June 18, 2019

The Origin of Vampires

“Fear of demons and the undead has stalked humanity since prehistory. The oldest indication that living people feared unholy resurrection may be a site in Jordan, where prehistoric villagers enigmatically dismembered the dead 9,000 years ago. Some archaeologists postulate that the post-mortem mutilation was done to prevent them from rising again.

What the beliefs were in the millennia before writing can only be inferred. But finally writing would develop, and over 4,000 years ago, as texts attest: belief in demonic beings that, at the least, consumed blood, were prevalent in Mesopotamia and Northern Africa.

By the time of ancient Babylon, over 4,000 years ago, the spirit was clearly believed to survive the physical body. Rituals and amulets were created to prevent these supernatural beings from molesting the living. And at about the same time, in the deserts and wastelands of Sumer, demons named Lilîtu and Dimme were believed to prowl the night, in search of victims to drain of blood and life force.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"At 12:42 a.m. on the quiet, moonlit night of March 8, 2014, a Boeing 777-200ER operated by Malaysia Airlines took off from Kuala Lumpur and turned toward Beijing, climbing to its assigned cruising altitude of 35,000 feet. The designator for..."

"“I hereby sentence you to death.” The words of Judge Clifford B. Shepard filled the courtroom in Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 27, 1976. Shepard was sentencing Clifford Williams Jr., whom a jury had just found guilty of entering a woman’s house..."

"The video footage of Jewish Israelis dancing with Palestinians at a wedding should be something to celebrate. It should be an expression of joy and joint faith in the future. Instead, it has brought danger and disgrace to Radi Nasser, the mayor..."

"In 2013, I was executive editor of the NY Daily News, and we, like every other publication in the country, were covering the series finale of Breaking Bad. As one of the most popular and critically acclaimed shows in history, the finale was..."

"Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., tells us that wealth inequality is at grotesque and immoral levels. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has a plan to tax everyone lots and lots to solve this. The slight problem is that the Federal Reserve tells us that..."

"For much of World War I, Sir Phillip Gibbs was one of the few journalists the British War Office permitted to correspond from the Western Front. Gibbs’s mission was to describe, in terms that would be acceptable to government censors, the..."

"“You’re not in Jazzercise, ladies,” a trim, tattooed, fitness instructor chided me and the roomful of women who were attempting to work up a sweat one morning a few months ago. I’d never done Jazzercise, but I knew what she meant. The caustic cue.."

"What was Postmodernism? In the 35 years since Fredric Jameson’s New Left Review essay “Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” — and the 40 years since the publication of Jean-François Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition..."

"My husband and I are proud fathers of a 5-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy. I was grocery shopping with them last week when I saw a sign that made me cringe. Attached to a basket of free fruit, the sign reminded kids to “Ask Mom” before taking a..."

"More than a dozen kosher eateries — selling pizza, bagels, falafel and schnitzel — dot Main Street in the Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood of Queens. But a newcomer on the block is sure to turn some heads, and maybe stomachs, too..."

"The Big Bang is the defining narrative of modern cosmology: a bold declaration that our universe had a beginning and has a finite age, just like the humans who live within it. That finite age, in turn, is defined by the evidence that universe is..."

"The Bible is the world’s most influential book. But books, like people, can be influential because of what they say, or because of what they are thought to have said. With a book as huge as the Bible, readers need some kind of key that will..."