Palaces in Ancient Egypt: Cities for Kings and Gods

Illustration of the ancient palace of Malkata The grandeur that early European explorers had come to expect in royal building programs seems to have been reserved for sacred space and funerary complexes. By Dr. Steven Snape Reader in Egyptian Archaeology University of Liverpool Introduction For early European explorers in Egypt, it was inconceivable that the massive monumental[…]

The People vs. Tyranny: The Secular Martyrdom of John Lilburne

John Lilburne, reading from Coke’s Institutes of the Lawes of England (1628-44) at his trial for high treason in 1649. Photo courtesy The British Library/Public Domain He was a 17th-century champion of legal rights that are important to us all. By Dr. Michael Braddick / 11.26.2018 Professor of History (Early Modern England) University of Sheffield The English[…]

What Hanukkah’s Portrayal in Pop Culture Means to American Jews

Hanukkah demands fewer religious rituals than most other Jewish observances. Golden Pixels LLC Despite the primacy of Christmas in American culture, the visibility of Hanukkah in pop culture reminds Jews that they have their own holiday in which they can take pride. By Dr. Ted Merwin / 12.05.2017 Part-Time Associate Professor of Religion Director, The Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life (2001) Dickinson College When I was[…]

Shamanism in Ancient Korea

Cheongung, or the main Shrine Hall of the Three Sages, on the grounds of Samseonggung. Samseonggung Shrine is dedicated to the traditional worship of the three mythical creators of Korea: Whanin, Whanung, and Dangun. Its influence on ancient Korean culture is most tangible in surviving art, architecture, literature, and music. By Mark Cartwright / 11.08.2016 Historian Introduction Bangsadaps,[…]

The City of Gilgamesh: Temple Rule in Ancient Babylon

Passing lion, brick panel from the Procession Way which ran from the Marduk temple to the Ishtar Gate and the Akitu Temple / Photo by Jastrow, Louvre Museum, Wikimedia Commons Gilgamesh, legendary ruler of Uruk, famous drinker, womanizer and battler against monsters, was a King Arthur of Mesopotamian antiquity. By Dr. Paul Kriwaczek British Historian Uruk[…]

Human and Non-Human Sacrifice in Aztec Religious Practice

 / An Aztec ceremonial knife with a cedarwood handle and flint blade. The figure of the handle is covered in turquoise and shell mosiac and represents an Aztec Eagle knight. 1400-1521 CE. (British Museum, London) / British Museum, Creative Commons This was a strictly ritualized process which gave the highest possible honor to the gods and was regarded[…]

The ‘Horns of Moses’ in Artistic, Literary, and Archaeological Context

Why, in many representations, do we see Moses with horns? Lecture by Dr. Thomas Römer / 02.05.2009 Professor of Biblical Studies Collège de France Introduction Any self-respecting scholar of the Bible has to examine the question of literary genres, which is one of the methodological tools of biblical research. Therefore, to prepare this lecture that I am giving[…]

The Power Struggle between Government Officials and Clergy in Ancient History

Fragment of an inscripted clay cone of Urukagina (or Uruinimgina), lugal (prince) of Lagash. The inscription reads: “He [Uruinimgina] dug (…) the canal to the town-of-NINA. At its beginning, he built the Eninnu-(E-ninnu or Temple-Ninnu); at its ending, he built the Esiraran”. / Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen, Louvre Museum, Wikimedia Commons When secular governors supported by the armies appeared[…]

The María Lionza Pilgrimage in Venezuela

María Lionza statue María Lionza is an indigenous Venezuelan religion that dates back to the 14th century By Cristina Carter PhD Student in Religious Studies Florida State University María Lionza is an indigenous Venezuelan religion that dates back to the 14th century. Combining Catholic, West African, and indigenous religions it was outlawed from being practiced[…]

The Gods of Indian Country: Religion and the Struggle for the American West

How colonists cloaked violence beneath a veneer of gentility and conquered peoples held to religion to preserve their sense of community.    Interview of Dr. Jennifer Graber by Daniel Gorman, Jr. / 09.17.2018 Graber: Associate Professor of Religious Studies, The University of Texas at Austin Gorman: PhD Candidate in History, University of Rochester Introduction Dr. Jennifer[…]

Religion of the Maya

Temple II, Tikal, Guatemala. The temple was used as a tomb, probably for the queen of Maya ruler Jasaw Chan K’awiil (r. 682-734 CE), although, no remains have been discovered. The temple is 42 metres high and faces the larger temple-pyramid of Jasaw Chan K’awiil. / Photo by Mike Vondran, Wikimedia Commons Maya religious beliefs are formed on the notion that virtually[…]

The Ancient Roman Cult of Mithras

The Tauroctony / Photo by CristianChirita, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Wikimedia Commons The Roman deity Mithras appears in the historical record in the late 1st century A.D., and disappears from it in the late 4th century A.D. By Dr. Roger Pearse Ancient Historian Introduction The Roman deity Mithras appears in the historical record in the late 1st century A.D., and disappears from it[…]

Hero Cults in Ancient Greece

Sacello Ipogeico (Heroon), Paestum, Italy / Photo by Berthold Werner, Wikimedia Commons Hero cults were one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 11.24.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Hero cults were one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion. In Homeric Greek, “hero” (ἥρως, hḗrōs) refers to a man who[…]

How the Virgin Mary Brings Together Four Different Faiths in India and Pakistan

Mass inside the church dedicated to our Lady of Good Health in Valenkanni, Tamil Nadu. D.Fernandes, Author provided A common place of worship in India and Pakistan offers solace and bonds religious minorities in Pakistan. By Dr. Donna Fernandes / 02.03.2017 Researcher, Program Coordinator Habib University Karachi is the most violent city in Pakistan. A total of 1,046 deaths related to terror and militancy were reported there in 2016,[…]

The Bishop’s Profitable Sex Workers in 14th-Century London

In 14th-century London, Church leaders discovered how to make a tidy income from sex workers. By Dr. Kate Lister / 06.05.2018 Lecturer in the History of Sexuality Leeds Trinity University Wherever there have been people buying and selling sex, there have been laws trying to suppress, regulate or profit from it, and medieval London was[…]

Confession as Therapy in the Middle Ages

Fresco in the Pellegrinaioof the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, Siena, Domenico, di Bartolo / Wellcome Collection, Creative Commons The line between confession and counselling has been blurred for centuries. In fact, confession in the Middle Ages was thought to improve physical and mental wellbeing and was even used as a treatment for all sorts[…]

A Brief History of Messianic Judaism

Young Jews praying at the Kotel, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem (Image © Bigstock/kirill4mula) There are approximately 175,000 to 250,000 messianic Jews in the U.S, and 350,000 worldwide. By Dr. Ingrid Anderson / 11.13.2018 Associate Director of Jewish Studies Lecturer, Arts and Sciences Writing Program Boston University Introduction Messianic Jews consider themselves Jewish Christians. Specifically they believe, as[…]

17th-Century Artistic Attempts to Imagine ‘Perfect’ Animal Forms before ‘the Fall’

Crispin van de Passe’s perfect elephant as featured in his ‘t Light der teken en schilderkonst (1643) / Internet Archive Does each species have an optimal form? An ideal beauty that existed prior to the Fall? And if so could this be recreated on both paper and in life? These were questions that concerned both artists and[…]

How Punitive, Omniscient Gods May Have Encouraged the Expansion of Human Society

With moralistic gods watching, it’s easier to be fair and cooperative. Olivier, CC BY-NC-ND For human groups to grow from small, intimate communities to the huge interconnected societies we know now, people needed to be willing to cooperate with strangers. Religion might have played a big role. By Dr. Benjamin Grant Purzycki / 02.10.2016 Senior Researcher, Department of Behavior, Ecology, and Culture Max[…]

Belief in Supernatural Beings is Totally Natural – and False

Craig Cloutier/Flickr/Creative Commons By Dr. Stephen Law / 12.15.2015 Philosopher and Author Centre for Inquiry Human beings are remarkably prone to supernatural beliefs and, in particular, to beliefs in invisible agents – beings that, like us, act on the basis of their beliefs and desires, but that, unlike us, aren’t usually visible to the naked eye. Belief in[…]

Materialism and Jewish Reform in the 19th Century

‘Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur,’ by Maurycy Gottlieb, 1878 In the 1870s European Judaism underwent an intellectual revolution.  By Dr. Eliyahu Stern / 10.30.2018 Associate Professor of Modern Jewish Intellectual and Cultural History Yale University Be ‘a man in the street and a Jew in the home’: a common piece of advice[…]

Anabaptist Confessional Migration in Early Modern Europe

Hutterite family 1588 Anabaptists constituted one of the most persecuted and most mobile religious populations of the Reformation and Confessional Ages. By Dr. Geoffrey Dipple / 07.15.2015 Professor of Early Modern History University of Alberta Abstract Lacking a durable alliance with the state anywhere in Europe, Anabaptists constituted one of the most persecuted and most[…]

LGBT in Medieval Islam

During the medieval period the Muslim community was rather tolerating and accepting in this regard. By Muzaffar Bhatti / 02.23.2017 Graduate Student in History Royal Holloway, University of London Contrary to popular belief, Islam has not always had a strained relationship with the LGBT community. In fact, during the medieval period the Muslim community was[…]

Second Temple Judaism, Christianity, and the Emergence of Anti-Semitism

Modern reconstruction of what the Second Temple would have looked like after its renovation during the reign of Herod I / Photo by Juan R. Cuadra, Wikimedia Commons Exploring Judaism from 515 BCE to the destruction of the Second Temple and the following rise of anti-semitism in early Christianity. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.28.2018 Public Historian[…]

Common Beliefs and Practices in Ancient Greek Religion

Aegeus at right consults the Pythia or oracle of Delphi. Vase 440-430 BC. He was told “Do not loosen the bulging mouth of the wineskin until you have reached the height of Athens, lest you die of grief”, which at first he did not understand. / Photo by Zde, Antikensammlung Berlin, Altes Museum, Wikimedia Commons We speak of Greek religions or “cults” in[…]

Living the Principles of Ma’at in Ancient Egyptian Religion

The limestone Pyramidion of Ramose, from the top of the tomb of the ‘Necropolis Scribe’. Scenes on all four sides depict the worship of the sun. From Deir-el-Demina, New Kingdom, XIX Dynasty, 1279-1213 BCE. (Egyptian Museum, Turin) / Photo by Mark Cartwright, Creative Commons During one’s life on Earth in ancient Egypt, one was expected to uphold the principle[…]

Moche Human Sacrifice: The Role of Funerary and Warrior Sacrifice in Moche Ritual Organization

Despite the extensive study of Moche iconography, the motivations behind the practice remain poorly understood By Christina Taggart The University of Western Ontario Introduction Human sacrifice has been an enduring topic of interest to archaeologists, as it embodies an extreme representation of the exotic ‘other’ and offers considerable insight into past ritual behaviour and ideological organization.[…]