This is Meritamun. Her name means "beloved of Amun," the great Egyptian creator/sun god. She lived in ancient Egypt, sometime between 1500 BCE and 331 BCE, and was likely high status judging by the quality of the linens she was mummified with. Meritamun was between 18 and 25 when she died.
Athletes in ancient Greece smeared olive oil on their bodies before a competition. The oil made their skin more supple and made them appear, as classical writers described, "like gleaming statues of the gods."
Anaxagoras was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist from the late 6th and early 5th centuries BCE. He deduced that the moon was a rock which reflected light from the sun, another burning rock. Anaxagoras was not the first to posit this. But he went a step further than those who had gone before, and used his theory to explain lunar phases eclipses, and predict that the moon's surface would have mountains and valleys.
Anaxagoras was (probably correctly) labeled by ancient Athenian society as a denier of the sun and moon gods. Unfortunately for him, Anaxagoras was a teacher and friend of the influential statesman Pericles. Unable to directly strike at the very-popular Pericles, his political enemies began attacking his friends. Anaxagoras was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death, ostensibly for breaking impiety laws while promoting his ideas about the moon and sun. Pericles was able to use his influence to get the sentence commuted to exile. Anaxagoras was an early martyr for scientific truth. And a crater on the moon was named after him
"I once spent all day thinking without taking food and all night thinking without going to bed, but I found that I gained nothing from it. It would have been better for me to have spent the time in learning."
Historians generally believe that ancient Greek girls did not have as much access to education as ancient Greek boys. But they must have had some, sometimes. Recorded history remembers a number of educated women such as Sappho of Lesbos, a famous poet, and Diotima, a philosopher and contemporary of Socrates. The lack of documentation on women's lives in classical Greece makes it difficult to determine exactly how much education girls received, however. Were these educated women rare? Or relatively common?
In addition to famous educated women, evidence also comes from art historians. A handful of artworks depict females studying! A kylix from the 400s BCE depict a female student carrying a tablet and stylus, used to write notes during a teacher's lectures. A vase from the same century shows a woman reading from a papyrus (above), meaning she had been taught how to read. A water vessel from the 500s BCE show two young girls being taught to dance by a female teacher. Such limited and fragmentary evidence is all historians have to attempt to understand how girls and women were educated in ancient Greece.
Etruscan wolf's head helmet (possibly), dating to the 500s or 400s BCE. Its exact original usage is unknown. Hence the uncertainty as to whether to classify the object as a "helmet." Whatever it was originally made for, it sure looks neat!
Han purple was an ancient Chinese pigment which is thought to have been created as early as 800 BCE, but the most famous examples of its use date back to around 220 BCE when it was used to paint the Terracotta Army and murals in the tomb of the first emperor Qin Shi Huang at Xi’an. It peaked in usage during the Han Dynasty, then declined, and then vanished from the historical record entirely -- along with knowledge of how to make the color.
It was not until the 1990s that scientists were able to replicate it. The process to make the copper barium silicate pigment was extremely intricate. For one thing, it involved the grinding of precise quantities of various materials. And for another, it required heating to between 900 and 1,100 degrees Celsius. Amazing that the process was discovered so long ago!
Brightly colored pottery is a hallmark of the Paracas culture (900 - 100 BCE) of southern Peru. They would mark unfired pieces with animals, supernatural figures, and patterns, then add color after the firing process to fill in the design. A new study, recently published in Antiquity, analyzed the chemical composition of the Paracas paints and binding agents. The study found that an organic white pigment on pottery from the Cahuachi site was made from an unusual material: reptile urine! It is unknown -- and a bit difficult to guess -- how the substance was collected and then processed.
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By Lillian Audette
This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!