23. Ghosts of the Ancient World

In a bit of a departure from the normal format, Matt speaks about ghost beliefs of ancient humanity, at least as far as we can discern them. While there are some that seem a bit odd to us today, many of these ideas and concepts will seem very, very familiar. The similarities between these ancient stories and the ones we tell each other today seem to speak to continuity of tradition, but they also suggest a variety in beliefs about the returning dead.

The image for this episode was found on this blog where you can read the full “first” ghost story for yourself.

This episode was written by Matthew Armstrong with music by Matthew Armstrong and production assistance from Kaylia Metcalfe.

The transcript for this episode can be found here.

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Show Notes and Sources

Alvarez, Sandra, 2019. Otherworldly Ancients: ‘The First Ghosts’ with Dr. Janina Ramirez and Dr. Irving Finkel, Website of Ancient History Magazine, accessed 5/30/21 at https://www.karwansaraypublishers.com/ahblog/otherworldly-ancients-the-first-ghosts-with-dr-janina-ramirez-and-dr-irving-finkel/

Baier, Katharina and Schäfke, Werner. 2016. When the Dead No Longer Rest: The Religious Significance of Revenants in Sagas set in Viking Age Settlements Around the Time of Conversion, in Death in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times, edited by Albrecht Classen, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2016, pp. 131-154.

Cooper, Jerrold, 2009. Wind And Smoke: Giving Up The Ghost Of Enkidu, Comprehending Enkidu’s Ghosts, in Rethinking Ghosts in World Religions, Mu-chou Poo editor, Numen Book Series, Volume: 123, pages 23-32. Brill, Boston, MA. 

Finkle, Irving. 2020. Video: The First Ghost Stories, from the Archaeological Institute of America, Houston Society. Accessed online 5/30/21 at https://youtu.be/zNNaZ110ee4

Kelly, Isabel T. 1932. Ethnography of the Surprise Valley Paiute. University of California Publications in Archaeology and Ethnology, Volume 31(3): 67-210.

Mark, Joshua, 2014. Ghosts in the Ancient World, World History Encyclopedia website, Accessed 5/30/21 at https://www.worldhistory.org/ghost/

Pliny the Younger, Letters in Book 7, Letter 27, To Sura. Accessed online 5/30/21 at http://vroma.org/vromans/hwalker/Pliny/Pliny07-27-E.html

Pomeroy, Emma, Paul Bennett, Chris O. Hunt, Tim Reynolds, Lucy Farr, Marine Frouin, James Holman, Ross Lane, Charles French, and Graeme Barker, 2020. New Neanderthal remains associated with the ‘flower burial’ at Shanidar Cave, Antiquity, Volume 94 Issue 373. 

Scally, Caitlin. 2017. It’s in Their Nature; Examining Revenants in The Icelandic Sagas and What They Represent in Early Medieval Society. Innervate: Leading student work in English studies, Volume 10 (2017-2018), pp. 39-53. 

Than, Ker, 2013. Neanderthal Burials Confirmed as Ancient Ritual. National Geographic, posted to website, accessed on 6/12/21 at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/131216-la-chapelle-neanderthal-burials-graves

Tomlinson, Matt. 2016. Little People, Ghosts, and the Anthropology, of the Good. The Journal of the Polynesian Society. Vol. 125(1) pp. 11-32

University of Massachusetts, 2007. “Even Ancient Greeks and Romans Enjoyed Good Scary Stories, Says UMass Amherst Classics Professor,” Press Release from UMass.  Accessed online 5/30/21 at https://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/even-ancient-greeks-and-romans-enjoyed-good-scary-stories-says-umass-amherst-classics

Weaver, Carrie L. Sulosky. 2015. Walking Dead and Vengeful Spirits. Popular Archaeology, Summer 2015. Accessed online 7/7/21 at https://popular-archaeology.com/article/walking-dead-and-vengeful-spirits/


If you have a story about a ghost, some bit of folklore, or anyting else you want to share, please contact me.

Published by kayliametcalfe

Queer,loudmouth,skeptical-agnostic-pagan,book addict,coffee lover,wine drinker, SAHM,writer,editor,producer,podcaster. -She/her

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