AncientOrigins



Ancient Origins News from Ancient Origins website - Ancient Origins seeks to uncover, what we believe, is one of the most important pieces of knowledge we can acquire as human beings – our beginnings.

  • 20,000 Women and 100,000 Castrated Men to Serve the Emperor: The Imperial Harem of China
    by dhwty on 25 marzo 2017 at 21:09

    In Imperial China, one of the important tasks that the emperor needed to do was to ensure the continuation of the dynasty, which was achieved by the production of a male heir. For this purpose, the emperors of Imperial China kept an enormous harem of women. There was a hierarchy in the emperor’s harem, and whilst the exact classes changed over the millennia, it may be said that in general there were three ranks – the empress, consorts, and concubines. In addition, the eunuchs who served these imperial women may be considered to be a part of this harem as well. Hierarchy in the Harem At the top of the hierarchy of the Imperial Chinese harem was the empress, who was the Emperor’s one ‘official wife’. The empress was the most venerated and revered figurehead for women in China, as she was considered to be the ‘mother of the world’. In the harem, only the emperor and the mother of the emperor were above the empress, all other individuals had to obey her orders. In addition to empresses, there was also the rank of empress dowager. Empresses who outlived their husbands were promoted to this rank. Some famous empress dowagers include Wu Zetian of the Tang Dynasty (who later became China’s first female emperor) and Cixi of the Qing Dynasty. Wu Zetian, Empress in the Tang Dynasty Harem (public domain) Read […]

  • The Encoded Crusader Sword: Can You Solve the Cryptic Code?
    by Ashley Cowie on 25 marzo 2017 at 17:50

    Can you solve the cryptic code engraved into the blade of this 13th century sword? The curious inscription continues to baffle historians, cryptographers ad linguists and last year the British Library appealed to the public for help in cracking this 800 year old mystery. As you read this article, you will notice that my personal research has turned a tiny, but significant key in this mystery, but maybe you can solve it once and for all? The sword dates to between 1250 and 1330 and was discovered in the 19th century in the River Witham near Lincoln in northern England. Currently on display at the British Library in the Magna Carta exhibition its steel blade has a sharply honed edge which is unusual, having two fullers or grooves, running parallel down each side. Last year, a spokesperson for the British Museum in London stated:  “A Viking origin has been suggested for the sword on the basis of the fullers, the pommel and the letter forms of the inscription. However, it is apparent that the pommel, inscription and the blade shape are more characteristic of Medieval European swords than those of Viking origin.” The museum spokesperson went on to say that the blade is most probably German and the sword is English, and would have been fitted with a hilt. The cross-shaped hilt is characteristic of swords of this period and although a sword […]

  • Grianan of Aileach: Hillfort of a Legendary Kingdom Which Lies on 5000-Year-Old Sacred Ground
    by Natalia Klimczak on 25 marzo 2017 at 12:45

    Around the 12th century, the mysterious kingdom of Ailech created many precious objects that now feature as artifacts in museum collections and fascinate many people. These settlers also constructed sites that thrived for centuries. It seemed to be a population destined for glory, but history tells a cruel story about their downfall. One of the sites in the hearts of the memories of the Irish people is Grianan of Aileach, an advanced and impressive hillfort. The Grianan of Aileach was the major base of the Kings of Ailech, which belonged to the famous dynasties called Northern Ui Neill, related to the common ancestor Naill of the Nine Hostages – the legendary historic Irish king. The hillfort of a Gaelic Kingdom Grianan of Aileach is located on Greenan Mountain at Inishowen, County Donegal in Ireland. The mountain is 244 meters (801 ft) high and in some historical resources is Anglicized as Greenan Ely. Although the story of the hillfort lasts for many centuries, usually it is described as related to the Kingdom of Ailech (Aileach). The roots of the settlement are timeworn, but the legendary kingdom brought a different meaning there. It is believed that the currently existing hillfort was built by Northern Ui Neill around the sixth or seventh century AD, but the first settlement, also a fortress, was most probably created around the 1st century. Interior […]

  • Bones Reveal Gruesome Fate of Scottish Clan Members Who Were Smoked to Death in a Cave
    by Mark Miller on 25 marzo 2017 at 0:46

    More than 400 years ago, the Macleod clan massacred about 400 of the Macdonalds on the Isle of Eigg in Scotland, when the Macleods smoked them to death in a cave in which they took refuge. Now a group of tourists have found more bones of the Macdonalds clan in that cave. The attack on the Macdonalds wiped out most of the island’s residents after a clan feud erupted over some Macleod men possibly molesting some Macdonalds girls. As many as 400 Macdonalds islanders were slain in this outbreak of clan warfare. Entrance to the cave on Eigg where the Macdonalds clan bones were found in October. Authorities intend to rebury the bones after researchers are done with them. (Wikimedia Commons/Christian Jones photo) Archaeologists have dated the 53 bones, discovered in October, to roughly the same era as the massacre, which happened in or around 1577. The feud dated back to earlier in the 16th century, when Macleod of Dunvegan’s son was beaten and left to die in a boat, says the BBC. The legend says the boat drifted back to Skye, his home. Read moreSection: NewsHistory & Archaeology […]

  • Space Rock Mystery: Where Did the Fukang Meteorite Come From?
    by dhwty on 24 marzo 2017 at 21:55

    The Fukang Meteorite is the name given to a meteorite that was discovered in China. The Fukang Meteorite belongs to a class of stony-iron meteorite known as Pallasite, which may be recognized by the fragments of olivine crystals embedded in an iron-nickel matrix. Read moreSection: NewsUnexplained Phenomena […]

  • Pandora: The Tale of a Good Girl Gone Bad?
    by Veronica Parkes on 24 marzo 2017 at 17:59

    When Pandora opened her box, as the Ancient Greek myth goes, all manner of evil was released into the world - ending the Golden Age of man and forsaking them to a life of death and rebirth. Being the first woman created by the gods, she was sent as a punishment. This set a very negative precedent for the women that would succeed her, and this sexism remains in modern times. However, Pandora was not always despised as the bringer of evil. Originally, she was seen as a life-giving goddess much like the better-known goddesses Gaea, Athena, and Demeter. Over the years, Pandora went from a revered goddess to the root of all evil, later to be conflated with other religions and immortalized in art and myth. Pandora’ by John William Waterhouse, 1896. (Public Domain) Read moreSection: NewsHuman OriginsFolkloreMyths & Legends […]

  • Ghosts, Hobbits or Cannibals? The Legend of Ebu Gogo, the Secret Tribe of Wild Grandmother Flesheaters
    by MartiniF on 24 marzo 2017 at 14:27

    “On the Indonesian island of Flores, these ladies have been famous for centuries. Known as Ebu Gogo, which means Granny Flesheater, they are small, hairy, elf-like creatures who live in caves in the forests,” writes author Nury Vittachi in an article from Reader’s Digest Asia in 2008. Read moreSection: NewsHistory […]

  • A Match Made in Greek Legend: What Happened When Heracles Met the Snake Woman?
    by Carly Silver on 24 marzo 2017 at 12:56

    While completing his Twelve Labors, the Greek hero Heracles (a.k.a. Hercules) got up to tons of mischief—and that included bedding a lot of women. In the process, he fathered a whole host of legendary sons, called the Heracleidae, from whom many clans across the Mediterranean claimed descent. Read moreSection: NewsMyths & Legends […]

  • No Average Artists: Who Was Deemed Good Enough to Create Sculptures of Alexander the Great?
    by Natalia Klimczak on 24 marzo 2017 at 0:51

    If Alexander the Great was alive now, he would probably be the most often photographed leader in the world. However, in his time, photography didn't exist. During the 4th century BC, a remarkable ruler like Alexander wanted to be commemorated with amazing sculptures that presented him as perfect being, more like a god than a man. To achieve this task, he needed the best artists. Read moreSection: NewsHistoryFamous Peo […]

  • The 130-Million-Year-Old Human Fossil Heist
    by Ashley Cowie on 23 marzo 2017 at 21:57

    In 2016, a telephone interview with an artefact collector led me to uncover a scientific conspiracy of Biblical proportions. Professors are the high priests of our technology driven society, but as you will see, sometimes the letters behind their names serve only to disguise a highly unscientific hidden agenda. Read moreSection: ArtifactsOther ArtifactsNewsOpinionGuest Authors […]

  • The Best Preserved Roman Temple? From Emperors to Founding Fathers, Elite Connections Maintained the Maison Carrée
    by dhwty on 23 marzo 2017 at 18:04

    The Maison Carrée (which means ‘Square House’ in French) is an ancient monument located in Nîmes, a city in the Occitanie region of southern France. This building was built during the 1st century BC, when France, then part of Gaul, was ruled by the Romans. Read moreSection: NewsAncient PlacesEuro […]

  • Where an Ostrich, Dancer, and Hunter Meet: How Common Were Ritual Images in Neolithic Egyptian Rock Art?
    by Theodoros Karasavvas on 23 marzo 2017 at 12:55

    Egyptologists at the University of Bonn, Germany have discovered rock art from the 4th millennium BC during an excavation at a necropolis near Aswan in Egypt. The images were carved into the rock in the form of little dots and portray hunting scenes like those found in shamanic depictions. Experts speculate that they could represent a link between the Neolithic period and ancient Egyptian culture. Read moreSection: NewsHistory & Archaeology […]

  • A Medieval Painting Depicts the Chilling Image of a Worm Eating Its Way Out of the Body of a French Saint
    by Mark Miller on 23 marzo 2017 at 0:56

    Imagine a 2- to 3-foot long (0.6- to 1-meter) worm slowly working its way out of your body… with the possibility of other worms doing so in the future. Such is the horror of the guinea worm, which has been plaguing mankind for millennia. Read moreSection: NewsGenera […]

  • 1,400-Year-Old Coins are the Forgotten Remnants of a Terrifying Siege on Jerusalem
    by Theodoros Karasavvas on 22 marzo 2017 at 22:01

    Israeli archaeologists have announced the discovery of a hoard of rare Byzantine bronze coins from a site dating back to 614 AD. The coins were discovered during excavations for the widening of the Tel Aviv- Jerusalem highway. Read moreSection: NewsHistory & Archaeology […]

  • Could Frozen Seeds Save the Future? Scientists Bring a 32,000-year-old Seed Back to Life
    by Kerry Sullivan on 22 marzo 2017 at 17:52

    Far away on the remote island of Spitsbergen in the Artic Svalbard archipelago lies humanity’s fail-safe storage of seeds. With the threat of natural and man-made disasters looming in the future, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is located securely halfway between Norway and the North Pole (approx. 810 miles (1,300 km) from the North Pole). Read moreSection: NewsGenera […]

  • The Magic, Mystery and Madness of Tomb 55: Resurrecting the Rebel Ruler–Part III
    by ABalaji on 22 marzo 2017 at 14:38

    Akhenaten’s short-lived capital, Amarna, was the epicenter of the unpalatable religious changes that pharaoh had unleashed on his country. The ensuing tumult which pervaded Egypt during this dark time had to be forgotten, and quickly. Read moreSection: NewsHistory […]

  • KV20: The Famous Female Pharaoh Hatshepsut Has a Magnificent Temple, But What Became of Her Body?
    by Natalia Klimczak on 22 marzo 2017 at 13:01

    Father and daughter, Tuthmose I and Hatshepsut were two famous pharaohs of the 18th dynasty of the New Kingdom of Egypt; Hatshepsut being only the second confirmed female pharaoh. KV20 is one of the most ancient known tomb sites of the Valley of the Kings, and possibly the first royal tomb to be constructed.  Read moreSection: NewsAncient PlacesAfrica […]

  • Shennong: The God-King of Chinese Medicine and Agriculture
    by Caleb Strom on 22 marzo 2017 at 1:00

    Shennong, which means “God farmer” or “God peasant”, is a deity in Chinese religion. He is a mythical sage healer and ruler of prehistoric China. Shennong is also known as Wugushen “five grains,” or Wuguxiandi “first deity of the five grains.” He is thought to have taught the Chinese how to practice agriculture, the use of herbal drugs, the application of plant-based medicine, and acupuncture. Read moreSection: NewsMyths & LegendsHistoryFamous Peo […]

  • Underwater Treasure Found in Southwestern China Makes Reality out of 300-Year-Old Mythical Battle
    by Theodoros Karasavvas on 21 marzo 2017 at 21:57

    Chinese archaeologists announced yesterday the discovery of an immense underwater treasure. They stated that they recovered more than 10,000 gold and silver items which had been sitting at the bottom of a river in southwestern Sichuan Province for more than three centuries. Read moreSection: NewsHistory & Archaeology […]

  • Old Symbols, New Feelings: How Did the Cup of Ptolemies Become a Chalice of Christ?
    by Kerry Sullivan on 21 marzo 2017 at 18:00

    It is always interesting to see how ancient traditions persist even up to the modern era. Whether it is the resurgence of Eastern meditation practices in modern healthcare or the lingering presence of the Christmas tree in the living room, many customs have been co-opted from their original surroundings into a wholly different setting. Not only is this practice nothing new, it is oftentimes done purposefully. With regards to the Christian appropriation of non-Christian (i.e. pagan) cultural elements, the process is called Interpretation christiana, and a great example of it can be seen in the history of how the Cup of Ptolemies became a Chalice of Christ. The Christian Chalice Before it was stolen from the Louvre in 1804, the Cup of Ptolemies had served for hundreds of years as the Eucharistic chalice for the communion wine at the Basilica of St. Denis in northern Paris. The lost artifact was eventually recovered later in the 19th century, but by then it could no longer serve as a chalice. The cup itself is an intricately carved piece of onyx with two handles and measures 3.3 x 4.9 inches (8.4 x 12.5 cm). The cup has a small nub on the bottom, on which it can stand, but was presumably lifted using the handles. Read moreSection: ArtifactsOther ArtifactsNews […]