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Red runes carved from wood on the ground. There are 24 runes in the Elder Futhark.

Futhark: Mysterious Ancient Runic Alphabet of Northern Europe

Runes are the characters of the earliest written alphabet used by the Germanic peoples of Europe called Futhark. The runic alphabet was used within Germanic languages but primarily in Nordic...
Egyptian Hieroglyphs: The Language of the Gods

Egyptian Hieroglyphs: The Language of the Gods

Egyptian hieroglyphs are among the oldest writing systems in the world, dating back some 5,200 years. Known in ancient Egyptian as the “language of the gods” and said to have been created by the god...
The Vedas: Ancient Mystical Texts Offer Charms, Incantations, Mythological Accounts and Formulas for Enlightenment

The Hindu Vedas: Charms, Myths, and Formulas for Enlightenment

The Vedas are the sacred scriptures of Hinduism and are regarded as the oldest religious texts in the world. Thought to have been composed at least 3,500 years ago, the Vedas are a collection of...
Closeup of glyphs on a Mayan calendar. Credit: zimmytws / Adobe Stock

Artificial Intelligence Inching Closer to Deciphering Long Lost Languages

With new technology available to us, we’re inching closer to the end of the days when deciphering ancient languages is a painstaking task filled with frustration and confusion. Nifty machines...
The head of a Buddha statue. Credit: Richard / Adobe Stock. Inset: Fragments of a birch bark manuscript from ancient Gandhara. Credit: British Library (public domain)

Scholars Get Closer to Words of Buddha as They Unravel Oldest Buddhist Scrolls in the World

The oldest Buddhist scrolls ever discovered were made on birch bark and spent two millennia folded in clay pots, in a cave, situated along the northern border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and now...
Angel and a page from the book of Raziel

Practical Magic: The Secret Teachings of the Book of Raziel the Angel

Within the varied teachings of the Jewish mystical tradition known as Kabbalah there is a minor tradition known as Practical Kabbalah (Kabbalah Ma’asit). This branch concerns itself with the use of...
Assyrian Cuneiform

Deciphering Cuneiform to Get a Handle on Life in Ancient Mesopotamia

Cuneiform is a system of writing that was invented by the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia. Believed to have been created sometime during the 4th millennium BC (between 3500 and 3000 BC), this script...
Digitized image of the Komkom Vase.

Hieroglyphic Vase Reveals Amazing Insights into Maya and Eventual Collapse of Civilization

The discovery of an ancient Maya vase painted with hieroglyphs is the longest Pre-Columbian text ever found in Belize and is offering new information about this once powerful civilization including...
Portion of Ibn Sīna’s Canon of Medicine folded into medieval text

Irish Translation of Ibn Sīna Medical Text Discovered in Medieval Book Binding

A recent discovery is demonstrating the influence of Islamic medicine on European physicians. A fragment from a book dating from the 1400s has revealed the influence of a Muslim Persian polymath on...
Egyptian Papyrus from Macquarie University with proposed Coptic Love Spell

French Academic Detects A Little Bit of Love Magic on Egyptian Papyrus

A French University lecturer has announced that he has deciphered an Egyptian magical spell written on a piece of papyrus. The spell has baffled experts, because of its enigmatic language and imagery...
The conservation of papyrus requires above all craftsmanship, expertise and time. A specialized papyrus conservator was brought to Basel to make this 2000-year-old document legible again.

Experts Finally Decode 2000-year-old ‘Mirror Writing’ Papyrus

Since the 16th century, Basel has been home to a mysterious papyrus. With mirror writing on both sides, it has puzzled generations of researchers. A research team from the University of Basel has now...
Pliny the Elder

The Illustrious Life of Pliny the Elder, Ancient Historian and Roman Commander

Gaius Plinius Secundus, better known in history as Pliny the Elder, was an influential administrator, officer, and author during his life. Although he was only fifty-six years old at the time of his...
Agastyar, Father and Chairman of first Tamil Sangams, Madurai, Pandiya Kingdom. (CC BY SA 2.5) Detail of ancient Tamil script found on the temple walls of the Tanjore Bragadeeshwara temple.

Sangam Literature: These Tantalizing Tales Offer a Window into Ancient Tamil Life

“In their antiquity and in their contemporaneity, there is not much else in any Indian literature equal to these quiet and dramatic Tamil poems. In their values and stances, they represent a mature...
A romanticized 19th-century recreation of King John signing Magna Carta. (Deriv.) (Public Domain) Background: Detail of Cotton MS. Augustus II. 106, one of only four surviving exemplifications of the 1215 Magna Carta text.

The Magna Carta: Did a Tyrannical English King Really Set the Stage for Liberty?

The Magna Carta is often lauded as an important milestone in human history. It is said to have guaranteed individual rights, the right to justice, and the right to a fair trial, as well as...
One side of the ancient alphabet primer.

Ancient Language Learning: This May be the Oldest Example of Not One, But Two Alphabet Primers

A studious ancient Egyptian may have been trying his hand at learning not one, but two different languages some 3,400 years ago. New research on a limestone tablet found near Luxor suggests that it...
This rare manuscript is the only recorded palimpsest of a Qur’an copied on to a Christian text

Eagle Eyed scholar Discovers a Rare Manuscript with Bible Text Hidden Under Quran

A rare manuscript has become a unique one thanks to the eagle eyes of a French scholar. Dr. Eléonore Cellard noticed that there was barely visible text beneath an 8th century copy of holy scripture...

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