predominantly worshiped by the Aztec people. In most religions, fertility goddesses are depicted as the culture's epitome of beauty, like Aphrodite of...
The god of Chaos in Greek mythology was depicted as both a goddess and a place. Source: RolffImages / Adobe Stock

The Greek God Chaos: The Primordial Cosmic Deity

Which came first: the chicken or the egg? If God created the universe, then who created God? If nothing existed before the Big Bang, then what created the cataclysm? The laws of the universe dictate...
Zeus, Greek god of Mount Olympus, Source: matiasdelcarmine / Adobe Stock

The Greek God Zeus: The Insatiable Womanizer of Mount Olympus

“Then Zeus no longer held back his might; but straight his heart was filled with fury and he showed forth all his strength. From Heaven and from Olympus he came forthwith, hurling his lightning: the...
The Rainbow Bridge by Hermann Hendrich. Source: Archivist / Adobe Stock

Bifrost: The Rainbow Bridge to Asgard Doomed to Collapse in Ragnarok

One of the most important elements of Norse mythology was the Bifrost. The Bifrost was the legendary shimmering rainbow bridge to Asgard, responsible for connecting the world of the gods with the...
Chiron is described as the wisest and noblest of the centaurs. After being taught archery by Apollo, he mentored many Greek heroes. Source: pict rider / Adobe Stock

Chiron, the Noble Elder Centaur of Greek Mythology

Greek mythology is full of weird and wonderful creatures. While the most famous were those sent to hinder the ancient Greek heroes, Greek mythology was also full of helpful creatures. Perhaps the...
The Runamo Runes: The Mysterious Runic Inscription that Never Was!

The Runamo Runes: The Mysterious Runic Inscription that Never Was!

Before the invention of paper, humanity often inscribed words, symbols, and images onto the living stone of the surrounding landscape. These images, often commemorating significant cultural events or...
The terrifying sea monster Charybdis was the cause of deadly whirlpools in Greek mythology. Source: DaemonTheDemon / CC BY SA

Charybdis: The Terrifying Whirlpool Monster of Greek Mythology

Greek mythology is full of fascinating monsters. One of the most powerful and dangerous of these was the sea monster, Charybdis. Charybdis was not just a monster, she was a force of nature who...
Is thinking of the Vegvisir as a ‘Viking compass’ completely off course? Source: Tartila / Adobe Stock

Vegvisir: Was the ‘Viking Compass’ Originally a Christian Symbol?

Although the name Vegvisir may not be familiar to you, you may have seen its symbolic representation before. This emblem has gained iconic status largely due to its frequent use in the media...
The Wolves Pursuing Norse sun and moon gods Sol and Mani            Source: John Charles Dollman, 1909, Public Domain, colorized

Celestial Siblings: Norse Sun and Moon Gods Chased Across the Sky

Chased across the sky by a pair of wolves, the Norse sun and moon gods were tasked with a heavy burden. The Sol and Mani were responsible for pulling a chariot across the sky every day and night...
Bronze statue of Nike, Greek goddess of victory, on Austrian Parliament roof in Vienna, Austria	(neurobite / Adobe Stock)

Nike, Greek Goddess of Victory and Zeus’s Charioteer of Glory

Of all the Greek pantheon, none enjoys better brand recognition than Nike. Unless one is a true history buff, the word Nike is more likely to evoke mental images of sneakers than Greek mythology. It...

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