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The complete history of humanity’s ill-fated attempts to cheat death

Bárbara Malagoli for Quartz
  • David Yanofsky
By David Yanofsky

Editor of code, visuals, and data

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Humans have spent a lot of our time on Earth trying to survive—and not just in the collective, Darwinistic, propagate-your-genetic-information sense. Individually, humans have been trying to avoid death for seemingly an eternity.

The search for some magical bubbling spring that keeps you young sounds quaint by today’s standards, while bathing in a virgin’s blood to sounds downright maniacal. Nonetheless, it’s instructive to compare the immortality attempts of yore to those in the present—and to imagine which of our current efforts may sound ridiculous to our future descendants.

To help us compare, we’ve broken mankind’s attempts to cheat death into a few categories: