Monday, December 23, 2013

More on St Ketevan

Further on from my post "Mystery of Saint Ketevan" in June 2011, comes this article from Past Horizons - Search for relics of martyr Queen Ketevan:

DNA analysis has confirmed that a relic discovered by archaeologists amongst the ruins of St. Augustine’s Church in Goa, southeast India, is likely to be that of 17th century Queen Ketevan from the Kingdom of Kakheti in eastern Georgia.
Since 1989, various delegations from Georgia have worked together with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to locate Ketevan the Martyr’s relics within the Augustinian church which was founded in 1572. There have been several unsuccessful attempts at locating the relics, but finally the continued searching has paid dividends for the team.
As per the literary sources, the relic box of Queen Ketevan was expected to be at the second window of the chapter chapel towards the Epistle side. Therefore, this area was systematically explored in 2004 for a stone sarcophagus, which was found broken into pieces due to the collapse of the wall. Whilst clearing the rubble the team also found an arm bone. Two other bone relics were recovered from outside the second window area, within intact stone boxes.
See also this post on the "Wordcraft & Statecraft" blog: Queen Ketavan's Bones Discovered & Identified

Friday, December 20, 2013

Celebrating Nadia Mehr

From the Malaysia Sun - First Pakistani girl gets doctorate in medieval history in Indian Kashmir:
Nadia Mehr has scripted history by becoming the first Pakistani female to complete a doctorate in medieval history from the Kashmir University here.

She completed her thesis titled: "The Development of Science, Technology, Arts and Language during the Sultanate period in Kashmir". Hailing from Kasur near Lahore, 31-year-old Mehr was selected under the South Asia Foundation programme.

See also the articles from -
A Pakistani girl Nadia Mehr daughter of Mehr Din of Lahore, Pakistan has completed her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in History from Kashmir University. She is the first Pakistani girl to have completed the doctorate from this Srinagar-based varsity under the South Asia Foundation (SAF) program.
The KU officials said Nadia pursued the research program vide University Registration No: 52-PhD-2010 from the Institute of Kashmir Studies. She did her thesis on “The Development of Science, Technology, Arts and Language during the Sultanate Period in Kashmir”, under the supervision of Prof Gulshan Majeed, Institute of Kashmir Studies.

The Tribune:
After a difficult visa process, bouts of violence and four years of hard work, Nadia Mehr Din has completed her PhD in history from the University of Kashmir, Srinagar. She is the first Pakistani woman to have completed the doctorate from Indian-administered Kashmir under the South Asia Foundation (SAF) programme, report Kashmiri newspapers.
Her dissertation was titled “The Development of Science, Technology, Arts and Language during the Sultanate Period in Kashmir”, under the supervision of Prof Gulshan Majeed, Institute of Kashmir Studies and she received her degree on December 9.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Stone Babies

From Authint Mail:

An elderly Colombian woman has been found to have a 40-year-old fetus inside her abdomen.
 Such a medical event is an extremely rare occurrence. It is known as a lithopedion, or a “stone baby”. This is the result of an ectopic pregnancy where a fetus happens to be conceived outside of the uterus.
 There have been only about 300 documented cases of lithopedia in recorded medical literature. The earliest which was recorded happened in 1582. In that event, physicians were performing an autopsy on a 68-year-old woman and discovered she had most likely carried a stone baby for almost 30 years.
 However, archaeological evidence reaches back even farther. There is an example of a “stone baby” which was discovered in a fourth century Roman dig in France.
The medical condition was even discussed by the ancient physician Albucasis in a tenth century dissertation even though he did not know what it was.

The Tattooed Priestess’ of Hathor

She was known as the mother of god and the daughter of god, the eye of god, the creatrix of the rays of the sun, the embodiment of the circular essence of life. She was the Lady of the Limit or the one who spreads to the edge of the universe and the Lady of the West who welcomed souls to the afterlife. She was the goddess of fertility and assisted women in childbirth. She was Hathor the Celestial Cow whose legs formed the pillars of the sky and the Milky Way ran across her belly.
It is this trend towards the marginalization of women within the temple that leads us all the way to the late 19th century when several tattooed female mummies were discovered. Before this discovery only pictures in tombs and on pottery were the best evidence that some Egyptians were tattooed. Previously tiny faience female figurines showing tattoo patterns on their thighs, wrists, abdomen, and upper body had been discovered in tombs and the tattoos on the newly discovered mummies were in many instances almost identical to the figurines.  Suddenly it became obvious that the tiny figurines were actually depicting real tattoos and their meanings could be directly traced to the priestess’ of Hathor.

Statuette of Ankhesamon

From Hurriyet Daily News:
Image by Winifred Brunton
Egypt said Sunday it has recovered a statue of pharaoh Tutankhamun's sister looted from the southern Mallawi museum during riots by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
The 32 centimetre limestone statue of Ankhesamon, sister of the famous boy king and daughter of pharaoh Akhenaten, who ruled around 1,500 BC, was stolen on August 14.
"The piece is one of the most important in the museum," said antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim in a statement.

Links to Ankhesenamun:
Ankhesenamun on wikipedia
Ankhesenamun on Ancient Egypt Online
Ankhesenamun - Ancient Egypt on St Louis University website
Ankhesenamum on Spiritweb

Tale of Trotula

Time has not been kind to the woman known as Trotula Plataerius, Trotula di Ruggiero or Trotula of Salerno. Was she the author of the famous 11th century De passionibus mulierum (On the Diseases of Women) or was she a mythical.

Now the controversy continues with this article from :
These arguments came to a head in the 1500s, when historians and doctors announced that there never was a Trotula in the first place. Since then, she's become a semi-mythical figure. Even those who believe in her existence sometimes doubt her work. The few facts that anyone has pertaining to the woman - that she may have been from a noble family, that she may have had a physician for a husband or a son - have been used to attribute the book to male relatives who used her name as a cover.

See article from
International Journal of Cosmetic ScienceVolume 30, Issue 2, pages 79–86, April 2008
Among these women, there was Trotula de Ruggiero (11th century), a teacher whose main interest was to alleviate suffering of women. She was the author of many medical works, the most notable being De Passionibus Mulierum Curandarum (about women’s diseases), also known as Trotula Major. Another important work she wrote was De Ornatu Mulierum (about women’s cosmetics), also known as Trotula Minor, in which she teaches women to conserve and improve their beauty and treat skin diseases through a series of precepts, advices and natural remedies. 

From Google Books:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Iran: Baluchi Sunni Woman Elected Mayor

From al-monitor:
Samiyeh Balochzehi, 26, was elected mayor of Kalat in Sistan-Baluchistan, an unprecedented event in one of Iran's most conservative provinces.
The election of the first Baluchi woman last week as the mayor of Kalat, a city in the south of Iran, was an unprecedented event in one of the most underprivileged and conservative provinces in Iran. It is a significant step which local experts believe that can inspire Baluchi women to work for more rights and break boundaries that have been created by both the state and society.
Electing a female mayor is by itself a very rare event in Iran. Female mayors who are Shiite and come from the majority Persian ethnicity are extremely rare, but electing a female mayor from two distinct minority sets in Iran, the Baluchi and the Sunnis, is unprecedented.

China: Prostitutes & Poets

From The World of Chinese:
Prostitution is oft cited as the oldest of professions, but is it possible that it might just be the most noble as well? Today, we view prostitutes, typically, as women who engage in sexual activity for payment. However, back in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), a modern man would be astounded by the brothels of the day and the women living in them; modern interpretations simply fail to grasp the complexity of the “prostitute” of yore. Our sexual time traveler would find an artistic trade that transcends the simple and tawdry exchange of sex for money.
Marriages were matters of social hierarchy, leaving endless scholars and aristocrats with marriages that lacked both the affection and communication that can be found on a deeper, more spiritual plane. Prostitutes were exceptions to the rule. Unlike the girls brought up in ordinary families who were deprived of education, prostitutes were taught to become—not merely entertaining performers—but the mental equals to aristocrats, scholars, government officials, and all manner of high society.
By the Qing Dynasty and right through to today, the noble art of prostitution has been in decline—making them little more than objects of men’s sexual desires. They are no longer seen as having great minds, being supreme dancers, pitch-perfect singers, or enchantresses who both write and are revered in the finest poetry.

From Cultural ChinaLiu Rushi - The Most Respectable Courtesan in Chinese History
Liu Rushi(1618-1664), originally named Yang Ai'er, was also known by her literary name "Yinglian" and "Hedong Jun". She was a famous courtesan in the late Ming dynasty and later became concubine of the celebrated poet Qian Qianyi.

Despite having a profession that most of society look down on, Liu Rushi was considered the most respectable prostitute in Chinese history. She showed exemplary values when faced with danger during times when she helped the country. During the Manchurian occupation, she tried to persuade her mate, who was then a respectable Confucian scholar, to commit suicide for the love of country. Unfortunately, the guy refused stating that the water in the middle of the river was too cold. Nevertheless, after her mate’s surrender, she was able to redeem herself from her profession when she was considered as a model of pure morals during the end of the Ming dynasty.
In addition, the Chinese beauty was also well versed in calligraphy, drawing, and writing poems.

Female Sacrafice at the Shimao Ruins

From Raw Story:
Archaeologists in China have unearthed the skulls of more than 80 young women who may have been sacrificed more than 4,000 years ago, state media reported Monday.
The skulls were found in what appears to have been a mass grave at the Shimao Ruins, the site of a neolithic stone city in the northern province of Shaanxi.
The women’s bodies were not present, the official news agency Xinhua said, adding that archaeologists concluded that the skulls were “likely to be related to the construction of the city wall” in “ancient religious activities or foundation ceremonies” before construction began.
In 2005 archaeologists at Hongjiang in the central province of Hunan found an altar devoted to human sacrifice as well as the skeleton of one victim.
A separate altar was used for sacrificing animals at the 7,000-year-old site, which is believed to be the earliest human sacrificial site ever found in the country.

The discovery is not the first instance of researchers unearthing remains related to human sacrifice in early China. Kings and emperors were regularly buried along with their servants and concubines, who were sometimes killed first -- and on other occasions buried alive.
The Shimao Ruins cover more than four square kilometres and were discovered in 1976.
Archaeologists have also found more than 100 remains of murals as well as large amounts of jade ware at the site of the ancient city, which sits in the Yellow River basin and is believed to date back to 2000 BC.

These skulls are likely related to the building of the city wall, suggesting that ancient religious activities or foundation ceremonies were organised before construction of the neolithic city began, state-run Xinhua news agency said. 
Built about 4,300 years ago, the city was abandoned about 300 years later during the Xia Dynasty, the first dynasty in China to be described in ancient historical chronicles.

The skulls were found in what appears to have been a mass grave at the Shimao Ruins, the site of a neolithic stone city in the northern province of Shaanxi, China.
The women's bodies were not present, suggesting they were victims of human sacrifice and experts believe they could even be related to the founding ceremony of the ancient city, according to state media.

The discovery is not the first instance of researchers unearthing remains related to human sacrifice in early China. Kings and emperors were regularly buried along with their servants and concubines, who were sometimes killed first and on other occasions buried alive. The total includes 40 skulls that the Shaanxi provincial government said earlier had been discovered at the site last year.