Monday, December 28, 2015

Ring 'belonging to Joan of Arc' is set to go under the hammer at auction

A 15th century ring believed to have been owned by Joan of Arc will go under the hammer in London.

The ring, thought to have been worn by the patron saint before her death and handed down through King Henry VII, is set to be auctioned in February.

The piece is said to have been given to the French heroine by her parents before she was burned at the stake by the British when she was just 19 years old in 1431.

The ring matches a description, revealed in transcripts, given by Joan of Arc herself during the trial which resulted in her death.

She said it has the inscription 'Jhesus Maria' as well as three crosses, and was made from either gold or brass. She claimed it was on her hand when she touched St Catherine, who appeared before her in a vision.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Celtic find near Lavau in France leaves archaeologists baffled

The remains of an ancient Celtic prince or princess found still wearing a solid gold torque and lavish bracelets in a grave filled with riches has left archaeologists baffled.

The 2,500 year old royal grave, which is thought to date to the fifth century BC, was discovered in Lavau, near Troyes, is thought to have belonged to a member of a Celtic royal family.

Lying at the centre of the tomb, the skeleton had been laid to rest inside an ornate two-wheeled chariot with a 580g (1.2lbs) golden torque decorated with elaborate winged monsters around its neck.

However, French archaeologists who have been leading the excavation have yet to establish the sex of the individual in the tomb, but believe it may have been a Celtic prince or princess of Lavau.

The strange assortment of items found alongside the body have added to the mystery of who the tomb belonged to.

There have been several tombs of princesses from fifth century BC found in north east France, including the Lady of Vix, which was discovered in northern Burgundy in 1953.

See Also:

Archaeologists found a 2,600-year-old Celtic Princess in Germany

German archaeologists discovered a Celtic grave in 2011 in the Danube heartland, where they found the remains of a Celtic princess, from 2,600 years ago, buried with her gold and amber jewelry.

The princess had remained in her final resting place since about 609BC. German experts began to dig out the 80 tonnes of clay covering the grave to remove it bring it their offices where it could be examined.

Experts believe that the manner that she was buried, with expensive jewels, shows that she was of a high social rank. The brooches found are particularly beautiful with Celtic designs in gold and amber. According to BBC reports the remains of a child were also found in the grave. The child is presumed to be the princess'.

Read More Here:
National Geographic: Celtic Princess Tomb

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

King Tutankhamun tomb's hidden chamber discovered through testing temperature | Daily Mail Online

An investigation of King Tutankhamun's tomb may have led to the indication of hidden chambers, according to a statement from Egypt's antiquity ministry.

A team from Cairo University's Faculty of Engineering and a Paris-based organization called the Heritage, Innovation and Preservation Institute used infrared thermography to measure the temperature of each of the walls of the tomb.

Preliminary analysis of the non-invasive search showed that one area of the northern wall was a different temperature than other areas, which is a potential sign of a hidden chamber.

The completion of the experiment comes, on the 93rd anniversary of the find, and at the same time that researchers unveiled newly colorized photos of the discovery of the tomb.

The Deadly History of Women Using Perfume as Poison

Beauty has always been a direction marker. In his essay "Privacy in the Films of Lana Turner," the writer Wayne Koestenbaum describes it as a vector—and one that may not have a clear trajectory. In The Secret History, Donna Tartt writes the same and goes further: To her, death is the mother of beauty, and we endlessly seek its capture because we want to live forever. Appropriately, much of the history of beauty—and in particular, of perfume—has been a one-way ticket, paid for in alcohol and essential oil, straight into the afterlife.

We could start in most countries when it comes to death by perfume—it's actually a tale older than Christ. People were poisoning each other for political gain and biological warfare many thousands of years before Jesus walked.

5 Top Beauty Tips of Ancient Empress Dowager Cixi Revealed - All China Women's Federation

Empress Dowager Cixi, the regent who effectively controlled the Chinese government in the late Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) for 47 years, enjoyed longevity of 74 years at a time when life expectancy in the country was around 50.
At 60, her skin was "tender and smooth, as fair as that of a young lady," her maid Der Ling recorded in one of her texts.  "Dowager Cixi was 70, but she looked just like in her 30s," wrote Katharine Carl, a U.S. artist who often painted portraits of the empress.  What are the secrets of such a healthy and beautiful long life?

Joan of Arc – A Behind the Scenes Exclusive - Idol Chatter

Joan of Arc is a holiday season special airing on BYUtv on Thanksgiving, November 26 at 6 PM MT with rebroadcasts throughout the holiday season. It includes dramatized scenes of Joan’s life, filmed on location in France, and interviews with scholars and experts. The film is based on the true story of the courageous Joan of Arc. She heard a voice, was given direction and from there she forges forward with a journey.

Could a nineteen-year-old girl change the course of history simply by faith? From ordinary farm girl to extraordinary hero, the life of Joan of Arc was one of conviction and courage. Fifteenth-century France was devastated by an ongoing war in which women did not fight. Yet Joan heeded the counsel of angels and transformed into a military leader – something her country needed but many feared. In this BYUtv original special, discover the stalwart spirit, military prowess, and enduring influence of Joan of Arc.

Review: Stacy Schiff’s The Witches By John Semley

Review: Stacy Schiff’s The Witches is a nimbly woven tapestry - The Globe and Mail

The Witches is a book as sensitive to the practicalities and banalities of the colonies as the grander intellectual and religious forces that conspired to propel one of America’s earliest, most memorable and vicious ordeals. Like all historical traumas, the Salem trials linger in the imagination because they seem like nothing less than the structural collapse of the whole project of humanity; a failure of civilization itself. The evil that men do has a way of diabolically disguising itself in the trappings and suits of logic, reason and civility. But, in the end, such twisted, toxic rationales jury-rigged to justify barbarism, cruelty and the highest forms of inhumanity amount to just so much proverbial duck-weighing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Judean Seal In 2,000-year-old Russian Warrior Woman’s Grave

A spectacular find was made near the Black Sea this summer: Excavating the 2,000-year-old grave of a Sarmatian noblewoman, which miraculously hadn't been looted, the archeologists found a wealth of artifacts – including a carnelian seal with ancient Hebrew letters, centuries older than the tomb.

The woman's grave, located at Rostov-on-Don, was replete with burial offerings. The items, dating from the 1st century BCE to the 1st century AD, included wooden dishes and a cup lying by her right hand. By her feet were pieces of a bronze bucket with a floral design and a ladle with the head of the Gorgon, and by her pelvis was a gold vial with a lid and fossilized contents. Four clay vessels were found in the northeast corner of the tomb, as well as knives, over a hundred arrows and a harness, and an unfinished sword with an intricate handle inlay.

2,500-year-old female Siberian warrior is beheaded by excavator

An ancient wealthy young woman was found laid to rest with her horse and weapons by workers who accidentally dug up her burial mound.  
The excavator smashed the prehistoric ceremonial burial chamber in the Altai Mountains, wrecking the grave of a suspected the grave of a suspected 16 to 20-year-old combatant from the colourful Pazyryk culture. 
Local culture heritage official Dr Vasily Oinoshev said: 'Only the human head and upper part of the horse remained intact in the burial ground. Unfortunately, the rest was destroyed by heavy machinery. 
'Apparently, this was a young woman, judging by the teeth. All of them are intact and in good condition. We attribute her to Pazyryk culture, and we have preliminarily dated the burial as being 2,500 years old.'

Monday, September 28, 2015

Indigenous Women In Bolivia Use Ancient Knitting Skills To Weave Devices For Congenital Heart Disease

To help the growing number of children born with heart defects, indigenous Bolivian knitters are putting their age-old craft to a more modern use. The Aymara women, who have been knitting intricate and distinct hats, sweaters, and blankets for centuries, are now using their skill to produce an innovative medical product that can seal holes in a baby’s heart.

The device, called Nit-Occlud was developed by cardiologist Dr. Franz Freudenthal. After setting up a clinic in La Paz for children with heart defects, Freudenthal knew he must develop a simple, inexpensive solution to help treat more patients. The occluder, the device's more common name, looks like a top hat and can be inserted into the heart without surgery to help fix the problem.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Glamour charts the evolution of the bra over the past 500 years in 2 minutes | Daily Mail Online

Whether they were meant to flaunt your breasts - or hide them - the first bras date back to ancient times, and like most fashions, they reflect the social and economic changes of that era. 

Today women have the option of pushing-up, covering-up, and everything in between, and a new video created by Glamour charts the evolution of the bra over the past 500 years. 

Beginning with the constricting mamillare from the Roman Empire and ending with a hypothetical design meant for robots in 2100, the clip highlights the prominent styles and history of the bras that debuted in various eras.

Women hairstyles were more extraordinary in ancient times

An archaeological team examining archaeological findings discovered ancient hairstyles. Reliefs found on rock tombs reveal the extravagant braided hairstyles of women living 2,400 years ago, which by today's standards might be considered strange. Professor Nevzat Çelik of Akdeniz University Archaeology Department said it is possible to understand the lifestyle of people living during this time by examining ancient buildings and artifacts found in Lycian tombs. Following a comprehensive study, the team found new information about Lycian lifestyles and social hierarchies.

Carole Levin: A 'queen' of sorts in her medieval scholarship

Carole Levin is one of those people who seems to bring light into the room when she enters.

“Ph.D.,” “medieval” or “historical scholar” are not words likely to race to mind upon meeting her. With her radiant smile and youthful springy hairdo, one might not peg her as a Willa Cather professor of history at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for the past 13 years or director of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program for the last seven. But she is both.

When she was a little girl growing up in the Chicago area, her father, who worked at an ad agency and taught college English, and her mother, who was an artist and homemaker, made sure she and her three sisters got to the public library. During a weekly visit when she was 10 years old, she found a book about one of the world’s greatest monarchs, England’s Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled alone from 1558 to 1603. Years later, she says, “Elizabeth Tudor is a woman who captures the imagination and does not let it go.”

Rediscovered cast skull of "father of English history"

Thieving monks and cathedral tombs: Rediscovered cast skull of "father of English history" could solve medieval burial mystery | Culture24
A Leicester academic says she has rediscovered the cast of the skull of The Venerable Bede – one of the most influential and idolised scholars in medieval Europe, known as the “father of English history" – in the anatomical collections of the University of Cambridge.

The front & back view of the cast of the skull of Bede, engraved V. Beda© J Story

The author of The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which is regarded as perhaps the most important source for understanding early British history and the establishment of Christianity in England, was buried in a tomb in Durham Cathedral following his death in 735. But the location and authenticity of his skull has been the subject of fierce debate since the excavation of his venerated tomb by Dr James Raine in 1831, laying the bones out in a new burial in the Galilee Chapel at the cathedral’s western end.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Priceless treasure hoard found in 1st century grave of Sarmatian woman in Russia

Priceless treasure hoard found in 1st century grave of Sarmatian woman in Russia | Ancient Origins

Archaeologists doing exploratory digging for an airport in Russia have found the grave of an apparent noblewoman with very valuable items, including a sword and knives, gold and silver jewelry, elaborately decorated clothing, a bronze mirror and a decorated bronze bucket. The 1st century AD grave is of the Sarmatian people, whose women are believed to have inspired Greek accounts of the warrior-women Amazons.

“It is interesting that there are two burials in this mound,” archaeologist Roman Mimokhod told the Mail the Russian Academy of Science's Institute of Archaeology. “One obviously belonged to a man and was totally looted. We found only some fragments of crockery and scattered bones. We will check the bones, but we are almost sure it was some noble man. The second burial belonged to the woman. We believe that it was a double burial of some noble Sarmatian and his wife.”

He said the discovery of the arrowheads is indirect confirmation of ancient historians' relating that Sarmatian women were involved in hostilities and battle. In addition, there was a harness, indicating she may have been a horse rider.

The war-hungry women written out of photographic history

The war-hungry women written out of photographic history

Lee Miller was famous for her shots of the second world war, but there were many other women in the line of fire whose photographs have faded into obscurity: meet Gerda Taro, Catherine Leroy and Françoise Demulder

My new novel has a fictional woman photographer as its protagonist (Amory Clay, 1908-83), one whose working life occupies a large swath of the 20th century and, in the course of my research into the profession, I uncovered what seemed to me like a forgotten sorority of female photographers. In the first half of the last century such photographers were legion – they flourished and happily made their living and reputation alongside their male counterparts, and it was something of a revelation to discover these names and look at the images they made. I say “forgotten”, but no doubt if you’re a curator or a historian of photography or a specialist in the development of the art form then the names of these female photographers will be familiar – but they weren’t to me and, as I looked and read and dug deeper into their world, I became more and more astonished at the work I discovered.

William Boyd’s new novel, Sweet Caress, is published on 27 August.

9 Pioneering Feminists In History Who Were Way Before Their Time

It's spectacularly tricky to attach the label of "feminist" to women who were writing, working, and living far before the term became widely used. And I'm talking centuries before. We're all pretty familiar these days with the shortest working definition of a modern feminist, thanks to writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (and Beyonce) — "a person who believes in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes" — but putting that label onto people from a pre-feminist period (i.e. before the "first wave" of the late 19th century) is pretty challenging. Why? One, they're not self-defining as feminists because that didn't exist yet; two, they often champion certain bits of feminist thought while repudiating others; and three, they come from radically different societies than our own.  Instead, most historians of feminism use the term "proto-feminists," meaning that these women anticipated the movement (some by nearly half a millennium), but can't be safely seen as part of it.

Stanford historian says falsified medieval history helped create feminism

Stanford historian says falsified medieval history helped create feminism

A scholar of the Italian Renaissance, Findlen has collected biographies of medieval women, written in Italy from the 15th to 18th centuries, several centuries after the women lived.

Through a close examination of these texts, Findlen found that these early modern writers were so passionate about medieval women that they sometimes fabricated stories about them.

As Findlen carefully tracked down the claims in these stories, she found they varied from factual to somewhat factual to entirely false.

These invented women were often mentioned in regional histories, with imaginary connections to important institutions. They were described as having law degrees or professorships, claims that turned out to be fictitious.

Did Jesus Have a Wife? New Tests on Ancient Coptic Papyrus May Give Answers | Ancient Origins

Did Jesus Have a Wife? New Tests on Ancient Coptic Papyrus May Give Answers | Ancient Origins

The controversial “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” has been undergoing rigorous forensic testing and academic analysis to determine if the fragment of papyrus is authentic or not. The much-debated gospel, if legitimate, might show that at one point it was believed Jesus had taken wife, contrary to the current doctrines of Christianity.

The faded papyrus was revealed by Harvard University professor Karen L. King in 2012 and it instantly made international headlines. The announcement of a papyrus which might alter the historical record of Christian faith was met with elation, anger, and skepticism.

The fragment, now known as “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” is written in Coptic (an Egyptian language), mentions a woman named Mary, and contains the translated phrases, “Jesus said to them, my wife….", and "she will be able to be my disciple,” which suggests not only that Jesus may have married (some believe to Mary Magdalene) but also it raises the argument for women to become ordained priests.

The Archaeology News Network: Two Bronze Age female skeletons unearthed at Oylum Mound

Two 3,900-year-old female skeletons from the Bronze Age have been unearthed at Oylum Mound in the southeastern Turkish province of Kilis.

Oylum is located three kilometers away from the Syrian border and is one of the largest mounds in the southeastern Anatolian region in terms of its size. Excavations have been carried out by a team from the Cumhuriyet University Archaeology Department.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Was Cleopatra beautiful? The archaeological evidence

Over the next two thousand years and counting, she would be renowned for her outstanding physical beauty, inspiring innumerable works of art depicting her as an alluring temptress, and spawning countless modern beauty parlours in her name.

No doubt the legend of her beauty is based in part on her famous seduction of both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, both powerful Roman leaders. But what did she really look like? Is there any solid basis to the claims of unparalleled physical beauty? Let’s have a look at what the historical and archaeological evidence tells us.

The Real Housewives of Ancient Egypt Had 8-Foot-Long Prenups | Atlas Obscura

Eight feet long from edge to edge and brushed with beautiful calligraphy, the stretched-out scroll hanging on the walls of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago could easily be mistaken for a poem, or an ornate royal decree. It's neither. It's a prenup.

The 2,480-year-old marital document, written in demotic script—demotic being derived from the hieratic writing system, a kind of shorthand for hieroglyphs—was made to ensure that if the union between the signers didn’t work out, the wife would be adequately provided for. Her compensation would include "1.2 pieces of silver and 36 bags of grain every year for the rest of her life," says Dr. Emily Teeter, an Egyptologist at the Institute.

Exhibition reveals ancient Chinese female life

What did ancient Chinese women look like? What did they use when they washed their faces and did their make up? An exhibition in Nanjing may answer your questions.

The special exhibition themed on ancient female cultural relics was unveiled at the Nanjing Museum Monday. The exhibition, covering 230 ancient items spanning the centuries from the Han Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty presents traditional Chinese women's lives and tastes.

According to exhibit Curator Cao Qing, this exhibition is the first of its kind with a theme on ancient females. The exhibits include treasures from imperial ladies, as well as daily utensils used by women who lived in extended families, and paintings depicting ancient women's life and work, as well as paintings of beautiful women created by men. Some rarely seen items, like a chamber pot, also are on display.

Special lectures, a traditional costume show and tea art experience activities are planned during the exhibition. It will run through Oct 31.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Agatha Christie Radio Mysteries

For anyone in Melbourne in May and who is a Christie fan, the Agatha Christie Radio Mysteries are now playing at the Frankston Arts Centre:
Let your imagination run wild as a group of top Melbourne theatre and screen actors recreate the pre-television days using recently rediscovered radio scripts by Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie was an English crime fiction writer. She also wrote romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but is chiefly remembered for her 78 detective novels. Her work with these novels, particularly featuring detectives Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple, have given her the title the 'Queen of Crime' and made her one of the most important and innovative writers in the development of the genre.

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More Beauty Secrets From The Past

Article from the Daily Mail:
Women and vanity have always gone hand in hand. Indeed, archaeologists have been known to find the remains of bodies clutching make-up, beauty tools in graves and detailed beauty manuals from bygone times. While they may not have had vampire facials, cellulite cream and contouring kits at their disposal, the women of ancient history had some fascinating methods for beautifying themselves.

Read on for some of the beauty secrets from some notable women of history.

Women Rulers of the Maldives

From an article in Mint Press by Dr Milena Rampoldi:
In her book, Bahriye Üçok gives us a general overview of the history of the Maldives. Although, according to the historian Zambaur, Muhammed el-Âdil was the first ruler of the islands to embrace Islam (548-1153-4), Ibn Battuta, the famous Moroccan traveller, relates that a widely known legend gives the honor of being the first Muslim sultan to Ahmed Shenurâze.
In the 19th century, also female rulers governed the Islands. Hatidje binti Djelâlüddîn Ömer (her local name was Rehendîkabadikilâce) did not succeed her father immediately after his death. Her brother Shihabüddîn, though a minor, succeeded to the throne before her, and Abdullah bin Hadramî was appointed as his vizier. When Shihabüddîn grew up he appointed his slave Ali Kelekî in Hadramî’s place; but the new vizier, upon realizing the immoral character of the sultan, had him deposed and beheaded.

More articles by Dr Milena Rampoldi