Sunday, May 21, 2017

Women in 1066: the Power Behind the Throne

Whether in fact or fiction, a competition for the crown is usually dominated by men. It is they who seek to be king, who lead and fight in armies and who hold the majority of political power. But, there are times when women come to the fore. Although few women have been crowned, history is filled with examples of them using family connections in the political arena, and the period surrounding the Norman Conquest was no different.

In the chronicles of the time, the Battle of Hastings is dominated by the thoughts and tactics of the men of war. But careful reading reveals that women also played important roles before and after the Battle.

At this time it was rare for individual women to appear in the historical records and where they do, it is in their role as mother, wife, sister etc. of important men. The role of women (particularly queens, who were the best recorded) was as advisors to their husbands, supporters of their sons and the voice of religious moderation.

They had influence and power over men – and the three women profiled below wielded particular power behind the throne in 1066.

read more here @ English Heritage
read also Women of History: Women and Domesday (29th July 2007)

Was Hathor Egyptian or Semitic?

The goddess Hathor is considered central to the Egyptian pantheon. Personifying female aspects of love, music, fertility, and more Hathor was the deity responsible for welcoming the ancients to the afterlife, and an object of worship specifically to miners. But was she actually Egyptian?

However, the presence of Semitic peoples as turquoise miners in the Sinai over 4,000 years ago, plus the evidence of trade connections between the Semitic miners and Egypt going back millennia, plus the inscription, suggest that Hathor found her way to Egypt as Baalat sometime in the second millennium B.C.E. This suggests that at least the original shrine to Hathor in the Sinai, and possibly the later temple, were most likely built by, and for, the local workers, who brought the goddess with them to Egypt.

read more here @ Haaretz

Building for Egypt's First Female Pharaoh Discovered

Ancient stone blocks depicting Queen Hatshepsut have been discovered on Egypt's Elephantine Island, providing insights into the early years of her reign, Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities announced this week. The blocks may have been part of a building that served as a way station for an ancient Egyptian deity.

On several of the blocks, Queen Hatshepsut was represented as a woman, according to the Ministry, suggesting that the blocks and building it came from were erected during the early part of the first female pharaoh's reign, which lasted from 1473 B.C. to 1458 B.C. Later in her reign, the queen was depicted as a male.

read more here @ Live Science

The Truth Behind the Story of Dinah and the Red Tent

Biblical historian Ralph Ellis readily admits the Bible is not short of tales of violence, epic blood-shed and revenge. 

Hidden away in Chapter 34 of the book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, is the story of Dinah.

One of the shortest yet most dramatic Old Testament tales, the story is one of rape, murder and pillage, with family feuds and bloody acts of revenge thrown in.

And now it is about to hit our screens in a new mini-series with steamy sex scenes, gory murders and even baby-snatching.

"The reality is very different, It is good that people get to hear the story of Dinah, because it actually makes the historical accounts that we find in the Bible more real."

read more here @ Wales Online and @ Christianity Today

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Lifting the Veil on Queen of Sheba's Perfume

From Popular Archaeology in October 2016:
It is mentioned more than twenty times in the Bible, where it is one of the gifts offered by the Three Wise Men. Frankincense (also called olibanum), one of the world's oldest fragrances, is a gum resin that exudes from the bark of Boswellia trees, which grow in countries bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. It has been used for more than 6,000 years by every civilization, from Mesopotamia to the present. Regularly burned during religious ceremonies, it contributes to the very particular smell of churches. Despite its long history and the large amount of research dedicated to it, the exact nature of the molecules that give frankincense its distinctive fragrance surprisingly remained unknown.

read entire article here @ Popular Archaeology

Women Who Defied Gender Roles Were Once Imprisoned In Asylums

Article by JR Thorpe @ Bustle:
Society always throws up a lot of roadblocks for women who want to break from oppressive gender norms — but women in the 19th century who spoke up and pushed back against sexist oppression faced a distinctly awful possibility: being locked away in mental institutions, which at the time were generally known as "asylums."
The trend of locking women in asylums was so widespread that Nellie Bly, the pioneering journalist, made her name by getting herself committed to a women's asylum, and reporting on abuses and mistreatment from the inside in 1887. But the real horror isn't just the way many women in asylums were abused — it's how they ended up in there. To be thrown in an asylum for the crime of, say, protesting your husband's affair with your niece was a real thing that happened — and a thing that happened not all that long ago.
read more here @ Bustle

The History of Makeup Is Surprisingly Elitist

From How Stuff Works Now comes this article on the history of make-up:
People of all walks of life have found ways to enhance their features throughout history. But for centuries, it was the rich folks and aristocrats who had the luxury of using extravagant cosmetics. 
  • By 4000–3500 B.C.E., Egyptians were lining their eyes in that famous cat-eye fashion. 
  • Nail polish started to become the rage in ancient Asian cultures around 3000–1500 B.C.E. 
There also a link to a podcast for the rest of this article.

You might also be interested in 26 Facts About Lipstick from Buzzfeed

How Women Fought For The Right To Be Educated Throughout History

Great little article from Bustle:
Women's pursuit of an equal, in-depth, high-level education as adults has met many stumbling blocks over the centuries: inferior standards (or the complete absence) of education for young girls, beliefs in women's intellectual inferiority, and worries that education in non-domestic subjects wouldn't adequately prepare women for their "natural" role as wives and mothers. To the women of a century ago, the fact that 11.7 million women started college in America in 2016 — a majority of the total number of new students — would seem like a miracle. The ability to get your degrees as a woman isn't something to be taken for granted, so let's have a look at the history of women who just wanted to have the same education as everybody else — and the incredible fight it took to get them there.
read entire article here @ Bustle

Dr Helen Pankhurst: 'The suffragettes were violent freedom fighters."

As a new exhibition about women's suffrage opens, Dr Helen Pankhurst, the great granddaughter of suffragette leader Emmeline, explains why it made her chuckle and recalls the truly damaging tactics of her ancestors.

One hundred years ago, the National Portrait Gallery was issued surveillance photographs of suffragettes, including my great-grandmother Emmeline Pankhurst, by the Criminal Records Bureau. It was hoped that, as a result, staff would be able to recognise women planning to attack the gallery’s artworks in their campaign of political protest. Such concerns were justified: on March 10 1914 Mary Richardson slashed the Rokeby Venus, hanging just a few steps away in the National Gallery, with a small axe. She was also arrested for arson, vandalising the Home Office and bombing a railway station.
Now the internal warning memos and surveillance images of my great-grandmother and her fellow campaigners are themselves part of a fascinating exhibition at the NPG, entitled “Suffragettes: Deeds not Words”. I must confess that I chuckled on first seeing the display. What a wonderful irony it is that the Gallery is now positively promoting those whom it once looked out for in fear. Trouble makers have, over time, become worthy of tribute.
Read entire article here @ the Telegraph