Millet was replaced by rice as the main staple food from around 300 BCE. So there's the main source of carbohydrates. Seafood was preferred to meat, both for its abundance and because Buddhism, introduced in the 500s CE, largely prohibited the killing of animals and birds. So there's the main source of protein. Agriculture (nogaku) in ancient Japan, as it remains today, was largely focused on cereal and vegetable production, with meat only being produced in relatively limited quantities. Vegetables, seafood, and rice made up most of the ancient Japanese diet as they do today.
Under the streets of Guatemala’s bustling capital lies another, much older city: the Maya metropolis of Kaminaljuyú. Since the 1930s this ancient city has been being excavated, studied, and rediscovered. Recent, Archaeology.org put together an amazing slideshow of finds and facts about Kaminaljuyú, including a recycled volcanic boulder and a 2,000-year-old aqueduct!
Divided into four large sites across Senegal and Gambia, the Senegambian Stone Circles cover an area of approximately 18,500 square miles (30,000 square kilometers). Constructed somewhere between 300 B.C.E and 1,600 C.E., the circles consist of approximately 29,000 stones, 17,000 monuments and 2,000 individual sites. That's a lot! The stones are, on average, 6.5 feet tall (2 meters) and weight 7 tons. They were hewn out of a common rock, laterite, but would have required intricate knowledge of geology, especially since the stones weren’t carved in pieces but rather, like obelisks, hewn out of the rock in solid pieces and dragged to their final locations. That's damn impressive. Giant monoliths, carved out of single blocks of stone, dragged to a spot and arranged precisely in circles, all without breaking.
More is known about the stones than the people who built them. Since constructing the circles would have required organization, surplus food, and and construction know-how, it is believed the society which built the Senegambian Stone Circles was prosperous and organized. The site in Sine Ngayene is the largest of the four, and several iron smelting sites and quarries were discovered close by. Evidence of hundreds of homes was also found nearby, and layers of materials that indicate four nearly distinct cycles of use.
Tannit -- or Tannou or Tangou or Tinnit -- was the main maternal goddess of Carthage alongside her consort Ba`al Hammon. She was the goddess of war, of mothers, and to a lesser extent of fertility. She remained popular even after the fall of Carthage. She was first venerated in North Africa under the Latin name of Juno Caelestis, the romanized version of the goddess. Outside the sphere of Roman influence, the Berber peoples of North Africa adopted her cult under her original Carthaginian name. In modern-day Tunisian Arabic, it is still customary to invoke "Omek Tannou" or "Oumouk Tangou" (Mother Tannou or Tangou depending on the region), in years of drought to bring rain.
Of the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them. That is just 8% of recorded history.
Maya communities living in the interior of the Yucatán Peninsula were evidently aware of the great marine predators swimming at the outskirts of their jungle world. A new study has examined the strong influence sharks had on Maya art, iconography, and daily life. Shark teeth have been found at many inland Maya sites. Some were even fossilized teeth from extinct megalodons! The teeth, which the Maya obtained through trade, were used in ritual ceremonies, as votive offerings, or as personal adornments.
To ancient Romans, serpents were friends, not feared. A genius loci was the protective spirit of a place. Every house and business had a genius loci, and they traditionally took the form of a snake.
The Vestal Virgins were six priestesses in ancient Rome who came from the leading families and served the temple for 30 years. Their duties included keeping a sacred flame eternally burning, presiding over many religious ceremonies, and never having sex with anyone. Wait, what? Yup, no fun times for the Vestal Virgins. The reason that it was so important they never had sex with anyone wasn’t just a religious matter related to sex (or the lack thereof) having a mystical value. It was largely because of what those women represented in an official capacity. See, priestesses at the Temple of Vesta didn’t merely serve the faith of one particular goddess. Or any goddess -- they represented Rome. They were supposed to be, in a very real sense, married to the entire city of Rome.
So if the Vestal Virgins had sex, it wouldn’t mean that they were betraying the tenets of their religion. It would mean they were guilty of a much more Earthly crime: treason. Treason against their spouse, Rome. And if the person the vestal virgin had sex with was from Rome, it was also regarded as incest. Ew!
Chinese emperors during the Eastern Han period had a complicated system of ranking their consorts, such as "Virtuous Lady" and "Beautiful Lady." One, 五官, translates to "Lady of Miscellaneous Uses."
Cannibalism is not uncommon. Humans have long enshrined the consumption of human flesh in sacred ritual – not just a few times, but again and again, in almost every corner of the globe. Evidence for cannibalistic practices has been found in South America, on many Pacific Islands, among some ancient Native American tribes, and in many other regions of the world. Read an exploration of what cannibalism meant to our ancient ancestors -- and what it means to us today.