A papyrus depicting a brothel in ancient Egypt

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The papyrus in its original form

The papyrus in the full form below. User discretion is required.

The Papyrus

The Turin Erotica dates from the New Kingdom in ancient Egypt about 3150 years ago and although it surely isn’t the first representation of sexual acts it has been dubbed the world’s first man magazine. Its contents could be shocking for people even today and it surely is one of the most explicit sex scenes that we have recovered from antiquity.

Since its discovery, it underwent a lengthy period of censorship. During the Victorian era, women were banned from looking at it and even men had to get explicit permission with a very good reason behind it in order to take a peek. …


The all too Human aspect of the Ottoman siege of Szigetvar

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The Siege of Szigetvar by Johann Peter Krafft

Background

In 1566 an old and gout-stricken Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent set out for one final campaign in order to consolidate his position in vassal Hungary as well as try to conquer Vienna as he once had many years ago.

The plan was to seize one fortress lying on a crucial position in Hungary and thereafter push for Vienna. The army was led by his Grand Vizier, Sokollu Mehmet Pasha who afterward went on to give significant contributions to the empire.

Unfortunately for the Ottomans the mobilization of their huge army already took up a lot of time and they only reached Belgrade on 27th June after a 49-day march. There Suleiman met with his Hungarian vassal promising him to unify Hungary under his leadership and the supreme authority of the sultan. …


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Europe never quite ever matched during its long history the religious development of the ancient Indian civilization. That is a fact.

Brahmins as Kingmakers

As kingmakers (Rajakartarah), the brahmins formed an integral part of the ancient Hindu political machinery, nay they were indispensable as every (proto-)king had to get their approval and sanction before their consecration. Heredity alone did not entitle a person to be crowned as king: he had to accept his office from the Rajakaratarah.

Why were these brahmins of such importance to the ancient Indian political system? They established a system of governance based on the Dharmashastra and Arthashastra. And this gave them, as is to be expected, immense power. You see, evolutionary speaking I think that religion is not simply a byproduct, it is rather important for the human being who has not yet come of age and who needs regulations in great and small things of everyday life as well as a source of consolation when faced with the terribleness of existence. Therefore he who controlled religion had the highest power of all back then. At this point, one may also recall the fact that the proto-kings of Mesopotamia were actually king-priests and that they sucked all the power from the priests for themselves when they established marriages with them. …


Beyond Good & Evil

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Gaugin’s masterpiece. This article demands a different reading of the painting from the original, namely from left to right with the second stage starting with the girl eating an apple and the third with the man reaching the heights

Pre-Moral Period

This is the longest period of morality that mankind had, probably starting with the last great gene modifications and ending roughly with the birth of agriculture. During this part, the value or disvalue of an action was derived solely from its consequences and the community was oblivious to the action as well as the originator itself. One drew conclusions on an action based on its negative or positive consequences.

What then kept the communities at bay if there was no individual punishment? The enormous superstitious fear that one had if one breached custom and tradition. If one individual fails, the whole community is punished for there is no concept of individuality. …


The psychological motivations at play

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Photograph courtesy Johan Reinhard

The Sacrifice

The Incas called this practice Qhapaq hucha, the practice of sacrificing small children during or after important events such as the death of the Sapa Inca or famine and the likes.

Extremely important to note is that the children that were chosen for the sacrifice were the purest and most beautiful of all. Moreover, in the months preceding the sacrifice, they were treated like royalty, i.e. they were fed the best food and given the best clothes. In other words, the Incas sacrificed the best of their best for the gods.

The priests would then take the children up to the mountains. Before the journey, the children would be fed coca leaves so as to make it possible for them to complete the long and arduous journey. Finally, they were killed by strangulation, a blow to the head, or just left out in the cold to freeze. …


An attempt to elucidate why there is so much difference

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RyanMcGuire via pixabay

About two years ago, when I first started an international study program in Germany, I met Indian students for the first time. And lots of them!

I am from Albania, a small country in the western Balkans and this was my first time encountering any Indians at all. Actually, the first time encountering such a great deal of cultural diversity! It was terrific!

I had of course read a lot about India and already admired their culture and miscellaneous achievements in many fields of human endeavor. Meeting and talking to them in person, however, was a totally different experience and has been truly enriching so far. One has to marvel at how narrow one’s vision can be when one is in contact with the same average psychology every day (Albania is not an international country). …


Where are your greatest dangers? ln pity.

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How can there be on earth a woman alone, abandoned?

One should, to be sure, manifest pity, but take care not to possess it.

Possible Cause

Know, too, that there is nothing more common than to do evil for the pleasure of doing it.

Pity seems to be such an instance. The desire to evoke the pity of our fellow humans seems to stem from a desire to hurt and mortify them. And quite literally so.

If it is indeed true that the oldest means of the solace of man is to make someone else suffer for the various feelings of indisposition and misfortune in him (hence cruelty as the oldest festive joys of our species and beyond), then the cause of pity is rather clear: Their weakness notwithstanding, the suffering are made conscious of the fact that they still possess the power to hurt. …


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Uruk 4000 BC (source IVA_2017) & Berlin 2020 AD

The first photo depicts the city of Uruk (complete simulation here), ancient Mesopotamia, one of the four cradles of civilization. The second one needs no explanation. It is the world as we see it today. These two photos span a mere 6,000 years and yet in this short amount of time (6 kyr being grains of sand to the age of our species, let alone the observable Universe) we as a species, have managed to achieve many a feat.

Let us, therefore, take a short journey at our history so far relative to Uruk. …


Feynman’s advice to one of his doctoral students

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Wikipedia courtesy

It is a very important thing to really know oneself. Richard Feynman knew it. I was recently reading a letter that he once sent to one of his former Ph.D. students where they were discussing the latter’s work.

It seemed that the former student was on low spirits, largely because of his current work position, and Feynman was trying to drill down into the problem, find the roots, and point out some arrows of direction for him.

Humbleness

The first notable point in Feynman’s letter is a humbling view of the world. He stresses that the graveness of a problem, its importance is not necessarily a mandate for tackling it. He rather urges his former student not to do away with simpler problems and not to underestimate the power of little successes. …


Beyond Good & Evil

Introduction to this series.

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Portrait of Pope Julius II by Raphael. It depicts a man of super-abundant power and arguably, the most powerful pope ever. One can even make the argument that every religion so far has simply aimed at expanding its power.

Nietzsche for sure had a lot to say about religion. He mercilessly dissected religion both on a philosophical as well as psychological level, the first ever to do so. And as elsewhere, he has some tremendous insights to offer. In this post, we will mostly focus on section 61 of Beyond Good & Evil.

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

One might think that the philosopher who coined that famous dictum would unleash nothing but arrows upon arrows intended to completely uproot religion from human societies. However, as always, oversimplifications and unconditional yesses or noes quickly lead astray. One must remember that Nietzsche’s goal is to advance our species. He is one of those rare geniuses whose will encompasses all of mankind. …

About

Rejnald Lleshi

Master student in Web and Data Science/software developer.

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