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Ancient Egyptian men undergoing circumcision.

The Cutting Truth about Circumcision: It Was All About Rites and Religion

When was circumcision first practiced? How did it evolve? Why was it practiced? The earliest literary evidence of the practice of circumcision goes back to ancient Egypt. There are many hypotheses...
Amiternum funerary procession relief.

Mimes, Paid Grievers, and Masks: The Insane Theatrics of Ancient Roman Funerals

Two thousand years ago, funerals weren’t the quiet, somber affairs we have today. They were loud, boisterous shows that started with a massive procession of people parading down the streets, pounding...
The solar gods of the indigenous cultures of the Americas have many names but share one radiant face.

American Gods: Rituals & Sacrifices to the All-Powerful Solar Gods

The ancients knew him well. He was as powerful as a god, as dangerous as a demon. He generously gave life – and he ruthlessly took it away. He appeared to all, from the darkest and most bone-chilling...
One of the three Mesolithic deer skull headdresses from the new Star Carr exhibition at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

11,000-year-old Spiritualized Deer Masks Whisper Tales Of A Forgotten World

Deer skulls with carved eyeholes dating to 11,000 years ago have been discovered at Star Carr Mesolithic archaeological site about five miles (8.0 km) south of Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England...
A reconstruction of Germany's Pömmelte.

Evidence of Human Sacrifice and Death Rituals Found at the German Woodhenge

The 4,300 year old woodhenge of Pömmelte in Germany is finally beginning to give up its secrets - and some of the information we’re learning is quite grisly. The battered skeletons of women and...

Daily Prayers with Decomposing Corpses: Death Chairs at Aragonese Castle

The Aragonese Castle is a castle built on top of a rocky islet next to Ischia, a small Italian island on the northern end of the Gulf of Naples. Whilst a stronghold is said to have already been built...
Remains of 82 individuals have be recovered from the Alken Enge site.

Finds from Alken Enge Provide New Perspective on ‘Barbaric’ Germanic Tribes

Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark have made a remarkable discovery concerning the human remains of Alken Enge, Jutland. A study published by PNAS that the size of barbarian armies in Iron...
Relief of a funeral procession from the tomb of Merymery in Saqqara; design by Anand Balaji

Sem Priests of Ancient Egypt: In the Service of King and Country—Part II

An appointee of the Pharaoh himself, the role of the sem priest carried immense political and religious weightage. In many ways, this class of priest served as the bridge between the ruler and the...
Scene on the north wall in KV62 shows King Aye as sem priest, performing the “Opening of the Mouth” ritual on the mummy of Tutankhamun; design by Anand Balaji

Sem Priests of Ancient Egypt: Their Role and Impact in Funerary Contexts—Part I

The office of sem or setem priest of Ptah, the patron god of the craftsmen in Memphis, Lower Egypt, was a prestigious one. Considered a sacred feline with a connection to the Heliopolitan cult via...
Decorations placed around a coffin at a home funeral in Da Nang, Vietnam. At left, placed in front of the coffin, is an altar featuring a framed photo of the deceased and a pot for offering joss sticks. At right are a number of flower bouquets with attached condolences, and in the background are a number of vertical banners, also offering condolences.

Traditional Funerary Rites Provide a Glimpse at Mystery Neolithic Vietnamese Culture

3,000 years ago, a small community on a Vietnamese island disappeared. No one is certain why, but even their very existence is a surprise. Luckily for archaeologists, it seems that their traditional...
A seedhead of an opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, with white latex. (Public Domain) Cylinder-seal of the "Lady" or "Queen" (Sumerian NIN) Puabi, one of the defuncts of the Royal Cemetery of Ur, c. 2600 BC. Banquet scene, typical of the Early Dynastic Period.

New Research Provides First Peek at Ancient Mesopotamian Drug Use

Medical usage? Ritual practice? Or perhaps the drugs served both purposes? Researchers are asking what the recently recovered psychoactive drug residues from ancient Mesopotamia mean. But not...
The gold hair rings found at Sculptor's Cave near Covesea, Moray.

Children of Gold Uncovered in Pictish Death Cave

Golden rings discovered in a sea cave once adorned a dead child in a bizarre ancient funerary ritual, in Scotland. We might expect to read such a headline in a Peruvian or Chinese archaeological...
The 10 skeletons were arranged in a spiral pattern found at Tlalpan, Mexico City

Discovered! Ancient Mexican Spiral of Death

Ten ancient skeletons have been unearthed in Mexico this week including a baby of around one-month-old! Ritualistically deformed, in that their skull shapes and teeth had been altered, they were...
Zoe Wanamaker in TV series ‘Britannia’.

Britannia, Druids and the Surprisingly Modern Origins of Myths

The new TV series Britannia, which has won plaudits as heralding a new generation of British folk-horror, is clearly not intended to be strictly historical. Instead director Jez Butterworth gives us...
The Iron Age skull was deliberately severed from its body.

Iron Age Skull Suggests Sinister Story of Severed Heads Tossed into Wetlands

There is much to consider when a human skull is found. When the authorities reach the scene, they need to find out if it is the mark of a modern death or the remains from a person who lived in the...
Aerial photo of woodhenge discovered at Little Catwick Quarry, Yorkshire.

Yorkshire’s First Woodhenge May have Served as an Ancient Sauna

A team of archaeologists from Yorkshire have uncovered a 4,000-year-old “woodhenge,” thus a wooden circle that some now believe might have been used as a sauna. East Yorkshire’s First Woodhenge...

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