Riddles in Stone: The Secret Architecture of Washington D.C.
Riddles in Stone: The Secret Architecture of Washington D.C.
The remains of Tutankamun’s Parents, Akhenaten and the mummy only identified as “The Younger Lady”, and his grandparents, Queen Tiye and Amenhotep III.
It was recently proved this “Younger Lady” mummy is in fact Tutankamun’s mother, and a full sister to Akhenaten. Thus King Tut only had one set of grandparents.
The Ancient Roman Vestal Virgins. Photo taken from the House of the Vestal Virgins in the Roman Forum, Rome.
The Vestal Virgins were the priestesses of Vesta in charge of maintaining the sacred fire within the Temple of Vesta on the Forum Romanum. They were the only female priests within the Roman religious system.
The vestal virgins were selected at an age from three to ten, and served thirty years. Only after these 30 years could they marry. The average life expectancy of a high class Roman of the era was about 40 years.
The vestals vowed to live in chastity for the thirty years their term lasted. The punishment for breaking the vow of chastity was death by burial alive—the only way to kill a vestal without shedding her blood. Their lover would be flogged to death on the Comitium. The execution of one or more vestal virgins were carried out several times, but very infrequently.
The vestal virgins lived in the House of the Vestal Virgins on the Forum Romanum, near the Temple of Vesta. The order of the vestals was disbanded in 394 AD, when non-Christian cults were banned.
Photo credit: myworldmybook
The Adoration of the Magi
Oil on Wood - unfinished | Uffizi, Florence
Size: 246 x 243 cm (97 x 96 inches)
The painting was commissioned by the Augustinian monastery of San Donato at Scopeto, a place just outside Florence.
It seems Ser Piero da Vinci had a hand in arranging the commission for Leonardo, seeing that Leonardo was effectively still dragging his feet in the dirt after his arrest.
In March 1481 the agreement was made that Leonardo should deliver the painting within 24 months, and if he doesn’t manage, the unfinished piece belongs to the monastery and they can do with it as they please. All this is still fairly normal, until the payment is talked about:
Leonardo did not get any cash in advance. He receives one third of a property which he may sell back to the friars after three years - ‘if they so wish’ - for the sum of 300 Florins. The contract also states that Leonardo had to provide the materials and all costs for the painting at his own expense. And as if that wasn’t bad enough yet, Leonardo also had to pay the dowry of a poor girl worth 150 Florins.
Not having the means to pay for anything, Leonardo asked the monastery to pay the dowry for him, as well as lend him money to pay for all the work materials he needed. His account with the friars is debited, and it seems it didn’t stop there:
From the documents that still exist, it becomes clear the Leonardo could not even afford to buy basic essentials such as food or fire wood. The latter he received as payment for decorating the monastery clock, and in the accounts it states that he owes the friars a few bushels of grain, and wine. Quite unsurprisingly, it was in the midst of all this that he decided he’d had enough and left for Milan in 1482, leaving the painting behind…
Today, the ‘Adoration’ is in desperate need of restoration due to the inferior quality of the wood panels Leonardo used - ten vertical planks, each about 9 inches wide - as despite supports that were added on the back the middle boards are bowing, threatening to crack the paint surface. Several attempts to restore it were stopped over the past ten years, and at the moment it is once again undergoing analysis before another attempt will be made to not only save the wood, but remove the thick layers of later added varnish, glue and oil from the surface of the painting to reveal Leonardo’s original draft/underpainting of lamp black mixed with diluted glue, and lead white.
In 1974 Egyptologists visiting his tomb noticed that the mummy’s condition was rapidly deteriorating and flew it to Paris for examination. Ramesses II was issued an Egyptian passport that listed his occupation as “King (deceased)”.
Queens of England, Catherine of Braganza, 1638 - 1705
Catherine was born on 25th November 1638, the daughter of King John IV of Portugal and Luiza de Guzman. Catherine had a happy childhood in Lisbon. She was raised in a convent near the palace, where her mother, who was devoted to her children, could personally supervised her daughter’s education.
A marriage to Charles II was negotiated during Charles I’s lifetime and talks started again following the Restoration. The terms of the marriage were very favourable to England and there was also an agreement that Catherine be allowed to stick to her Catholic religion. Catherine arrived in England around the 13th May 1662 and was married to Charles on 20th May, in a secret Catholic ceremony and then in a public Anglican service.
Charles had many mistresses, both before and after his marriage. Catherine’s reaction to Charles’s mistresses changed over time. The first time she met Barbara Villiers, who was to be made her bedchamber woman, she fainted and later raged about having her among her ladies. However, her rage was punished and her requests for her dismissal ignored and over time she came to accept her husbands affairs and did not react to them.
Catherine had 3 miscarriages during her marriage and it became clear that she could not have children. Charles II had many mistresses and many illegitimate children but he still insisted that Catherine be treated with respect and he refused to divorce her for a more fertile, Protestant wife.Catherine was often the target of plots against her due to her Catholicism, the worry of which had made her ill on occasion. However due to her husband’s support she was never removed or attacked.
During Catherine’s time at court she became more relaxed and took part in more enjoyable pastimes such as playing cards and dancing. She even approved of the trend of women dressing as men, finding that it showed off women’s legs very well. Catherine also introduced the practice of drinking tea to England, particularly the tradition of high tea at four or five o’clock. It is also believed that the Queens in New York is named after Catherine, who was Queen at the time of it’s founding.
Charles II died in 1685 and Catherine was left alone in England. She did not immediately return to Portugal, but stayed in England for several years. She stayed through the reign of James II and his deposition by William III and Mary II. However William and Mary were staunchly Protestant and Catherine’s religion was increasingly put under pressure by them. Catherine left England for Portugal in 1692. When back in Portugal, Catherine showed her character by becoming involved in her brothers rule, acting as regent for him several times in the early 1700’s. She died in Lisbon on 31st December 1705.
Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands accompanied by King Olav V of Norway and behind them Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg is accompanied by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, to a gala in honor of the 25th anniversary of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.
8th Century BC
North East China or southeast Inner Mongolia
Length: 21.6 cm
Personal weapons and tools, generally of small scale, were common objects among the sedentary people living in northeastern China from the ninth through seventh century B.C. Knives were especially popular and were often decorated with geometric motifs, such as the zigzag pattern on one side of this example, or with images of wild animals, such as the four horned beasts aligned on the other. This knife is further embellished with a realistically rendered human face at the top.
(Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
September 27, 1962: Silent Spring is published.
Fifty years ago, a marine biologist named Rachel Carson published a controversial book on the harmful nature of pesticides, especially DDT, on the environment, animals, and humans. Like Common Sense and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Silent Spring was of that particular class of publication that arguably changed the attitude of a nation; what the former two did for the American Revolution and abolition, respectively, Silent Spring did for the environmental movement.
The insecticide DDT was introduced as such in the late 1930s; the man who discovered its insecticidal properties, Paul Hermann Müller, was awarded the 1948 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. During this period, DDT played a key role in eliminating or at least controlling insect-borne diseases like yellow fever and malaria around the world. Throughout the 40s and 50s, pressure mounted for more restrictions to regulate its use, but it was not until Silent Spring that this cause received national attention. The book has been and continues to be criticized, however; DDT is now banned for agricultural use in many countries (including the United States, since 1972), but some argue that its banning has indirectly caused millions of deaths from malaria (read a refutation of this claim here). Contrary to the belief of some of her critics, Carson did not advocate the complete banning of pesticides but for more responsible use.
The title Silent Spring is derived from the famous first chapter (A Fable for Tomorrow), which describes an American town affected by “a strange illness”, presumably pesticide pollution. The chapter ends with these lines:
No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the birth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves… A grim specter has crept upon us almost unnoticed, and this imagined tragedy may easily become a stark reality we all shall know.
What has already silenced the voices of spring in countless towns in America? This book is an attempt to explain.
Curious History: The Doll’s House of Petronella Oortman, 1686-1705
Step into the doll house and find out how the rich lived in the 17th century. The doll’s house belonging to the rich merchant’s wife, Petronella Oortman, quickly gained fame as a world wonder. The doll’s house is fully furnished and every piece is made exactly to scale. It provides a unique view of the interior of an aristocratic family’s home.
In the 17th century, a doll’s house was not a child’s plaything, but a pastime for adult women, comparable to the art collection of a gentleman. This is one of three 17th century doll’s houses that have survived intact. Petronella ordered miniature porcelain objects from China and commissioned furniture makers and artists to decorate the interior. It was extremely costly to create a model house like this. Petronella probably spent between twenty and thirty thousand guilders on her doll’s house. In the 17th century, she would have been able to buy a real house along one of the canals for that price.
The early days of the American republic were confusing, geographically—with some states balking at the terms of union and the British army inconveniently trying to displace American statesmen from taverns in Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, the fledgling nation’s capital often changed at a moment’s notice (and then changed again).
The shortest-reigning capital city was Lancaster, PA, which, on September 27, 1777, played host to the Continental Congress for exactly one day. Fleeing a British army attack on Philadelphia, they worked out of the Lancaster Courthouse, built in 1737, and were comparatively productive, settling on the nomination of Benjamin Franklin as unofficial ambassador to France (from whom the Congress hoped to secure assistance).
Alas, Lancaster was still too close to the Atlantic seaboard for comfort, and on the morning of September 28, 1777, the Congress decamped for York, PA, where they stayed for nearly seven months.
Drawing of Lancaster, Pa via NYPL.
September 27, 1908: Ford Model T is Built
On this day in 1908, the first Ford Model T automobile was produced by the Ford Motor Company. The Ford Model T was considered to be the first affordable automobile in America.
The manufacture of the Ford Model T relied on assembly line production, an innovation by Henry Ford, instead of individual hand crafting.
To learn more amount great American designs and inventions, explore this They Made America timeline.
Photo: Library of Congress
Guthrum Thorwulfsson, a Viking re-en-actor, and has been known to turn his hand to sewing, textile work and even making his own Battle Axe!
This image was made using the wet-plate collodion process, using a lens from the 1870s, silver, cyanide and glass.