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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.

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...
Aphrodite in the forge of the god Hephaestus. 1610 painting by Bartholomeus Spranger entitled “Venus in Vulcan’s Forge.” Source: Public domain

How Did Greek God Hephaestus Score the Goddess of Love?

As one of the twelve Olympians, the god Hephaestus was a major deity for the ancient Greeks. In Greek mythology, Hephaestus was primarily the god of fire and smiths, but he was also in charge of...
Odin and his brothers defeated Ymir in Norse mythology, and used his body to create Midgard. Odin’s symbol, a raven, seen superimposed on a cosmic background.	Source: jozefklopacka / Adobe Stock

Ymir in Norse Mythology: A Cosmic Creation Story

The story of Ymir and the creation of the universe typifies the emphasis on sacrifice as a theme, in Nordic myth and in creation stories around the world. In Norse mythology, Ymir was the primeval...
The cyclopes were one-eyed mythological giants of ancient Greece. But did the myth originate from elephant skulls like this?   Source: Left; John Cummings, CC BY-SA 3.0, Right; bigjom/ Adobe Stock

Were Cyclopes Legends Inspired by Ancient Elephant Skulls?

Ancient Greek mythology is full of fantastic beasts and monsters. One of the most famous examples is the brutal one-eyed race of giants, the cyclopes. Several different cyclopes appeared in various...
Hecate sculpture at Antalya Archaeological Museum in Turkey. Source: neurobite / Adobe Stock

Hecate: Triple-Bodied Greek Goddess of Witchcraft and Keeper of Keys

Hecate the goddess of Greek mythology has been primarily remembered for her associations with magic and witchcraft. Throughout history however, her sphere of influence also included the moon, night,...
Niflheim, here viewed as the land of the dead who died without honor. Source: Zaleman / Adobe Stock

Niflheim in Norse Mythology: Land of the Dead and Home to Lady Hel

In Norse cosmology, the universe was made up of nine distinct realms. Each had its unique inhabitants and mythology, but some played bigger parts in the Norse mythology than others. One of the most...
1889 painting of Circe by Wright Barker. Source: Public domain

The Spellbinding Story of Circe, Goddess of Magic in Greek Mythology

Circe is a complex character within Greek mythology. Feared and desired in equal measure, Circe was a goddess of magic, and even today she continues to be one of the most enchanting and deadly...
Was Plato’s Atlantis historical fact? And if so, where are its ruins?  Source: fergregory / Adobe Stock

Three Scientific Mysteries of Plato’s Atlantis

In the early years of researching my 5-volume Gods of Atlantos Saga , I read and re-read Plato’s accounts of Atlantis – his dialogues Timaeus and Critias – and was brought up short by three of his...
A large Viking rune stone depicting the Midgard serpent in Trelleborg Sweden. Source: Lars Gieger / Adobe Stock

Midgard: Norse Mythology's Realm of the Humans

The Viking universe was a complicated one. It was made up of nine different realms. Different realms were home to different races, and each had different themes. Of all the races, humans were the...
Massive Medusa heads under Istanbul lend support to the legend of the Medusa sarcophagus.	Source: Goinyk / Adobe Stock

Did a Sultan Find Medusa’s Sarcophagus in the Basilica Cistern?

Nestled beneath the winding streets of Istanbul, just 490 feet (149 meters) from the Hagia Sophia, lies an ancient cistern that may have been the final resting place of Medusa! The Basilica Cistern,...
Jotunheim, land of the giants in Norse mythology, was the source of many antagonists and adventures for our mythical heroes. Source: lobard / Adobe Stock

Jotunheim: Outsized Tales from the Norse Land of the Giants

In Norse mythology, the cosmos consisted of nine realms. Some realms we know a lot about, others remain largely a mystery. Jotunheim, the land of the frost giants, is one of the better-recorded...
Typhon and Echidna were parents to a pantheon of Greek monsters. Statue of Echidna in Parco dei Mostri, Bomarzo, Italy  Source: Public Domain

Typhon and Echidna: Monster Makers of Greek Mythology

Greek mythology is full of terrible monsters. Although it is difficult to choose the worst or most terrible of the Greek monsters, Typhon and Echidna are strong contenders. Both were giant behemoths...
Fantasy illustration of the palaces of the gods on Mount Olympus.	Source: Max79im / Adobe Stock

Mount Olympus, Dwelling Place of the Gods: Myth vs Reality

Few mountains have had greater impact on the history of Western civilization than the mountain situated on the Aegean coast on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, referred to as Mount Olympus...
In the wars between the Olympians and the Titans, known as the Titanomachy, Hyperion, the heavenly light, does battle with Zeus, the sky and thunder god. Source: rudall30 / Adobe Stock

Hyperion: Titan God of Heavenly Light, Son of Gaia and Uranus

In Disney’s 1997 film Hercules , the Titans are portrayed as natural disasters personified in the form of monolithic, terrible beings. In Greek mythology, however, the Titans were part of the first...
Hestia, the Greek goddess of the hearth and home, holding the flame of life. Source: matiasdelcarmine / Adobe Stock

Hestia: Greek Goddess of the Hearth and Home

A woman stands next to a large flame, with a staff in one hand and tending to the fire with the other. This is Hestia, the Greek goddess of the hearth, home, and family. Her name literally means “...
Jacob’s ‘pillow’ upon its stone altar, cleaned with oils each morning. In reality, this is the large Hampi-Shiva lingam (omphalos), and the omphalos itself is over a meter (3.2 feet) high. Temple lingams are generally large, while personal lingams can be very small. Source: Alexeiy / Adobe Stock

Jacob’s Pillow: A Christian-Hindu Connection?

The Christian Bible has been the subject of scholarly study for centuries. With a mix of prose and poetry, history and metaphor, deciphering biblical verses can be an arduous endeavor. The story of...
Painting of Freja by John Bauer. Source: Public domain

The Story, Symbols and Powers of Freya, the Norse Goddess of Love

Freya is old Norse for “lady” and was the name given to the Norse goddess of love. Whilst she certainly sought out passion and pleasure, she was a complex character. In fact, to the Vikings she was a...
Oedipus the King of Sophoces theatrical costume Athens Greece. Source: Susan Vineyard / Adobe Stock

The Mother of All Myths: Oedipus, The Story of the King of Thebes

The myth of Oedipus contains moral lessons about the dangers of tempting fate. It warns that fate cannot be neither challenged nor escaped. In doing so, the story is full of intrigue and revelation...
Nidhogg breathed chaos under Yggdrasil. Source: warmtail / Adobe Stock

Nidhogg, the Chaos Bringing Dragon of Ancient Norse Mythology

A dark dragon, feathered, with corpses strewn about its body. An ancient evil that nibbles away at the structure of the universe itself. The “curse-striker.” A beast constantly engaged in a battle of...
Detail from Helios on His Chariot, a 17th century depiction of Helios the sun god of Greek mythology, by Hans Adam Weissenkircher. Source: Public domain

Deciphering the Role of Helios, the Sun God of Greek Mythology

An unpunished second-generation Titan of Greek mythology, Helios was a deity who was important, but not always recognized for his powers. Until his role was usurped by a newer god, Helios was the...
Gold Eros, Greek god of love representation close up on middle body, bow and arrow. Source: zwiebackesser / Adobe Stock

Eros: Everything You Need to Know about the Greek God of Love and Sex

The ancient Greeks had a god for everything – and sometimes they had more than one god for things! This is the case for love and sex, which are most commonly attributed to Aphrodite. However, there...
Nyx, the Greek goddess of the night, who was feared even by Zeus. Source: Brenda Clarke / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Nyx, the Primordial Goddess of the Night

The Ancient Greek pantheon of gods is large and can be hard to keep track of. Greek mythology has seeped into pop culture in such a way that most people these days have at least a passing knowledge...
Left: An illustration of Thor fishing with the jotunn Hymir, where Thor catches Jormungandr (From an 18th century Icelandic manuscript / Public Domain). Right: Thor battling the Midgard Serpent, painting by Henry Fuseli, 1788 (Public Domain)

Jörmungandr: The Misunderstood Midgard Serpent of Norse Mythology

Jörmungandr, the world serpent, was an integral part of Norse mythology. Throughout history, he has been portrayed as a key villain in Norse mythology and arch nemesis of Thor, the god of thunder...
Thutmose IV’s Dream Stele standing between the front legs of the Sphinx in Giza, Egypt. Source: Claudio Caridi / Adobe Stock

The Dream Stele: How a Dream Changed the Course of Egyptian History

In or around the year 1400 BC, Menkheperure, an Egyptian prince, took a ride out to the pyramids of Giza. Upon reaching his destination, he did some hunting before eventually falling asleep under the...

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