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Content written by Mark Oliver

Mark Oliver's pictureI am a writer, a teacher and a father, with 5 years of experience writing online. 

I have written for a number of major history parenting and comedy websites. Read More...

An ancient Egyptian ship. Sailors sent out by Pharaoh Necho II saw some of the first hints that the world is not flat.

When Sailors from Ancient Egypt Discovered the World is Not Flat, No One Listened

The first ship to sail around Africa left from Egypt sometime around 600 BC. Their only goal was to find another way to the straits of Gibraltar. But by watching the sky overhead, they discovered...
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...
‘Crossing the River Styx’ (circa 1520-1524) by Joachim Patinir. Many ancient people imagined the edges of the earth as strange and magical places.

What Did Ancient Civilizations Believe Lay at The Edges of the Earth?

The first civilizations didn’t have satellites in the sky, mapping every inch of the world in real time. They only knew the parts of the world they’d seen. Everything beyond that, they had to imagine...
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...
 Medieval exorcism of a woman.

The Exorcism Of Marthe Brossier: The First Exorcism With Scientific Controls

Marthe Brossier was a celebrity in France in the 1590s. She was a woman possessed by demons and her family took “the act” on tour. They went from town-to-town showing off the Satanic entity that...
Miwnay’s letter to her husband. (International Danhuang Project) Fresco depicting a Sogdian woman.

Heart Wrenching Letters Reveal the Traumatic Life of Miwnay, A Sogdian Woman in China 1,700 Years Ago

“From her daughter, the free-woman Miwnay, to her dear mother Chatis. I am very anxious to see you.” History rarely remembers the little people. Our history books are full of stories of kings, queens...
A linen bundle unwrapped many years ago, from Qau el-Kebir was found to contain fossil bones.

3,300 Years Ago Ancient Egyptians Collected and Revered Ancient Fossils Now Known as the ‘Black Bones of Set’

Some of the first people ever to stumble upon prehistoric fossils lived in Egypt 3,300 years ago. Their story likely started with a sandstorm. Some strong wind rose up and blew the desert sands away...
Example of a lamb stew with vegetables. (Jo del Corro/CC BY 2.0) “Hen with Herbs”. Laura Kelley recreates Recipe 2 from Yale tablet 8958. (Laura Kelley) Lamb shanks in a stew. (E4024/CC BY SA 4.0) YBC 4644, a tablet with a Babylonian recipe, ca. 1750 BC. (Yale University Library)

Three Babylonian Recipes From 1600 BC You Can Make At Home Today

Ever wanted a taste of life in an ancient civilization? The oldest cookbook ever found was made sometime around 1600 BC in the ancient city of Babylon. It’s a set of cracked tablets engraved by an...
Statue of Queen Ankhnes-meryre II and Her Son, Pepy II. (Brooklyn Museum) Background: Papyrus with ancient Egyptian writing.

Explorer Rushes Back to Collect Pygmy Prize After Child Pharaoh’s Golden Letter

Harkhuf the Explorer, while traveling through Nubia, received an urgent message from the Pharaoh himself. “Come to the Palace at once!” the king’s letter read. “Drop everything!” This was unusual...
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...
Marble theater mask depicting a woman from a popular Roman tragedy Pompeii 1st century AD.

A Failed #MeToo Moment: Just How Horrible Being An Ancient Roman Actress Could Be

When an actress in ancient Rome was brutally gang-raped by a group of young men who’d come to see her show, she started a very public battle for justice. The story of her fight and her failure is...
An inuksuk at Igloolik, Nunavut, Canada.

How Global Warming Is Destroying Our Best-Preserved Archaeological Sites

The Arctic is like a time capsule. What dies there can be preserved, like a snapshot of our past, literally frozen in time. Some of the greatest insights we’ve gotten into life, thousands of years...
Apadana Hall, 5th century BC carving of Persian and Median soldiers in traditional costume (Medians are wearing rounded hats and boots). The Magi were a group of immigrants from Media who followed the Zoroastrian faith.

The Slaughter Of The Magi: How Ancient Persia Made Genocide an Annual Holiday

Long before the Holocaust and the atrocities we see today, history has been littered with genocide. Time and time again, minority groups living in the midst of a culture that isn’t their own have...
Samson and Delilah by Jose Etxenagusia, 1887.

Were Samson’s Superhuman Abilities Really That Far-fetched?

The story of Samson is one of the more far-fetched stories in the Bible. It’s like an ancient Superhero story; the story of a man whose magical hair gives such superhuman strength that he could kill...
"The Black Man", an aspect of Nyarlathotep as described by H. P. Lovecraft in "The Dreams in the Witch House" (1932). (Jens Heimdahl/CC BY SA 4.0) A replica of necropants at The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft in Holmavik, Iceland. At the right of the pants is the magical symbol (nábrókarstafur) that is part of the ritual and at its feet are coins. The exhibit is behind glass and lit from above with a harsh yellow light. (Bernard McManus/CC BY 2.0)

Necropants: Did Icelandic Sorcerers Really Make Magic Pants Out Of Human Skin?

A museum in Iceland is home to the only known pair of necropants: pants made out of human skin. Legend has it that Icelandic sorcerers would tear the skin off of a dead friend’s body and clothe...
1893 Reconstruction of the Alexander Mosaic.

Remorseless Chronicles of Slaughter: Fatal First Contact Between Ancient Greece and the Tribes of India

Colonialism hasn’t changed much. More than 2000 years ago, when Alexander the Great conquered the Persia, he sent an ancient explorer named Nearchus to sail down the Indus River and map the lands...

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