Sunday, June 24, 2018

2,000 year old mummified ‘sleeping beauty’ dressed in silk emerges from Siberian reservoir

MummyFrom the Siberian Times:
Archeologists hail extraordinary find of suspected ‘Hun woman’ with a jet gemstone buckle on her beaded belt.

After a fall in the water level, the well-preserved mummy was found this week on the shore of a giant reservoir on the Yenisei River upstream of the vast Sayano-Shushenskaya dam, which powers the largest power plant in Russia and ninth biggest hydroelectric plant in the world.

The ancient woman was buried wearing a silk skirt with a funeral meal - and she took a pouch of pine nuts with her to the afterlife. 

In her birch bark make-up box, she had a Chinese mirror.  Near her remains - accidentally mummified - was a Hun-style vase. 

read more here @ Siberian Times

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The woman who built Jersey's first hospital

Standing in St Brelade’s Church cemetery is an obelisk dedicated to a public-spirited Islander who bequeathed her fortune to the poor and sick at a time when social services were unheard of.

The inscription on the monument is in French. Translated, it reads: ‘To the memory of Miss Marie Mauger – widow of Mr Francis Bartlett – foundress of the General Hospital. Buried in this parish April 26 1741.

Her altruism gave Jersey its first hospital on the site of the present building.  Finally, in 1793, more than 50 years after her death, Mrs Bartlett’s dream finally became reality and the old building of the General Hospital opened its doors.

see also



Plymouth's Laura Chase Smith woman ahead of her time

Laura Chase Smith was a woman ahead of her time. A force in her own right, she and her husband, H.N. Smith (Horatio Nelson) were an important part of the growth and development of Plymouth. Laura kept a journal most of her life, and those diary entries would, years later, provide primary source documentation of pioneer Plymouth.

Laura wrote a well-received book, The Life of Philander Chase, First Bishop of Ohio and Illinois, Founder of Kenyon and Jubilee Colleges. But, she also wrote a series of articles for the Plymouth Reporter. Published between December 1872 and June 1873, the series covered the history of the township of Plymouth and the Villages of Plymouth and Quit Qui Oc.

read more here @ Sheboygan Press

What Happened to Women in France After D-Day in 1944

From Time:
They called it the épuration sauvage, the wild purge, because it was spontaneous and unofficial. But, yes, it was savage, too. In the weeks and months following the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944, Allied troops and the resistance swept across France liberating towns and villages, and unleashing a flood of collective euphoria, relief and hope. And then the punishments began.

circa 1945: Two French men restrain a woman while another crops her hair after she has been accused of collaborating with the Germans during the occupation.

The victims were among the most vulnerable members of the community: Women. Accused of “horizontal collaboration” — sleeping with the enemy — they were targeted by vigilantes and publicly humiliated. Their heads were shaved, they were stripped half-naked, smeared with tar, paraded through towns and taunted, stoned, kicked, beaten, spat upon and sometimes even killed.

One photograph from the era shows a woman standing in a village as two men forcibly restrain her wrists; a third man grabs a hank of her blonde hair, his scissors poised to hack it away. Just as the punished were almost always women, their punishers were usually men, who acted with no legal mandate or court-given authority. Although some were loyal resistance members, others had themselves dabbled in collaborationist activity and were anxious to cleanse their records before the mob turned on them, too. About 6,000 people were killed during the épuration sauvage — but the intense, cruel, public ferocity of the movement focused not on serious collaborationist crime. Instead, it zeroed in on women accused of consorting with the enemy.

Paulette Jordan - first Native American governor in US history

Amid an unprecedented wave of women running for office in the age of President Donald Trump, Paulette Jordan is hoping to achieve an extraordinary electoral feat in a deeply conservative state that would make her a string of firsts:

She would be the first Native American governor in the history of the US, the first woman governor of Idaho, and the first Democrat to be elected to lead the state in a generation.

“I think it’s great, and I’m really excited that we are breaking a lot of barriers from age and race to gender, but it’s not the goal,” Ms Jordan, 38, tells The Independent. “The goal is to bring back real representation – whether a man or woman – bringing back leadership to the people that they can be confident and believe in.”

Female Historians Try to End the I-Didn’t-Know-Any-Women Excuse for Men-Only Panels

Following in the footsteps of other disciplines, a group of female historians unveiled a searchable online database on Tuesday listing their peers’ areas of expertise and contact information. The site — called Women Also Know History — is meant to make it abundantly easy to find female historians to invite to speak at conferences, quote in articles, or add to a syllabus. 

In March, the issue boiled over when an invitation-only history conference hosted by Niall Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, was publicized on social media. The conference included 30 panelists, all of whom were white and male — a stark example of what’s become known as a manel

The idea for Women Also Know History came from the initiative Women Also Know Stuff,which includes a database of 1,650 female-identifying political scientists. There’s also, Diverse Sources, a database of underrepresented people who can talk to reporters about science, health, and the environment, as well as online lists of female neuroscientists,astronomers, and physicists.

Hundreds of women get Saudi driving licences

Image result for women drivers
From GulfNews:
Hundreds of Saudi and foreign women have been granted local driving licences since Tuesday, the General Directorate for Traffic has said.

The licence will allow the women to drive in the kingdom starting June 24 as per the royal orders issued in September that called for allowing women to drive for the first time.

Traffic officials said 22 centres had been set up across the kingdom to convert foreign licences while four driving schools have been issuing Saudi licences to candidates who passed the test.

Several driving schools have been set up and awareness campaigns launched throughout the kingdom.

Africa: Femwise-Africa Set to Boost Women's Role in Peace Processes

From allAfrica:


High-level African Union (AU) mediation efforts have in the past included very few women. Almost all AU special envoys to conflict zones are men - mostly former heads of state and other former senior officials.


The Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise-Africa), established in July 2017, is an AU initiative aimed at changing this. Its success will depend on whether it has the necessary support and capacity to carry out its mission.

Progress in implementing the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 that urges the international community to improve women's participation in peace and security has been slow. UN Women noted that between 1992 and 2011, women globally made up only 2% of chief mediators, 4% of witnesses and signatories, and 9% of negotiators.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Ireland votes by landslide to legalise abortion

Ireland has voted by a landslide to legalise abortion in a stunning outcome that marks a dramatic defeat for the Catholic church’s one-time domination of the Republic.

The Irish electorate voted by 1,429,981 votes to 723,632 in favour of abolishing a controversial constitutional amendment that gave equal legal status to the lives of a foetus and the woman carrying it. The result was a two-thirds majority: 66.4% yes to 33.6% no.

By voting yes in unexpectedly large numbers to abolish the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution, the country has enabled the government in Dublin to introduce abortion in Ireland’s health service up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.

FINAL RESULT

% Turnout
64.13%
Yes/Tá
66.40%
No/Níl
33.60%

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Be Celebrating the Treatment of Women in Anglo-Saxon England

Article from author Lynda Telford @ History News Network:
What was the way of life for most ordinary women during the early Middle Ages in England? The answer is surprising. In Anglo-Saxon England – before the Norman Conquest in 1066 – men and women enjoyed relatively equal rights and social, cultural and religious conditions. Compare that situation with the changes brought by the Norman Conquest – a woman became a possession.   Over eight hundred years of hard struggle for women’s basic rights – and to get back the legal safeguards that Anglo-Saxon women took for granted!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

I write what I think is right…take it or leave it: Historian Romila Thapar

As a globally renowned professional historian, she has in recent years been the target of vicious right-wing trolls who are out to spread their own version of history. If it doesn't seem to overly bother her, it is because, unknown to most, Romila Thapar's life has been one lived amidst sustained hate and criticism.

She maintains that arguing a particular position in any discipline is a constitutional mandate as long as she sticks to the given methodology and substantiates her research with enough evidence. 

"But I have been firm on the fact that as an academic historian, I will go on saying what I wish to say, on the basis of my research," she said.

Amelia Earhart bones found in Nikumaroro, claims scientist

A SCIENTIFIC study claims to shed new light on the decades-long mystery of what happened to Amelia Earhart.

According to the New York Post, Richard Jantz, an emeritus anthropology professor at the University of Tennessee, argues that bones discovered on the Pacific Island of Nikumaroro in 1940 were likely Earhart’s remains. The research contradicts a forensic analysis of the remains in 1941 that described the bones as belonging to a male.

The bones, which were subsequently lost, continue to be a source of debate.

Earhart, who was attempting to fly around the world, disappeared with navigator Fred Noonan on July 2, 1937, during a flight from Papua New Guinea to Howland Island in the Pacific.

read more @ New York Post


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Conference at Bryn Mawr Looks at Women Who Lived as Social Outliers

In the summer of 2018, faculty from a number of institutions and disciplines will come together at Bryn Mawr for a week-long research session around the topic of “Women’s Bodies as Sites of Social Navigation: The Cultivation, Display, and Consumption of Female Beauty and Sexuality.”

“Such women might include mistresses, courtesans, prostitutes, movie stars, and pagan mythological and epic characters.”   The session is being held June 4-9.

Obit: Joan Bershas

Obit by Anna Collins published in The Guardian:
Of Russian and European Jewish heritage, Joan developed a strong sense of her identity as European rather than American, and at 18 she left the US to study medieval history at Newcastle University. Thereafter she made her home in the UK, although she only renounced – or “denounced”, as she put it – her American citizenship towards the end of her life.

After two degrees in medieval history, Joan retrained in art and paper conservation, learning from experts in the field and becoming one herself. By the time formal qualifications for conservators had been introduced, Joan had been restoring for years and her high reputation was enough to secure her work.

Joan travelled widely in the course of numerous historic wallpaper conservation projects, including many for the National Trust. A highlight of her career was her involvement in a Royal Geographical Society project in Zanzibar, aimed at conserving British administrative archives, particularly correspondence from and about early explorers.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Obit: Jill, Duchess of Hamilton, journalist and author

Image result for jill duchess of hamilton
Jill, Duchess of Hamilton, who has died aged 78, was a woman of indomitable energy who left her native Australia as a young reporter for the Murdoch press and ended up marrying Scotland’s premier duke. After her divorce, she distinguished herself as a writer and researcher.

Her best book, Marengo, the Myth of Napoleon’s Horse (2000), uncovered some hitherto unknown facts about Napoleon’s favourite horse and identified, through some impressive detective work, one of its hooves. 

read more here @ Sydney Morning Herald

Welcome to Puntland: Where Men Don't Consider Rape A Crime

From Elle:
Every morning, 28-year-old Officer Shamis Abdi Bile rises before dawn to make breakfast for her husband and three young children.

police officer somalia rape
She bustles around the house, fulfilling the traditional role of homemaker, something that is still expected of Somali women. But once her family has eaten, Bile takes on an unexpected role.

Bile becomes a warrior; almost single-handedly fighting for the prosecution of rape and sexual violence in Puntland, Somalia.

She changes into her khaki police uniform, neatly pressed and spotless, and walks several miles through the dusty streets of Garowe -- the small capital city of Somalia’s vast, barren Puntland state -- to the local police station.

Bile is the only female officer in her unit, and the only woman handling issues of sexual violence in the area.

read more here @ Elle

Saturday, April 14, 2018

10th Century Golden Heart Jewel Worn by Bulgarian Empress Discovered in Medieval Capital Veliki Preslav

A remarkable golden jewel in the shape of a heart decorated with a five-color enamel, which may have belonged to the wife of Tsar Petar I (r. 927-969), has been discovered by archaeologists during excavations in Veliki Preslav (“Great Preslav"), Shumen District, in today’s Northeast Bulgaria,which was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680 – 1018) from 893 until 970.

The heart-shaped 23-karat gold jewelhas been found in the ruins of what is believed to have been an imperial residence of the Tsars of the First Bulgarian Empire who ruled from Veliki Preslav.

The dating and the exquisite craftsmanship of the jewel have led the archaeological team to hypothesize that it may have belonged to Tsaritsa (Empiress) Maria Lakapene, a Byzantine noble, who married Tsar Petar I in 927, taking the name Irene (meaning “peace").

This newly discovered over 1,000-year-old golden heart jewel with glass enamel is believed to have belonged to a 10th century Bulgarian Tsaritsa (Empress). Photo: Shum

Siberia salutes British nurse who set up a leper colony in remote Yakutian village

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Kate Marsden travelled with the active support of both Queen Victoria of England and the Tsarina of Russia, Maria Fedorovna. Much later, after her return, her odyssey would be marred by sexual innuendo, yet this unfair accusation from her detractors can in no way obscure her achievements.

In an era of extraordinary adventurers, hers was especially noteworthy in this era both because she was a woman travelling alone, and due to the sheer scale of her undertaking, to reach one of the remotest areas of Yakutia in search of an elusive herbal cure for leprosy.

By the time of her trip, she had already made her mark, and won the hearts of Russians, as a battle-hardened nurse caring for the wounded during the war between Russia and Turkey in 1878. There are accounts of her, then aged 19, stalking the battlefield at night, bringing relief to soldiers felled during the day's fighting. It was at this time that she had her first contact with lepers, and it was to their cause that she devoted her life's work.

Russian nurses, inspired by Marsden, staffed the colony when it was opened and consecrated on 5 December 1892, the year after her visit. It was completed six years after she left. Astonishingly, it survived not only the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and the ensuing Civil War, but lasted to the early 1960s, pioneering the extermination of leprosy in Yakutia.

read more here 

Enriqueta Martí - The Vampiress of Barcelona

Enriqueta Martí. Wikipedia/Public Domain
At the beginning of the 20th century, Enriqueta Martí — a woman from the witchcraft-steeped countryside of Cataluña — came to Barcelona. Rather than “The Pearl of the Mediterranean” she saw Barcelona as “The City of Death”. In the evenings she worked as a prostitute, and during the day she begged for charity. She imposed the same schedule to the children on the street who she used as her own while she begged, the same children who she introduced to prostitution.

It is suspected that she kidnapped a large number of children over a span of twenty years. Martí was never tried for her crimes. She died a year and three months after her arrest at the hands of her prison mates.

read more




Women Firefighters Battle Child Marriage in India

From Link TV:
Battling age-old patriarchal attitudes in her village, Nirma Chaudhary is one of around 30 women recently recruited from Rajasthan's towns and villages as part of an affirmative action policy to encourage women to join the fire service.

The policy reserves 33 percent of government jobs for women candidates and has helped increase the number of women in the police and administrative services but it was not implemented in the fire service until last year.

In a region where child marriages are widespread, the recruitment of these women is not only increasing their participation in a male-dominated profession, but also helping to dismantle a harmful practice which affects generations.

Rajasthan — one of India's premier tourist destinations where millions flock annually for its ancient fortresses and camel-back safaris — records higher than the national average, with 65.2 percent of women being married off as child brides.

read more here




Saturday, March 31, 2018

Constance Markievicz - The Countess Who Rebelled

Countess Markiewicz.jpgCountess Markievicz played an active part in the Easter Rising of 1916, and also in post-1916 Irish history. Born in 1868 as Constance Gore-Booth, Countess Markievicz was sentenced to death for her part in the Easter Uprising but had the sentence commuted to life incarceration on account of her gender. Her life was full of excitement, and many battles for the causes of suffrage for women or for establishing the independence of the Republic of Ireland from the British rule. There no way to make the long story short in her case.

She was an Irish Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil politician, revolutionary nationalist, suffragette and socialist. In December 1918, she was the first woman elected to the British House of Commons, though she did not take her seat and, along with the other Sinn Féin TDs, formed the first Dáil Éireann. She was also one of the first women in the world to hold a cabinet position, as a Minister for Labour of the Irish Republic, from 1919 to 1922.

read more here 

Armenia’s "Missing Girls"

Image result for sex symbolsSex selection may have been outlawed, but a shortage of women threatens the very survival of a country where boys are traditionally seen as an investment and girls as a loss.

Sometimes it seems there are so many ways to destroy women that the methods become invisible to us. There are some women you will never see because they will never be born.

Amartya Sen talked of “missing women” in his famous 1990 essay because of technologies that enable prenatal sex selection.

Most people are aware this happens in China and India, but I am in Armenia, talking to a nervy woman in her early 30s. We are in the eastern region of Gavar, which is second only to China in the number of female foetuses that are aborted. Here, 120 boys are born for every 100 girls.
Armenia really needs its missing women. “We lose 1,400 girls a year. In the long term who will our boys marry? How will we consolidate the Armenian nation? We are only 3 million people. We have no right to such losses. There will be no mothers to give birth to girls,” says Khalafyan.

read more here @ The Guardian

Admiring Flowers in Ancient Times

During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907-960), it is said that the official Han Xizai loved to burn incense near a flower vase because he liked the combination of the fragrance of flowers and incense. Using flowers in this way was popular during Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties.

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), people preferred to chant or sip wine while being surrounded by flowers. Music also goes well with flowers and refined scholars in Song Dynasty loved to play music to flowers. The musical instruments were thought to match different kinds of flowers. According to ancient book records, elegant flowers such as jasmine went well with the musical instrument heptachord.

China's only female emperor Wu Zetian of the Tang Dynasty was obsessed with flowers. The peony in ancient Luoyang was quite famed and each year when peonies flowered, she would hold celebrations and feasts.

This language was used by only women in China

Nüshu is considered to be the world’s only writing system that is created and used exclusively by women in China.

Originating in China’s Jiangyong county in the nineteenth century, it is endangered today but the country’s local and national authorities are working to revive it.

The earliest known artefact in the Nüshu script is a bronze coin discovered in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province. It was minted during the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, a rebel kingdom in China from 1851 to 1864, which introduced important social reforms and adapted to a certain extent several policies regarding gender equality. The eight characters etched in Nüshu on the coin mean “all the women in the world are members of the same family”.


read more here @ Pulse

Liberia bans female genital cutting in a triumph for local journalism

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf left office in January with a tremendous, if overdue, parting gift for the girls of Liberia. During her final hours in office, Africa’s first woman elected head of state signed an executive order abolishing female genital cutting, an ancient practice that is endured by more than half of Liberia’s girls.

The fight is not quite over. Lawmakers have a year to enshrine the ban into law, and it may be many years before the law is properly enforced. But it is a momentous step that seemed unthinkable just six years ago, when an explosive newspaper article propelled the issue onto the national agenda.

No one thinks FGC ended in Liberia with one article, but what it did do was spark a vibrant national dialogue that boosted the work of anti-FGC campaigners.

Africa’s Ebony Life to Develop Female Warrior Drama Series

The film Black Panther has inspired new stories based on real-life events in the ancient Dahomey kingdom in West Africa, particularly an all-female military unit dubbed the Dahomey Amazons.

Academy Award winners Lupita Nyong’o and Viola Davis have teamed up for The Woman King, a movie based on the Dahomey warriors, and Marvel has also announced a three-part comic series focused on the Dora Milaje to be written by Nigerian-American author, Nnedi Okorafor. The latest production inspired by the Amazons is a television series to be co-developed by EbonyLife TV, a five-year old Nigerian television network, and Sony Pictures Television.


The Dahomey Amazons, were thought to be the only all-female front-line military unit in modern history, a combat force of women who were feared across Western Africa for over 200 years from the 17th century. The Amazons were initially set up as elephant hunters in the 17th century. The group slowly morphed into a military unit and became protectors of monarchs in Dahomey, a kingdom in modern day Benin Republic in West Africa. This group of female warriors were the inspiration behind Wakanda’s Dora Milaje characters played by Lupita Nyong’o, Okoye, Danai Gurira, and Florence Kasumba.

Egyptian artwork of female pharaoh Hatshepsut is found

An Egyptian artwork that has been sitting in storage for more than four decades has been found to depict a rare female pharaoh who ruled 3,500 years ago. The sculpture (pictured) depicts Hatshepsut, one of five women known the have ruled the ancient Egyptian empire
An Egyptian artwork that has been sitting in storage for more than four decades has been found to depict a forgotten female pharaoh who ruled 3,500 years ago. 

The rare sculpture, which was discovered on International Women's Day, depicts Hatshepsut, one of five women known the have ruled the ancient Egyptian empire.

Consisting of two irregularly shaped limestone fragments, the sculpture had been gathering dust at Swansea University's Egypt Centre when it was found during a session where students can handle objects in the archives. 

The sculpture has its face missing but traces of hieroglyphs and a cobra icon on the forehead show it is a pharaoh and the text above her head indicates it is a woman. 

Her successful reign lasted two decades, yet history has largely forgotten Queen Hatshepsut who was a powerful woman in a man's world.

read more @ Daily Mail Online


Ghastly 'coffin birth' in a medieval grave

A grave dating back to early medieval Italy is a sad testament to the horrors of medicine in the Dark Ages. The skeletal remains of a young woman were found with the skeleton of a foetus between her thighs - and a hole in her skull researchers have determined was likely the result of a medical treatment.

Found in 2010 in Imola, Bologna, the well-preserved remains were face up in a brick coffin - indicating a proper burial. Initial analysis dated it back to the Lombard period, around the 7th and 8th centuries CE. But the foetus and the head injury warranted further investigation.

Researchers from the University of Ferrara and the University of Bologna determined the woman to be aged between 25 and 35 years, while the foetus - based on the length of its femur - was around 38 weeks. A full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks, so the mother was extremely close to giving birth when she died.

In the grave, the foetus was in an unusual position - its head and torso between her thighs, but its legs were in her pelvic cavity, as though it had been partially expelled. This, the researchers determined, was consistent with a phenomenon known as "coffin birth".



A mysterious, medieval skeleton discovered in Italy shows signs of a "coffin birth" and primitive brain surgery.Credit: Pasini et al./World Neurosurgery/Elsevier

In a cramped stone grave beneath the medieval town of Imola, Italy, a 1,300-year-old woman lies dead with a hole in her skull and a fetus between her legs.

The fetus, now just a collection of tiny bones trailing below the mother's skeletal pelvis, was likely delivered in the grave through a "coffin birth" — essentially, when an unborn child is forced out of its mother's womb by posthumous gases after both mother and child have died.

It's a rare sight in archaeology — but rarer still might be the peculiar circular wound bored into the mother's skull. 

Archaeologists from the University of Ferrara and University of Bologna attempted to unwind the mystery of this mother's and child's deaths in a new study published in the May 2018 issue of the journal World Neurosurgery. According to the researchers, these remarkable skeletal remains may present a rare Middle Ages example of a primitive brain-surgery technique called trepanation. This procedure involved drilling or scraping a hole into the patient's skull to relieve pressure and (theoretically) a whole host of medical ailments. In this case, sadly, that relief may not have been enough.

read more here @ Science Alert and Live Science

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Islamic Pirate Queen - Sayyida al-Hurra

Image result for Sayyida al-HurraFrom OZY:
Sayyida al-Hurra and her family fled Spain for Morocco, where, after marrying and burying her first husband, she succeeded him as the governor of Tétouan before remarrying — this time into royalty. When Sayyida wed Ahmed al-Wattasi, the sultan of Morocco and ruler of Fes, she became queen of Morocco. 

Holding a grudge, and feeling a great deal of shame over her fallen childhood homeland and its takeover by Ferdinand and Isabella, Sayyida became hell-bent on revenge. She reached out to the famed Barbarossa, an Ottoman admiral and among the most successful corsairs, to ally with the pirates in seizing control of the nearby seas. Sayyida and her privateers would eventually take over the Western Mediterranean during the corsairs’ and Ottomans’ reign in the early 16th century.

To this day, she’s remembered as a free and independent noblewoman who made the king of Morocco come to her to marry — the first time a royal had left the capital to wed.

read more here


Lyudmila Zhivkova, one of Bulgaria's most powerful political figures

Lyudmila Todorova Zhivkova (1942 – 1981) was the daughter of Bulgarian Communist leader Todor Zhivkov. Primarily known for her interest in preserving and promoting Bulgarian arts and culture on the international stage, Zhivkova was also a controversial figure within the former Soviet Bloc because of her interests in esoteric Eastern religion and spirituality.

Zhivkova died at the age of 38 from a brain tumor. Unsubstantiated rumors continue to circulate that perhaps Zhivkova was murdered by those who disapproved of her esoteric interests.

The official cause of death was a brain hemorrhage. Some suggest that the 1973 car collision finally had killed her. Others say it had been a subtle, slow-acting poison (a precursor of the Litvinenko death, perhaps).

Varying accounts describe her as having been depressed in the weeks before her death and having reverted to conventional medicine, including sleeping pills.

Others say that she had been in fine form. They recall her repeating, even in the final days before her death, what had become a favorite saying: “Think of me as fire”.

Who Framed Mary Magdalene?

Image result for mary magdalene movie
Mary Magdalene's character was traduced by Pope Gregory the Great in 591 when he declared her a prostitute, albeit a repentant one. That papal misreading of the gospel narrative and conflation of different Marys, including the one who washed Jesus's feet with her tears, into 'Mary Magdalene the prostitute' became an established myth, with artists down the centuries drawn by the dramatic potential of the sensual temptress.

In an article titled 'Who Framed Mary Magdalene?', Heidi Schlumpf, former editor at US Catholic, noted that since scripture scholars have "debunked" the myth that Mary Magdalene and the infamous repentant sinner who wiped Jesus's feet with her tears are one and the same woman, "word is trickling down that Mary Magdalene's penitent prostitute label was a misnomer. Instead, her true biblical portrait is being resurrected, and this 'apostle to the apostles' is finally taking her rightful place in history as a beloved disciple of Jesus and a prominent early church leader."

The director and crew behind the new biopic hope Mary Magdalene will turn the tables on the received narrative and tell the story of Jesus from a female perspective. The film's aim, as the actor Tahar Rahim, who plays Judas, succinctly puts it, is to help people realise "it's not Mary the prostitute, it's Mary the disciple".


see also: Melisende's Library - Mary of Magdala

Larger than Rajini: The 19th-century stage actress who drove to her performances in a silver chariot

Balamani lived life queen size, literally. A palatial bungalow with a swimming pool, marble fountains, a garden adorned with a swing and peacocks and deer, a domestic staff of over fifty women and much more surrounded her at all times. When she ventured out to make an appearance in public, she did so in style, in a silver chariot drawn by four horses. Her fame grew so much at some point in the early 1900s that the State began arranging special trains to ferry scores of her fans who wanted to watch her plays. 

However, in spite of all her fame, she remained much ostracized by the conservative elite and puritans of that time. History and fate turned cruel to Balamani. Her charity cost her much. Gradually her property eroded and she was forced to move to Madurai. The last days of her life were spent in utter penury.

The movement Balamani started empowered many more actresses to start their own drama troupes in the following decades. She was truly the first celebrated superstar of the Tamil stage.

read more here 
@ Narthaki (book review - Drama Queens: Women who dared to succeed in a man's world)
@ Images dot Dawn (interview with author Veejay Sai)
@ Bengal Buzz (rise of women in Bengali theatre)


Emperor Akbar’s wife Jodhabai was Portugese, not a Rajput princess, claims book

From the Hindustan Times:

Princess Jodhabai, often referred to as one of emperor Akbar’s wives and the mother of his son Jahangir, could have been a fictitious character, necessitated by convenient historical narratives during the Moghul era, a new book has claimed.

Goa-based author Luis de Assis Correia in his book “Portuguese India and Mughal Relations 1510-1735” has claimed that Jodhabai was in fact a Portuguese woman, Dona Maria Mascarenhas, who while travelling in a Portuguese armada along the Arabian sea, could have been captured along with her sister Juliana and subsequently offered to a young Emperor Akbar as a gift by Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat in the mid-1500s.

Related image“When Dona Maria Mascarenhas arrived at Akbar’s Court, he fell in love with her. He was 18-years-old and he was already married. She was 17 and he said, ‘This young lady is for me’ and her sister Juliana, both of them were lodged in Akbar’s harem,” Correia told IANS on the sidelines of the book release function in Panaji.

The 173-page book suggests that Maria Mascarenhas could have been the mother of Jahangir and was often referred to as Maryum-ul-Zamani and at times, as Jodhabai or Harkabai in popular lore.

read more here 

A royal foxhunt: The abdication of Mary Queen of Scots

From OUP Blog:
Mary Stewart became Queen of Scots aged only 6 days old after her father James V died in 1542. Her family, whose name was anglicised to Stuart in the seventeenth century, had ruled Scotland since 1371 and were to do so until the death of Queen Anne in 1714. Raised in France from 1548, she married the heir to the French throne (1558) and did not come to Scotland until after he died in 1561. By then a six-foot redhead, Mary looked every inch the queen and, with a flamboyant lifestyle suited to an age when appearance was everything, she acted like one. Astute and energetic, she managed to juggle the deeply divisive forces of religious and political faction within her realm. More than this, she trod a diplomatic path between Scotland’s far more powerful neighbours: England, for whom the Scots were an abiding nuisance, and France, where her heart, her roots, and many of her best alliances lay.

see also:
Melisende's Library - Mary Queen of Scots
Executed Today - Mary Queen of Scots


Darwin’s ‘Forgotten Women’

The Darwin and Gender Project (part of the Darwin Correspondence Project at Cambridge University Library) will be adding to Wikipedia for the first time the profiles of ten women who made intellectual contributions to Darwin’s work, and enhancing existing Wikipedia profiles for seven others, including his beloved wife Emma.

As well as the ‘Women in Science’ Wikipedia editing event on March 8, the day also marks the completion of the three-year Darwin and Gender Project undertaken at the University of Cambridge.

The ground-breaking project, supported by The Bonita Trust, has looked at Charles Darwin's impact on attitudes to gender and sexuality. The project makes available for the first time in a single resource Darwin's private and largely unpublished writings relevant to all aspects of gender; in particular, a large body of the great naturalist's own letters.


read more here 
@ University of Cambridge - Darwin's Women
@ University of Cambridge - Darwin Correspondence Project
@ University of Cambridge (youtube) - Darwin's Women
@ The Smithsonian - The Women Who Challenged Darwin's Sexism

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Aliki Diplarakou: Greece's First 'Miss Europe'

The first Greek woman to be crowned ‘Miss Europe’ was Aliki Diplarakou way back in February, 1930.

However, this Greek beauty was far from simply being a pretty face. Well-educated, independent and articulate, Diplarakou confounded prejudices about beauty pageant contestants.

She was a polyglot who spoke four languages and later toured the U.S. giving lectures on ancient and modern Greek culture.

A daring spirit, later in the 1930s she also dressed up in men’s clothes and smuggled herself into the monks’ sanctuary on Mount Athos which had stood “inviolate” by women since the time of the Byzantine Empire, save for twice harboring female refugees.


Old Kingdom style tomb for woman discovered in Egypt's Giza

An Egyptian archaeological mission has discovered an Old Kingdom tomb of a lady named "Hetpet," who is assumed to have been a top official in the royal palace during the end of the Fifth Dynasty, according to information released by Egyptian authorities on Saturday.

"In ancient Egypt, it was uncommon for a woman to to be buried separate from her husband. Only the princesses of the ruling family had their own graves. Building a tomb for a woman, who was not a part of the royal family, was rather uncommon. This shows the status of women at that time," said Hasan Ramadan, the supervisor of the Egyptian team's excavations.


read more here 






No place for strong women? A look inside the Vatican walls

The Vatican made the new when .... the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, which is headed up by Irish Cardinal Kevin Farrell, who made headlines last week when he refused permission for Mary McAleese and two other speakers to speak at an event in the Vatican to mark International Women's Day next month.

The ban on Mary McAleese highlighted the question of how women are regarded by the Vatican. Tina Beattie, professor of Catholic Studies at Roehampton College in London, is involved in the Voices of Faith conference on International Women's Day. Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence programme last week, she warned that the women invited to events at the Vatican tend to be handpicked and are known to be the most conservative voices who will tell the organising prelates what they want to hear.









Mystery of a Grave

From The Hindu:
Whose is the mystery grave next to the one of Razia Sultan? Various conjectures have been made by historians and visitors. According to Gaynor Barton who, along with another Englishwoman, Laurraine Malone, wrote a book, “Old-Delhi-Ten Easy Walks”, Razia was murdered by robbers while resting under a tree in presumably present-day Haryana. Dr Ishwari Prasad, the noted historian, however states that it was not robbers but some villagers who killed her and her lover, Altunia, probably to find favour with her jealous siblings. How did she then come to be buried behind the tomb of Hazrat Turkman Bayabani? Who brought her body there and what happened to the body of Altunia?


Razia was known not as Sultana but as Sultan because in those days the orthodox courtiers of her father would not have willingly followed one who manifested her womanhood in an all-male preserve. She gave no quarter to her enemies, including her brothers, Ruknuddin, debauchee among them. Like Antony, making his oration at Caesar’s funeral and inciting the Romans against the conspirators of the great conqueror, Razia, dressed in the robes of a mystic, addressed the citizens of Delhi, asking them to avenge the death of her slain younger brother, Muizuddin. The mob did just what it was supposed to do and Razia ascended the throne. But her reign of three years was short and tragic, even though she turned her defeat at the hands of the powerful Governor of Lahore into a personal victory by winning his hand, just as she had earlier gained the support of the Abyssinian master of the stable, Yaqut. But both she and the Turkish Altunia were defeated and later put to death by a hostile mob in 1240 AD. That in brief is the history of the woman who lies under a shabby tomb. Few people in the neighbourhood know its relevance, though there is a grave in Karnal also said to be hers.