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Molly Dowdeswell

Molly graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and a master's degree in early modern history. She has a long-standing interest in the subject and enjoys researching and writing on a broad range of historical topics and is most interested in the history of medicine and disease. Molly is currently working as a freelance writer and is planning on returning to university to complete a PhD in history.


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Top image: In the Norse creation myth, worlds of fire and ice emerge from the abyss at the beginning of the universe.	Source: ivanovevgeniy / Adobe Stock

Norse Creation Myth: Fire and Ice from the Abyss

The Norse people were the ancient tribal communities of Scandinavia, who in the modern day are often referred to or thought of as the Vikings (who were actually a subset of them). Like many other...
The modern paleo diet is also called the caveman diet, as it’s inspired by Paleolithic eating habits. But is this meat-heavy depiction of ancient diets accurate?          Source: Gorodenkoff / Adobe Stock

Three Ancient Diets That Are Still Popular Today

There is no denying that the weight loss and diet industry in the Western world is huge. For many people, inspiration comes from our very early ancestors, who are believed to have eaten a simple,...
The wako pirates are typically portrayed as Japanese pirates, but the reality was more complex. Depiction of a pirate ship sailing on the ocean against a golden sky. Source: Gasi / Adobe Stock

The Notorious Wako Pirates of Japan

The wako (also called wokou or waegu) were a group of marauders that dominated the seas of East Asia for centuries. They have been seen by Western historians and culture as a kind of Japanese pirate...
Hygiene has evolved over the years, but we’ve been taking showers for centuries. Women bathing in a public gymnasium; Gouache painting based on an ancient Greek vase. Source: Wellcome Collection / Public Domain

Hygiene Through History: How Filthy Were Our Ancient Ancestors?

People in the past have a reputation for being dirty and unhygienic, but is this true? While many aspects of personal hygiene have evolved over the centuries, others have remained surprisingly...
Depiction of Valhalla, where Odin held court at Asgard, from the 1878 staging by Hermann Burghart of Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner. (Public domain)

Asgard: The Fabled Home of the Aesir Gods of Norse Mythology

Asgard was the home of the mighty Norse gods, from where they watched over the other eight realms and administered justice. It was also the final resting place of the dead and where Odin, King of the...
The Judean desert has numerous caves, which provided refuge for Jewish resistance to Roman rule. The Cave of Letters got its name from the recovered cache of documents related to the Bar Kochba Revolt  Source: Pavel Bernshtam / Adobe Stock

Cave of Letters: Probably the Most Important Cave For Ancient Jewish History

The Cave of Letters is quite literally a cave of secrets. Rediscovered by archaeologists in the 1960s, its contents told of uprisings as well as everyday life in ancient Israel. What at first...
A kite from above, taken from a balloon with a camera attached. Source: Global Kites Project

Desert Kites: Ancient Hunters Built Massive Death Traps for Animals

Located on the Ustyurt plateau spanning Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are some puzzling ancient structures - or what remains of them. The plateau is a dry, clay desert which stretches a...
The Galli: The Cross-Dressing Cybele Cult Priests Who Castrated Themselves

The Galli: The Cross-Dressing Cybele Cult Priests Who Castrated Themselves

The galli were priests who formed the cult of the goddess Cybele (Magna Mater in Rome) and her consort Attis. Because of the galli’s adoption of women’s clothing and jewelry, self-castration, and...
The Wolves Pursuing Norse sun and moon gods Sol and Mani            Source: John Charles Dollman, 1909, Public Domain, colorized

Celestial Siblings: Norse Sun and Moon Gods Chased Across the Sky

Chased across the sky by a pair of wolves, the Norse sun and moon gods were tasked with a heavy burden. The Sol and Mani were responsible for pulling a chariot across the sky every day and night...
Odin and his brothers defeated Ymir in Norse mythology, and used his body to create Midgard. Odin’s symbol, a raven, seen superimposed on a cosmic background.	Source: jozefklopacka / Adobe Stock

Ymir in Norse Mythology: A Cosmic Creation Story

The story of Ymir and the creation of the universe typifies the emphasis on sacrifice as a theme, in Nordic myth and in creation stories around the world. In Norse mythology, Ymir was the primeval...
The Silk Road offered opportunities to explore, not only new lands, but new sexual adventures.	Source: Demian / Adobe Stock

Sexual Exploits and Exploitation along the Silk Road

The Silk Road created a convergence of cultures like no other. The route is deemed influential by historians because of the contributions it made to trade and the economy, as well as society in...
Painting of Freja by John Bauer. Source: Public domain

The Story, Symbols and Powers of Freya, the Norse Goddess of Love

Freya is old Norse for “lady” and was the name given to the Norse goddess of love. Whilst she certainly sought out passion and pleasure, she was a complex character. In fact, to the Vikings she was a...
Oedipus the King of Sophoces theatrical costume Athens Greece. Source: Susan Vineyard / Adobe Stock

The Mother of All Myths: Oedipus, The Story of the King of Thebes

The myth of Oedipus contains moral lessons about the dangers of tempting fate. It warns that fate cannot be neither challenged nor escaped. In doing so, the story is full of intrigue and revelation...
‘The Mutilation of Uranus by Saturn’ – this is a key moment in the myth of Uranus. Source: Sailko / CC BY 3.0

Uranus: Greek God of the Sky and Heavens, Castrated by His Own Son!

Uranus was the Greek primordial god of the sky and heavens from whom all other gods and divine creatures later descended. Whilst he was sometimes seen as the ruler of the sky and heavens, he was also...
The mythological painting Cronus and his child by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli, which in some myths has Cronus eating his children to take their "time,” because he somehow ended up as the “model” for Father Time. Source: Giovanni Francesco Romanelli / Public domain

Cronus: The Titan Harvest God and Erroneously The Titan Time God

Cronus, the Titan of Time is often depicted today as Father Time. However, the original Greek myth has few, if any, actual links between Cronus and time. Whilst he is never named in the records of...
Echo and Narcissus in a painting by John William Waterhouse, and one senses that Narcissus has already fallen in love with himself for all time.		Source: John William Waterhouse / Public domain

Narcissus: An Ancient Tragic Story with Many Modern Parallels

The Greek tale of the self-absorbed yet staggeringly handsome Narcissus is a famous and ancient one. Despite its age, the myth remains famous to this day and provides a moral warning against becoming...