Ancient Origins IRAQ Tour


The Legacy of the Sumerian Uruk Period
Saturday July 24, 2021 2:00pm EST
by Dr Willem McLoud
The Legacy of the Sumerian Uruk Period

The first civilization in world history in the marshlands of southern Mesopotamia was founded by the Sumerians. The greatest epoch in Sumerian history flourished during the Uruk Period, when mighty and powerful rulers ruled and governed the land. As phonetic script was only developed towards the end of the Uruk Period, no texts going back to that time are available to us. We do, however, have access to a powerful oral tradition handed down through the ages.

The Urukite rulers were remembered as the greatest heroes of all ages in the epic tales of poets, court bards and storytellers who began composing oral lays of ancient Uruk soon after their lifetimes. Eventually the glorious deeds of heroes like Enmerkar, Lugalbanda and Gilgamesh, were remembered in stories written down in later times as well as in notes attached to their names in the Sumerian King List.

In this webinar Dr Willem McLoud correlates the tradition about this heroic epoch, as found in the Sumerian King List, with the available archaeological data. The information about these rulers will be discussed in the context of a reconstruction of the Uruk Period in Sumerian history. Moreover, it will be shown how that tradition had been handed down through the ages and how it found its way into other traditions such as the ancient Egyptian, the Hebrew, the Persian and the Indian traditions.

Dr Willem McLoud

Dr Willem McLoud is an independent South African scholar whose main interests are ancient Middle Eastern and Mediterranean studies, Kantian philosophy and philosophy of science. He has a PhD in Nuclear Physics (Nuclear Fusion) from the University of Natal, a MA in Philosophy of Science from the University of Cape Town as well as a MBL from UNISA. His work has been published in peer-review journals and he is the author of various books, one focusing on the origins of the Mesopotamian material in the primeval history in the Book of Genesis. Willem’s main areas of study regarding the ancient Middle East are the Sumerian, Akkadian and early Egyptian civilizations, with special focus on the Uruk and Akkadian Periods in Mesopotamian history as well as the Old Kingdom Period in Egyptian history. He also has a keen interest in the civilizations which formed in the eastern Mediterranean region during the early second millennium BC. Another passion of his is the legends and myths associated with the great heroic ages of the ancient Middle East.

He has developed a new ancient Middle Eastern chronological model in which the Mesopotamian high chronology is correlated with the Egyptian low chronology. He is the author of Secrets and Enigmas of the Sumerians and Akkadians, available at

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To Touch the Sky: Myth and Astronomy in the Oral World
Saturday June 26, 2021 1:00pm EST
by Dr John Lundwall
To Touch the Sky: Myth and Astronomy in the Oral World

In the ancient world, ritual was not separated from the space in which it was performed. The sacred space is the point from which true transformation takes place, and according to Mircea Eliade, it is the point of orientation that founds the sacred world. The sacred was the power of transformation that was manifest from the eternal world into this one. Seeing a seed germinate, sprout, bear fruit, and die, all in accordance with the movements of the Sun, Moon, and stars, was the revelation of reality to oral peoples astutely observing the universe. This life-cycle echoed throughout all biological rhythms in the world, from agriculture to the seasons, from animal migrations to the tides and winds. More important, this cycle was seen as a reflection of the moving celestial luminaries that rose, set, and turned, and appeared to be the source of all of nature’s processes on earth. As such, life was mirrored in the cosmogony.

Join Dr. John Knight Lundwall as he explores the connections between ancient, oral cosmology, astronomy, and mythology within his own fieldwork amongst the ancient Fremont peoples (Southwestern Native American, 300 to 1300 AD.). Dr. Lundwall will show how an ancient petroglyph created by the Fremont mirrors the cosmos, was used as a site to preserve and enhance the sacred, and mimic solar and stellar cycles in Fremont culture. Using this as a springboard, Dr. Lundwall will explore other Native American expressions of this sacred cosmovision and will show parallels in cultures across the globe.

Dr John LundwallJohn Lundwall holds a doctorate in comparative myth and religion from the Joseph Campbell school of myth studies, Pacifica Graduate Institute, out of California. He is a researcher, lecturer, a published author, and has served as an editor on several academic publications. His primary interests are oriented towards orality and the origins of myth and religion.

Dr Lundwall is a founding board member of the Utah Valley Astronomy Club (501 (c)(3)), a non-profit organization that partners with State and National Parks within Utah in the United States to help run their astronomy and science programs.

Dr Lundwall is also the Project Leader of the Utah Cultural Astronomy Project. Lundwall and his team are investigating the cultural astronomy of the ancient Fremont Indian, a Native American culture group associated with the American Southwest that inhabited the land of present-day Utah between 300 and 1300 AD. So far, the team has made several remarkable and original discoveries.


Dr Lundwall is the author of Mythos and Cosmos: Mind and Meaning in the Oral Age


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Easter Island, Those Powerful Ancestors
Saturday May 22, 2021 1:00pm EST
by Georges Fery
Easter Island, Those Powerful Ancestors

The history of Easter Island is a dramatic example of the clash between faith and

demographics. Throughout humankind’s history, communities mitigated or, as in our case, worsened their environment, and destroyed their food chain. On a large landmass people move with the seasons, weather conditions or away from neighbors’ hostility. Inversely, island migrations are dependent on available land and food collection zones, extended offshore. Observations that may apply to Easter Island, but are insufficient to answer its riddle. The island’s name in the local language, the Rapanui, is Rapa Nui.  

Ancient nonliterate cultures recorded their histories as myths and folklore, while their beliefs were dependent on what was perceived as an “Otherworld” of ancestors and “mind-made” deities. This spiritual perception was inherited from the Lapita trailblazers of the Pacific and successive cultures, thousands of years in the past. The mythological past traditionally short on facts, leaves many grey areas in the Rapa Nui ethnological record. The origin of the historical group that settled on the island, points to Mangareva in the Tuamotu archipelago. The easternmost points of human settlement in the Pacific island triangle, however, will be Hawaii and Rapa Nui (900 AD) and New Zealand (1200 AD).

 In Rapa Nui, climate, animal migrations from birds to fish, food crops’ success or failure, water supply and other life sustaining needs, were believed to be the exclusive dominion of Make-make. The paramount god was the sole master of mana’s powers, granted or withheld at will to Rapa Nui’s ancestors who, in turn, granted mana to their living family and communities’ heads.

No success or failure, from nature’s reward to joy or sadness, wellbeing or deprivation could happen in this world without mana. The belief in an “Otherworld” as a wellspring of ancestral powers for individuals and families, was then common to most cultures of the Pacific. With this mythological perception of life and the support from their ancestors, the Rapanui could not possibly understand the cumulative cause and effect of their actions, nor their failures. Did Make-make turn his back and withheld mana from the ancestors?

Georges Fery

Georges Fery is a tri-lingual freelance writer and photographer based in Dallas, Texas. He has travelled extensively over the last 35 years from Europe to Africa and the Americas. His website  focuses on the history of the Americas up to the arrival of the Europeans. His articles are dedicated to research and papers about the Maya, past and present, as well as other Mesoamerican cultures and those of the South American continent. He is a fellow of the Institute of Maya Studies, Miami, FL, the Royal Geographical Society , London, UK and also a member in good standing of the Maya Exploration Center  He is a member of the NFAA-Non Fiction Authors Association,

Austin, TX and the Archaeological Institute of America , Boston, MA.


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El Draque - Master Of the Seas: Sir Francis Drake
Saturday March 13, 2021 1:00pm EST
by Laurence Bergreen
El Draque - Master Of the Seas: Sir Francis Drake

Before he was secretly dispatched by Queen Elizabeth to circumnavigate the globe, or was called upon to save England from the Spanish Armada, Francis Drake was perhaps the most wanted–and successful–pirate ever to sail. Nicknamed "El Draque" by the Spaniards who placed a bounty on his head, the notorious red-haired, hot-tempered Drake pillaged galleons laden with New World gold and silver, stealing a vast fortune for his queen – and himself. For Elizabeth, Drake made the impossible real, serving as a crucial and brilliantly adaptable instrument of her ambitions to transform England from a third-rate island kingdom into a global imperial power.

In 1580, sailing on Elizabeth's covert orders, Drake became the first captain to circumnavigate the earth successfully. (Ferdinand Magellan had died in his attempt.) Part exploring expedition, part raiding mission, Drake's audacious around-the-world journey in the Golden Hind reached Patagonia, the Pacific Coast of present-day California and Oregon, the Spice Islands, Java, and Africa. Almost a decade later, Elizabeth called upon Drake again. As the devil-may-care vice admiral of the English fleet, Drake dramatically defeated the once-invincible Spanish Armada, spurring the British Empire’s ascent and permanently wounding its greatest rival.

The relationship between Drake and Elizabeth is the missing link in our understanding of the rise of the British Empire, and its importance has not been fully described or appreciated. Historian and author Laurence Bergreen colours in the missing pieces of this puzzle and delivers a narrative entwining epic historical themes with intimate passions.

Laurence BergreenLaurence Bergreen is an award-winning biographer, historian, and chronicler of exploration. His books have been translated into over 25 languages worldwide. Each of his biographies is considered the definitive work on its subject: Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life, Capone: The Man and the Era, As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin, and Voyage to Mars: NASA's Search for Life Beyond Earth. His latest book is: In Search of a Kingdom: Francis Drake, Elizabeth I, and the Perilous Birth of the British Empire.  

He has written for many national publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Esquire, Newsweek, The Chicago Tribune, and Military History Quarterly. A frequent lecturer at major universities and symposiums, and, on occasion, aboard cruise ships, he has served as a Featured Historian for the History Channel. Mr Bergreen graduated from Harvard University in 1972. He is a member of PEN American Center, The Explorers Club, the Authors Guild, and the Board of Trustees of the New York Society Library. He lives in New York City.

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Marco Polo And The Mysterious Maps
Saturday February 20, 2021 1:00pm EST
by Dr Benjamin B Olshin
Marco Polo And The Mysterious Maps

In the 13th century, Italian merchant and explorer Marco Polo travelled from Venice to the far reaches of Asia, a journey he chronicled in a narrative titled Il Milione, later known as The Travels of Marco Polo. While Polo’s writings would go on to inspire the likes of Christopher Columbus, scholars have long debated their veracity. Some have argued that Polo never even reached China, while others believe that he came as far as the Americas. Now, there is another piece of this puzzle: a very curious collection of fourteen little-known maps and related documents said to have belonged to the family of Marco Polo himself.

Historian of cartography Benjamin B. Olshin presents these artifacts, charting their course from obscure origins in the private collection of Italian-American immigrant Marcian Rossi in the 1930s; to investigations of their authenticity by the Library of Congress, J. Edgar Hoover, and the FBI; to the work of the late cartographic scholar Leo Bagrow; to Olshin’s own efforts to track down and study the Rossi maps, all but one of which are in the possession of Rossi’s great-grandson.

Are the maps forgeries, facsimiles, or modernized copies? Did Marco Polo’s daughters―whose names appear on several of the artifacts―preserve in them geographic information about Asia first recorded by their father? Or did they inherit maps created by him? Or, if the maps have no connection to Marco Polo, who made them, when, and why?

Dr Benjamin B OlshinDr Benjamin B Olshin is a former Professor of Philosophy, the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, and Design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He is a Fulbright scholar with over a decade of experience in international consulting, research, education/training, and design work in the U.S., Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Dr. Olshin has published and presented work in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Taiwan, Japan, and Indonesia. Over the course of his career, his research and other work has taken on many subjects, including maps and exploration, the history of technology, the philosophy of physics, and communication across cultures. He has written in a broad range of areas, including the history of cartography, the philosophy of science, and sociology of technology, and design. His latest book is Lost Knowledge: The Concept of Vanished Technologies and Other Human Histories. His other books are Deciphering Reality: Simulations, Tests, and Designs, and The Mysteries of the Marco Polo Maps.

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Old School Ghost Hunting versus Modern Paranormal Research
Saturday January 23, 2021 1:00pm EST
by Charles Christian
Old School Ghost Hunting versus Modern Paranormal Research

From “is anyone there?” to “the show must go on!”

Regular Ancient Origins contributor Charles Christian surveys the evolution of ghost hunting into paranormal research over the past 50 years and asks if the spooky plot has been lost as the old techniques of investigating alleged hauntings have given way to a commercialized entertainment industry. Drawing on his own experience as an amateur ghost hunter at university and his current membership of the UK's long-established Ghost Club, and Society for Psychical Research, Christian will survey both the change in approaches and the change in format.

Among the things he will be looking at are: the low-tech investigations of old, the increased reliance on largely-ineffective gadgets today, the changing nature of ghost hunter from private affairs to mass entertainment events, the impact of commercialization on both the impartiality of hunt organizers and on the availability of venues to investigate, the impact of hit television shows and social media, the decline in preliminary book-based background research, the changing status of the psychic medium with their opinions now going unchallenged, the failure to understand concepts such as crowd psychology and pareidolia, and the rise of the bogus experts and pseudo-academic qualifications.

"Everyone wants to be a superstar psychic researcher today with a large, monetized YouTube audience but in the process, they are destroying the field for serious Investigations, generating fake-news legends, and undermining the credibility of more academic paranormal study," says Christian.

The Truth may be out there, but for too many paranormal investigators, they are more concerned with the paying audience that is also out there. If you are interested in the subject of ghosts and hauntings, this webinar is unmissable as it will also help point you in the direction of constructive research—and save you the expense of buying pointless gadgets!

Charles Christian Charles Christian is a UK-based journalist, author, and radio show host and a regular contributor to Ancient Origins Premium and a sometime werewolf hunter. He blogs at, his Weird Tales Radio Show is at, exploring Ghosts, Geeks, Magick, Music, Urban Myths & Folklore and he is on Twitter at @ChristianUncut. His recent non-fiction book is A travel guide to Yorkshire’s Weird Wolds: The Mysterious Wold Newton Triangle and Writing Genre Fiction: Creating Imaginary Worlds: The 12 Rules -

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Are You Related to a Viking, Egyptian, Paleo American, or Biblical Israelite?
Saturday December 19, 2020 2:00pm EST
by Dr. Eran Elhaik
Ancient DNA Origins

For the past decade, Ancient Origins saw its mission in making science freely accessible to the public, particularly the fields of science related to human’s past. It is only appropriate that Ancient Origins would also be the first to provide Ancient DNA Origins Tests – the next generation of DNA tests.

Unlike contemporary DNA tests that report ancestry in relation to contemporary populations under the hidden assumptions that people and populations remained genetically the same over time, this next generation of DNA tests acknowledges that the past is a volatile entity that needs to be captured precisely and accurately using only the DNA of people who actually lived in the past. But comparing the ancient DNA of skeletons and mummies is not enough; our goal was to bring them back to life (figuratively speaking, of course), using all the means at our hands.

Our first line of tests includes some of the fascinating populations that ever lived: The Biblical Israelite Tribes, Medieval Iceland Vikings, Ptolemaic Egyptians, and Paleo American Indians. Our Ancient DNA Origins Tests tell the story of every group and every individual. Ancient DNA Origins Tests were designed to tell you whether you are a part of the Greatest Story Even Told, the Edda, the great civilization that rests underneath the sands, or the Mesoamerican people that once roamed the American continent.

Together with lead geneticist Dr. Eran Elhaik, who brings to Ancient Origins his wealth of experience in genetics leading past projects like the Geographic Geno 2.0 and GPS Origins, we are proud to spearhead this next generation of genetic tests. We hope that you will enjoy and benefit from them too. “Study the past, if you would divine the future” as Confucius wrote, and we now have the actual means to do so.

EranDr. Eran Elhaik completed a Ph.D. in Molecular Evolution at the University of Houston with Prof. Dan Graur where he studied the evolution of mammalian genomes. He then completed two post-docs at Johns Hopkins University, working with Prof. Aravinda Chakravarti on population genetics and with Prof. Zandi working on mental disorders. Dr. Elhaik was appointed as an Assistant lecturer in the Bioinformatics Hub of the University of Sheffield, England, focusing on population genetics and complex disorders that he links via personalized medicine. In 2019, he became an Associate Professor at the University of Lund, Sweden. Dr. Elhaik’s research typically employs complex computational, statistical, epidemiological, and mathematical approaches to interdisciplinary fields like complex disorders, population genetics, personalized medicine, molecular evolution, genomics, paleogenomics, and epigenetics covering various organisms from ants to humans. Due to his innovative and breakthrough work, Dr. Elhaik is one of the most renowned scientists.

Dr. Elhaik’s work received much interest over the years from scholars and the public alike. We are proud to say that we covered all his research that falls within our domain. These studies include dating the most ancient human Y chromosome, “Y chromosomal Adam,” and developing a genomic GPS tool that identifies the geographic origin of modern people with extreme accuracy. A commercial version of this test is offered on our website. His extensive studies on Druze and Ashkenazic Jews traced their origins from over 1000 years ago and uncovered “Ancient Ashkenaz,” where Ashkenazic Jews formed their unique genomic signature alongside the ancestors of Druze. Elhaik’s group was the first and only group that developed the technology that identifies ancient Ancestry Informative Markers, which are used to infer the ancient ancestry in modern people accurately. This is one of the critical components underlining our new line of Ancient DNA Origins Tests.

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Rome’s First Princess - The Banishment of Julia Augusti
Saturday October 17, 2020 2:00pm EST
by Mary Naples
Rome’s First Princess -   The Banishment of Julia Augusti

All of Rome was in an uproar. No one had imagined that even a cold fish like Augustus was capable of exiling his only biological child, Julia, to a barren and windswept island—as punishment for the high crime of adultery. Yet it was not enough for her to be merely banished from her beloved Rome.  Augustus further decreed that aside from the guards who kept watch, no men were allowed on that stygian enclave. The implication was that since she was deemed a woman of ill-repute, being deprived of male companionship would make for a more exacting punishment. Along those same lines, wine was forbidden, and food provisions were at a bare minimum. In other words, for all intents and purposes, Julia was in prison.

Over these long millennia, Julia’s reputation has been maligned by ancient writers and contemporary historians alike, but was it something other than loose morals that set her father against her? Make no mistake being labeled a woman of ill-repute was reason enough to land Julia on the prison island during the authoritarian Augustan era. All the same, according to Suetonius, Augustus debated putting his daughter to death. Given the severity of her father’s reaction to the disgrace, some believe that Julia’s fall was the result of a political intrigue to overthrow him. But with her two eldest sons primed for the throne, why act against her better interests? This presentation explores the possible reasons behind the harsh exile of Rome’s first princess, delving into the politics of the era and the climate of paranoia and suspicion within the Julio-Claudian clan itself.

Mary NaplesWith an emphasis in Women’s Studies, Mary Naples earned an M.A. in Humanities from Dominican University of California in 2013. Her master’s thesis: “Demeter’s Daughter’s: How the Myth of the Captured Bride Helped Spur Feminine Consciousness in Ancient Greece,” examines how female participants found empowerment in a feminine fertility festival. Her deep love of the classical world is reflected in her writing which explores women’s narratives ranging from the ancient Greek and Roman worlds into the Byzantine era and even into ancient Israel and Judea. After a career in high-tech, Mary lives in Sausalito, California with her husband and cat, Maddie. There she has a collection of books on the classical world and a garden with a Cretan-styled labyrinth. Visit Mary’s website:

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Which Macedonian Royal Lies in The Tomb at Amphipolis?
Saturday September 5, 2020 2:00pm EST
by Andrew M Chugg
Amphipolis Tomb

In the time of Alexander the Great and his successors, Amphipolis was one of the greatest cities of ancient Greece. It is situated upon the eastern bank of the River Strymon, about three miles inland from the northern shore of the Aegean Sea. Shortly after Alexander’s death, it became the site of the largest tomb ever built in Greece. This took the form of a circular tumulus, now named the Kasta Mound. A sequence of excavations has uncovered a perimeter wall, known as the peribolos, constructed of the finest marble. The presence of a cist grave beneath the floor of the last chamber and the exhumation of human remains within its anciently disturbed trench attest clearly to the status of the mound as the monument for a burial. The vastness of this monument and the superlative quality of its decoration compels one to believe that the occupant of the grave was a personage of the very highest importance. Andrew Michael Chugg investigates several tantalizing clues indicating a female member of the Macedonian royal house.

Andrew Michael ChuggAndrew Michael Chugg read Natural Sciences at Trinity College in the University of Cambridge in the UK, graduating with honors. He has appeared as an Alexander expert on BBC Radio, and in several National Geographic TV documentaries. He has also written various books on Alexander including The Quest for the Tomb of Alexander the Great and Alexander’s Lovers. He recently completed a project to reconstruct the highly influential account of Alexander’s reign by Cleitarchus, which was written in Alexandria in the second quarter of the third century BC, but which has been lost since the time of the Roman Empire. The entire reconstruction was published in a single 700-page volume in 2015. Andrew is currently working on an account of the largest and most important tomb ever found in Greece in the Kasta Mound at Amphipolis, and on a scientific analysis of the Pharos lighthouse in Alexandria, the Seventh Wonder of the ancient world.

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The Life and Death of Ancient Cities
Saturday August 8, 2020 2:00pm EST
by Professor Greg Woolf
The Life and Death of Ancient Cities: a Natural History

When one imagines the ancient Mediterranean world, it is often a world of spectacular cities, whose monuments and institutions provided the model for the vast urban worlds we inhabit today. Recent research has emphasized some of the differences between our world and theirs. Today, more than half the world's population lives in huge cities with populations in the millions. Then, maybe only one in ten people lived in towns and they were small—really small—with populations of just a few thousand. Even by the standards of ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia the cities of the Greeks, Romans, Etruscan, and Phoenicians were tiny.

Professor Greg Woolf talks about the implications and shows how evolutionary theory explains the rise of cities across the world in the last 6,000 years, and how ecology explains the very small scale of Mediterranean urbanism. He will illustrate how, despite their small size, these urban experiments proved so influential on the societies that came after Greece and Rome.

Professor Greg Woolf Professor Greg Woolf is an historian and archaeologist specializing in the Roman empire. He has published on various aspects of the ancient economy, on ancient literacy, on Roman religion, on late prehistoric Europe, and on ancient history in the very long term. His books include Becoming Roman. The origins of provincial civilization in Gaul (1998), Et tu Bruté? The murder of Caesar and political assassination (2006), Tales of the Barbarians: Ethnography and Empire in the Roman West (2011) and Rome. An Empire’s Story (2012) and his latest The Life and Death of Ancient Cities. A Natural History (2020).

Greg Woolf has degrees from Oxford and Cambridge and between 1989 and 1998 held fellowships at various colleges in the two universities. In 1998 he became Professor of Ancient History at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

Since January 2015 he has been Professor of Classics at the University of London and Director of the Institute of Classical Studies in the School of Advanced Study. He is also an Honorary Professor of Archaeology at University College London.

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