That distinction goes to Shajar al-Durr (? – 1257 CE). Described as a beautiful, pious and intelligent woman, she was Sultan of Egypt for three months. Which sounds really bad, but thankfully, she was not assassinated. Shajar al-Durr was the widow of the previous Ayubbid sultan. When he was assassinated (sorry, someone had to be assassinated, I guess) the sultan's personal troops, the Mamluks, decided to place Shajar al-Durr on the throne. That makes Sultan Shajar the official end of the Ayubbid sultanate, as well as the last woman to rule Egypt.
But things went wrong quickly, as the caliph of the Abbaside Caliphate refused to recognize her dominion over the country which was technically a fiefdom within the caliphate. So the Mamluks married Shajar to their next choice of ruler, Izz al-Din Aybak, and Shajar abdicated to pass the throne to him. Which marked the official beginning of the Mamluk Sultanate! Shajar therefore oversaw the end of one political power, and lived to see the beginning of the next. More than Cleopatra can say.
Bust of Ptolemy of Mauretania. He was the grandson of Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony, son of their daughter Cleopatra Selene, queen of Mauretania. He was last Roman client king of Mauretania before it was completely incorporated as a Roman province. Bust is circa 1st century CE.
Now you can compare all the largest empires that have ever existed, by geographic area. Thank you modern geography!
In ancient Egypt, the coming of the annual Nile flood was eagerly anticipated. The floods made Egypt fertile, replenishing the fields with beautiful, dark silt. This joyous season was also when Egypt held one of its most spectacular festivals: the Feast of Opet.
Held annually in the city of Thebes, the main attraction was a huge procession from the temple complex at Karnak to the temple of Luxor, with statues of the cities' most sacred gods at the heart of the parade. Opet's formal name is "heb nefer en Ipet" or "beautiful feast of Opet." It is believed that "opet" or "ipet" is the holiest inner sanctuary of the temple of Luxor.
The beautiful feast of Opet was so important to the ancient Egyptians that the second month of the Nile flood, when the festival usually occurred, was named after the festival: "pa-en-ipet" or "the [month] of Opet." Fitting, because the festival slowly grew from 11 days in the mid-1400s BCE to 27 days in the mid-1100s BCE. The festival really was its own month! And the ancient Egyptians probably did not mind having so much time to party.
It is estimated that over the past 200 years, the use of toilets -- and the cleaner environments and water supply that indoor plumbing entails -- have add about twenty years to the average human life.
A ceremonial axe, made by the Chokwe or Lunda people of today’s Democratic Republic of the Congo. Early 1900s
In the Ubang language of southern Nigeria, men and women speak different languages. While there are many words that men and women share, there are others which are different depending on their gender. It's not a matter of adding a suffix or changing the tense -- men's words and women's words are totally different, with different letters and different sounds.
Raised by their mothers and other women, boys grow up speaking the female language, but at age 10 they’re expected to switch to the male. “There is a stage the male will reach and he discovers he is not using his rightful language,” says Chief Oliver Ibang. “Nobody will tell him he should change to the male language. … When he starts speaking the men language, you know the maturity is coming into him.” Boys who do not make the switch by a certain age are considered abnormal.
According to Chief Ibang, the Ubang's unique language(s) are from heaven. "God created Adam and Eve and they were Ubang people..." God had initially wanted every group to have two languages, but after giving the to the Ubang, God did the math and realized there were not enough languages for every group to get two. "So he stopped. That’s why Ubang has the benefit of two languages — we are different from other people in the world."
Morocco -- and indeed, all of northern Africa -- used to be considered part of the European cultural world. The region, then called Mauretania, was colonized by Phoenicians, then Phoenicia's descendent Carthage. After the Punic Wars there were a number of independent kingdoms in the region. They were weak, and the later ones were client-kings for Rome. Mauretania was eventually officially annexed by the Roman Empire in 46 CE and made a province. The region was conquered by the Vandals in the 400s CE, along with Spain. The whole time, Mauretania and its Berber tribes were considered the very edge of European culture, but European nonetheless.
It was the Arabic Empire that changed the cultural makeup of Morocco. The region was conquered by Muslim Arabs around 685 CE and incorporated into the new Umayyad Caliphate, ruled from Damascus. Its native Berber tribes slowly converted to Islam. Ever since, the country has been considered part of the wider Middle East sphere.
The Neolithic Revolution, also known as the Agricultural Revolution, occurred about 12,000 years ago. For those, like me, who are not the best at math, that is around 10,000 BCE. There was a global trend away from nomadic hunting and gathering and towards sedentary farming. It appears to have arisen independently in multiple places in the Middle East, as well as in China and Papua New Guinea. Egypt and the Indus River Valley may have independently developed agriculture as well, or gotten the idea and the seeds from the Middle East or China.
Cereals, like barley in the Middle East and rice in China, were likely the first to be domesticated, eventually supplemented by protein-rice plants like peas and lentils. As people began to settle down they also domesticated animals. The earliest archaeological evidence of sheep and goat herding comes from around 10,000 BCE in the Iraq and Anatolia. Animals could be used as labor in the fields, or as sources of additional nutrients and calories to supplement the new cereal-heavy diet.
The Neolithic Revolution did not happen everywhere, and not all at once. And there remain a variety of hypotheses as to why humans stopped foraging and started farming. Population pressure may have caused increased competition for food and the need to cultivate new foods; people may have shifted to farming in order to involve elders and children in food production; humans may have learned to depend on plants they modified in early domestication attempts and in turn, those plants may have become dependent on humans. Whatever the reason, the Neolithic Revolution changed humanity -- and our world -- for good.
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!
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