the will of the ancients

The enigmatic Kailasa Temple at the Ellora Caves in Maharashtra, India has fascinated researchers and tourists for centuries. It’s breathtaking construction points out that thousands of years ago, ancient cultures were far more advanced than what mainstream scholars are crediting them for. Everyone is trying to understand how the temple was built, ’cut from one piece of solid rock’, without the use of ‘modern’ technology.

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THE rich lands of Egypt became the property of Rome after the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BCE, which spelled the end of the Ptolemaic dynasty that had ruled Egypt since the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE. 

After the murder of Gaius Julius Caesar in 44 BCE, the Roman Republic was left in turmoil. Fearing for her life and throne, the young queen joined forces with the Roman commander Mark Antony, but their resounding defeat at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE brought the adopted son and heir apparent of Caesar, Gaius Julius Octavius (Octavian), to the Egyptian shores. Desperate, Cleopatra chose suicide rather than face the humiliation of capture. According to one historian, she was simply on the wrong side of a power struggle.

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Article by Donald L. Wasson || Photos by Mark Cartwright & Carole Raddato on AHE

The Lanzhou screw is a mysterious object discovered in recent years that seems to challenge mainstream archaeology and history. It was discovered in 2002, and has since then, generated great amount of attention among researchers. The most mysterious part of this object is that, within a piece of rock, a metal screw was discovered. The mysterious pear-shaped stone is about 6×8 cm and weighs around 466 grams. But it is not a common rock and the metal shaped screw inside just adds to the mystery of a rock, that according to researchers is around 300 million years old.

The mysterious black rock has geologists scratching their head. Tests have failed to show the exact composition of the mysterious rock, researchers that include geologists and physicists from the National Land Resources Bureau of Gansu Province, Colored Metal Survey Bureau of Gansu Province, the Institute of Geology and Minerals Research of China Academy, Lanzhou Branch, and the School of Resources and Environment of Lanzhou College, are unsure of the origin of the artifact and point out that at this time, all theories are possible.

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Do you know what the plural of “platypus” is?  Many people don’t!  The assumption is often “platypi”, but this is incorrect, as this is a Latin pluralization and the word “platypus” is derived from the Greek.  The correct grammatical term would be “platypodes”, but most scientists simply go with the word “platypuses”.



The Samguk yusa (‘Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms’) is a 13th-century CE text which covers the history and legends of Korea’s founding right up to the 10th century CE. It is a sequel of sorts to the earlier Samguk sagi ('Records of the Three Kingdoms’) written in the 12th century CE which is considered the first history of Korea. The Samguk yusa was mostly compiled by the Buddhist scholar-monk Iryon and remains today an invaluable historical source and component of Korean Literature.

The author of the Samguk yusa was the Buddhist monk Iryon (also spelt Iryeon) who lived between 1206 and 1289 CE and whose former name was Kim Kyonmyong. He is thought to have completed the work by 1285 CE. An extra passage within the text is credited to his disciple Muguk. Iryon does not explicitly state the purpose of the work, but its content would seem to be an attempt to balance the largely Confucian-view expounded by the earlier Samguk sagi with more information regarding Korea’s Buddhist cultural heritage. Iryon drew on many different types of sources, including folklore, historical documents, epigraphs, and monastery records. The oldest surviving edition of the text dates to 1512 CE.

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Article by Mark Cartwright with thanks to The British Korean Society on AHE

Processions on the Nile

The annual ancient Egyptian celebration of the Mysteries of Osiris took place in all major cities, including Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus. It was the most important religious event of the year. Osiris, lord of the underworld, was one of the most important and popular gods and all rulers were believed to descend from him. The Mysteries of Osiris were celebrated between the 12th and 30th of the month of Khoiak (mid-October to mid-November), when the Nile retreated, depositing fertile soil ready to be sown. They reenacted Osiris’ murder and rebirth, and culminated in two ritual processions.

The first procession took place on the tenth day of the Mysteries of Osiris (22nd day of Khoaik). Figures of 33 gods accompanied a soil and barley figure of Osiris. Each figure was placed in a papyrus barge measuring 67.5cm. Numerous offering models of these barges have been discovered at the bottom of canals surrounding the Temple of Amun-Gereb at Thonis-Heracleion, particularly the Grand Canal. They range in size from 6 to 67.5cm and are made of lead – a metal associated with Osiris. Their decoration imitates papyrus, mimicking the real boats involved in this ritual. The barges were accompanied by 365 oil lamps illuminating the fleet, one for each day of the year.

The second procession took place on the 29th day of Khoiak. A gilded wooden boat containing both Osiris figures left the Temple of Amun-Gereb for a two-mile journey. It travelled along the Grand Canal from Thonis-Heracleion to the figures’ final resting place in the Osiris temple in Canopus. Standards topped by emblems of a jackal-headed god, either Anubis or Wepwawet (‘he who opens the way’), and the falcon-headed god Horus led the way. The scene is depicted at Abydos, one of the main religious centres for Osiris. The recent underwater finds at Canopus are incredible physical evidence of these celebrations.

During the underwater excavations, numerous ladles, oil lamps, statuettes and other offerings have been found at the bottom of sacred canals. They illustrate the rituals and personal acts of devotion made by participants, including Greeks, along the course of the procession.

The sunken city of Thonis-Heracleion has revealed the largest quantity of bronze ritual equipment ever discovered in Egypt. Metal objects like these were normally melted down in the past, but because the city sank beneath the sea, a vast number of artefacts of unique importance have been astonishingly well preserved. The objects here – ladles, offering dishes and an incense burner – are evidence of the exceptional celebrations that took place.

See spectacular objects excavated from these cities that lay underwater for centuries in the BP exhibition Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds (closing 27 November 2016).

Lead votive barques. Thonis-Heracleion, 400–100 BC. On loan from Maritime Museum, Alexandria. Photo: Christoph Gerigk © Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation.

Long-handled ladles. Thonis-Heracleion, 600–100 BC. On loan from Maritime Museum, Alexandria. Photo: Christoph Gerigk © Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation.

Offering dishes. Thonis-Heracleion, 600–100 BC. On loan from Maritime Museum, Alexandria. Photo: Christoph Gerigk © Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation.

Incense burner and shovel.  Thonis-Heracleion, 400–100 BC. On loan from Maritime Museum, Alexandria. Photo: Christoph Gerigk © Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation.