Monday, February 27, 2017

Bloody Alice of Abergavenny

A screaming wraith atop a cliff
Writhing in an orgasm of slaughter.
One-by-one seventy men
Did she depatch with an ever blunting blade of an axe.
~ Lyrics of Bloody Alice (of Abergavenny) by Mael Mordha

The Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland had its share of bloody moments, but perhaps none so macabre as the Battle of Baginbun Head and the legendary actions of Alice of Abergavenny. 

Image by Kid Eternity
The Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland commenced with the landing of Robert fitz Stephen and Maurice de Prendergast at Bannow Bay in May 1169. The second wave of Anglo-Normans, lead by Raymond le Gros, landed about the 1st of May 1170 at Baginbun south of Fethard-on-Sea on the Hook Head peninsula in Wexford. Le Gross, who had 10 men at arms and 70 archers, was joined by Hervey de Montmorency with a few more, and established a defended camp at Baginbun constructed of banks and ditches with a palisade. Le Gros and his men were attacked at Baginbun by a combined force of 3,000 Norsemen drawn from the City of Waterford and their Irish allies. Although outnumbered the Normans managed to drive off the attackers and take prisoners. Too late for (servant girl) Alice of Abergavenny whose bethrothed / lover was killed. She took an axe to the seventy prisoners the Normans had taken and sent them to their deaths, dumping their corpses over the cliff-edge. 

Le Gross remained at Baginbun until Strongbow landed near Waterford on the 23rd of August with an army of 1,200 and their combined forces took the City of Waterford on the 25th of August. 

And what of Alice - it seems she is destined to remain a mystery.

Modern Baginbun
Read More Here:

Lady of Dai

A Chinese woman was preserved for around 2,100 years and is baffling scientists. She is called the Lady of Dai, and is considered to be one of the best-preserved mummies ever found.
Her skin is still soft, her legs and arms can bend, her internal organs are still intact. She has even retained her Type-A blood. Somehow she still has her own eyelashes and hair.
The Lady of Dai is also known as Xin Zhui. She lived during the Han dynasty from 206 BC through 220 AD and was the wife of the Marquis of Dai.
Her tomb was found inside a hill known as Mawangdui, located in Changsha, Hunan, China. The burial site was found in 1971 when workers were digging an air raid shelter.
Read More Here @ the Vintage News

Lady of Cao

Archaeologist Regulo Franco Jordán announced that specialists from Harvard University began conducting a DNA study of the Lady of Cao, a woman considered by many as the first ruler of Pre-Columbian America. The investigation will also include the 6 occupants who were buried with her.
The Lady of Cao is a name given to a female Moche mummy discovered at the archaeological site El Brujo, an Archaeological Complex, just north of Trujillo.
Read More Here @ Peru This Week

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Woman Power in Maya World

In Guatemala’s Laguna del Tigre National Park, the dense forest hides many treasures: endangered scarlet macaws flit among the treetops, while rare jaguars hunt on the forest floor. Only recently has the world learned about one of Laguna del Tigre’s greatest treasures, a 2,500-year-old city that once stood at the crossroads of the ancient Maya world. 

One of the most intriguing people who inhabited Waka’ was a woman of uncommon power and status. The discovery and excavation of her tomb in 2004 by team member Jose Ambrosio Diaz drew a lot of attention to the site.

On the floor of the queen’s tomb near her head, researchers found 44 square and rectangular jade plaques they believe were glued onto the wooden part of the ko’haw. The presence of this helmet in her torab has led the researchers to the conclusion that this queen held a position of power not typically afforded women of the time. 

Read More Here @ Lost Worlds

Passive Pawn or Lady Macbeth: Who was Richard III's queen?

Amy Licence talks about her journey to discover more on Anne Neville, wife to King Richard III:

While researching Anne Neville; Richard III’s Tragic Queen, I was forced to seek some answers. This wasn’t easy; dead by the age of 28, Anne didn’t leave much of a paper trail, despite having been married first to a Prince of Wales, then to a King. Reading about Richard’s life, you get a sense of a shadowy figure at his elbow much of the time, who did not commit her feelings to paper and inspired few surviving descriptions. Anne is something of a historical void and it has been customary for romantic fiction to fill it with anachronistic interpretations, designed to suit the sensibilities of a modern audience. This works well in novels but it is no use when it comes to non-fiction, where this caricature is also rearing its one-dimensional head. Because Anne was female and the teenage subject of an arranged marriage, she has been cast as the pawn of great men, the victim of their schemes and the fickle turns of fortune. 

Read More Here @ NewStatesman

Another Wife of Neferefre?

A team of Czech archaeologists has discovered a tomb in an ancient Egyptian necropolis that belongs to a Pharaonic Queen, who ruled around 4,500 years ago and who was previously unknown to historians, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced on Sunday.  The tomb was found in  Abu Sir, often called the ‘site of the forgotten kings of the 5th Dynasty’.

The Express Tribune reports that the newly-discovered tomb belongs to a wife of Neferefre, who Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty named as Khentakawess III. Two previous queens of Neferefre with the same name had already been identified, but a third queen was not known about.
Al-Damaty said it was the “first time we have discovered the name of this queen who had been unknown before the discovery of her tomb”. He added that her name and rank had been inscribed on the inner walls of the tomb. 
Read More Here @ Ancient Origins

Neithhotep - First Female Ruler of Egypt

The first known woman who can be considered an important ruler of Egypt was the wife of Narmer – Neithhotep, whose name can be translated as ''[the goddess] Neith is satisfied''. She was buried in Naquada, which suggests that she was a daughter in a long line of local rulers. She is known from the archaeological record.

Some say that Neithhotep ruled as a regent with her son, who was too young to be a real king, after Narmer died. She paved the way for more important female rulers. The women during the reign of First dynasty were important and wealthy, and their tombs prove their position. Other known names of queens from this period are Benerib, Khenthap, Herneith, and Merneith. The last one of these rose above the others – it is certain she was an Egyptian ruler.

Read More Here @ Ancient Origins

Nefertiti's Secret Grave

More on the possible discovery of the secret tomb of Nefertiti - Egypt's enigmatic Queen.

The burial chamber of King Tut has revealed many secrets over the years, but there may be a whopper yet to discover: the tomb of his mother, Queen Nefertiti.

A scan of the wall texture in King Tutankhamun's tomb reveals indentations or faint lines, which could suggest two hidden doors. Based on other aspects of the tomb's geometry, it's possible that Nefertiti is hiding behind the door, said Nicholas Reeves, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona who has proposed the theory of Queen Nefertiti's secret tomb.

Egypt has unearthed additional evidence of a secret crypt behind King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Some believe this to be the lost burial chamber of Queen Nefertiti, said to be Tutankhamun’s stepmother.

Queen Nefertiti, who died in the 14th century B.C, holds a tremendous appeal internationally, and confirmation of her burial site would be the most extraordinary archaeological find of this century for Egypt.

An examination of radar scans completed at the site last November has revealed the existence of two open spaces behind the walls of King Tutankhamun’s tomb.

The scans have pointed to some items behind the walls, different material that could be metal or could be biological.

She was married to one of the most eccentric pharaohs. But after his death she may have reigned on her own––as a man. If researchers have found her tomb, what's inside could change Middle Eastern history.

The buzz is now as loud as ever, as scans of King Tut’s tomb indicate there may be hidden chambers behind sections of walls. Questions have inevitably arisen about possible links to Nefertiti, and whether archaeologists will peek behind the walls to find room after room filled with the dazzling grave goods of the long-lost queen.

A British archaeologist says he may have discovered where ancient Egyptians buried Nefertiti, the Egyptian queen and wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten.

Nefertiti, whose famous bust immortalized her profile, has been the object of searches by archaeologists for decades with little luck. Now, Nicholas Reeves of the University of Arizona says that he has identified the location of her hidden tomb behind a wall in the Valley of Kings. In a research paper, Reeves suggests that Nefertiti may be connected to Tut's tomb through a portal.

See also images from Disclose TV

Mysterious Mona Lisa - Part 2

Following on from my post "Mysterious Mona Lisa" in August 2013, please find some more news updates on this enigmatic Renaissance woman:

From: Haaretz: The man who saved Mona Lisa from the Nazis -
On the eve of World War II, 4,000 works of art were secretly taken from walls of The Louvre and hidden away in various locales around France. A new documentary tells the story of an extraordinary rescue mission.


From Live Science: Did da Vinci create a 3D Mona Lisa - 
Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" painting may be part of the oldest 3D artwork, say two visual scientists. In 2012, scientists discovered that beneath layers of black paint, a seemingly insignificant "knock-off" of the "Mona Lisa" in the Museo del Prado in Madrid was in actuality very close to the original hanging in the Louvre Museum in Paris, revealing the same subject with the same mountain landscape background. That painting may have been painted by Da Vinci or possibly one of his students.


From The Independent: The dig that may have unearthed Leonardo's muse -
There's no trace of that celebrated, knowing expression, but archaeologists hope that one of two skeletons unearthed in a Tuscan convent will be shown to be that of the model who became Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. In their hunt for the remains of the most famous portrait-sitter in history, experts have been digging in the former convent of St Ursula in Florence since April. They have previously found and disregarded the bones of five other people.


From The Telegraph: Who was Mona Lisa? -
Italian researchers edged closer to solving one of the greatest mysteries in art history on Thursday – the identity of the Renaissance woman who posed for Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, the Louvre’s greatest treasure and one of the world’s most famous paintings.

After spending four years excavating human remains from beneath a centuries-old convent in Florence, researchers have zeroed in on a small collection of bones that they believe may have belonged to Lisa Gherardini, the Florentine silk merchant’s wife whom many scholars believe was the model for Leonardo’s masterpiece.

The research team revealed on Thursday that carbon-14 dating showed that the bones, which included a femur, dated from around the time that Gherardini died, in July 1542, at the age of 63.


From Live Science: Why does Mona Lisa's smile change -
Strolling through the Louvre, you stop at Leonard da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Initially, she appears to be smiling; but as you move your gaze, the expression changes — not so happy anymore. Among the top questions baffling art enthusiasts is the elusive grin. Did da Vinci intentionally create the ambiguous appearance?


From Ancient Origins: Unmasking Mona Lisa - 
Experts believe the woman depicted in the famous painting is Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo, and that several remains found in a convent in Florence in 2011 could be her. They exhumed Del Giocondo family members who were buried in a separate family tomb that was opened in 2013 for the first time in centuries in an attempt to determine if it is really her through DNA matching. However, DNA tests on Gherardini’s sons reportedly failed.

The chair of Italy's National Committee for the valorization of historic, cultural and environmental heritage, Silvano Vinceti says that comparison of DNA from the remains found in the convent to that of Gherardini's children, who are buried in the family tomb, will not be possible, as previously thought, reports Arts Culture & Style (ANSA). Vincenti tells ANSA that “extracting DNA from Gherardini's family was impossible.”


From Archaeology News Network: C-14 results to shed light on Mona Lisa's identity -
Carbon-14 results on the remains of three people exhumed from Florence's Sant'Orsola convent will soon reveal whether they include those of a woman thought to have sat for Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa painting, researcher Silvano Vinceti said Thursday.

If the carbon-14 test results will confirm "that the three human remains date back to the 16th century" and that one of three is likely to have died during a period coinciding with Gherardini's demise, "then it will be possible to confirm, with a very high probability, that we have found the Gioconda".


Agatha Christie in Ancient Nimrud

The British mystery writer’s second husband, Max Mallowan, was an archaeologist — respected in his field, but with nowhere near the renown of his older wife. But Christie set aside her career for months each year to accompany Mallowan into the field.
Mallowan built his career on digs in the 1950s in Nimrud, the remains of the ancient Assyrian city that survived 3,000 years only to be blown into rubble by Islamic State group conquerors last year. And Christie, then in her 60s, was there to document his work, in photo and film.
Read More Here @ Times of Israel

Thursday, February 23, 2017

“The Red Lady of El Mirón”

Red Lady of El Mirón bones stained in 'blood-like' paint baffle archaeologists | Daily Mail Online
A robust, relatively tall, apparently healthy, probably female adult was buried at the rear of the living area in El Mirón Cave in the Cantabrian Cordillera of Spain about 18,700 calendar years ago. She had lived in the cold, open environment of Oldest Dryas, with a subsistence based on hunting mainly ibex and red deer, fishing salmon and some gathering of plants, including some starchy seeds and mushrooms. The technology of her group included the manufacture and use of stone tools and weapon elements made on both excellent-quality non-local flint and local non-flints, as well as antler projectile tips and bone needles. Her burial may have been marked by rock engravings suggestive of a female personage, by red ochre staining of a large block adjacent to her skeleton, and by engravings on the adjacent cave wall, and the burial layer itself was intensely stained with red ochre rich in specular hematite specially obtained from an apparently non-local source. 

Read More Here @ Daily Mail and Here @ Science Direct

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Chacoan Society - Medieval Matriarchy

A new genetic analysis of the burial chamber of a complex prehistoric society known as the Chacoans in New Mexico has found that elite status was passed down through the maternal line from 800-1130AD.

The Chacoans - one of North America’s earliest complex societies - are particularly difficult to study because they did not use a written language.

'Pueblo Bonito' is the largest of these great houses with over 800 rooms. Ancestral 'Pueblo' Native Americans, known as Chacoans, occupied the structure between AD 828 and 1126. 

Read More Here @ Daily Mail

Monday, February 20, 2017

Who was Cornelia Africana?

The life of Cornelia Africana could be the basis for a fascinating Hollywood super-production. Since the beginning, her tale was nothing but an adventurous story about a woman whose extraordinary personality made her reach for the stars. Courageous, intelligent, and powerful, Cornelia could be an inspiration for generations of women.
Can you imagine a lady in ancient times who fought like a man, made negotiations like the best politicians, and reached higher than most men in political matters, but who never lost her feminine charms? Cornelia’s life was a story worthy of many ancient poems, but sadly many details about her story have been lost through time. From the resources that have survived, she appears to have been a powerful woman among the most influential people of antiquity.
Read More Here @ Ancient Origins

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Buchi Emecheta, Nigerian Novelist, Dies at 72

Buchi Emecheta, a British-based Nigerian writer who, in “Second-Class Citizen,” “The Joys of Motherhood” and other novels, gave voice to African women struggling to reconcile traditional roles with the demands of modernity, died on Jan. 25 at her home in London. She was 72.  The cause was dementia, her son Sylvester Onwordi wrote in the British magazine New Statesman.

Ms. Emecheta (pronounced BOO-chee em-EH-cheh-tah) came to the attention of British readers in the early 1970s when New Statesman began running her accounts of the travails of a young Nigerian woman in London. Adah, a thinly disguised version of the author, lived in a dreary apartment, worked menial jobs to support her young children and abusive husband, studied at night and weathered the slights meted out by a racist society. Buoyed by ambition and pluck, she remained undaunted.

In the Ditch,” a novel based on those columns, appeared in 1972.  With the publication two years later of a second Adah novel, “Second-Class Citizen,” critics in Britain and the United States hailed the arrival of an important new African writer. Like her immediate predecessor Flora Nwapa, Ms. Emecheta revealed the thoughts and aspirations of her countrywomen, shaped by a patriarchal culture but stirred by the modern promise of freedom and self-definition.

The Improbable Life of the Inventor of the Modern Bra

Mary Phelps, known as Polly to friends, was born in 1891 to a family that could trace its heritage to such luminaries as William Bradford, Plymouth Colony’s first governor, and Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat. As New England royalty, Polly grew up in New Rochelle, New York, wanting for nothing.
It wasn’t until 1910 that Polly realized something important was missing from her life. She was busy one day preparing for a debutante ball when she looked in the mirror and realized she loathed the way a corset made her look. It bunched up her bodice and squished her breasts into a single, uncomfortable monobosom. In her memoir, The Passionate Years, she referred to it as “a box-like armour of whalebone and pink cordage.”
Like all great innovators before her, necessity was the mother of Polly’s invention. She grabbed a handkerchief, ribbon, and a needle, and before the party was off the ground, had fashioned herself a new undergarment: the modern bra.
Read More Here: Atlas Obscura

Was it Love or Witchcraft?

Usually, the Empress of the Han Dynasty was invincible, untouchable, and protected by the law more than anyone else. However, in the case of Empress Chen of Wu, the accusation of practicing black magic destroyed her life. Nowadays, she is remembered as an ancient Chinese witch.
She was the wife of Emperor Wu of Han, who ruled between 141 and 87 BC. Their marriage was arranged and was not based on love. She was her husband’s servant when she was a little girl. Instead of playing and having fun like most children, she had to follow the strict rules laid out for Han Dynasty women.
Read more here: Ancient Origins

Ancient Egypt was one of the most feminist societies ever

Although the West tends to nod to ancient Greece when remembering its cultural heritage, there is at least one important cultural movement whose roots are firmly buried in ancient Egypt: Feminism.
Ancient Greek women – with the exception of the Spartans – had virtually no rights. In fact, they weren't even regarded as citizens, were excluded from many public spaces and were basically seen as the property of their fathers and husbands.
Even though Spartan women were an exception to this practice, their rights and freedoms still fell far short of those afforded by ancient Egyptian women. You see, in Ancient Egypt, men and women were regarded essentially as equals.
"From our earliest preserved records in the Old Kingdom on, the formal legal status of Egyptian women - whether unmarried, married, divorced or widowed - was nearly identical with that of Egyptian men," a professor of Egyptology Janet Johnson told Al Jazeera.
So, thousands of years before Women's Suffrage was a thing in Europe and America, Egypt had things more or less figured out.