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A collection of intriguing topics and fascinating stories

about the rare, the paranormal, and the strange

Volume 4

Journey into the world of folklore, old wives tales and superstitions.
Discover mysteries behind myths and legends.

Pablo C. Agsalud Jr.
Revision 6


In the past, things like television, and words and
ideas like advertising, capitalism, microwave and
cancer all seemed too strange for the ordinary

As man walks towards the future, overloaded with
information, more mysteries have been solved
through the wonders of science. Although some
things remained too odd for science to reproduce
or disprove, man had placed them in the gray
areas between truth and skepticism and labeled
them with terminologies fit for the modern age.

But the truth is, as long as the strange and
unexplainable cases keep piling up, the more likely
it would seem normal or natural. Answers are
always elusive and far too fewer than questions.
And yet, behind all the wonderful and frightening
phenomena around us, it is possible that what we
call mysterious today wont be too strange

This book might encourage you to believe or refute
what lies beyond your own understanding.
Nonetheless, I hope it will keep you entertained
and astonished.

The content of this book remains believable for as
long as the sources and/or the references from the
specified sources exist and that the validity of the
information remains unchallenged.

Old Wives Tales and Superstitions

These are collections of old wives sayings and superstitions that have
been traditionally kept within the household.


An acorn should be carried to bring luck and ensure a long life.
An acorn at the window will keep lightning out.


Amber beads, worn as a necklace, can protect against illness or cure colds.


Seeing an ambulance is very unlucky unless you pinch your nose or hold your breath
until you see a black or a brown dog.

Touch your toes
Touch your nose
Never go in one of those
Until you see a dog.



Think of five or six names of boys or girls you might marry, As you twist the stem of
an apple, recite the names until the stem comes off. You will marry the person whose
name you were saying when the stem fell off.

An apple a day
Keeps the doctor away.


If you cut an apple in half and count how many seeds are inside, you will also know
how many children you will have.


To predict the sex of a baby: Suspend a wedding band held by a piece of thread over the palm
of the pregnant girl. If the ring swings in an oval or circular motion the baby will be a girl. If
the ring swings in a straight line the baby will be a boy.


Considered a sign of good luck for Chinese.
Baseball Bat

Spit on a new bat before using it for the first time to make it lucky.


It's bad luck to put a hat on a bed.
If you make a bedspread, or a quilt, be sure to finish it or marriage will never come to
Placing a bed facing north and south brings misfortune.
You must get out of bed on the same side that you get in or you will have bad luck.
When making the bed, don't interrupt your work, or you will spend a restless night in


If a bee enters your home, it's a sign that you will soon have a visitor. If you kill the
bee, you will have bad luck, or the visitor will be unpleasant.
A swarm of bees settling on a roof is an omen that the house will burn down.


The sound of bells drives away demons because they're afraid of the loud noise.

When a bell rings, a new angel has received his wings.


A bird in the house is a sign of a death.
If a robin flies into a room through a window, death will shortly follow.


Monday's child is fair of face;
Tuesday's child is full of grace;
Wednesday's child is full of woe;
Thursday's child has far to go;
Friday's child is loving and giving;
Saturday's child works hard for a living.
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
is fair and wise, good and gay.

Birthday Cake

If you blow out all the candles on your birthday cake with the first puff you will get
your wish.

Blarney Stone

The Blarney Stone is a stone set in the wall of the Blarney Castle tower in the Irish village of
Blarney. Kissing the stone is supposed to bring the kisser the gift of persuasive eloquence.


To protect yourself from witches, wear a blue bead.

Touch blue
And your wish will come true.


Before slicing a new loaf of bread, make the sign of the cross on it.
A loaf of bread should never be turned upside down after a slice has
been cut from it.


If you say good-bye to a friend on a bridge, you will never see each other again.


Do not lean a broom against a bed. The evil spirits in the broom will cast a spell on the
If you sweep trash out the door after dark, it will bring a stranger to visit.
If someone is sweeping the floor and sweeps over your feet, you'll never get married.
Never take a broom along when you move. Throw it out and buy a new one.
To prevent an unwelcome guest from returning, sweep out the room they stayed in
immediately after they leave.


If the first butterfly you see in the year is white, you will have good luck all year.
Three butterflies together mean good luck.


If a candle lighted as part of a ceremony blows out, it is a sign that evil spirits are nearby.


If the first calf born during the winter is white, the winter will be a bad one.


Black cats: superstition, prejudice, bringer of
good or bad luck

The folklore surrounding black cats varies from culture
to culture. In Great Britain, black cats are seen as
lucky and are often given in token form to brides. The
Scottish believe that a strange black cat's arrival to the
home signifies prosperity. In Celtic mythology, a fairy
known as the Cat Sth takes the form of a black cat.
Black cats are also considered good luck in Japan.
Furthermore, it is believed that a lady who owns a
black cat will have many suitors. However in Western
history, black cats have often been looked upon as a
symbol of evil omens, specifically being suspected of
being the familiars of witches, and so most of western
and southern Europe considers the black cat a symbol
of bad luck, especially if one crosses paths with a
person, which is believed to be an omen of misfortune
and death. In Germany, some believe that black cats
crossing a person's path from left to right, is a bad
omen. But from right to left, the cat is granting favorable times.

The gambling world is afraid of black cats: it is believed that if, while traveling to a casino, a
black cat crosses a gambler's road or path, that person should not go to the casino; most
players believe that black cats bring bad luck.

The character Behemoth in "The Master and Margarita", an
enormous black cat (said to be as large as a hog), capable of
standing on two legs and talking, and has a penchant for chess,
vodka and pistols.

The black cat in folklore has been able to change into human
shape to act as a spy or courier for witches or demons. When
the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, they brought with them a
devout faith in the Bible. They also brought a deepening
suspicion of anything deemed of the devil and were a deeply
suspicious group. They viewed the black cat as a companion, or
a familiar to witches. Anyone caught with a black cat would be
severely punished or even killed. They viewed the black cat as
part demon and part sorcery. During the Middle Ages, these
superstitions led people to kill black cats. This had the
unintended consequence of increasing the rat population and
the spread of the Black Death (bubonic plague) and other diseases carried by rodents. There is
no evidence from England of regular large-scale massacres of "satanic" cats, or of burning
them in midsummer bonfires, as sometimes occurred in Europe.

However, the supernatural powers ascribed to black cats were sometimes viewed positively,
for example sailors considering a "ship's cat" would want a black one because it would bring
good luck. Sometimes, fishermen's wives would keep black cats at home too, in the hope that
they would be able to use their influence to protect their husbands at sea. The view of black
cats being favorable creatures is attributed specifically to the Egyptian goddess Bast (or
Bastet), the cat goddess. Egyptian households believed they could gain favor from Bastet by
hosting black cats in their household. This view was held in the early 17th century by the
English monarch Charles I. Upon the death of his treasured pet black cat, he is said to have
lamented that his luck was gone. True to his claim, he was arrested the very next day and
charged with high treason.

Pirates of the 18th century believed that a black cat would bring different kinds of luck. If a
black cat walks towards someone, that person will have bad luck. If a black cat walks away
from someone then that person will have good luck. If a black cat walks onto a ship and then
walks off it, the ship is doomed to sink on its next trip. Black cats have been found to have
lower odds of adoption in American shelters compared to other colors except brown, although
black animals in general take more time to find homes. Some shelters also suspend or limit
adoptions of black cats around Halloween for fear they will be tortured, or used as "living
decorations" for the holiday and then abandoned. However, in the history of humane work, no
one has ever documented any relationship between adopting black cats, and cats being killed
or injured. When such killings are reported, forensic evidence has pointed to natural
predators, such as coyotes, eagles, or raptors as the likely cause. August 17 is "Black Cat
Appreciation Day".

In the early days of television in the United States, many stations located on VHF channel 13
used a black cat as a mascot in order to make sport of being located on an "unlucky" channel


The black cat of the Industrial Workers of the World,
also adopted as a symbol by anarcho-syndicalists

Since the 1880s, the color black has been associated
with anarchism. The black cat, in an alert, fighting
stance was later adopted as an anarchist symbol.

More specifically, the black catoften called the "sab
cat" or "sabo-tabby"is associated with anarcho-
syndicalism, a branch of anarchism that focuses on labor
organizing (see Wildcat strike).

In testimony before the court in a 1918 trial of Industrial
Workers of the World leaders, Ralph Chaplin, who is generally credited with creating the
IWW's black cat symbol, stated that the black cat "was commonly used by the boys as
representing the idea of sabotage. The idea being to frighten the employer by the mention of
the name sabotage, or by putting a black cat somewhere around. You know if you saw a black
cat go across your path you would think, if you were superstitious, you are going to have a
little bad luck. The idea of sabotage is to use a little black cat on the boss."

Black cats were believed to be evil:

In ancient Egypt, the Goddess Bast was a black, female cat. Christians, wanting to rid
society of all traces of other religions, convinced the ignorant that black cats were
demons in disguise and should thus be destroyed. In the process, they also destroyed
the kindly women who cared for the cats, believing them to be witches. Being demons,
a black cat crossing your path would create a barrier of evil, cutting you off from God
and blocking the entrance to heaven.

"Silly Superstitions",

Cats can physically see spirits, so they make excellent guardians against evil spirits. They also
love to play with friendly or beneficial spirits.


If a black cat crosses your path, bad luck will befall you.
If a black cat walks towards you, it brings good fortune, but if it walks away, it takes
the good luck with it.
Keep cats away from babies because they "suck the breath" of the child.
A cat onboard a ship is considered to bring luck.
If you can take the one white hair off an otherwise all black cat without getting
scratched, you have a very powerful good luck talisman.



You must hold your breath when you go past a cemetery or else you will breath in the
soul of someone who has recently died.

Supposedly, this is because you will either wake a spirit with each breath or else you, still
being alive, will make the spirits jealous. Some people think that it is order to avoid inhaling
evil spirits. This last idea seems to be the most prevalent and the one that makes the most
sense as a belief; the others may just be variations on the idea.

This superstition is related to the one that admonishes people to cover their mouths when
they yawn -- not so much out of politeness as to block (usually evil) spirits from entering.
Breath has long been analogous with life; in the Bible, God breathed life into Adam. This could
mean that God imbued Adam with life force, a soul or spirit, or both, through his mouth.

The associations between breath, life, and spirits:

Let us consider that in Indo-European languages the word for "soul" always derives
from the word for "breath", "wind", "air" etc.: psuche, "breath"; anima and spiritus
meaning breath and wind; ghost and Geist "breath"; atman and prana "breath". In
classical Chinese as well qi meaning air was thought to be the life principle running
through and animating the body and mind, and even the whole cosmos. So are
Hebrew ruah and nefesh, Egyptian ka, Iroquoian orenda, Polynesian mana, all
meaning "air" or "breath" (c.f. Ellison Banks Findly, "Breath and
Breathing", Encycl. of Rel., vol. 2, p. 302; consider also the Algonkien manitou).

The primitive humans made this identification between their self-awareness (soul) and
breath probably because all life breathes and so they saw the essence of being alive --
and thus being sentient in breathing. [...] "Soul" thus came from a compactification
of consciousness-breath-metabolism, i.e. (sentient) "life force" in general. When the
father dies, his lungs collapse, and the last breath gushes out his mouth. It is easy for
the tribal men, already convinced of the immortality of the soul, to take the last breath
as the soul (the consciousness) exiting the body.

"Origin of Primitive Religion, 'Soul' & Rituals" by Lawrence C. Chin

Some cultures would ensure that their mouths and noses were covered when around corpses
so that they would not breathe in whatever illness had killed them. So it is possible that over
time people have, as they are wont to do, twisted the stories of some of those old practices.

Chain letter


The recipient will suffer bad luck or even physical violence or death if he or she
"breaks the chain" and refuses to adhere to the conditions set out in the letter.

If your cheeks suddenly feel on fire, someone is talking about you.


If you get a chill up your back or goosebumps, it means that someone is walking over
your grave.

Chimney Sweep

It's very lucky to meet a chimney sweep by chance. Make a wish when sighting one,
and the wish will come true.


It is bad luck to light three cigarettes with the same match.


Evil spirits can't harm you when you stand inside a circle.


If a clock which has not been working suddenly chimes, there will be a death in the


The four-leaf clover is an uncommon variation of the
common, three-leaved clover. According to tradition,
such leaves bring good luck to their finders, especially if
found accidentally. In addition, each leaf is believed to
represent something: the first is for faith, the second is
for hope, the third is for love, and the fourth is for luck.

It has been estimated that there are approximately
10,000 three-leaf clovers for every four-leaf clover;
however, this probability has not deterred collectors who have reached records as high as
160,000 four-leaf clovers.

Clovers can have more than four leaves: the most ever recorded is 56, discovered by Shigeo
Obara of Morioka, Japan, on May 12, 2009. Five-leaf clovers are less commonly found
naturally than four-leaf clovers; however, they, too, have been successfully cultivated.
Children are traditionally told that a five-leaved clover is even luckier than a four-leaved one.
Some four-leaf clover collectors, particularly in Ireland, regard the five-leaf clover, known as a
rose clover as a particular prize.


It is debated whether the fourth leaflet is caused genetically or environmentally. Its relative
rarity suggests a possible recessive gene appearing at a low frequency. Alternatively, four-leaf
clovers could be caused by somatic mutation or a developmental error of environmental
causes. They could also be caused by the interaction of several genes that happen to
segregate in the individual plant. It is possible all four explanations could apply to individual

Researchers from the University of Georgia have reported finding the gene that turns ordinary
three-leaf clovers into the coveted four-leaf types. Masked by the three-leaf gene and strongly
influenced by environmental condition, molecular markers now make it possible to detect the
presence of the gene for four-leaves and for breeders to work with it. The results of the study,
which also located two other leaf traits in the white-clover genome, were reported in the
July/August 2010 edition of Crop Science, published by the Crop Science Society of America.

The other leaf traits, the red fleck mark and red midrib, a herringbone pattern that runs down
the center of each leaflet in a bold red color, were mapped to nearby locations, resolving a
century-old question as to whether these leaf traits were controlled by one gene or two
separate genes.

White clover has many genes that affect leaf color and shape, and the three in the study were
very rare. These traits can be strikingly beautiful, particularly if combined with others, and can
turn clover into an ornamental plant for use in flower beds.

There are reports of farms in the US which specialize in four-leaf clovers, producing as many
as 10,000 a day (to be sealed in plastic as "lucky charms") by feeding a secret, genetically
engineered ingredient to the plants to encourage the aberration (there are, however, widely
available cultivars that regularly produce leaves with multiple leaflets).

Multi-leaved cultivars

There are some cultivars of white clover (Trifolium repens) which regularly produce more than
three leaflets, including purple-leaved T. repens 'Purpurascens Quadrifolium' and green-leaved
T. repens 'Quadrifolium'.

Trifolium repens 'Good Luck' is a cultivar which has three, four, or five green, dark-centered
leaflets per leaf.

Other species

Other plants may be mistaken for, or misleadingly sold as, "four-leaf clovers"; for example,
Oxalis tetraphylla is a species of wood sorrel with leaves resembling a four-leaf clover. Other
species that have been sold as "four-leaf clovers" include Marsilea quadrifolia.


It's good luck to find a four-leaf clover.
Clover protects human beings and animals from the spell of magicians and the wiles of
fairies, and brings good luck to those who keep it in the house.


It's bad luck to pick up a coin if it's tails side up. Good luck comes if it's heads up.


To drop a comb while you are combing your hair is a sign of a coming disappointment.


To cure a cough: take a hair from the coughing person's head, put it between two
slices of buttered bread, feed it to a dog, and say:

Eat well you hound,
may you be sick and I be sound.


Cows lifting their tails is a sure sign that rain is coming.


Don't step on a crack on a sidewalk or walkway.

Step on a crack
Break your mother's back.


A cricket in the house brings good luck.

Counting Crows

One's bad,
Two's luck,
Three's health,
Four's wealth,
Five's sickness,
Six is death.


Pick a dandelion that has gone to seed. Take a deep breath and blow the seeds into the wind.
Count the seeds that remain on the stem. That is the number of children you will have.


A dog howling at night when someone in the house is sick is a bad omen.


It's bad luck to leave a house through a different door than the one used to come into


Considered a sign of good luck for Native Americans (Ojibwe).

Ears Itching

If your right ear itches, someone is speaking well of you.
If your left ear itches, someone is speaking ill of you.

Left for love and right for spite:
Left or right, good at night.


For good luck throughout the year, wear new clothes on Easter.


Pictures of an elephant bring luck, but only if they face a door.


If your right eye twitches there will soon be a birth in the family. If the left eye
twitches there will soon be a death in the family.
To cure a sty, stand at a crossroads and recite:

Sty, sty, leave my eye
Take the next one coming by.


If an eyelash falls out, put it on the back of the hand, make a wish and throw it over
your shoulder. If it flies off the hand the wish will be granted.

Fingers Crossed

Crossing two fingers (the middle and pointing fingers) on one hand as a sign of hopefulness or
desire for a particular outcome.

"This is probably the superstition that is most widely used today. By making the
sign of the Christian faith with our fingers, evil spirits would be prevented from
destroying our chances of good fortune,"


It is also used as an expression: "Cross your fingers" is often told to someone hoping for good
luck or a particular outcome.

Sometimes, when someone tells a lie, they will cross their fingers (usually behind their back).
This somehow absolves them from the consequences or makes the lie not count.


It is bad luck to cut your fingernails on Friday or Sunday.
Fingernail cuttings should be saved, burned, or buried.


A fish should always be eaten from the head toward the tail.
Dream of fish: someone you know is pregnant.

Considered a sign of good luck for Chinese, Hebrew, Ancient Egyptian, Tunisian, Indian, and


Throw back the first fish you catch then you'll be lucky the whole day fishing.
If you count the number of fish you caught, you will catch no more that day.
It's bad luck to say the word "pig" while fishing at sea.


It brings bad luck for a flag to touch the ground.


First Flower of Spring. The day you find the first flower of the season can be used as an omen:

Monday means good fortune,
Tuesday means greatest attempts will be successful,
Wednesday means marriage,
Thursday means warning of small profits,
Friday means wealth,
Saturday means misfortune,
Sunday means excellent luck for weeks.

Foot Itching

If the bottom of your right foot itches, you are going to take a trip.


To drop a fork means a man is coming to visit.


A bed changed on Friday will bring bad dreams.
Any ship that sails on Friday will have bad luck.
You should never start a trip on Friday or you will meet misfortune.
Never start to make a garment on Friday unless you can finish it the same day.

It is traditionally believed that Eve tempted Adam with the apple on a Friday. Tradition also
has it that the Flood in the Bible, the confusion at the Tower of Babel, and the death of Jesus
Christ all took place on Friday.

Friday The 13th

Friday the 13th occurs when the thirteenth day of a
month falls on a Friday, which superstition holds to be a
day of bad luck. In the Gregorian calendar, this day
occurs at least once, but at most three times a year.
Any month's 13th day will fall on a Friday if the month
starts on a Sunday.


The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the
Norse goddess for whom "Friday" is named and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number
thirteen), or paraskevidekatriaphobia a concatenation of the Greek words Paraskev
(, meaning "Friday"), and dekatres (, meaning "thirteen") attached to
phoba (, from phbos, , meaning "fear"). The latter word was derived in 1911 and
first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953.


According to folklorists, there is no written evidence for a "Friday the 13th" superstition before
the 19th century. The earliest known documented reference in English occurs in Henry
Sutherland Edwards' 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini:

Rossini was surrounded to the last by admiring and affectionate friends; Why Friday
the 13th Is Unlucky

Consequently, several theories have been proposed about the origin of the Friday the 13th

One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is
an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day.

In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected
in the twelve months of the year, twelve hours of the clock, twelve gods of Olympus, twelve
tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered
irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to
derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will
result in the death of one of the diners.

Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century's The Canterbury
Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake
journeys or begin new projects. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes
and other disasters since the 1800s. It has also been suggested that Friday has been
considered an unlucky day because, according to Christian scripture and tradition, Jesus was
crucified on a Friday.

One author, noting that references are all but nonexistent before 1907 but frequently seen
thereafter, has argued that its popularity derives from the publication that year of Thomas W.
Lawson's popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth, in which an unscrupulous broker takes
advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th. Records of
the superstition are rarely found before the 20th century, when it became extremely common.

The connection between the Friday the 13th superstition and the Knights Templar was
popularized in the 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code. However, experts agree that this is a
relatively recent correlation, and most likely a modern-day invention.

Tuesday the 13th

In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th is considered a day of bad
luck, commonly referred to as 'Martes trece' (Literally translates to: Tuesday thirteenth). The
Fall of Constantinople, when the city fell to the Ottomans marking the end of the Byzantine
Empire, happened on Tuesday, May 29, 1453. That is why the Greeks also consider Tuesday
to be an unlucky day. Any month starting on a Thursday will have a Tuesday the 13th. Either
a common year starting on Monday or a leap year starting on Thursday will have three
Tuesday the 13th's.

Social impact

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina,
an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day.
Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business,
taking flights or even getting out of bed. "It's been estimated that [US]$800 or $900 million is
lost in business on this day". Despite this, representatives for both Delta and Continental
Airlines say that their airlines do not suffer from any noticeable drop in travel on those

Rate of accidents

There are conflicting studies about the risk of accidents on Friday the 13th. The Dutch Centre
for Insurance Statistics (CVS) on June 12, 2008, stated that "fewer accidents and reports of
fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays,
because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home. Statistically speaking,
driving is slightly safer on Friday the 13th, at least in the Netherlands; in the last two years,
Dutch insurers received reports of an average 7,800 traffic accidents each Friday; but the
average figure when the 13th fell on a Friday was just 7,500. However, a 1993 study in the
British Medical Journal that compared the ratio of traffic accidents between Friday the 6th and
Friday the 13th stated that there is a significant increase in traffic-related accidents on Friday
the 13th. There are indications that there are more accidents on Fridays than average
weekdays (irrespective of the date) probably because of alcohol consumption. Therefore it is
less relevant for this purpose to compare Friday the 13th with any other 13th day of another

Notable events linked to Friday the 13th

The renowned rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur was pronounced dead on Friday,
September 13, 1996.
The asteroid 99942 Apophis will make a close encounter with Earth, closer than the
orbits of communication satellites, on Friday, April 13, 2029.
An engineering train on the Northern Line of the London Underground became
uncoupled and went on a 13 minute journey southbound from Archway station, finally
stopping at Warren Street tube station on the West End branch of the line. The train in
front was forced to skip several stations and was diverted to the City branch of the line
on Friday, August 13, 2010.
The Knights Templar were rounded up and killed on Friday the 13

"On October 13, 1307, a day so infamous that Friday the 13th would become a
synonym for ill fortune, officers of King Philip IV [Philip the Fair] of France
carried out mass arrests in a well-coordinated dawn raid that left several
thousand Templars knights, sergeants, priests, and serving brethren in
hains, charged with heresy, blasphemy, various obscenities, and homosexual
practices. None of these charges was ever proven, even in France and the
Order was found innocent elsewhere but in the seven years following the
arrests, hundreds of Templars suffered excruciating tortures intended to force
'confessions,' and more than a hundred died under torture or were executed
by burning at the stake."

(Katharine Kurtz, Tales of the Knights Templar, Warner Books, 1995).

Both Friday and the number 13 were once closely associated with capital punishment.
In British tradition, Friday was the conventional day for public hangings, and there
were supposedly 13 steps leading up to the noose.

Friday Before Easter (Good Friday)

A child born on Good Friday and baptized on Easter Sunday has a gift of healing. If a
boy, he should go into the ministry.
Cut your hair on Good Friday to prevent headaches in the year to come
A person who dies on Good Friday will go right to heaven.
Shed no blood on Good Friday, work no wood, hammer no nail.


A frog brings good luck to the house it enters.
The dried body of a frog worn in a silk bag around the neck averts epilepsy and other

Good luck charm

Good luck charm is a charm that is believed to bring good luck. An example of this is a
blessing that a minister or a priest gives at the end of a ceremony. Later on, people assumed
that spoken words were temporary whereas a solid object is more permanent. Objects that
have extraordinary significance such as the splinter believed to be from the cross of Jesus
Christ were substituted for the original spoken or sung charms.

Almost any object can be used as a charm. Coins and buttons are good examples. Small
objects that are given to you make very good lucky charms. It is because of the favorable
associations they make. Several souvenir shops have a range of tiny items that may be used
as good luck charms. Good luck charms are usually worn on the body although there are


The lucky rabbit charm was passed on and incorporated into our culture by the African
slaves that were brought to the Americas.

The lucky bag or the Mojo is another borrowed idea from the African culture. It is used in
voodoo ceremonies to carry several lucky objects or spells and intended to cause a specific
effect. The concept is that particular objects placed in the bag and charged will create a
supernatural effect for the bearer. Even today, mojo bags are still used.

Europe also contributed to the concept of lucky charms. Adherents of St. Patrick (the patron
saint of Ireland), adopted the Four leaf clover as a symbol of Irish luck due to the fact that
clovers are abundant in the hills of Ireland.

A four-leaf clover was consistently believed to be a lucky charm. This very old Irish verse
describes why:

One leaf is for fame,
And one leaf is for wealth,
And one is for a faithful lover,
And one to bring you glorious health,
Are all in the four-leaved clover.


Pulling out a gray or white hair will cause ten more to grow in its place.

Lock of hair

A lock of hair is a piece or pieces of hair that has been cut from, or remains singly on, a
human head, most commonly bunched or tied together in some way. A standard dictionary
definition defines a lock as a tress, curl, or ringlet of hair.

Symbolic value

Locks of hair carry symbolic value and have been utilized throughout history in various
religious, superstitious, and sentimental roles.

A primitive belief maintains that owning a lock of hair from another's head gives one
power over that individual, in the same manner that owning a piece of clothing or
image of an individual grants the owner such powers.
During antiquity, Roman girls who were about to be married offered locks of hair to
Jove (Jupiter) in his forest god aspect, Virbius (Virbio).
An ancient and worldwide (e.g. China, Egypt, Thailand, Albania, Ukraine, India, Israel,
etc.) pre-adolescent custom was to shave children's heads but leave a lock of hair
(sometimes several locks) remaining on their heads. Upon reaching adulthood the lock
of hair was usually cut off.
The scalplock was a lock of hair kept throughout a man's life. Like childhood locks, the
scalplock was also a worldwide phenomenon, particularly noted amongst eastern
woodland Indians (see Iroquois, Huron, Mahican, Mohawk) in North America.
Sviatoslav I of Kiev was reported to have worn a scalp lock by Leo the Deacon, a
Byzantine historian. Later Ukrainian Cossacks (Zaporozhians) sported scalplocks called
oseledets or khokhol. In India this custom remains active but usually only amongst
orthodox Hindus. See Sikha.
In Mark Twain's travel book The Innocents Abroad, he describes Moroccan men
sporting scalp locks.
Riffian (Berber) men of Morocco had the custom of shaving the head but leaving a
single lock of hair on either the crown, left, or right side of the head, so that the angel
Azrael is able " pull them up to heaven of the Last Day."
A common superstition holds that a lock of hair from a baby's first haircut should be
kept for good luck.
An old Irish superstition holds that it is unlucky to accept a lock of hair (or a four-
footed beast) from a lover.
A lock of Beethoven's hair, cut from his head in 1827, was auctioned in 1994 through
Sotheby's of London. Research on the hair determined that the composer's lifelong
illness was caused by lead poisoning.
A Polish plait (Koltun in Polish, meaning "Knot", but often referred to in English as an
"Elf-Lock") is a lock of matted hair similar to a dreadlock. Due to a scalp disease (Plica
polonica), King Christian IV of Denmark (15771648) had a Polish plait hanging from
the left side of his head, adorned with a red ribbon. His courtiers were said to have
adopted the hairstyle in order to flatter the king. Due to superstitious beliefs, the
Polish plait used to be particularly common in Poland (hence its name). Initially, the
plait was treated as an amulet, supposed to bring good health, as the plait was
supposed to take the illness "out" of the body, and therefore it was rarely cut off.
From the end of the 16th century until well into the 17th century it was popular
amongst European "men of fashion" to wear a lovelock. The lovelock was a long lock
of usually plaited (braided) hair made to rest over the left shoulder (the heart side) to
show devotion to a loved one.

Hand, Palm Itching

If the palm of your right hand itches it means you will soon be getting money.
If the palm of your left hand itches it means you will soon be paying out money.

(This superstition seems to have the most variations, some of which are complete
opposites of others.)

Itchy hands,
right to receive and left to leave (fortune and luck),
rub on wood and it's sure to be good,
rub on brass and it will come fast.

If the palm of your right hand is itchy, then it foretells that money is coming to you,
but DON'T scratch it as that stops the money from coming! If it's your left palm that is
itchy, then scratch away, as that means that you'll soon be paying out money for
If your left hand itches, you're going to be rich. If your right hand itches, you're going
to be poor.
If your palm itches, you will receive money, and if the back of your hand itches you
will lose money.
If your palm itches, you will soon receive money. If you itch it, your money will
never come.


A horseshoe, hung above the doorway, will bring good luck to a home.
A horseshoe hung in the bedroom will keep nightmares away.

In most of Europe protective horseshoes are placed in a downward facing position, but in
some parts of Ireland and Britain people believe that the shoes must be turned upward or "the
luck will run out."

In Scotland, iron was used as protection against fairies, and usually was a horseshoe placed
over a door. As iron is stronger than other metals and able to withstand fire, it has long been
thought to be imbued with magical properties and hold the power to ward off spirits, witches,
fairies, and other malicious or mischievous supernatural beings.

"One legend [dating from the 10th Century] says that the Devil called on St. Dunstan,
who was skilled in shoeing horses. St. Dunstan recognized him and fastened him to a
wall. He then set to work with such roughness that the Devil roared for mercy. St
Dunstan turned the Devil loose after making him promise never to enter a home on
which a horseshoe was fixed. Witches fear horses, so they are also turned away by a
door with a horseshoe mounted on it, The horseshoe must be hung with the points up
to keep the luck from spilling out."

"Animal Superstitions"


Ivy growing on a house protects the inhabitants from witchcraft and evil.


Considered a sign of good luck for Chinese.

A knife as a gift from a lover means that the love will soon end.
A knife placed under the bed during childbirth will ease the pain of labor.
If a friend gives you a knife, you should give him a coin, or your friendship will soon
be broken.
It will cause a quarrel if knives are crossed at the table.
It is bad luck to close a pocket knife unless you were the one who opened it.

Knife falls, gentleman calls;
Fork falls, lady calls;
Spoon falls, baby calls.


It's bad luck to leave a project unfinished. The intended recipient will get bad luck
from the unfinished item.
Stabbing your needles though your yarn balls brings bad luck to anyone who wears
something made from that yarn.
Don't knit a pair of socks for your boyfriend or he'll walk away from you.
If you knit one of your own hairs into a garment, it will bind the recipient to you.
Knitting for children you may have in the future, but before you are pregnant, is bad
luck (it may prevent one from getting pregnant, or bring ill health to the baby).


It is bad luck to walk under a ladder.

Excluding the obvious that something might fall on you from above the belief that walking
under a ladder will bring bad luck seems to stem from the ladder forming a triangle with the
wall and the ground. This represents the "Holy Trinity", and if you violate this by entering the
space, it puts you in league with the devil, and you're likely to incur God's wrath.

According to Tia Dawson (

"The reason 'It's bad luck to walk under a ladder' is that hangmen used to use a ladder
to hang someone from the gallows, and it was believed that if you walked under a
ladder, the hangmen would turn his gaze your way, or 'Death would notice you'. I'm
from Yorkshire England, and I was told this by a museum historian."


If a young girl catches a ladybug and then releases it, the direction in which it flies
away will be the direction from which her future husband will come.
It is bad luck to kill a ladybug.

Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home.
Your house is on fire,
Your children all roam.


If you catch a falling leaf on the first day of autumn you will not catch a cold all winter.


Lettuce is believed to have magical and healing properties, including the power to
arouse love and counteract the effects of wine.
Lettuce promotes child bearing if eaten by young women, and certain types of salad
can bring on labor in pregnant women.


Cross my heart and hope to die,
Cut my throat if I tell a lie.


To dream of a lizard is a sign that you have a secret enemy.


Mandrake is a mysterious plant believed to have powers of preventing sterility in men and
animals, causing barren women to bear children, and compelling love.

Mandrake is thought to have aphrodisiac and fertilizing properties.

Clairvoyants use mandrake to increase their visions to enable them to see strange and
wonderful things.


It's bad luck to let milk boil over.


To break a mirror means 7 years bad luck.
It is unlucky to see your face in a mirror by candlelight.
A mirror should be covered during a thunderstorm because it attracts lightning.
If a mirror in the house falls and breaks by itself, someone in the house will die soon.

One's reflection in a mirror is thought to be the representation of his or her soul or spiritual
state. Breaking the mirror, and therefore the person's reflection, would bring damage to their
soul and spiritual hardship. Taking the pieces outside and burying them in the moonlight could
avoid this.

"The true reason that breaking a mirror was 7 years bad luck is because when mirrors
were first made they were so expensive that if you broke on you would serve 7 years
as an indentured servant to the owner of the mirror because not too many people
could afford to buy another one to replace it."


"Origin of Common Superstitions: Breaking a Mirror" (http://www.trivialibrary.
com/a/origin-of-common-superstitions-breaking-a-mirror.htm) states:

"Before the invention of mirrors, man gazed at his reflection, his 'other self', in pools,
ponds, and lakes. If the image was distorted, it was a mark of impending disaster. The
'unbreakable' metal mirrors of the early Egyptians and Greeks were valued items
because of their magical properties. After glass mirrors were introduced, it was the
Romans who tagged the broken mirror a sign of bad luck. The length of the prescribed
misfortune, 7 years, came from the Roman belief that man's body was physically
rejuvenated every 7 years, and he became, in effect, a new man."


Mistletoe in the house protects it from thunder and lightning. It also cures many
diseases, is an antidote to poison and brings good luck and fertility.
A girl standing under a mistletoe cannot refuse to be kissed by anyone who claims the


A white moth inside the house or trying to enter the house means death.


If your nose itches you will soon be kissed by a fool.

If your nose itches
Your mouth is in danger.
You'll kiss a fool,
And meet a stranger.
Rub an itch to wood
It will come to good.

If your nose itches, someone is coming to see you. If it's the right nostril, the visitor
will be a female, left nostril, male.


An onion cut in half and placed under the bed of a sick person will draw off fever and
A wish will come true if you make it while burning onions.


Unless you were born in October, it's unlucky to wear opals.


It is bad luck to see an owl in the sunlight.


If you use the same pencil to take a test that you used for studying for the test, the
pencil will remember the answers.


Finding a penny is sometimes considered lucky and gives rise to
the saying, "Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day you'll have
good luck." This may be a corruption of "See a pin and pick it up,
all the day you'll have good luck" and similar verses, as quoted in
The Frank C. Brown collection of North Carolina folklore and other


If you spill pepper you will have a serious argument with your best friend.


If 3 people are photographed together, the one in the middle will die first.


"See a pin and pick it up, all the day you'll have good luck"
as quoted in The Frank C. Brown collection of North Carolina folklore and other places.

Considered a sign of good luck for Chinese and Germans.

Powder of sympathy

Powder of sympathy was a form of sympathetic magic, current in 17th century in Europe,
whereby a remedy was applied to the weapon that had caused a wound in the hope of healing
the injury it had made.


The method was first proposed by Rudolf Goclenius, Jr. and was later expanded upon by Sir
Kenelm Digby. An abstract of Digby's theory is found in an address given before an assembly
of learned men in Montpellier, France, and which is discussed in Thomas Joseph Pettigrew's
Superstitions Connected with Medicine and Surgery. The recipe for the powder is: "take
Roman vitriol [copper sulphate] six or eight ounces, beat it very small in a mortar, shift it
through a fine sieve when the sun enters Leo; keep it in the heat of the sun and dry by night."

The powder was also applied to solve the longitude problem in the suggestion of an
anonymous pamphlet of 1687 entitled "Curious Enquiries." The pamphlet theorised that a
wounded dog could be put aboard a ship, with the animal's discarded bandage left in the trust
of a timekeeper on shore, who would then dip the bandage into the powder at a
predetermined time and cause the creature to yelp, thus giving the captain of the ship an
accurate knowledge of the time. There are no records of the effectiveness of this procedure. It
is also uncertain if it had ever been tried, and it is possible that the pamphlet was a form of

The powder of sympathy was termed weaponsalve ("A salve which was supposed to cure the
wound, being applied to the weapon that made it.") by Dr. Johnson in his Dictionary of the
English Language (1755).

In literature and media

Samuel Butler makes fun of sympathetic powders in his Hudibras (1663):

Learned he was in med'c'nal lore,
For by his side a pouch he wore,
Replete with strange hermetic powder,
That wounds nine miles point-blank would solder;
By skilful chymist, with great cost,
Extracted from a rotten post;

The concept of the powder of sympathy plays a significant role in the plot of Umberto Eco's
novel The Island of the Day Before. In the novel, set in the 17th century, the protagonist
learns of the powder, and gives a lecture on it in a salon. He is then ordered by Cardinal
Mazarin to spy on a secret English Pacific voyage to test an unknown application of the powder
to solve the longitude problem. The method attempted in the novel involved a dog wounded
with a weapon which would then be heated every day at noon in London. The men on the ship
would interpret the dog's suffering as a sympathetic response, and thus would try to calculate
the difference between local time and London time.

In 2010, BBC series James May's Man Lab attempted to navigate the English Channel using
the Powder of Sympathy, among other traditional methods. Rather than injure the dog with a
knife, they played "I Dreamed a Dream" to it, dipping the CD in the powder at the appropriate
time. It is unclear if this had the necessary effect, as the dog barked incessantly during the
voyage regardless.

Rabbit's Foot

Victorian silver mounted rabbit's foot charm

In some cultures, the foot of a rabbit is carried as an
amulet believed to bring good luck. This belief is held by
individuals in a great number of places around the world
including Europe, China, Africa, and North and South
America. It is likely that this belief has existed in Europe since 600 BC amongst Celtic people.
In variations of this superstition, the donor rabbit must possess certain attributes, or have
been killed in a particular place, or killed by a particular method, or by a person possessing
particular attributes (e.g. by a cross-eyed man).

The rabbit foot charm in North American and anan culture

The belief in North American folklore may originate in the system of African-American folk
magic known as hoodoo. A number of strictures attached to the charm that are now observed
mostly in the breach:

First, not any foot from a rabbit will do: it is the left hind foot of a rabbit that is useful
as a charm.
Second, not any left hind foot of a rabbit will do; the rabbit must have been shot or
otherwise captured in a cemetery.
Third, at least according to some sources, not any left hind foot of a rabbit shot in a
cemetery will do: the phase of the moon is also important. Some authorities say that
the rabbit must be taken in the full moon, while others hold instead that the rabbit
must be taken in the new moon. Some sources say instead that the rabbit must be
taken on a Friday, or a rainy Friday, or Friday the 13th. Some sources say that the
rabbit should be shot with a silver bullet, while others say that the foot must be cut off
while the rabbit is still alive.

As a substitute for bones from a human corpse

The various rituals suggested by the sources, though they differ widely one from another,
share a common element of the uncanny, and the reverse of what is considered good-omened
and auspicious. A rabbit is an animal into which shapeshifting witches such as Isobel Gowdie
claimed to be able to transform themselves. Witches were said to be active at the times of the
full and new moon. Silver bullets, of course, are reputed to be sovereign against uncanny
creatures such as werewolves.

These widely varying circumstances may share a common thread of suggestion that the true
lucky rabbit's foot is actually cut from a shapeshifted witch. The suggestion that the rabbit's
foot is a substitute for a body part from a witch's body is corroborated by other folklore from
hoodoo. Willie Dixon's song "Hoochie Coochie Man" mentions a "black cat bone" along with his
mojo and his John the Conqueror: all are artifacts in hoodoo magic. Given the traditional
association between black cats and witchcraft, a black cat bone is also potentially a substitute
for a human bone from a witch. Hoodoo lore also uses graveyard dust, soil from a cemetery,
for various magical purposes. Dust from a good person's grave keeps away evil; dust from a
sinner's grave is used for more nefarious magic. The use of graveyard dust may also be a
symbolic appropriation of the parts of a corpse as a relic, and a form of sympathetic magic.

In any case, the rabbit's foot is dried out and preserved, and carried around by gamblers and
other people who believe it will bring them luck. Rabbit's feet, either authentic or imitation,
are frequently sold by curio shops and vending machines. Often, these rabbit's feet have been
dyed various colors, and they are often turned into keychains. Few of these rabbit's feet carry
any warranty concerning their provenance, or any evidence that the preparers have made any
effort to comply with the rituals required by the original tradition. Some may be confected
from fake fur and latex "bones."

President Theodore Roosevelt wrote in his autobiography that he had been given a gold-
mounted rabbit's foot by John L. Sullivan as well as a penholder made by Bob Fitzsimmons out
of a horseshoe. A 1905 anecdote also tells that Booker T. Washington and Baron Ladislaus
Hengelmuller, the ambassador from Austria, got their overcoats confused when they were
both in the White House to speak with President Roosevelt; the ambassador noticed that the
coat he had taken was not his when he went to the pockets searching for his gloves, and
instead found "the left hind foot of a graveyard rabbit, killed in the dark of the moon." Other
newspaper stories reported the incident but omitted the detail about the rabbit's foot.

In addition to being mentioned in blues lyrics, the rabbit's foot is mentioned in the American
folk song "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," once popular in minstrel shows;
one line goes: "And you've got a rabbit's foot To keep away de hoo-doo."

Humorist R. E. Shay is credited with the witticism, "Depend on the rabbit's foot if you will, but
remember it didn't work for the rabbit."

A rabbit's foot will bring luck and protect the owner from evil spirits if carried in the

Although the practice is also prevalent in England, it was originally considered a Southern
(United States) tradition to carry a rabbit's foot; particularly among African Americans. The
tradition made its way to the States with African slaves, and it is thought to be among the
oldest traditions in the world, dating from around 600 BC.

Rabbits and hares have long been considered symbols of fertility and, by extension,
abundance. To have rabbits traipsing through your yard was a sign that your garden would be
fertile. When a rabbit runs, its stride is unusual because the back feet hit the ground ahead of
it's front feet, and so the back feet were considered lucky. Therefore, to possess the rabbit's
hind foot would be to acquire good fortune.

Over 10 million rabbits feet are bought every year in the United States to feed the rage for
this fetish. Animal lovers and animal rights activists alike (and rabbits) discourage the practice
due to the cruelty and senseless deaths involved in producing these amulets.


A rainbow in the Eastern sky,
The morrow will be fine and dry.
A rainbow in the West that gleams,
Rain tomorrow falls in streams.


To kill a raven is to harm the spirit of King Arthur who visits the world in the form of a


A red ribbon should be placed on a child who has been sick to keep the illness from


A wish made upon seeing the first robin in spring will come true - but only if you
complete the wish before the robin flies away.
If a robin flies into a room through a window, death will shortly follow.

Rocking Chair

If you leave a rocking chair rocking when empty, it invites evil spirits to come into
your house to sit in the rocking chair.


Rosemary planted by the doorstep will keep witches away.


Historically, salt has been highly valued and considered to be a purifying substance, capable of
driving away evil. The Romans paid their soldiers in salt hence the word "salary". It has long
been useful as a preservative, in medicine, and is also used in magick, ritual, and superstition
to purify, bless things, and drive away evil.

Bad luck will follow the spilling of salt unless a pinch is thrown over the left shoulder
into the face of the devil waiting there.
Put salt on the doorstep of a new house and no evil can enter.
Salty soup is a sign that the cook is in love.

Spilling Salt

A European superstition holds that spilling
salt is an evil omen.

One widespread explanation of the belief
that it is unlucky to spill salt is that Judas
Iscariot spilled the salt at the Last Supper.
Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper
depicts Judas Iscariot having knocked over
a salt-cellar.

This may not be the actual explanation; salt was a valuable commodity in ancient times, and
as such a symbol of trust and friendship. A German proverb held that "whoever spills salt
arouses enmity". According to Charles Nodier, among "savages", the "action of spilling salt ...
indicates among them the refusal of protection and hospitality from such strangers as they
may have reason to suspect are thieves and murderers."

Salt is also a religious symbol. Salt is used to make holy water in the Roman Catholic Church
rite, and as such figures as a religious symbol of sanctity, associated with exorcism. The meals
served at the witches' sabbath were thought to be salt-free as a consequence. Salt is a symbol
of the preserving value of sanctity in Jesus' reference to the "salt of the earth". As an emblem
of sanctity and protection, its inadvertent loss may be more than a natural misfortune.

A variety of methods are used to avert the evil omen of spilt salt. The most common
contemporary belief requires you to toss a pinch of the spilt salt over your left shoulder, into
the face of the Devil who lurks there.[8] Others hold that it is lucky to spill wine, and as such
one report holds that a diner who spilt salt became quite agitated until a waiter had poured
wine into his lap.

The belief in the ill luck that comes from spilt salt is quite old, going back to ancient Rome.
The 1556 Hieroglyphica of Piero Valeriano Bolzani reports that "(s)alt was formerly a symbol of
friendship, because of its lasting quality. For it makes substances more compact and preserves
them for a long time: hence it was usually presented to guests before other food, to signify
the abiding strength of friendship. Wherefore many consider it ominous to spill salt on the
table, and, on the other hand, propitious to spill wine, especially if unmixed with water."

Some have scoffed at the omen. Herbert Spencer wrote that "A consciousness in which there
lives the idea that spilling salt will be followed by some evil, obviously allied as it is to the
consciousness of the savage, filled with beliefs in omens and charms, gives a home to other
beliefs like those of the savage."


If you drop scissors, it means your lover is being unfaithful to you.

Sea Gull

Three seagulls flying together, directly overhead, are a warning of death soon to

Seven (7)

Considered a sign of good luck for Christians.

Do not place shoes upon a table, for this will bring bad luck for the day, cause trouble
with your mate and you might even lose your job as a result.
It's bad luck to leave shoes upside down.


If you sing before seven,
you will cry before eleven.


You sleep best with your head to the north and your feet to the south.


If you sneeze on a Monday, you sneeze for danger;
Sneeze on a Tuesday, kiss a stranger;
Sneeze on a Wednesday, sneeze for a letter;
Sneeze on a Thursday, something better;
Sneeze on a Friday, sneeze for sorrow;
Sneeze on a Saturday, see your sweetheart tomorrow.
Sneeze on a Sunday, and the devil will have domination over you all week.

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a letter
Four for a boy.
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret, never to be told

Place a hand in front of your mouth when sneezing. Your soul may escape otherwise.
The devil can enter your body when you sneeze. Having someone say, "God bless
you," drives the devil away.


"The reason why Tiberius would say 'Bless you' was due to the belief that
the more blessings offered to the sufferer may help lessen the chance of death.
However, according to Claudia DeLys in A Treasury of Superstitions, the phrase
wasn't a simple 'Bless you'. The disease running through the Roman civilization
at that time made sneezing a dreaded symptom. So when someone sneezed it
was felt this warranted a short prayer to the gods. 'Long may you live', 'May you
enjoy good health', or a simple 'Jupiter, help me.' Whatever variant used was
uttered and offered up in hopes that it would help protect those present and,
hopefully, expel the disease from the person who happened to have sneezed."

"The blessing of those who sneeze started when the great plague took hold of
Europe. Sufferers began sneezing violently, and as such, were bound to die. The
Pope therefore passed a law requiring people to bless the sneezer. At the same
time, it was expected that anybody sneezing would cover their mouth with a cloth
or their hand. This was obviously to stop the spreading of the disease, but many
believed that it was to keep the soul intact. Sneezing 'into the air' would allow the
soul to escape and death would be imminent. Up until this time, the opposite
was true. Those who sneezed were congratulated [Sanguinarius notes that this
practice dates from the 6th century], as it was believed that a violent sneeze would
expel evil from their bodies."



Sparrows carry the souls of the dead; it's unlucky to kill one.


Seeing a spider run down a web in the afternoon means you'll take a trip.
A spider is a repellent against plague when worn around the neck in a walnut shell.


To drop a spoon means a woman is coming to visit.

All wishes on shooting stars come true.

Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.


A swan's feather, sewed into the husband's pillow, will ensure fidelity.

Thirteen (13)

Numerologists consider 12 a "complete" number. There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of
the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles of
Jesus. In exceeding 12 by 1, 13's association with bad luck has to do with just being a little
beyond completeness.

In ancient Rome, witches reportedly gathered in groups of 12. The 13th was believed to be
the devil.

There is a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party at Valhalla, their heaven. In
walked the uninvited 13th guest, the mischievous Loki. Once there, Loki arranged for Hoder,
the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a
mistletoe-tipped arrow. Balder died and the Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned.

"To the ancient Egyptians, we are told, life was a quest for spiritual ascension which unfolded
in stages 12 in this life and a 13th beyond, thought to be the eternal afterlife. The number
13 therefore symbolized death not in terms of dust and decay, but as a glorious and
desirable transformation. Though Egyptian civilization perished, the death symbolism they
conferred on the number 13 survived, only to be corrupted by later cultures who associated it
with a fear of death instead of a reverence for the afterlife."

In the Code of Hammurabi, an early law code dating from ancient Babylon, the laws are
numbered and skip from 12 to 14. It is not clear why the Babylonians considered 13 to be
extremely unlucky. Matt Rhodes offers one explanation: "One of my English professors from
college (Mythology class) told me that the earliest documented example of the number
thirteen as something bad came from the Song of Ishtar, an ancient Babylonian epic poem.
The thirteenth line contains the name of the Goddess of the Dead (which is never a good

There is a Biblical reference to the unlucky number 13. Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus,
was the 13th guest to the Last Supper.

People omit or avoid the number 13, like the following examples:

More than 80 percent of high-rises lack a 13th floor.
Many airports skip the 13th gate.
Airplanes have no 13th aisle.
Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13.
Italians omit the number 13 from their national lottery.
On streets in Florence, Italy, the house between number 12 and 14 is addressed as 12
and a half.
Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue
In France, socialites known as the quatorziens (fourteeners) once made themselves
available as 14th guests to keep a dinner party from an unlucky fate.

Many triskaidekaphobes, as those who fear the unlucky integer are known, point to the ill-
fated mission to the moon, Apollo 13.

If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil's luck. Jack the Ripper,
Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13
letters in their names.
If 13 people sit down at a table to eat, one of them will die before the year is over.


If you bite your tongue while eating, it is because you have recently told a lie.
Trick or Treat

This tradition can be traced back 2,000 years (and quite possibly much longer) to the Celtic
belief that the spirits of the dead still remained present on our plane of existence, and
required food and drink to be placated. Failing to leave out an offering was sure to invite the
disgruntled spirits to cause mischief and ill fortune in retaliation. Later, people began dressing
up as the spirits in order to receive these offerings of food, and playing practical jokes on
those who did not furnish them.

In Ireland, "an old Irish peasant practice called for going door to door to collect money, bread
cake, cheese, eggs, butter, nuts, apples, etc., in preparation for the festival of St. Columbus
Kill." ("Trick or Treat")

In England, the poor would go around to different households on "All Souls Day" begging for
food and be given "soul cakes" in exchange for the promise to pray for the family's dead
relatives. This practice was known as "going a-souling".

"In Scotland children or guisers will have to impress the members of the houses they visit with
a song, trick, joke or dance in order to earn their treats."


Dropping an umbrella on the floor means that there will be a murder in the house.
It's bad luck to open an umbrella inside the house, especially if you put it over your
It's only bad luck if the umbrella is black, was a gift, has never been used outdoors, or
if there's someone sick in the house (it will supposedly cause them to become sicker).
Having an umbrella on a ship is considered bad luck.

Opening an umbrella indoors was not always considered to bring bad luck, according to some
only if certain factors apply:

"Many believe it is only bad luck when the umbrella is opened without it first being
outdoors. That means bringing a wet umbrella in and leaving it open at the door is not
part of the superstition."

"Are You Superstitious?"

Valentine's Day

If a woman sees a robin flying overhead on Valentine's Day, it means she will marry a
sailor. If she sees a sparrow, she will marry a poor man and be very happy. If she
sees a goldfinch, she will marry a millionaire.


A bride's veil protects her from evil spirits who are jealous of happy people.


A watermelon will grow in your stomach if you swallow a watermelon seed.


Red sky at night,
Sailor's delight.
Red sky at morning
Sailors take warning

Rain, rain, go away,
Come again another day.
Rain on the green grass
Rain on the hillside,
But not on me.


Knocking on wood, or to touch wood, refers to the apotropaic tradition in western folklore of
literally touching/knocking on wood, or merely stating that you are doing or intend same, in
order to avoid "tempting fate" after making a favourable observation, a boast, or declaration
concerning one's own death.

Cultural origins

In some countries, such as Spain, it is traditional literally to touch wood after an event
occurs that is considered to bring bad luck, such as crossing paths with a black cat or
walking under a ladder or noticing it's Friday the 13th. This is usually done when
there's no salt at hand to spill over your shoulder, which is considered the "traditional"
way of avoiding the bad luck caused by those situations.

In Italy, "tocca ferro" (touch iron) is used, especially after seeing an undertaker or
something related to death.

In old English folklore, "knocking on wood" also referred to when people spoke of
secrets they went into the isolated woods to talk privately and "knocked" on the
trees when they were talking to hide their communication from evil spirits who would
be unable to hear when they knocked. Another version holds that the act of knocking
was to perk up the spirits to make them work in the requester's favor. Yet another
version holds that a sect of Monks who wore large wooden crosses around their necks
would tap or "knock" on them to ward away evil.

In Romania, there is also a superstition that one can avoid bad things aforementioned
by literally knocking on wood ("a bate n lemn"). One of the possible reasons could be
that there is a monastery practice to call people to pray by playing / knocking the

In Bulgaria the use of "knock on wood" is basically for protection against the evil news
(not necessary for luck or anything else). The people use it mainly against illness or if
they heard that something very bad has happened to some one far away, or if a bad
word or news is heard. In this "knock on wood" ritual you must say "God keep us" and
knock on the nearest wood (except on wooden table) then pull your ear (on the
bottom) with the same hand you knocked. If there is not a wood near by its allowed to
knock on your head. The knock on your head instead of wood comes from the ironical
idea that "the stupid man has a wooden head"

In Serbia there is also the habit of knocking on wood when saying something positive
or affirmative about someone or something and not wanting that to change.
Frequently the movement of knocking on nearby wood is followed by
(I will knock on wood), or sometimes by (I don't want to jinx it).

In Poland there is a habit of knocking on (unpainted) wood (which may be preceded
by saying odpuka w niemalowane drewno or simply odpuka, literally meaning to
knock on unpainted wood) when saying something negative - to prevent it from
happening - or, more rarely, something positive - in order not to "spoil it".

In the United States of America folklore tells of the forefathers knocking on wood
referencing knocking of the wood stock of their muzzle-loading rifles to settle or
compress the black powder charge to ensure clean ignition or firing of the weapon.


Knock three times on wood after mentioning good fortune so evil spirits won't ruin it.
You must knock on wood 3 times after mentioning good fortune or the evil spirits will
ruin things for you.

The American version is "knock on wood", while the British version is merely "touch wood".
The tradition traces back to an ancient pagan belief that spirits resided in trees, particularly
Oaks, and that by knocking on or touching the wood, you were paying a small tribute to them
by remembering or acknowledging them, and could call on them for protection against ill-
fortune. Also, you were thanking them for their continued blessings and good luck.

It may be traced back even further to an ancient Greek belief:

"that if they touched an Oak tree, they communicate with Zeus, who would protect
them from misfortune."

Sauren Dessai
"Touch Wood!"


All windows should be opened at the moment of death so that the soul can leave.


If you make a wish while throwing a coin into a well or fountain, the wish will come
If you tell someone your wish, it won't come true.

Wish I may,
Wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.


Two people pull apart the dried breastbone of a chicken or turkey until it cracks and
breaks, each one making a wish while doing so. The person who gets the long half of
the wishbone will have his or her wish come true.


The Etruscans were the earliest civilization to live on the Italian peninsula, settling in between
900 and 800 BC; although much is not known about this mysterious early people, they were
actually responsible for much of which is mistakenly attributed to the Romans, -- and from
whom the Romans drew a substantial portion of their culture, ideals, etc. The Etruscans
practiced a form of divination involving a hen pecking at grains of corn scattered about in a
circle divided into sections with letters (which could be viewed as an early form of Ouija-style
fortune telling).

"When the fowl was killed, the birds collarbone was laid in the sun to dry. An Etruscan
still wishing to benefit from the oracles powers had only to pick up the bone and
stroke it (not break it) and make a wish; hence the name 'wishbone'. For more than
two centuries they wished on unbroken clavicles."


The number of Xs in the palm of your right hand is the number of children you will


A yawn is a sign that danger is near.
Cover your mouth when you yawn, or your soul can go out of your body along with the

Sailors Superstitions

These are collections of mariners superstitions, traditions,
Myths, legends, and folk belief.


Considered a sign of good luck if seen by sailors.

The albatross as a superstitious relic is referenced in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's well-known
poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It is considered very unlucky to kill an albatross; in
Coleridge's poem, the narrator killed the bird and his fellow sailors eventually force him to
wear the dead bird around his neck. This is evident in such proverbs and stories as 'an
albatross around his neck.


Having bananas on a ship, especially on a private boat or fishing yacht, is considered bad luck.

Candlemas Day

Sailors are often reluctant to set sail on Candlemas Day, believing that any voyage begun then
will end in disaster.


While in many cultures, a black cat is considered unlucky,
British and Irish sailors considered adopting a black "ship's
cat" because it would bring good luck. Cats eat rodents,
which can damage ropes and stores of grain on board, and
they are intelligent animals, so a high level of care was
directed toward them to keep them happy. A ship's cat
would also create a sense of home and security to sailors
who could be away from home for a long time.

Tiddles, a Black cat who gained fame as a Royal Navy
Ship's cat.

Some sailors believed that polydactyl cats were better at
catching pests, possibly connected with the suggestion that
extra digits give a polydactyl cat better balance, important
when at sea. Cats were believed to have miraculous powers
that could protect ships from dangerous weather.
Sometimes, fishermen's wives would keep black cats at
home too, in the hope that they would be able to use their
influence to protect their husbands at sea. It was believed to be lucky if a cat approached a
sailor on deck, but unlucky if it only came halfway, and then retreated.

Pirates of the 18th century believed that a black cat would bring different kinds of luck. If a
black cat walks towards someone, that person will have bad luck. If a black cat walks away
from someone then that person will have good luck. If a black cat walks onto a ship and then
walks off it, the ship is doomed to sink on its next trip.

Another popular belief was that cats could start storms through magic stored in their tails. If a
ship's cat fell or was thrown overboard, it was thought that it would summon a terrible storm
to sink the ship and that if the ship was able to survive, it would be cursed with nine years of
bad luck. Other beliefs included: if a cat licked its fur against the grain, it meant a hailstorm
was coming; if it sneezed it meant rain; and if it was frisky it meant wind.

Davy Jones' Locker

Genre Nautical folklore
Type Euphemism for sea floor, or resting place for
sailors drowned at sea.

Davy Jones' Locker, also Davy Jones's Locker, is an
idiom for the bottom of the sea: the state of death
among drowned sailors and shipwrecks. It is used as a
euphemism for drowning or shipwrecks which the
sailor(s)'s and/or ship(s)'s remains are consigned to the
bottom of the sea (to be sent to Davy Jones' Locker).

Davy Jones's Locker, by John Tenniel, 1892

The origins of the name of Davy Jones, the sailor's devil,
are unclear, with a 19th-century dictionary tracing Davy
Jones to a "ghost of Jonah". Other explanations of this
nautical superstition have been put forth, including an
incompetent sailor or a pub owner who kidnapped sailors.


The earliest known reference of the negative connotation of Davy Jones occurs in the Four
Years Voyages of Capt. George Roberts, by the author Daniel Defoe, published in 1726 in

Some of Loe's Company said, They would look out some things, and give me along
with me when I was going away; but Ruffel told them, they should not, for he would
toss them all into Davy Jones's Locker if they did.
Daniel Defoe

An early description of Davy Jones occurs in Tobias Smollett's The Adventures of Peregrine
Pickle, published in 1751:

This same Davy Jones, according to sailors, is the fiend that presides over all the
evil spirits of the deep, and is often seen in various shapes, perching among the
rigging on the eve of hurricanes:, ship-wrecks, and other disasters to which sea-faring
life is exposed, warning the devoted wretch of death and woe.
Tobias Smollett

In the story Jones is described as having saucer eyes, three rows of teeth, horns, a tail, and
blue smoke coming from his nostrils.


The origin of the tale of "Davy Jones" is unclear, and many conjectural or folklore explanations
have been proposed:

The 1898 Dictionary of Phrase and Fable connects Dave to the West Indian duppy
(duffy) and Jones to biblical Jonah:

Hes gone to Davy Joness locker, i.e. he is dead. Jones is a corruption of
Jonah, the prophet, who was thrown into the sea. Locker, in seamans phrase,
means any receptacle for private stores; and duffy is a ghost or spirit among
the West Indian negroes. So the whole phrase is, "He is gone to the place of
safe keeping, where duffy Jonah was sent to."
E. Cobham Brewer

David Jones, a real pirate, although not a very known one, living on the Indian Ocean
in the 1630s.

Duffer Jones, a notoriously myopic sailor who often found himself over-board.

A British pub owner who supposedly threw drunken sailors into his ale locker and then
gave them to be drafted on any ship. He may be the pub owner who is referenced in
the 1594 song "Jones's Ale is Newe."

Davy Jones is another name for Satan, or "Devil Jonah", the biblical Jonah who
became the "evil angel" of all sailors, who would identify more with the beset-upon
ship-mates of Jonah than with the unfortunate man himself. Upon death, a wicked
sailor's body supposedly went to Davy Jones' locker (a chest, as lockers were back
then), but a pious sailor's soul went to Fiddler's Green.


Crossing the equator ceremony with "Davy Jones" with yellow cape and a plunger as sceptre)
aboard the USS Triton, 24 February 1960 as part of the Operation Sandblast cruise

The tale of Davy Jones causes fear among sailors, who may refuse to discuss Davy Jones in
any great detail. Not all traditions dealing with Davy Jones are fearful. In traditions associated
with sailors crossing the Equatorial line, there was a "raucous and rowdy" initiation presided
over by those who had crossed the line before, known as shellbacks, or Sons of Neptune. The
eldest shellback was called King Neptune, and Davy Jones would be re-enacted as his first

Friday is considered to be an unlucky day in some cultures, and perhaps the most enduring
sailing superstition is that it is unlucky to begin a voyage or 'set sail' on a Friday. However,
this superstition is not universal.

In the 19th century Admiral William Henry Smyth, writing in his nautical lexicon The Sailor's
Word-Book, described Friday as:

The Dies Infaustus, on which old seamen were desirous of not getting under weigh,
as ill-omened.

(Dies Infaustus means "unlucky day".) This superstition is the root of the well-known urban
legend of HMS Friday.


A "Jonah" is a long-established expression among sailors, meaning a person (either a sailor or
a passenger) who is bad luck, which is based on the Biblical prophet Jonah.


Traditionally, a type of kobold, called a Klabautermann, lives aboard ships and helps sailors
and fishermen on the Baltic and North Sea in their duties. He is a merry and diligent creature,
with an expert understanding of most watercraft, and an unsupressable musical talent. He
also rescues sailors washed overboard.

The name comes from the Low German verb klabastern meaning "rumble" or "make a noise".
An etymology deriving the name from the verb kalfatern ("to caulk") has also been suggested.

A carved klabautermann image, of a small sailor dressed in yellow with a tobacco pipe and
woollen sailor's cap, often wearing a caulking hammer, is attached to the mast as a symbol of
good luck. However, despite the positive attributes, there is one omen associated with his
presence: no member of a ship blessed by his presence shall ever set eyes on him; he only
ever becomes visible to the crew of a doomed ship. The belief in Klabautermanns dates to at
least the 1770s.

Line Crossing

U.S. Sailors and Marines participate in a line-
crossing ceremony aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC-
19) as the ship passes the Equator May 16, 2008.
It has been a long naval tradition to initiate
pollywogs, sailors who have never crossed the
Equator, into the Kingdom of Neptune upon their
first crossing of the Equator.

The Line-crossing ceremony commemorates a
sailor's first crossing of the Equator. Its practices
invoke good luck on the new sailor. The ceremony
of Crossing the Line is an initiation rite in the Royal
Navy, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, and other navies that commemorates
a sailor's first crossing of the Equator. The tradition may have originated with ceremonies
when passing headlands, and become a "folly" sanctioned as a boost to morale, or have been
created as a test for seasoned sailors to ensure their new shipmates were capable of handling
long rough times at sea. Sailors who have already crossed the Equator are nicknamed (Trusty)
Shellbacks, often referred to as Sons of Neptune; those who have not are nicknamed (Slimy)
Pollywogs (in 1832 the nickname griffins was noted).

After crossing the line, Pollywogs receive subpoenas to appear before King Neptune and his
court (usually including his first assistant Davy Jones and her Highness Amphitrite and often
various dignitaries, who are all represented by the highest ranking seamen), who officiate at
the ceremony, which is often preceded by a beauty contest of men dressing up as women.
Afterwards, some wogs may be "interrogated" by King Neptune and his entourage. During the
ceremony, the Pollywogs undergo a number of increasingly embarrassing ordeals (such as
wearing clothing inside out and backwards; crawling on hands and knees; being swatted with
short lengths of firehose; kissing the Royal Baby's belly coated with axle grease, etc.), largely
for the entertainment of the Shellbacks. Once the ceremony is complete, a Pollywog receives a
certificate declaring his new status.

St. Elmos Fire

Saint Erasmus of Formiae may have become the patron of sailors because he is said to have
continued preaching even after a thunderbolt struck the ground beside him. This prompted
sailors, who were in danger from sudden storms and lightning, to claim his prayers. The
electrical discharges at the mastheads of ships were read as a sign of his protection and came
to be called "Saint Elmo's Fire". Thus, Saint Elmo's Fire was usually good luck in traditional
sailor's lore, but because it is a sign of electricity in the air and interferes with compass
readings, sailors sometimes regarded it as an omen of bad luck and stormy weather.


Sailor tattoos are a visual way to preserve the culture of the maritime superstitions. Sailors
believed that certain symbols and talismans would help them in when facing certain events in
life; they thought that those symbols would attract good luck or bad luck in the worst of the

Sailors, at the constant mercy of the elements, often feel the need for religious
images on their bodies to appease the angry powers that caused storms and drowning
far from home.
Tattoo Archives

For example, the images of a pig and a hen were good luck; both animals are not capable of
swimming, but they believed that God would look down upon a shipwreck and see an animal
not capable of swimming and would take them into his hand and place them on land. Another
example of superstitions is the North Star (Nautical Start or compass rose); sailors had the
belief that by wearing this symbol it would help them to find his or her way home. Sailors
designed mariner motifs of their own, according to their travel experiences in the ocean. By
the 19th century, about 90% of all United States Navy sailors had tattoos.


Red sky at night,
Sailor's delight.
Red sky at morning
Sailors take warning


Whistling on board a sailing ship is thought to encourage the wind strength to increase. This is
regularly alluded to in the Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O'Brian. A United States Navy
saying alluded to a supposition that only homosexuals whistled.


A collection of folk beliefs

Hour of the wolf

The hour of the wolf is the hour between night and dawn during which the wolf is said to lurk
outside people's doors (Between 3 and 5 AM).

In popular culture

The marketing tagline for a 1968 Ingmar Bergman horror film entitled Hour of the Wolf reads:

"The Hour of the Wolf is the hour between night and dawn. It is the hour when most people
die, when sleep is deepest, when nightmares are most real. It is the hour when the sleepless
are haunted by their deepest fear, when ghosts and demons are most powerful. The Hour of
the Wolf is also the hour when most children are born."

In an episode of the science fiction television show Babylon 5 entitled "The Hour of the Wolf",
Commander Susan Ivanova says:

"Have you ever heard of the hour of the wolf? ... It's the time between 3:00 and 4:00 in the
morning. You can't sleep, and all you can see is the troubles and the problems and the ways
that your life should've gone but didn't. All you can hear is the sound of your own heart."


A jinx, in popular superstition and folklore, is:

A type of curse placed on a person that makes them prey to many minor misfortunes
and other forms of bad luck;
A person afflicted with a similar curse, who, while not directly subject to a series of
misfortunes, seems to attract them to anyone in his vicinity.
An object or person that brings bad luck.
A penalty that one person can invoke on another when the two of them say the same
thing at the same time.

The superstition can also be referenced when talking about a future event with too much
confidence. A statement such as "We're sure to win the contest!" can be seen as a jinx
because it tempts fate, thereby bringing bad luck. The event itself is referred to as "jinxed". A
dramatic historical example of this type of jinxing is the RMS Titanic, which was said to be
unsinkable, then sank on its maiden voyage.

In a similar way, calling attention to good fortune e.g. noting that a certain athlete is having
a streak of particularly good fortune is thought to "jinx" it. If the good fortune ends
immediately afterward, the jinx is then blamed for the turn of events, often jokingly.


The etymology of the word is obscure.

It may come from Latin iynx, that is, the wryneck bird, which has occasionally been used in
magic and divination and is remarkable for its ability to twist its head almost 180 degrees
while hissing like a snake. The Jinx bird is found in Africa and Eurasia.
It may be the plural of jink treated as singular.

The Online Etymology Dictionary entry for jinx states that the word was first used, as a noun,
in American English in 1911. It traces it to a 17th century word jyng, meaning "a spell", and
ultimately to the Latin word iynx.

Barry Popik of the American Dialect Society suggests that the word should be traced back to
an American folksong called Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, which was first popular in
1868. One verse in one version goes:

The first day I went out to drill
The bugle sound made me quite ill,
At the Balance step my hat it fell,

And that wouldn't do for the Army.

The officers they all did shout,
They all cried out, they all did shout,
The officers they all did shout,

"Oh, that's the curse of the Army."

The reference to various misfortunes and a curse lend plausibility to this.

A Mr Jinx appeared in Ballou's monthly magazine - Volume 6 - Page 276 in 1857.

Law of contagion

The law of contagion is a folk belief described axiom found in magical thinking which suggests
that once two people or objects have been in contact, that a magical link persists between
unless or until a formal exorcism or other act of banishing breaks the non-material bond. The
first description of the law of contagion appeared in The Golden Bough by James George

Conscious belief in the law of contagion

According to this idea, the law of contagion has both dangers and benefits. On the good side,
the holiness of a saint, god or other venerated figure confers benefits to relics, as do temples
and churches, by virtue of their having religious rituals conducted within them.

On the bad side, this means that in according to the belief system of many cultures, a sorcerer
or witch might acquire a lock of hair, nail clipping or scrap of clothing in order to facilitate a
curse. Voodoo dolls, among many other practices. A voodoo doll resembles the victim and
often incorporates hair or clothing from them. Cultures that believe in sorcery, therefore often
exercise care that their hair or nails do not end up in the hands of sorcerers.

Psychics and mediums commonly utilize an object once owned by a missing or deceased
subject as their "focus" for psychometry, clairvoyance or during sances.

Unconscious belief in the law of contagion

Even among supposedly sophisticated people psychological experiments have shown a
reluctance on the part of the public to, say, try on a sweater worn by a serial murderer, as if
subjects assume that their evil somehow lingers in the article of clothing.


A mooncalf (or moon-calf) is the abortive fetus of a cow or other farm animal. The term was
occasionally applied to an abortive human fetus.

The term derives from the formerly widespread superstition, present in many European folk
traditions, that such malformed creatures were the product of the sinister influence of the
Moon on fetal development.

Modern usage

The term came to be used to also refer to any monstrous or grotesque thing. Shakespeare, for
instance, used the term to describe Caliban, the deformed servant of Prospero, in The

In H. G. Wells' 1901 novel The First Men in the Moon, large creatures domesticated by the
Selenites are referred to as "mooncalves."

Mooncalf is used as a derogatory term to indicate someone is a dullard, fool or otherwise not
particularly bright or sharp. For example, W. C. Fields in "The Bank Dick" (1940) advises his
prospective son-in-law to avoid being a "mooncalf" by buying shares he has been beguiled into
believing are worth much more than the proffered price.

Mooncalf is also the name of a species of magical creatures in the world of the Harry Potter
series. It is described in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as a shy, nocturnal creature
with a smooth, pale grey body, bulging eyes and four spindly legs with large flat feet.
Mooncalfs perform dances in the moonlight, and are apparently responsible for crop circles.

Sign of the horns

The sign of the horns is a hand gesture with a variety of
meanings and uses in various cultures. It is most commonly
used in Italy and the Mediterranean either for superstitious
purposes or as an offensive gesture. It is formed by extending
the index and little fingers while holding the middle and ring
fingers down with the thumb.


In Italy and some Mediterranean cultures, when confronted
with unfortunate events, or simply when these events are
mentioned, the sign of the horns may be given to ward off bad
luck. It is also used traditionally to counter or ward off the "evil eye" (malocchio). With fingers
down, it is a common apotropaic gesture, by which superstitious people seek protection in
unlucky situations (It is a more Mediterranean equivalent of knocking on wood). Thus for
example the President of the Italian Republic Giovanni Leone shocked the country when, while
in Naples during an outbreak of cholera, he shook the hands of patients with one hand while
with the other behind his back he made the corna. This act was well documented by the
journalists and photographers who were right behind him, a fact that had escaped President
Leone's mind in that moment. In Italy, one can also "touch iron" (tocca ferro) or touch one's
nose. Males in Italy and some other countries may grab their testicles when confronted by bad
luck; however, this is considered more vulgar.

In Peru one says contra (against). In the Dominican
Republic the expression is zafa, said against curses
known as fuk. All of these gestures are meant to
conjure supernatural protection.

Satan displaying the Sign of the horns in the Kitab al-
Bulhan (A late 14th century A.D. Arabic manuscript)

Offensive Gesture

However, when directed towards someone, the sign is
instead used as an insult in Italy to imply that another
person is a cuckold, and thus the gesture can be
offensive and insulting in a manner similar to giving the
finger or the "bras d'honneur" (or gesto dell'ombrello in
Italian). In Italy, pointing the index and little finger
towards someone aggressively or upward with the palm
side outward is a common insult as well as an
accusation of having an unfaithful wife. A common
Italian word for cuckolded is cornuto, which literally
means "horned," and this is the probable origin of the
insulting meaning of the gesture. During a European
Union meeting in February 2002, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was
photographed performing this gesture behind the back of the Spanish foreign minister. When
questioned about the incident, he replied "I was only joking."

European and North American popular culture

Contemporary use by musicians and fans

The 1969 back album cover for Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls on Mercury Records
by Chicago-based psychedelic-occult rock band Coven, led by singer Jinx Dawson, pictured
Coven band members giving the "sign of the horns" correctly and included a Black Mass poster
showing members at a ritual making the sign. Starting in early 1968, Coven concerts always
began and ended with Jinx giving the sign on stage.

On the cover of The Beatles' Yellow Submarine album (1969), the cartoon of John Lennon's
right hand is making the sign above Paul McCartney's head. For many fans, this was one of
the many "Paul is dead" clues. Some may think it is possible that the cartoonist
misrepresented the sign for "I love you", which is very similar and more in keeping with the
band's public message and image. However, the 1969 cartoon is based on many photos of
John Lennon making the hand sign in 1967. One of these photos of Lennon doing the hand
sign appears on the cover of a Beatles single release shortly after, making it the first time the
hand sign appears on a rock release.

Beginning in the early 1970s, the horns were known as the "P-Funk sign" to fans of
Parliament-Funkadelic. It was used by George Clinton and Bootsy Collins as the password to
the Mothership, a central element in Parliament's science-fiction mythology, and fans used it
in return to show their enthusiasm for the band. Collins is depicted showing the P-Funk sign
on the cover of his 1977 album Ahh... The Name Is Bootsy, Baby! Frank Zappa can be seen
jokingly making the gesture in the 1979 film Baby Snakes in response to the audience,
commenting, "That's right, spindle twice."

Heavy metal subculture

It also has a variety of meanings in heavy metal subcultures, where it is known by a variety of
terms, most commonly maloik, metal sign, horns, Leviathan Horns, or metal horns, among

Ronnie James Dio was known for popularizing the sign of the horns in heavy metal. He claimed
his Italian grandmother used it to ward off the evil eye (which is known in the Italian culture
as malocchio). Dio began using the sign soon after joining (1979) the metal band Black
Sabbath. The previous singer in the band, Ozzy Osbourne, was rather well known at using the
"peace" sign at concerts, raising the index and middle finger in the form of a V. Dio, in an
attempt to connect with the fans, wanted to similarly use a hand gesture. However, not
wanting to copy Osbourne, he chose to use the sign his grandmother always made. The horns
became famous in metal concerts very soon after Black Sabbath's first tour with Dio. The sign
would later be appropriated by heavy metal fans under the name "maloik", a corruption of the
original malocchio.

Terry "Geezer" Butler of Black Sabbath can be seen "raising the horns" in a photograph taken
in 1971. This would indicate that the "horns" and their association with metal occurred much
earlier than Ronnie James Dio suggests. The photograph is included in the CD booklet of the
Symptom of the Universe: The Original Black Sabbath 19701978 compilation album.

From a 2001 interview with Ronnie James Dio on "I want to ask you about something people have asked you
about before but will no doubt continue to talk about, and that is the sign created by
raising your index and little finger. Some call it the "evil eye." I would like to know if
you were the first one to introduce this to the metal world and what this symbol
represents to you?"

R.J. Dio "I doubt very much if I would be the first one who ever did that. That's
like saying I invented the wheel, I'm sure someone did that at some other point. I
think you'd have to say that I made it fashionable. I used it so much and all the time
and it had become my trademark until the Britney Spears audience decided to do it as
well. So it kind of lost its meaning with that. But it was.... I was in Sabbath at the
time. It was a symbol that I thought was reflective of what that band was supposed to
be all about. It's NOT the devil's sign like we're here with the devil. It's an Italian thing
I got from my Grandmother called the "Malocchio". It's to ward off the Evil Eye or to
give the Evil Eye, depending on which way you do it. It's just a symbol but it had
magical incantations and attitudes to it and I felt it worked very well with Sabbath. So
I became very noted for it and then everybody else started to pick up on it and away it
went. But I would never say I take credit for being the first to do it. I say because I
did it so much that it became the symbol of rock and roll of some kind."[6]

Electronic communication

In electronic communication, the sign of the horns is represented with the \m/ or |m|
emoticon and sometimes \,,/ and /,,/.

Sports Culture

Hook 'em Horns is the slogan and hand signal of The University of Texas at Austin.
Students and alumni of the university employ a greeting consisting of the phrase
"Hook 'em" or "Hook 'em Horns" and also use the phrase as a parting good-bye or as
the closing line in a letter or story. The gesture is meant to approximate the shape of
the head and horns of the UT mascot, the Texas Longhorn Bevo.

Fans of The University of South Florida Bulls use the same hand sign at their athletic
events, except that the hand is turned around and facing the other way. With the
middle and ring finger extending towards the person presenting the "Go Bulls" sign.

Fans of North Dakota State University Bison athletics also use a similar hand gesture,
known as "Go Bison!" The pinky and index fingers are usually slightly bent, however,
to mimic the shape of a bison's horns.

Fans of North Carolina State University Wolfpack athletics use a similar gesture with
the middle and ring fingers moving up and down over the pinky to mimic a wolf's jaw

Fans of University of California, Irvine Anteaters use a similar sign with the middle and
ring fingers out to resemble the head of the mighty anteater.

Fans of University of Nevada, Reno Wolf Pack athletics use a similar sign with the
middle and ring fingers out to resemble the wolf's snout.

Fans of University of Utah athletics, particularly football and gymnastics, use a gesture
where the index and pinky finger are straight and parallel to each other, forming a
block "U." [7]

Fans of Northwestern State University Demon athletics also use a similar hand
gesture, known as "Fork 'em!" The pinky and index fingers are extended but a little
more parallel to each other resembling the horns on a demon.

Arizona State University Sun Devil fans make a pitchfork sign by extending the index
and middle fingers, as well as the pinky. The thumb holds down the ring finger to
complete the gesture.

Fans of the University of Oklahoma, a Big 12 Conference rival of The University of
Texas, typically invert the "Hook 'em Horns" as a symbol of defiance toward The
University of Texas. This symbol is especially prevalent during football season, leading
up to the Red River Rivalry game, played each October in Dallas, Texas.

Fans of the Wichita State University Shockers frequently hold up their middle finger in
addition to the pointer and pinky fingers as a reference to the comic sexual act.

*Will o' the Wisp

The phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs, called ignis fatuus or jack-o'-

The term jack-o'-lantern originally meant a night watchman, or man with a lantern, with the
earliest known use in the 1660s in East Anglia; and later, meaning an ignis fatuus or will-o'-
the-wisp. In Newfoundland and Labrador, both names "Jacky Lantern" and "Jack the Lantern"
refer to the will-o'-the-wisp concept rather than the pumpkin carving aspect.

A will-o'-the-wisp or ignis fatuus (Medieval Latin: "foolish fire") are atmospheric ghost lights
seen by travellers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes. It resembles a flickering
lamp and is said to recede if approached, drawing travellers from the safe paths. The
phenomenon is known by a variety of names, including jack-o'-lantern, hinkypunk, and hobby
lantern in English folk belief, well attested in English folklore and in much of European folklore.

Continental Europe

In European folklore, these lights are held to be either mischievous spirits of the dead, or
other supernatural beings or spirits such as fairies, attempting to lead travellers astray.

A modern Americanized adaptation of this travellers' association frequently places swaying
ghost-lights along roadsides and railroad tracks. Here a swaying movement of the lights is
alleged to be that of 19th- and early 20th-century railway workers supposedly killed on the

Sometimes the lights are believed to be the spirits of unbaptized or stillborn children, flitting
between heaven and hell. Modern occultist elaborations bracket them with the salamander, a
type of spirit wholly independent from humans (unlike ghosts, which are presumed to have
been humans at some point in the past).

Northern Europe

Danes, Finns, Swedes, Estonians, Irish people and Latvians amongst some other groups
believed that a will-o'-the-wisp marked the location of a treasure deep in ground or water,
which could be taken only when the fire was there. Sometimes magical tricks, and even dead
man's hand, were required as well, to uncover the treasure. In Finland and other northern
countries it was believed that early autumn was the best time to search for will-o'-the-wisps
and treasures below them. It was believed that when someone hid treasure, in the ground, he
made the treasure available only at the midsummer, and set will-o'-the-wisp to mark the
exact place and time so that he could come to take the treasure back. Finns also believed that
the creature guarding the treasure, aarni, used fire (aarnivalkea) to clean precious metals.


The will-o'-the-wisp can be found in numerous folk tales around the United Kingdom, and is
often a malicious character in the stories. In Welsh folklore, it is said that the light is "fairy
fire" held in the hand of a pca, or pwca, a small goblin-like fairy that mischievously leads lone
travelers off the beaten path at night. As the traveler follows the pca through the marsh or
bog, the fire is extinguished, leaving them lost. The pca is said to be one of the Tylwyth Teg,
or fairy family. In Wales the light predicts a funeral that will take place soon in the locality.
Wirt Sikes in his book British Goblins mentions the following Welsh tale about pca.

A peasant traveling home at dusk sees a bright light traveling along ahead of him. Looking
closer, he sees that the light is a lantern held by a "dusky little figure", which he follows for
several miles. All of a sudden he finds himself standing on the edge of a vast chasm with a
roaring torrent of water rushing below him. At that precise moment the lantern-carrier leaps
across the gap, lifts the light high over its head, lets out a malicious laugh and blows out the
light, leaving the poor peasant a long way from home, standing in pitch darkness at the edge
of a precipice. This is a fairly common cautionary tale concerning the phenomenon; however,
the ignis fatuus was not always considered dangerous. There are some tales told about the
will-o'-the-wisp being guardians of treasure, much like the Irish leprechaun leading those
brave enough to follow them to sure riches. Other stories tell of travelers getting lost in the
woodland and coming upon a will-o'-the-wisp, and depending on how they treated the will-o'-
the-wisp, the spirit would either get them lost further in the woods or guide them out.

Also related, the Pixy-light from Devon and Cornwall is most often associated with the Pixie
who often has "pixie-led" travelers away from the safe and reliable route and into the bogs
with glowing lights. "Like Poltergeist they can generate uncanny sounds. They were less
serious than their German Weisse Frauen kin, frequently blowing out candles on unsuspecting
courting couples or producing obscene kissing sounds, which were always misinterpreted by
parents." Pixy-Light was also associated with "lambent light" which the "Old Norse" might
have seen guarding their tombs. In Cornish folklore, Pixy-Light also has associations with the
Colt Pixy. "A colt pixie is a pixie that has taken the shape of a horse and enjoys playing tricks
such as neighing at the other horses to lead them astray". In Guernsey, the light is known as
the faeu boulanger (rolling fire), and is believed to be a lost soul. On being confronted with the
spectre, tradition prescribes two remedies. The first is to turn one's cap or coat inside out. This
has the effect of stopping the faeu boulanger in its tracks. The other solution is to stick a knife
into the ground, blade up. The faeu, in an attempt to kill itself, will attack the blade.


Aleya (or marsh ghost-light) is the name given to an unexplained strange light phenomena
occurring over the marshes as observed by the Bengali people, specially the fishermen of
Bengal. This marsh light is attributed to some kind of unexplained marsh gas apparitions that
confuse fishermen, make them lose their bearings, and may even lead to drowning if one
decided to follow them moving over the marshes. Local communities in the region believe that
these strange hovering marsh-lights are in fact Ghost-lights representing the ghosts of
fisherman who died fishing. Sometimes they confuse the fishermen, and sometimes they help
them avoid future dangers.

A Japanese rendition of a Russian will-o'-the-wisp.

Chir batti (ghost-light), also spelled chhir batti or cheer
batti, is a yet unexplained strange dancing light
phenomena occurring on dark nights reported from the
Banni grasslands, its seasonal marshy wetlands and the
adjoining desert of the marshy salt flats of the Rann of
Kutch near Indo-Pakistani border in Kutch district,
Gujarat State, India. Local villagers have been seeing
these sometimes hovering, sometimes flying balls of
lights since time immemorial and call it Chir Batti in
their KutchhiSindhi language, with Chir meaning ghost
and Batti meaning light.

Similar phenomena are described in Japanese folklore, including Hitodama (literally "Human
Soul" as a ball of energy), Hi no Tama (Ball of Flame), Aburagae, Koemonbi, Ushionibi, etc. All
these phenomena are described as balls of flame or light, at times associated with graveyards,
but occurring across Japan as a whole in a wide variety of situations and locations. These
phenomena are described in Shigeru Mizuki's 1985 book Graphic World of Japanese

South America

Boi-tat is the Brazilian equivalent of the will-o'-the-wisp. Regionally it is called Boitat,
Baitat, Batat, Bitat, Batato, Biatat, M'boiguau, Mboitat and Mba-Tata. The name
comes from the Old Tupi language and means "fiery serpent" (mbo tat). Its great fiery eyes
leave it almost blind by day, but by night, it can see everything. According to legend, Boi-tat
was a big serpent which survived a great deluge. A "boiguau" (a cave anaconda) left its cave
after the deluge and, in the dark, went through the fields preying on the animals and corpses,
eating exclusively its favorite morsel, the eyes. The collected light from the eaten eyes gave
"Boitat" its fiery gaze. Not really a dragon but a giant snake (in the native language, "boa" or
"mboi" or "mboa").

In Argentina the will-o'-the-wisp phenomenon is known as Luz Mala (evil light) or Fuego Fatuo
and is one of the most important myths in Argentine and Uruguayan Folklore. This
phenomenon is quite feared and is mostly seen on Argentine rural areas. It consists of an
extremely shiny ball of light floating a few inches from the ground.

North America

Mexico has its own equivalent as well. Folklore explains will-o-the-wisp to be witches who
transformed into these lights. The reason for this, however, varies according to the region.

The swampy area of Massachusetts known as the Bridgewater Triangle has folklore of ghostly
orbs of light, and there have been modern observations of these ghost-lights in this area as


Min Min Light is the name given to an unusual light formation that has been reported
numerous times in eastern Australia. The lights have been reported from as far south as
Brewarrina in western New South Wales, to as far north as Boulia in northern Queensland. The
majority of sightings are reported to have occurred in Channel Country.

Stories about the lights can be found in aboriginal myth pre-dating western settlement of the
region and have since become part of wider Australian folklore. Indigenous Australians hold
that the number of sightings has increased alongside the increasing ingression of Europeans
into the region. According to folklore, the lights sometime follow or approached people and
have disappeared when fired upon, only to reappear later on.

Myths and Legends

These are stories that have been handed down and told for
generations that it is almost impossible to trace if the origin of the
story is real or not.

Numerous quests for legendary artifacts have been recorded but not
one the expert could verify the validity of the claims.

List of mythological objects

Mythological objects (also known as mythical objects, mythic objects, or even god weapons in
some cases) encompasses a variety of items (e.g. weapons, armor, clothing) appearing in
world mythologies. This list will be organized according to category of object.


The Armor of Achilles, created by Hephaestus and said to be impenetrable. (Greek
The Armor of Thor, consisting of the Girdle of Might, a magic belt (Megingjr) that
doubled his strength; and an iron glove (Jrngreipr) so he could wield Mjolnir. (see
The Armor of Beowulf, made by Wayland the Smith.
The Armor of Karna, known as Kavacha.


The Helmet of Rostam, upon which was fixed the head of the white giant Div-e-
Sepid, from the Persian epic Shahnameh.
The Helm of Darkness (or Cap of Invisibility), created by the Cyclopes for Hades. It
made the wearer invisible. Also used by Perseus. (Greek mythology)
The Tarnhelm, a helmet giving the wearer the ability to change form or become
invisible. Used by Alberich in Der Ring des Nibelungen.


The Aegis, Zeus' shield, often loaned to his daughter Athena, also used by Perseus.
(Greek mythology)
Ancile, shield of the Roman god Mars.
Priwen, the shield of King Arthur.
The Shield of Achilles. (Greek mythology)
The Shield of Ajax. (Greek mythology)
The Shield of Galahad, made by King Evelake and adorned with a red cross painted
with the blood of Joseph of Arimathea.
The Shield of Joseph of Arimathea, according to Arthurian legend it was carried by
three maidens to Arthur's castle where it was discovered by Sir Percival. In Perlesvaus
he uses it to defeat the Knight of the Burning Dragon.
The Shield of Judas Maccabee, a red shield emblazoned with a golden eagle.
According to Arthurian legend the same shield was later found and used by Gawain
after he defeated an evil knight.
The Shield of El Cid, according to the epic poem Carmen Campidoctoris, bears the
image of a fierce shining golden dragon.
The Shield of Evalach, a white shield belonging to the titular king. Josephus of
Arimathea painted a red cross upon it with his own blood, which granted the owner
heavenly protection. It was later won by Sir Galahad.
Svalinn is a shield which stands before the sun and protects earth from burning.
(Norse mythology)
Wynebgwrthucher, a shield of King Arthur.


Axe of Perun, the axe wielded by the Slavic god of thunder and lightning, Perun.
(Slavic mythology)
Carnwennan, the dagger of King Arthur.
Cronus' sickle, made of Adamantine and able to cut through anything. Cronus was
given this sword by Gaia so that he could slay Uranus. (Greek mythology)
Death's Scythe, a large scythe appearing in the hands of the Grim Reaper. This
stems mainly from the Christian Biblical belief of death as a "harvester of souls".
Lin of Celtchar,the flaming spear of Lugh,the Irish solar god.It had to be kept in a
vase of water because it was forever blazing.
Mjlnir, the magic hammer of Thor. It was invulnerable and when thrown it would
return to the user's hand. (Norse mythology)
Narayanastra, the personal missile of Vishnu in his Narayana or Naraina form. (Hindu
Sudarshana Chakra, a legendary spinning disc like weapon used by the Hindu God
Sharur, the enchanted mace of the Sumerian god Ninurta. It can fly unaided and also
may communicate with its wielder.
The Thunderbolts of Zeus, given to him by the Cyclops in Greek mythology, or by
Vulcan in Roman mythology.
Ukonvasara, the symbol and magical weapon of the Finnish thunder god Ukko, and
was similar to Thor's Mjlnir. (Finnish mythology)
Vajra, the lightning bolts of Indra. (Hindu mythology)


Asi, a legendary sword mentioned in the epic Mahabharata.
Crocea Mors, the sword of Julius Caesar and later Nennius according to the legends
presented by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
Gan Jiang and Mo Ye, the legendary Chinese twin swords named after their creators.
Harpe, the sword used by Perseus to decapitate the Medusa. (Greek mythology)
Heaven's Will, also known as Thun Thin, was the sword of Vietnamese King Le Loi.
Keris Mpu Gandring, the cursed Empu Gandring for Ken Arok. Not yet finished but
had been used and killed the beloved ones of the user.
Kladenets, a magic sword in Russian and Slavic mythology. Probably inspired by the
sword of the god Swentowit.
Kusanagi-no-tsurugi (Japanese: ) (also known as Ama-no-Murakumo-no-
Tsurugi (?) or Tsumugari no Tachi Japanese: ), sword of the
Japanese god Susanoo, later given to his sister Amaterasu. It is one of three Imperial
Regalia of Japan. (Japanese mythology)
Sword of Attila, the legendary sword that was wielded by Attila the Hun; claimed to
have originally been the sword of Mars, the Roman god of war.
Sword of Peleus, a magic sword that makes its wielder victorious in the battle or the
hunt. (Greek mythology)
Taming Sari, the Kris belonging to the Malay warrior Hang Tuah of the Malacca
Shamshir-e Zomorrodnegar (Persian: ), "The emerald-studded Sword"
in the Persian mythical story Amir Arsalan. The hideous horned demon called Fulad-
zereh was invulnerable to all weapons except the blows of Shamshir-e
Zomorrodnegar. This blade originally belonged to King Solomon.
Totsuka-no-Tsurugi, the sword Susanoo used to slay the Yamata no Orochi.
Jokulsnaut, a sword belonging to Grettir which was later given to his brother Atli.
(Sagas of Icelanders)

Swords from Celtic mythology

Caladbolg (also Caladcholg), the sword of Fergus mac Rich and powerful enough to
cut the tops off three hills; related to the Caledfwlch of Welsh mythology.
Caledfwlch, often compared to Excalibur. This sword is used by Llenlleawg Wyddel to
kill Diwrnach Wyddel and his men.
Ceard-nan Gallan, the Smith of the Branches, sword of Oisin.
Claomh Solais (The Sword of Light), the sword of Nuada Airgeadlmh.
Cosgarach Mhor, the Great Triumphant One, sword of Oscar.
Cruadh-Chosgarach, the Hard Destroying One, sword of Calte mac Rnin.
Dyrnwyn, the Sword of Rhydderch.
Fragarach (also The Sword of Air, The Answerer or The Retaliator), forged by the
gods, wielded by Manannn mac Lir and Lugh Lamfada. No armor could stop it, and it
would grant its wielder command over the powers of wind.
Mac an Luin, the Son of the Waves, sword of Fionn mac Cumhaill.
Moralltach (Great Fury) and Beagalltach (Little Fury), swords given to Diarmuid
Ua Duibhne by his father Aengus.
The Singing Sword of Conaire Mr.

Swords from Continental Germanic mythology

Mimung, sword that Wudga inherits from his father Wayland the Smith.
Nagelring, the sword of Dietrich von Bern.
Nothung, the sword from Die Walkre (Wagnerian mythology), also known as Gram,
or Balmung wielded by Siegfried, hero of the Nibelungenlied.

Swords from Anglo-Saxon mythology

Hrunting, the magical sword lent to Beowulf by Unferth. (Anglo-Saxon verse)
Ngling, the other magical sword of Beowulf. Found in the cave of Grendel's mother.

Swords from the Matter of Britain

Arondight, Lancelot's sword.
Carnwennan, The dagger Arthur used.
Clarent, a ceremonial sword of King Arthur stolen and used by Mordred.
Coreiseuse, The sword of King Ban, Lancelot's father. Coreiseuse means wrathful.
Excalibur, also known as Caledfwlch in Welsh and Caliburnus in Latin, the sword
which Merlin received from the Lady of the Lake.
Galatine, Gawain's sword.
Grail Sword, a cracked holy sword which Sir Percival bonded back together, though
the crack remained.
Secace, The sword that Lancelot used to battle the Saxons at Saxon Rock. It is
translated as Seure (Sequence) in the Vulgate Cycle.
The Sword in the Stone which Arthur pulled free to become King of Britain.
Sometimes equated with Excalibur.
Sword with the Red Hilt, One of the swords wielded by Sir Balin. After his death
Merlin sealed it in the float stone where it remained until it was drawn by Sir Galahad.

Swords from Norse mythology

Angurvadal, a magical sword of Frithiof.
Dinsleif is king Hgni's sword, according to Snorri Sturluson's account of the battle
known as the Hjaningavg.
Freyr's Sword, Freyr's magic sword which fought on its own. It might be Lvateinn.
Gram/Balmung, the sword that Odin struck into the Branstock tree which only
Sigmund the Vlsung was able to pull out. It broke in battle with Odin but was later
reforged by Sigmund's son Sigurd/Siegfried and used it to slay the dragon Fafnir. After
being reforged, it could cleave an anvil in half.
Hfu, the sword of Heimdallr, the guardian of Bifrst.
Hrotti, the sword is mentioned in the Vlsung cycle. It was part of Ffnir's treasure,
which Sigurr took after he slew the dragon.
Lvateinn, a sword mentioned in an emendation to the Poetic Edda Fjlsvinnsml by
Sophus Bugge.
Legbiter, the sword of Magnus III of Norway.
Mistilteinn, the magical sword of Prainn, the draugr, later owned by Hromundr
Quern-biter, sword of Haakon I of Norway and his follower, Thoralf Skolinson the
Ridill, sword of the dwarf Regin.
Skofnung, a sword with mythical properties associated with the legendary Danish
king Hrlf Kraki.
Surtr's Flaming Sword, a bright and flaming sword.
Tyrfing (also Tirfing or Tervingi), the cursed sword of Svafrlami, from the Elder Edda;
also said to be the sword of Odin in Richard Wagner's works.

Swords from the Matter of France

Almace (also Almice or Almacia), sword of Turpin, Archbishop of Reims.
Balisarda, the sword of Rogero from Orlando Furioso.
Courtain (also Curtana or Cortana in Italian), first of the two magical swords of Ogier
the Dane, a legendary Danish hero.
Durendal (also Durandal or Durlindana in Italian), the sword of Roland, one of
Charlemagne's paladins, (Orlando in medieval Italian verse) alleged to be the same
sword as the one wielded by Hector of Ilium.
Flamberge, the sword of Renaud de Montauban. The name was later used to denote
a style of wave-bladed sword.
Hauteclere (also Halteclere or Altachiara in Italian), the sword of Olivier.
Joyeuse, (sword of earth) sword of Charlemagne.
Murgleis, sword of Ganelon, traitor and cousin of Roland.
Prcieuse, sword of Baligant, Emir of Babylon.
Sauvagine, second of the two magical swords of Ogier the Dane.

Swords from Spanish mythology

Colada, the other sword of El Cid.
Lobera, the sword of the king Saint Ferdinand III of Castile, inheritance of the epic
hero Fernn Gonzlez, according to Don Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena.
Tizona, the sword of El Cid, it frightens unworthy opponents, as shown in the heroic
poem Cantar de Mio Cid.


Amenonuhoko (heavenly spear), the naginata used by the Shinto deities Izanagi and
Izanami to create the world - also called tonbogiri (Japanese mythology).
Ascalon, the spear said that St. George used to kill the dragon.
Ge Buide (Yellow Shaft) and the Ge Derg (Red Javelin), spears of Diarmuid Ua
Duibhne, could inflict wound that none can recover from.
Ge Bulg, the spear of C Chulainn.
Gungnir, Odin's magic spear created by the dwarf Dvalinn.
Hades' Bident, the traditional weapon of Hades and is supposedly black. The bident
was never used by anyone other than Hades. (Greek mythology)
Lance of Olyndicus, the celtiberians' war chief who fought against Rome. According
to Florus, he wielded a silver lance that was sent to him by the gods from the sky.
Lin of Celtchar (also Spear of Fire or Spear of Destiny), forged by the Smith of
Falias for Lugh to use in his fight against Balor.
Nihongo, is one of three legendary Japanese spears created by the famed swordsmith
Masazane Fujiwara. A famous spear that was once used in the Imperial Palace.
Nihongo later found its way into the possession of Masanori Fukushima, and then
Tahei Mori.
Ogma's Whip - the spear of Ogma (the Celtic sun god).
Otegine, is one of three legendary Japanese spears created by the famed swordsmith
Masazane Fujiwara.
Rhongomiant, which was the spear of King Arthur.
Sha Wujing's Yuychn, a double-headed staff with a crescent-moon (yuy) blade
at one end and a spade (chn) at the other, with six xzhng rings in the shovel part to
denote its religious association.
The Spear of Achilles, created by Hephaestus and given to Peleus at his wedding
with Thetis.
Spear of Destiny (also Spear of Longinus or the Holy Lance), the spear said to have
pierced the side of Jesus at the crucifixion.
Spears of the Valkyrie.
Tonbogiri, is one of three legendary Japanese spears created by the famed
swordsmith Masazane Fujiwara, said to be wielded by the legendary daimy Honda
Tadakatsu. The spear derives its name from the myth that a dragonfly landed on its
blade and was instantly cut in two. Thus Tonbo (Japanese for "dragonfly") and giri
(Japanese for "cutting"), translating this spear's name as "Dragonfly Cutter/Cutting
Zeus'/Jupiter's Thunderbolt. In Greco-Roman mythology, the thunderbolt was the
weapon given to Zeus/Jupiter by the Cyclops and was thrown like a spear.

Tridents and Pitchforks

Hades' Pitchfork, the Bident.
Kong, A trident-shaped staff which emits a bright light in the darkness, and grants
wisdom and insight. The staff belonged originally to the Japanese mountain god Kya-
no-Myjin (). It is the equivalent of the Sanskrit Vajra, the indestructible
lightning-diamond pounder of the king of the gods/rain-god Indra. There the staff
represents the three flames of the sacrificial fire, part of the image of the vajra wheel.
Poseidon's Trident, used to create horses and some water sources in Greece. It
could cause earthquakes when struck on the ground. (Greek)
Trishula, the trident of the Hindu deity Shiva, stylized by some as used as a missile
weapon and often included a crossed stabilizer to facilitate flight when thrown.
Considered to be the most powerful weapon.


Apollo's bow, which could cause health or cause famine and death in sleep.(Greek
and Roman mythology)
Artemis's bow, crafted by moonlight and silver wood or made of gold.(Greek and
Roman mythology)
Brahmastra is a weapon created by Brahma.
Cupid's bow, which, along with dove- and owl-fletched arrows, could cause one to
love or hate (respectively) the person he/she first saw after being struck.(Roman
Fail-not, the bow of Tristan. (Arthurian Legend)
Gandiva, Arjuna's bow in The Mahabharata and The Bhagavad-Gita ("Song of God").
Heracles's bow, which also belonged to Philoctetes, its arrows had the Lernaean
Hydra poison. (Greek mythology)
Shiva Dhanush, Shiva's bow in Hindu mythology.
Sharanga, Vishnu's bow. (Hindu mythology)


Aaron's rod, refers to any of the staves carried by Aaron, it was endowed with
miraculous power during the Plagues of Egypt. (Old Testament)
Caduceus, the staff carried by Hermes or Mercury. It is a short staff entwined by two
serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. (Greek mythology)
Gambanteinn, appears in two poems in the Poetic Edda. (Norse mythology)
Grarvlr, an iron staff given to Thor so he could kill the giant Geirrd. (Norse
Nehushtan, a sacred object in the form of a snake of brass upon a pole. (Hebrew
Rod of Asclepius, a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a
deity associated with healing and medicine. (Greek mythology)
Ruyi Jingu Bang, the staff of Sun Wukong; the staff of the Monkey King could alter
its size from a tiny needle to a mighty pillar.
Staff of Moses, the staff used by Moses was by his side throughout the miracles of
the exodus. (Hebrew Bible)
Thyrsus is a staff tipped with a pine cone and entwined with ivy leaves. These staffs
were carried by Dionysus and his followers. (Greek mythology)


Aphrodite's Magic Girdle, a magic material that made whoever you desired fall in
love with you. (Greek mythology)
Babr-e Bayan, the mythical coat worn by the Persian legendary hero Rostam in
The Falcon Cloak, owned by Freyja, it allows the wielder to turn into a falcon and fly.
The Girdle of Hippolyta, sometimes called a magical girdle and sometimes a magical
belt. It was a symbol of Hippolyta's power over the Amazons; given to her by Ares.
Heracles' 9th Labor was to retrieve it. (Greek mythology)
The Hide of Leviathan was supposedly able to be turned into everlasting clothing or
impenetrable suits of armor.
The Hide of the Nemean lion, which Heracles earned overcoming the Nemean lion,
was supposedly able to endure every weapon and was unbreakable. (Greek
Llen Arthyr yng Nghernyw: The Mantle of Arthur in Cornwall, whoever was under it
could not be seen, and he could see everyone. One of the Thirteen Treasures of the
Island of Britain.
Pais Badarn Beisrydd, The Coat of Padarn Red-Coat: if a well-born man put it on, it
would be the right size for him; if a churl, it would not go upon him. One of the
Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain.
Seven-league boots allowed the wearer to travel seven leagues with each step.
The Shoes of Varr, these shoes gave the god Vidar unparalleled foot protection.
(Norse mythology)
Talaria, Hermes's winged sandals which allowed him to fly. (Greek mythology)
Tarnkappe, Sigurd's magical cloak that made the wearer invisible. (Norse mythology)


Brsingamen is the necklace of the goddess Freyja. (Norse mythology)
Necklace of Harmonia, allowed any woman wearing it to remain eternally young and
beautiful, but also brought great misfortune to all of its wearers or owners. It was
made by Hephaestus and given to Harmonia, the daughter of Aphrodite and Ares, as a
curse on the House of Thebes for Aphrodite's infidelity. (Greek mythology)
Necklace of a Lady of the Lake was a jeweled necklace given to Sir Pelleas after
assisting an old woman across a river. It was enchanted so that its wearer would be
unfathomably loved. Its true name is unknown.


Andvarinaut was a magical ring capable of producing gold, first owned by Andvari.
(Norse mythology)
Draupnir is a golden arm ring possessed by Odin. The ring was a source of endless
wealth. (Norse mythology)
Ring of Dispel is a ring given to Sir Lancelot by the Lady of the Lake which could
dispel any enchantment. In Le Chevalier de la Charrette it is given to him by a fairy
instead. He used the ring to cross the Sword Bridge.
Ring of Mudarra is the ring that Gonzalo Bustos breaks in two pieces to later on
recognize his future son. When Mudarra joins the two halves, it becomes again a
complete ring and Gonzalo Bustos heals his blindness, as shown in the epic poem
Cantar de los siete infantes de Lara.
Ring of Gyges is a mythical magical artifact that granted its owner the power to
become invisible at will. (Greek mythology)
Seal of Solomon is a magical brass or steel ring that could imprison demons. (Judeo
Christian mythology)
Svagris is Adils' prized ring in the Hrlfr Kraki's saga. (Norse mythology)


Agimat or bertud or anting-anting.
Kaustubha is a divine jewel, the most valuable stone "Mani" is in the possession of
Vishnu. (Hindu mythology)


The Dandu Monara is the king Ravana's flying machine in Ramayana.
The Flying carpet or the "Prince Housain's carpet", the magic carpet from Tangu in
The Flying mortar and pestle of Baba Yaga. (Slavic Mythology)
The Flying Throne of Kai Kavus was an eagle-propelled craft built by the Persian
king Kay Kvus, used for flying the king all the way to China.
The Vimana is a mythological flying machine from the Sanskrit epics, of Hindu origin.


The Argo, the ship of the Argonauts. Its bow could talk and it had the power of
prophecy. (Greek mythology)
Caleuche, a mythical ghost ship of the Chilote mythology and local folklore of the
Chilo Island, in Chile. (Chilote mythology)
The Canoe of Gluskab, able to expand so it could hold an army or shrink to fit in the
palm of your hand. (Abenaki mythology)
The Canoe of Mui, it became the South Island of New Zealand. (Mori mythology)
Ellida, a magic dragon ship given to Vking as a gift by Aegir. (Norse mythology)
Hringhorni, is the name of the ship of the god Baldr, described as the "greatest of all
ships". (Norse mythology)
Naglfar, a ship made out of fingernails and toenails of the dead. It will set sail during
Ragnark. (Norse mythology)
Noah's Ark, the vessel in the Genesis flood narrative. (Biblical Hebrew)
Ra's Solar Barge, a boat that carries the resurrected king with the sun god Ra across
the heavens. (Egyptian mythology)
Sessrmnir, is both the goddess Freyja's hall located in Flkvangr, a field where
Freyja receives half of those who die in battle, and also the name of a ship. (Norse
Skblanir, a boat owned by Freyr. (Norse mythology)


The Chariot of Fire, of the Angels of God who descended to earth, which he used to
carry several persons in the Old Testament to heaven.
The Chariot of the Sea, the oceanic chariot teamed by hippocampi and/or dolphins,
driven across the sky by the Greek god Poseidon.
The Chariot of the Sun, the fiery chariot driven across the sky by the Greek god
The Chariot of Thunder, driven across the sky by Thor and pulled by his two magic
goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjstr. (Norse mythology)
The Vitthakalai a gold-decorated chariot of Kali according to Ayyavazhi mythology.


The Four Treasures of the Tuatha D Danann (also Hallows of Ireland), consisting
of the Claomh Solais and Spear Luin (see both above), the Ardagh Chalice and the Lia
The Golden Fleece, sought by Jason and the Argonauts. (Greek mythology)
The Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, consisting of the Kusanagi (see above), the
jewel necklace Yasakani no magatama (), and the mirror Yata no Kagami (
The Karun Treasure, said to belong to King Croesus of Lydia. (Persian mythology)
The Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain. (Matter of Britain)


Baetylus, a sacred stone which was supposedly endowed with life.
Cintamani Stone, a stone believed to have fallen from the skies during the reign of
king Lha Tototi Nyentsen in a chest with four other objects.
The Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples drank from during the
Last Supper, and which was used to catch drops of his blood upon his crucifixion.
Pandora's box, the sealed box that contained all the evils of mankind. (Greek
The Relics of Jesus.
Sessho-seki, a stone that kills anyone who comes into contact with it.
Stone of Giramphiel, a stone described in Diu Crne. Sir Gawain wins from the
knight Fimbeus and it offers him protection against the fiery breath of dragons and the
magic of the sorcerer Laamorz.
Yasakani no Magatama, a bejeweled necklace of magatamas offered to Amaterasu
in Japanese shinto mythology. One of three Sacred Imperial Relics of Japan. It
represents benevolence.
Yata no Kagami, a mirror offered to the goddess of the sun, Amaterasu in Japanese
mythology. One of three Sacred Imperial Relics of Japan. It represents Wisdom.


The Book of Thoth is a legendary book containing powerful spells and knowledge,
said to have been buried with the Prince Neferkaptah in Necropolis. (Egyptian
The Jade Books in Heaven are described in several Daoist cosmographies.
The Sibylline Books are described to have helped Rome in many situations.
The Tablet of Destinies is mentioned in Mesopotamian mythology as a set of clay
tablets which hold the power of creation and destruction.


The Apple of Discord, the goddess Eris inscribed "to the fairest" and tossed in the
midst of the festivities at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. (Greek mythology)
The Bone of Ullr, the god Ullr had a bone upon which spells were carved. (Norse
The Clue of Ariadne, the magical ball of string given to Theseus by Ariadne to help
him navigate the Labyrinth. (Greek Mythology)
The Cornucopia, or "Horn of Plenty", was the horn of the goat-nymph Amalthea from
which poured an unceasing abundance of nectar, ambrosia and fruit. (Greek
The Cup of Jamshid, a cup of divination in the Persian mythology. It was long
possessed by rulers of ancient Persia and was said to be filled with an elixir of
immortality. The whole world was said to be reflected in it.
Eldhrmnir, the cauldron in which Andhrmnir cooks Shrmnir. (Norse mythology)
Gleipnir, the magic chain that bound the wolf Fenrir. It was light and thin as silk but
strong as creation itself and made from six wonderful ingredients. (Norse mythology)
Golden apple, an element that appears in various national and ethnic folk legends or
fairy tales.
Helskr, ("hel-shoes") were put on the dead so that they could go to Valhll. (Norse
Hlidskjalf, Odin's all-seeing throne in his palace Valaskjlf.
Horn of Gabriel, the name refers to the tradition identifying the Archangel Gabriel
with the angel who blows the horn to announce Judgement Day, associating the
infinite with the divine.
The Lantern of Diogenes, according to popular legend, carried in broad daylight by
the Cynic philosopher Diogenes of Sinope to aid in his fruitless search for an honest
Mui's Fishhook, used to catch the fish that would become New Zealand's North
Island; the hook was also used to create the Hawaiian Islands. (Polynesian mythology)
Olivant is the horn of Roland, paladin of Charlemagne in the Song of Roland. It was
won from the giant Jutmundus and is made of ivory. When blown, it is so loud that it
kills birds flying in the sky and causes whole armies to rout.
The Palladium was a wooden statue that fell from the sky. As long as it stayed in
Troy, the city-state could not lose a war. (Greek mythology)
Peaches of Immortality, consumed by the immortals due to their mystic virtue of
conferring longevity on all who eat them. (Chinese mythology)
Reginnaglar, (Old Norse "god nails") are nails used for religious purposes.
Sampo, a magical artifact of indeterminate type constructed by Ilmarinen that
brought good fortune to its holder. (Finnish mythology)
Singasteinn is an object that appears in the account of Loki and Heimdallr's fight in
the form of seals. (Norse mythology)
The Smoking Mirror, the mirror that the god Tezcatlipoca uses to see the whole
Winnowing Oar is an object that appears in Books XI and XXIII of Homer's Odyssey.
(Greek mythology)


The Amazons (Greek: , Amaznes, singular
, Amazn) are a nation of all-female
warriors in Greek mythology and Classical antiquity.
Herodotus placed them in a region bordering
Scythia in Sarmatia (modern territory of Ukraine).
Other historiographers place them in Asia Minor, or

LEFT: Amazon preparing for a battle (Queen Antiop
or Armed Venus), by Pierre-Eugne-Emile Hbert
1860 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)

Notable queens of the Amazons are Penthesilea,
who participated in the Trojan War, and her sister
Hippolyta, whose magical girdle, given to her by her
father Ares, was the object of one of the labours of
Hercules. Amazonian raiders were often depicted in
battle with Greek warriors in amazonomachies in
classical art.

The Amazons have become associated with various
historical peoples throughout the Roman Empire
period and Late Antiquity. In Roman historiography, there are various accounts of Amazon
raids in Asia Minor. From the Early Modern period, their name has become a term for woman
warriors in general.


The origin of the word is uncertain. It may be derived from an Iranian ethnonym *ha-mazan-,
"warriors", a word attested as a denominal verb (formed with the Indo-Iranian root kar-
"make" also in kar-ma) in Hesychius of Alexandria's gloss .
("hamazakaran: 'to make war' (Persian)"). Alternatively, a Greek derivation from *-m-gw-
jon-es "manless, without husbands" (a- privative and a derivation of *man- also found in
Slavic muzh) has been proposed, an explanation deemed "unlikely" by Hjalmar Frisk. 19th
century scholarship also connected the term to the ethnonym Amazigh. A further explanation
proposes Iranian *ama-janah "virility-killing" as source.

Among Classical Greeks, amazon was given a popular etymology as from a-mazos, "without
breast", connected with an etiological tradition that Amazons had their right breast cut off or
burnt out, so they would be able to use a bow more freely and throw spears without the
physical limitation and obstruction; there is no indication of such a practice in works of art, in
which the Amazons are always represented with both breasts, although the right is frequently


LEFT: A Woodcut depicting defeated
Greeks being cruelly executed by

Amazons were said to have lived in
Pontus, which is part of modern day
Turkey near the shore of the Euxine Sea
(the Black Sea). There they formed an
independent kingdom under the
government of a queen named
Hippolyta or Hippolyte ("loose, unbridled
mare"). The Amazons were supposed to
have founded many towns, amongst
them Smyrna, Ephesus, Sinope, and
Paphos. According to the dramatist
Aeschylus, in the distant past they had lived in Scythia (modern Crimea), at the Palus Maeotis
("Lake Maeotis", the Sea of Azov), but later moved to Themiscyra on the River Thermodon
(the Terme river in northern Turkey). Herodotus called them Androktones ("killers of men"),
and he stated that in the Scythian language they were called Oiorpata, which he asserted had
this meaning.

The myth

In some versions of the myth, no men were permitted to
have sexual encounters or reside in Amazon country; but
once a year, in order to prevent their race from dying out,
they visited the Gargareans, a neighbouring tribe. The male
children who were the result of these visits were either
killed, sent back to their fathers or exposed in the wilderness
to fend for themselves; the females were kept and brought
up by their mothers, and trained in agricultural pursuits,
hunting, and the art of war. In other versions when the
Amazons went to war they would not kill all the men. Some
they would take as slaves, and once or twice a year they
would have sex with their slaves.

LEFT: Amazon wearing trousers and carrying a shield with
an attached patterned cloth and a quiver. Ancient Greek
Attic white-ground alabastron, ca. 470 BC, British Museum,

The intermarriage of Amazons and men from other tribes
was also used to explain the origin of various peoples. For
example, the story of the Amazons settling with the
Scythians (Herodotus Histories 4.110.1-117.1, see

In the Iliad, the Amazons were referred to as Antianeirai ("those who fight like men").

The Amazons appear in Greek art of the Archaic period and in connection with several Greek
legends. They invaded Lycia, but were defeated by Bellerophon, who was sent against them
by Iobates, the king of that country, in the hope that he might meet his death at their hands.
The tomb of Myrine is mentioned in the Iliad; later interpretation made of her an Amazon:
according to Diodorus, Queen Myrine led her Amazons to victory against Libya and much of

They attacked the Phrygians, who were assisted by Priam, then a young man. Although in his
later years, towards the end of the Trojan War, his old opponents took his side again against
the Greeks under their queen Penthesilea "of Thracian birth", who was slain by Achilles.

One of the tasks imposed upon Heracles by Eurystheus was to obtain possession of the girdle
of the Amazonian queen Hippolyta. He was accompanied by his friend Theseus, who carried off
the princess Antiope, sister of Hippolyta, an incident which led to a retaliatory invasion of
Attica, in which Antiope perished fighting by the side of Theseus. In some versions, however,
Theseus marries Hippolyta and in others, he marries Antiope and she does not die; by this
marriage with the Amazon Theseus had a son Hippolytus. The battle between the Athenians
and Amazons is often commemorated in an entire genre of art, amazonomachy, in marble
bas-reliefs such as from the Parthenon
or the sculptures of the Mausoleum of

LEFT: Thalestris, Queen of the
Amazons, visits Alexander (1696)

The Amazons are also said to have
undertaken an expedition against the
island of Leuke, at the mouth of the
Danube, where the ashes of Achilles
had been deposited by Thetis. The
ghost of the dead hero appeared and
so terrified the horses, that they threw
and trampled upon the invaders, who
were forced to retire. Pompey is said
to have found them in the army of

They are heard of in the time of
Alexander, when some of the king's biographers make mention of Amazon Queen Thalestris
visiting him and becoming a mother by him (the story is known from the Alexander Romance).
However, several other biographers of Alexander dispute the claim, including the highly
regarded secondary source, Plutarch. In his writing he makes mention of a moment when
Alexander's secondary naval commander, Onesicritus, was reading the Amazon passage of his
Alexander history to King Lysimachus of Thrace who was on the original expedition: the king
smiled at him and said "And where was I, then?"

The Roman writer Virgil's characterization of the Volscian warrior maiden Camilla in the Aeneid
borrows heavily from the myth of the Amazons.

Jordanes' Getica (c. 560), purporting to give the earliest history of the Goths, relates that the
Goths' ancestors, descendants of Magog, originally dwelt within Scythia, on the Sea of Azov
between the Dnieper and Don Rivers. After a few centuries, following an incident where the
Goths' women successfully fended off a raid by a neighboring tribe, while the menfolk were off
campaigning against Pharaoh Vesosis, the women formed their own army under Marpesia and
crossed the Don, invading Asia. Her sister Lampedo remained in Europe to guard the
homeland. They procreated with men once a year. These Amazons conquered Armenia, Syria,
and all of Asia Minor, even reaching Ionia and Aeolia, holding this vast territory for 100 years.
Jordanes also mentions that they fought with Hercules, and in the Trojan War, and that a
smaller contingent of them endured in the Caucasus Mountains until the time of Alexander. He
mentions by name the Queens Menalippe, Hippolyta, and Penthesilea.


There are several (conflicting) lists of names of Amazons.

Quintus Smyrnaeus lists the attendant warriors of Penthesilea: "Clonie was there, Polemusa,
Derinoe, Evandre, and Antandre, and Bremusa, Hippothoe, dark-eyed Harmothoe,
Alcibie, Derimacheia, Antibrote, and Thermodosa glorying with the spear."

Diodorus Siculus enlists nine Amazons who challenged Heracles to single combat during his
quest for Hippolyta's girdle and died against him one by one: Aella, Philippis, Prothoe,
Eriboea, Celaeno, Eurybia, Phoebe, Deianeira, Asteria, Marpe, Tecmessa, Alcippe.
After Alcippe's death, a group attack followed.

Another list of Amazons' names is found in Hyginus' Fabulae. Along with Hippolyta, Otrera,
Antiope and Penthesilea, it attests the following names: Ocyale, Dioxippe, Iphinome,
Xanthe, Hippothoe, Laomache, Glauce, Agave, Theseis, Clymene, Polydora.

Yet another different set of names is found in Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica: he mentions
Euryale, Harpe, Lyce, Menippe and Thoe. Of these Lyce also appears in a fragment
preserved in the Latin Anthology where she is said to have killed the hero Clonus of Moesia,
son of Doryclus, with her javelin.

John Tzetzes in Posthomerica enumerates the Amazons that fell at Troy: Hippothoe,
Antianeira, Toxophone, Toxoanassa, Gortyessa, Iodoce, Pharetre, Andro, Ioxeia,
Ostrophe, Androdaxa, Aspidocharme, Enchesimargos, Cnemis, Thorece, Chalcaor,
Eurylophe, Hecate, Anchimache, Andromache the queen. Concerning Antianeira and
Andromache, see below; for almost all the other names on the list, this is a unique attestation.

Stephanus of Byzantium provides an alternate list of the Amazons that fell against Heracles,
describing them as "the most prominent" of their people: Tralla, Isocrateia, Thiba, Palla,
Coea (Koia), Coenia (Koinia). Eustathius gives the same list minus the last two names. Both
Stephanus and Eustathius write of these Amazons in connection with the placename Thibais,
which they report to have been derived from Thiba's name.

Other names of Amazons from various sources include:

Aegea, queen of the Amazons who was thought by some to have been the eponym of
the Aegean Sea.
Ainia, enemy of Achilles and an Amazon, one of the twelve who accompanied
Penthesilea to the Trojan War. Her name means "swiftness."
Ainippe, an Amazon who confronted Telamon in the battle against Heracles' troops
Alce, who was said to have killed the young Oebalus of Arcadia, son of Ida (otherwise
unknown), with her spear during the Parthian War.
Amastris, who was believed to be the eponym of the city previously known as
Kromna, although the city was also thought to have been named after the historical
Anaea, an Amazon whose tomb was shown at the island of Samos
Andromache, an Amazon who fought Heracles and was defeated; only known from
vase paintings. Not to be confused with Andromache, wife of Hector.
Antianeira, succeeded Penthesilea as Queen of the Amazons. She was best known
for ordering her male servants to be crippled "as the lame best perform the acts of
Areto and Iphito, two little-known Amazons, whose names are only attested in
inscriptions on artefacts.
Clete, one of the twelve followers of Penthesilea. After Penthesilea's death she, in
accord with the former's will, sailed off and eventually landed in Italy, founding the
city of Clete.
Cyme, who gave her name to the city of Cyme (Aeolis)
Cynna , one of the two possible eponyms (the other one being "Cynnus, brother of
Coeus") of Cynna, a small town not far from Heraclea.
Ephesos, a Lydian Amazon, after whom the city of Ephesus was thought to have been
named; she was also said to have been the first to honor Artemis and to have
surnamed the goddess Ephesia.
Eurypyle, queen of the Amazons who was reported to have led an expedition against
Ninus and Babylon around 1760 BC
Gryne, an Amazon who was thought to be the eponym of the Gryneian grove in Asia
Minor. She was loved by Apollo and consorted with him in said grove.
Helene, daughter of Tityrus. She fought Achilles and died after he seriously wounded
Hippo, an Amazon who took part in the introduction of religious rites in honor of the
goddess Artemis. She was punished by the goddess for not having performed a ritual
Lampedo, queen of the Amazons, co-ruler with Marpesia
Latoreia, who had a small village near Ephesus named after her.
Lysippe, mother of Tanais by Berossos. Her son only venerated Ares and was fully
devoted to war, neglecting love and marriage. Aphrodite cursed him with falling in love
with his own mother. Preferring to die rather than give up his chastity, he threw
himself into the river Amazonius, which was subsequently renamed Tanais.
Marpesia, queen of the Amazons, co-ruler with Lampedo
Melanippe, sister of Hippolyta. Heracles captured her and demanded Hippolyta's
girdle in exchange for her freedom. Hippolyta complied and Heracles let her go.
According to some, however, she was killed by Telamon.
Molpadia, an Amazon who killed Antiope.
Myrleia, possible eponym of a city in Bithynia, which was later known as Apamea.
Myrto, in one source, mother of Myrtilus by Hermes (elsewhere his mother is called
Mytilene, Myrina's sister and one of the possible eponyms for the city of Mytilene
Orithyia, daughter and successor of Marpesia, famous for her conquests
Otrera, consort of Ares and mother of Hippolyta and Penthesilea.
Pantariste, who killed Timiades in the battle between the Amazons and Heracles'
Pitane and Priene, two commanders in Myrina's army, after whom the cities of Pitane
(Aeolis) and Priene were named.
Sinope, successor of Lampedo and Marpesia.
Sisyrbe, after whom a part of Ephesus was called Sisyrba, and its inhabitants the
Smyrna, who obtained possession of Ephesus and gave her name to a quarter in this
city, as well as to the city of Smyrna

Hero cults

According to ancient sources, (Plutarch Theseus, Pausanias), Amazon tombs could be found
frequently throughout what was once known as the ancient Greek world. Some are found in
Megara, Athens, Chaeronea, Chalcis, Thessaly at Skotousa, in Cynoscephalae and statues of
Amazons are all over Greece. At both Chalcis and Athens Plutarch tells us that there was an
Amazoneum or shrine of Amazons that implied the presence of both tombs and cult. On the
day before the Thesea at Athens there were annual sacrifices to the Amazons. In historical
times Greek maidens of Ephesus performed an annual circular dance with weapons and shields
that had been established by Hippolyta and her Amazons. They had initially set up wooden
statues of Artemis, a bretas, (Pausanias, (fl.c.160): Description of Greece, Book I: Attica).

In art

LEFT: Two female gladiators with their names
Amazonia and Achillea

In works of art, battles between Amazons and
Greeks are placed on the same level as and
often associated with battles of Greeks and
centaurs. The belief in their existence,
however, having been once accepted and
introduced into the national poetry and art, it
became necessary to surround them as far as
possible with the appearance of not unnatural
beings. Their occupation was hunting and war;
their arms the bow, spear, axe, a half shield,
nearly in the shape of a crescent, called pelta,
and in early art a helmet, the model before the Greek mind having apparently been the
goddess Athena. In later art they approach the model of Artemis, wearing a thin dress, girt
high for speed; while on the later painted vases their dress is often peculiarly Persian that is,
close-fitting trousers and a high cap called the kidaris. They were usually on horseback but
sometimes on foot. They can also be identified in vase paintings by the fact that they are
wearing one earring. The battle between Theseus and the Amazons (Amazonomachy) is a
favourite subject on the friezes of temples (e.g. the reliefs from the frieze of the temple of
Apollo at Bassae, now in the British Museum), vases and sarcophagus reliefs; at Athens it was
represented on the shield of the statue of Athena Parthenos, on wall-paintings in the Theseum
and in the Stoa Poikile. There were also three standard Amazon statue types.

In historiography

Herodotus reported that the Sarmatians were descendants of Amazons and Scythians, and
that their females observed their ancient maternal customs, "frequently hunting on horseback
with their husbands; in war taking the field; and wearing the very same dress as the men".
Moreover, said Herodotus, "No girl shall wed till she has killed a man in battle". In the story
related by Herodotus, a group of Amazons was blown across the Maeotian Lake (the Sea of
Azov) into Scythia near the cliff region (today's southeastern Crimea). After learning the
Scythian language, they agreed to marry Scythian men, on the condition that they not be
required to follow the customs of Scythian women. According to Herodotus, this band moved
toward the northeast, settling beyond the Tanais (Don) river, and became the ancestors of the
Sauromatians. According to Herodotus, the Sarmatians fought with the Scythians against
Darius the Great in the 5th century B.C.

Hippocrates describes them as: "They have no right breasts...for while they are yet babies
their mothers make red-hot a bronze instrument constructed for this very purpose and apply it
to the right breast and cauterize it, so that its growth is arrested, and all its strength and bulk
are diverted to the right shoulder and right arm."

Amazons came to play a role in Roman historiography. Caesar reminded the Senate of the
conquest of large parts of Asia by Semiramis and the Amazons. Successful Amazon raids
against Lycia and Cilicia contrasted with effective resistance by Lydian cavalry against the
invaders (Strabo 5.504; Nicholas Damascenus). Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus pays particularly
detailed attention to the Amazons. The story of the Amazons as deriving from a Cappadocian
colony of two Scythian princes Ylinos and Scolopetos is due to him. Philostratus places the
Amazons in the Taurus Mountains. Ammianus places them east of Tanais, as neighbouring the
Alans. Procopius places them in the Caucasus. Diodorus Siculus (Bibliotheca historica chapter
49) derived the Amazons from Atlantis and located them in western Libya. He also relates the
story of Hercules defeating the Amazons at Themiscyre. Although Strabo shows scepticism as
to their historicity, the Amazons in general continue to be taken as historical throughout Late
Antiquity. Several Church Fathers speak of the Amazons as of a real people. Solinus embraces
the account of Plinius. Under Aurelianus, captured Gothic women were identified as Amazons
(Claudianus). The account of Justinus was influential, and was used as a source by Orosius
who continued to be read during the European Middle Ages. Medieval authors thus continue
the tradition of locating the Amazons in the North, Adam of Bremen placing them at the Baltic
Sea and Paulus Diaconus in the heart of Germania.

Renaissance literature

Amazons continued to be discussed by authors of the European Renaissance, and with the Age
of Exploration, they were located in ever more remote areas. In 1542, Francisco de Orellana
reached the Amazon River (Amazonas in Spanish), naming it after a tribe of warlike women he
claimed having encountered and fought there. Afterwards the whole basin and region of the
Amazon (Amazona in Spanish) were named after the river. Amazons also figure in the
accounts of both Christopher Columbus and Walter Raleigh. Famous medieval traveller John
Mandeville mentions them in his book:

"Beside the land of Chaldea is the land of Amazonia, that is the land of Feminye. And in that
real is all woman and no man; not as some may say, that men may not live there, but for
because that the women will not suffer no men amongst them to be their sovereigns."

Medieval and Renaissance authors credit the Amazons with the invention of the battle-axe.
This is probably related to the Sagaris, an axe-like weapon associated with both Amazons and
Scythian tribes by Greek authors (see also Thracian tomb of Aleksandrovo kurgan). Paulus
Hector Mair expresses astonishment that such a "manly weapon" should have been invented
by a "tribe of women", but he accepts the attribution out of respect for his authority, Johannes

Ariosto's Orlando Furioso contains a country of warrior women, ruled by Queen Orontea; the
epic describes an origin much like that in Greek myth, in that the women, abandoned by a
band of warriors and unfaithful lovers, rallied together to form a nation from which men were
severely reduced, to prevent them from regaining power.They and Queen Hippolyta were also
referenced in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in The Knight's Tale.

Historical background

Classicist Peter Walcot wrote, "Wherever the Amazons are located by the Greeks, whether it is
somewhere along the Black Sea in the distant north-east, or in Libya in the furthest south, it is
always beyond the confines of the civilized world. The Amazons exist outside the range of
normal human experience."

Nevertheless, there are various proposals for a historical nucleus of the Amazons of Greek
historiography, the most obvious candidates being historical Scythia and Sarmatia in line with
the account by Herodotus, but some authors prefer a comparison to cultures of Asia Minor or
even Minoan Crete.


Scythians and Sarmatians

Speculation that the idea of Amazons contains a core of reality is based on archaeological
findings from burials, pointing to the possibility that some Sarmatian women may have
participated in battle. These findings have led scholars to suggest that the Amazonian legend
in Greek mythology may have been "inspired by real warrior women", though this remains a
minority opinion among classical historians.

Evidence of high-ranking warrior women comes from kurgans in southern Ukraine and Russia.
David Anthony notes, "About 20% of Scythian-Sarmatian "warrior graves" on the lower Don
and lower Volga contained females dressed for battle as if they were men, a phenomenon that
probably inspired the Greek tales about the

LEFT: Mounted Amazon in Scythian costume, on an
Attic red-figure vase, ca 420 BCE

Up to 25% of military burials were of armed
Sarmatian women usually including bows. Russian
archaeologist Vera Kovalevskaya points out that
when Scythian men were away fighting or hunting,
nomadic women would have to be able to defend
themselves, their animals and pasture-grounds
competently. During the time that the Scythians
advanced into Asia and achieved near-hegemony in
the Near-East, there was a period of twenty-eight
years when the men would have been away on
campaigns for long periods. During this time the
women would not only have had to defend
themselves, but to reproduce and this could well be the origin of the idea that Amazons mated
once a year with their neighbours, if Herodotus actually intended to base this on a factual

Before modern archaeology uncovered some of the Scythian burials of warrior-maidens
entombed under kurgans in the region of Altai Mountains and Sarmatia, giving concrete form
at last to the Greek tales of mounted Amazons, the origin of the story of the Amazons has
been the subject of speculation among classics scholars. In the 1911 Encyclopdia Britannica
speculation ranged along the following lines:

"While some regard the Amazons as a purely mythical people, others assume an historical
foundation for them. The deities worshipped by them were Ares (who is consistently assigned
to them as a god of war, and as a god of Thracian and generally northern origin) and Artemis,
not the usual Greek goddess of that name, but an Asiatic deity in some respects her
equivalent. It is conjectured that the Amazons were originally the temple-servants and
priestesses (hierodulae) of this goddess; and that the removal of the breast corresponded with
the self-mutilation of the god Attis and the galli, Roman priests of Rhea Cybele. Another
theory is that, as the knowledge of geography extended, travellers brought back reports of
tribes ruled entirely by women, who carried out the duties which elsewhere were regarded as
peculiar to man, in whom alone the rights of nobility and inheritance were vested, and who
had the supreme control of affairs. Hence arose the belief in the Amazons as a nation of
female warriors, organized and governed entirely by women. According to J. Viirtheim (De
Ajacis origine, 1907), the Amazons were of Greek origin [...] It has been suggested that the
fact of the conquest of the Amazons being assigned to the two famous heroes of Greek
mythology, Heracles and Theseus [...] shows that they were mythical illustrations of the
dangers which beset the Greeks on the coasts of Asia Minor; rather perhaps, it may be
intended to represent the conflict between the Greek culture of the colonies on the Euxine and
the barbarism of the native inhabitants."

Minoan Crete

When Minoan archeology was still in its infancy, nevertheless, a theory raised in an essay
regarding the Amazons contributed by Lewis Richard Farnell and John Myres to Robert
Ranulph Marett's Anthropology and the Classics (1908), placed their possible origins in Minoan
civilization, drawing attention to overlooked similarities between the two cultures. According to
Myres, (pp. 153 ff), the tradition interpreted in the light of evidence furnished by supposed
Amazon cults seems to have been very similar and may have even originated in Minoan

LEFT: Departure of the
Amazons, by Claude
Deruet, 1620.

Ark of the Covenant

As described in the Old Testament book of Exodus, the Ark of the Covenant, a wooden chest
covered with gold, is said to contain such sacred relics as the tablets of law from God that
Moses (14th13th century B.C.E.) brought back from Mt. Sinai. The ark possessed super-
natural powers and served as a means through which God could express his will to the
Israelites. It was last known to have rested in the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, but ever
since Babylonian forces conquered the city in 587 B.C.E. the whereabouts of the Ark of the
Covenant has been a mystery. Interest in the Ark of the Covenant has inspired generations of
those who would recover the sacred relic. In medieval times the Knights Templar supposedly
came into possession of the ark.

The Ark of the Covenant
(Hebrew: rn
Hbrt, modern pron. Aron
Habrit), also known as the
Ark of the Testimony, is a
chest described in Book of
Exodus as solely containing
the Tablets of Stone on
which the Ten
Commandments were
inscribed. According to some
traditional interpretations of
the Book of Exodus, Book of
Numbers, and the Letter to
the Hebrews the Ark also
contained Aaron's rod, a jar
of manna and the first Torah
scroll as written by Moses.
However, Books of Kings is
categoric in declaring that
the Ark contained only the two Tablets of the Law. According to the Book of Exodus, the Ark
was built at the command of God, in accordance with the instructions given to Moses on Mount
Sinai. God was said to have communicated with Moses "from between the two cherubim" on
the Ark's cover. Rashi and some Midrashim suggest that there were two arks - a temporary
one made by Moses himself, and a later one constructed by Bezalel.

The biblical account relates that during the Israelites' exodus from Egypt, the Ark was carried
by the priests some 2,000 cubits in advance of the people and their army, or host. When the
Ark was borne by priests into the bed of the Jordan, water in the river separated, opening a
pathway for the entire host to pass through (Josh. 3:15-16; 4:7-18). The city of Jericho was
taken with no more than a shout after the Ark of the Covenant was paraded for seven days
around its wall by seven priests sounding seven trumpets of rams' horns (Josh. 6:4-20). When
carried, the Ark was always wrapped in a veil, in tachash skins and a blue cloth, and was
carefully concealed, even from the eyes of the Kohanim who carried it. There are no
contemporary extra-biblical references to the Ark.

The covered ark with golden staves carried by the Kohanim,
and seven priests with rams' horns, at the siege of Jericho.

Biblical account

Construction and description

According to the Book of Exodus, God instructed Moses on Mount Sinai during his 40 day stay
upon the mountain within the thick cloud and darkness where God was (Ex. 19:20; 24:18)
and he was shown the pattern for the tabernacle and furnishings of the Ark to be made of
shittim-wood to house the Tablets of Stone. Moses instructed Bezalel and Oholiab to construct
the Ark (Exodus 31).

The Book of Exodus gives detailed instructions on how the Ark is to be constructed. It is to be
2 cubits in length, 1 in breadth, and 1 in height (as 2+121+121+12 royal cubits or
1.310.790.79 m). Then it is to be plated entirely with gold, and a crown or molding of gold
is to be put around it. Four rings of gold are to be attached at its four feettwo on each side
and through these rings staves of shittim-wood overlaid with gold for carrying the Ark are to
be inserted; and these are not to be removed. A golden cover, adorned with golden cherubim,
is to be placed above the Ark. The Ark is finally to be placed behind a veil (Parochet), a full
description of which is also given.

Mobile vanguard

After its creation by Moses, the Ark was carried by the Israelites during their 40-years of
wandering in the desert. Whenever the Israelites camped, the Ark was placed in a special and
sacred tent, called the Tabernacle.

When the Israelites, led by Joshua toward the Promised Land, arrived at the banks of the
River Jordan, the Ark was carried in the lead preceding the people and was the signal for their
advance (Joshua 3:3, 6). During the crossing, the river grew dry as soon as the feet of the
priests carrying the Ark touched its waters, and remained so until the priestswith the Ark
left the river after the people had passed over (Josh. 3:15-17; 4:10, 11, 18). As memorials,
twelve stones were taken from the Jordan at the place where the priests had stood (Josh. 4:1-

In the Battle of Jericho, the Ark was carried round the city once a day for seven days,
preceded by the armed men and seven priests sounding seven trumpets of rams' horns (Josh.
6:4-15). On the seventh day, the seven priests sounding the seven trumpets of rams' horns
before the Ark compassed the city seven times and, with a great shout, Jericho's wall fell
down flat and the people took the city (Josh. 6:16-20). After the defeat at Ai, Joshua lamented
before the Ark (Josh. 7:6-9). When Joshua read the Law to the people between Mount Gerizim
and Mount Ebal, they stood on each side of the Ark. The Ark was again set up by Joshua at
Shiloh, but when the Israelites fought against Benjamin at Gibeah, they had the Ark with them
and consulted it after their defeat.

Capture by the Philistines

The Ark is next spoken of as being in the Tabernacle at Shiloh during Samuel's apprenticeship
(1 Sam. 3:3). After the settlement of the Israelites in Canaan, the Ark remained in the
Tabernacle at Gilgal for a season before being removed to Shiloh until the time of Eli, between
300 and 400 years (Jeremiah 7:12), when it was carried into the field of battle, so as to
secure, as they had hoped, victory to the Hebrews. The Ark was taken by the Philistines (1
Sam. 4:3-11) who subsequently sent it back after retaining it for seven months (1 Sam. 5:7,
8) because of the events said to have transpired.

After their first defeat at Eben-ezer, the Israelites had the Ark brought from Shiloh, and
welcomed its coming with great rejoicing. In the second battle, the Israelites were again
defeated, and the Philistines captured the Ark (1 Sam. 4:3-5, 10, 11). The news of its capture
was at once taken to Shiloh by a messenger "with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his
head." The old priest, Eli, fell dead when he heard it; and his daughter-in-law, bearing a son
at the time the news of the capture of the Ark was received, named him Ichabodexplained
as "The glory has departed Israel." in reference to the loss of the Ark (1 Sam. 4:12-22).

The Philistines took the Ark to several places in their country, and at each place misfortune
befell them (1 Sam. 5:1-6). At Ashdod it was placed in the temple of Dagon. The next
morning Dagon was found prostrate, bowed down, before it; and on being restored to his
place, he was on the following morning again found prostrate and broken. The people of
Ashdod were smitten with tumors; a plague of rats was sent over the land (1 Sam. 6:5). The
affliction of boils was also visited upon the people of Gath and of Ekron, whither the Ark was
successively removed (1 Sam. 5:8-12).

After the Ark had been among them for seven months, the Philistines, on the advice of their
diviners, returned it to the Israelites, accompanying its return with an offering consisting of
golden images of the tumors and rats wherewith they had been afflicted. The Ark was set in
the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite, and the Beth-shemites offered sacrifices and burnt
offerings (1 Sam. 6:1-15). Out of curiosity the men of Beth-shemesh gazed at the Ark; and as
a punishment, seventy of them (fifty thousand seventy in some ms.) were smitten by the Lord
(1 Sam. 6:19). The Bethshemites sent to Kirjath-jearim, or Baal-Judah, to have the Ark
removed (1 Sam. 6:21); and it was taken to the house of Abinadab, whose son Eleazar was
sanctified to keep it. Kirjath-jearim remained the abode of the Ark for twenty years. Under
Saul, the Ark was with the army before he first met the Philistines, but the king was too
impatient to consult it before engaging in battle. In 1 Chronicles 13:3 it is stated that the
people were not accustomed to consult the Ark in the days of Saul.

In the days of King David

At the beginning of his reign, King David
removed the Ark from Kirjath-jearim amid
great rejoicing. On the way to Zion, Uzzah,
one of the drivers of the cart whereon the
Ark was carried, put out his hand to steady
the Ark, and was smitten by God for
touching it. David, in fear, carried the Ark
aside into the house of Obed-edom the
Gittite, instead of carrying it on to Zion, and
there it stayed three months (2 Samuel 6:1-
11; 1 Chronicles 13:1-13).

On hearing that God had blessed Obed-edom because of the presence of the Ark in his house,
David had the Ark brought to Zion by the Levites, while he himself, "girded with a linen
ephod," "danced before the Lord with all his might" and in the sight of all the public gathered
in Jerusalem a performance that caused him to be scornfully rebuked by his first wife,
Saul's daughter Michal (2 Sam. 6:12-16, 20-22; 1 Chron. 15). In Zion, David put the Ark in
the tabernacle he had prepared for it, offered sacrifices, distributed food, and blessed the
people and his own household (2 Sam. 6:17-20; 1 Chron. 16:1-3; 2 Chron. 1:4).

The Levites were appointed to minister before the Ark (1 Chron. 16:4). David's plan of
building a temple for the Ark was stopped at the advice of God (2 Sam. 7:1-17; 1 Chron.
17:1-15; 28:2, 3). The Ark was with the army during the siege of Rabbah (2 Sam. 11:11);
and when David fled from Jerusalem at the time of Absalom's conspiracy, the Ark was carried
along with him until he ordered Zadok the priest to return it to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 15:24-29).

In Solomon's Temple

When Abiathar was dismissed from the priesthood by King Solomon for having taken part in
Adonijah's conspiracy against David, his life was spared because he had formerly borne the
Ark (1 Kings 2:26). Solomon worshipped before the Ark after his dream in which God
promised him wisdom (1 Kings 3:15).

During the construction of Solomon's Temple, a special inner room, named Kodesh
Hakodashim (Eng. Holy of Holies), was prepared to receive and house the Ark (1 Kings 6:19);
and when the Temple was dedicated, the Arkcontaining the original tablets of the Ten
Commandmentswas placed therein (1 Kings 8:6-9). When the priests emerged from the holy
place after placing the Ark there, the Temple was filled with a cloud, "for the glory of the Lord
had filled the house of the Lord" (1 Kings 8:10-11; 2 Chron. 5:13, 14).

When Solomon married Pharaoh's daughter, he caused her to dwell in a house outside Zion,
as Zion was consecrated because of its containing the Ark (2 Chron. 8:11). King Josiah had
the Ark put in the Temple (2 Chron. 35:3), whence it appears to have again been removed by
one of his successors.

The Babylonian Conquest and aftermath

In 586 BC, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon's Temple. There is no record of
what became of the Ark in the Books of Kings and Chronicles. But in Greek 3-d Book of Ezra
(1 Esdras) suggests that Babylonians:

"...took all the holy vessels of the Lord, both great and small, and the ark of God, and the
king's treasures, and carried them away into Babylon." (1 Esdras 1:54)

Book of Revelation

According to the Christian New Testament Book of Revelation, the Ark is in the Temple of God
in Heaven in vision: "Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was
seen the Ark of his Covenant" (Rev. 11:19 NIV).

References to the Ark in Scripture

Jewish Tanakh

The Ark is first mentioned in the Book of Exodus, and then numerous times in Deuteronomy,
Joshua, Judges, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, I Chronicles, II Chronicles, Psalms and
Jeremiah. In the Book of Jeremiah, it is referenced by Jeremiah, who, speaking in the days of
Josiah (Jer. 3:16), prophesied a future time when the Ark will no longer be talked about or be
made again.

Second Book of Maccabees

In the Jewish Deuterocanonical book Second Maccabees, Chapter 2, "one finds in the records"
that Jeremiah, having received an oracle of the Lord, ordered that the tent and the ark and
the altar of incense should follow him to the mountain of God where he sealed them up in a
cave, and he told those who followed him in order to mark the way, but they could not find it,
"The place shall remain unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows his
mercy, and then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud
shall appear, as they were shown in the case of Moses, and as Solomon asked that the place
be specially consecrated." 2 Maccabees 2:4-8

Christian New Testament

In the New Testament, the Ark is mentioned in the Letter to the Hebrews and the Revelation
to St. John. Hebrews 9:4 states that the Ark contained "the golden pot that had manna, and
Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant." Revelation 11:19 says the prophet
saw God's temple in heaven opened, "and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple."

A number of Roman Catholic writers connect this verse with the Woman of the Apocalypse in
Revelation 12:1, which immediately follows, and argue that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the "Ark
of the New Covenant." Carrying the saviour of mankind within her, she herself became the
Holy of Holies. This is the interpretation given in the fourth century by Saint Ambrose, Saint
Ephraem of Syria and Saint Augustine. Athanasius the bishop of Alexandria wrote about the
connections between the Ark and the Virgin Mary: "O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than
any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To
whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O (Ark
of the) Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the
golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which Divinity resides" (Homily
of the Papyrus of Turin).


In chapter 2 of the Islamic Quran (Verse 248), the Children of Israel, at the time of Samuel
and Saul, were given back the Tabut E Sakina (the casket of Shekhinah) which contained
remnants of the household of Musa (Moses) and Harun (Aaron) carried by angels which
confirmed peace and reassurance for them from their Lord. The Qur'an states:

And (further) their Prophet said to them: "A Sign of his authority is that there shall
come to you the Ark of the covenant, with (an assurance) therein of security (Sakina)
from your Lord, and the relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron,
carried by angels. In this is a symbol for you if ye indeed have faith.

The Islamic scholar Al Baidawi mentioned that the sakina could be Tawrat, the Books of
Moses. According to Al-Jalalan, the relics in the Ark were the fragments of the two tablets,
rods, robes, shoes, mitres of Moses and the vase of manna. Al-Tha'alibi, in Qisas Al-Anbiya
(The Stories of the Prophets), has given an earlier and later history of the Ark.

According to most Muslim scholars, the Ark of the Covenant has a religious basis in Islam, and
Islam gives it special significance. Shia sects of Muslims believe that it will be found by Mahdi
near the end of times from Lake Tiberias.

Rumoured current locations

Since its disappearance from the Biblical narrative, there have been a number of claims of
having discovered or of having possession of the Ark, and several possible places have been
suggested for its location.

Mount Nebo

2 Maccabees 2:4-10, written around 100 BC, says that the prophet Jeremiah, "being warned
by God" before the Babylonian invasion, took the Ark, the Tabernacle, and the Altar of
Incense, and buried them in a cave on Mount Nebo (Jordan), informing those of his followers
who wished to find the place that it should remain unknown "until the time that God should
gather His people again together, and receive them unto mercy."


The Chapel of the Tablet at the Church of Our Lady Mary
of Zion in Axum allegedly houses the original Ark of the

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims to possess the
Ark of the Covenant, or Tabot, in Axum. The object is
currently kept under guard in a treasury near the
Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion and is used
occasionally in ritual processions. Replicas of the Axum
tabot are kept in every Ethiopian church, each with its
own dedication to a particular saint, the most popular of
these include Mary, George and Michael.

The Kebra Nagast, composed to legitimise the new dynasty ruling Ethiopia following its
establishment in 1270, narrates how the real Ark of the Covenant was brought to Ethiopia by
Menelik I with divine assistance, while a forgery was left in the Temple in Jerusalem. Although
the Kebra Nagast is the best-known account of this belief, the belief predates the document.
Abu Salih the Armenian, writing in the last quarter of the twelfth century, makes one early
reference to this belief that they possessed the Ark. "The Abyssinians possess also the Ark of
the Covenant", he wrote, and, after a description of the object, describes how the liturgy is
celebrated upon the Ark four times a year, "on the feast of the great nativity, on the feast of
the glorious Baptism, on the feast of the holy Resurrection, and on the feast of the illuminating

On 25 June 2009, the patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia, Abune Paulos, said he
would announce to the world the next day the unveiling of the Ark of the Covenant, which he
said had been kept safe and secure in a church in Axum, Ethiopia. The following day, on 26
June 2009, the patriarch announced that he would not unveil the Ark after all, but that instead
he could attest to its current status.

Southern Africa

The Lemba people of South Africa and Zimbabwe have claimed that their ancestors carried the
Ark south, calling it the ngoma lungundu or "voice of God", eventually hiding it in a deep cave
in the Dumghe mountains, their spiritual home.

On 14 April 2008, in a UK Channel 4 documentary broadcast, Tudor Parfitt, taking a literalist
approach to the Biblical story, described his research into this claim. He says that the object
described by the Lemba has attributes similar to the Ark. It was of similar size, was carried on
poles by priests, was not allowed to touch the ground, was revered as a voice of their God,
and was used as a weapon of great power, sweeping enemies aside.

In his book The Lost Ark of the Covenant (2008), Parfitt also suggests that the Ark was taken
to Arabia following the Second Book of Maccabees, and cites Arabic sources which maintain it
was brought in distant times to Yemen. One Lemba clan, the Buba, which was supposed to
have brought the Ark to Africa, have a genetic signature called the Cohen Modal Haplotype.
This suggests a male Semitic link to the Levant. Lemba tradition maintains that the Ark spent
some time in Sena in Yemen. Later, it was taken across the sea to East Africa and may have
been taken inland at the time of the Great Zimbabwe civilization. According to their oral
traditions, some time after the arrival of the Lemba with the Ark, it self-destructed. Using a
core from the original, the Lemba priests constructed a new one. This replica was discovered
in a cave by a Swedish German missionary named Harald von Sicard in the 1940s and
eventually found its way to the Museum of Human Science in Harare.

Parfitt had this artifact radio-carbon dated to about 1350 AD, which coincided with the sudden
end of the Great Zimbabwe civilization.


Chartres Cathedral, France

French author Louis Charpentier claimed that the Ark was taken to Chartres Cathedral by the
Knights Templar.

Rennes-le-Chteau, then to America

Several recent authors have theorised that the Ark was taken from Jerusalem to the village of
Rennes-le-Chteau in Southern France. Karen Ralls has cited Freemason Patrick Byrne, who
believes the Ark was moved from Rennes-le-Chteau at the outbreak of World War I to


The Ark of the Covenant is alleged to be kept in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, surviving the
pillages of Rome by Genseric and Alaric I.

United Kingdom

In 2003, author Graham Phillips hypothetically concluded that the Ark was taken to Mount
Sinai in the Valley of Edom by the Maccabees. Phillips claims it remained there until the 1180s,
when Ralph de Sudeley, the leader of the Templars found the Maccabean treasure at Jebel
al-Madhbah, returned home to his estate at Herdewyke in Warwickshire, UK, taking the
treasure with him.


During the turn of the 20th century British Israelites carried out some excavations of the Hill
of Tara in Ireland looking for the Ark of the Covenant the Royal Society of Antiquaries of
Ireland campaigned successfully to have them stopped before they destroyed the hill.


Aztln is the mythical ancestral home of the Nahua peoples, one of the main cultural groups in
Mesoamerica. And, by extension, is the mythical homeland of the Uto-Aztecan peoples. Aztec
is the Nahuatl word for "people from Aztlan".


Nahuatl legends relate that seven tribes lived in Chicomoztoc, or "the place of the seven
caves". Each cave represented a different Nahua group: the Xochimilca, Tlahuica, Acolhua,
Tlaxcalan, Tepaneca, Chalca, and Mexica. Because of a common linguistic origin, those groups
also are called "Nahuatlaca" (Nahua people). These tribes subsequently left the caves and
settled "near" Aztln, or Aztatlan.

The various descriptions of Aztln
are seemingly contradictory. While
some legends describe Aztln as a
paradise, the Aubin Codex says that
the Aztecs were subject to a
tyrannical elite called the Azteca
Chicomoztoca. Guided by their
priest, the Aztec fled, and, on the
road, their god Huitzilopochtli
forbade them to call themselves
Azteca, telling them that they
should be known as Mexica.
Ironically, scholars of the 19th
centuryin particular Alexander
von Humboldt and William H.
Prescottwould name them Aztec.
Humboldt's suggestion was widely
adopted in the 19th century as a
way to distance "modern" Mexicans
from pre-conquest Mexicans.

The role of Aztln is slightly less
important to Aztec legendary
histories than the migration to
Tenochtitln itself. According to the
legend, the southward migration
began on May 24, 1064 CE; 1064 is
also the year of a volcanic explosion at Sunset Crater in Arizona and the first Aztec solar year,
beginning on May 24, after the Crab Nebula events from May to July of 1054. Each of the
seven groups is credited with founding a different major city-state in Central Mexico. The city-
states reputed to have an Aztec foundation were:

Tepaneca (now Azcapotzalco, a delegacin of the Mexican Federal District), and
Matlatzinca (whose language was Otomian and not of the Uto-Aztecan family).

These city-states formed during the Late Postclassic period of Mesoamerican chronology (ca.
13001521 CE).

According to Aztec legends, the Mexica were the last tribe to emigrate. When they arrived at
their ancestral homeland, the present-day Valley of Mexico, all available land had been taken,
and they were forced to squat on the edge of Lake Texcoco.
The seven caves of Chicomoztoc, from Historia

After the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the story of Aztln gained importance and was reported
by Fray Diego Durn in 1581 and others to be a kind of Eden-like paradise, free of disease and
death, which existed somewhere in the far north. These stories helped fuel Spanish
expeditions to what is now the U.S. state of California.

Places postulated as Aztln

While Aztln has many trappings of
myth, similar to Tamoanchan,
Chicomoztoc, Tollan and Cibola,
archaeologists have nonetheless
attempted to identify the
geographic place of origin for the

Friar Diego Durn (c. 15371588),
who chronicled the history of the
Aztecs, wrote of Aztec emperor
Moctezuma I's attempt to recover
the history of the Mexica by
congregating warriors and wise
men on an expedition to locate
Aztln. According to Durn, the
expedition was successful in finding
a place that offered characteristics
unique to Aztln. However, his
accounts were written shortly after
the conquest of Tenochtitlan and
before an accurate mapping of the
American continent was made,
therefore, he was unable to provide
a precise location. Durn, himself,
considered Aztln, Colhuacan, and Chicomoztoc to be different names for the same place of
origin which he believed to be located to the north of New Spain, near present-day Florida.

In 1789, Francisco Javier Clavijero, a Jesuit priest and historian, deduced that Aztln lay north
of the Colorado River.

The name of Aztalan, Wisconsin (a Mississippian site), was proposed by N. F. Hyer in 1837,
because he thought it might have been Aztln, following a suggested etymology of Aztatlan by
Alexander von Humboldt. This is outdated information with modern scholarship's matching of
chroniclers' accounts taken in Tenochtitlan directly after the Spanish conquest.

There is a lake around Cerro Culiacan, Lake Yuriria, that makes the mountain look very much
like an island when photographed from the water, and similar to the illustration at right.

In the mid-19th century, fringe theorist Ignatius L. Donnelly, in his book Atlantis: The
Antediluvian World, sought to establish a connection between Aztln and the fabled "lost
continent" of Atlantis of Greek mythology; Donnelly's views, however, have never been
recognised as credible by mainstream scholarship.

In 1887, Mexican anthropologist Alfredo Chavero claimed that Aztln was located on the
Pacific coast in the state of Nayarit. While this was disputed by contemporary scholars, it
achieved some popular acceptance. In the early 1980s, Mexican President Jos Lpez Portillo
suggested that Mexcaltitn, also in Nayarit, was the true location of Aztln, but this was
denounced by Mexican historians as a political move. Even so, the state of Nayarit
Depiction of the departure from Aztln in the 16th-
century Codex Boturini

incorporated the symbol of Aztln in its coat of arms with the legend "Nayarit, cradle of
Mexicans". All kinds of new scholarly articles now prove this artificial claim to be a political
ploy for increased tourism to this coastal area.

Eduardo Matos Moctezuma presumes Aztln to be somewhere in the modern-day states of
Guanajuato, Jalisco, and Michoacn. Indeed, scholars are all consistent in naming the
measures of "150 leagues" from Tenochtitlan that were documented by the Spanish scribes
taking notes from conquered Mexica as the distance to the place of origin, coinciding in all
ways at Chicomoztoc, "Cerro del Culiacan", which is indeed a humped mountain when seen
from the south face.

It has also been proposed that the original site of Aztln was the area around what is now
Lake Powell. Part of the migration legend also describes a stay at Culhuacn ("leaning hill" or
"curved hill"). Proponents of the Lake Powell theory equate this Culhuacn with the ancient
home of the Anasazi at Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park. Researchers who believe Aztln
was located in the Lake Powell region also cite the fact that the language spoken by the Aztecs
and the Ute people belong to the same Uto-Aztecan linguistic group.

Archaeologist Kelley Hays-Gilpin from Northern Arizona University acknowledges the linguistic
connection between Mesoamerican and North American peoples. However, she theorizes that
the Aztec's ancestors may have traveled north before returning south. Hayes-Gilpin believes
Uto-Aztecan speaking people spread north to an area of the American West that could have
included Utah. Out of those cultures, some groups could have migrated south to northern
Mexico, and some could have, as she says, moved to the Valley of Mexico where they
subjugated tribes in that region.
Primary sources

The primary sources for Aztln are the Boturini Codex, the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, and
the Aubin Codex. Aztln is also mentioned in the History of Tlaxcala (by Diego Muoz
Camargo, a Tlaxcalan mestizo from the 17th century), as well as Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca.


The meaning of the name Aztlan is uncertain. One suggested meaning is "place of egrets"
the explanation given in the Crnica Mexicyotlbut this is not possible under Nahuatl
morphology: "place of egrets" would be Aztatlan. Other proposed derivations include "place of
whiteness" and "at the place in the vicinity of tools", sharing the z- element of words such as
teponztli, "drum" (from tepontli, "log").

Aztln is the Spanish language spelling and pronunciation of Nahuatl Aztln. The spelling
Aztln and its matching last-syllable stress cannot be Nahuatl, which always stresses words on
the second-to-last syllable. The accent mark on the second a added in Spanish marks stress
shift (from oxytone to paroxytone), typical of several Nahuatl words when loaned into Mexican

Atlantis (in Greek, , "island of Atlas") is a legendary island first mentioned in
Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 BC.

According to Plato, Atlantis was a naval power lying "in front of the Pillars of Hercules" that
conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa 9,000 years before the time of Solon, or
approximately 9600 BC. After a failed attempt to invade Athens, Atlantis sank into the ocean
"in a single day and night of misfortune".

Scholars dispute whether and how much Plato's story or account was inspired by older
traditions. In Critias, Plato claims that his accounts of ancient Athens and Atlantis stem from a
visit to Egypt by the legendary Athenian lawgiver Solon in the 6th century BC. In Egypt, Solon
met a priest of Sais, who translated the history of ancient Athens and Atlantis, recorded on
papyri in Egyptian hieroglyphs, into Greek. Some scholars argue Plato drew upon memories of
past events such as the Thera eruption or the Trojan War, while others insist that he took
inspiration from contemporary events like the destruction of Helike in 373 BC or the failed
Athenian invasion of Sicily in 415413 BC.

The possible existence of a genuine Atlantis was discussed throughout classical antiquity, but
it was usually rejected and occasionally parodied by later authors. Alan Cameron states: "It is
only in modern times that people have taken the Atlantis story seriously; no one did so in
antiquity". The Timaeus remained known in a Latin rendition by Calcidius through the Middle
Ages, and the allegorical aspect of Atlantis was taken up by Humanists in utopian works of
several Renaissance writers, like Francis Bacon's "New Atlantis". Atlantis inspires today's
literature, from science fiction to comic books to films. Its name has become a byword for any
and all supposed advanced prehistoric lost civilizations.

Plato's account

Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written in
360 BC, contain the earliest references to
Atlantis. For unknown reasons, Plato never
completed Critias. Plato introduced Atlantis in

For it is related in our records how once upon
a time your State stayed the course of a mighty
host, which, starting from a distant point in the
Atlantic ocean, was insolently advancing to
attack the whole of Europe, and Asia to boot. For
the ocean there was at that time navigable; for
in front of the mouth which you Greeks call, as
you say, 'the pillars of Heracles,' there lay an
island which was larger than Libya and Asia
together; and it was possible for the travelers of
that time to cross from it to the other islands,
and from the islands to the whole of the
continent over against them which encompasses
that veritable ocean. For all that we have here,
lying within the mouth of which we speak, is
evidently a haven having a narrow entrance; but
that yonder is a real ocean, and the land
surrounding it may most rightly be called, in the
fullest and truest sense, a continent. Now in this
island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of
kings, of great and marvelous power, which held sway over all the island, and over
many other islands also and parts of the continent.

The four persons appearing in those two dialogues are the politicians Critias and Hermocrates
as well as the philosophers Socrates and Timaeus of Locri, although only Critias speaks of
Atlantis. In his works Plato makes extensive use of the Socratic dialogues in order to discuss
contrary positions within the context of a supposition.

The Timaeus begins with an introduction, followed by an account of the creations and
structure of the universe and ancient civilizations. In the introduction, Socrates muses about
the perfect society, described in Plato's Republic (c. 380 BC), and wonders if he and his guests
might recollect a story which exemplifies such a society. Critias mentions an allegedly
historical tale that would make the perfect example, and follows by describing Atlantis as is
recorded in the Critias. In his account, ancient Athens seems to represent the "perfect society"
and Atlantis its opponent, representing the very antithesis of the "perfect" traits described in
the Republic.

According to Critias, the Hellenic gods of old divided the land so that each god might own a
lot; Poseidon was appropriately, and to his liking, bequeathed the island of Atlantis. The island
was larger than Ancient Libya and Asia Minor combined, but it afterwards was sunk by an
earthquake and became an impassable mud shoal, inhibiting travel to any part of the ocean.
The Egyptians, Plato asserted, described Atlantis as an island comprising mostly mountains in
the northern portions and along the shore, and encompassing a great plain of an oblong shape
in the south "extending in one direction three thousand stadia [about 555 km; 345 mi], but
across the center inland it was two thousand stadia [about 370 km; 230 mi]." Fifty stadia
[km; 6 mi] from the coast was a mountain that was low on all sides...broke it off all round
about... the central island itself was five stades in diameter [about 0.92 km; 0.57 mi].

A 15th-century Latin translation of Plato's

In Plato's myth, Poseidon fell in love with Cleito, the daughter of Evenor and Leucippe, who
bore him five pairs of male twins. The eldest of these, Atlas, was made rightful king of the
entire island and the ocean (called the Atlantic Ocean in his honor), and was given the
mountain of his birth and the surrounding area as his fiefdom. Atlas's twin Gadeirus, or
Eumelus in Greek, was given the extremity of the island towards the pillars of Hercules. The
other four pairs of twinsAmpheres and Evaemon, Mneseus and Autochthon, Elasippus and
Mestor, and Azaes and Diaprepeswere also given "rule over many men, and a large

Poseidon carved the mountain where his love dwelt into a palace and enclosed it with three
circular moats of increasing width, varying from one to three stadia and separated by rings of
land proportional in size. The Atlanteans then built bridges northward from the mountain,
making a route to the rest of the island. They dug a great canal to the sea, and alongside the
bridges carved tunnels into the rings of rock so that ships could pass into the city around the
mountain; they carved docks from the rock walls of the moats. Every passage to the city was
guarded by gates and towers, and a wall surrounded each of the city's rings. The walls were
constructed of red, white and black rock quarried from the moats, and were covered with
brass, tin and the precious metal orichalcum, respectively.

According to Critias, 9,000 years before his lifetime a war took place between those outside
the Pillars of Hercules at the Strait of Gibraltar and those who dwelt within them. The
Atlanteans had conquered the parts of Libya within the Pillars of Hercules as far as Egypt and
the European continent as far as Tyrrhenia, and subjected its people to slavery. The Athenians
led an alliance of resistors against the Atlantean empire, and as the alliance disintegrated,
prevailed alone against the empire, liberating the occupied lands.

But at a later time there occurred portentous earthquakes and floods, and one grievous day
and night befell them, when the whole body of your warriors was swallowed up by the earth,
and the island of Atlantis in like manner was swallowed up by the sea and vanished; wherefore
also the ocean at that spot has now become impassable and unsearchable, being blocked up
by the shoal mud which the island created as it settled down.

The logographer Hellanicus of Lesbos wrote an earlier work titled Atlantis, of which only a few
fragments survive. Hellanicus' work appears to have been a genealogical one concerning the
daughters of Atlas ( in Greek means "of Atlas"), but some authors have suggested a
possible connection with Plato's island. John V. Luce notes that when he writes about the
genealogy of Atlantis's kings Plato writes in the same style as Hellanicus and suggests a
similarity between a fragment of Hellanicus's work and an account in the Critias. Robert
Castleden suggests Plato may have borrowed his title from Hellanicus, and that Hellanicus
may have based his work on an earlier work on Atlantis.



Some ancient writers viewed Atlantis as fiction while others believed it was real. The
philosopher Crantor, a student of Plato's student Xenocrates, is often cited as an example of a
writer who thought the story to be historical fact. His work, a commentary on Plato's Timaeus,
is lost, but Proclus, a Neoplatonist of the fifth century AD, reports on it. The passage in
question has been represented in the modern literature either as claiming that Crantor actually
visited Egypt, had conversations with priests, and saw hieroglyphs confirming the story or as
claiming that he learned about them from other visitors to Egypt. Proclus wrote

As for the whole of this account of the Atlanteans, some say that it is unadorned
history, such as Crantor, the first commentator on Plato. Crantor also says that Plato's
contemporaries used to criticize him jokingly for not being the inventor of his Republic
but copying the institutions of the Egyptians. Plato took these critics seriously enough
to assign to the Egyptians this story about the Athenians and Atlanteans, so as to
make them say that the Athenians really once lived according to that system.

The next sentence is often translated "Crantor adds, that this is testified by the prophets of
the Egyptians, who assert that these particulars [which are narrated by Plato] are written on
pillars which are still preserved." But in the original, the sentence starts not with the name
Crantor but with the ambiguous He, and whether this referred to Crantor or to Plato is the
subject of considerable debate. Proponents of both Atlantis as a myth and Atlantis as history
have argued that the word refers to Crantor. Alan Cameron, however, argues that it should be
interpreted as referring to Plato, and that when Proclus writes that "we must bear in mind
concerning this whole feat of the Athenians, that it is neither a mere myth nor unadorned
history, although some take it as history and others as myth", he is treating "Crantor's view as
mere personal opinion, nothing more; in fact he first quotes and then dismisses it as
representing one of the two unacceptable extremes". Cameron also points out that whether he
refers to Plato or to Crantor, the statement does not support conclusions such as Otto Muck's
"Crantor came to Sais and saw there in the temple of Neith the column, completely covered
with hieroglyphs, on which the history of Atlantis was recorded. Scholars translated it for him,
and he testified that their account fully agreed with Plato's account of Atlantis" or J. V. Luce's
suggestion that Crantor sent "a special enquiry to Egypt" and that he may simply be referring
to Plato's own claims.

Another passage from Proclus' commentary on the Timaeus gives a description of the
geography of Atlantis:

That an island of such nature and size once existed is evident from what is said by
certain authors who investigated the things around the outer sea. For according to
them, there were seven islands in that sea in their time, sacred to Persephone, and
also three others of enormous size, one of which was sacred to Hades, another to
Ammon, and another one between them to Poseidon, the extent of which was a
thousand stadia [200 km]; and the inhabitants of itthey addpreserved the
remembrance from their ancestors of the immeasurably large island of Atlantis which
had really existed there and which for many ages had reigned over all islands in the
Atlantic sea and which itself had like-wise been sacred to Poseidon. Now these things
Marcellus has written in his Aethiopica".

Marcellus remains unidentified.

Other ancient historians and philosophers believing in the existence of Atlantis were Strabo
and Posidonius.

Plato's account of Atlantis may have also inspired parodic imitation: writing only a few decades
after the Timaeus and Critias, the historian Theopompus of Chios wrote of a land beyond the
ocean known as Meropis. This description was included in Book 8 of his voluminous Philippica,
which contains a dialogue between King Midas and Silenus, a companion of Dionysus. Silenus
describes the Meropids, a race of men who grow to twice normal size, and inhabit two cities on
the island of Meropis (Cos?): Eusebes (, "Pious-town") and Machimos (,
"Fighting-town"). He also reports that an army of ten million soldiers crossed the ocean to
conquer Hyperborea, but abandoned this proposal when they realized that the Hyperboreans
were the luckiest people on earth. Heinz-Gnther Nesselrath has argued that these and other
details of Silenus' story are meant as imitation and exaggeration of the Atlantis story, for the
purpose of exposing Plato's ideas to ridicule.

Zoticus, a Neoplatonist philosopher of the 3rd century AD, wrote an epic poem based on
Plato's account of Atlantis.

The 4th century historian Ammianus Marcellinus, relying on a lost work by Timagenes, a
historian writing in the 1st century BC, writes that the Druids of Gaul said that part of the
inhabitants of Gaul had migrated there from distant islands. Some have understood
Ammianus's testimony as a claim that at the time of Atlantis's actual sinking into the sea, its
inhabitants fled to western Europe; but Ammianus in fact says that the Drasidae (Druids)
recall that a part of the population is indigenous but others also migrated in from islands and
lands beyond the Rhine" (Res Gestae 15.9), an indication that the immigrants came to Gaul
from the north (Britain, the Netherlands or Germany), not from a theorized location in the
Atlantic Ocean to the south-west. Instead, the Celts that dwelled along the ocean were
reported to venerate twin gods (Dioscori) that appeared to them coming from that ocean.

Jewish and Christian

The Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo in the early 1st century AD wrote about the
destruction of Atlantis in his On the Eternity of the World, xxvi. 141:

...And the island of Atalantes which was greater than Africa and Asia, as Plato says
in the Timaeus, in one day and night was overwhelmed beneath the sea in
consequence of an extraordinary earthquake and inundation and suddenly
disappeared, becoming sea, not indeed navigable, but full of gulfs and eddies.

Some scholars believe Clement of Rome cryptically referenced Atlantis in his First Epistle of
Clement, 20: 8:

...The ocean which is impassable for men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by
the same ordinances of the Master.

On this passage the theologian Joseph Barber Lightfoot (Apostolic Fathers, 1885, II, p. 84)
noted: "Clement may possibly be referring to some known, but hardly accessible land, lying
without the pillars of Hercules. But more probably he contemplated some unknown land in the
far west beyond the ocean, like the fabled Atlantis of Plato..."

Other early Christian writers wrote about Atlantis, though they had mixed views on whether it
once existed or was an untrustworthy myth of pagan origin. Tertullian believed Atlantis was
once real and wrote that in the Atlantic Ocean once existed "(the isle) that was equal in size to
Libya or Asia" referring to Plato's geographical description of Atlantis. The early Christian
apologist writer Arnobius also believed Atlantis once existed but blamed its destruction on

Cosmas Indicopleustes in the 6th century AD wrote of Atlantis in his Christian Topography in
attempt to prove his theory the world was flat and surrounded by water:

...In like manner the philosopher Timaeus also describes this Earth as surrounded
by the Ocean, and the Ocean as surrounded by the more remote earth. For he
supposes that there is to westward an island, Atlantis, lying out in the Ocean, in the
direction of Gadeira (Cadiz), of an enormous magnitude, and relates that the ten kings
having procured mercenaries from the nations in this island came from the earth far
away, and conquered Europe and Asia, but were afterwards conquered by the
Athenians, while that island itself was submerged by God under the sea. Both Plato
and Aristotle praise this philosopher, and Proclus has written a commentary on him.
He himself expresses views similar to our own with some modifications, transferring
the scene of the events from the east to the west. Moreover he mentions those ten
generations as well as that earth which lies beyond the Ocean. And in a word it is
evident that all of them borrow from Moses, and publish his statements as their own.

A Hebrew treatise on computational astronomy dated to AD 1378/79, alludes to the Atlantis
myth in a discussion concerning the determination of zero points for the calculation of

Some say that they [the inhabited regions] begin at the beginning of the western
ocean [the Atlantic] and beyond. For in the earliest times [literally: the first days]
there was an island in the middle of the ocean. There were scholars there, who
isolated themselves in [the pursuit of] philosophy. In their day, that was the
[beginning for measuring] the longitude[s] of the inhabited world. Today, it has
become [covered by the?] sea, and it is ten degrees into the sea; and they reckon the
beginning of longitude from the beginning of the western sea.

A map showing the supposed extent of the Atlantean Empire. From
Ignatius L. Donnelly's Atlantis: the Antediluvian World, 1882.


Francis Bacon's 1627 essay The New Atlantis describes a utopian society that he called
Bensalem, located off the western coast of America. A character in the narrative gives a
history of Atlantis that is similar to Plato's and places Atlantis in America. It is not clear
whether Bacon means North or South America. The Swedish scholar Olaus Rudbeck published
Atland in several volumes, starting in 1679. This attempted to prove that Sweden was
Atlantis, the cradle of civilization, and Swedish the original language of Adam from which Latin
and Hebrew had evolved. The Latin parallel title is Atlantica and the subtitle of both is
Manheim, that is, home of mankind. According to Rudbeck, Atland means fatherland, and it
was the original name of Atlantis. Isaac Newton's 1728 The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms
Amended studies a variety of mythological links to Atlantis. In the middle and late 19th
century, several renowned Mesoamerican scholars, starting with Charles Etienne Brasseur de
Bourbourg, and including Edward Herbert Thompson and Augustus Le Plongeon proposed that
Atlantis was somehow related to Mayan and Aztec culture. The 1882 publication of Atlantis:
the Antediluvian World by Ignatius L. Donnelly stimulated much popular interest in Atlantis.
Donnelly attempted to establish that all known ancient civilizations were descended from
Atlantis, which he saw as a technologically sophisticated culture, saying that Atlanteans
invented gunpowder and the compass thousands of years before the rest of the world invented
written language.

During the late 19th century, ideas about the
legendary nature of Atlantis were combined
with stories of other lost continents such as
Mu and Lemuria. The esoteric text Oera
Linda, published in 1872, mentions it under
the name Atland (the name used by Olaus
Rudbeck). The book claims that it was
submerged in 2193 BC, the same year that
19th century almanacs, following traditional
Biblical chronology, gave for Noah's flood.
Helena Blavatsky wrote in The Secret
Doctrine (1888) that the Atlanteans were
cultural heroes (contrary to Plato who
describes them mainly as a military threat),
and are the fourth "Root Race", succeeded by
the "Aryan race". Furthermore, she expressed
the belief that it was Homer before Plato who
first wrote of Atlantis. Theosophists believe
the civilization of Atlantis reached its peak
between 1,000,000 and 900,000 years ago
but destroyed itself through internal warfare
brought about by the inhabitants' dangerous
use of magical powers. William Scott-Elliot in
The Story of Atlantis (1896) elaborated on
Blavatsky's account, claiming that Atlantis
eventually split into two linked islands, one called Daitya, and the other Ruta, which was later
reduced to a final remnant called Poseidonis. Scott-Elliot's information came from the
clairvoyant Charles Webster Leadbeater. Rudolf Steiner wrote of the cultural evolution of
Atlantisin much the same vein. Edgar Cayce first mentioned Atlantis in 1923, and later
suggested that it was originally a continent-sized region extending from the Azores to the
Bahamas, holding an ancient, highly evolved civilization which had ships and aircraft powered
by a mysterious form of energy crystal. He also predicted that parts of Atlantis would rise in
1968 or 1969. The Bimini Road, a submerged rock formation of large rectangular stones just
off North Bimini Island in the Bahamas, was claimed by Robert Ferro and Michael Grumley to
be evidence of the lost civilization. Edgar Cayce and others have often described Atlantis using
techniques associated with Psychic archaeology.

According to Herodotus (c. 430 BC), a Phoenician expedition had circumnavigated Africa at the
behest of Pharaoh Necho, sailing south down the Red Sea and Indian Ocean and northwards in
the Atlantic, re-entering the Mediterranean Sea through the Pillars of Hercules. His description
of northwest Africa makes it very clear that he located the Pillars of Hercules precisely where
they are located today. Nevertheless, a supposed belief that they had been placed at the Strait
of Sicily prior to Eratosthenes has been cited in some Atlantis theories.

Ignatius L. Donnelly, American congressman,
and writer on Atlantis.

Nazism and occultism

The concept of Atlantis attracted Nazi theorists.
In 1938, Reichsfhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler
organized a German expedition to Tibet in 1939
to search for Aryan Atlanteans, although this
suggestion has been criticised as inaccurate and
that the expedition was looking for the origins of
the 'Europoid' race or that it was a more general
biological expedition. According to Julius Evola,
writing in 1934, the Atlanteans were
HyperboreansNordic supermen who originated
on the North pole (see Thule). Similarly, Alfred
Rosenberg (The Myth of the Twentieth Century,
1930) spoke of a "Nordic-Atlantean" or "Aryan-
Nordic" master race.

Recent times

As continental drift became more widely
accepted during the 1960s, and the increased
understanding of plate tectonics demonstrated
the impossibility of a lost continent in the
geologically recent past, most Lost Continent
theories of Atlantis began to wane in popularity.

Plato scholar Dr. Julia Annas, Regents Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, had
this to say on the matter:

The continuing industry of discovering Atlantis illustrates the dangers of reading
Plato. For he is clearly using what has become a standard device of fictionstressing
the historicity of an event (and the discovery of hitherto unknown authorities) as an
indication that what follows is fiction. The idea is that we should use the story to
examine our ideas of government and power. We have missed the point if instead of
thinking about these issues we go off exploring the sea bed. The continuing
misunderstanding of Plato as historian here enables us to see why his distrust of
imaginative writing is sometimes justified.

Kenneth Feder points out that Critias's story in the Timaeus provides a major clue. In the
dialogue, Critias says, referring to Socrates' hypothetical society:

And when you were speaking yesterday about your city and citizens, the tale which
I have just been repeating to you came into my mind, and I remarked with
astonishment how, by some mysterious coincidence, you agreed in almost every
particular with the narrative of Solon. ...

Feder quotes A. E. Taylor, who wrote, "We could not be told much more plainly that the whole
narrative of Solon's conversation with the priests and his intention of writing the poem about
Atlantis are an invention of Plato's fancy."

American psychic Edgar Cayce, 1910

Location hypotheses

Since Donnelly's day, there have been
dozens of locations proposed for Atlantis, to
the point where the name has become a
generic concept, divorced from the specifics
of Plato's account. This is reflected in the
fact that many proposed sites are not
within the Atlantic at all. Few today are
scholarly or archaeological hypotheses,
while others have been made by psychic or
other pseudoscientific means. Many of the
proposed sites share some of the
characteristics of the Atlantis story (water,
catastrophic end, relevant time period), but
none has been demonstrated to be a true
historical Atlantis.

In or near the Mediterranean Sea

Most of the historically proposed locations
are in or near the Mediterranean Sea:
islands such as Sardinia, Crete and
Santorini, Sicily, Cyprus, and Malta; land-
based cities or states such as Troy,
Tartessos, and Tantalus (in the province of Manisa), Turkey; Israel-Sinai or Canaan; and
northwestern Africa. The Thera eruption, dated to the 17th or 16th century BC, caused a large
tsunami that experts hypothesize devastated the Minoan civilization on the nearby island of
Crete, further leading some to believe that this may have been the catastrophe that inspired
the story. A. G. Galanopoulos argued that Plato's dating of 9,000 years before Solon's time
was the result of an error in translation, probably from Egyptian into Greek, which produced
"thousands" instead of "hundreds". Such an error would also rescale Plato's Atlantis to the size
of Crete, while leaving the city the size of the crater on Thera; 900 years before Solon would
be the 15th century BC. In the area of the Black Sea the following locations have been
proposed: Bosporus and Ancomah (a legendary place near Trabzon).

In the Atlantic Ocean and Europe

In 2011, a team, working on a documentary for the Discovery Channel, led by Professor
Richard Freund, from the University of Hartford, claimed to have found evidence of the city in
mud flats in South Western Andalusia, in Spain. The team identified its possible location within
the marshlands of the Doana National Park, in the area that once was the Lacus Ligustinus,
between Huelva, Cdiz and Seville provinces, and speculated that Atlantis had been destroyed
by a tsunami, by extrapolating results from a previous study by Spanish researchers,
published four years earlier. Spanish scientists have dismissed Freund's claims claiming that
he was sensationalising their work. The anthropologist Juan Villaras-Robles, who works with
the Spanish National Research Council, said "Richard Freund was a newcomer to our project
and appeared to be involved in his own very controversial issue concerning King Solomon's
search for ivory and gold in Tartessos, the well documented settlement in the Donaa area
established in the first millennium BC" and described his claims as 'fanciful'. A similar theory
had previously been put forward by a German researcher, Rainer W. Khne, but based only on
satellite imagery and placing Atlantis in the Marismas de Hinojos, North of the city of Cdiz.
Before that, Historian Adolf Schulten had stated in the 1920s that Plato had used Tartessos as
the basis for his Atlantis myth.

Satellite image of the islands of Santorini. This
location is one of many sites purported to have
been the location of Atlantis

The location of Atlantis in the Atlantic Ocean has certain appeal given the closely related
names. Popular culture often places Atlantis there, perpetuating the original Platonic setting.
Several hypotheses place the sunken island in northern Europe, including Doggerland in the
North Sea, and Sweden (by Olof Rudbeck in Atland, 16721702). Some have proposed the
Celtic Shelf as a possible locations, and that there is a link to Ireland.

The Canary Islands and Madeira Islands have also been identified as a possible location, west
of the Straits of Gibraltar but in relative proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. Various islands or
island groups in the Atlantic were also identified as possible locations, notably the Azores.
However detailed geological studies of the Canary Islands, the Azores, Madeira, and the ocean
bottom surrounding them found a complete lack of any evidence for the catastrophic
subsidence of these islands at any time during their existence and a complete lack of any
evidence that the ocean bottom surrounding them was ever dry land at any time in the recent
past. The submerged island of Spartel near the Strait of Gibraltar has also been suggested.

Other locations

Several writers have speculated that Antarctica is the site of Atlantis, while others have
proposed Caribbean locations such as Batabano Bay south of Cuba, the Bahamas, and the
Bermuda Triangle. Areas in the Pacific and Indian Oceans have also been proposed including
Indonesia (i.e. Sundaland). The stories of a lost continent off India, named "Kumari Kandam,"
have inspired some to draw parallels to Atlantis.
Cantre'r Gwaelod

Cantre'r Gwaelod (also known as Cantref Gwaelod or Cantref y Gwaelod; English: The
Lowland Hundred) is the legendary ancient sunken kingdom said to have occupied a tract of
fertile land lying between Ramsey Island and Bardsey Island in what is now Cardigan Bay to
the west of Wales.

MythCantre'r Gwaelod's capital was Caer Wyddno, seat of the ruler Gwyddno Garanhir. There
are several versions of the myth. It is described as a walled country that was defended from
the sea by a dyke called Sarn Badrig (Saint Patrick's causeway), over which two princes of the
realm held charge. One of these princes, called Seithenyn, is described in one version as a
notorious drunkard and carouser, and it was through his negligence that the sea swept
through the open floodgates, ruining the land.

The church bells of Cantre'r Gwaelod are said to ring out in times of danger.

Origins of the myth

The myth, like so many others, may be a folk memory of gradually rising sea levels at the end
of the ice age; and its structure is comparable to the deluge myth found in nearly every
ancient culture. The physical remains of the preserved sunken forest at Borth, and of Sarn
Badrig nearby, could have suggested that some great tragedy had overcome a community
there long ago, and so the myth may have grown from that. There is no reliable physical
evidence of the substantial community that legend promises lies under the sea.

Reported sighting

In 1770, Welsh antiquarian scholar William Owen Pughe reported seeing sunken human
habitations about four miles (6.4 km) off the Ceredigion coast, between the rivers Ystwyth and


The cornucopia (from Latin cornu copiae) or horn
of plenty is a symbol of abundance and
nourishment, commonly a large horn-shaped
container overflowing with produce, flowers,
nuts, other edibles, or wealth in some form.
Originating in classical antiquity, it has continued
as a symbol in Western art, and it is particularly
associated with the Thanksgiving holiday in North

Allegorical depiction of the Roman goddess
Abundantia with a cornucopia, by Rubens (ca.

In mythology

Classical mythology offers multiple explanations
of the origin of the cornucopia. One of the best-
known involves the birth and nurturance of the
infant Zeus, who had to be hidden from his
devouring father Cronus. In a cave on Mount Ida
on the island of Crete, baby Zeus was cared for
and protected by a number of divine attendants,
including the goat Amalthea ("Nourishing Goddess"), who fed him with her milk. The suckling
future king of the gods had unusual abilities and strength, and in playing with his nursemaid
accidentally broke off one of her horns, which then had the divine power to provide unending
nourishment, as the foster mother had to the god.

In another myth, the cornucopia was created when Heracles (Roman Hercules) wrestled with
the river god Achelous and wrenched off one of his horns; river gods were sometimes depicted
as horned. This version is represented in the Achelous and Hercules mural painting by the
American Regionalist artist Thomas Hart Benton.

The cornucopia became the attribute of several Greek and Roman deities, particularly those
associated with the harvest, prosperity, or spiritual abundance, such as personifications of
Earth (Gaia or Terra); the child Plutus, god of riches and son of the grain goddess Demeter;
the nymph Maia; and Fortuna, the goddess of luck, who had the power to grant prosperity. In
Roman Imperial cult, abstract Roman deities who fostered peace (pax Romana) and prosperity
were also depicted with a cornucopia, including Abundantia, "Abundance" personified, and
Annona, goddess of the grain supply to the city of Rome. Pluto, the classical ruler of the
underworld in the mystery religions, was a giver of agricultural, mineral and spiritual wealth,
and in art often holds a cornucopia to distinguish him from the gloomier Hades, who holds a
drinking horn instead.

Modern depictions

A cornucopia made of bread, prepared for a Thanksgiving meal in 2005 for U.S. Navy

In modern depictions, the cornucopia is typically a hollow, horn-shaped wicker basket filled
with various kinds of festive fruit and vegetables. In North America, the cornucopia has come
to be associated with Thanksgiving and the harvest. Cornucopia is also the name of the annual
November Wine and Food celebration in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. Two cornucopias
are seen in the flag and state seal of Idaho. The Great Seal of North Carolina depicts Liberty
standing and Plenty holding a cornucopia. The coat of arms of Colombia, Panama, Peru and
Venezuela, and the Coat of Arms of the State of Victoria, Australia, also feature the
cornucopia, symbolising prosperity.

The horn of plenty is used on body art and at Halloween, as it is a symbol of fertility, fortune
and abundance.

Angel with cornucopia
Base of a statue of
Louis XV of France
Coat of arms of
Copiap, Chile
Seal of North

Poster of cornucopia for
A cornucopia made of bread, prepared for a Thanksgiving
meal in 2005 for U.S. Navy personnel

Cup of Jamshid

The Cup of Jamshid (Cup of Djemscheed or Jaam-e Jam, in
Persian: ) is a cup of divination which, in Persian
mythology, was long possessed by the rulers of ancient
Greater Iran. The cup has also been called Jam-e Jahan
nama, Jam-e Jahan Ara, Jam-e Giti nama, and Jam-e Kei-
khosrow. The latter refers to Kaei Husravah in the Avesta,
and Sushravas in the Vedas.

Hafez looking at the Cup of Jamshid, Bibliothque nationale
de France, Turkish manuscript of 1477, author unknown,
from Shrz, Iran

The Cup of Jamshid has been the subject of many Persian poems and stories. Many authors
ascribed the success of the Persian Empire to the possession of this artefact. It appears
extensively in Persian literature.


For years my heart was in search of the Grail (Cup of Jamshid)
What was inside me, it searched for, on the trail

Divan of Hafez

The cup ("Jm") was said to be filled with an elixir of immortality and was used in scrying. As
mentioned by Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda, it was believed that one could observe all the seven
heavens of the universe by looking into it ( ). It was believed to
have been discovered in Persepolis in ancient times. The whole world was said to be reflected
in it, and divinations within the Cup were said to reveal deep truths. Sometimes, especially in
popular depictions such as The Heroic Legend of Arslan, the cup has been visualized as a
crystal ball. Helen Zimmern's English translation of the Shahnameh uses the term "crystal

Crystal Skull

The crystal skulls are a number of human skull hardstone carvings
made of clear or milky quartz rock, known in art history as "rock
crystal", claimed to be pre-Columbian Mesoamerican artifacts by
their alleged finders. However, none of the specimens made
available for scientific study have been authenticated as pre-
Columbian in origin. The results of these studies demonstrated that
those examined were manufactured in the mid-19th century or
later, almost certainly in Europe. Despite some claims presented in
an assortment of popularizing literature, legends of crystal skulls
with mystical powers do not figure in genuine Mesoamerican or
other Native American mythologies and spiritual accounts.

The crystal skull at the British Museum similar in dimensions to
the more detailed Mitchell-Hedges skull.

The skulls are often claimed to exhibit paranormal phenomena by
some members of the New Age movement, and have often been portrayed as such in fiction.
Crystal skulls have been a popular subject appearing in numerous sci-fi television
series,novels,and video games.

Crystal Skull Collections

A distinction has been made by some modern researchers between the smaller bead-sized
crystal skulls, which first appear in the mid-19th century, and the larger (approximately life-
sized) skulls that appear toward the end of that century.The larger crystal skulls have
attracted nearly all the popular attention in recent times, and some researchers believe that
all of these have been manufactured as forgeries in Europe.

Trade in fake pre-Columbian artifacts developed during the late 19th century to the extent
that in 1886, Smithsonian archaeologist William Henry Holmes wrote an article called "The
Trade in Spurious Mexican Antiquities" for Science. Although museums had acquired skulls
earlier, it was Eugne Boban, an antiquities dealer who opened his shop in Paris in 1870, who
is most associated with 19th-century museum collections of crystal skulls. Most of Boban's
collection, including three crystal skulls, was sold to the ethnographer Alphonse Pinart, who
donated the collection to the Trocadro Museum, which later became the Muse de l'Homme.

Research into crystal skull origins

Many crystal skulls are claimed to be pre-Columbian, usually attributed to the Aztec or Maya
civilizations. Mesoamerican art has numerous representations of skulls, but none of the skulls
in museum collections come from documented excavations. Research carried out on several
crystal skulls at the British Museum in 1967, 1996 and again in 2004 has shown that the
indented lines marking the teeth (for these skulls had no separate jawbone, unlike the
Mitchell-Hedges skull) were carved using jeweler's equipment (rotary tools) developed in the
19th century, making a supposed pre-Columbian origin problematic.The type of crystal was
determined by examination of chlorite inclusions, and is only to be found in Madagascar and
Brazil, and thus unobtainable or unknown within pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The study
concluded that the skulls were crafted in the 19th century in Germany, quite likely at
workshops in the town of Idar-Oberstein renowned for crafting objects made from imported
Brazilian quartz at this period in the late 19th century.

It has been established that both the British Museum and Paris's Muse de l'Homme crystal
skulls were originally sold by the French antiquities dealer Eugne Boban, who was operating
in Mexico City between 1860 and 1880. The British Museum crystal skull transited through
New York's Tiffany's, whilst the Muse de l'Homme's crystal skull was donated by Alphonse
Pinart, an ethnographer who had bought it from Boban.

An investigation carried out by the Smithsonian Institution in 1992 on a crystal skull provided
by an anonymous source who claimed to have purchased it in Mexico City in 1960 and that it
was of Aztec origin concluded that it, too, was made in recent years. According to the
Smithsonian, Boban acquired the crystal skulls he sold from sources in Germany findings
that are in keeping with those of the British Museum.

A detailed study of the British Museum and Smithsonian crystal skulls was accepted for
publication by the Journal of Archaeological Science in May 2008. Using electron microscopy
and X-ray crystallography, a team of British and American researchers found that the British
Museum skull was worked with a harsh abrasive substance such as corundum or diamond, and
shaped using a rotary disc tool made from some suitable metal. The Smithsonian specimen
had been worked with a different abrasive, namely the silicon-carbon compound carborundum
which is a synthetic substance manufactured using modern industrial techniques.Since the
synthesis of carborundum dates only to the 1890s and its wider availability to the 20th
century, the researchers concluded "he suggestion is that it was made in the 1950s or later".

Speculations on smaller skulls

None of the skulls in museums come from documented excavations. A parallel example is
provided by obsidian mirrors, ritual objects widely depicted in Aztec art. Although a few
surviving obsidian mirrors come from archaeological excavations, none of the Aztec-style
obsidian mirrors are so documented. Yet most authorities on Aztec material culture consider
the Aztec-style obsidian mirrors as authentic pre-Columbian objects. Archaeologist Michael E.
Smith reports a non peer-reviewed find of a small crystal skull at an Aztec site in the Valley of
Mexico.Crystal skulls have been described as "A fascinating example of artifacts that have
made their way into museums with no scientific evidence to prove their rumored pre-
Columbian origins." A similar case is the "Olmec-style" face mask in jade; hardstone carvings
of a face in a mask form. Curators and scholars refer to these as "Olmec-style", as to date no
example has been recovered in an archaeologically controlled Olmec context, although they
appear Olmec in style. However they have been recovered from sites of other cultures,
including one deliberately deposited in the ceremonial precinct of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City),
which would presumably have been about 2,000 years old when the Aztecs buried it,
suggesting these were as valued and collected as Roman antiquities were in Europe.

Individual skulls

Mitchell-Hedges skull

Perhaps the most famous and
enigmatic skull was allegedly
discovered in 1924 by Anna Le Guillon
Mitchell-Hedges, adopted daughter of
British adventurer and popularist
author F.A. Mitchell-Hedges. It is the
subject of a video documentary made
in 1990, Crystal Skull of Lubaantun. It
has been noted upon examination by
Smithsonian researchers to be "very
nearly a replica of the British Museum
skull--almost exactly the same shape,
but with more detailed modeling of the
eyes and the teeth." Anna Hedges
claimed that she found the skull buried
under a collapsed altar inside a temple
in Lubaantun, in British Honduras, now Belize. As far as can be ascertained, F.A. Mitchell-
Hedges himself made no mention of the alleged discovery in any of his writings on Lubaantun.
Also, others present at the time of the excavation have not been documented as noting either
the skull's discovery or Anna's presence at the dig.

In a 1970 letter, Anna also stated that she was, "told by the few remaining Maya that the skull
was used by the high priest to will death."For this reason, the artifact is sometimes referred to
as "The Skull of Doom". An alternative explanation is a play on 'Skull of Dunn' (Dunn being an
associate of Mitchell-Hedges). Anna Mitchell-Hedges toured with the skull from 1967 exhibiting
it on a pay-per-view basis, and she continued to give interviews about the artifact until her
death in 2007.

The skull is made from a block of clear
quartz about the size of a small human
cranium, measuring some 5 inches (13
cm) high, 7 inches (18 cm) long and 5
inches wide. The lower jaw is detached.
In the early 1970s it came under the
temporary care of freelance art restorer
Frank Dorland, who claimed upon
inspecting it that it had been "carved"
with total disregard to the natural
crystal axes without the use of metal
tools. Dorland reported being unable to
find any tell-tale scratch marks, except
for traces of mechanical grinding on the
teeth, and he speculated that it was
first chiseled into rough form, probably
using diamonds, and the finer shaping, grinding and polishing was achieved through the use of
sand over a period of 150 to 300 years. He said it could be up to 12,000 years old. Although
various claims have been made over the years regarding the skull's physical properties, such
as an allegedly constant temperature of 70 F (21 C), Dorland reported that there was no
difference in properties between it and other natural quartz crystals.

While in Dorland's care the skull came to the attention of writer Richard Garvin, at the time
working at an advertising agency where he supervised Hewlett-Packard's advertising account.
Garvin made arrangements for the skull to be examined at HP's crystal labs at Santa Clara,
where it was subjected to several tests. The labs determined only that it was not a composite
(as Dorland had supposed), but that it was fashioned from a single crystal of quartz. The lab
test also established that the lower jaw had been fashioned from the same left-handed
growing crystal as the rest of the skull. No investigation was made by HP as to its method of
manufacture or dating.

As well as the traces of mechanical grinding on the teeth noted by Dorland, Mayanist
archaeologist Norman Hammond reported that the holes (presumed to be intended for support
pegs) showed signs of being made by drilling with metal. Anna Mitchell-Hedges refused
subsequent requests to submit the skull for further scientific testing.

F. A. Mitchell-Hedges mentioned the skull only briefly in the first edition of his autobiography,
Danger My Ally (1954), without specifying where or by whom it was found.He merely claimed
that "it is at least 3,600 years old and according to legend it was used by the High Priest of
the Maya when he was performing esoteric rites. It is said that when he willed death with the
help of the skull, death invariably followed". All subsequent editions of Danger My Ally omitted
mention of the skull entirely.

Eugne Boban, main French dealer in pre-Columbian artifacts during
the second half of the 19th century and probable source of many
famous skullsThe earliest published reference to the skull is the July
1936 issue of the British anthropological journal Man, where it is
described as being in the possession of Mr. Sydney Burney, a London
art dealer who is said to have owned it since 1933. No mention was
made of Mitchell-Hedges. There is documentary evidence that
Mitchell-Hedges bought it from Burney in 1944. The skull was in the
custody of Anna Mitchell-Hedges, the adopted daughter of Frederick.
She steadfastly refused to let it be examined by experts (making very
doubtful the claim that it was reported on by R. Stansmore Nutting in
1962). Somewhere between 19881990 Anna Mitchell-Hedges toured
with the skull.

Eugne Boban, main French dealer in pre-Columbian artifactsduring the second half of the
19th century and probable source of many famous skulls

In her last eight years, Anna Mitchell-Hedges lived in Chesterton, Indiana, with Bill Homann,
whom she married in 2002. She died on April 11, 2007. Since that time the Mitchell-Hedges
Skull has been in the custody of Bill Homann. In April 2009, Five, a UK television channel, took
the story and revealed that the Mitchell-Hedges Skull, recently tested under a special
microscope in the Smithsonian Institution, had been manufactured with tools that Aztecs and
Mayans simply did not have. Like the other skulls, this one is a fabrication dating from the
second half of the 19th century. Bill Homann however continues to believe in its mystical

British Museum skull

The crystal skull of the British Museum first appeared in 1881, in the shop of the Paris
antiquarian, Eugne Boban. Its origin was not stated in his catalog of the time. He is said to
have tried to sell it to Mexico's national museum as an Aztec artifact, but was unsuccessful.
Boban later moved his business to New York City, where the skull was sold to George H.
Sisson. It was exhibited at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of
Science in New York City in 1887 by George F. Kunz. It was sold at auction, and bought by
Tiffany and Co., who later sold it at cost to the British Museum in 1897. This skull is very
similar to the Mitchell-Hedges skull, although it is less detailed and does not have a movable
lower jaw.
The British Museum catalogues the skull's provenance as "probably European, 19th century
AD"and describes it as "not an authentic pre-Columbian artefact". It has been established that
this skull was made with modern tools, and that it is not authentic.

Paris skull

Crystal skull at the Muse du quai
Branly, Paris

The largest of the three skulls sold by
Eugne Boban to Alphonse Pinart
(sometimes called the Paris Skull),
about 10 cm (4 in) high, has a hole
drilled vertically through its center.It is
part of a collection held at the Muse
du Quai Branly, and was subjected to
scientific tests carried out in 200708
by France's national Centre de
recherche et de restauration des
muses de France (Centre for Research
and Restoration of the Museums in
France, or C2RMF). After a series of
analyses carried out over three
months, C2RMF engineers concluded
that it was "certainly not pre-
Columbian, it shows traces of polishing
and abrasion by modern tools."Particle accelerator tests also revealed occluded traces of water
that were dated to the 19th century, and the Quai Branly released a statement that the tests
"seem to indicate that it was made late in the 19th century."

In 2009 the C2RMF researchers published results of further investigations to establish when
the Paris skull had been carved. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis indicated the
use of lapidary machine tools in its carving. The results of a new dating technique known as
quartz hydration dating (QHD) demonstrated that the Paris skull had been carved later than a
reference quartz specimen artifact, known to have been cut in 1740. The researchers conclude
that the SEM and QHD results combined with the skull's known provenance indicate it was
carved in the 18th or 19th century.

Smithsonian Skull

The "Smithsonian Skull" was mailed to the Smithsonian Institution anonymously in 1992, and
was claimed to be an Aztec object by its donor and was purportedly from the collection of
Porfirio Diaz. It is the largest of the skulls, weighing 31 pounds and is 15 inches high. It was
carved using carborundum, a modern abrasive. It has been displayed as a fake at the National
Museum of Natural History.

Paranormal claims and spiritual associations

Some believers in the paranormal claim that crystal skulls can produce a variety of miracles.
Ann Mitchell-Hedges claimed that the skull she allegedly discovered could cause visions, cure
cancer, that she once used its magical properties to kill a man, and that in another instance,
she saw in it a premonition of the John F. Kennedy assassination. In the 1931 play The Satin
Slipper, by Paul Claudel, King Philip II of Spain uses "a death's head made from a single piece
of rock crystal," lit by "a ray of the setting sun," to see the defeat of his Armada in its attack
on England (day 4, scene 4, pp. 24344).

Claims of the healing and supernatural powers of crystal skulls have no support in the
scientific community, which has found no evidence of any unusual phenomena associated with
the skulls nor any reason for further investigation, other than the confirmation of their
provenance and method of manufacture.

Another novel and historically unfounded speculation ties in the legend of the crystal skulls
with the completion of the current Maya calendar b'ak'tun-cycle on December 21, 2012,
claiming the re-uniting of the thirteen mystical skulls will forestall a catastrophe allegedly
predicted or implied by the ending of this calendar. An airing of this claim appeared (among an
assortment of others made) in The Mystery of the Crystal Skulls, a 2008 program produced for
the Sci Fi Channel in May and shown on Discovery Channel Canada in June. Interviewees
included Richard Hoagland, who attempted to link the skulls and the Maya to life on Mars, and
David Hatcher Childress, proponent of lost Atlantean civilizations and anti-gravity claims.

Crystal skulls are also referenced by author Drunvalo Melchizedek in his book Serpent of
Light.He writes that he came across indigenous Mayan descendants in possession of crystal
skulls at ceremonies at temples in the Yucatn, which he writes contained souls of ancient
Mayans who had entered the skulls to await the time when their ancient knowledge would
once again be required.

The alleged associations and origins of crystal skull mythology in Native American spiritual
lore, as advanced by neoshamanic writers such as Jamie Sams, are similarly discounted.
Instead, as Philip Jenkins notes, crystal skull mythology may be traced back to the "baroque
legends" initially spread by F.A. Mitchell-Hedges, and then afterwards taken up:

By the 1970s, the crystal skulls [had] entered New Age mythology as potent relics of ancient
Atlantis, and they even acquired a canonical number: there were exactly thirteen skulls.

None of this would have anything to do with North American Indian matters, if the skulls had
not attracted the attention of some of the most active New Age writers.

Elixir of Life

The elixir of life, (Arabic: , Exeer Al-ayat), also known as the elixir of immortality
and sometimes equated with the philosopher's stone, is a legendary potion, or drink, that
grants the drinker eternal life or eternal youth. Many practitioners of alchemy pursued it. The
elixir of life was also said to be able to create life. It is related to the myths of Enoch, Thoth,
and Hermes Trismegistus, all of whom in various tales are said to have drunk "the white
drops" (liquid gold) and thus achieved immortality. It is also associated with the Qur'an's Al
Khidr ('The Green Man'), and is mentioned in one of the Nag Hammadi texts.



In ancient China various emperors sought the fabled elixir with varying results. In the Qin
Dynasty, Qin Shi Huang sent Taoist alchemist Xu Fu with 500 young men and 500 young
women to the eastern seas to find the elixir, but he never came back (legend has it that he
found Japan instead). When Shi Huang Di visited, he brought 3000 young girls and boys, but
none of them ever returned.

The ancient Chinese believed that ingesting long-lasting precious substances such as jade,
cinnabar or hematite would confer some of that longevity on the person who consumed them.
Gold was considered particularly potent, as it was a non-tarnishing precious metal; the idea of
potable or drinkable gold is found in China by the end of the third century BC. The most
famous Chinese alchemical book, the Tan Chin Yao Cheh ("Great Secrets of Alchemy," dating
from approximately 650 AD), discusses in detail the creation of elixirs for immortality
(mercury, sulfur, and the salts of mercury and arsenic are prominent) as well as those for
curing certain diseases and the fabrication of precious stones.

Many of these substances, far from contributing to longevity, were actively toxic. Jiajing
Emperor in the Ming Dynasty died from ingesting a lethal dosage of mercury in the supposed
"Elixir of Life" conjured by alchemists. British historian Joseph Needham compiled a list of
Chinese emperors whose death was likely due to elixir poisoning. Chinese interest in alchemy
and the elixir of life declined in proportion to the rise of Buddhism, which claimed to have
alternate routes to immortality.


Amrita (or the elixir of life) has been described in the Hindu scriptures. Anybody who
consumes even a tiniest portion of Amrit has been described to gain immortality. The legend
has it, at early times when the inception of the world had just taken place, evil demons had
gained strength. This was seen as a threat to the gods who feared them. So these gods
(including Indra-the god of rain, Vayu-the god of wind, Agni-the god of fire) went to seek
advice and help from the three primary gods according to the Hindus; Vishnu (the preserver),
Brahma (the creator) & Shiva (the destroyer). They suggested that Amrit could only be gained
from the samudra manthan (or the churning of ocean) for the ocean in its depths hid
mysterious and secret objects. Vishnu agreed to take the form of a turtle on whose shell a
huge mountain was placed. This mountain was used as a churning pole.

With the help of a mighty and long serpent the churning process began at the surface of the
ocean. The gods pulled the serpent from one side which had coiled itself around the mountain
and the demons pulled it from the other side. (the churning process required immense
strength and hence the demons were persuaded to do the job- they agreed but in return for a
portion of Amrit). Finally with the combined effort of the gods and demons, Amrit emerged
from the depths of the ocean. All the gods were offered the drink but the gods managed to
trick the demons who did not get the holy drink.

The oldest Indian writings, the Vedas (Hindu sacred scriptures), contain the same hints of
alchemy that are found in evidence from ancient China, namely vague references to a
connection between gold and long life. Mercury, which was so vital to alchemy everywhere, is
first mentioned in the 4th to 3rd century BC Arthashastra, about the same time it is
encountered in China and in the West. Evidence of the idea of transmuting base metals to gold
appears in 2nd to 5th century AD Buddhist texts, about the same time as in the West. Since
Alexander the Great had invaded India in 325 BC, leaving a Greek state (Gandhara) that long
endured, the possibility exists that the Indians acquired the idea from the Greeks, but it could
have been the other way around.

It is also possible that the alchemy of medicine and immortality came to India from China, or
vice versa; in any case, gold making appears to have been a minor concern, and medicine the
major concern, of both cultures. But the elixir of immortality was of little importance in India
(which had other avenues to immortality). The Indian elixirs were mineral remedies for
specific diseases or, at the most, to promote long life.

It is also known to Sikhs as Amrit, the Nectar of Immortality (see Amrit Sanskar).

Middle East

The term elixir is derived from the Arabic Al-Ikseer, which means a combination or a

The Comte de St. Germain, an 18th century nobleman of uncertain origin and mysterious
capabilities, was also reputed to have the Elixir and to be several hundred years old. Many
European recipes specify that elixir is to be stored in clocks to amplify the effects of
immortality on the user. Frenchman Nicolas Flamel was also a reputed creator of the Elixir.

The Elixir has had hundreds of names (one scholar of Chinese history reportedly found over
1,000 names for it.), including (among others) Amrit Ras or Amrita, Aab-i-Hayat, Maha Ras,
Aab-Haiwan, Dancing Water, Chasma-i-Kausar, Mansarover or the Pool of Nectar,
Philosopher's stone, and Soma Ras. The word elixir was not used until the 7th century A.D.
and derives from the Arabic name for miracle substances, "al iksir." Some view it as a
metaphor for the spirit of God (e.g. Jesus' reference to "the Water of Life" or "the Fountain of
Life") John 4:14 " But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water
I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.. The Scots and the
Irish adopted the name for their "liquid gold": the Gaelic name for whiskey is uisge beatha,
or water of life.

Note: Aab-i-Hayat and Aab-i-Haiwan are Persian and both mean "water of life".
"Chashma-i-Kausar" (not "hasma") is the "Fountain of Bounty", which Muslims believe to be
located in Paradise. As for the Indian names, "Amrit Ras" means "immortality juice", "Maha
Ras" means "great juice", and "Soma Ras" means "juice of Soma"; Soma was a psychoactive
drug, by which the poets of the Vedas Veda received their visions, but the plant is not known
any more. Later, Soma came to mean the moon. "Ras" later came to mean "sacred mood,
which is experienced by listening to good poetry or music"; there are altogether nine of them.
Mansarovar, the "mind lake" is the holy lake at the foot of Mt. Kailash in Tibet, close to the
source of the Ganges.

Fountain of Youth

The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring which was, supposedly, found in Florida USA by
Juan Ponce de Leon, an explorer in the Renaissance. Tales of such a fountain, that restores
the health and youth of anyone who bathes in its waters, have been recounted across the
world for thousands of years, appearing in writings by Herodotus, the Alexander romance, and
the stories of Prester John. Stories of a similar waters were also evidently prominent among
the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean during the Age of Exploration, who spoke of the
restorative powers of the water in the mythical land of Bimini.

The legend became particularly prominent in the 16th century, when it became attached to
the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Len, first Governor of Puerto Rico. According to an
apocryphal story that features a combination of New World and Eurasian elements, Ponce de
Len was searching for the Fountain of Youth when he traveled to what is now Florida in 1513.
Since then, the fountain has been frequently associated with Florida.

Early accounts

Herodotus mentions a fountain containing a very special kind of water located in the land of
the Ethiopians, which gives the Ethiopians their exceptional longevity. A story of the "Water of
Life" appears in the Eastern versions of the Alexander romance, which describes Alexander the
Great and his servant crossing the Land of Darkness to find the restorative spring. The servant
in that story is in turn derived from Middle Eastern legends of Al-Khidr, a sage who appears
also in the Qur'an. Arabic and Aljamiado versions of the Alexander Romance were very popular
in Spain during and after the period of Moorish rule, and would have been known to the
explorers who journeyed to America. These earlier accounts clearly inspired the popular
medieval fantasy The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, which also mentions the Fountain of
Youth as located at the foot of a mountain outside Polombe (modern Kollam) in India. Due to
the influence of these tales, the Fountain of Youth legend remained popular through the
European Age of Exploration.

There are countless indirect sources for the tale as well. Eternal youth is a gift frequently
sought in myth and legend, and stories of things such as the philosopher's stone, universal
panaceas, and the elixir of life are common throughout Eurasia and elsewhere. An additional
hint may have been taken from the account of the Pool of Bethesda in the Gospel of John, in
which Jesus heals a man at the pool in Jerusalem.


According to legend, the Spanish heard of Bimini from the Arawaks in Hispaniola, Cuba, and
Puerto Rico. The Caribbean islanders described a mythical land of Beimeni or Beniny (whence
Bimini), a land of wealth and prosperity, to the Spanish, which became conflated with the
fountain legend. Although by the time of Ponce de Leon, the land was thought to be located in
northwest towards the Bahamas (called la Vieja during the Ponce expedition), the natives
were probably referring to the Maya. This land somehow also became confused with the
Boinca or Boyuca mentioned by Juan de Solis, although Solis's navigational data placed it in
the Gulf of Honduras. It was this Boinca that originally held a legendary fountain of youth,
rather than Bimini itself. Sequene, an Arawak chief from Cuba, purportedly was unable to
resist the lure of Bimini and its restorative fountain. He gathered a troupe of adventurers and
sailed north, never to return. Word spread among Sequene's more optimistic tribesmen that
he and his followers had located the Fountain of Youth and were living in luxury in Bimini.

Bimini and its curative waters were widespread subjects in the Caribbean. The Italian-born
chronicler Peter Martyr told of them in a letter to the pope in 1513, though he didn't believe
the stories and was dismayed that so many others did.

Ponce de Len and Florida

In the 16th century the story of the Fountain of Youth became attached to the biography of
the conquistador Juan Ponce de Len. As attested by his royal charter, Ponce de Len was
charged with discovering the land of Beniny. Although the Indians were probably describing
the land of the Maya in Yucatan, the name and legends about Boinca's fountain of youth
became associated with the Bahamas instead. However, Ponce de Len did not mention
the fountain in any of his writings throughout the course of his expedition. While he may well
have heard of the Fountain and believed in it, his name was not associated with the legend in
writing until after his death.

The connection was made in Gonzalo Fernndez de Oviedo's Historia General y Natural de las
Indias of 1535, in which he wrote that Ponce de Len was looking for the waters of Bimini to
cure his impotence. Some researchers have suggested that Oviedo's account may have been
politically inspired to generate favor in the courts. A similar account appears in Francisco
Lpez de Gmara's Historia General de las Indias of 1551. In the Memoir of Hernando
D'Escalante Fontaneda in 1575, the author places the restorative waters in Florida and
mentions de Len looking for them there; his account influenced Antonio de Herrera y
Tordesillas' history of the Spanish in the New World. Fontaneda had spent seventeen years as
an Indian captive after being shipwrecked in Florida as a boy. In his Memoir he tells of the
curative waters of a lost river he calls "Jordan" and refers to de Len looking for them.
However, Fontaneda makes it clear he is skeptical about these stories he includes, and says he
doubts de Len was actually looking for the fabled stream when he came to Florida.

It is Herrera who makes that connection definite in the romanticized version of Fontaneda's
story included in his Historia general de los hechos de los Castellanos en las islas y tierra firme
del Mar Oceano. Herrera states that local caciques paid regular visits to the fountain. A frail
old man could become so completely restored that he could resume "all manly exercises take
a new wife and beget more children." Herrera adds that the Spaniards had unsuccessfully
searched every "river, brook, lagoon or pool" along the Florida coast for the legendary
fountain. It would appear the Sequene story is likewise based on a garbling of Fontaneda.

Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park

The city of St. Augustine, Florida is home to the Fountain of Youth National Archaeological
Park, a tribute to the spot where Ponce de Len is traditionally said to have landed. The tourist
attraction was created by Luella Day McConnell in 1904. "Diamond Lil", as she was known,
fabricated stories to amuse and appall the citys residents and tourists until her death in 1927.

Though there is no evidence that the fountain located in the park today is the storied fountain
or has any restorative effects, visitors drink the water. The park exhibits native and colonial
artifacts to celebrate St. Augustine's Timucuan and Spanish heritage.

Author Charlie Carlson claims to have spoken with a supposed St. Augustine-based secret
society claiming to be the protectors of the Fountain of Youth, which has granted them
extraordinary longevity. They claimed Old John Gomez, a protagonist in the Gasparilla legend
from Florida folklore, had been one of their members.

Other claims

In August 2006, popular American magician David Copperfield claimed he had discovered a
true "Fountain of Youth" amid a cluster of four small islands in the Exuma chain of the
Bahamas which he recently purchased for roughly $50 million. "I've discovered a true
phenomenon," he told Reuters. "You can take dead leaves, they come in contact with the
water, they become full of life again. Bugs or insects that are near death, come in contact
with the water, they'll fly away. It's an amazing thing, very, very exciting." Copperfield, who
turned 50 in September 2006, says that he hired scientists to conduct an examination of the
"legendary" water, but as of now, the fountain remains off limits to outside visitors.

Holy Grail

The Holy Grail is a sacred object figuring in literature and certain Christian traditions, most
often identified with the dish, plate, or cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper and said to
possess miraculous powers. The connection of Joseph of Arimathea with the Grail legend dates
from Robert de Boron's Joseph d'Arimathie (late 12th century) in which Joseph receives the
Grail from an apparition of Jesus and sends it with his followers to Great Britain; building upon
this theme, later writers recounted how Joseph used the Grail to catch Christ's blood while
interring him and that in Britain he founded a line of guardians to keep it safe. The quest for
the Holy Grail makes up an important segment of the Arthurian cycle, appearing first in works
by Chrtien de Troyes. The legend may combine Christian lore with a Celtic myth of a cauldron
endowed with special powers.

The Grail legend's development has been traced in detail by cultural historians: It is a legend
which first came together in the form of written romances, deriving perhaps from some pre-
Christian folklore hints, in the later 12th and early 13th centuries. The early Grail romances
centred on Percival and were woven into the more general Arthurian fabric. Some of the Grail
legend is interwoven with legends of the Holy Chalice.



The Grail plays a different role everywhere it appears, but in most versions of the legend the
hero must prove himself worthy to be in its presence. In the early tales, Percival's immaturity
prevents him from fulfilling his destiny when he first encounters the Grail, and he must grow
spiritually and mentally before he can locate it again. In later tellings the Grail is a symbol of
God's grace, available to all but only fully realized by those who prepare themselves
spiritually, like the saintly Galahad.

Early forms

There are two veins of thought concerning the Grail's origin. The first, championed by Roger
Sherman Loomis, Alfred Nutt, and Jessie Weston, holds that it derived from early Celtic myth
and folklore. Loomis traced a number of parallels between Medieval Welsh literature and Irish
material and the Grail romances, including similarities between the Mabinogion's Bran the
Blessed and the Arthurian Fisher King, and between Bran's life-restoring cauldron and the
Grail. On the other hand, some scholars believe the Grail began as a purely Christian symbol.
For example, Joseph Goering of the University of Toronto has identified sources for Grail
imagery in 12th century wall paintings from churches in the Catalan Pyrenees (now mostly
removed to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona), which present unique iconic
images of the Virgin Mary holding a bowl that radiates tongues of fire, images that predate the
first literary account by Chrtien de Troyes. Goering argues that they were the original
inspiration for the Grail legend.

Another recent theory holds that the earliest stories that cast the Grail in a Christian light were
meant to promote the Roman Catholic sacrament of the Holy Communion. Although the
practice of Holy Communion was first alluded to in the Christian Bible and defined by
theologians in the 1st centuries AD, it was around the time of the appearance of the first
Christianized Grail literature that the Roman church was beginning to add more ceremony and
mysticism around this particular sacrament. Thus, the first Grail stories may have been
celebrations of a renewal in this traditional sacrament. This theory has some basis in the fact
that the Grail legends are a phenomenon of the Western church.

In several articles, Daniel Scavone, professor Emeritus of history at the University of Southern
Indiana, puts forward a hypothesis which identifies the Shroud of Turin as the real object that
inspires the romances of the Holy Grail.

Most scholars today accept that both Christian and Celtic traditions contributed to the legend's
development, though many of the early Celtic-based arguments are largely discredited
(Loomis himself came to reject much of Weston and Nutt's work). The general view is that the
central theme of the Grail is Christian, even when not explicitly religious, but that much of the
setting and imagery of the early romances is drawn from Celtic material.


The word graal, as it is earliest spelled, comes from Old French graal or greal, cognate with
Old Provenal grazal and Old Catalan gresal, meaning "a cup or bowl of earth, wood, or metal"
(or other various types of vessels in Southern French dialects). The most commonly accepted
etymology derives it from Latin gradalis or gradale via an earlier form, cratalis, a derivative of
crater or cratus which was, in turn, borrowed from Greek krater (a two-handed shallow cup).
Alternate suggestions include a derivative of cratis, a name for a type of woven basket that
came to refer to a dish, or a derivative of Latin gradus meaning "'by degree', 'by stages',
applied to a dish brought to the table in different stages or services during a meal".

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, after the cycle of Grail romances was well established,
late medieval writers came up with a false etymology for sangral, an alternative name for
"Holy Grail." In Old French, san graal or san gral means "Holy Grail" and sang ral means
"royal blood"; later writers played on this pun. Since then, "Sang real" is sometimes employed
to lend a medievalizing air in referring to the Holy Grail. This connection with royal blood bore
fruit in a modern bestseller linking many historical conspiracy theories

Conceptions of the Grail

The Grail was considered a bowl or dish when first
described by Chrtien de Troyes. Hlinand of Froidmont
described a grail as a "wide and deep saucer" (scutella
lata et aliquantulum profunda). Other authors had their
own ideas: Robert de Boron portrayed it as the vessel of
the Last Supper; and Peredur had no Grail per se,
presenting the hero instead with a platter containing his
kinsman's bloody, severed head. In Parzival, Wolfram
von Eschenbach, citing the authority of a certain
(probably fictional) Kyot the Provenal, claimed the Grail
was a stone that fell from Heaven (called lapsit exillis),
and had been the sanctuary of the Neutral Angels who
took neither side during Lucifer's rebellion. The authors
of the Vulgate Cycle used the Grail as a symbol of divine
grace. Galahad, illegitimate son of Lancelot and Elaine,
the world's greatest knight and the Grail Bearer at the
castle of Corbenic, is destined to achieve the Grail, his
spiritual purity making him a greater warrior than even
his illustrious father. Galahad and the interpretation of
the Grail involving him were picked up in the 15th
century by Sir Thomas Malory in Le Morte d'Arthur, and
remain popular today.

Later legend

Belief in the Grail and interest in its potential whereabouts has never ceased. Ownership has
been attributed to various groups (including the Knights Templar, probably because they were
at the peak of their influence around the
time that Grail stories started circulating in
the 12th and 13th centuries).

There are cups claimed to be the Grail in
several churches, for instance the Saint
Mary of Valencia Cathedral, which contains
an artifact, the Holy Chalice, supposedly
taken by Saint Peter to Rome in the 1st
century, and then to Huesca in Spain by
Saint Lawrence in the 3rd century.
According to legend, the monastery of San
Juan de la Pea, located at the south-west
of Jaca, in the province of Huesca, Spain,
protected the chalice of the Last Supper
from the Islamic invaders of the Iberian
Peninsula. Archaeologists say the artifact is
a 1st century Middle Eastern stone vessel,
possibly from Antioch, Syria (now Turkey);
its history can be traced to the 11th
century, and it now rests atop an ornate
stem and base, made in the Medieval era of
alabaster, gold, and gemstones. It was the
official papal chalice for many popes, and
has been used by many others, most
recently by Pope Benedict XVI, on July 9,
2006. The emerald chalice at Genoa, which
was obtained during the Crusades at Caesarea Maritima at great cost, has been less
championed as the Holy Grail since an accident on the road, while it was being returned from
Paris after the fall of Napoleon, revealed that the emerald was green glass.

In Wolfram von Eschenbach's telling, the Grail was kept safe at the castle of Munsalvaesche
(mons salvationis), entrusted to Titurel, the first Grail King. Some, not least the monks of
Montserrat, have identified the castle with the real sanctuary of Montserrat in Catalonia,
Spain. Other stories claim that the Grail is buried beneath Rosslyn Chapel or lies deep in the
spring at Glastonbury Tor. Still other stories claim that a secret line of hereditary protectors
keep the Grail, or that it was hidden by the Templars in Oak Island, Nova Scotia's famous
"Money Pit", while local folklore in Accokeek, Maryland says that it was brought to the town by
a closeted priest aboard Captain John Smith's ship. Turn of the century accounts state that
Irish partisans of the Clan Dhuir (O'Dwyer, Dwyer) transported the Grail to the United States
during the 19th Century and the Grail was kept by their descendents in secrecy in a small
abbey in the upper-Northwest (now believed to be Southern Minnesota).

Holy Lance

The Holy Lance (also known as the Spear of Destiny, Holy Spear, Lance of Longinus,
Spear of Longinus or Spear of Christ) is the name given to the lance that pierced Jesus'
side as he hung on the cross in John's account of the Crucifixion.

Biblical references

The lance (Greek: longche) is mentioned only in the
Gospel of John (19:3137) and not in any of the
Synoptic Gospels. The gospel states that the Romans
planned to break Jesus' legs, a practice known as
crucifragium, which was a method of hastening death
during a crucifixion. Just before they did so, they
realized that Jesus was already dead and that there was
no reason to break his legs. To make sure that he was
dead, a Roman soldier (named in extra-Biblical tradition
as Longinus) stabbed him in the side.

but one of the soldiers pierced his side with a
lance (), and immediately there came out
blood and water. (John 19:34)

The phenomenon of blood and water was considered a miracle by Origen. Catholics generally
choose to employ a more allegorical interpretation: it represents one of the main key
teachings/mysteries of the Church, and one of the main themes of the Gospel of Matthew,
which is the homoousian interpretation adopted by the First Council of Nicaea, that "Jesus
Christ was both true God and true man." The blood symbolizes his true humanity, the water
his divinity. A ceremonial remembrance of this is done when a Catholic priest says Mass. The
priest pours a small amount of water into the wine before the consecration, an act which
acknowledges Christ's humanity and divinity and recalls the issuance of blood and water from
Christ's side on the cross. Saint Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun whose advocacy and writings
led to the establishment of the Divine Mercy devotion, also acknowledged the miraculous
nature of the blood and water, explaining that the blood is a symbol of the divine mercy of
Christ, while the water is a symbol of His divine compassion.


The name of the soldier who pierced
Christ's side with a longche is not given
in the Gospel of John, but in the oldest
known references to the legend, the
apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus
appended to late manuscripts of the 4th
century Acts of Pilate, the soldier is
identified as a centurion and called
Longinus (making the spear's "correct"
Latin name Lancea Longini).

A form of the name Longinus occurs on
a miniature in the Rabula Gospels
(conserved in the Laurentian Library, Florence), which was illuminated by one Rabulas in the
year 586. In the miniature, the name LOGINOS (C) is written in Greek characters
above the head of the soldier who is thrusting his lance into Christ's side. This is one of the
earliest records of the name, if the inscription is not a later addition.

Relics claimed to be the Holy Lance

There have been three or four major relics that are claimed to be the Holy Lance or parts of it.
Vatican lance

A mitred Adhmar de Monteil carrying one of the instances of the Holy Lance in one of the
battles of the First CrusadeNo actual lance is known until the pilgrim Antoninus of Piacenza
(AD 570), describing the holy places of Jerusalem, says that he saw in the Basilica of Mount
Zion "the crown of thorns with which Our Lord was crowned and the lance with which He was
struck in the side". A mention of the lance occurs in the so-called Breviarius at the Church of
the Holy Sepulchre. The presence in Jerusalem of the relic is attested by
Cassiodorus (c. 485 c. 585) as well as by Gregory of Tours (c. 538
594), who had not actually been to Jerusalem.

In 615, Jerusalem and its relics were captured by the Persian forces of
King Khosrau II (Chosroes II). According to the Chronicon Paschale, the
point of the lance, which had been broken off, was given in the same year
to Nicetas, who took it to Constantinople and deposited it in the church of
Hagia Sophia, and later to the Church of the Virgin of the Pharos. This
point of the lance, which was now set in an icon, was acquired by the Latin
Emperor, Baldwin II of Constantinople, who later sold it to Louis IX of
France. The point of the lance was then enshrined with the Crown of
Thorns in the Sainte Chapelle in Paris. During the French Revolution these
relics were removed to the Bibliothque Nationale but subsequently
disappeared. (The present "Crown of Thorns" is a wreath of rushes.)

As for the larger portion of the lance, Arculpus claimed he saw it at the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre around 670 in Jerusalem, but there is
otherwise no mention of it after the sack in 615. Some claim that the
larger relic had been conveyed to Constantinople in the 8th century,
possibly at the same time as the Crown of Thorns. At any rate, its presence at Constantinople
seems to be clearly attested by various pilgrims, particularly Russians, and, though it was
deposited in various churches in succession, it seems possible to trace it and distinguish it
from the relic of the point. Sir John Mandeville declared in 1357 that he had seen the blade of
the Holy Lance both at Paris and at Constantinople, and that the latter was a much larger relic
than the former; it is worth adding that Mandeville is not generally regarded as one of the
Middle Ages' most reliable witnesses, and his supposed travels are usually treated as an
eclectic amalgam of myths, legends and other fictions. "The lance which pierced Our Lord's
side" was among the relics at Constantinople shown in the 1430s to Pedro Tafur, who added
"God grant that in the overthrow of the Greeks they have not fallen into the hands of the
enemies of the Faith, for they will have been ill-treated and handled with little reverence."

Whatever the Constantinople relic was, it did fall into the hands of the Turks, and in 1492,
under circumstances minutely described in Pastor's History of the Popes, the Sultan Bayazid II
sent it to Innocent VIII to encourage the pope to continue to keep his brother and rival Zizim
(Cem) prisoner. At this time great doubts as to its authenticity were felt at Rome, as Johann
Burchard records, because of the presence of other rival lances in Paris (the point that had
been separated from the lance), Nuremberg (see "Vienna lance" below), and Armenia (see
"Echmiadzin lance" below). In the mid-18th century Benedict XIV states that he obtained from
Paris an exact drawing of the point of the lance, and that in comparing it with the larger relic
in St. Peter's he was satisfied that the two had originally formed one blade. This relic has
never since left Rome, where it is preserved under the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica, although
the Church makes no claim as to its authenticity.

Echmiadzin lance

A Holy Lance (in Armenian Geghard) is
now conserved in Ejmiadzin, the
religious capital of Armenia. The first
source that mentions it is a text "Holy
Relics of Our Lord Jesus Christ", in a
thirteenth century Armenian
manuscript. According to this text, the
spear which pierced Jesus was to have
been brought to Armenia by the
apostle Thaddeus. The manuscript
does not specify precisely where it is
kept, but the Holy Lance gives a
description that exactly matches the
lance, the monastery gate, since the
thirteenth century precisely, the name
of Geghardavank (Monastery of the
Holy Lance).

In 1655 the French traveler Jean-Baptiste Tavernier was the first Westerner to see this relic in
Armenia. In 1805, the Russians took the monastery and the relic was moved to Tchitchanov
Geghard Tbilisi (Georgia). It was later returned to Armenia at Ejmiadzin, where it is always
visible to the museum Manougian, enshrined in a reliquary of the seventeenth century.

This Ejmiadzin Lance has never been a weapon. Rather, it is the point of a sigillum, perhaps
Byzantine, with a diamond-shaped iron openwork Greek cross. Is this the Holy Lance of
Antioch discovered by Pierre Barthelemy? That is a certain assumption: the relic of the
Crusaders lost chronicles a century before the Geghard appears in Armenian sources.

Vienna Lance (Hofburg spear)

The Holy Roman Emperors had a lance of their own, attested
from the time of Otto I (912-973). In 1000 Otto III gave
Boleslaw I of Poland a replica of the Lance at the Congress of
Gniezno. In 1084 Henry IV had a silver band with the
inscription "Nail of Our Lord" added to it. This was based on
the belief that this was the lance of Constantine the Great
which enshrined a nail used for the Crucifixion. In 1273 it was
first used in the coronation ceremony. Around 1350 Charles
IV had a golden sleeve put over the silver one, inscribed
"Lancea et clavus Domini" (Lance and nail of the Lord). In
1424 Sigismund had a collection of relics, including the lance,
moved from his capital in Prague to his birth place,
Nuremberg, and decreed them to be kept there forever. This
collection was called the Reichskleinodien or Imperial Regalia.

When the French Revolutionary army approached Nuremberg
in the spring of 1796 the city councilors decided to remove
the Reichskleinodien to Vienna for safe keeping. The
collection was entrusted to one "Baron von Hgel", who
promised to return the objects as soon as peace had been
restored and the safety of the collection assured. However,
the Holy Roman Empire was disbanded in 1806 and the Reichskleinodien remained in the
keeping of the Habsburgs. When the city councilors asked for the Reichskleinodien back, they
were refused. As part of the imperial regalia it was kept in the Imperial Treasury
Schatzkammer (Vienna) and was known as the lance of Saint Maurice.

During the Anschluss, when Austria was annexed to Germany, the Reichskleinodien were
returned to Nuremberg and afterwards hidden. They were found by invading U.S. troops and
returned to Austria by American General George S. Patton after World War II.

Dr. Robert Feather, an English metallurgist and technical engineering writer, tested the lance
for a documentary in January 2003. He was given unprecedented permission not only to
examine the lance in a laboratory environment, but was allowed to remove the delicate bands
of gold and silver that hold it together. In the opinion of Feather and other academic experts,
the likeliest date of the spearhead is the 7th century A.D. only slightly earlier than the
Museum's own estimate. However, Dr. Feather stated in the same documentary that an iron
pin long claimed to be a nail from the crucifixion, hammered into the blade and set off by
tiny brass crosses is "consistent" in length and shape with a 1st century A.D. Roman nail.
According to Paul the Deacon, the Lombard royal line bore the name of the Gungingi, which
Karl Hauck and Stefano Gasparri maintain identified them with the name of Odins lance,
Gungnir (a sign that they probably claimed descent from Odin, as did most of the Germanic
royal lines) Paul the Deacon notes that the inauguration rite of a Lombard king consisted
essentially of his grasping of a sacred/royal lance. Milan, which had been the capital of the
Western Roman Empire in the time of Constantine, was the capital of the Lombard kings
Perctarit and his son Cunipert, who became Catholic Christians in the 7th century. Thus it
seems possible that the iron point of the Lombardic royal lance might have been recast in the
7th century in order to enshrine one of the 1st century Roman nails that St. Helena was
reputed to have found at Calvary and brought to Milan, thus giving a new Christian sacred
aura to the old pagan royal lance. If Charlemagnes inauguration as the King of the Lombards
in 774 had likewise included his grasping of this now-Christianized sacred or royal lance, this
would explain how it would have eventually become the oldest item in the German imperial
regalia. The Iron Crown of Lombardy (dated to the 8th century), which eventually became the
primary symbol of Lombardic kingship, takes its name from the tradition that it contains one
of the holy nails. Gregory of Tours in his Libri Historiarum VII, 33, states that in 585 the
Merovingian king Guntram designated his nephew Childebert II his heir by handing him his
lance, it is possible that a royal lance was a symbol of kingship among the Merovingian kings
and that a nail from Calvary was in the 7th century incorporated into this royal lance and thus
eventually would have come into the German imperial regalia.

Other lances

Another lance has been preserved at Krakow, Poland, since at least the 13th century.
However, German records indicate that it was a copy of the Vienna lance. Emperor Henry II
had it made with a small sliver of the original lance. Another copy was given to the Hungarian
king at the same time.

The story told by William of Malmesbury of the giving of the Holy Lance to King Athelstan of
England by Hugh Capet seems to be due to a misconception.

Modern legends

Richard Wagner

In his opera Parsifal, Richard Wagner identifies the Holy Spear with two items that appear in
Wolfram von Eschenbach's medieval poem Parzival, a bleeding spear in the Castle of the Grail
and the spear that has wounded the Fisher King. The opera's plot concerns the consequences
of the spear's loss by the Knights of the Grail and its recovery by Parsifal. Having decided that
the blood on the Spear was that of the wounded Saviour Christ is never named in the opera
Wagner has the blood manifest itself in the Grail rather than on the spearhead.

Trevor Ravenscroft

The "Spear of Destiny" is a name given to the Holy Lance in various accounts that attribute
mystical powers to it. Many of these have originated in recent times, and several popular New
Age and conspiracy theory books have popularized the legend of the Spear.

Trevor Ravenscroft's 1973 book, The Spear of Destiny (as well as a later book, The Mark of
the Beast), claims that Adolf Hitler started World War II in order to capture the spear, with
which he was obsessed. At the end of the war the spear came into the hands of US General
George Patton. According to legend, losing the spear would result in death, and that was
fulfilled when Hitler committed suicide.

Ravenscroft repeatedly attempted to define the mysterious "powers" that the legend says the
spear serves. He found it to be a hostile and evil spirit, which he sometimes referred to as the
Antichrist, though that is open to interpretation. He never actually referred to the spear as
spiritually controlled, but rather as intertwined with all of mankind's ambitions.

Howard Buechner

Dr. Howard A. Buechner, M.D., professor of medicine at Tulane and then Louisiana State
University, wrote two books on the spear. Buechner was a retired colonel with the U.S. Army
who served in World War II and had written a book about the Dachau massacre. He claims he
was contacted by a former U-boat submariner, the pseudonymous Capt. Wilhelm Bernhart,
who claimed the spear currently on display in Vienna is a fake. "Bernhart" said the real spear
was sent by Hitler to Antarctica along with other Nazi treasures, under the command of Col.
Maximilian Hartmann. In 1979 Hartmann allegedly recovered the treasures. Bernhart
presented Buechner with the log from this expedition as well as pictures of the objects
recovered, claiming that after the Spear of Destiny was recovered, it was hidden somewhere
in Europe by a Nazi secret society. After contacting most of the members of the alleged
expedition and others involved, including Hitler Youth Leader Artur Axmann, Buechner became
convinced the claims were true.

Holy Prepuce

The Holy Prepuce, or Holy
Foreskin (Latin prputium or
prepucium) is one of several
relics attributed to Jesus, a
product of the circumcision of

At various points in history, a
number of churches in Europe
have claimed to possess Jesus'
foreskin, sometimes at the
same time. Various miraculous
powers have been ascribed to

History and rival claims

All Jewish boys are required by Jewish religious law to be circumcised on the eighth day
following their birth; the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, still celebrated by many churches
around the world, accordingly falls on January 1. Luke 2:21 (King James Version), reads: "And
when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called
JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb." The first
reference to the survival of Christ's severed foreskin comes in the second chapter of the
apocryphal Arabic Infancy Gospel which contains the following story:

1. And when the time of his circumcision was come, namely, the eighth day, on which
the law commanded the child to be circumcised, they circumcised him in a cave.
2. And the old Hebrew woman took the foreskin (others say she took the navel-string),
and preserved it in an alabaster-box of old oil of spikenard.
3. And she had a son who was a druggist, to whom she said, "Take heed thou sell not
this alabaster box of spikenard-ointment, although thou shouldst be offered three
hundred pence for it."
4. Now this is that alabaster-box which Mary the sinner procured, and poured forth the
ointment out of it upon the head and feet of our Lord Jesus Christ, and wiped it off
with the hairs of her head.

Foreskin relics began appearing in Europe during the Middle Ages. The earliest recorded
sighting came on December 25, 800, when Charlemagne gave it to Pope Leo III when the
latter crowned the former Emperor. Charlemagne claimed that it had been brought to him by
an angel while he prayed at the Holy Sepulchre, although a more prosaic report says it was a
wedding gift from the Byzantine Empress Irene. The Pope placed it into the Sanctum
sanctorum in the Lateran basilica in Rome with other relics. Its authenticity was later
considered to be confirmed by a vision of Saint Bridget of Sweden. The foreskin was then
looted during the Sack of Rome in 1527. The German soldier who stole it was captured in the
village of Calcata, 47 km north of Rome, later the same year. Thrown into prison, he hid the
jeweled reliquary in his cell, where it remained until its rediscovery in 1557. Many miracles
(freak storms and perfumed fog overwhelming the village) are claimed to have followed.
Housed in Calcata, it was venerated from that time onwards, with the Church approving the
authenticity by offering a ten-year indulgence to pilgrims. Pilgrims, nuns and monks flocked to
the church. "Calcata was a must-see destination on the pilgrimage map." The foreskin was
reported stolen by a local priest in 1983.

According to the author David Farley, "Depending on what you read, there were eight, twelve,
fourteen, or even 18 different holy foreskins in various European towns during the Middle
Ages." In addition to the Holy Foreskin of Rome (later Calcata), other claimants included the
Cathedral of Le Puy-en-Velay, Santiago de Compostela, the city of Antwerp, Coulombs in the
diocese of Chartres, France as well as Chartres itself, and churches in Besanon, Newport,
Metz, Hildesheim, Charroux, Conques, Langres, Fcamp, Stoke-on-Trent, Calcata, and two in

One of the most famous prepuces arrived in Antwerp in the Brabant in 1100 as a gift from
king Baldwin I of Jerusalem, who purchased it in Palestine in the course of the first crusade.
This prepuce became famous when the bishop of Cambray, during the celebration of the Mass,
saw three drops of blood blotting the linens of the altar. A special chapel was constructed and
processions organised in honour of the miraculous relic, which became the goal of pilgrimages.
In 1426 a brotherhood was founded in the cathedral "van der heiliger Besnidenissen ons liefs
Heeren Jhesu Cristi in onser liever Vrouwen Kercke t' Antwerpen"; its 24 members were all
abbots and prominent laymen. The relic disappeared in 1566, but the chapel still exists,
decorated by two stained glass windows donated by king Henry VII of England and his wife
Elizabeth of York in 1503.

The abbey of Charroux claimed the Holy Foreskin was presented to the monks by
Charlemagne. In the early 12th century, it was taken in procession to Rome where it was
presented before Pope Innocent III, who was asked to rule on its authenticity. The Pope
declined the opportunity. At some point, however, the relic went missing, and remained lost
until 1856 when a workman repairing the abbey claimed to have found a reliquary hidden
inside a wall, containing the missing foreskin. The rediscovery, however, led to a theological
clash with the established Holy Prepuce of Calcata, which had been officially venerated by the
Church for hundreds of years; in 1900, the Roman Catholic Church resolved the dilemma by
ruling that anyone thenceforward writing or speaking of the Holy Prepuce would be
excommunicated. In 1954, after much debate, the punishment was changed to the harsher
degree of excommunication, vitandi (shunned); and the Second Vatican Council later removed
the Day of the Holy Circumcision from the Latin church calendar, although Eastern Catholics
and Traditional Roman Catholics still celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord on
January 1.

Modern practices

Most of the Holy Prepuces were lost or destroyed during the Reformation and the French

The Holy Prepuce of Calcata is worthy of special mention, as the reliquary containing the Holy
Foreskin was paraded through the streets of this Italian village as recently as 1983 on the
Feast of the Circumcision, which was formerly marked by the Roman Catholic Church around
the world on January 1 each year. The practice ended, however, when thieves stole the jewel-
encrusted case, contents and all. Following this theft, it is unclear whether any of the
purported Holy Prepuces still exist. In a 1997 television documentary for Channel 4, British
journalist Miles Kington travelled to Italy in search of the Holy Foreskin, but was unable to find
any remaining example.
Lincoln Imp

Famous carved stone DEMON on a column in the Angel Choir at Lincoln Cathedral in Lincoln,
England. According to lore, a rampaging demon was turned to stone there by an angel. The
cathedral, once the tallest structure in the world, dates to the 11th century. The Angel Choir
was consecrated in 1280.

There are different versions of the legend. One version tells in rhyme that one day the devil
was in good spirits and let his young demons out to play. One rode on the wind to Lindum
(Lincoln) and ordered the wind to take him into the church, intending to wreak havoc there.
The wind demurred and dropped him off outside. The imp entered the church and set about
tearing and breaking things, especially in the Angel Choir. Spying angels, the imp boasted,

Pretty things,
A sackful of feathers
Ill pluck from your wings
To make me a couch when Im tired of this joke.

At that, the tiniest angel with amethyst eyes and hair of spun gold rose up before the altar
and declared, O impious Imp, be ye turned into stone! The imp immediately was turned to
stone and frozen on a column high above the choir.

The legend goes on to make points about several morals of the story: Dont meddle in the
affairs of the church; dont play tricks on the clergy; dont chum with low people, and dont be
clever but seek to be good. About angels, the legend says,

To angelswhen metbe extremely polite,
Attentions too forward theyll keenly requite;
Dont ruffle their feathers: just let them alone,
Else, if youre converted, twill be into stone.

Another version says that in the 14th century the devil sent two imps out to make mischief.
First they went to Chesterfield and twisted the spire of the church there. Then they went to
Lincoln Cathedral. They tripped the bishop and smashed tables and chairs. They set about
destroying the Angel Choir. An angel immediately appeared and told them to stop. One of the
imps defiantly flew up to a stone pillar and began to throw heavy objects at the angel. The
angel turned him into stone, leaving him there forever. The second imp hid in the wreckage
and made his escape by latching onto the broomstick of a passing witch. The witch turned him
into a black cat for companionship. This part of the legend explains why all witches are
portrayed with black cats on their broomsticks.

The grinning imp is carved in a seated position with one leg crossed over the other. He is
associated with both good luck and bad luck. The imp has been used in jewelry and even worn
by royalty. In 1928 the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) was given an Imp tie pin.
It was noted that the next year two of his horses won major races, the Grand National and the
Epsom Derby.


Kesson, H. J. The Legend of the Lincoln Imp. Lincoln: J. W. Ruddock and Sons, 1904.

The Real Story of the Lincoln Imp.
Available online. URL:
Downloaded August 5, 2002.


In Norse mythology, Mjlnir (play / mjlnr/ or
/ mjlnr/ myol-n(ee)r; also Mjlnir, Mjollnir, Mjlner or
Mjlner) is the hammer of Thor, a major god associated
with thunder in Norse mythology. Distinctively shaped,
Mjlnir is depicted in Norse mythology as one of the
most fearsome weapons, capable of leveling mountains.
Though generally recognized and depicted as a hammer,
Mjlnir is sometimes referred to as an axe or club. In the
13th century Prose Edda, Snorri Sturluson relates that
the Svartlfar Sindri, the brother of Brokkr, made
Mjllnir while in a contest with Loki to see who could
make the most wonderful and useful items for the Gods
and Goddesses in Asgard

Drawing of a 4.6 cm gold-plated silver Mjlnir pendant
found at Bredstra in land, Sweden. The original is
housed at the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities.

The Prose Edda gives a summary of Mjlnir's special qualities in that, with Mjlnir, Thor:

... would be able to strike as firmly as he wanted, whatever his aim, and the
hammer would never fail, and if he threw it at something, it would never miss and
never fly so far from his hand that it would not find its way back, and when he
wanted, it would be so small that it could be carried inside his tunic.


"The third giftan enormous hammer" (1902) by Elmer Boyd

Mjlnir simply means "crusher", referring to its pulverizing effect.
Mjlnir might be related to the Russian word (molniya) and
the Welsh word mellt (both words being translated as "lightning").
This second theory parallels with the idea that Thor, being a god of
thunder, therefore might have used lightning as his weapon. It is
related to words such as the Icelandic verbs mlva ("to crush") and
mala ("to grind"), and Swedish noun mjl ("flour"), all related to
English meal, mill, and miller. Similar words, all stemming from the
Proto-Indo-European root *mel, can be found in almost all
European languages, e.g. the Slavic melevo ("grain to be ground")
and molot ("hammer"), the Russian (molot"hammer"), the
Greek (mylos"mill"), the Spanish moler ("to grind"), and
the Latin malleus "hammer", from which English mallet derives, as
well as the Latin mola ("mill").

Prose Edda

The most popular version of the creation of Mjlnir myth, found in Skldskaparml from
Snorri's Edda, is as follows. In one story Loki sends up to the dwarves called the Sons of Ivaldi
that create precious items for the gods: Odin's spear Gungnir, and Freyr's foldable boat
Skblanir. Then Loki bets his head that the two Dwarves, Sindri (or Eitri) and his brother
Brokkr would never succeed in making items more beautiful than those of Ivaldi's sons. The
bet is accepted and the two brothers begin working. Thus Eitri puts a pig's skin in the forge
and tells his brother (Brokkr) never to stop blowing until he comes and takes out what he put

Loki, in disguise as a fly, comes and bites Brokkr on the arm but he continues to blow. Then
Eitri takes out Gullinbursti which is Freyr's boar with shining bristles. Then Eitri puts some gold
in the furnace and gives Brokkr the same order. Loki in the fly guise comes again and bites
Brokkr's neck twice as hard. But as before nothing happens and Eitri takes out Draupnir,
Odin's ring, having duplicates falling from itself every ninth night.

Drawing of hammer depicted on runic inscription S 86 located in
by, Uppland, Sweden.

Eitri then puts iron in the forge and tells Brokkr to never stop
blowing. Loki comes again and bites Brokkr on the eyelid much
harder than before and the blood makes him stop blowing for a
short while. When Eitri comes and takes out Mjllnir, the handle is a
bit short (making it one handed). Eitri and Brokkr win the bet,
which was Loki's head. However, the bet cannot be honoured, since
they need to cut the neck as well, which was not part of the deal.
As a result, Brokkr sews Loki's mouth to teach him a lesson.

Poetic Edda

Thor possessed a formidable chariot, which is drawn by two goats, Tanngrisnir and
Tanngnjstr. A belt, Megingjr, and iron gloves, Jrngreipr, were used to lift Mjlnir. Mjlnir
is the focal point of some of Thor's adventures.

This is clearly illustrated in a poem found in the Poetic Edda titled rymskvia. The myth
relates that the giant, rymr, steals Mjlnir from Thor and then demands the goddess Freyja
in exchange. Loki, the god notorious for his duplicity, conspires with the other sir to recover
Mjlnir by disguising Thor as Freyja and presenting him as the "goddess" to rymr.

At a banquet rymr holds in honor of the impending union, rymr takes the bait. Unable to
contain his passion for his new maiden with long, blond locks (and broad shoulders), as rymr
approaches the bride by placing Mjlnir on "her" lap, Thor rips off his disguise and destroys
rymr and his giant cohorts.

Archaeological record
Emblemic pendants
Hammer-shaped silver amulet found in Fitjar, Hordaland, Norway.

Myths, artifacts, and institutions revolving around Thor indicate his
prominent place in the mind of medieval Scandinavians. His
following ranged in influence, but the Viking warrior aristocracy
were particularly inspired by Thor's ferocity in battle. In the
medieval legal arena, according to Joseph Campbell, "And at the
Icelandic Things (court assemblies) the god invoked in testimony of
oaths, as 'the Almighty God,' was Thor."

Emblematic of their devotion were the appearance of miniature
replicas of Mjllnir, widely popular in Scandinavia.

Many of these replicas were also found in graves and tended to be furnished with a loop,
allowing them to be worn. Mjlnir amulets were most widely discovered in areas with a strong
Christian influence including southern Norway, south-eastern Sweden, and Denmark. Due to
the similarity of equal-armed, square crosses featuring figures of Christ on them at around the
same time, the wearing of Thor's hammers as pendants may have come into fashion in
defiance of the square amulets worn by newly converted Christians in the regions.

The shape taken by these pendants varied by region. The Icelandic variant was cross-shaped,
while Swedish and Norwegian variants tended to be arrow or T-shaped. About 50 specimens of
such hammers were found widely dispersed throughout Scandinavia, dating from the 9th to
11th centuries. A few such examples were also found in England. An iron Thor's hammer
pendant excavated in Yorkshire, dating to ca. AD 1000 bears an unical inscription preceded
and followed by a cross, interpreted as indicating a Christian owner syncretizing pagan and
Christian symbolism. A 10th century soapstone mold found at Trendgrden, Jutland, Denmark
is notable for allowing the casting of both crucifix and Thor's hammer pendants. A silver
specimen found near Fossi, Iceland (now in the National Museum of Iceland) can be
interpreted as either a Christian cross or a Thor's hammer. Unusually, the elongated limb of
the cross ends in a beast's (perhaps a wolf's) head.

A precedent of these Viking Age Thor's hammer amulets are recorded for the migration period
Alemanni, who took to wearing Roman "Hercules' Clubs" as symbols of Donar. A possible
remnant of these Donar amulets was recorded in 1897, as a custom of Unterinn (South
Tyrolian Alps) of incising a T-shape above front doors for protection against evils of all kinds,
especially storms.

The Stenkvista runestone in Sdermanland, Sweden, shows Thor's
hammer instead of a cross.

Some image stones and runestones found in Denmark and southern
Sweden bear an inscription of a hammer. Runestones depicting
Thor's hammer include runestones U 1161 in Altuna, S 86 in by,
S 111 in Stenkvista, S 140 in Jursta, Vg 113 in Lrkegapet, l 1
in Karlevi, DR 26 in Laeborg, DR 48 in Hanning, DR 120 in
Spentrup, and DR 331 in Grdstnga. Other runestones included an
inscription calling for Thor to safeguard the stone. For example, the
stone of Virring in Denmark had the inscription ur uiki isi kuml,
which translates into English as "May Thor hallow this memorial."
There are several examples of a similar inscription, each one asking
for Thor to "hallow" or protect the specific artifact. Such inscriptions may have been in
response to the Christians, who would ask for God's protection over their dead.

Swastika symbol

According to some scholars, the swastika shape may have been a variant popular in Anglo-
Saxon England prior to Christianization, especially in East Anglia and Kent. Wilson (1894)
points out that while the swastika had been "vulgarly called in Scandinavia the hammer of
Thor", the symbol properly so called had a Y or T shape.

Modern usage

Many practitioners of Germanic Neopagan faiths wear Mjllnir pendants as a symbol of that
faith worldwide. Renditions of Mjllnir are designed, crafted and sold by some Germanic
Neopagan groups and individuals. Some controversy has occurred concerning the potential
recognition of the symbol as a religious symbol by the United States government.

A modern Mjllnir pendant.
The coat of arms of the Torss
Municipality, Sweden features a
depiction of Mjllnir.

Outside of Germanic Neopaganism, depictions of Mjllnir are used in Scandinavian logos and
iconography, such as the Mjllnir logo of the Bornholm Museum in Denmark and the coat of
arms for Torss Municipality, Sweden. Mjllnir pendants are popular in general in Scandinavia
and can be seen elsewhere in heavy metal (especially Black metal and Viking metal) and
"Dark" subcultures, and, to a lesser extent, among Rockers and biker subcultures. Also Mjolnir
is the name of the armor that Master Chief wears in the Halo series.

*Noahs Ark

So prevalent is the belief that Noah's Ark can be located on the slope of the tallest mountain in
Turkey, Agri Dagi (Mt. Ararat), that some travel agencies include participation in expeditions
to search for the ark as part of tour packages to Turkey. Several ark sightings on Mt. Ararat
occurred during the twentieth century. During a thaw in the summer of 1916, a Russian
Imperial Air Force lieutenant flying over Mt. Ararat reported seeing half the hull of some sort
of ship poking out above surface of a lake. A photograph taken in 1972 by the Earth Research
Technical Satellite (ERTS) is said to reveal an unusual feature at 14,000 feet on Mt. Ararat. It
was reported to be the same size as the Ark. In the 1980s, former NASA astronaut James
Irwin participated in expeditions up the mountain, but he found only the remnants of
abandoned skis. With the breakup of the former Soviet Union, expeditions up the mountain
intensified during the 1990s, and the search for Noah's Ark continues.

Pied Piper of Hamelin

The Pied Piper of Hamelin (German: Rattenfnger
von Hameln) is the subject of a legend concerning
the departure or death of a great many children
from the town of Hamelin (Hameln), Lower Saxony,
Germany, in the Middle Ages. The earliest
references describe a piper, dressed in pied
(multicolored) clothing, leading the children away
from the town never to return. In the 16th century
the story was expanded into a full narrative, in
which the piper is a rat-catcher hired by the town
to lure rats away with his magic pipe. When the
citizenry refuses to pay for this service, he
retaliates by turning his magic on their children,
leading them away as he had the rats. This version
of the story spread as a fairy tale. This version has also appeared in the writings of, among
others, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the Brothers Grimm and Robert Browning.

The Pied Piper leads the children out of Hamelin. Illustration by Kate Greenaway.

The story may reflect a historical event in which Hamelin lost its children. Theories have been
proposed suggesting that the Pied Piper is a symbol of the children's death by plague or
catastrophe. Other theories liken him to figures like Nicholas of Cologne, who is said to have
lured away a great number of children on a disastrous Children's Crusade. A recent theory ties
the departure of Hamelin's children to the Ostsiedlung, in which a number of Germans left
their homes to colonize Eastern Europe. It is also a story about paying those who are due


In 1284, while the town of Hamelin was suffering from a rat infestation, a man dressed in pied
clothing appeared, claiming to be a rat-catcher. He promised the townsmen a solution for their
problem with the rats. The townsmen in turn promised to pay him for the removal of the rats.
The man accepted, and played a musical pipe to lure the rats with a song into the Weser
River, where all but one drowned. Despite his success, the people reneged on their promise
and refused to pay the rat-catcher the full amount of money. The man left the town angrily,
but vowed to return some time later, seeking revenge.

On Saint John and Paul's day while the inhabitants were in church, he played his pipe yet
again, dressed in green, like a hunter, this time attracting the children of Hamelin. One
hundred and thirty boys and girls followed him out of the town, where they were lured into a
cave and never seen again. Depending on the version, at most three children remained
behind. One of the children was lame and could not follow quickly enough, the second was
deaf and followed the other children out of curiosity, and the last was blind and unable to see
where they were going. These three informed the villagers of what had happened when they
came out of church.

Another version relates that the Pied Piper led the children into following him to the top of
Koppelberg Hill, where he took them to a beautiful land and had his wicked way, or a place
called Koppenberg Mountain. This version states that the Piper returned the children after
payment, or that he returned the children after the villagers paid several times the original
amount of gold.


The earliest mention of the story seems to have been on a stained glass window placed in the
Church of Hamelin c. 1300. The window was described in several accounts between the 14th
century and the 17th century. It was destroyed in 1660. Based on the surviving descriptions, a
modern reconstruction of the window has been created by Hans Dobbertin (historian). It
features the colorful figure of the Pied Piper and several figures of children dressed in white.

This window is generally considered to have been created in memory of a tragic historical
event for the town. Also, Hamelin town records start with this event. The earliest written
record is from the town chronicles in an entry from 1384 which states:

It is 100 years since our children left.

Although research has been conducted for centuries, no explanation for the historical event is
agreed upon. In any case, the rats were first added to the story in a version from c. 1559 and
are absent from earlier accounts.
Natural causes

A number of theories suggest that children died of some natural causes and that the Piper was
a symbolic figure of Death. Death is often portrayed dressed in motley, or "pied" clothing.
Analogous themes which are associated with this theory include the Dance of Death,
Totentanz or Danse Macabre, a common medieval type. Some of the scenarios that have been
suggested as fitting this theory include that the children drowned in the river Weser, were
killed in a landslide, or contracted some disease during an epidemic.

Others have suggested that the children left Hamelin to be part of a pilgrimage, a military
campaign, or even a new Children's crusade (which is said to have occurred in 1212, not long
before) but never returned to their parents. These theories see the unnamed Piper as their
leader or a recruiting agent.

William Manchester's A World Lit Only by Fire proposes that the Pied Piper was a psychopathic

Emigration theory

Added speculation on the migration is based on the idea that by the 13th century the area had
too many people resulting in the oldest son owning all the land and power (majorat), leaving
the rest as serfs. The Black Death later destroyed that imbalance. In any case, the motivation
to leave was high and very much like the motivation for emigration to America in the 18th
century i.e. freedom, opportunity, and land.

It has also been suggested that one reason the emigration of the children was never
documented was that the children were sold to a recruiter from the Baltic region of Eastern
Europe, a practice that was not uncommon at the time. In her essay Pied Piper Revisited,
Sheila Harty states that surnames from the region settled are similar to those from Hamelin
and that selling off illegitimate children, orphans or other children the town could not support
is the more likely explanation. She states further that this may account for the lack of records
of the event in the town chronicles. In his book, The Pied Piper: A Handbook, Wolfgang Mieder
states that historical documents exist showing that people from the area including Hamelin did
help settle parts of Transylvania. Transylvania had suffered under lengthy Mongol invasions of
Central Europe, led by two grandsons of Genghis Khan and which date from around the time
of the earliest appearance of the legend of the piper, the early 13th Century.

In the version of the legend posted on the official website for the town of Hameln, another
aspect of the emigration theory is presented:

Among the various interpretations, reference to the colonization of East Europe
starting from Low Germany is the most plausible one: The "Children of Hameln" would
have been in those days citizens willing to emigrate being recruited by landowners to
settle in Moravia, East Prussia, Pomerania or in the Teutonic Land. It is assumed that
in past times all people of a town were referred to as "children of the town" or "town
children" as is frequently done today. The "Legend of the children's Exodus" was later
connected to the "Legend of expelling the rats". This most certainly refers to the rat
plagues being a great threat in the medieval milling town and the more or less
successful professional rat catchers.

This version states that "children" may simply have referred to residents of Hameln who chose
to emigrate and not necessarily to youths.

Historian Ursula Sautter, citing the work of Linguist Jurgen Udolph, offers this hypothesis in
support of the emigration theory:

"After the defeat of the Danes at the Battle of Bornhoved in 1227," explains Udolph,
"the region south of the Baltic Sea, which was then inhabited by Slavs, became
available for colonization by the Germans." The bishops and dukes of Pomerania,
Brandenburg, Uckermark and Prignitz sent out glib "locators," medieval recruitment
officers, offering rich rewards to those who were willing to move to the new lands.
Thousands of young adults from Lower Saxony and Westphalia headed east. And as
evidence, about a dozen Westphalian place names show up in this area. Indeed there
are five villages called Hindenburg running in a straight line from Westphalia to
Pomerania, as well as three eastern Spiegelbergs and a trail of etymology from
Beverungen south of Hamelin to Beveringen northwest of Berlin to Beweringen in
modern Poland.

Udolph favors the hypothesis that the Hamelin youths wound up in what is now Poland.
Genealogist Dick Eastman cited Udolph's research on Hamelin surnames that have shown up
in Polish phonebooks:

Linguistics professor Jurgen Udolph says that 130 children did vanish on a June day
in the year 1284 from the German village of Hamelin (Hameln in German). Udolph
entered all the known family names in the village at that time and then started
searching for matches elsewhere. He found that the same surnames occur with
amazing frequency in Priegnitz and Uckermark, both north of Berlin. He also found the
same surnames in the former Pomeranian region, which is now a part of Poland.
Udolph surmises that the children were actually unemployed youths who had been
sucked into the German drive to colonize its new settlements in Eastern Europe. The
Pied Piper may never have existed as such, but, says the professor, "There were
characters known as Lokator who roamed northern Germany trying to recruit settlers
for the East." Some of them were brightly dressed, and all were silver-tongued.
Professor Udolph can show that the Hamelin exodus should be linked with the Battle of
Bornhoeved in 1227 which broke the Danish hold on Eastern Europe. That opened the
way for German colonization, and by the latter part of the thirteenth century there
were systematic attempts to bring able-bodied youths to Brandenburg and Pomerania.
The settlement, according to the professor's name search, ended up near Starogard in
what is now northwestern Poland. A village near Hamelin, for example, is called
Beverungen and has an almost exact counterpart called Beveringen, near Pritzwalk,
north of Berlin and another called Beweringen, near Starogard. Local Polish telephone
books list names that are not the typical Slavic names one would expect in that
region. Instead, many of the names seem to be derived from German names that
were common in the village of Hamelin in the thirteenth century. In fact, the names in
today's Polish telephone directories include Hamel, Hamler and Hamelnikow, all
apparently derived from the name of the original village.

Fourteenth-century Decan Lude chorus book

Decan Lude of Hamelin was reported, c. 1384, to have in his possession a chorus book
containing a Latin verse giving an eyewitness account of the event. The verse was reportedly
written by his grandmother. This chorus book is believed to have been lost since the late 17th
century. The odd-looking name 'Decan Lude' may possibly indicate a priest holding the
position of Dean (Latin: decanus, modern German: Dekan or Dechant) whose name was
Ludwig; but as yet he has proved impossible to trace.

Fifteenth-century Lueneburg manuscript

The Lueneburg manuscript (c. 144050) gives an early German account of the event:

Anno 1284 am dage Johannis et Pauli
war der 26. junii
Dorch einen piper mit allerlei farve bekledet
gewesen CXXX kinder verledet binnen Hamelen gebo[re]n
to calvarie bi den koppen verloren

In the year of 1284, on the day of Saints John and Paul
on 26 June
130 children born in Hamelin were seduced
By a piper, dressed in all kinds of colours,
and lost at the place of execution near the koppen.

This appears to be the oldest surviving account. Koppen (Old German meaning "hills") seems
to be a reference to one of several hills surrounding Hamelin. Which of them was intended by
the verse's author remains uncertain. Another possible meaning of the words 'to calvari bi den
koppen verloren' could refer to the dutch 'koppen' which means heads. It could therefore be a
double poetic meaning of 'lost in the hills', as well as 'lost their heads'. The latter could mean
they were beheaded, or killed, or perhaps imply that they went mad, and lost the traditional
way of their parents' thinking.

Calvari which translates directly to 'Calvary' refers to the Christian religion 'place of the skulls'
where the crucifixion took place and could also refer to a situation involving great suffering.
This would explain some of the above theories. In the sense of the exodus from Europe, it
could mean that the people who stayed in Hamelin assumed that the people who had left with
the 'piper' or lokator had been convinced to make the worst possible choice and had gone to
'calvari' being presumed dead. The piper in this sense being a good 'orator' able to convince a
crowd as in religion. Related in Germanic languages to the word 'koppen' is the word 'to buy'
but this may be unrelated to the story although it took place on market day of the Saints.

The herb valerian was used by rat-catchers to attract the rats and entice them away as it has
a smell that attracts rats. Valerian can also be used to attract cats, leading one to believe that
the piper may have led the cats away first and then threatened to take their children. There is
a possible theory that the piper gave the children valerian and that this had a relaxing effect
on them much like alcohol or perhaps some were given an overdose.

An alternate meaning of the poem, relating to theories cited above and unrelated to the
legend and stories written by the Brothers Grimm and other creators of fairy tales, is that the
piper himself was executed on this day, perhaps because he had misled or abused the
children, or for another reason. However, the double meaning referring to the children as
victims having 'lost their heads' as well as being 'lost in the hills' does provide a typical
ambiguous poetic explanation.

Reportedly, there is a long-established law forbidding singing and music in one particular
street of Hamelin, out of respect for the victims: the Bungelosenstrasse adjacent to the Pied
Piper's House. During public parades which include music, including wedding processions, the
band will stop playing upon reaching this street and resume upon reaching the other side.

Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sources

In 1556, De miraculis sui temporis (Latin: Concerning the Wonders of his Times) by Jobus
Fincelius mentions the tale. The author identifies the Piper with the Devil.

Somewhere between 1559 and 1565, Count Froben Christoph von Zimmern included a version
in his Zimmerische Chronik. This appears to be the earliest account which mentions the plague
of rats. von Zimmern dates the event only as 'several hundred years ago' (vor etlichen
hundert jarn [sic]), so that his version throws no light on the conflict of dates (see next

The earliest English account is that of Richard Rowland Verstegan (1548 c. 1636), an
antiquary and religious controversialist of partly Dutch descent, in his Restitution of Decayed
Intelligence (Antwerp, 1605); he does not give his source. (It is unlikely to have been von
Zimmern, since his manuscript chronicle was not discovered until 1776.) Verstegan includes
the reference to the rats and the idea that the lost children turned up in Transylvania. The
phrase 'Pide [sic] Piper' occurs in his version and seems to have been coined by him. Curiously
enough his date is entirely different from that given above: July 22, 1376; this may suggest
that two events, a migration in 1284 and a plague of rats in 1376, have become fused

The story is given, with a different date, in Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy of
1621, where it is used as an example of supernatural forces: 'At Hammel in Saxony, ann.
1484, 20 Junii, the devil, in likeness of a pied piper, carried away 130 children that were never
after seen.' He does not give his immediate source.

Verstegan's account was copied in Nathaniel Wanley's Wonders of the Little World (1687),
which was the immediate source of Robert Browning's well-known poem (see nineteenth
century below). Verstegan's account is also repeated in William Ramesey's Wormes (1668)
"... that most remarkable story in Verstegan, of the Pied Piper, that carryed away a hundred
and sixty Children from the Town of Hamel in Saxony, on the 22. of July, Anno Dom. 1376. A
wonderful permission of GOD to the Rage of the Devil".
Nineteenth-century versions

In 1803, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote a poem based on the story that was later set to
music by Hugo Wolf. He incorporated references to the story in his version of Faust. The first
part of the Drama was first published in 1808 and the second in 1832.

Jakob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm, known as the Brothers Grimm, drawing from eleven
sources included the tale in their collection "Deutsche Sagen", first published in 1816.
According to their account two children were left behind as one was blind and the other lame,
so neither could follow the others. The rest became the founders of Siebenbrgen

Using the Verstegan/Wanley version of the tale and adopting the 1376 date, Robert Browning
wrote a poem of that name which was published in 1842. Browning's verse retelling is notable
for its humor, wordplay, and jingling rhymes.

Twentieth-century versions

China Miville's 1998 novel King Rat reimagines the Pied Piper as a flautist adding samples to
drum and bass music and is opposed by sentient rats in London.

Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel, The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, published
in 2001, gives a typically distorted version of the tale.

The Hooters 1986 top-40 hit "Where Do The Children Go?" refers to the Pied Piper in the
song's chorus: "Where do the children go, between the bright night and darkest day? Where
do the children go, and who's that deadly piper who leads them away?"

As metaphor

Merriam Webster definitions

a charismatic person who attracts followers
one that offers strong but delusive enticement
a leader who makes irresponsible promises

Allusions in linguistics

In linguistics pied-piping is the common, informal name for the ability of question words and
relative pronouns to drag other words along with them when brought to the front, as part of
the phenomenon called Wh-movement. For example, in "For whom are the pictures?", the
word "for" is pied-piped by "whom" away from its declarative position ("The pictures are for
me"), and in "The mayor, pictures of whom adorn his office walls" both words "pictures of" are
pied-piped in front of the relative pronoun, which normally starts the relative clause.

Some researchers believe that the tale has inspired the common English phrase "pay the
piper". To "pay the piper" now means to face the inevitable consequences of one's actions,
possibly alluding to the story where the villagers broke their promise to pay the Piper for his
assistance in ridding the town of the rats.

The phrase is also attributed to meaning to recompense a minstrel or similar musician (such
as a piper) in the mediaeval period for services rendered. If a minstrel was not paid for his
services by a hosting nobleman, they and future minstrels would not return to that particular
nobleman's estate. Minstrels were a significant status symbol, hence refusing payment would
be great mark on the nobleman's reputation and a noticeable loss in his social standing. Hence
the phrase may sometimes be heard in reference to a financial transaction. Due to both the
Pied Piper's tale, and the growing importance of social occasion over traditional heraldry
occurring in the same historical period, it is a speculation that both origins resulted in an
identical phrase with two separate meanings.

Also, some experts on pedophilia, such as Ken Lanning of the FBI, in writing about the
seduction of children by some pedophiles, have used the term the "Pied Piper effect" to
describe a "unique ability to identify with children."

Robin Hood

Robin Hood was an heroic outlaw in English folklore. A highly skilled archer and swordsman,
he is known for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor," assisted by a group of fellow
outlaws known as his "Merry Men." Traditionally Robin Hood and his men are depicted wearing
Lincoln green clothes.. The origin of the legend is claimed by some to have stemmed from
actual outlaws, or from ballads or tales of outlaws.

Robin Hood became a popular folk figure starting in the medieval period continuing through
modern literature, films, and television. In the earliest sources Robin Hood is a yeoman, but
he was often later portrayed as an aristocrat wrongfully dispossessed of his lands and made
into an outlaw by an unscrupulous sheriff.


In popular culture Robin Hood and his band of
Merry Men are usually portrayed as living in
Sherwood Forest, in Nottinghamshire, where much
of the action in the early ballads takes place. So
does the very first recorded Robin Hood rhyme, four
lines from the early 15th century, beginning:
"Robyn hode in scherewode stod." However, the
overall picture from the surviving early ballads and
other early references suggest that Robin Hood may
have been based in the Barnsdale area of what is
now South Yorkshire (which borders

Other traditions point to a variety of locations as
Robin's "true" home both inside Yorkshire and
elsewhere, with the abundance of places named for
Robin causing further confusion. A tradition dating
back at least to the end of the 16th century gives
his birthplace as Loxley, Sheffield in South
Yorkshire, while the site of Robin Hood's Well in
Skellow, South Yorkshire has been associated with
Robin Hood since at least 1422. Records show a
man named Robin Hood lived in Wakefield, Yorkshire in the 13th and 14th centuries. His grave
has been claimed to be at Kirklees Priory near Mirfield in West Yorkshire, as implied by the
18th-century version of Robin Hood's Death, and there is a headstone there of dubious

The first clear reference to "rhymes of Robin Hood" is from the late 14th-century poem Piers
Plowman, but the earliest surviving copies of the narrative ballads which tell his story have
been dated to the 15th century or the first decade of the 16th century. In these early accounts
Robin Hood's partisanship of the lower classes, his Marianism and associated special regard for
women, his outstanding skill as an archer, his anti-clericalism, and his particular animosity
towards the Sheriff of Nottingham are already clear. Little John, Much the Miller's Son and Will
Scarlet (as Will "Scarlok" or "Scathelocke") all appear, although not yet Maid Marian or Friar
Tuck. It is not certain what should be made of these latter two absences as it is known that
Friar Tuck, for one, has been part of the legend since at least the later 15th century.

In popular culture Robin Hood is typically seen as a contemporary and supporter of the late
12th-century king Richard the Lionheart, Robin being driven to outlawry during the misrule of
Richard's brother John while Richard was away at the Third Crusade. This view first gained
currency in the 16th century. It is not supported by the earliest ballads. The early compilation
A Gest of Robyn Hode names the king as "Edward," and while it does show Robin Hood as
accepting the King's pardon he later repudiates it and returns to the greenwood.

The oldest surviving ballad, Robin Hood and the Monk, gives even less support to the picture
of Robin Hood as a partisan of the true king. The setting of the early ballads is usually
attributed by scholars to either the 13th century or the 14th, although it is recognised they are
not necessarily historically consistent.

The early ballads are also quite clear on Robin Hood's social status: he is a yeoman. While the
precise meaning of this term changed over time, including free retainers of an aristocrat and
small landholders, it always referred to commoners. The essence of it in the present context
was "neither a knight nor a peasant or 'husbonde' but something in between." We know that
artisans (such as millers) were among those regarded as "yeomen" in the 14th century. From
the 16th century on there were attempts to elevate Robin Hood to the nobility and in two
extremely influential plays Anthony Munday presented him at the very end of the 16th century
as the Earl of Huntingdon, as he is still commonly presented in modern times.

As well as ballads, the legend was also transmitted by "Robin Hood games" or plays that were
an important part of the late medieval and early modern May Day festivities. The first record
of a Robin Hood game was in 1426 in Exeter, but the reference does not indicate how old or
widespread this custom was at the time. The Robin Hood games are known to have flourished
in the later 15th and 16th centuries. It is commonly stated as fact that Maid Marian and a jolly
friar (at least partly identifiable with Friar Tuck) entered the legend through the May Games.

The early ballads link Robin Hood to identifiable real places and many are convinced that he
was a real person, more or less accurately portrayed. A number of theories as to the identity
of "the real Robin Hood" have their supporters. Some of these theories posit that "Robin Hood"
or "Robert Hood" or the like was his actual name; others suggest that this may have been
merely a nickname disguising a medieval bandit perhaps known to history under another
name. One historian has claimed Robin Hood was a pseudonym by which the ancient Lords of
Wellow, Nottinghamshire were once known. It is interesting that the village has such a strong
connection with maypole celebrations, considering Robin Hood's links with the same thing.

At the same time it is possible that Robin Hood has always been a fictional character; the
folklorist Francis James Child declared "Robin Hood is absolutely a creation of the ballad-
muse" and this view has been neither proven or disproven. Another view is that Robin Hood's
origins must be sought in folklore or mythology; Despite the frequent Christian references in
the early ballads, Robin Hood has been claimed for the pagan witch-cult supposed by Margaret
Murray to have existed in medieval Europe.

Early references

The oldest references to Robin Hood are not historical records, or even ballads recounting his
exploits, but hints and allusions found in various works. From 1228 onwards, the names
'Robinhood', 'Robehod' or 'Robbehod' occur in the rolls of several English Justices. The
majority of these references date from the late 13th century. Between 1261 and 1300, there
are at least eight references to 'Rabunhod' in various regions across England, from Berkshire
in the south to York in the north.

In a petition presented to Parliament in 1439, the name is used to describe an itinerant felon.
The petition cites one Piers Venables of Aston, Derbyshire, "who having no liflode, ne
sufficeante of goodes, gadered and assembled unto him many misdoers, beynge of his
clothynge, and, in manere of insurrection, wente into the wodes in that countrie, like as it
hadde be Robyn Hude and his meyne." The name was still used to describe sedition and
treachery in 1605, when Guy Fawkes and his associates were branded "Robin Hoods" by
Robert Cecil.

The first allusion to a literary tradition of Robin Hood tales occurs in William Langland's Piers
Plowman (c. 1362c. 1386) in which Sloth, the lazy priest, confesses: "I kan [know] not
parfitly [perfectly] my Paternoster as the preest it singeth,/ But I kan rymes of Robyn Hood
and Randolf Erl of Chestre."

The first mention of a quasi-historical Robin Hood is given in Andrew of Wyntoun's Orygynale
Chronicle, written in about 1420. The following lines occur with little contextualisation under
the year 1283:

Lytil Jhon and Robyne Hude
Wayth-men ware commendyd gude
In Yngil-wode and Barnysdale
Thai oysyd all this tyme thare trawale.

The next notice is a statement in the Scotichronicon, composed by John of Fordun between
1377 and 1384, and revised by Walter Bower in about 1440. Among Bower's many
interpolations is a passage which directly refers to Robin. It is inserted after Fordun's account
of the defeat of Simon de Montfort and the punishment of his adherents. Robin is represented
as a fighter for de Montfort's cause. This was in fact true of the historical outlaw of Sherwood
Forest Roger Godberd, whose points of similarity to the Robin Hood of the ballads have often
been noted.

Bower writes:

Then [c. 1266] arose the famous murderer, Robert Hood, as well as Little John,
together with their accomplices from among the disinherited, whom the foolish
populace are so inordinately fond of celebrating both in tragedies and comedies, and
about whom they are delighted to hear the jesters and minstrels sing above all other

The word translated here as "murderer" is the Latin siccarius, from the Latin for "knife." Bower
goes on to tell a story about Robin Hood in which he refuses to flee from his enemies while
hearing Mass in the greenwood, and then gains a surprise victory over them, apparently as a
reward for his piety.

Another reference, discovered by Julian Luxford in 2009, appears in the margin of the
"Polychronicon" in the Eton College library. Written around the year 1460 by a monk in Latin,
it says:

Around this time, according to popular opinion, a certain outlaw named Robin Hood,
with his accomplices, infested Sherwood and other law-abiding areas of England with
continuous robberies.

William Shakespeare makes reference to Robin Hood in his late 16th-century play The Two
Gentlemen of Verona, one of his earliest. In it, the character Valentine is banished from Milan
and driven out through the forest where he is approached by outlaws who, upon meeting him,
desire him as their leader. They comment, "By the bare scalp of Robin Hood's fat friar, this
fellow were a king for our wild faction!"

References to Robin as Earl of Huntington

Another reference is provided by Thomas Gale, Dean of York (c. 16351702), but this comes
nearly four hundred years after the events it describes:

[Robin Hood's] death is stated by Ritson to have taken place on the 18th of November,
1247, about the 87th year of his age; but according to the following inscription found
among the papers of the Dean of York...the death occurred a month later. In this
inscription, which bears evidence of high antiquity, Robin Hood is described as Earl of
Huntington - his claim to which title has been as hotly contested as any disputed
peerage upon record.

Hear undernead dis laitl stean
Lais Robert Earl of Huntingun
Near arcir der as hie sa geud
An pipl kauld im Robin Heud
Sic utlaws as hi an is men
Vil England nivr si agen.

Obiit 24 Kal Dekembris 1247

This inscription also appears on a grave in the grounds of Kirklees Priory near Kirklees Hall.

Robert is largely fictional by this time. The Gale note is inaccurate. The medieval texts do not
refer to him directly, but mediate their allusions through a body of accounts and reports: for
Langland, Robin exists principally in "rimes," for Bower, "comedies and tragedies," while for
Wyntoun he is, "commendyd gude." Even in a legal context, where one would expect to find
verifiable references to Robert, he is primarily a symbol, a generalised outlaw-figure rather
than an individual. Consequently, in the medieval period itself, Robin Hood already belongs
more to literature than to history. In fact, in an anonymous song called Woman of c. 1412, he
is treated in precisely this manner - as a joke, a figure that the audience will instantly
recognise as imaginary:

He that made this songe full good,
Came of the northe and the sothern blode,
And somewhat kyne to Robert Hoad.


There is at present little scholarly support for the view that tales of Robin Hood have stemmed
from mythology or folklore, from fairies or other mythological origins, any such associations
being regarded as later development. The mythological theory does go back to at least to
1584, when Reginald Scot identified Robin Hood with the Germanic goblin "Hudgin" or Hodekin
and associated him with Robin Goodfellow. Maurice Keen provides a brief summary and useful
critique of the once-popular view that Robin Hood had mythological origins, while (unlike
some) refraining from utterly and finally dismissing it. While Robin Hood and his men often
show super skill in archery, swordplay, and disguise, they are no more exaggerated than those
characters in other ballads, such as Kinmont Willie, which were based on historical events.

Robin Hood's role in the traditional May Day games could suggest pagan connections, but that
role has not been traced earlier than the early 15th century. However, it is uncontroversial
that a Robin and Marion figured in 13th-century French "pastourelles" (of which Jeu de Robin
et Marion c. 1280 is a literary version) and presided over the French May festivities, "this
Robin and Marion tended to preside, in the intervals of the attempted seduction of the latter
by a series of knights, over a variety of rustic pastimes."

In the Jeu de Robin and Marion Robin and his companions have to rescue Marion from the
clutches of a "lustful knight." Dobson and Taylor in their survey of the legend, in which they
reject the mythological theory, nevertheless regard it as "highly probable" that this French
Robin's name and functions travelled to the English May Games where they fused with the
Robin Hood legend.

The origin of the legend is claimed by some to have stemmed from actual outlaws, or from
tales of outlaws, such as Hereward the Wake, Eustace the Monk, Fulk FitzWarin, and William
Wallace. Hereward appears in a ballad much like Robin Hood and the Potter, and as the
Hereward ballad is older, it appears to be the source. The ballad Adam Bell, Clym of the
Cloughe and Wyllyam of Cloudeslee runs parallel to Robin Hood and the Monk, but it is not
clear whether either one is the source for the other, or whether they merely show that such
tales were told of outlaws.

Some early Robin Hood stories appear to be unique, such as the story wherein Robin gives a
knight, generally called Richard at the Lee, money to pay off his mortgage to an abbot, but
this may merely indicate that no parallels have survived.

There are a number of theories that attempt to identify a historical Robin Hood. A difficulty
with any such historical search is that "Robert" was in medieval England a very common given
name, and "Robin" (or Robyn), especially in the 13th century, was its very common
diminutive. The surname "Hood" (or Hude or Hode etc.), referring ultimately to the head-
covering, was also fairly common. Unsurprisingly, therefore, there are a number of people
called "Robert Hood" or "Robin Hood" to be found in medieval records. Some of them are on
record for having fallen afoul of the law, but this is not necessarily significant to the legend.

The early ballads give a number of possible historical clues: notably, the Gest names the
reigning king as "Edward," but the ballads cannot be assumed to be reliable in such details.
For whatever it may be worth, however, King Edward I took the throne in 1272, and an
Edward remained on the throne until the death of Edward III in 1377.

On the other hand, what appears to be the first known example of "Robin Hood" as stock
name for an outlaw dates to 1262 in Berkshire, where the surname "Robehod" was applied to
a man after he had been outlawed, and apparently because he had been outlawed. This could
suggest two main possibilities: either that an early form of the Robin Hood legend was already
well established in the mid 13th century; or alternatively that the name "Robin Hood"
preceded the outlaw hero that we know; so that the "Robin Hood" of legend was so called
because that was seen as an appropriate name for an outlaw.

It has long been suggested, notably by John Maddicott, that "Robin Hood" was a stock alias
used by thieves. Another theory of the origin of the name needs to be mentioned here. The
1911 Encyclopdia Britannica remarks that 'hood' was a common dialectical form of 'wood';
and that the outlaw's name has been given as "Robin Wood." There are indeed a number of
references to Robin Hood as Robin Wood, or Whood, or Whod, from the 16th and 17th
centuries. The earliest recorded example, in connection with May games in Somerset, dates
from 1518.

One well-known theory of origin was proposed by Joseph Hunter in 1852. Hunter identified the
outlaw with a "Robyn Hode" recorded as employed by Edward II in 1323 during the king's
progress through Lancashire. This Robyn Hode was identified with (one or more people called)
Robert Hood living in Wakefield before and after that time. Comparing the available records
with especially the Gest and also other ballads, Hunter developed a fairly detailed theory
according to which Robin Hood was an adherent of the rebel Earl of Lancaster, defeated at the
Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322.

According to this theory, Robin Hood was pardoned and employed by the king in 1323. (The
Gest does relate that Robin Hood was pardoned by "King Edward" and taken into his service.)
The theory supplies Robin Hood with a wife, Matilda, thought to be the origin of Maid Marian,
and Hunter also conjectured that the author of the Gest may have been the religious poet
Richard Rolle (12901349), who lived in the village of Hampole in Barnsdale.

This theory has long been recognised to have serious problems, one of the most serious being
that "Robin Hood" and similar names were already used as nicknames for outlaws in the 13th
century. Another is that there is no direct evidence that Hunter's Hood had ever been an
outlaw or any kind of criminal or rebel at all; the theory is built on conjecture and coincidence
of detail. Finally, recent research has shown that Hunter's Robyn Hood had been employed by
the king at an earlier stage, thus casting doubt on this Robyn Hood's supposed earlier career
as outlaw and rebel.

Another theory identifies him with the historical outlaw Roger Godberd, who was a die-hard
supporter of Simon de Montfort, which would place Robin Hood around the 1260s. There are
certainly parallels between Godberd's career and that of Robin Hood as he appears in the
Gest. John Maddicott has called Godberd "that prototype Robin Hood." Some problems with
this theory are that there is no evidence that Godberd was ever known as Robin Hood and no
sign in the early Robin Hood ballads of the specific concerns of de Montfort's revolt.

Another well-known theory, first proposed by the historian L. V. D. Owen in 1936 and more
recently floated by J.C. Holt and others, is that the original Robin Hood might be identified
with an outlawed Robert Hood, or Hod, or Hobbehod, all apparently the same man, referred to
in nine successive Yorkshire Pipe Rolls between 1226 and 1234. There is no evidence however
that this Robert Hood, although an outlaw, was also a bandit.

Ballads and tales

The earliest surviving text of a Robin Hood ballad is "Robin Hood and the Monk." This is
preserved in Cambridge University manuscript Ff.5.48, which was written shortly after 1450.
It contains many of the elements still associated with the legend, from the Nottingham setting
to the bitter enmity between Robin and the local sheriff.

The first printed version is A Gest of Robyn Hode (c. 1475), a collection of separate stories
which attempts to unite the episodes into a single continuous narrative. After this comes
"Robin Hood and the Potter," contained in a manuscript of c. 1503. "The Potter" is markedly
different in tone from "The Monk": whereas the earlier tale is "a thriller" the latter is more
comic, its plot involving trickery and cunning rather than straightforward force. The difference
between the two texts recalls Bower's claim that Robin-tales may be both 'comedies and

Other early texts are dramatic pieces such as the fragmentary Robyn Hod and the Shryff off
Notyngham (c. 1472). These are particularly noteworthy as they show Robin's integration into
May Day rituals towards the end of the Middle Ages; Robyn Hod and the Shryff off
Notyngham, among other points of interest, contains the earliest reference to Friar Tuck.

The plots of neither "the Monk" nor "the Potter" are included in the Gest; and neither is the
plot of "Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne" which is probably at least as old as those two
ballads although preserved in a more recent copy. Each of these three ballads survived in a
single copy, so it is unclear how much of the medieval legend has survived, and what has
survived may not be typical of the medieval legend. It has been argued that the fact that the
surviving ballads were preserved in written form in itself makes it unlikely they were typical;
in particular stories with an interest for the gentry were by this view more likely to be
preserved. The story of Robin's aid to the "poor knight" that takes up much of the Gest may
be an example.

The character of Robin in these first texts is rougher edged than in his later incarnations. In
"Robin Hood and the Monk," for example, he is shown as quick tempered and violent,
assaulting Little John for defeating him in an archery contest; in the same ballad Much the
Miller's Son casually kills a "little page" in the course of rescuing Robin Hood from prison. No
extant ballad actually shows Robin Hood "giving to the poor," although in a "A Gest of Robyn
Hode" Robin does make a large loan to an unfortunate knight which he does not in the end
require to be repaid; and later in the same ballad Robin Hood states his intention of giving
money to the next traveller to come down the road if he happens to be poor.

Of my good he shall haue some,
Yf he be a por man.

As it happens the next traveller is not poor, but it seems in context that Robin Hood is stating
a general policy. From the beginning Robin Hood is on the side of the poor; the Gest quotes
Robin Hood as instructing his men that when they rob:

loke ye do no husbonde harme
That tilleth with his ploughe.
No more ye shall no gode yeman
That walketh by gren-wode shawe;
Ne no knyght ne no squyer
That wol be a gode felawe.

And in its final lines the Gest sums up:

he was a good outlawe,
And dyde pore men moch god.

Within Robin Hood's band medieval forms of courtesy rather than modern ideals of equality
are generally in evidence. In the early ballads Robin's men usually kneel before him in strict
obedience: in A Gest of Robyn Hode the king even observes that "His men are more at his
byddynge/Then my men be at myn." Their social status, as yeomen, is shown by their
weapons; they use swords rather than quarterstaffs. The only character to use a quarterstaff
in the early ballads is the potter, and Robin Hood does not take to a staff until the 18th
century Robin Hood and Little John.

The political and social assumptions underlying the early Robin Hood ballads have long been
controversial. It has been influentially argued by J. C. Holt that the Robin Hood legend was
cultivated in the households of the gentry, and that it would be mistaken to see in him a figure
of peasant revolt. He is not a peasant but a yeoman, and his tales make no mention of the
complaints of the peasants, such as oppressive taxes. He appears not so much as a revolt
against societal standards as an embodiment of them, being generous, pious, and courteous,
opposed to stingy, worldly, and churlish foes. Other scholars have by contrast stressed the
subversive aspects of the legend, and see in the medieval Robin Hood ballads a plebeian
literature hostile to the feudal order.

Although the term "Merry Men" belongs to a later period, the ballads do name several of
Robin's companions. These include Will Scarlet (or Scathlock), Much the Miller's Son, and Little
John - who was called "little" as a joke, as he was quite the opposite. Even though the band is
regularly described as being over a hundred men, usually only three or four are specified.
Some appear only once or twice in a ballad: Will Stutely in Robin Hood Rescuing Will Stutly
and Robin Hood and Little John; David of Doncaster in Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow;
Gilbert with the White Hand in A Gest of Robyn Hode; and Arthur a Bland in Robin Hood and
the Tanner.

Printed versions of the Robin Hood ballads, generally based on the Gest, appear in the early
16th century, shortly after the introduction of printing in England. Later that century Robin is
promoted to the level of nobleman: he is styled Earl of Huntingdon, Robert of Locksley, or
Robert Fitz Ooth. In the early ballads, by contrast, he was a member of the yeoman classes,
which included common freeholders possessing a small landed estate.

By the early 15th century at the latest, Robin Hood had become associated with May Day
celebrations, with revellers dressing as Robin or as members of his band for the festivities.
This was not common throughout England, but in some regions the custom lasted until
Elizabethan times, and during the reign of Henry VIII, was briefly popular at court. Robin was
often allocated the role of a May King, presiding over games and processions, but plays were
also performed with the characters in the roles, sometimes performed at church ales, a means
by which churches raised funds.

A complaint of 1492, brought to the Star Chamber, accuses men of acting riotously by coming
to a fair as Robin Hood and his men; the accused defended themselves on the grounds that
the practice was a long-standing custom to raise money for churches, and they had not acted
riotously but peaceably.

It is from the association with the May Games that Robin's romantic attachment to Maid
Marian (or Marion) apparently stems. The naming of Marian may have come from the French
pastoral play of c. 1280, the Jeu de Robin et Marion, although this play is distinct from the
English legends. Both Robin and Marian were certainly associated with May Day festivities in
England (as was Friar Tuck), but these may have been originally two distinct types of
performance - Alexander Barclay in his Ship of Fools, writing in c. 1500, refers to "some merry
fytte of Maid Marian or else of Robin Hood" - but the characters were brought together. Marian
did not immediately gain the unquestioned role; in Robin Hood's Birth, Breeding, Valor, and
Marriage, his sweetheart is 'Clorinda the Queen of the Shepherdesses'. Clorinda survives in
some later stories as an alias of Marian.

In the 16th century, Robin Hood is given a specific historical setting. Up until this point there
was little interest in exactly when Robin's adventures took place. The original ballads refer at
various points to "King Edward," without stipulating whether this is Edward I, Edward II, or
Edward III. Hood may thus have been active at any point between 1272 and 1377. However,
during the 16th century the stories become fixed to the 1190s, the period in which King
Richard was absent from his throne, fighting in the crusades. This date is first proposed by
John Mair in his Historia Majoris Britanni (1521), and gains popular acceptance by the end of
the century.

Giving Robin an aristocratic title and female love interest, and placing him in the historical
context of the true king's absence, all represent moves to domesticate his legend and
reconcile it to ruling powers. In this, his legend is similar to that of King Arthur, which
morphed from a dangerous male-centred story to a more comfortable, chivalrous romance
under the troubadours serving Eleanor of Aquitaine. From the 16th century on, the legend of
Robin Hood is often used to promote the hereditary ruling class, romance, and religious piety.
The "criminal" element is retained to provide dramatic colour, rather than as a real challenge
to convention.

In 1598, Anthony Munday wrote a pair of plays on the Robin Hood legend, The Downfall and
The Death of Robert Earl of Huntington (published 1601). The 17th century introduced the
minstrel Alan-a-Dale. He first appeared in a 17th century broadside ballad, and unlike many of
the characters thus associated, managed to adhere to the legend. This is also the era in which
the character of Robin became fixed as stealing from the rich to give to the poor.

In the 18th century, the stories began to develop a slightly more farcical vein. From this
period there are a number of ballads in which Robin is severely "drubbed" by a succession of
professionals including a tanner, a tinker and a ranger. In fact, the only character who does
not get the better of Hood is the luckless Sheriff. Yet even in these ballads Robin is more than
a mere simpleton: on the contrary, he often acts with great shrewdness. The tinker, setting
out to capture Robin, only manages to fight with him after he has been cheated out of his
money and the arrest warrant he is carrying. In Robin Hood's Golden Prize, Robin disguises
himself as a friar and cheats two priests out of their cash. Even when Robin is defeated, he
usually tricks his foe into letting him sound his horn, summoning the Merry Men to his aid.
When his enemies do not fall for this ruse, he persuades them to drink with him instead.

The continued popularity of the Robin Hood tales is attested by a number of literary
references. In As You Like It, the exiled duke and his men "live like the old Robin Hood of
England," while Ben Jonson produced the (incomplete) masque The Sad Shepherd, or a Tale of
Robin Hood as a satire on Puritanism. Somewhat later, the Romantic poet John Keats
composed Robin Hood. To A Friend and Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote a play The Foresters, or
Robin Hood and Maid Marian, which was presented with incidental music by Sir Arthur Sullivan
in 1892. Later still, T. H. White featured Robin and his band in The Sword in the Stone -
anachronistically, since the novel's chief theme is the childhood of King Arthur.

The Victorian era generated its own distinct versions of Robin Hood. The traditional tales were
often adapted for children, most notably in Howard Pyle's The Merry Adventures of Robin
Hood, which influenced accounts of Robin Hood through the 20th century. These versions
firmly stamp Robin as a staunch philanthropist, a man who takes from the rich to give to the
poor. Nevertheless, the adventures are still more local than national in scope: while King
Richard's participation in the Crusades is mentioned in passing, Robin takes no stand against
Prince John, and plays no part in raising the ransom to free Richard. These developments are
part of the 20th century Robin Hood myth.

The idea of Robin Hood as a high-minded Saxon fighting Norman lords also originates in the
19th century. The most notable contributions to this idea of Robin are Jacques Nicolas
Augustin Thierry's Histoire de la Conqute de l'Angleterre par les Normands (1825) and Sir
Walter Scott's Ivanhoe (1819). In this last work in particular, the modern Robin Hood - "King
of Outlaws and prince of good fellows!" as Richard the Lionheart calls him - makes his debut.

The 20th century grafted still further details on to the original legends. The 1938 film The
Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, portrayed Robin as a
hero on a national scale, leading the oppressed Saxons in revolt against their Norman
overlords while Richard the Lionheart fought in the Crusades; this movie established itself so
definitively that many studios resorted to movies about his son (invented for that purpose)
rather than compete with the image of this one.

In the 1973 animated Disney film Robin Hood, the title character is portrayed as an
anthropomorphic fox voiced by Brian Bedford. Years before Robin Hood had even entered
production, Disney had considered doing a project on Reynard the Fox. However, due to
concerns that Reynard was unsuitable as a hero, animator Ken Anderson lifted many elements
from Reynard into Robin Hood, thus making the titular character a fox.

The 1976 British-American film Robin and Marian, starring Sean Connery as Robin Hood and
Audrey Hepburn as Maid Marian, portrays the figures in later years after Robin has returned
from service with Richard the Lion Hearted in a foreign crusade and Marian has gone into
seclusion in a nunnery.

Since the 1980s, it has become commonplace to include a Saracen among the Merry Men, a
trend which began with the character Nasir in the Robin of Sherwood television series. Later
versions of the story have followed suit: the 1991 movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and
2006 BBC TV series Robin Hood each contain equivalents of Nasir, in the figures of Azeem and
Djaq respectively. The latest movie version released in spring of 2010 is simply entitled Robin
Hood and is directed by Ridley Scott, with Robin played by Russell Crowe.

The Robin Hood legend has thus been subject to numerous shifts and mutations throughout its
history. Robin himself has evolved from a yeoman bandit to a national hero of epic
proportions, who not only supports the poor by taking from the rich, but heroically defends the
throne of England itself from unworthy and venal claimants.

Connections to existing locations

In modern versions of the legend, Robin Hood is said to have taken up residence in the
verdant Sherwood Forest in the county of Nottinghamshire. For this reason the people of
present-day Nottinghamshire have a special affinity with Robin Hood, often claiming him as
the symbol of their county. For example, major road signs entering the shire depict Robin
Hood with his bow and arrow, welcoming people to 'Robin Hood County.' BBC Radio
Nottingham also uses the phrase 'Robin Hood County' on its regular programmes. The Robin
Hood Way runs through Nottinghamshire and the county is home to literally thousands of
other places, roads, inns and objects bearing Robin's name.

Specific sites linked to Robin Hood
include the Major Oak tree, claimed
to have been used by him as a
hideout, Robin Hood's Well, located
near Newstead Abbey (within the
boundaries of Sherwood Forest), and
the Church of St. Mary in the village
of Edwinstowe, where Robin and Maid
Marian are historically thought to
have wed. To reinforce this belief, the
University of Nottingham in 2010 has
begun the Nottingham Caves Survey
with the goal "to increase the tourist
potential of these sites." The project
"will use a 3D laser scanner to
produce a three dimensional record of
more than 450 sandstone caves
around Nottingham."

However, the Nottingham setting is a matter of some contention. While the Sheriff of
Nottingham and the town itself appear in early ballads, and Sherwood is specifically mentioned
in the early ballad Robin Hood and the Monk, certain of the original ballads (even those with
Nottingham references) locate Robin on occasion in Barnsdale (the area between Pontefract
and Doncaster), approximately fifty miles north of Nottingham, in the county of Yorkshire;
furthermore, it has been suggested that the ballads placed in this area are far more
geographically specific and accurate. This is reinforced for some by the alleged similarity of
Locksley to the area of Loxley, South Yorkshire in Sheffield, where in nearby Tideswell, which
was the "Kings Larder" in the Royal Forest of the Peak, a record of the appearance of a
"Robert de Lockesly" in court is found, dated 1245. As "Robert" and its diminutives were
amongst the most common of names at the time, and also since it was usual for men to adopt
the name of their hometown ("De Lockesly" means simply, "Of [or from] Lockesly"), the
record could just as easily be referring to any man from the area named Robert. Although it
cannot be proven whether or not this is the man himself, it is further believed by some that
Robin had a brother called Thomas - an assertion with no documentary evidence whatsoever
to support it in any of the stories, tales or ballads. If the Robert mentioned above was indeed
Robin Hood, and if he did have a brother named Thomas, then consideration of the following
reference may lend this theory a modicum of credence:

24) No. 389, f0- 78. Ascension Day, 29 H. III., Nic Meverill, with John Kantia, on the
one part, and Henry de Leke. Henry released to Nicholas and John 5 m. rent, which he
received from Nicolas and John and Robert de Lockesly for his life from the lands of
Gellery, in consideration of receiving from each of them 2M (2 marks). only, the said
Henry to live at table with one of them and to receive 2M. annually from the other. T.,
Sampson de Leke, Magister Peter Meverill, Roger de Lockesly, John de Leke, Robert fil
Umfred, Rico de Newland, Richard Meverill. (25) No. 402, p. 80 b. Thomas de Lockesly
bound himself that he would not sell his lands at Leke, which Nicolas Meveril had
rendered to him, under a penalty of L40 (40 pounds).

A pound was 240 silver pence, and a mark was 160 silver pence (i.e., 13 shillings and

It is again, however, equally likely that Nicolas, John, Robert and Thomas were simply
members of a family which came from the area.

In Barnsdale Forest, Yorkshire, there is a well known as Robin Hood's Well (by the side of the
Great North Road), a Little John's Well (near Hampole) and a Robin Hood's stream (in
Highfields Wood at Woodlands). There is something of a modern movement amongst Yorkshire
residents to attempt to claim the legend of Robin Hood, to the extent that South Yorkshire's
new airport, on the site of the redeveloped RAF Finningley airbase near Doncaster, although
ironically in the historic county of Nottinghamshire, has been given the name Robin Hood
Airport Doncaster Sheffield. Centuries ago, a variant of "as plain as the nose on your face" was
"Robin Hood in Barnesdale stood."

In the city centre of Leeds, West Yorkshire at 71, Vicar Lane is a retail clothing store operated
by Hugo Boss. This was the previous location of a pub/music venue known as The Duchess of
York which was previously known as the Robin Hood. During an interior refurbishment,
wallpaper was removed to reveal a wall mural depicting Robin Hood and his Merry Men in the
small snug of the pub. The Landlord at the time, Robin Dover, was photographed standing
next to the mural which was published in The Yorkshire Evening Post.

There have been further claims made that he is from Swannington in Leicestershire or Loxley,

This debate is hardly surprising of course, given the considerable value that the Robin Hood
legend has for local tourism. The Sheriff of Nottingham also had jurisdiction in Derbyshire that
was known as the "Shire of the Deer," and this is where the Royal Forest of the Peak is found,
which roughly corresponds to today's Peak District National Park. The Royal Forest included
Bakewell, Tideswell, Castleton, Ladybower and the Derwent Valley near Loxley. The Sheriff of
Nottingham possessed property near Loxley, amongst other places both far and wide including
Hazlebadge Hall, Peveril Castle and Haddon Hall. Mercia, to which Nottingham belonged, came
to within three miles of Sheffield City Centre. The supposed grave of Little John can be found
in Hathersage, also in the Peak District.

Robin Hood himself was once thought to have been buried in the grounds of Kirklees Priory
between Brighouse and Mirfield in West Yorkshire, although for the reasons given above this
theory has now largely been abandoned. There is an elaborate grave there with the inscription
referred to above. The story said that the Prioress was a relative of Robin's. Robin was ill and
staying at the Priory where the Prioress was supposedly caring for him. However, she betrayed
him, his health worsened, and he eventually died there.

Before he died, he told Little John (or possibly another of his Merry Men) where to bury him.
He shot an arrow from the Priory window, and where the arrow landed was to be the site of
his grave. The grave with the inscription is within sight of the ruins of the Kirklees Priory,
behind the Three Nuns pub in Mirfield, West Yorkshire. The grave can be visited on occasional
organised walks, organised by Calderdale Council Tourist Information office.

Further indications of the legend's connection with West Yorkshire (and particularly
Calderdale) are noted in the fact that there are pubs called the Robin Hood in both nearby
Brighouse and at Cragg Vale; higher up in the Pennines beyond Halifax, where Robin Hood
Rocks can also be found. Robin Hood Hill is near Outwood, West Yorkshire, not far from
Lofthouse. There is a village in West Yorkshire called Robin Hood, on the A61 between Leeds
and Wakefield and close to Rothwell and Lofthouse. Considering these references to Robin
Hood, it is not surprising that the people of both South and West Yorkshire lay some claim to
Robin Hood, who, if he existed, could easily have roamed between Nottingham, Lincoln,
Doncaster and right into West Yorkshire.

A British Army Territorial (reserves) battalion formed in Nottingham in 1859 was known as The
Robin Hood Battalion through various reorganisations until the "Robin Hood" name finally
disappeared in 1992. With the 1881 Childers reforms that linked regular and reserve units into
regimental families, the Robin Hood Battalion became part of The Sherwood Foresters
(Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment).

A Neolithic causewayed enclosure on Salisbury Plain has acquired the name Robin Hood's Ball,
although had Robin Hood existed it is doubtful that he would have travelled so far south.
List of traditional ballads

Elizabethan song of Robin HoodBallads are the oldest
existing form of the Robin Hood legends, although
none of them are recorded at the time of the first
allusions to him, and many are much later. They
share many common features, often opening with
praise of the greenwood and relying heavily on
disguise as a plot device, but include a wide variation
in tone and plot. The ballads below are sorted into
three groups, very roughly according to date of first
known free-standing copy. Ballads whose first
recorded version appears (usually incomplete) in the
Percy Folio may appear in later versions and may be
much older than the mid 17th century when the Folio
was compiled. Any ballad may be older than the
oldest copy which happens to survive, or descended
from a lost older ballad. For example, the plot of
Robin Hood's Death, found in the Percy Folio, is
summarised in the 15th-century A Gest of Robyn
Hode, and it also appears in an 18th-century version.

Early ballads
(i.e., surviving in 15th- or early 16th-century copies)

A Gest of Robyn Hode
Robin Hood and the Monk
Robin Hood and the Potter
Ballads appearing in 17th-century Percy Folio

Note: The first two ballads listed here (the "Death" and "Gisborne"), although preserved in
17th century copies, are generally agreed to preserve the substance of late medieval ballads.
The third (the "Curtal Friar") and the fourth (the "Butcher"), also probably have late medieval

Robin Hood's Death
Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne
Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar
Robin Hood and the Butcher
Robin Hood Rescuing Will Stutly
Robin Hood Rescuing Three Squires
The Jolly Pinder of Wakefield
Robin Hood and Queen Katherine

Other ballads

A True Tale of Robin Hood
Robin Hood and the Bishop
Robin Hood and the Bishop of Hereford
Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow
Robin Hood and the Prince of Aragon
Robin Hood and the Ranger
Robin Hood and the Scotchman
Robin Hood and the Tanner
Robin Hood and the Tinker
Robin Hood and the Valiant Knight
Robin Hood Newly Revived
Robin Hood's Birth, Breeding, Valor, and Marriage
Robin Hood's Chase
Robin Hood's Delight
Robin Hood's Golden Prize
Robin Hood's Progress to Nottingham
The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood
The King's Disguise, and Friendship with Robin Hood
The Noble Fisherman

Some ballads, such as Erlinton, feature Robin Hood in some variants, where the folk hero
appears to be added to a ballad pre-existing him and in which he does not fit very well. He
was added to one variant of Rose Red and the White Lily, apparently on no more connection
than that one hero of the other variants is named "Brown Robin." Francis James Child indeed
retitled Child ballad 102; though it was titled The Birth of Robin Hood, its clear lack of
connection with the Robin Hood cycle (and connection with other, unrelated ballads) led him to
title it Willie and Earl Richard's Daughter in his collection.


In Finnish mythology, the Sampo or Sammas was a
magical artifact of indeterminate type constructed by
Ilmarinen that brought good fortune to its holder. When
the Sampo was stolen, it is said that Ilmarinen's
homeland fell upon hard times and sent an expedition to
retrieve it, but in the ensuing battle it was smashed and
lost at sea.

The Defense of the Sampo by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

The Sampo has been interpreted in many ways: a world
pillar or world tree, a compass or astrolabe, a chest
containing a treasure, a Byzantine coin die, a decorated Vendel period shield, a Christian relic,
etc. In the Kalevala, compiler Lnnrot interpreted it to be a quern or mill of some sort that
made flour, salt, and gold out of thin air. The world pillar hypothesis, originally developed by
historian of religions Uno Harva and the linguist Eemil Nestor Setl in the early 20th century,
is the most widely accepted one.

According to Giorgio de Santillana, professor of the history of science at MIT, and student of
mythology, the sampo and the world pillar both refer to the precession of the equinox. In
Hamlet's Mill, co-authored with Hertha von Deschend, the authors find that the sampo or
precession process was believed to grind out different world ages, from dark age to golden
age and back again over the long precession cycle.

Description in the Kalevala

The Sampo is a pivotal element of the plot of the Finnish epic poem Kalevala, compiled in
1835 (and expanded in 1849) by Elias Lnnrot based on earlier Finnish oral tradition.

In the expanded second version of the poem, the Sampo is forged by Ilmarinen, a legendary
smith, as a task set by the Mistress of Pohjola in return for her daughter's hand.

"Ilmarinen, worthy brother,
Thou the only skilful blacksmith,
Go and see her wondrous beauty,
See her gold and silver garments,
See her robed in finest raiment,
See her sitting on the rainbow,
Walking on the clouds of purple.
Forge for her the magic Sampo,
Forge the lid in many colors,
Thy reward shall be the virgin,
Thou shalt win this bride of beauty;
Go and bring the lovely maiden
To thy home in Kalevala."

Ilmarinen works for several days at a mighty forge until finally the Sampo is created:

On one side the flour is grinding,
On another salt is making,
On a third is money forging,
And the lid is many-colored.
Well the Sampo grinds when finished,
To and fro the lid in rocking,
Grinds one measure at the day-break,
Grinds a measure fit for eating,
Grinds a second for the market,
Grinds a third one for the store-house.

Later, Louhi the sorceress steals the Sampo, provoking Ilmarinen and Vinminen to enter
her stronghold in secret and retrieve it. Louhi, in reply, pursues them and combats
Vinminen. In the struggle, Louhi is vanquished but the Sampo is destroyed.

Similar devices

The Cornucopia of Greek mythology also produces endless goods.

Some versions of the Grail myth emphasize how the Grail creates food and goods.

The Mill Grtti of the Grottasngr in Nordic mythology also produces gold (as well as
peace and happiness) and salt.

Japanese folktale Shiofuki usu speaks of a grindstone that could be used to create
anything. Like Sampo, it too was lost to the sea, endlessly grinding salt.

The Mahabharatha speaks about the Akshaya Pathram, a vessel/bowl capable of
creating food. It stopped providing at the end of the day when the lady of the house
had her last meal. This vessel was provided to the Pandavas, when in exile, by

The World Mill is a hypothesized mytheme shared by the mythologies of certain Indo-
European-speaking peoples, involving the analogy of the cosmos or the firmament
(Finnish: Taivaankansi) and a rotating millstone. The aforementioned Grtti is
sometimes seen as an example of the mytheme.

Talking tree

Talking trees are a form of sapient vegetable life in
mythologies and stories.

Tree with what looks like a face and mouth

Some of the more well known talking trees:

The Greek Talking Elm: Philostratus spoke about two philosophers arguing beneath
an elm tree in Ethiopia which spoke up to add to the conversation.
The Indian Tree of the Sun and the Moon: Told the future. Two parts of the tree
trunk spoke depending on the time of day; in the daytime the tree spoke as a male
and at night it spoke as a female. Alexander the Great and Marco Polo are said to have
visited this tree.
The weeping Date palm tree: The Prophet Muhammad, when delivering his sermons
used to stand by or lean on a date palm tree. When a pulpit was built elsewhere and
Muhammad started to give his sermon from the pulpit, the tree began to cry like a
child. Muhammad then descended from his pulpit and consoled the tree by embracing
it and stroking it. The Prophet said, "It was crying for (missing) what it used to hear of
religious knowledge given near to it." This incident is recorded in the authentic Islamic
Hadith traditions and is said to have been witnessed by everyone present at the
Oracular Trees are sometimes attributed with the ability to speak to individuals,
especially those gifted in divination. In particular, Druids were said to be able to
consult Oak trees for divinatory purposes, as were the Streghe with Rowan trees.
In Ireland, a tree may help a person look for a leprechaun's gold, although it normally
does not know where the gold is.

*The Great Flood

Flood Myth

A flood myth or deluge myth is a mythical or religious story of a great flood sent by a deity or
deities to destroy civilization as an act of divine retribution. It is a theme widespread among
many cultures, though it is perhaps best known in modern times through the biblical and
Quranic account of Noah's Ark, the foundational myths of the Quich and Mayas, through
Deucalion in Greek mythology, the Utnapishtim in the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Hindu puranic
story of Manu which has some very strong parallels with the story of Noah.

Parallels are often drawn between the flood waters of these myths and the primeval waters
found in some creation myths since the flood waters are seen to cleanse humanity in
preparation for rebirth. Most flood myths also contain a culture hero who strives to ensure this
Origin of flood myths

Adrienne Mayor's The First Fossil Hunters and Fossil Legends of the First Americans promoted
the hypothesis that flood stories were inspired by ancient observations of seashells and fish
fossils inland and on mountains. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, and Chinese all
wrote about finding such remains in these locations, and the Greeks hypothesized that Earth
had been covered by water several times, noting seashells and fish fossils found on mountain
tops as evidence. Native Americans also expressed this belief in their early encounters with
Europeans, though they had not written it down previously. However, Leonardo da Vinci
postulated that an immediate deluge could not have caused the neatly ordered strata he found
in the Italian Apennines.

Some geologists believe that quite dramatic,
unusually great flooding of rivers in the
distant past might have influenced the
legends. Also episodes of massive flooding of
short duration of ocean coastal areas have
been caused by tsunamis. One of the latest,
and quite controversial, hypotheses of long
term flooding is the Ryan-Pitman Theory,
which argues for a catastrophic deluge about
5600 BC from the Mediterranean Sea into the
Black Sea. This has been the subject of
considerable discussion, and a news article
from National Geographic News in February
2009 reported that the flooding might have
been "quite mild".

There also has been speculation that a large
tsunami in the Mediterranean Sea caused by the Thera eruption, dated about 16301600 BC
geologically, was the historical basis for folklore that evolved into the Deucalion myth.
Although the tsunami hit the South Aegean Sea and Crete it did not affect cities in the
mainland of Greece, such as Mycenae, Athens, and Thebes, which continued to prosper,
indicating that it had a local rather than a regionwide effect.

"The Deluge", by John Martin, 1834. Oil on
canvas. Yale University
Another theory is that a meteor or comet crashed into the Indian Ocean around 30002800
BC, created the 30 kilometres (19 mi) undersea Burckle Crater, and generated a giant tsunami
that flooded coastal lands.

It has been postulated that the deluge myth may be based on a sudden rise in sea levels
caused by the rapid draining of prehistoric Lake Agassiz at the end of the last Ice Age, about
8,400 years ago.

The great deluge finds mention in Hindu mythology texts like the Satapatha Brahmana, where
in the Matsya Avatar (Fish incarnation) of the Hindu deity Vishnu takes place to save the pious
and the first man, Manu.

The Great Flood of China

The Great Flood of China (Chinese: ; pinyin: D Hngshu, or just ), traditionally
dated to the Third Millennium, BCE, during the reign of the Emperor Yao, according to
historical sources, was a major flood event that continued for many years, resulting in great
population displacements and in association with various related disasters, such as storms and
famine. The Great Flood of China has been treated both historically as well as mythologically.
Either way, or both, it is a narrative foundational to Chinese culture. Among other things, the
Great Flood of China is key to understanding the history of the founding of both the Xia
Dynasty and the Zhou Dynasty, is one of the main flood motifs in Chinese mythology, and is a
major source of allusion in Classical Chinese poetry.

Literary History

Chinese history as a continuously recorded literary tradition begins with the ancient
documents transmitted to posterity through the Records of the Grand Historian, of Sima Qian,
which begin this narrative with the reign of the Yellow Emperor, and incorporate two
discourses by Confucius. According to these, the great-grandson (or fourth successor) of the
Yellow Emperor was Yao. Beginning with the reign of Yao, additional literary sources become
available, including the Book of History (collected and edited by Confucius),which begins with
the "Canon of Yao", describing the events of Yao's reign. It was during Yao's reign that the
Great Flood began, a flood so vast that no part of Yao's territory was spared, and both the
Yellow River and the Yangzi valleys flooded. The alleged nature of the flood is shown in the
following quote:

Like endless boiling water, the flood is pouring forth destruction. Boundless and
overwhelming, it overtops hills and mountains. Rising and ever rising, it threatens the
very heavens. How the people must be groaning and suffering!

-- Emperor Yao, as quoted in the Book of History, describing the flood

According to the historical sources, the flooding continued relentlessly. Yao sought to find
someone who could control the flood, and turned for advice to his special adviser, or advisers,
Four Mountains ( or , Syu). Upon the insistence of Four Mountains, and over Yao's
initial hesitation, the person appointed to control the flood was Gun, the Prince of Chong, who
was a distant relative of Yao's through common descent from the Yellow Emperor. Nine years
later, despite the efforts of Gun, the flood continued to rage on, leading to all sorts of social
disorders, with the administration of the empire becoming increasingly difficult; accordingly, at
this point, Yao offered to resign the throne in favor of Four Mountains: however, Four
Mountains declined, and instead recommended Shun another distant relative to Yao through
the Yellow Emperor; but one who was living in obscurity, despite his royal lineage. Yao
proceeded to put Shun through a series of tests, beginning with wiving Shun with his two
daughters and ending by sending him down from the mountains to the plains below where he
had to face fierce winds, thunder, and rain. After passing all of Yao's tests, Shun took on
administrative responsibilities as co-emperor. Among these responsibilities, Shun had to deal
with the Great Flood and its associated disruptions, especially in light of the fact that Yao's
reluctant decision to appoint Gun to handle the problem had failed to fix the situation, despite
having been working on it for the previous nine years. Shun took steps over the next four
years to re-organize the empire, in such a way as to solve immediate problems and to put the
imperial authority in a better position to deal with the flood and its effects. Despite the
additional four years, Gun still had failed to achieve success.


The story of the Great Flood plays a dramatic role in Chinese mythology. Actually, there are a
number of flood narratives in Chinese mythology, which while somewhat lacking in internal
consistency and as well incorporating various magical transformations and including the
interventions of various divine or semi-divine beings, nevertheless share certain common
features. As opposed to myths involving the flooding of specific rivers or Ma Gu and the
periodic alteration of sea and mulberry orchards; as a whole, it seems that the myths centered
around the Great Flood share certain similar outlooks, such as a certain emphasis on the flood
being from natural causes, rather than the result of "universal punishment for human sin".
Another common feature seems to be the alleviation of the flooding by constructing dikes and
dams, digging canals, together with widening or deepening existing channels, as well as
teaching these skills to others, as in the cases of Nwa, Gun, and Yu the Great.

Black Sea deluge theory

The Black Sea deluge is a hypothesized catastrophic rise in the level of the Black Sea circa
5600 BC due to waters from the Mediterranean Sea breaching a sill in the Bosporus Strait. The
hypothesis made headlines when The New York Times published it in December 1996, shortly
before it was published in an academic journal. While it is agreed that the sequence of events
described did occur, there is debate over the suddenness, dating and magnitude of the events.
Two opposing hypotheses have arisen to explain the rise of the Black Sea: gradual, and
oscillating. The oscillating hypothesis specifies that over the last 30,000 years, water has
intermittently flowed back and forth between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea in relatively
small magnitudes, and does not necessarily presuppose that there occurred any sudden
"refilling" events.

Flood hypothesis

In 1997, William Ryan and Walter Pitman
published evidence that a massive flooding of
the Black Sea occurred about 5600 BC through
the Bosporus, following this scenario. Before
that date, glacial meltwater had turned the Black
and Caspian Seas into vast freshwater lakes
draining into the Aegean Sea. As glaciers
retreated, some of the rivers emptying into the
Black Sea declined in volume and changed
course to drain into the North Sea. The levels of
the lakes dropped through evaporation, while
changes in worldwide hydrology caused sea level
to rise. The rising Mediterranean finally spilled
over a rocky sill at the Bosporus. The event
flooded 155,000 km2 (60,000 sq mi) of land and
significantly expanded the Black Sea shoreline to
the north and west. According to the
researchers, "40 km3 (10 cu mi) of water poured through each day, two hundred times what
flows over Niagara Falls... The Bosporus flume roared and surged at full spate for at least
three hundred days."

Samplings of sediments in the Black Sea by a series of expeditions carried out between 1998
to 2005 in the frame of a European Project ASSEMBLAGE and coordinated by a French
oceanographer, Gilles Lericolais, brought some new inputs to the Ryan and Pitman's
hypothesis. These results were also completed by the Noah project led by the Bulgarian
Institute of Oceanography (IO-BAS). Furthermore, calculations made by Mark Siddall predicted
an underwater canyon that was actually found.

Black Sea today (light blue) and in 5600
BC (dark blue) according to Ryan and
Pitman's hypothesis.

While some geologists claim it as fact that the sequence of events described did occur, there is
debate over their suddenness and magnitude. In particular, if the water level of the Black Sea
had initially been higher, the effect of the spillover would have been much less dramatic. A
large part of the academic geological community also continues to reject the idea that there
could have been enough sustained long-term pressure by water from the Aegean to dig
through a supposed isthmus at the present Bosporus, or enough of a difference in water levels
(if at all) between the two water basins.

Countering the hypothesis of Ryan and Pitman are data collected prior to its publication by
Ukrainian and Russian scientists including Valentina Yanko-Hombach, who claims that the
water flow through the Bosporus repeatedly reversed direction over geological time depending
on fluctuation in the levels of the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea. This contradicts the
hypothesized catastrophic breakage of a Bosporus sill. Likewise, the water levels calculated by
Yanko-Hombach differed widely from those hypothesized by Ryan and Pitman.

In 2007, a research anthology on the topic was published which makes available much of the
earlier Russian research in English for the first time, and combines it with more recent
scientific findings.

A five-year cross-disciplinary research project under the sponsorship of UNESCO and the
International Union of Geological Sciences was conducted 20059.

A February 2009 article reported that the flooding might have been "quite mild".

According to a study by Giosan et al., the level in the Black Sea before the marine
reconnection was 30 m below present sea level, rather than the 80 m, or lower, of the
catastrophe theories. If the flood occurred at all, the sea level increase and the flooded area
during the reconnection were significantly smaller than previously proposed. It also occurred
earlier than initially surmised, ca. 7400 BC, rather than the originally proposed 5600 BC. Since
the depth of the Bosphorus, in its middle furrow, at present varies from 36 to 124 m, with an
average depth of 65 m, a calculated stone age shoreline in the Black Sea lying 30 m lower
than in the present day would imply that the contact with the Mediterranean may never have
been broken during the Holocene, and hence that there could have been no sudden waterfall-
style transgression.

Evidence from archaeology

Although neolithic agriculture had by that time
already reached the Pannonian plain, Ryan and
Pittman link its spread with people displaced by
the postulated flood. More recent examinations
by oceanographers such as Teofilo A. "Jun"
Abrajano Jr. at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
and his Canadian colleague Ali Aksu of the
Memorial University of Newfoundland have cast
some doubt on this linkage. Abrajano's team,
finding sapropel mud deposits in the Sea of
Marmara which are today associated with
freshwater outflow over top of salt-water inflow,
have concluded that there has been sustained
fresh water outflow from the Black Sea to the
Mediterranean for at least 10,000 years. In
2003, Michael Sperling concluded that the Black
Sea was not a major freshwater source
contributing to formation of the Marmara
Sapropel S1. Aksu found an underwater delta
south of the Bosporus; evidence for a strong
flow of fresh water out of the Black Sea in the
8th millennium BC. Nevertheless, Erkan Gkaan
and later Kadir Eris demonstrated that the
development of the delta is clearly associated with the Kurbaal Stream on the east coast,
and not with the Black Sea outflow through the strait.

In a series of expeditions, a team of marine archeologists led by Robert Ballard identified what
appeared to be ancient shorelines, freshwater snail shells, drowned river valleys, tool-worked
timbers, and man-made structures in roughly 100 metres (330 ft) of water off the Black Sea
coast of modern Turkey. Although radiocarbon dating of freshwater mollusk remains indicated
an age of about 7,500 years, radiocarbon dating in freshwater mollusks in particular can be
inaccurate. Such inaccuracies, however, are always in the direction of objects appearing older
than they actually are (containing less 14C than expected), so the time given is a maximum
age of a freshwater shoreline at that location.

Before and after the flood, according to
Ryan and Pitman
The Shroud of Turin

The Shroud of Turin or Turin Shroud (Italian:
Sindone di Torino, Sacra Sindone) is a linen cloth
bearing the image of a man who appears to have
suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent
with crucifixion. It is kept in the royal chapel of the
Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin,
northern Italy. The image on the shroud is
commonly associated with Jesus Christ, his
crucifixion and burial. The origins of the shroud and
its image are the subject of intense debate among
scientists, theologians, historians and researchers.
The Catholic Church has neither formally endorsed
nor rejected the shroud, but in 1958 Pope Pius XII
approved of the image in association with the
Roman Catholic devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.

The image on the shroud is much clearer in black-
and-white negative than in its natural sepia color.
The negative image was first observed in 1898, on
the reverse photographic plate of amateur
photographer Secondo Pia, who was allowed to
photograph it while it was being exhibited in the
Turin Cathedral. In 1978 a detailed examination was
carried out by a team of American scientists called
STURP. They found no reliable evidence of forgery,
and called the question of how the image was
formed "a mystery".

In 1988, a controversial radiocarbon dating test was performed on small samples of the
shroud. The laboratories at the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss
Federal Institute of Technology, concurred that the samples they tested dated from the Middle
Ages, between 1260 and 1390. Three peer-reviewed articles have since been published
contending that the samples used for the dating test may not have been representative of the
whole shroud.

Scientific and popular publications have presented diverse arguments for both authenticity and
possible methods of forgery. A variety of scientific theories regarding the shroud have since
been proposed, based on disciplines ranging from chemistry to biology and medical forensics
to optical image analysis. According to former Nature editor Philip Ball, "it's fair to say that,
despite the seemingly definitive tests in 1988, the status of the Shroud of Turin is murkier
than ever. Not least, the nature of the image and how it was fixed on the cloth remain deeply
puzzling". The shroud is one of the most studied artifacts in human history, and one of the
most controversial.


The shroud is rectangular, measuring approximately 4.4 1.1 m (14.3 3.7 ft). The cloth is
woven in a three-to-one herringbone twill composed of flax fibrils. Its most distinctive
characteristic is the faint, brownish image of a front and back view of a naked man with his
hands folded across his groin. The two views are aligned along the midplane of the body and
point in opposite directions. The front and back views of the head nearly meet at the middle of
the cloth.

Secondo Pia's 1898 negative of the
image on the Shroud of Turin has an
appearance suggesting a positive
image. It is used as part of the
devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.
Reddish brown stains that have been said to include whole blood are found on the cloth,
showing various wounds that, according to proponents, correlate with the yellowish image, the
pathophysiology of crucifixion, and the Biblical description of the death of Jesus.

Markings on the lines include:

one wrist bears a large, round wound, claimed to be from piercing (the second wrist is
hidden by the folding of the hands)
upward gouge in the side penetrating into the thoracic cavity. Proponents claim this
was a post-mortem event and there are separate components of red blood cells and
serum draining from the lesion
small punctures around the forehead and scalp
scores of linear wounds on the torso and legs. Proponents claim that the wounds are
consistent with the distinctive dumbbell wounds of a Roman flagrum.
swelling of the face from severe beatings
streams of blood down both arms. Proponents claim that the blood drippings from the
main flow occurred in response to gravity at an angle that would occur during
no evidence of either leg being fractured
large puncture wounds in the feet as if pierced by a single spike

Left: Full length negatives of the shroud.

The details of the image on the shroud
are not easily distinguishable by the
naked eye, and were first observed after
the advent of photography.

In May 1898 amateur Italian
photographer Secondo Pia was allowed to
photograph the shroud and he took the
first photograph of the shroud on the
evening of May 28, 1898. Pia was
startled by the visible image of the
negative plate in his darkroom. Negatives
of the image give the appearance of a
positive image, which implies that the
shroud image is itself effectively a
negative of some kind. Pia was at first
accused of doctoring his photographs,
but was vindicated in 1931 when a
professional photographer, Giuseppe
Enrie, also photographed the shroud and his findings supported Pia's. In 1978 Miller and
Pellicori took ultraviolet photographs of the shroud.

The image of the "Man of the Shroud" has a beard, moustache, and shoulder-length hair
parted in the middle. He is muscular and tall (various experts have measured him as from
1.70 m, or roughly 5 ft 7 in, to 1.88 m, or 6 ft 2 in). The shroud was damaged in a fire in
1532 in the chapel in Chambery, France. There are some burn holes and scorched areas down
both sides of the linen, caused by contact with molten silver during the fire that burned
through it in places while it was folded. Fourteen large triangular patches and eight smaller
ones were sewn onto the cloth by Poor Clare nuns to repair the damage.


Left: Full-length image of the Turin Shroud before the
2002 restoration.

The historical records for the shroud can be separated
into two time periods: before 1390 and from 1390 to
the present. The period until 1390 is subject to debate
and controversy among historians. Prior to the 14th
century there are some congruent references such as
the Pray Codex. It is often mentioned that the first
certain historical record dates from 1353 or 1357.
However the presence of the Turin Shroud in Lirey,
France, is only undoubtedly attested in 1390 when
Bishop Pierre d'Arcis wrote a memorandum to Antipope
Clement VII, stating that the shroud was a forgery and
that the artist had confessed. The history from the
15th century to the present is well understood. In 1453
Margaret de Charny deeded the Shroud to the House of
Savoy. In 1578 the shroud was transferred in Turin. As
of the 17th century the shroud has been displayed
(e.g. in the chapel built for that purpose by Guarino
Guarini) and in the 19th century it was first
photographed during a public exhibition.

There are no definite historical records concerning the
shroud prior to the 14th century. Although there are
numerous reports of Jesus' burial shroud, or an image
of his head, of unknown origin, being venerated in
various locations before the 14th century, there is no
historical evidence that these refer to the shroud
currently at Turin Cathedral. A burial cloth, which some
historians maintain was the Shroud, was owned by the
Byzantine emperors but disappeared during the Sack of
Constantinople in 1204.

Right: The pilgrim medallion of
Lirey (before 1453), drawing by
Arthur Forgeais, 1865.

Historical records seem to indicate
that a shroud bearing an image of
a crucified man existed in the
small town of Lirey around the
years 1353 to 1357 in the
possession of a French Knight,
Geoffroi de Charny, who died at the Battle of Poitiers in
1356. However the correspondence of this shroud with
the shroud in Turin, and its very origin has been
debated by scholars and lay authors, with claims of
forgery attributed to artists born a century apart. Some contend that the Lirey shroud was the
work of a confessed forger and murderer or forged by Leonardo da Vinci.

The history of the shroud from the 15th century is well recorded. In 1532, the shroud suffered
damage from a fire in a chapel of Chambry, capital of the Savoy region, where it was stored.
A drop of molten silver from the reliquary produced a symmetrically placed mark through the
layers of the folded cloth. Poor Clare Nuns attempted to repair this damage with patches. In
1578 Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy ordered the cloth to be brought from Chambry to
Turin and it has remained at Turin ever since.

Repairs were made to the shroud in 1694 by Sebastian Valfr to improve the repairs of the
Poor Clare nuns. Further repairs were made in 1868 by Clotilde of Savoy. The shroud
remained the property of the House of Savoy until 1983, when it was given to the Holy See,
the rule of the House of Savoy having ended in 1946.

A fire, possibly caused by arson, threatened the shroud on 11 April 1997. In 2002, the Holy
See had the shroud restored. The cloth backing and thirty patches were removed, making it
possible to photograph and scan the reverse side of the cloth, which had been hidden from
view. A ghostly part-image of the body was found on the back of the shroud in 2004. The
most recent public exhibition of the Shroud was in 2010.

Religious perspective

Religious beliefs about the burial cloths of Jesus have existed for centuries. The Gospels of
Matthew [27:5960], Mark [15:46] and Luke [23:53] state that Joseph of Arimathea wrapped
the body of Jesus in a piece of linen cloth and placed it in a new tomb. The Gospel of John
[19:3840] refers to strips of linen used by Joseph of Arimathea and John [20:67] states
that Apostle Peter found multiple pieces of burial cloth after the tomb was found open, strips
of linen cloth for the body and a separate cloth for the head.

Although pieces of burial cloths of Jesus are claimed by at least four churches in France and
three in Italy, none has gathered as much religious following as the Shroud of Turin. The
religious beliefs and practices associated with the shroud predate historical and scientific
discussions and have continued in the 21st century, although the Catholic Church has never
claimed its authenticity. An example is the Holy Face Medal bearing the image from the
shroud, worn by some Catholics.

John Calvin on the shroud

In 1543 John Calvin, in his Treatise on Relics, wrote of the shroud, which was then at Nice (it
was moved to Turin in 1578), "How is it possible that those sacred historians, who carefully
related all the miracles that took place at Christs death, should have omitted to mention one
so remarkable as the likeness of the body of our Lord remaining on its wrapping sheet?" He
also noted that, according to St. John, there was one sheet covering Jesus's body, and a
separate cloth covering his head. He then stated that "either St. John is a liar," or else anyone
who promotes such a shroud is "convicted of falsehood and deceit".


Although the shroud image is currently associated with Catholic devotions to the Holy Face of
Jesus, the devotions themselves predate Secondo Pia's 1898 photograph. Such devotions had
been started in 1844 by the Carmelite nun Marie of St Peter (based on "pre-crucifixion"
images associated with the Veil of Veronica) and promoted by Leo Dupont, also called the
Apostle of the Holy Face. In 1851 Leo Dupont formed the "Archconfraternity of the Holy Face"
in Tours, France, well before Secondo Pia took the photograph of the shroud.

Miraculous image

Left: A poster advertising the 1898 exhibition
of the shroud in Turin. Secondo Pia's
photograph was taken a few weeks too late to
be included in the poster. The image on the
poster includes a painted face, not obtained
from Pia's photograph.

The religious concept of "miraculous image"
has been applied to the Shroud of Turin, as it
has been applied to other religious artifacts
such as the image of the Virgin Mary on the
cloak in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
on Tepeyac hill in Mexico.

Without debating scientific issues, some
believers state as a matter of faith that
empirical analysis and scientific methods will
perhaps never advance to a level sufficient for
understanding the divine methods used for
image formation on the shroud, since the body
around whom the shroud was wrapped was not
merely human, but divine, and believe that the
image on the shroud was miraculously
produced at the moment of Resurrection.

Vatican position

Antipope Clement VII refrained from expressing his opinion on the shroud; however,
subsequent popes from Julius II on took its authenticity for granted.

The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano covered the story of Secondo Pia's photograph of
May 28, 1898 in its June 15, 1898 edition, but it did so with no comment and thereafter
Church officials generally refrained from officially commenting on the photograph for almost
half a century.

The first official association between the image on the Shroud and the Catholic Church was
made in 1940 based on the formal request by Sister Maria Pierina De Micheli to the curia in
Milan to obtain authorization to produce a medal with the image. The authorization was
granted and the first medal with the image was offered to Pope Pius XII who approved the
medal. The image was then used on what became known as the Holy Face Medal worn by
many Catholics, initially as a means of protection during World War II. In 1958 Pope Pius XII
approved of the image in association with the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, and declared
its feast to be celebrated every year the day before Ash Wednesday. Following the approval by
Pope Pius XII, Catholic devotions to the Holy Face of Jesus have been almost exclusively
associated with the image on the shroud.

In 1983 the Shroud was given to the Holy See by the House of Savoy. However, as with all
relics of this kind, the Roman Catholic Church made no pronouncements claiming whether it is
Jesus' burial shroud, or if it is a forgery. As with other approved Catholic devotions, the matter
has been left to the personal decision of the faithful, as long as the Church does not issue a
future notification to the contrary. In the Church's view, whether the cloth is authentic or not
has no bearing whatsoever on the validity of what Jesus taught nor on the saving power of his
death and resurrection.

Pope John Paul II stated in 1998 that: "Since it is not a matter of faith, the Church has no
specific competence to pronounce on these questions. She entrusts to scientists the task of
continuing to investigate, so that satisfactory answers may be found to the questions
connected with this Sheet". Pope John Paul II showed himself to be deeply moved by the
image of the Shroud and arranged for public showings in 1998 and 2000. In his address at the
Turin Cathedral on Sunday May 24, 1998 (the occasion of the 100th year of Secondo Pia's May
28, 1898 photograph), he said: "The Shroud is an image of God's love as well as of human sin
[...] The imprint left by the tortured body of the Crucified One, which attests to the
tremendous human capacity for causing pain and death to one's fellow man, stands as an icon
of the suffering of the innocent in every age." In 2000, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that the
Shroud of Turin is a truly mysterious image, which no human artistry was capable of
producing. In some inexplicable way, it appeared imprinted upon cloth and claimed to show
the true face of Christ, the crucified and risen Lord."

Pope Benedict XVI has not publicly commented on the Shroud's authenticity, but has taken
steps that indirectly affect the Shroud. In June 2008 he approved the public display of the
Shroud in the spring of 2010 and stated that he would like to go to Turin to see it along with
other pilgrims. During his visit in Turin on Sunday May 2, 2010, Benedict XVI described the
Shroud of Turin as an "extraordinary Icon", the "Icon of Holy Saturday [...] corresponding in
every way to what the Gospels tell us of Jesus", "an Icon written in blood, the blood of a man
who was scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified and whose right side was pierced". The
pope said also that in the Turin Shroud "we see, as in a mirror, our suffering in the suffering of
Christ". On May 30, 2010, Benedict XVI beatified Sister Maria Pierina De Micheli who coined
the Holy Face Medal, based on Secondo Pia's photograph of the Shroud.

Scientific perspective

The term sindonology (from the Greek sindon, the word used in the Gospel of Mark
[15:46] to describe the type of the burial cloth of Jesus) is used to refer to the formal study of
the Shroud.

Secondo Pia's 1898 photographs of the shroud allowed the scientific community to begin to
study it. A variety of scientific theories regarding the shroud have since been proposed, based
on disciplines ranging from chemistry to biology and medical forensics to optical image
analysis. Very few scientists (e.g. STURP and the Radiocarbon dating teams) have had direct
access to the shroud or very small samples from it, and most theories have been proposed
"long distance" by the analysis of images, or via secondary sources. The scientific approaches
to the study of the Shroud fall into three groups: material analysis (both chemical and
historical), biology and medical forensics and image analysis.

Early studies

The initial steps towards the scientific study of the shroud were taken soon after the first set
of black and white photographs became available early in the 20th century. In 1902 Yves
Delage, a French professor of comparative anatomy published the first study on the subject.
Delage declared the image anatomically flawless and argued that the features of rigor mortis,
wounds, and blood flows were evidence that the image was formed by direct or indirect
contact with a corpse. William Meacham mentions several other medical studies between 1936
and 1981 that agree with Delage. However, these were all indirect studies without access to
the shroud itself.

The first direct examination of the shroud by a scientific team was undertaken in 19691973
in order to advise on preservation of the shroud and determine specific testing methods. This
led to the appointment of an 11-member Turin Commission to advise on the preservation of
the relic and on specific testing. Five of the commission members were scientists, and
preliminary studies of samples of the fabric were conducted in 1973.

In 1976 physicist John P. Jackson, thermodynamicist Eric Jumper and photographer William
Mottern used image analysis technologies developed in aerospace science for analyzing the
images of the Shroud. In 1977 these three scientists and over thirty others formed the Shroud
of Turin Research Project. In 1978 this group, often called STURP, was given direct access to
the Shroud.

Material chemical analysis

Radiocarbon dating

After years of discussion, the Holy See
permitted radiocarbon dating on portions of a
swatch taken from a corner of the shroud.
Independent tests in 1988 at the University
of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
concluded that the shroud material dated to
12601390 AD, with 95% confidence. This
13th to 14th century dating matches the first
appearance of the shroud in church history,
and is somewhat later than art historian
W.S.A. Dale's estimate of an 11th century
date based on art-historical grounds.
Criticisms have been raised regarding the
sample taken for testing (it may have come
from medieval repair fragments), although
not the quality of the radiocarbon testing
itself. In 2005, Raymond Rogers, who
conducted chemical analysis for the Shroud of
Turin Research Project stated that after
further study he was convinced that: "The
worst possible sample for carbon dating was

Tests for pigmentsIn 1970s a special eleven-member Turin Commission conducted several
tests. Conventional and electron microscopic examination of the Shroud at that time revealed
an absence of heterogeneous coloring material or pigment. In 1979, Walter McCrone, upon
analyzing the samples he was given by STURP, concluded that the image is actually made up
of billions of submicrometre pigment particles. The only fibrils that had been made available
for testing of the stains were those that remained affixed to custom-designed adhesive tape
applied to thirty-two different sections of the image.

John Heller and Alan Adler examined the same samples and agreed with McCrone's result that
the cloth contains iron oxide. However, they concluded, the exceptional purity of the chemical
and comparisons with other ancient textiles showed that, while retting flax absorbs iron
selectively, the iron itself was not the source of the image on the shroud. Other microscopic
analysis of the fibers seems to indicate that the image is strictly limited to the carbohydrate
layer, with no additional layer of pigment visible.

Phase contrast microscopic view of image-
bearing fiber from the Shroud of Turin.
Carbohydrate layer is visible along top edge.
The lower-right edge shows that coating is
missing. The coating can be scraped off or
removed with adhesive or diimide.
Material historical analysis

Historical fabrics

In 2000, fragments of a burial shroud from the 1st century were discovered in a tomb near
Jerusalem, believed to have belonged to a Jewish high priest or member of the aristocracy.
The shroud was composed of a simple two-way weave, unlike the complex herringbone twill of
the Turin Shroud. Based on this discovery, the researchers stated that the Turin Shroud did
not originate from Jesus-era Jerusalem.

According to textile expert Mechthild Flury-Lemberg of Hamburg, a seam in the cloth
corresponds to a fabric found only at the fortress of Masada near the Dead Sea, which dated
to the 1st century. The weaving pattern, 3:1 twill, is consistent with first-century Syrian
design, according to the appraisal of Gilbert Raes of the Ghent Institute of Textile Technology
in Belgium. Flury-Lemberg stated, "The linen cloth of the Shroud of Turin does not display any
weaving or sewing techniques which would speak against its origin as a high-quality product of
the textile workers of the first century."

In 1999, Mark Guscin investigated the relationship between the shroud and the Sudarium of
Oviedo, claimed as the cloth that covered the head of Jesus in the Gospel of John [20:67]
when the empty tomb was discovered. The Sudarium is also reported to have type AB blood
stains. Guscin concluded that the two cloths covered the same head at two distinct, but close
moments of time. Avinoam Danin (see below) concurred with this analysis, adding that the
pollen grains in the Sudarium match those of the shroud. Skeptics criticize the polarized image
overlay technique of Guscin and suggest that pollen from Jerusalem could have followed any
number of paths to find its way to the sudarium.

In 2002, Aldo Guerreschi and Michele Salcito argued that many of these marks on the fabric of
the shroud stem from a much earlier time because the symmetries correspond more to the
folding that would have been necessary to store the cloth in a clay jar (like cloth samples at
Qumran) than to that necessary to store it in the reliquary that housed it in 1532.

Dirt particles

Left: A piece of travertine.

Joseph Kohlbeck from the Hercules Aerospace
Company in Utah and Richard Levi-Setti of the
Enrico Fermi Institute examined some dirt
particles from the Shroud surface. The dirt was
found to be travertine aragonite limestone. Using
a high-resolution microprobe, Levi-Setti and
Kolbeck compared the spectra of samples taken
from the Shroud with samples of limestone from
ancient Jerusalem tombs. The chemical
signatures of the Shroud samples and the tomb
limestone were found identical except for minute
fragments of cellulose linen fiber that could not
be separated from the Shroud samples.

Biological and medical forensics

Blood stains

There are several reddish stains on the shroud suggesting blood, but it is uncertain whether
these stains were produced at the same time as the image, or afterwards. McCrone (see
painting hypothesis) identified these as containing iron oxide, theorizing that its presence was
likely due to simple pigment materials used in medieval times. Other researchers, including
Alan Adler, identified the reddish stains as blood and interpreted the iron oxide as a natural
residue of hemoglobin.

Heller and Adler further studied the dark red stains and determined and identified hemoglobin,
establishing, within claimed scientific certainty, the presence of porphyrin, bilirubin, albumin,
and protein. Working independently forensic pathologist Pier Luigi Baima Bollone, concurred
with Heller and Adler's findings and identified the blood as AB blood group. Subsequently,
STURP sent blood flecks to the laboratory devoted to the study of ancient blood at the State
University of New York (SUNY). Dr. Andrew Merriwether at SUNY stated that no blood typing
could be confirmed, and the DNA was badly fragmented. He stated that it is almost certain
that the blood spots are blood, but no definitive statements can be made about its nature or
provenience, i.e., whether it is male and from the Near East."

Joe Nickell argues that results similar to Heller and Adler's could be obtained from tempera
paint. Skeptics also cite other forensic blood tests whose results dispute the authenticity of the
Shroud that the blood could belong to a person handling the shroud, and that the apparent
blood flows on the shroud are unrealistically neat.

Flowers and pollen

Left: A Chrysanthemum coronarium

In 1997 Avinoam Danin, a botanist at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, reported that
he had identified the type of Chrysanthemum
coronarium, Cistus creticus and Zygophyllum
whose pressed image on the shroud was first
noticed by Alan Whanger in 1985 on the
photographs of the shroud taken in 1931. He
reported that the outlines of the flowering
plants would point to March or April and the
environs of Jerusalem. In a separate report in
1978 Danin and Uri Baruch reported on the
pollen grains on the cloth samples, stating that
they were appropriate to the spring in Israel.
Max Frei, a Swiss police criminologist who
initially obtained pollen from the shroud during
the STURP investigation stated that of the 58
different types of pollens found, 45 were from
the Jerusalem area, while 6 were from the
eastern Middle East, with one pollen species
growing exclusively in Constantinople, and two
found in Edessa, Turkey. Mark Antonacci
argues that the pollen evidence and flower images are inherently interwoven and strengthen
each other.

Skeptics have argued that the flower images are too faint for Danin's determination to be
definite, that an independent review of the pollen strands showed that one strand out of the
26 provided contained significantly more pollen than the others, perhaps pointing to deliberate
contamination. Skeptics also argue that Max Frei had previously been duped in his
examination of the Hitler Diaries and that he may have also been duped in this case, or may
have introduced the pollens himself. J. Beaulieau has stated that Frei was a self-taught
amateur palynologist, was not properly trained, and that his sample was too small.

In 2008 Avinoam Danin reported analysis based on the ultraviolet photographs of Miller and
Pellicori taken in 1978. Danin reported five new species of flower, which also bloom in March
and April and stated that a comparison of the 1931 black and white photographs and the 1978
ultraviolet images indicate that the flower images are genuine and not the artifact of a specific
method of photography.

Anatomical forensics

A number of studies on the anatomical consistency of the image on the shroud and the nature
of the wounds on it have been performed, following the initial study by Yves Delage in 1902.
While Delage declared the image anatomically flawless, others have presented arguments to
support both authenticity and forgery.

In 1950 physician Pierre Barbet wrote a long study called A Doctor at Calvary which was later
published as a book. Barbet stated that his experience as a battlefield surgeon during World
War I led him to conclude that the image on the shroud was authentic, anatomically correct
and consistent with crucifixion.

In 1997 physician and forensic pathologist Robert Bucklin constructed a scenario of how a
systematic autopsy on the man of the shroud would have been conducted. He noted the series
of traumatic injuries which extend from the shoulder areas to the lower portion of the back,
which he considered consistent with whipping; and marks on the right shoulder blade which he
concluded were signs of carrying a heavy object. Bucklin concluded that the image was of a
real person, subject to crucifixion.

For over a decade, medical examiner Frederick Zugibe performed a number of studies using
himself and volunteers suspended from a cross, and presented his conclusions in a book in
1998. Zugibe considers the shroud image and its proportions as authentic, but disagrees with
Barbet and Bucklin on various details such as blood flow. Zugibe concluded that the image on
the shroud is of the body of a man, but that the body had been washed.

In 2001, Pierluigi Baima Bollone, a professor of forensic medicine in Turin, stated that the
forensic examination of the wounds and bloodstains on the Shroud indicate that the image
was that of the dead body of a man who was whipped, wounded around the head by a pointed
instrument and nailed at the extremities before dying.

In 2010 Giulio Fanti, professor of mechanical measurements, wrote that "apart from the hands
afterward placed on the pubic area, the front and back images are compatible with the Shroud
being used to wrap the body of a man 1752 cm tall, which, due to cadaveric rigidity,
remained in the same position it would have assumed during crucifixion".

Artist Isabel Piczek stated in 1995 that while a general research opinion sees a flatly reclining
body on the Shroud, the professional figurative artist can see substantial differences from a
flatly reclining position. She stated that the professional arts cannot find discrepancies and
distortions in the anatomy of the "Shroud Man".

Artist Lillian Schwartz, who had previously claimed to have matched the face of the Mona Lisa
to a self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, stated in 2009 that the proportions of the face image
on the shroud are correct, and that they match the dimensions of the face of da Vinci.

Authors Joe Nickell, in 1983, and Gregory S. Paul in 2010, separately state that the
proportions of the image are not realistic. Paul stated that the face and proportions of the
shroud image are impossible, that the figure cannot represent that of an actual person and
that the posture was inconsistent. They argued that the forehead on the shroud is too small;
and that the arms are too long and of different lengths and that the distance from the
eyebrows to the top of the head is non-representative. They concluded that the features can
be explained if the shroud is a work of a Gothic artist.

Image analysis

Both Digital image processing and analog techniques have been applied to the shroud images.

The VP8 Image Analyzer was produced by Pete Schumacher of Interpretations Systems
Incorporated and was delivered by him to John Jackson and Eric Jumper in Colorado Springs in
1976. It showed the Shroud image has properties that, when processed through this analog
computer, yield a 3-dimensional image. Rather than being like a photographic negative, the
shroud image unexpectedly has the property of decoding into a 3-dimensional image of the
man when the darker parts of the image are interpreted to be those features of the man that
were closest to the shroud and the lighter areas of the image those features that were
farthest. This is not a property that occurs in photography, and researchers could not replicate
the effect when they attempted to transfer similar images using techniques of block print,
engravings, a hot statue, and bas-relief.

NASA researchers Jackson, Jumper, and Stephenson report detecting the impressions of coins
placed on both eyes after a digital study in 1978. The two-lepton coin on the right eyelid was
presumably coined under Pilate in 29-30, while the one-lepton coin on the left eyebrow was
minted in 29. Greek and Latin letters were reported as written near the face in 1979. These
were further studied by Andr Marion, professor at the cole suprieure d'optique and his
student Anne Laure Courage, in 1997. Subsequently, computerized analysis and
microdensitometer, other writings were reported, among them INNECEM (a shortened form of
Latin "in necem ibis""you will go to death"), NNAZAPE(N)NUS (Nazarene), IHSOY (Jesus)
and IC (Iesus Chrestus). The uncertain letters IBE(R?) have been conjectured as "Tiberius".
Linguist Mark Guscin disputed the reports of Marion and Courage. He stated that the
inscriptions made little grammatical or historical sense and that they did not appear on the
slides that Marion and Courage indicated. The authenticity of the alleged coins has also come
under dispute.

In 2004, in an article in Journal of Optics A, Fanti and Maggiolo reported finding a faint second
face on the backside of the cloth, after the 2002 restoration.

The front image of the Turin Shroud, 1.95 m long, is not directly compatible with the back
image, 2.02 m long. In order to verify the possibility that both images were generated by the
same human body, a numeric-anthropomorphous manikin was constructed by computer and
wrapped in the digitized front and back images. Kinematic analysis showed that the front and
back images are compatible with the Shroud being used to wrap the body of a man 1752 cm
tall, which, due to cadaveric rigidity, remained in the same position it would have assumed
during crucifixion.

Hypotheses on image origin

Many hypotheses have been formulated and tested to explain the image on the Shroud. To
date, despite numerous and often media-related claims, it can be said that "the body image of
the Turin Shroud has not yet been explained by traditional science; so a great interest in a
possible mechanism of image formation still exists."


The technique used for producing the image is, according to W. McCrone, already described in
a book about medieval painting published in 1847 by Charles Lock Eastlake ("Methods and
Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters"). Eastlake describes in the chapter
"Practice of Painting Generally During the XIVth Century" a special technique of painting on
linen using tempera paint, which produces images with unusual transparent featureswhich
McCrone compares to the image on the shroud.

This hypothesis was declared to be unsound as the X-ray fluorescence examination, as well as
infrared thermography, did not point out any pigment. It was also found that 25 different
solvents, among them water, do not reduce or sponge out the image. The non-paint origin has
been further claimed by Fourier transform of the image: common paintings show a
directionality that is absent from the Turin Shroud.

Photographic image production

According to the art historian Nicholas Allen the image on the shroud was formed by a
photographic technique in the 13th century. Allen maintains that techniques already available
before the 14th centurye.g., as described in the Book of Optics, which was at just that time
translated from Arabic to Latinwere sufficient to produce primitive photographs, and that
people familiar with these techniques would have been able to produce an image as found on
the shroud. To demonstrate this, he successfully produced photographic images similar to the
shroud using only techniques and materials available at the time the shroud was made. He
described his results in his PhD thesis, in papers published in several science journals, and in a

However a double photographic exposure, needed in that case, should have considered the
distances and in such case there would be areas of photographic superimposition with different
lights and shades. The distances on Shroud instead correspond to the body position.

Dust-transfer technique

Scientists Emily Craig and Randall Bresee have attempted to recreate the likenesses of the
shroud through the dust-transfer technique, which could have been done by medieval arts.
They first did a carbon-dust drawing of a Jesus-like face (using collagen dust) on a newsprint
made from wood pulp (which is similar to 13th and 14th century paper). They next placed the
drawing on a table and covered it with a piece of linen. They then pressed the linen against
the newsprint by firmly rubbing with the flat side of a wooden spoon. By doing this they
managed to create a reddish brown image with a life-like positive likeness of a person, a three
dimensional image and no sign of brush strokes. However, according to Fanti and Moroni, this
does not reproduce many special features of the Shroud at microscopic level.


Another hypothesis suggests that the Shroud may have been formed using a bas-relief
sculpture. Researcher Jacques di Costanzo, noting that the Shroud image seems to have a
three-dimensional quality, suggested that perhaps the image was formed using an actual
three-dimensional object, such as a sculpture. While wrapping a cloth around a life-sized
statue would result in a distorted image, placing a cloth over a bas-relief would result in an
image like the one seen on the shroud. To demonstrate the plausibility of his hypothesis,
Costanzo constructed a bas-relief of a Jesus-like face and draped wet linen over the bas-relief.
After the linen dried, he dabbed it with a mixture of ferric oxide and gelatine. The result was
an image similar to that of the Shroud. The imprinted image turned out to be wash-resistant,
impervious to temperatures of 250 C (482 F) and was undamaged by exposure to a range of
harsh chemicals, including bisulphite which, without the help of the gelatine, would normally
have degraded ferric oxide to the compound ferrous oxide. Similar results have been obtained
by former stage magician and author Joe Nickell. Instead of painting, the bas-relief could also
be heated and used to burn an image into the cloth.

According to Fanti and Moroni, after comparing the histograms of 256 different grey levels, it
was found that the image obtained with a bas-relief has grey values included between 60 and
256 levels, but it is much contrasted with wide areas of white saturation (levels included
between 245 and 256) and lacks of intermediate grey levels (levels included between 160 and
200). The face image on the Shroud instead has grey tonalities that vary in the same values
field (between 60 and 256), but the white saturation is much less marked and the histogram is
practically flat in correspondence of the intermediate grey levels (levels included between 160
and 200).

Maillard reaction

The Maillard reaction is a form of non-enzymatic browning involving an amino acid and a
reducing sugar. The cellulose fibers of the shroud are coated with a thin carbohydrate layer of
starch fractions, various sugars, and other impurities. In a paper entitled "The Shroud of
Turin: an amino-carbonyl reaction may explain the image formation," Raymond Rogers and
Anna Arnoldi propose that amines from a recently deceased human body may have undergone
Maillard reactions with this carbohydrate layer within a reasonable period of time, before liquid
decomposition products stained or damaged the cloth. The gases produced by a dead body are
extremely reactive chemically and within a few hours, in an environment such as a tomb, a
body starts to produce heavier amines in its tissues such as putrescine and cadaverine.
However the potential source for amines required for the reaction is a decomposing body,
while no signs of decomposition have been found on the Shroud. The image resolution and the
uniform coloration of the linen resolution seem to be not compatible with a mechanism
involving diffusion.

Alan A. Mills argued that the image was formed by the chemical reaction auto-oxidation. He
noted that the image corresponds to what would have been produced by a volatile chemical if
the intensity of the color change were inversely proportional to the distance from the body of a
loosely draped cloth.

Energy source

This section discusses energy source hypotheses. However, the hypotheses presented here do
not account for where the energy came from, e.g. the corona discharge requires high levels of
energy, which would have needed to have been generated from a human body. None of the
papers cited in this section have presented a detailed analysis regarding the application of the
law of conservation of energy with respect to the generation of the energy needed to support
the hypotheses presented. Moreover, none of these suggestions have produced a similar
image in a scientific setting and remain untested hypotheses.

Since 1930, several researchers (J. Jackson, G. Fanti, T. Trenn, T. Phillips, J.-B. Rinaudo and
others) endorsed the flash-like irradiation hypothesis. It was suggested that the relatively high
definition of the image details can be obtained through the energy source (specifically,
protonic) acting from inside. The Russian researcher Alexander Belyakov proposed an intense,
but short flashlight source, which lasted some hundredths of second. Some other authors
suggest the X-radiation or a burst of directional ultraviolet radiation may have played a role in
the formation of the Shroud image. From the image characteristics, several researchers have
theorized that the radiant source was prevalently vertical. These theories do not include the
scientific discussion of a method by which the energy could have been produced.

A harsh criticism of the energy source hypothesis comes from Raymond N. Rogers who was
involved in work with The Shroud since the conception of the STURP project in 1978. As he
states, "If any form of radiation (thermal, electromagnetic, or particle) degraded the cellulose
of the linen fibers to produce the image color, it would have had to penetrate the entire
diameter of a fiber in order to color its back surface. Some lower fibers are colored, requiring
more penetration. Radiation that penetrated the entire 10-15-mm-diameter of a fiber would
certainly color the walls of the medulla. All image fibers show color on their surfaces but not in
the medullas.".

Corona discharge

During restoration in 2002, the back of the cloth was photographed and scanned for the first
time. An article on this subject by Giulio Fanti and others envisages the electrostatic corona
discharge as the probable mechanism to produce the images of the body in the Shroud.
Congruent with that mechanism, they also describe an image on the reverse side of the fabric,
much fainter than that on the front view of the body, consisting primarily of the face and
perhaps hands. As with the front picture, it is entirely superficial, with coloration limited to the
carbohydrate layer. The images correspond to, and are in registration with, those on the other
side of the cloth. No image is detectable in the reverse side of the dorsal view of the body.

Results of some new experiments propose that a Corona discharge mechanism could have
been involved in the Turin Shroud body image formation, but it is impossible to reproduce all
the characteristics of the image in a laboratory because the energy source required is too
high. This theory and the experiment have not addressed a method by which the high level of
energy could have been controlled and directed, without damaging the Shroud.

Recent developments

In 2009, Barbara Frale, a paleographer in the Vatican Secret Archives, published two books on
the Shroud of Turin. She thinks that the shroud had been kept by the Templars after 1204 and
that it is possible to read on the image the burial certificate of Jesus the Nazarene, or Jesus of
Nazareth, imprinted in fragments of Greek, Hebrew and Latin writing. Her methodology has
been criticized.

On October 5, 2009, Luigi Garlaschelli, professor of organic chemistry at the University of
Pavia, announced that he had made a full size reproduction of the Shroud of Turin using only
medieval technologies. Garlaschelli placed a linen sheet over a volunteer and then rubbed it
with an acidic pigment. The shroud was then aged in an oven before being washed to remove
the pigment. He then added blood stains, scorches and water stains to replicate the original.
But according to Giulio Fanti, professor of mechanical and thermic measurements at the
University of Padua, "the technique itself seems unable to produce an image having the most
critical Turin Shroud image characteristics".

In 2010, professors of statistics Marco Riani and Anthony C. Atkinson wrote in a scientific
paper that the statistical analysis of the raw dates obtained from the three laboratories for the
radiocarbon test suggests the presence of an important contamination in the samples.

A team of graphic artists tried to recreate the real face of Jesus in a special two-hour
documentary on the History Channel broadcast for the first time in March 2010. The image
was made by taking information and blood encoded on the Turin Shroud and transforming it
into a 3D image.

The Shroud was placed back on public display (the 18th time in its history) in Turin from 10
April to 23 May 2010. According to Church officials, more than 2 million visitors came to see
the Shroud.

In December 2010 Professor Timothy Jull, editor of Radiocarbon, coauthored an article with a
textile expert in this peer-reviewed journal. They analyzed an unknown sample of 1988 and
concluded that they found no evidence of a repair. However this article was strongly criticized,
even by traditional skeptics.

The Sword of St. Peter

The Sword of Saint Peter (Polish: Miecz witego Piotra) is allegedly the sword with which the
Apostle Peter cut off the ear of the high priest's servant at the time of Jesus' arrest in

The sword is wide-tipped, similar in shape to a dussack or machete. It currently resides in the
Pozna Archdiocesan Museum.

An exact copy of the sword, made by Bogdan Puchalski, is displayed on the wall of the Pozna
Archcathedral Basilica.


The sword is mentioned for the first time in the 1609 Vitae Episcoporum Posnaniensium of Jan
Dugosz as being the original Roman sword (Gladius) used by Saint Peter in the Gospels, or a
direct copy made for Pope Stephen VII. However, at this time Stephen was already dead, and
the current pope was John XIII.

The sword arrived in Pozna in 968 as a gift from John XIII for either Bishop Jordan or Duke
Mieszko I. The Archdeacon of Pozna Cathedral in 1699 writes about the sword, describing it
as a part of St. Peter's sword brought to Pozna by Bishop Jordan, where it is usually kept in
the cathedral treasury, except for the few times a year when it is shown to the people. The
1721 Decree of Pozna Cathedral Chapter refers to having the sword moved to the chapter
house as a more proper placement for this noble artifact.


According to British folklore, St. Joseph of Arimathea brought the sword to Britain and it was
kept at Glastonbury Abbey for many years until the Abbot gave it to Saint George.


For many years, historians treated the sword as a copy, probably made in the 10th century,
but research by scientists from the Polish Army Museum in Warsaw suggests that the weapon
could have been made in the 1st century in the eastern borderlands of the Roman Empire.

However, scientists from the Greater Poland Army Museum in Pozna strongly consider it to be
a medieval copy. Other experts, like Marian Gosek and Leszek Kajzer, suggest that the sword
was made in the first quarter of the 14th century.

Regardless of when the sword was made, it has the longest documented history in Poland,
along with the Szczerbiec.


The blade was made from a single piece of iron with an added small cross-guard
Total length: 70.2-centimetre (27.6 in), it was probably 1-centimetre (0.4 in) or 2-
centimetre (0.8 in) longer, but the tip of the sword was destroyed by corrosion
Maximal width, at the tip: 9.4-centimetre (3.7 in)
There is a hole 10.3-centimetre (4.1 in) from the end of the hilt, which is 0.4-
centimetre (0.2 in) in diameter.

*Urban Legends

A malicious gossip have spread and scared the whole town.
Whats your version of the story?
*Alligators in sewers

Chain letter

Top portion of a "Letter from Heaven," produced in

A typical chain letter consists of a message that
attempts to convince the recipient to make a
number of copies of the letter and then pass them
on to as many recipients as possible. Common
methods used in chain letters include emotionally
manipulative stories, get-rich-quickly pyramid
schemes, and the exploitation of superstition to
threaten the recipient with bad luck or even physical
violence or death if he or she "breaks the chain" and refuses to adhere to the conditions set
out in the letter. Chain letters started as actual letters that one received in the mail. Today,
chain letters are generally no longer actual letters. They are sent through email messages,
postings on social network sites, and text messages.

There are two main types of chain letters:

Hoaxes - Hoaxes attempt to trick or defraud users. A hoax could be malicious,
instructing users to delete a file necessary to the operating system by claiming it is a
virus. It could also be a scam that convinces users to send money or personal
information. Phishing attacks could fall into this.

Urban legends - Urban legends are designed to be redistributed and usually warn
users of a threat or claim to be notifying them of important or urgent information.
Another common form are the emails that promise users monetary rewards for
forwarding the message or suggest that they are signing something that will be
submitted to a particular group. Urban legends usually have no negative effect aside
from wasted time.

In the United States, chain letters that request money or other items of value and promise a
substantial return to the participants (such as the infamous Make Money Fast scheme) are
illegal. Other types of chain letters are viewed as a general nuisance in that frequently
multiplying letters clog up the postal system and do not function as correspondence mail, but
rather, a game. Some colleges and military bases have passed regulations stating that in the
private mail of college students and military personnel, respectively, chain letters are not
authorized and will be thrown out. However, it is often difficult to distinguish chain letters from
genuine correspondence.


The oldest known channel for chain letters is written, or printed, on letters on paper. These
might be exchanged hand-to-hand or distributed through the mail. One notorious early
example was the "Prosperity Club" or "Send-a-Dime" letter. This letter started in Denver,
Colorado in 1935, based on an earlier luck letter. It soon swamped the Denver post office with
hundreds of thousands of letters before spilling into St. Louis and other cities.

Chain letters take religious perspectives especially relating to Christianity. Often these letters
originate from Photocopy centers, claiming to have originated from the Pope, with the intent of
persuading people to make copies of such letters. The content usually gives one or two
examples of people, sometimes public figures who obeyed and were rewarded and others who
disobeyed and suffered heavily, which may even include cases of deaths and of someone
becoming a millionaire overnight. These types of letters will flourish for some days and will die
out naturally, partly based on the economic realities of the people, and maybe many would
also reason that if that was truly the original letter, then it cannot contain cases of people who
had broken or continued the chain.


Some email messages may seem fairly harmless, for example, a grammar school student
wishing to see how many people can receive his/her email for a science project, but can grow
exponentially and be hard to stop. Messages sometimes include phony promises from
companies or wealthy individuals (such as Bill Gates) promising a monetary reward to
everyone who receives the message. They may also be politically motivated, such as "Save
the Scouts, forward this to as many friends as possible" or a concept that a popular TV or
radio show may be forced off the air. Some, like the "Hawaiian Good Luck Totem" which has
spread in thousands of forms, threaten users with bad luck if not forwarded. There are many
forms of chain email that threaten death or the taking of one's soul by telling tales of others'
deaths, such as the Katu Lata Kulu chain email, stating that if it is not forwarded, the
receivers of the message will be killed by the spirit. Another involves an email involving a
homicidal Mickey Mouse, who will intrude the recipient's domain to kill him or her unless sent
to the number of recipients (25). Any lower they will suffer death, injury, paranoia, and bad

Platforms like Facebook, YouTube can host chain letters playing with users' emotions. They
may also be in the form of a warning, such as stories of escaped convicts et cetera which urge
the reader to pass the message on. One chain letter distributed on MSN Hotmail began, "Hey
it's Tara and John the directors of MSN"... and tells you that your account will be deleted if you
don't send that message to everyone.

Another common form of email chain letter is the virus hoax and a form of cyberbullying.

Web communities

Chain letters have become widespread on Myspace (in the form of Myspace bulletins) and
YouTube (in the form of video comments) as well as on Facebook through messages or
applications. For instance, the chain post/email of "Carmen Winstead", a girl who was pushed
down a sewage drain in a firedrill, states that, "if you do not repost/send this to 10 people,
Carmen will find you and kill you." Chain letters are often coupled with intimidating hoaxes or
the promise of providing the sender with "secret" information once they've forwarded the


A chain letter may qualify as a fraudulent activity, as in the case of a pyramid scheme which
asks recipients to funnel money up the chain while requesting the letter be distributed to
multiple new recipients.

The legality of chain letters comes into question when they attempt to funnel monetary value
to a single source. When a chain letter suggests a game of chance or a lottery with an
opportunity for financial gain it is considered fraudulent under Title 18, United States Code,
Section 1302, the Postal Lottery Statute. Chain letters that ask for items of minor value such
as business cards or recipes are not covered by this law.

If pyramid scheme chain letters are sent through email it may constitute wire fraud. An email
chain letter may contain trojans or another type of computer virus which is covered under the
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) [18 U.S.C. Section 1030]. This law makes it illegal to
distribute computer codes or place them in the stream of commerce if their intent is to cause
damage or economic loss.

Mon cher Mustapha letter a chain letter used as a form of black propaganda

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