Evil Archaeology: Demons, Possessions, and Sinister Relics

Evil Archaeology: Demons, Possessions, and Sinister Relics

by Heather Lynn PhD


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An investigation into the historical and archaeological evidence of demons, curses, and possession featuring some of the most gruesome artifacts and sites ever discovered

Demons, jinn, possession, sinister artifacts, and gruesome archaeological discoveries haunt the pages of the new book by Dr. Heather Lynn. Evil Archaeology investigates the archaeological record for artifacts and evidence of evil entities, revealing how demons from the ancient world may be dwelling among us. It also looks at the history and lore behind real relics believed to be haunted and includes historical accounts of demonic possession that go as far back as King Solomon invoking demons to help him build his famed temple.

Is there really a prehistoric fertility goddess figure that has been known to bring death to the families of anyone who holds it? Are there real vampire graveyards? Can the archaeological record prove the existence of demons and malevolent entities?

Some tantalizing questions Evil Archaeology addresses include:

  • What is the origin of demons?
  • What role did Sumerian demons play in the development of civilization?
  • Are curses real?
  • Can material objects contain evil? What about places?
  • What can we do to protect ourselves, according to historical records?
  • Was Jesus an exorcist?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781938875199
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
Publication date: 04/01/2019
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 150,656
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Dr. Heather Lynn is a professional historian and renegade archaeologist on a quest to uncover the truth behind ancient mysteries. She left a life in academia to pursue her fascination with the unexplained and now investigates ancient mysteries, lost civilizations, hidden history, ancient aliens, and the occult. Heather's work exposes our hidden history, challenging the accepted narrative found in mainstream history books. In addition to appearances on radio programs like Coast to Coast AM, Heather has been a historical consultant for television programs, including History's Ancient Aliens. Lynn is the author of The Sumerian Controversy and Land of the Watchers. She lives in Chardon, Ohio. For more information, visit www.drheatherlynn.com.

Read an Excerpt


It's All in Their Heads

Small, loose stones littered the floor, sparkling like topaz under the flickering orange glow. In the deepest part of the cave, a dark figure rocks back and forth, hands pulling at his hair while unintelligible screams dance off the dense stone walls. A shaman approaches. Others emerge from the darkness until finally, the figure is surrounded: "Gi-lu!" they call out. "Gilu!"

The group restrains the figure, flattening him to the floor. Using his knees as calipers, the shaman secures his patient's head. A female places a flint in the shaman's hand. He cuts a small patch of hair from his patient's scalp. Next, the female hands him a reindeer antler with an end whittled to a point. The shaman places the point onto the patient's head. The others begin stomping and erupt with calls to "Gi-lu." With his eyes focused on the bright white patch of scalp, the shaman rubs the antler between his palms, sweat dripping from his prominent brow ridge. The scent of burning hair and bone wafts through the dank enclosure. Is he trying to set the patient's head on fire?

Smattering the floor like garnet embers, blood flickers with each rotation of the antler. After a grueling three hours of careful perforation, a yellow-tinged fluid rushes out of the newly bored hole. The shaman prods the hole with his calloused finger, finally claiming his trophy: a skull disk, which he will wear around his neck. An attendee wipes the patient's head with a piece of animal hide and urinates on the hole. Once cleaned, the shaman packs the hole with reindeer fat and the patient is moved to the furthest part of the cave to heal. The procedure was a success, at least for now. The first forty-eight hours are the most critical.

Having collected some of the patient's blood, the shaman mixes it in rendered fat and ashes, dips his finger into a small shell palette, and begins painting ruddy antlers on the head of a humanoid figure. When finished, he points to the strange chimera grinning back at him from the rippled cave wall and proclaims, "Gi-lu."

Drilling a permanent hole in the skull, or trepanning, is the oldest known surgical procedure, dating back to the late Paleolithic era. Archaeologists have excavated the remains of a Neanderthal man at Mount Zagrou in Iraq, dating back at least 60,000 years. In the second century CE, Greek physician, surgeon, and philosopher Galen described trepanation: "For when we chisel out the fragments of bone we are compelled for safety to put underneath the so-called protectors of the meninx, and if these are pressed too heavily on the brain, the effect is to render the person senseless as well as incapable of all voluntary motion" (Galenos, 1997). A tricky procedure, indeed, but perhaps more bizarre than the antiquity of it is its ubiquity. Trepanning is found in just about every part of the world, from the highest plateaus of China, through the caves of western Europe, to the peaks of the Andes. Why would ancient, let alone prehistoric, people drill holes in one another's heads?

Despite its widespread occurrence, historians and archaeologists disagree about why people performed trepanation. Some believe it was done to cure migraine headaches, convulsions, epilepsy, or traumatic head injury. Others believe it was done to allow the exit or even entrance of evil entities. Pierre Paul Broca, nineteenth-century physician, anthropologist, and namesake of the Broca's area of the brain, theorized that trepanation was done to allow the escape of evil spirits from the head. Other scholars agreed, even publishing that the procedure "may have been considered a sacred operation because the hole would permit the escape of the imprisoned spirit, devil, demon, or other supernatural being" (Wakefield and Dellinger, 1939).

Although disease and injury are known reasons for trepanning, exorcism is also an accepted explanation. The universal popularity of the procedure leads many scholars to believe that trepanning served a ritual function. More recently, archaeological evidence supporting the ritual origin of trepanation was uncovered in a far southern region of Russia, near the Black Sea. Researchers found the skeletal remains of thirty-five humans, distributed among twenty separate graves, dating back to about 5000 and 3000 BCE. One of the graves contained the skeletons of five adults who had all been trepanned. The skulls of two women, three men, and a teenage girl all had holes several centimeters wide. The holes were cut into the same location, the obelion. The obelion is in the back of the head, toward the top. To the archaeologist, this was shocking, as less than 1 percent of all recorded trepanations are located in this part of the head (Arnott, Finger, and Smith, 2014). It is in this area of the brain, above the superior sagittal sinus, where blood collects before flowing into the brain's main venous branches. Thus, opening the skull near the obelion could cause major bleeding and death.

There had been other excavations in this region with similar signs of obelion trepanation, suggesting that these ancient people saw the procedure as being worth the risk. None of the skeletal remains had any signs of illness of trauma, meaning the holes were drilled into their heads when they were healthy. To researchers, this was a clear sign that trepanation had been done as a ritual, rather than a medical procedure. This was confirmation of Broca's original theory. He was intrigued to find that people all over the world performed trepanation, but amazed when discovering how well it had been done in some specific regions, like Peru. Broca originally believed that trepanation was performed as a type of surgical exorcism.

Of all the prehistoric trepanned skulls found to date, the largest number of samples come from Peru, where they were drilling holes in their heads since at least 400 BCE. Upon learning this, Broca determined that trepanation proved the ancient people of the pre-conquest New World were far more advanced than other scholars initially thought. However, trepanning was not the only cranial procedure performed in the ancient world. Artificial cranial deformation or modification, which resulted in elongated skulls, is also found in Mesoamerican populations. Although some claim that these elongated skulls have some sort of extraterrestrial connection, the real reason for the practice of skull binding is a bit more obscure, hence, the misinformation. The motivation behind skull elongation is indeed otherworldly but has less to do with aliens, and more to do with demons.

Elongated Skulls

The Mesoamericans saw the head a sort of spiritual receptacle. Their unique concept of the soul was called tonalli, the root of which, tona, points to an association with the sun. The tonalli was a soul that derived its energy and power from the sun's heat. This powerful spiritual heat resided in the head. This belief was shared by the Nahuatl people of Mesoamerica. When the children of the Nahuatl were born, they believed the gods breathed the tonalli into them. This process awakened the infant's consciousness and united him with his destiny.

There is one problem, though. Infants have a soft skull with an open fontanel, the membranous gap between the cranial bones that allows the skull to stretch in response to the natural expansion of the brain during development. This gap in the skull made newborns especially vulnerable. The risk was twofold. The infant could lose his tonalli from that opening, or perhaps worse, evil spirits could enter the infant's head. To prevent the loss of the infant's soul and/or demonic possession, his head was tightly bound. This binding gradually forced the skull to form into a conical shape. The Mesoamericans were not the only people who connected the head to the spirit world. Evidence in the archaeological record indicates that the head has often been an object of special spiritual significance.

Skull Cults

In addition to drilling and binding the head, ancient people performed other types of surgical exorcisms. In Italy, Germany, France, Yugoslavia, and China, skulls have been found that were broken apart at the base in order to extract the brain. Archaeologists argue that apart from ritual cannibalism and headhunting, the skulls may have been emptied to rid them of evil entities. Veneration of the human head was common in the ancient world, but evidence of just how sophisticated it was can be found in some of the oldest sites.

In the Neolithic communities in the territory of modern Turkey and the Levant, skull cults were quite common. Evidence found at Göbekli Tepe, at a site at least 11,000 years old, that it was once used by skull cults. Monuments at the site formed oval walls, and in the center of each were two T-shaped megaliths, the largest measuring more than five meters in height. Analysis suggests that Göbekli Tepe was used as a temple, but not all scholars agree. This site has both surprised and puzzled archaeologists because the hunter-gatherers who inhabited the region hadn't yet learned agriculture, so how were they able to erect such monumental limestone structures?

One theory about the site is that it functioned as a temple. Recent excavations seem to support this theory. Archaeologists have unearthed about seven hundred fragments of human bones, of which more than four hundred are parts of skulls. Why did these scraps attract scientists' attention? These skulls had evidence of trepanation, many strange incisions, and also ocher marks. There were no signs of healing, indicating that the skull modifications were made shortly after death.

Researchers have been unable to determine to whom these skulls belonged. Where they revered ancestors or killed enemies? It is also not clear whether the ritual was conducted here, or if the skulls were brought to Göbekli Tepe from somewhere else. One thing is for sure: Inhabitants of Göbekli Tepe had a special relationship to the heads of the deceased. More examples point to this, like the headless figure with a phallus on one of the T-shaped monoliths, statues with separated heads, as well as predatory animals clutching in their claws something resembling a severed head. There is also a limestone figure of a creature on its knees holding a human head in its hands.

Clearly, the skull was a sacred object that needed to be protected after death, as well as in life. The Dayak people of Borneo, for example, believed that after death, one's body was vulnerable to evil spirits and therefore must be exorcised to protect the deceased and their family from demons. A great feast lasted for nearly a month and included rituals performed to relieve the deceased's family from their demonic possession. For the family members to be considered rid of the demons, they were required to undergo a merciless purification ritual. First, the surviving family selected a human victim. Then, the victim was chained to a sacrificial post while the surviving male relatives of the deceased took turns dancing and torturing the victim. They abused the victim with spears to induce the greatest pain possible because the grislier the torture, the happier the souls of the departed were supposed to be as they made their way to heaven. When the victim was brutalized beyond the point of survival, he fell to the ground like a human piñata and was decapitated. A priestess collected the victim's blood and sprinkled it onto the family members. Then, the decapitated head was either added to the bones of the deceased or attached to the top of a post (Hertz, 2008). Could a ritual like this have occurred at Göbekli Tepe? Some archaeologists believe it is possible, but we may never know for sure.

Nevertheless, the widespread belief that somehow the human head could be infiltrated by spirits, whether good or evil, begs the question: Why? Why the head? It would seem obvious to contemporary people because we know about the importance of the brain. However, understanding the role of the brain to consciousness is a relatively new development. In the fourth century BCE, Aristotle proposed that the brain was a nonprimary organ that merely served as a cooling agent for the heart and functioned like a radiator. He explained that the heart, being the origin of fiery emotions like love and hate, was warm. Therefore, blood would go from the warm heart to the brain to be cooled. To Aristotle, this meant that the heart was the source of consciousness. His reasoning was that because the heart is warm, active, and filled with blood, it is logically the seat of the soul. Aristotle's anatomic findings dominated medical thinking for the next five hundred years. Eventually, the Roman physician Galen would realize that cognition occurred in the brain, rather than the heart, as Aristotle had suggested. He reached his conclusion after observing the effects of brain injuries on the mental abilities of his patients. Galen concluded that the brain was the seat of consciousness.

If the idea that consciousness resides in the brain is supposedly new, then how did ancient people understand the role the brain played in cognition? Did they simply observe the before and after of traumatic brain injury, something that would have been frequent in a harsh and primitive world? Or was this not a question of physiology as much as it was spirituality? Like the Mesoamericans, other nature-dwelling people may have thought that because the head is closest to the sky, it is better positioned to receive and transmit spiritual energy. In a religious sense, there are many faiths that encourage a head covering, recognizing the head as a sort of satellite receiver that can be tuned in to spiritual messages from above. Would this thinking apply to evil spirits? Thinking of evil as residing above us, rather than below, is only strange when imagining it from a contemporary perspective, one that has been enculturated to recognize hellish tropes like horned red devils that poke burning sinners with pitchforks in a fiery underworld. Where did this idea originate?

When Evil Came Down to Earth

In many contemporary cultures, demons are not located above our heads but rather below our feet. We do not typically imagine demons coming down from the heavens because Hell is an underworld. However, the belief that the spirit world is somewhere in the skies above is shared by a surprising number of ancient people. Man has celestialized his gods in such a way as to connect them with the sun, moon, planets, and stars. Even Lucifer, a name synonymous with modern concepts of "the Devil," began his story in the sky.

Ezekiel describes how God created Lucifer to be a perfected being: "Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee" (Ezekiel 28:15 KJV). This verse points to a history of Lucifer as an ascended figure, one that began as perfect and holy but fell out of favor with God. The name Lucifer became synonymous with a name of the Devil in Christianity, partially due to the seventeenth-century epic poem Paradise Lost by John Milton. In his poem, Milton presents Lucifer, whom he calls "Satan," as a proud, ambitious angel who falls from grace after rebelling against God. In this account, the fallen angel enters the Garden of Eden and takes the shape of a snake to tempt Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. Literally translated from Latin, the name Lucifer means "bearer of light," which was in reference to the planet Venus. Venus was also called the "morning star" because it is very bright in the sky and can be observed with the naked eye in the morning before sunrise.

Three planets, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter, can all be seen in daylight. When a personification of the Morning Star is encountered in myths, however, it is generally accepted to mean Venus or Mars. What was it about the Morning Star that captured the imagination of the ancients, and why was it so often linked to evil? This interpretation was not exclusive to the astronomers of the East, nor to the mythmakers of the West. The Morning Star demanded reverence and, at times, even human sacrifices from a place you may least expect — the Great Plains of North America.

The Sacrifice to the Morning Star

Scholars believe that, of the Great Plains peoples, the Pawnees had the most highly developed cosmology. Their primary god was named Tirawa. He was the purely spiritual creator of the universe, ruling over a variety of lesser gods who were divided into two groups, the gods of Earth and the gods of Heaven. The gods of Heaven were, as you might expect, superior to the gods of Earth. These heavenly spirits were associated with animals and helped elite people in Native American secret societies. By contrast, the gods of Earth were associated with stars responsible for helping average people. The most important of these gods were the Morning and Evening Stars, representing the male and female. The origin of man was linked to the union of these two stars, oddly similar to the Rosicrucian alchemical marriage philosophy of seventeenth-century Europe.


Excerpted from "Evil Archaeology"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Heather Lynn, PhD.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: The Devil Made Me Do It 1

Chapter 1 It's All in Their Heads 9

Chapter 2 The Cradle of Evil 29

Chapter 3 Old-World Evil 47

Chapter 4 Ritual Human Sacrifice 73

Chapter 5 Early Modern Demonology 89

Chapter 6 Summoning Demons 109

Chapter 7 What an Excellent Day for an Exorcism 137

Chapter 8 The Object of Your Affliction 165

Chapter 9 The Place Where Evil Dwells 191

Chapter 10 The Most Horrific Archaeological Finds 215

Chapter 11 Deliver Us from Evil 231

Chapter 12 May We No Longer Fear Any Evil 245

Afterword 259

Bibliography 265

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