Saturday, October 21, 2017

The forgotten 'female Lawrence of Arabia' - Gertrude Bell


In a picture taken to mark the Cairo Conference of 1921, Gertrude Bell - characteristically elegant in a fur stole and floppy hat, despite being on camel back - sits right at the heart of the action. To one side is Winston Churchill, on her other TE Lawrence, later immortalised in David Lean’s 1962 epic, Lawrence of Arabia.

Bell was his equal in every sense: the first woman to achieve a first (in modern history) from Oxford, an archaeologist, linguist, Arabist, adventurer and, possibly, spy. In her day, she was arguably the most powerful woman in the British Empire - central to the decisions that created the modern Middle East and reverberate still on the nightly news.  Yet while Lawrence is still celebrated, she has largely been forgotten.

read more her @ The Telegraph



About Gertrude Bell
  • The Extraordinary Gertrude Bell edited by Mark Jackson & Andrew Parkin
  • Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations by Georgina Howell
  • Queen of the Desert: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell by Georgina Howell
  • Daughter of the Desert: The Remarkable Life of Gertrude Bell by Georgina Howell
  • Desert Queen by Janet Wallach
  • Gertrude Bell: The Lady of Iraq by H.V.F. Winstone



Written By Gertrude Bell:
  • Persian Pictures
  • Syria
  • A Woman In Arabia
  • The Hafez Poems of
  • The Desert & The Sown: Travels in Palestine and Syria
  • The Arabian Diaries, 1913-1914
  • Review of the Civil Administration in Mesopotamia
  • The Letters of Gertrude Bell - Volumes 1-2
  • Tales from the Queen of the Desert
  • The Arab of Mesopotamia

Ceramic Heads of Possible Goddesses Discovered in Ancient Waste Dump

Another intriguing article from Live Science:
The remains of at least four female heads, made out of ceramic, have been discovered at the ancient town of Porphyreon, located in modern-day Jiyeh, Lebanon.
The four female ceramic heads have a mix of Greek and Phoenician traits, as well as elements of Egyptian origin, Gwiazda said. For instance, one of the heads has a depiction of a Wadjet amulet (a type of amulet that shows an eye) on its breast, Gwiazda said. These amulets were originally used by the ancient Egyptians, who believed that these charms could help protect the wearer from harm. 

read more here @ Live Science

Sarah Siddons - The most famous tragedienne of the 18th century

Sarah Siddons was an actress born in Wales and was the most famous tragedienne of the 18th century, most notably for her role as Lady Macbeth, the wife of the play’s protagonist in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Sarah Siddons was a star. A charismatic character that enchanted everybody on and off stage. Unfortunately, her private life wasn’t as bright as her social life and acting career. In 1773, when she was only 18, Sarah married the actor, William Siddons.
They had seven children together, but Sarah outlived five of them, while her marriage ended up in an informal separation. Sarah died in 1831, at the age of 75, and was interred there in Saint Mary’s Cemetery at Paddington Green.

read more here @ The Vintage News

Early Egyptian Queen Revealed in 5,000-Year-Old Hieroglyphs


About 60 drawings and hieroglyphic inscriptions, dating back around 5,000 years, have been discovered at a site called Wadi Ameyra in Egypt’s Sinai Desert. Carved in stone, they were created by mining expeditions sent out by early Egyptian pharaohs, archaeologists say. They reveal new information on the early pharaohs. For instance, one inscription the researchers found tells of a queen named Neith-Hotep who ruled Egypt 5,000 years ago as regent to a young pharaoh named Djer. Archaeologists estimate that the earliest carvings at Wadi Ameyra date back around 5,200 years, while the most recent date to the reign of a pharaoh named Nebre, who ruled about 4,800 years ago.

read more here @ Live Science


Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun's wet nurse might have been his sister

From The Guardian comes this article on the family life of Egyptian Pharaoh, Tutankhamun:
Archaeologists believe Maia, Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun’s wet nurse, may have actually been his sister Meritaten.
Maia was the wet nurse of Tutankhamun, whose mummy was found in 1922 by renowned British Egyptologist Howard Carter in the Valley of Kings in Luxor along with a treasure trove of thousands of objects.
DNA tests have proven that the pharaoh Akhenaten was the father of Tutankhamun. The identity of his mother has long been a mystery, although she is not believed to be Akhenaten’s Queen Nefertiti. Some theories suggest the boy king’s mother was one of his aunts.
“Maia is none other than princess Meritaten, the sister or half-sister of Tutankhamun and the daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti,” Zivie said.
The mummy of Meritaten has not been found, but antiquities minister Mamduh al-Damati said on Sunday it could be in a secret chamber inTutankhamun’s tomb.

read more here @ The Guardian

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Devil letter written by 'posessed' nun finally translated

From Daily Mail Online comes this mystery from 1676:
A 17th century 'letter from the devil' written by a Sicilian nun who claimed to be possessed by Lucifer, has finally been translated thanks to the dark web.

The coded letter was written by Maria Crocifissa della Concezione at the Palma di Montechiaro convent in 1676, and she claimed it had been scribed by Satan using her hands.

Some 340 years later, a group of Italian computer scientists unscrambled the code using decryption software they found on the dark web, and found it does carry a devilish message - describing God and Jesus as 'dead weights'.

Sister Maria Crocifissa della Concezione was born Isabella Tomasi in 1645, but was rechristened once she entered the Benedictine convent at Palma di Montechiaro aged 15.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Queen Mother Idia of the Benin Empire

The Benin ivory mask is a portrait of the Queen Mother Idia of the Benin Empire in the 16th century, made like an African traditional mask.
This miniature sculpture was worn as a pendant by the queen’s son Oba (which means King) Esigie. There are two almost identical pendant masks today, one of them is in the British Museum in London, and the other one is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The bought masks are portraits of the queen and symbolize the legacy of the Benin dynasty that continues to the present day.

read more here 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Egypt Uncovers Remains Of Pharaoh's Daughter in 3,700-Year-Old Tomb

From an article in Newsweek

Archeologists have uncovered the 3,700-year-old tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh’s daughter near a newly discovered pyramid in the Dashur royal necropolis south of Cairo. Within the burial chamber, archeologists from Egypt’s ministry of antiquities retrieved an ornately inscribed wooden box containing four pharaonic jars used for the preservation of organs. It is believed the tomb belonged to the daughter of King Emnikamaw (Ameny Qemau), a ruler from ancient Egypt’s 13th Dynasty whose own burial pyramid is located 650 yards away in the same necropolis.

Not much is know of Ameny Qemau of his reign which lasted only two years.






2,500-year-old seal unearthed in Jerusalem

From an article published by CNN
An ancient seal from Israel's "First Temple era" was recently uncovered, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. The "First Temple," also known as Solomon's Temple, goes back to Biblical times. It's believed this seal is more than 2,500 years old and belonged to a woman described as "exceptional" or quite well-off in society at the time.
"Finding seals that bear names from the time of the First Temple is hardly a commonplace occurrence, and finding a seal that belonged to a woman is an even rarer phenomenon," the Antiquities Authority said in a news release. "She had legal status which allowed her to conduct business and possess property," it went on.