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Reconstruction of a Homo Erectus Woman (RIDVAN / Adobe Stock)

Ancient Origins Censored: Skeletons, Mummies and Naked Neanderthals Deemed Too Shocking to Publish

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We are being censored! With a Google report listing nearly one hundred violations for ‘shocking’ and ‘sexual content’, anyone would think we fall into the same category as LiveLeak. So, what is this shocking content we’ve been publishing? Skeletons, mummies, Roman statues and bare-chested depictions of Thor! Is this the future of the internet, where even Tutankhamun must hide his face?

According to the Google Adsense Prohibited Content Policies, Ad serving will be disabled on websites that do not remove content flagged as inappropriate in a timely fashion. For many online publishers, including Ancient Origins, this can mean a significant loss of business income – for some, it may be their sole income. This is forcing many publishers to comply with the policies or be forced with closure as they struggle to meet costs. 

“We understand the need for keeping inappropriate content off the internet, particularly that which may cause harm,” said Ancient Origins Co-Founder Joanna Gillan. “But when content that is educational and central to our understanding of ancient history is considered inappropriate, this is nothing less than censorship.”

Ancient relief carvings aren’t exempt from sexual content classification (CC by SA 2.0)

Ancient relief carvings aren’t exempt from sexual content classification ( CC by SA 2.0)

Shocking Content

Ancient Origins received a report listing more than 20 pages deemed as ‘Shocking Content’. Google defines shocking content as:

“Content containing gruesome, graphic or disgusting accounts or imagery (e.g., blood, guts, gore, sexual fluids, human or animal waste, crime scene or accident photos)
Content depicting acts of violence (e.g., accounts or images of shootings, explosions, or bombings; execution videos; violent acts committed against animals)”

Sounds reasonable right?

But…. ‘human waste’ includes images of skeletons and mummies, including the world-famous Otzi the Iceman, Tutankhamun, Ramesses II and Juanita, the Inca Ice Maiden.

And, ‘acts of violence’ includes paintings of Zeus striking the earth with his thunderbolt, and relief carvings of ancient battles. Yes, you read that right. Unless Ancient Origins deletes all its images of mummies, skeletons and ancient battles, we are on the Google black list!

One of the images blacklisted on Ancient Origins was the above depiction of the god Thor with his hammer (TNS Sofres / flickr)

One of the images blacklisted on Ancient Origins was the above depiction of the god Thor with his hammer (TNS Sofres / flickr)

Sexual Content

Dozens of our articles have been flagged by Google as inappropriate for its ‘Sexual Content’. Ok, we admit that a handful of our articles may be a little risqué as we delve into topics such as sexuality in Ancient Greece, erotic art in Pompeii, and the wild antics of frisky ancient gods. But Google doesn’t stop there.

“Many of our pages have been blacklisted for showing photographs of Roman statues that are not wearing clothing,” said Joanna Gillan. “Naked Neanderthals, 30,000-year-old figurines of the female figure, and paintings of a bare-chested god of Thor also met the Restricted Content classification.”

30,000-Year-Old Venus of Willendorf statuette deemed inappropriate. Source: NHM/ CC BY 2.5

30,000-Year-Old Venus of Willendorf statuette deemed inappropriate. Source:  NHMCC BY 2.5 

“There is no negotiating with Google,” Joanna added. “Either you get in line with their policies or you get out. We are worried about what this means for the future of the internet and the impact this has on the field of ancient history where even the Statue of David is deemed too scandalous to show to the world.”

Top image: Reconstruction of a Homo Erectus Woman (RIDVAN / Adobe Stock)



Any time a company gets the size gu-gull they get dangerous. The key is to advertise for a lawyer to take them all the way to the supreme court. it will increase your traffick and make him famous.

Gary Moran's picture

Ok, this is scary. I was writing a response critical of the search engine’s censorship, and when I typed in their name (starting with G), a page of theirs opened up and kicked me off AO. WHOA!

Censorship is everywhere these days, but the scary part of this is that it’s done by a machine, probably with no human intervention. Computers have no ‘common sense’, only algorythms that result in this censorship. Does that give anyone else concerns about AI and what can result from letting machines think for us???? 

The only time I use google is if I'm searching for a product to purchase. News articles, or anything of a historical interest, Duck is far more inclusive of divergent thought.
I used to think that because left leaning main stream media often used word for word talking points and headlines, it was a matter of word matches or hits. But with their new "fact checking" slants and down right censorship, it appears more like repetitive slogan brain washing.
Cnn was being caught doing on the scene in front of a blue screen since before the Obama years, but Drudge, who generally links to every source, is unsavoury.
The left started pushing their outraged at everything in a surge like they're out of time to creep up and be creepy even. Like time's up or something. Someone with a switch flicked it. And issues that should be community concerns are all of a sudden global law.

The stories on this web site are educational, and tell the human story though words and pictures. To ban pictures of Venus Mother Goddess, freezes of Kama Sutra, an image showing what a prehistoric early humanoid look 200,000 years ago, mummies, skeletons, roman statues shows a profound lack of judgment. Google Ad-Sense general rule is "If you wouldn't show it in polite company, we probably wouldn't want our advertisers to be on it". There is nothing on this web site I wouldn't show to polite company. This site does not trivialize sexual content or violence, and it's used entirely for the user to self-educate him or her-self. Blocking education in any manner to improve oneself is quite frankly wrong. My guess this is exactly the audience buyers of advertising is looking for, one that is intelligent to be on an educational website. Ancient-Origins if Google won't budge on this, I hope you choose to do the right thing and quit using them. Users, I think we should consider doing the same.

Censorship is the purview of the power and owes no allegiance to "leftist" or "rightist" ideology. Regimes throughout history have sought to control information, from the ancient to the modern. That Google is implementing "Marxist" censorship, is laughable considering that it is the epitome of corporatist capitalist success. Moreover, it's censorship (much like Tumblr) likely has more to do with advertising revenue than some hazy schema you have mapped out. Google wants to be able to assure advertisers that their ads won't appear next to violent or pornographic imagery.

Google DOES censor for ideological reasons, and has censored both leftist and rightist websites that don't tow their neoliberal consensus perspective, but again, this isn't "cultural Marxism" in action but rather standard corporatist censorship meant to uphold the status quo (which is a mixed system of capitalist, socialist, and yes, fascist components).


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This is the Ancient Origins team, and here is our mission: “To inspire open-minded learning about our past for the betterment of our future through the sharing of research, education, and knowledge”.

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