September 19, 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 Picks

"Congratulations, Mr. President. It took an extraordinary effort, but you finally managed to spark a serious global crisis. I know you don’t like to share credit, but don’t worry. The current mess in the Middle East centered around Iran is all..."

"We’re approaching the anniversary of one of the nastiest political battles it has been my misfortune to witness—the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite credible accusations of sexual harassment and assault and his..."

"There are few one-offs in life on Earth—rarely can a single species boast a trait or ability that no other possesses. But human language is one such oddity. Our ability to use subtle combinations of sounds produced by our vocal cords to create..."

"He walked through the coffee shop door and scanned the crowd. A familiar smile bloomed as he recognized me, despite how my appearance had changed over the years. I’m bald and bearded now, and heavier. I wear an extra decade on my face, and I’m..."

"The poverty rate in the United States fell to 11.8 percent in 2018, according to data released last week by the Census Bureau — the lowest it’s been since 2001. But this estimate significantly understates the extent of economic deprivation in..."

"Streaming is the future of TV. But for now a big part of the streaming business revolves around old TV shows. Latest case in point: Netflix is paying a lot of money for the rights to show Seinfeld to its 150 million subscribers around the world..."

"On the eve of the second Israeli election of 2019, there is no shortage of apocalyptic rhetoric about the potential consequences of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election. From the New York Times' editorial column to The Forward’s..."

"Is there a backlash toward the technology industry in the culture? I tend to think so, having written about its various twists and turns most weekdays for the past couple years now. But sometimes an obsession with a beat can lead to myopia, and..."