Ritual Sacrifice May Have Shaped Dog Domestication

An ancient Arctic site suggests a complex relationship between humans and dogs. By Lea Surugue In the Siberian Arctic, the Ob River flows lazily across vast, cold stretches of tundra. In the city of Salekhard, Russia, where it meets with the Polui River, lie the remains of an ancient ritual site. Overlooking the floodplains, it[…]

The Sacrificial Puppies of the Shang Dynasty

A new study suggests young dogs were frequently buried with humans in China some 3,000 years ago, but the precise reasons remain elusive. By Joshua Rapp Learn During the last centuries of China’s Shang dynasty, which lasted from 1600 B.C. to 1050 B.C., ritual sacrifice was a well-oiled cultural phenomenon, rich and varied in its[…]

Shamanic Trance Journeys: Prehistoric Attempts to Understand the Natural World

Early spiritual and religious concepts developed to deal with an occasionally but worldwide seen natural phenomenon which suggested an inverted otherworld. Abstract Since palaeolithic times, shamans involved animal depictions in cave ceremonies and adopted animals as helping spirits during their trance journeys. This study aims at explaining the rituals with new evidence: the shamans were[…]

A History of Changing Western Attitudes Toward Islam

Since its beginnings in the Arabia of the 7th century CE, the religion of Muhammad the prophet had pushed against the borders of Christendom. Less than a week after the attack on the Twin Towers in New York on 11 September 2001, US President George W. Bush gave a remarkable speechabout America’s “Muslim Brothers and sisters”.[…]

Leonardo’s Depiction of Mary and Jesus Tells Us about His Religious Beliefs

Leonardo da Vinci emphasized the naturalness of the relationship of Jesus and Mary in his art, while also inviting viewers into a religious message. On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, Italian academic Francesco Caglioti’s recent claim that a sculpture held at a London museum bears close similarities with the work of the Renaissance genius[…]

Times Like Good Friday Were Dangerous for Medieval Jews

Language about Jews in the medieval Good Friday liturgy often carried over into physical violence toward local Jewish communities. As Christians observe Good Friday they will remember, with devotion and prayer, the death of Jesus on the Cross. It is a day of solemnity in which Christians give thanks for their salvation made possible by the suffering[…]

Antisemitism in the Middle Ages

The medieval period saw Jews experience intense antisemitism. Introduction The roots of antisemitism can be found in ancient history. Antisemitism existed prior to Christianity, as the work of Manetho from the third century BCE shows. However, antisemitism increased considerably following the rise of Christianity in Europe. This was partly due to the differences in belief,[…]

Divine Light and Melodies Lead the Way: The Medieval Santmat Tradition of Bihar, India

Examining the branch of Santmat, prevalent in the rural areas of Bihar, India. Abstract This paper focuses on the branch of Santmat (thus far, unstudied by scholars of Indian religions), prevalent in the rural areas of Bihar, India. Santmat—literally meaning “the Path of Sants” or “Point of View of the Sants”—of Bihar represents a unique[…]

A Brief History of Ancient Buddhism

The origin of Buddhism points to one man, Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, who was born in Lumbini. Introduction Buddhism is one of the most important Asian spiritual traditions. During its roughly 2.5 millennia of history, Buddhism has shown a flexible approach, adapting itself to different conditions and local ideas while maintaining its core teachings.[…]

Abel Beth Maacah: A 3,000-Year-Old Oracle Cult in Ancient Israel

A shrine to a “wise woman” fulfilling an oraculor role. By Philippe BohstromArchaeologist The town of Abel Beth Maacah was known in biblical times as a place for conflict resolution, we may divine from references in scripture. Now archaeologists have found a strange shrine that they think may have been associated with the “wise woman” of the[…]

Archaeological Evidence of Ancient Philistine Cult and Religion

Examining cult and religion in Philistia during the Iron Age. By Dr. David Ben-ShlomoProfessor of ArchaeologyAriel University Abstract The paper surveys and discusses the updated archaeological evidence for Philistine cult and religion, and cult and religion in Philistia during the Iron Age. The evidence can be related to public or official cult, represented in temple[…]

The Bacchanalia: A Greek Dionysian Mystery Cult in Ancient Rome

The Bacchanalia were Roman festivals of Bacchus based on various ecstatic elements of the Greek Dionysia. Introduction The Bacchanalia seem to have been popular and well-organised throughout the central and southern Italian peninsula. They were almost certainly associated with Rome’s native cult of Liber, and probably arrived in Rome itself around 200 BC. However, like[…]

Mystery Cults in the Greek and Roman World

Shrouded in secrecy, ancient mystery cults fascinate and capture the imagination. Shrouded in secrecy, ancient mystery cults fascinate and capture the imagination. A pendant to the official cults of the Greeks and Romans, mystery cults served more personal, individualistic attitudes toward death and the afterlife. Most were based on sacred stories (hieroi logoi) that often[…]

The Religion of the Ancient Canaanites

Canaanite religion was polytheistic, and in some cases monolatristic. Introduction Canaanite religion refers to the group of ancient Semitic religions practiced by the Canaanites living in the ancient Levant from at least the early Bronze Age through the first centuries of the Common Era. Beliefs Deities A great number of deities in a four tier hierarchy headed[…]

The Birth of the Book: On Christians, Romans, and the Codex

The codex didn’t catch on until surprisingly late in the ancient world. By Benjamin HarnettClassics Scholar A codex is just the Roman name for a book, made of pages, and usually bound on the left. Its predecessor was the scroll or book roll, which was unrolled as you read. The codex is manifestly superior: one[…]

Dead Sea Scrolls: Esoteric Code Reveals Ancient Priestly Calendar

Painstaking reconstruction of fragments of text has revealed the working draft of an ancient Jewish calendar and priestly duty schedule. About 1,000 Dead Sea Scrolls discovered just over 70 years ago near Khirbet Qumran on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea have been officially published since the turn of the millennium. But in the case of[…]

A Brief Overview of the History of the Dead Sea Scrolls – and Forgeries

Five of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of Bible were found to be forged. The scrolls are considered priceless. Here’s why. The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., has removed five Dead Sea Scrolls from exhibits after tests confirmed these fragments were not from ancient biblical scrolls but forgeries. Over the last decade, the Green family,[…]

The Treaty of Tripoli: An Agreement in 1796 Confirming the U.S. as a Sovereign, Secular State

Ratified by the United States Senate unanimously without debate on June 7, 1797, taking effect June 10, 1797, with the signature of President John Adams. Introduction The Treaty of Tripoli (Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary), signed in 1796, was the first treaty[…]

The Albigensian Crusade: Christian Armies Turning the Sword Inward in Medieval France

The Albigensian Crusade was the first crusade to specifically target heretic Christians – the Cathars of southern France. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Not successful in repressing the heresy, the on-off campaigns over two decades, led by Simon IV de Montfort, did achieve their real purpose: the political annexation of the Languedoc region, eventually bringing it[…]

The Early Medieval Papacy and Spread of Christianity Beyond the Roman Empire

As the political boundaries of the Roman Empire diminished and collapsed in the West, Christianity spread beyond the old borders of the Empire and into lands that had never been under Rome. Introduction Christianity in the Middle Ages covers the history of Christianity from the Fall of the Western Roman Empire (c. 476) until the Fall[…]

A History of Virtue as a Philosophy since the Ancient World

In philosophy, the notion of virtue played a central role in ethical theory up until the Enlightenment. Introduction A virtue is a trait or disposition of character that leads to good behavior, for example, wisdom, courage, modesty, generosity, and self-control. There are also public virtues that characterize the spirit of a nation, such as justice, honor, and peace. Every culture has[…]

Muhammad: An Anticlerical Hero of the European Enlightenment

During the European Enlightenment, a number of authors presented Muhammad as an anticlerical hero. Publishing the Quran and making it available in translation was a dangerous enterprise in the 16th century, apt to confuse or seduce the faithful Christian. This, at least, was the opinion of the Protestant city councillors of Basel in 1542, when[…]

Secluding Nuns in Early Christian Monastic Communities to Avoid Scandal

Since the early days of monasticism, the presence of nuns led to restrictions that limited contact between men and women. Pope Francis recently stated that Catholic nuns in various parts of the world, including Africa, Europe, India and Latin America, have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of priests and bishops. In his comments during a news[…]

‘The Marduk Prophecy’: A Traveling Statue in Ancient Assyria

The author would have constructed the narrative to place the events in the past in order to allow for a ‘prophetic vision’. Introduction The Marduk Prophecy is an Assyrian document dating to between 713-612 BCE found in a building known as The House of the Exorcist adjacent to a temple in the city of Ashur. It relates the travels of the statue of[…]

Investiture: Medieval Nobility Cashing in on Church Appointments

It began as a power struggle between Pope Gregory VII and Emperor Henry IV in 1076. Introduction The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was a conflict between church and state in medieval Europe over the ability to appoint local church officials through investiture.[1] By undercutting imperial power, the controversy led to nearly 50 years of civil war in Germany. According to historian Norman[…]

Religion and Identity in Jewish Hamburg

The urban region of Hamburg represents a special case in the modern religious history of German Jewry in several regards. Summary The urban region of Hamburg represents a special case in the modern religious history of German Jewry in several regards: first, because the Ashkenazi Jews of the towns of Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbek were[…]

King Solomon: History, Mythology, or Both?

The story of King Solomon begins with his father, King David, and his mother, Bathsheba. Introduction According to biblical tradition (and some say myth), King Solomon was the third and last king in the ancient United Kingdom of Israel. Other faiths, such as Islam and Rastafarianism, also embrace the notion of Solomon as a sagacious king and powerful[…]

The Mystery Cult of Cybele in Ancient Rome

Due to its agricultural nature, her cult had tremendous appeal to the average Roman citizen, more so women than men. Introduction History verifies the importance of religion not only on a society’s development but also on its survival; in this respect the Romans were no different than other ancient civilizations. During the formative years of[…]

Mystery Cults in the Graeco-Roman World

Mystery religions formed one of three types of Hellenistic religion. Introduction Mystery religions, sacred mysteries or simply mysterieswere religious schools of the Greco-Roman world for which participation was reserved to initiates(mystai).[1] The main characterization of this religion is the secrecy associated with the particulars of the initiation and the ritual practice, which may not be revealed to outsiders. The most famous mysteries[…]

The Differences between Ancient and Medieval Byzantine and Armenian Christianity

The types of Christianity they professed had important differences that led to a lack of recognition and tensions between the two groups. Introduction Although both the Byzantines and the Armenians were Christian, the types of Christianity they professed had important differences that led to a lack of recognition and tensions between the two groups and[…]