Mythological creatures are more than just make-believe. They are a glimpse into how our ancestors once saw the world and of the fears that filled their imaginations when they heard something go bump in the night.
King Henri IV himself ordered Marthe Brossier’s exorcism. He had some of the highest priests in the country gather around her, sprinkling her with holy water and reciting scriptures in Latin while the demon in Brossier, tormented by the Holy Scriptures, screamed in agony and pain.
But what Brossier didn’t know was that her exorcism was a sham. The holy water was just ordinary water, and the Latin books the priests were reading were nothing more than an old poem by Virgil.
Her exorcism was a science experiment – the first time in history that a demonic possession was systematically put to the test . Brossier failed – and in the process, revealed some incredible things about the human mind.
History rarely remembers the little people. Our history books are full of stories of kings, queens, and conquerors; of influential men and wealthy people who lived in gilded castles. But the rest of us are forgotten.
The lives of countless ordinary people — people who loved and lost and struggled and died – have been completely forgotten. To them, their lives were the most important thing in the world; but today, no one even remembers their names.
That’s what makes a box full of 1,700-year-old letters found in the Chinese town of Dunhuang so incredible. Because in that box are two letters written by an ordinary woman named Miwnay.
All we know is what they left behind: a tomb filled with prehistoric fossils, some of them as much as two million years old, hidden until 1922 AD.
Ever wanted a taste of life in an ancient civilization?
The oldest cookbook ever found was made sometime around 1600 BC in the ancient city of Babylon. It’s a set of cracked tablets engraved by an early civilization’s version of a master chef.
Tarrare, an 18th-century French showman, could eat enough to feed 15 people and swallow cats whole — but his stomach was never satisfied.
The ancient Greek city-state of Sparta has made its way into modern minds as a land of warriors. During the fourth and fifth centuries B.C., the Spartans earned the respect and fear of much of the ancient world with their pursuit of military excellence at all costs.
But there was a dark side to this ruthless pursuit of military might. For example, the Spartan slaves known as helots endured unimaginable suffering while living alongside a society of trained killers. The helots were brutalized, humiliated, and – via a brutal rite of passage that the Spartans called the Krypteia – hunted down and killed.