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Duk Duk dancers; the Duk Duk - secret society of men, 1913.

The Duk Duk: An Ancient Secret Society of Possessed Executioners

The Duk Duk is a secret society of the Tolai people in Papua New Guinea. This ancient secret sect has played an important social role for centuries and continues to operate today, although with a...
Detail of a mural around a niche in one of the Roman tombs found at Beir Al-Shaghala archaeological site in Egypt’s Dakhla Oasis.

Roman Tombs Found in Egyptian Oasis Reflect Cultural Blending Evident in Burial Practices

If they stayed almost any length of time, the ancient Romans left a cultural mark on the place they visited, conquered, and/or had extensive trade with. One way this makes itself known in Egypt is in...
Maya steam bath system artist’s image, Guatemala

The First Complete Maya Steam Bath For Ritual Use Found in Guatemala

Archaeologists at a major Maya site in Guatemala have been forced to rethink an important find. What was initially believed to be a tomb has turned out to be a steam bath. This is very important as...
Hand images at Cosquer Cave. Researchers believe that Upper Paleolithic cave art depicting hands missing fingers may be explained by prehistoric ritual amputation practices.

Does Upper Paleolithic Cave Art with Missing Fingers Really Provide Evidence for Ritual Amputation?

In a research paper published in the Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology, three scientists: Brea McCauley, David Maxwell, and Mark Collard from the Simon Fraser public research university in British...
The Funeral of a Viking - painting 1893.

What Really Happened at Viking Funerals? It’s Not What You Think!

Like many ancient societies, the Vikings believed in an afterlife, and these were based on the religious beliefs they held. The current understanding of Viking funerary practices has been discovered...
Statue representative of courtship rituals.

Romantic Love: The Evolution of Courtship Rituals

Courtship rituals have existed as long as the concept of romantic love. Such rituals exist to allow couples to get to know each other, and to allow an intimate relationship to develop. In modern,...
‘Hercules Fighting Death to Save Alcestis’ (1869-1871) by Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton. Many ancient death rituals seem very odd or macabre to modern minds.

Bizarre, Brutal, Macabre And Downright Weird Ancient Death Rituals

Any parent must agree that one of the greatest hardships experienced around the death of a family member is having to explain to children what happened and what happens next? Should you tell them the...
Stone and crystal traditions have been around for a very long time. This is a humanoid figure turned into a pendant

For 3.3 Million Years Stone and Crystal Traditions Have Shaped Our Destiny

Magpies pervade European folklore for their compulsive urge to collect sparkly things. Similarly, humans share this affinity with shiny gemstones and sparkling crystals. All over the world ancient...
This is an artist's copy of a mural at the Temple of the Murals at Bonampak, a Maya archaeological site showing examples of heavy jewelry.

New Discovery Suggests That Maya Elites Danced Wearing As Much As 25 Pounds of Jade Jewelry

A five-pound jade head pendant has been found at Ucanal, an archaeological site in what was once the Maya city of K’anwitznal. The massive jade pendant, the heaviest of its kind ever found, once hung...
This puma skull was amongst the many animal bones at the Motmot burial of a young Maya woman who sat cross-legged in her tomb.

Crocodilian Teeth, Stingray Spines and Puma Skulls All Discovered in One Ancient Maya Royal Tomb

A monumental Maya royal tomb has been explored in the ancient Maya city of Copán, in the Copán Valley of modern-day Honduras, containing the reminds of elusive jungle predators including crocodile...
Ancient Maya obsidian arrowhead

Human Blood Found on Ancient Maya Arrowheads, Bloodletting Rituals to Feed Life Force to the Gods

Five hundred years ago at a remote temple in Guatemala, sacrificial blood was spilled during cutting ceremonies using razor-sharp obsidian arrowheads. Archaeologists say this ritual was done to feed...
Artist’s reconstruction of the Young Prince found in Arene Candide cave, Liguria, Italy.

Arene Candide: Ice Age Cave Reveals Rituals to Say Goodbye to Our Dead 12,000 Years Ago

Broken stones buried 12,000 years ago have been found at Arene Candide, a cave that was used as a graveyard during the last Ice Age. In the Paleolithic era, Arene Candide was a sort of early...
Israeli town of Yavneh

Israeli town of Yavneh had thriving drug culture 3,000 years ago

Archaeologists discovered traces of hallucinogenic substances used over 3,000 years by the Philistines living in ancient Yavneh, Israel, revealing a drug culture that is believed to have revolved...
Newly unearthed mask of Pakal

Ritual Mask of Legendary 7th century Maya King Pakal the Great has been unearthed in Mexico

Archaeologists digging in Mexico's Palenque ruins have uncovered a mask believed to represent the 7th-century Maya ruler K'inich Janaab Pakal, commonly known a ‘Pakal the Great’ - one of ancient...
Skeletal remains found in Wadi Faynan 16

Stone Age Dead Were Put on Display Before Being Buried in the Homes of the Living

In a now barren landscape lies the Neolithic archaeological site at Wadi Faynan, in Jordan. British researchers have just announced a major discovery of human remains in a number of graves in the...
Charlie Lake Cave Inside

Charlie Lake Cave: A Gully of Buried Treasure 10,500 Years Old

Although the vast majority of archaeologists agree that ‘Paleoindian’ cultures were well-established throughout the Americas dating to the end of the last glacial period (about 12000 BC), when their...

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