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Ancestor Worship and Human Sacrifice from the Shi Jing  


During both the Shang and Zhou dynasties (1556-1046 BCE; 1046-256 BCE) families, both noble and common, worshipped and sacrificed to their ancestors. These sacrifices were of the utmost ... More

Babylonian Poem of the Righteous Sufferer  


Composed in Akkadian and consisting of 480 lines distributed over four tablets, this poem is a protest against one man’s undeserved suffering. The author is tormented but cannot determine ... More

The Great Hymn to the Aten  

King Akhenaten

This hymn to the Egyptian sun god Aten has been attributed to King Akhenaten (“the devoted adherent of Aten”), the Pharaoh formerly known as Amenhotep IV. While Akhenaten’s experiment in ... More

Hymn to Creation from The Rig Veda  


The Rig Veda is the oldest of the Vedic texts, and consists of 1028 hymns. It was transmitted orally for centuries, and probably assumed its present shape c. 1200 BCE. There are three other ... More

Hymns to Agni, from the Rig-Veda, Book II  


The worship of Agni, as the fire principle animating a burnt offering to the gods, features prominently in the Rig-Veda. The voice of Agni was thought be heard in the crackling of the fire ... More

The Mystery of the Harappan Seals  

Thomas R. Trautmann

Few things are more tantalizing to historians than an undeciphered script. Hundreds of broken and intact Harappan seals have been discovered in numerous sites throughout the Indus Valley, ... More

“The Unvarying Way”  

Lao Tzu

“Laozi” is a title meaning “Old Child;” little is known about the historical reality that lay behind that accolade. It is perhaps fitting that Laozi is a mysterious figure, as the dao that ... More