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St. Isidore of Seville: Patron Saint of …. The Internet?!

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 13:59

The Catholic tradition of assigning the patronage of saints to certain places, careers, or activities is usually obvious. For example, St. Luke was a physician and he’s one of the patrons of doctors. Andrew the Apostle was a fisherman, and surprise, surprise, he’s a patron for others who followed in his trade. There’s even an apparent link between St. Joseph of Copertino and his patronage of astronauts and pilots – stories say this saint could levitate. 

Read moreSection: NewsHistoryFamous People

The Legend of Shikhandi, the Transgendered Warrior Who Paid the Price of Opposing Powerful Men

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 10:31

Chauvinism existed even in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The ancient text depicts the legendary eighteen-day bloodbath, dubbed the Kurukshetra War, where the hero/heroine’s greatest feat was not defeating the enemy, but overcoming stereotyped prejudice.

Read moreSection: NewsHistory

The Unexplainable Ruins of Yanmen Shan Mountain

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 09:00

Along the side of Yanmen Shan mountain, located twenty kilometers to the east of Nanjing, China, the legendary Yangshan quarry can be found. Although it is believed to have been in use from at least the time of the Six Dynasties (220 – 589 AD), the majority of the work at Yangshan is still attributed to the wave of construction that took place after the Ming dynasty was founded in 1368 AD, when the new emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang, chose nearby Nanjing to become his capital city.

Read moreSection: NewsAncient PlacesAsiaUnexplained Phenomena

The Fall of a Civilization: The Mysterious Collapse of the Mycenaean Bronze Age

Mon, 01/01/2018 - 20:52

The Aegean Bronze Age is predominately known as the period in which the battle-hardened Mycenaeans conquered the simple sea-trading Minoans and rose to become one of the most powerful trading powers in the Eastern Mediterranean. While the Minoans have long been presumed to be a peaceful race due to archaeological findings (or rather, the lack of military findings), the same has never been presumed of the Mycenaeans. 

Read moreSection: NewsHistoryImportant Events

Eagle Mistakes Bald Head for a Rock: The Bizarre Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Aeschylus

Mon, 01/01/2018 - 18:00

Aeschylus, widely regarded as the “Father of Tragedy,” was one of the first of classical Athens’ great dramatists. He raised the emerging art of tragedy to new heights of poetry and theatrical power. The legendary playwright wrote more than 90 plays and won with half of them at Athenian festivals of Greek drama. For all his skills in theater, however, he’s trending within the circles of modern pop culture thanks to his very bizarre death. His murderers were two animals!

Read moreSection: NewsHistoryFamous People

The Jesus Paradox: Were Gods Real Beings of Flesh and Blood, Who Once Existed on Earth in Ages Lost?

Mon, 01/01/2018 - 13:50

Contrary to popular belief, Jesus of the New Testament is a mythic figure, not a historic one. Nowhere outside scripture has he ever existed and this is proven in his life as an astrological allegory of the celestial sun, which is why he is believed to be the Son (Sun) of God.

Saving the World from Darkness

As the celestial sun, he rises (is “born”) each day, saving the world from the darkness of night; with its rays, the sun gives life to the earth, allowing the flora, and subsequently the fauna, to flourish. Thus we read:

“Then spake Iesus againe vnto them, saying, I am the light of the world : he that followeth mee, shall not walke in darkenesse, but shall haue the light of life.” (John 8:12, NT; cf. 1:5 & 9:5).

As the celestial sun, he rises (is “born”) each day. (Public Domain)

Many Saviours

Jesus is a savior, albeit at the end of a lengthy list of predecessors, including Krishna of India, Mithra of Persia, Iao of Nepal, Hesus of the Celts, Thammuz of Babylon and Dumuzi of Sumeria, just to name a few. Horus of Egypt is the direct predecessor to Jesus, for Horus in Greek is Iesus, who is Jesus.

Read moreSection: NewsMyths & Legends

Secret Text in Ancient Mummy Cases to Be Revealed With New Tech

Mon, 01/01/2018 - 08:41

The hieroglyphics that adorn the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs are pure propaganda, designed to present the pharaoh or noble person in the best light possible. But scraps of papyrus paper used with plaster to create the decorated boxes that were used for placing mummies tell a different story. From shopping lists to tax returns, letters, and legal documents, the papers reveal the everyday life of a coffin’s occupant. And now, thanks to new scanning technology, it will be possible to read some of the secret texts contained in the mummy boxes.

The BBC reports that researchers in London have developed new scanning technology which enables them to bring out writing that has been obscured over the millennia by the thick glue and plaster that were used on top of sheets of papyri to create mummy cases and masks. Until now, the only way to read some of these ancient texts was to completely destroy the mummy case.

Example of a mummy mask made with layers of linen and papyri. Credit: BigStockPhoto

Read moreSection: NewsHistory & Archaeology

Rebirth and Rejuvenation: How Have Ancient New Year’s Traditions Influenced Festivities Today?

Sun, 12/31/2017 - 17:54

January 1st, New Year’s Day, is often ushered in with fireworks and festivities beginning on December 31st. Although this practice is the norm in many places around the world, not every culture has celebrated the start of a new year in this way, or necessarily on January 1st. There are many ways to honor the new year and several of them are based on ancient traditions.

The Bloodthirsty Beast Who Shaped the Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is one of the oldest extant traditions in the world. This holiday has been traced back as far as three millennia ago, with origins in the Shang Dynasty. In its earliest days, this festival was linked to the sowing of spring seeds, but it eventually found ties to a fascinating legend. One popular version of the myth discusses the annual exploits of a bloodthirsty creature called Nian—now the Chinese word for “year”. To protect themselves and frighten off the beast, villagers decided to decorate their homes with red ornaments, burn bamboo, and make loud noises. The tactic worked, and bright colors and lights are still present in New Year’s festivities today. These days, Chinese New Year celebrations involve food, family reunions, and the gifting of lucky money (usually in a red envelope), and the presence of several other red things for good luck. Lion and dragon dances, drums, fireworks, and firecrackers fill the streets on this day.

Dragon dance on Chinese New Year. (BigStockPhoto)

Read moreSection: NewsHistoryAncient Traditions

Unusual Little Chapel Built with Glass and Broken Pottery Destroyed Many Times Over – But Still Stands!

Sun, 12/31/2017 - 13:54

A surprising and secluded chapel – with glittering mosaics on every surface creating a fairytale quality – lies hidden in verdant, wooded hills in St. Andrew, a parish on the island of Guernsey, a Crown dependency in the English Channel. But this tiny, tucked-away chapel has a big history, filled with artistic vision, a devotion to faith, the fury of rejection and destruction, and continuous rebirth.

Small size didn’t constrain the chapel - each time it was knocked down, it got back up again, and is now considered the smallest functioning chapel in Europe, if not the world!

Passionate Creation and Destruction

The story of the Little Chapel begins with the arrival of Brother Déodat Antoine, a French De La Salle Brother, on the island in December 1913. When Déodat first saw the wooded slope of Les Vauxbelets in St. Andrew, he was inspired to build a miniature version of the grotto and basilica at Lourdes, a well-known pilgrimage site in the southwest of France.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, commonly known as the Upper Basilica, Lourdes. (Public Domain)

Read moreSection: ArtifactsOther ArtifactsNews

Rare 1,900-Year-Old Chinese Mirror Has Mysterious Inscription, Which is Coming True

Sun, 12/31/2017 - 08:39

An extremely well-preserved 1,900-year-old bronze mirror has been unearthed in Fukuoka, Japan. The artifact stands out for its fantastic condition and an intriguing description engraved on its surface - one which seems to be coming true.

According to The Asahi Shimbun, the mirror was made in China during the Later Han Dynasty (25-220 AD). It measures 11.3 centimeters (4.45 inches) across. The patterns engraved on the artifact mean it has been classified as a “linked-arc mirror.” The text inscribed onto the mirror reads, “chang yi zisun,” which means, “to benefit future generations forever.”

It seems the inscription is coming true, as researchers believe that the artifact can help with identifying and dating other artifacts from the late Yayoi period. The mirror is also helping raise awareness and interest in the past as it is on exhibition at the Fukuoka City Museum.

Read moreSection: NewsHistory & Archaeology

Did Prehistoric Middle Eastern Culture Visit Europe, Spawn Artistic Culture, and Leave?

Sat, 12/30/2017 - 17:50

A team of archaeologists investigating a cave in Israel, claims to have found evidence that prehistoric tools and artwork from Western Europe could possibly owe their existence to an earlier culture from the Middle East.

The Two First Modern Human Cultures

Carbon dating of prehistoric layers in Manot Cave in Israel supports a questionable theory that the Ahmarian culture of the Levant predated the Aurignacian culture of Europe by thousands of years as Haaretz reports.

New theories of origins unearthed. Manot Cave in Israel (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Ahmarian and Aurignacian cultures were the first two modern human cultures and definitely coexisted for thousands of years as scientists have concluded. However, there are many unanswered questions as to which one preceded the other, while there are some scientists who suggest that the advanced Aurignacian culture of Europe may have stemmed from the primitive Ahmarian culture, contrary to those who believe that the latter developed separately.

Read moreSection: NewsEvolution & Human Origins

Humans Have Been Making New Year’s Resolutions for Over 4,000 Years

Sat, 12/30/2017 - 13:42

New Year’s resolutions are a popular practice. Countless people begin to consider them every year as December 31st rolls around. Although the big plans and ambitious goals can be difficult to follow through with, the idea of making (and breaking) New Year’s resolutions has been a social phenomenon for the past 4,000 years. You can trace this practice back the Babylonians.

Today, New Year’s resolutions are generally personal goals for self-improvement. The ancient Babylonians, on the other hand, made promises to their gods at the beginning of each year to return objects they borrowed and pay off their debts. They were more likely to keep their resolutions than most modern people are because the ancient people of Mesopotamia believed that a kept promise meant the gods would treat them well. However, a broken promise would mean angering the gods and bringing unfortunate situations into your life for the next twelve months.

Terracotta statue of a woman. Old Babylonian (2000-1700 BC), with traces of red Paint. British Museum. (CC BY SA 3.0)

Unlike the Western tradition of a new year starting in January, the Babylonian year began in mid-March. This made sense as that time of year is springtime; when crops are planted, and the world is refreshed and renewed.

Read moreSection: NewsHistoryAncient Traditions

Skin Color Didn’t Matter to the Ancient Greeks and Romans

Sat, 12/30/2017 - 09:32

The term “racism” refers to a phenomenon of group hatred or bigotry based on ethnic and cultural prejudice. In the United States, the term is most often heard in conjunction with the descriptors “black” or “African-American”. And, of course, the starting points for such conversations usually converge on the American Civil War of the 1860s. As such, “racism” and “slavery” are two ideas put hand in hand, often (though not exclusively) culminating around the black minority. When considering further back in history, some wonder if there was a discrimination against black individuals in the Western ancient world—for instance, during the Golden Age of Pericles or at the height of the Roman Empire.

It can be argued that racism has always existed in a sense —both on individual and group levels. But racism specifically against darker-skinned individuals appears to be a relatively new concept. Though slavery was as prominent a part of daily life of the ancient world as it was during the American Civil War, the enslaved were the conquered, not necessarily individuals whose skin was a different shade from their conquerors. This article will examine ancient slavery and its lack of African and/or dark-skinned context.

Read moreSection: NewsHistory

Ancient Stone Artifacts Could Tell the Story of When Early Humans Spread Out of Africa

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 21:00

A team of archaeologists has announced the discovery of over a thousand stone artifacts, with some of them being up to 1.76 million years old. The discovery took place at Wadi Dabsa, in southwest Saudi Arabia near the Red Sea.

Read moreSection: ArtifactsAncient TechnologyNewsHistory & Archaeology

Medical Astrology: Moon Fever and Diseases Sent from the Skies

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 17:55

For centuries, humans have believed that the celestial realm could influence everyday life. This is the basis of astrology. The rise and fall of kingdoms and the fortunes of individuals have all been attributed to the motion of the heavenly orbs. It is thus little surprise that the celestial bodies, especially the sun, moon, and planets have been implicated in various human health issues, especially fevers and insanity.

Early Medical Astrology

The earliest civilizations for which historians and archaeologists have records of medical astrology are probably the Mesopotamian civilizations of Sumer, Babylon, and Assyria. Mesopotamian astrologers tried to connect human illnesses to the motion of the planets - which they believed reflected the will and intentions of the gods.

A Sumerian cylinder seal dated c.2500 BC from the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin. (zeevveez/CC BY 2.0) The seal is decorated with celestial symbols probably showing the sun surrounded by the planets.

Read moreSection: NewsHistoryAncient Traditions

Amarna Era Chronological Conundrum: Accession of Neferneferuaten and Tutankhamun’s Death–Part II

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 17:04

With only an Amarna wine jar label from Regnal Year 17 – purported to be the last dated inscription from his reign – that makes no mention of Akhenaten by name, and the generous 59 years’ rule bequeathed to Horemheb by the appreciative Ramesside kings; have Egyptologists been all along miscalculating the true number of years the erstwhile Generalissimo was Pharaoh?

Read moreSection: NewsHistory

Locked into a Relationship: The Medieval Remedy for Divorce Still Requested in Romania

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 14:16

Global divorce rates are on the rise. Some people see this as a social issue. But the small Romanian village of Biertan has a unique method to remedy this problem. They follow a tradition which has been in use since the Middle Ages – a ‘marital prison.’

In practice, the ‘marital prison’ involves locking up couples whose marriages were on the rocks for a couple of weeks so that they could sort out their problems for themselves. Strange as it may sound, this method has been particularly effective - it seems that even today some couples have requested to use the ‘marital prison’ in an attempt to save their marriages.

Lock on a wooden door in the church at Biertan, Romania. The lock contains 19 locks in one, "and is such a marvel of engineering it won first prize at the Paris World Expo in 1900." (Adam Jones/CC BY SA 3.0)

Read moreSection: NewsHistoryAncient Traditions

The Celestial Temple of Sogmatar: A Sacred Site Dedicated to Sin and the Planets

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 08:54

Ancient Arab accounts tell of a mysterious temple in eastern Anatolia dedicated to the planets.  The ruins surrounding the modern village of Sogmatar used to be an important city during the Hellenistic Period. It was a center for the worship of the moon and the planets. The site contains an impressive open-air temple which is believed to have been dedicated to the planets, verifying this ancient account.

Sogmatar, about 57 km (35.41 miles) from the ancient city of Harran, flourished as a cultic center and holy city during the time of the Abgar dynasty of Edessa, from the 2nd century BC to the 3rd century AD. Among the ruins in Sogmatar are the remains of walls and turrets on the main hill that date to the 2nd century AD. A sanctuary to the planets is also found on the hill. Among the gods worshiped in the city are the principle deities from the surrounding cultures such as Sin, the Mesopotamian moon god whose main site of veneration was Harran.

"Worship of the Moon God. Cylinder-seal of Khashkhamer, patesi of Ishkun-Sin (in North Babylonia), and vassal of Ur-Engur, king of Ur (c. 2400 BC). (Public Domain)

Read moreSection: NewsAncient PlacesAsia

Magical new 4,500 year old finds add to 'oldest toy collection in the world'

Thu, 12/28/2017 - 20:51

Archaeologists have made ‘rare’ discoveries of pre-historic toys at the Itkol II burial ground in the Republic of Khakassia, southern Siberia. At 4,500 years old, they are some of the oldest children’s toys found to date. Several toys were discovered in what might be described as a haul of prehistoric artifacts.

Read moreSection: ArtifactsOther ArtifactsNewsHistory & Archaeology

Remains of Ancient Roman Soldier Discovered in a 1,700-Year-Old Cooking Pot in Israel

Thu, 12/28/2017 - 17:58

The remains of an ancient Roman soldier have been found in a 1,700-year-old cooking pot at a huge Roman camp in Israel. Archaeologists suggest that the camp is the only full-scale Roman legionary base ever discovered in the East.

Only Roman Legionary Base Found in the East

An enormous gate and dedicatory engraving in Latin are among the finds uncovered at the immense Roman military cantonment found at Legio, near Tel Megiddo in northern Israel. As archaeologists suggest the impressive gate led to the principia or headquarters. “The Legio camp is the only full-scale imperial Roman legionary base found so far in the eastern empire,” Matthew J. Adams, director of the W.F. Albright Institute and co-director of the dig, told Haaretz. However, he added that taken into account the vast area the Roman Empire covered, it’s just a matter of time for other major bases to be found in the east.

Read moreSection: NewsHistory & Archaeology