Sunday, November 26, 2017

Philippa Langley's Quest For The Princes In The Tower

It is perhaps the greatest of all cold cases: who was responsible for the death of the two Princes in the Tower. But historians who believe their disappearance will forever remain a mystery should think again.

Philippa Langley, the historian and screenwriter who spearheaded the Looking for Richard project that resulted in one of the greatest historical discoveries of modern times – the grave of Richard III located beneath a car park in Leicester – is back once more, attempting to crack the case, The Independent can reveal.

“I have three key lines of investigation – two that have never been investigated before,” she said. “There are a couple of European lines of inquiry that are looking very interesting. We do know that [Richard III’s successor] Henry Tudor tried to destroy all copies of Richard’s legal right to the throne, the Titulus Regius. What we don’t know is how much of the other paperwork he destroyed quietly behind the scenes. So, we’re hoping that further [destruction] might not have taken place on the Continent. There might be more information available over there.”

From the Guardian - why the princes will stay buried:
Previously confidential correspondence reveals that the Church of England, with backing from the Queen and ministers, has repeatedly refused requests to carry out similar forensic tests to those used to identify the remains of Richard III this week to see if the bones buried in Westminster Abbey are those of Richard's two nephews.

Buckingham Palace and then home secretary, Michael Howard, were consulted and both the Queen and the minister were in "full agreement" with the church authorities that matter should not be reopened. 

read more here

Even More on St Ketevan

Following on from my post "More on St Ketevan" in 2013, come this articles from the The Hindu:
The first ancient DNA study in South Asia has revealed that a 400-year-old bone relic kept in St. Augustinian Church in Goa is likely to be a remnant of Queen Ketevan of Georgia (eastern Europe), who was born in a royal family in 1565 in the medieval period.

A team of investigators from the CSIR, the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), the Archaeological Survey of India and the Estonian BioCentre led by K. Thangaraj, CCMB, traced that the relic excavated from St. Augustinian Church complex in Goa, might belong to Georgian Queen Ketevan. The study has been published online recently in Mitochondrion journal.

For about a decade (1614 to 1624), the Queen remained in Shiraz as the prisoner of Shah Abbasi I. In 1624, the Persian emperor attempted to convert the Queen to Islamic faith. For resisting his wishes, she was tortured and strangled to death on September, 22, 1624.

From the Times of India (2017)
People in Georgia are greatly anticipating the arrival of the sacred relics, more than four centuries after these were brought to Old Goa by Augustinian Friars.

From The Quint:
Twenty-six years ago, the Government of India and Georgia, along with a posse of historians, archaeologists and priests, came together to recover a fragment of history lost in time – the mortal remains of a Georgian queen, believed to be in an old church in Goa.

The Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) Hyderabad Circle, after two decades of research and tests, has now concluded that the remains of Georgian Queen Ketevan were indeed at the St Augustine Church in Goa, bringing to light the 17th century connection between Georgia and the coastal state.

read more here 
@ Women of History - Mystery of Saint Ketevan
@ Women of History - Saint Ketevan

Marie Lafarge - Celebrated French Poison Trial

In France, in 1840, a notorious murder trial put the young science of toxicology to a dramatic test. Rumored to be unhappy in her marriage, Marie Lafarge, age 24, was charged with poisoning her husband Charles. Witnesses had seen her buying arsenic—to exterminate rats, she claimed—and testified that she had stirred a white powder into her husband's food. The prosecution sought to build on this by introducing the findings of local doctors who performed chemical tests on Charles Lafarge's stomach and on the white powders that had been gathered as evidence.

At the resulting trial, the raven-haired Marie at first excited great sympathy. Her lawyer, Hempel says, made sure that the jury knew of “the excellence of her piano-playing, her delightful voice, her competence in more than one science, her reading and translation of Goethe, her fluency in several languages and composing of Italian verse.” She also had a flair for drama. When it was reported in court that a group of doctors had found no evidence of arsenic in the corpse, Marie responded, Hempel writes, by “clasping her hands, raising her eyes to heaven, and then fainting and having to be carried out of the court, while her lawyer sat weeping.” Other experts, however, believed that arsenic was present. About a year into the trial, the renowned toxicologist Mathieu Orfila was called upon to examine Lafarge’s remains.

read more here

This is the face of a woman who died 13,600 years ago

Researchers have revealed the face that once belonged to the oldest human remains unearthed at an ancient burial ground in Thailand.

The Late Pleistocene woman died more than 13,600 years ago, but has been resurrected in a two-dimensional image using facial approximation.

The results presented a women aged 25 to 35 years old, with a high jaw line and small almond shaped eyes – and it is believed she was just 5 feet tall.

read more here @ Daily Mail Online

Why was a teenager with bone cancer buried on Witch Hill in Panama?

IMAGEA new report by Smithsonian archaeologists and colleagues in the International Journal of Paleopathology identifies a bone tumor in the upper right arm of an adolescent who was buried in about 1300 AD in a trash heap at a site in western Panama called Cerro Brujo or Witch Hill. The reason for what appears to be a ritual burial in this abandoned pre-Colombian settlement is unknown.

The burial in question, in the largest of five ancient trash pits at the site, may have been placed there because it was the site where the individual's ancestors lived. A large town site nearby, Sitio Drago near Boca del Drago on Isla Colón, excavated by UCLA archaeologist Tom Wake was occupied from roughly 600 AD until 1410 AD.

read more here @ Eureka Alert - Science News

Grave of Disabled Prehistoric Woman

Human remains found buried in downtown Tempe, Arizona, are revealing a touching story about one young woman’s painful life and the community that cared for her more than 800 years ago.

The woman’s grave featured at least a half-dozen ceramic items, including a jar, a cylindrical vessel, a bowl placed near her head, another coated in the metallic mineral schist placed upside-down over her feet, and another bowl by her left side that contained a small ceramic effigy of a duck.

Regardless of what her medical history or social status really was, her treatment in death gives insights into what Cox and his colleagues describe as the bioarchaeology of care — a glimpse into how prehistoric cultures cared for their ill and infirm.

read more here @ Western Digs

Sunday, November 19, 2017

India's Outdated Dowry Practice is Killing Brides

Although anti-dowry laws have existed in India since 1961 (twelve years after Indian Independence), they are considered to be largely ineffective. The practice of asking for — and giving — dowry remains unchecked and rampant, and India has the largest number of dowry deaths in the world.

Under Hindu law, a woman cannot inherit ancestral property (although that seems to be changing slowly), which is how dowry must have evolved. The dowry would be registered in the bride’s name and would be under her control. It was referred to as Stridhan (woman’s property in Sanskrit). However, this was restricted to “upper castes;” lower castes practiced bride price to compensate the bride’s family for the loss of income.

read more here @ Wear Your Voice

Ancient Women & Ancient Laws

A series of articles regarding some new discoveries relation to ancient women. 

From Bangalore Mirror: Ancient Sati System
Image result for this hero stone of T DasarahalliSati was a dreaded practice among some Hindu communities in which a newly widowed woman committed suicide after her husband's death — this either voluntarily or forcefully. The widow jumping into the husband's funeral pyre was the infamous method of Sati. Over the centuries, social reformers and court orders ensured it died out.
A hero stone deciphered recently in Dasarahalli has images of a king and his two wives, who presumably had performed Sati after the death of the king in the battle. 

From the Times of Israel: 4000 Pre-Nup Agreement
On the recently found prenup tablet, linguists uncovered what is now considered the first historical reference to infertility. According to the marriage contract, if within two years of marriage there is no issue, the couple’s infertility was to be remedied by surrogacy through the use of a hierodule, which Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as “a slave or prostitute in the service of a temple.”

The tablet was found in Turkey’s Kültepe district, which from 2,100 BCE to 1,800 BCE was a thriving trade colony of the Old Assyrian Empire. Written in Old Assyrian and signed before four witnesses, the prenup states the wife could hire a sex slave to serve as a surrogate mother. 

From International Business Times: Ancient Surrogacy
A 4,000-year-old Assyrian tablet is the first evidence of surrogacy in infertility. (Istanbul Archaeology Museum)In the Mesopotamian civilization, society was monogamous. Hence, if one partner demands separation or divorce then according to the prenup, he would have to pay five minas of silver, which is some $1,500 in the present day, to leave the marriage.

The Assyrian idea of a wife hiring a handmaiden to give birth to her husband's child is similar to the story of Hagar and Sarai or Sarah from the Bible.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Archaeologists discover rare remains of pregnant woman in King Solomon’s Mines

A consortium of archeologists and researchers from Tel Aviv University have discovered the 3,200-year-old remains of a pregnant Egyptian woman in Southern Israel’s Timna Valley, adjacent to an ancient Egyptian temple in an area once known as “King Solomon’s Mines", according to a report in Haaretz.
Situated in an arid climate with scarce natural resources to sustain life, few human corpses – and no previous female remains – have been unearthed near the copper mines, which were believed to have been exploited for 500 years between the 9th and 14th centuries BCE.
“It is very rare to find human remains in Timna, and it is the first time we found a woman,” Ben-Yosef told Haaretz. “There are no water sources in Timna and it is very inhospitable, so no one ever settled there permanently,” he continued.
read more here @ Jerusalem Post

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Lady of the Spiked Throne

Another fascinating article from Ancient Origins:
The Lady of the Spiked ThroneThe Lady of the Spiked Throne refers to a mysterious artifact from the Indus Valley civilization that has been dated to the 3 rd millennium BC. It depicts a woman in a position of power seated in a spiked throne in what has been described as a bull-headed boat or chariot. She and her crew display unusual features including large almond-shaped eyes, elongated heads or headdresses, and beak-like noses. The absence of information concerning the artifact’s provenance and archaeological context has made it difficult to determine its true origin and purpose.

[Italian archaeologist MassimoVidale questions: “Who is the lady on the spiked throne, a priestess, a queen or a divinity?”. It is a question we may never know the answer to, though it is clear that whoever she is, she is in a position of authority and is obviously held in high esteem.

Nadezhda Krupskaya – and the Russian Bolshevik Revolution

Nadezhda Krupskaya, c. 1890s Nadezhda Krupskaya was a Marxist activist, a revolutionary, and a dedicated advocate of educational reform in the Soviet Union. She was also the wife of Vladimir Lenin for 26 years, until his death in 1924.

In his [Leon Trotsky] words, Krupskaya was “at the very center of all the organization work; she received comrades when they arrived, instructed them when they left, established connections, supplied secret addresses, wrote letters, and coded and decoded correspondence. In her room, there was always a smell of burned paper from the secret letters she heated over the fire to read…”

Of course, she never thought that a critical mind could lead to individualism, which might bring capitalism and fill the spirit with consumerism. She truly believed in Marxism and that imagination could only become realistic once the nation was aware of its benefits.

read more here @ Kameni Spavač

Rose Bertin: The Most Famous French Fashion Designer

Image resultMarie-Jeanne Rose Bertin was the first most famous French fashion designer best-known as the dressmaker and milliner to Queen Marie Antoinette.  Rose was introduced to the Queen in 1772. After the coronation of King Louis XVI, Bertin showed twice a week in Marie Antoinette’s home and presented her the newest creations.

The Queen fell in love with Rose’s creations; she adored every detail which she designed, and in short time, they became good friends. The French women began to pouf their hairs in the 18th century and started to wear oversized gowns with many luxurious details. In that fashion, Bertin designed her own poufs and exaggerated them a little, for example, she made poufs for the Queen which were three feet high.

read more here:

Mathematician Emmy Noether Should Be Your Hero

From the Smithsonian:
Amalie Emmy Noether, born on this day in 1882, has been called a “creative mathematical genius.” She battled sexism throughout her career and just, frankly, loved math—something not many of us can say about ourselves. 

Working at a time when physics and mathematics were transforming, Noether’s best-remembered work on mathematical constants drew on Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity, which completely changed those disciplines. It’s known today as Noether’s theorem.

read more here:

Burial Chamber of Princess Possibly Found in Ancient Egypt Pyramid

Inside a 3,800-year-old pyramid at the site of Dahshur in Egypt, archaeologists have discovered a burial chamber that may have held the mummy of a princess named Hatshepset. A wooden box inscribed with hieroglyphs was also found within the chamber.  The discoveries provide clues that may help archaeologists determine why a pharaoh named Ameny Qemau has two pyramids at Dahshur.
The wooden box is inscribed with "Hatshepset," which likely does not refer to the pharaoh Hatshepsut but rather someone else with a similar name, the researchers said. Last month, another inscription, written on an alabaster block, was also found in the pyramid. That inscription bears the name of pharaoh Ameny Qemau (also spelled Qemaw), who ruled Egypt for a brief period around 1790 B.C. It's the second pyramid that has an inscription bearing the name Ameny Qemau that is known from Dahshur. The other Ameny Qemau pyramid was discovered in 1957 and is located nearly 2,000 feet (about 600 meters) away from the recently discovered pyramid.
read more here @ Live Science

Pregnancy complication took the life of this woman from Ancient Troy

From CBS News:
Death during pregnancy or childbirth would have been common in the ancient world, but these stories are often invisible in the archaeological record. However, in a new study of ancient DNA, researchers reported evidence of a woman who died of a pregnancy complication — specifically, a fatal bacterial infection — 800 years ago at Troy.
The woman was about 30 years old when she died, in the 13th century A.D. She was buried in a stone-lined grave at a Byzantine-era farming community’s cemetery in Troy, the ancient city located in what is now northwest Turkey, immortalized by Homer in the “Iliad.”
“It looks like the bug that caused her disease was in a different niche than what we see associated with human infections today… We speculate that human infections in the ancient world were acquired from a pool of bacteria that moved readily between humans, livestock and the environment.”
read more here @ CBS News

Promoting the rights of girls and women

Article from The Daily Star:
The situation for girls and women in Bangladesh is changing for the better, especially in terms of economic participation. The past decades have brought in significant improvements, including in terms of labour force participation or access to better sexual and reproductive health care, as evidenced by a drop in maternal mortality ratios. However for women from poor, marginalized communities, and those living in remote locations, reproductive health related morbidity and mortality remains a serious challenge.
One pivotal approach to achieving the SDGs is the development of a cadre of professional midwives and integrating them into the national health system. Professional midwives are globally recognized as experts on sexual and reproductive and as champions of rights of women and girls. Professional midwives combine ancient traditions of advocating for, and nurturing women, with modern science and technology.
read more here @ The Daily Star

Stone Age Woman Had Modern-Looking Face

The pretty face of a woman who lived more than 13,000 years ago in what is now Thailand, and is considered a likely descendant of the first humans to populate Southeast Asia, is seeing the light of day.

Scientists have created a digital reconstuction of the woman's face based on skeletal remains found in 2002 in the Tham Lod rock shelter in northwest Thailand. Though fragmented, the remains included the bones of the skull and teeth. 

A Thai research team, led by Rasmi Shoocongdej, a professor of archaeology at Silpakorn University in Bangkok, established that the bones belonged to a woman who was probably between 25 and 35 years old and 5 feet tall (152 centimeters). 

read more here @ Live Science

Carbon dating confirms ‘Penang Woman’ is 5,710 years old

The human skeleton excavated at Guar Kepah in the north of Seberang Perai and dubbed “Penang Woman” is 5,710 years old based on radiocarbon dating, local archaeologist Professor Datuk Mokhtar Saidin said.
“The radiocarbon dating confirmed the skeleton is about 5,710 years plus or minus 30 years Before Present, BP,” he told Malay Mail Online in an interview yesterday.
The skeleton is the first and only remaining Neolithic skeleton found in a shell midden in Malaysia.
read more here @ Malay Mail Online

Searching for Truth in Bones: The Mysterious Relics of Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene is one of the most fascinating people from the times of Jesus. Although every year there are more and more people who follow her as if she were a super-heroine, her story has been misunderstood for centuries. But modern discoveries about her are helping to put her back in the right place in history. Her relics are located in different parts of the world and are a link between this mysterious woman and her modern followers.
The role Mary Magdalene played in Jesus’ life is still uncertain, however, it seems that she was an important companion. We don't know too many things about her life, but even the bible confirms the strong bond between Mary and Jesus - much stronger than between his other students. It is well depicted in the scene when Mary Magdalene recognizes him after the resurrection, according to John (20:17): ''Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

read more here @ Ancient Origins

Ingenious Girl Makes Idiom Dictionary Illustrated with Paper-cuttings

A 17-year-old girl who was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome at the age of 9 has devoted great efforts to making an unusual idiom dictionary illustrated with paper-cuttings since her summer vacation.  The ingenious girl Liu Yu comes from Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province.
"Currently, people have attached great importance to traditional culture. I think idioms are an aspect of our culture and it is more interesting to use paper-cuttings to explain idioms. Meanwhile, the art form can be passed down," Liu said.
In the process of making the dictionary, she chose some idioms that are easy to understand for young children and she also noted the source of the idioms and some examples.
To date, she has made paper-cuttings of 103 idioms and she is expected to complete the dictionary by the end of next year. The young woman hopes that some publishing houses will help her publish it.

Ottonian Queenship: Powerful Women in Early Medieval Germany

From OUP Blog comes this article by Simon Maclean, author of "Ottonian Queenship: Powerful Women in Medieval Germany":

The Ottonians were one of the great dynasties of medieval European history, and are traditionally regarded as the founders of Germany. They began as mere dukes of Saxony, but in 919 acquired the kingship and gradually became the most powerful and successful of all the royal dynasties who ruled Europe in the tenth century. Five members of the family ruled East Francia—the common contemporary name for the territory now called Germany—between 919 and 1024. 
But what makes the Ottonian family really stand out is the remarkable power of their wives and daughters.There were six Ottonian queens, and they rank among the most famous and powerful female rulers of the entire Middle Ages. 
read more here at OUP Blog

Bath tunnels of king’s daughters discovered under Turkey’s second largest castle

Two secret tunnels have been discovered under Turkey’s second largest castle, in the northern province of Tokat’s Niksar district. The tunnels date back to the Roman period, and it has been claimed that one of the tunnels was used by a Roman king’s daughters in order to go to the bath in the Çanakçi stream area. 
The excavations are being carried out by the municipality in the 6.2 kilometer-wide Niksar Castle, which is Turkey’s second largest castle after Diyarbakır Castle. The tunnels are located in the southern and northern facades of the castle and are approximately 100 meters long. 
read more here @ Hurriyet Daily

The witch trial that made legal history

Article in BBC News about the Pendle witch trials:

In recent years children as young as three have given evidence in court cases, but in the past children under 14 were seen as unreliable witnesses. A notorious 17th Century witch trial changed that.
Nine-year-old Jennet Device was an illegitimate beggar and would have been lost to history but for her role in one of the most disturbing trials on record. Jennet's evidence in the 1612 Pendle witch trial in Lancashire led to the execution of 10 people, including all of her own family.
Her convincing evidence was believed by the jury and after a two-day trial all her family and most of her neighbours were found guilty of causing death or harm by witchcraft.
Ultimately though, Jennet fell victim to the very precedent she set herself in 1633. Twenty years after the trial she too was accused of witchcraft along with 16 others by 10-year-old Edmund Robinson.
read more here @ BBC News

read also: Mary Sharratt's "Daughters of the Witching Hill"

Queen Hatshepsut: Daughter of Amun, Pharaoh of Egypt

Nice article by Joshua Mark at Ancient History Encyclopedia

It is a credit to her understanding of her people and culture that she recognized the importance of presenting herself as a daughter of Amun, a living embodibment of the divine. Through her careful manipulation of religious belief she was able to legitimize her rule but the success of her incredible reign is due entirely to her personal abilities as a leader who saw what needed to be done and was able to do it well.
Her legacy is important to note, not only for women who are competing with men for positions of power, but for anyone who feels disenfranchised and powerless in society. Certainly Hatshepsut began her life with advantages, being the daughter of a king, but she refused the traditional role assigned to women and discarded even her parentage in order to become who she knew she really was: the daughter of Amun and pharoah of Egypt. 

read entire article here @ Ancient History Encyclopedia