A Prehistory of Belief
By Dr. Mike Williams
Research into the human mind shows that much spiritual experience, especially that induced through trance, is common to all people at all times. This provides a new way of exploring what prehistoric people may have thought about their world and how they formulated what we might recognise as religious belief. Examining images created by Palaeolithic artists, shapeshifting practices of Mesolithic hunters, the conception of the afterlife within Bronze Age communities, and why Iron Age people slaughtered some of their own in gruesome bog-side executions, a new past reveals itself in which peoples’ beliefs come to the fore. Using ethnographic evidence from historical shamans, the article shows how concepts of death, the afterlife, and even agriculture arose because of what people believed.
Prehistory, Europe, Belief, Shamanism, Cognition, Trance, Afterlife
Human Sacrifice in Ancient Egypt
By Dr. Lisa Swart
The ritual sacrifice of human beings has been practiced regularly throughout history in various forms and for various reasons. Mention of the words “human sacrifice” for many people brings to mind gruesome scenes of Aztec priests ripping out the still-beating hearts of their unwilling victims in a debauched sadistic ritual replayed continually on television documentaries worldwide. As such, human sacrifice is not typically associated with Ancient Egypt and is still considered a controversial topic despite evidence to the contrary. It was long believed that the Egyptians were too civilized to perform this type of barbarous deed, an excellent example of the transmission of western moral superiority onto the Ancient Egyptians. In fact, the sacrifice of humans is attested in two primary forms in Ancient Egypt. The first being the practice of killing servants (retainer sacrifice) during the formative years of the Egyptian state, and ritualized sacrifice within a magico-religious context that appeared in later periods at the peak of Egyptian civilization.
Ancient Egypt, Human Sacrifice, Ritual Sacrifice, Retainer Sacrifice, Beliefs, Afterlife
The Sacred Image of the Palladium
The Sacred Image of the Palladium
By Eva Alex. Statherou, Graduate in Humanities and Arts in Greek Culture and Civilization
The Palladium, perhaps the most legendary and sacred image among the miraculous cult idols of Greek antiquity, was both a unique talisman of divine power and an insuperable political weapon. Said to have fallen from the heavens, this mysterious statue was an indisputable symbol of divine authority over the land in which it stood and the most powerful cities of the Graeco-Roman world vied for its ownership.
Greece, Rome, Troy, Palladium, Mythology, Cult, Beliefs, Shamanism
Unmasking Ancient Colour: Colour and the Classical Theatre Mask
By Andrea Sinclair, M.A.
The purpose of this article is to provide the reader with an overview of the characteristics of traditional theatre masks from the Hellenistic Greek and the Roman Imperial periods. The primary literary source employed to illustrate this discussion is the Onomasticon of Julius Pollux, which will be examined from the point of view of the importance of colour to convey meaning in the creation of a theatrical mask.
Ancient masks, Greek and Roman mask, classical theatre, mask colour, gender and mask, Julius Pollux on mask