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Interesting Ancient Civilization Facts

By Yona Williams    1/30/10

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From the concept of heaven to a first in the world of candy making, the ancient world is filled with many interesting facts – like discontinued medical cures we'd certainly deem outrageous and a rather gruesome way to play soccer.

The Evolution of Medical Cures    

Thank goodness we don’t rely on the same medical cures used during ancient times. The Roman physician Pliny the Elder boasted of the medicinal powers contained in urine. He believed the yellow liquid led to effective remedies for dandruff, sexually transmitted diseases, sores, and snake bites.

During the Middle Ages, leprosy was a common condition and one of the most popular treatments was to bath in the blood of a dog. An alternative for this remedy was to bath in the blood of a 2-year-old child. The Middle Ages also used ancient Egyptian mummies as part of their medicinal cures. They would eat and rub the remains into their bodies. The decomposing body parts were seen as a way to rid migraines, contusions, fractures, abscesses, liver disorders, and internal ulcers.

An Interpretation of Heaven

To the ancient Mayans, heaven was comprised of 13 layers, where each layer had its own god. The uppermost part of heaven was called the 'muan' bird, which looked like a screech owl. The Mayans saw the Underworld as having nine layers, where each section was linked to a particular Lord of the Night. The majority of Mayans were thought to retire to the Underworld after death, which was often described as being cold and a place of sadness. Heavenly bodies (like the Moon and Sun) were believed to pass through the Underworld after they vanished below the horizon each day.

Ancient Attraction

Certain rare stone, such as lodestones, have 'special powers' that ancient Greeks and Chinese learned in the past. They discovered that lodestones could 'magically' attract bits of iron and would systematically point in the same direction when they were permitted to swing freely. Today, manmade magnets come in many different shapes and sizes, but regardless of its dimensions, every magnet possesses a north pole and a south pole. Even if you break a magnet into tiny pieces – a north and south pole will remain.

Proving Reincarnation

Placing complete faith in reincarnation, the ancient Green athlete Peregrinus actually set himself on fire during the Olympic Games in 165 AD to prove his point. He did not survive the burning, but a small cult assembled in his honor. His staff was also looked upon as a religious relic.

Early Soccer Ball

In 850 AD, the human head was used as a soccer ball when English soldier took pleasure in kicking around the head of a dead Danish brigand.

The First Marshmallow Candy

Did you know that the first marshmallow candy dates back to the days of ancient Egyptians? Using the sap of the marshmallow plant root, the candy was thickened and was made with a honey base. Until the mid-1800s, the sap of the marshmallow plant was used to create sweet treats, as well as serve a medicinal purpose. Growing in salt marshes and on banks located close to large bodies of water, the plant was easily accessible in the past. Today, the marshmallows we eat today are made with corn syrup, gelatin, sugar, gum arabic, and flavoring.

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