Thursday, October 27, 2016

Medieval Movement of Belgian Holy Women

Beguines were a religious movement of women who weren’t wives but also weren’t fully ordained in a religious order. There is a long history of Christian mystics, and they occupied a twilight zone in which they could move between the secular and religious worlds. They didn’t need to bear the burden of married life, but also weren’t forced to seclude themselves as nuns did, leading active and economically useful lives as single women. 
The movement founds its origin in 12th century when mulieres religiosae, holy women, began grouping together in cities of present day Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Northern France. Here they lived in voluntary poverty and preached sexual abstinence, while living lives in the service of the poor and marginalized. One such holy woman, the 23-year old widow Juetta of Huy, left her family in the city of Liege around 1181 to serve lepers. She then spent the last 36-years of her life immured as an anchorite.
Around 1230 these holy women had started to be called “beguines”, a term that was most likely initially used pejoratively, but whose original meaning is lost to history. Some of these communities formed separate, walled communities called beguinages, located just outside the city walls. 
Read More here at Atlas Obscura - Medieval Beguines

Crusader debris found on Mount Zion

Debris from crusader attack on Queen of Jerusalem found on Mount Zion - Archaeology - Haaretz - Israel News |

Excavations carried out on Mt. Zion have found a destruction layer dating to the 12th century C.E., when Baldwin III stormed the crusader citadel in order to wrest power over Jerusalem from his mother, Queen Melisende.
The intriguing layer of black ashy deposits, dated to around 1153 C.E., was discovered on the west side of the excavation site on Mt. Zion by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte this summer, led by Shimon Gibson, James Tabor and Rafi Lewis.
That said, a coin found in this layer was identified by coins expert Robert Kool of the Israel Antiquities Authority as belonging to the “rough series” of coins issued by Baldwin III, possibly starting in 1152 or 1153. The coin attributed to Baldwin III raises an interesting historical episode. It was in 1152 that Baldwin III (who reigned from 1143-1163) came to Jerusalem, to wrest power from his mother, Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem from 1131 to 1153 through no design of her own. Melisende at the time was residing in the palace next to the citadel on the west side of the city.
Read More At Haaretz dot com

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Skeleton Of Medieval Giantess Unearthed From Polish Cemetery

Skeleton Of Medieval Giantess Unearthed From Polish Cemetery

Just outside of the Medieval church of the Ostrów Lednicki stronghold in Poland, archaeologists have unearthed the strange burial of a giantess. The woman’s skeleton showed that she reached a towering height of 7’2″ but also that her short life was full of traumatic injuries and disease.
The giantess was found in a cemetery that was once used solely by the elite of the area: dignitaries, the very wealthy, and people connected with Bolesław the Brave, the king of Poland in the early 11th century, and with the local Piast ruling dynasty. By the late 12th century, though, the cemetery saw more and more burials of commoners, with over 2,500 skeletons recovered at the site of Ostrów Lednicki Island.
But in spite of the elite nature of the cemetery, its most famous resident is a woman from a lower social class who died in her late 20s. Writing recently in the book New Developments in the Bioarchaeology of Care, archaeologists Magdalena Matczak and Tomasz Kozłowski detail the intriguing skeleton and the odd nature of the grave.
Read more here >>> Forbes dot com

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Vestiges of the Vikings

Vestiges of the Vikings: Magic Buried in a Viking Woman's Grave | Ancient Origins

Murky, elusive and undefined, the religion of the pre-Christian Vikings has long been subject to debate. Contemporary texts of their spiritual worship do not survive, and the later records that do survive stem from Christian authors. Thus they are tainted with a Christian worldview and anti-pagan opinions. The magic of the Vikings, however, is somewhat a secondary field of interest. Though intricately linked with the pagan beliefs of the Norse, it is in many ways more undefined due to the ritual sacrifice of magical items.
In 1894, a curved metal rod was discovered in a 9th-10th century female grave in Romsdal, Norway. Scholars have debated its intention for years, shuffling between theories that it was a "fishing hook or a spit for roasting meat", before realizing in 2013 that it was likely a form of a magic wand. The bend toward the top of the wand was seemingly made just before the wand was laid to rest with the woman, as if to stem its magical properties. This particular wand fits the traditional mold of a seiðr wand based on previous discoveries dating from the 9th and 10th centuries. It is long (at 90cm), made of iron (consistent with the materials circulating of the Norse Iron Age) with "knobs attached to them" for the benefit of the wielder.
Read more at Ancient Origins

Ancient Bling In Tomb of Chinese Woman

Ancient Bling: Exquisite Jewelry Found in Tomb of Chinese Woman

Around 1,500 years ago, at a time when China was divided, a woman named Farong was laid to rest wearing fantastic jewelry, which included a necklace of 5,000 beads and "exquisite" earrings, archaeologists report.
Her tomb was discovered in 2011 in Datong City, China, by a team of archaeologists with the Datong Municipal Institute of Archaeology who were surveying the area before a construction project. The researchers excavated the tomb, conserved the artifacts and reconstructed the necklace.
Her epitaph, found by the tomb entrance, reads simply, "Han Farong, the wife of Magistrate Cui Zhen" (as translated in the journal article). In China, the surname is traditionally written first and the given name second.
While no other burials were found in Farong's tomb, the archaeologists did discover two other tombs nearby that are in the process of being studied.
Read more at Yahoo! News

Meritamun: The Face of Egyptian Beauty

From Ancient Origins:
The face of a young Egyptian woman who lived at least 2,000-years-ago has been reconstructed from a 3D print out of her skull. The forensic techniques employed revealed surprising facts about the beautiful woman, who has been named Meritamun, meaning beloved of the god Amun.
Researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia, in collaboration with the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, used new technologies, including CT scanning, 3D printing and well known forensic facial reconstruction. Although, the mummy is incomplete, the remains stayed wrapped throughout the process.
The head of a mummy has spent more than 90 years in the basement, which belongs to the University of Melbourne. According to the researchers, she died as a young woman between the age 18 and 25. It was determined due to the width of her mouth and the positioning of her teeth, and her nose shape and size was determined by the width of the nasal aperture. The researchers also found out that she had quite large eyes. Other parts of the body were lost due to unknown reasons.

Ancient Stone Depicting Queen Hatshepsut Discovered

Ancient Stone Depicting First Female Egyptian Pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut Discovered

"On the pillars are representations of several versions of the god Khnum, as well as other gods, such as Imi-peref 'He-who-is-in-his-house,' Nebet-menit 'Lady-of-the-mooring-post' and Min-Amun of Nubia," the Ministry of Antiquities wrote. "The building thus not only adds to our knowledge of the history of Queen Hatshepsut, but also to our understanding of the religious beliefs current on the Island of Elephantine during her reign."
Queen Hatshepsut stepped into her reign at the age of 12 years old when she wed her half-brother Thutmose II. Thutmose II died at a young age, and Hatshepsut became a guide for Thutmose III before assuming the role herself, possibly because of political threats. To keep her legitimacy as a fit ruler and not just a "great wife" of the king, Hatshepsut had to reinvent herself as a man. (The blocks refer to Queen Hatshepsut as a woman, which indicates that they're probably from the beginning of her reign, as she was referred to as a male later on.)
In her reign, she brought wealth through a successful trade expedition and grand building projects. After her death, Thutmose III erased almost all remnants of Hatshepsut, including her buildings and images. Scholars didn't learn of her existence until 1822.  

Powerful Norman Women

Powerful Norman women: Gunnor, Emma of Normandy, Matilda and Sichelgaita | History Extra
History tends to focus on kings, warriors and bishops – but a number of 11th-century women were hugely influential in war, state and church. Leonie Hicks introduces a quartet of powerful Norman women.
This article might best begin by paraphrasing a popular bon mot: ‘behind every successful Norman man was a brilliant woman’. Here I will focus on four of them: Gunnor (c950–1031), Emma of Normandy (c985–1052), Matilda of Flanders (c1031–1083) and Sichelgaita (1040–1090).
We are fortunate that enough evidence survives from the 11th and 12th centuries to provide insights into the lives, activities and roles expected of the women who married Normans, or who were themselves Norman and married into other ruling houses. Chronicles such as the History of the Normans by Dudo of Saint-Quentin, and works by Orderic Vitalis, Amatus of Montecassino and Anna Comnena, furnish us with glimpses into how these women were regarded by their contemporaries.

Continue reading article from History Extra

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

International Day of the Girl Child - 11 October

The world’s 1.1 billion girls are part of a large and vibrant global generation poised to take on the future. Yet the ambition for gender equality in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlights the preponderance of disadvantage and discrimination borne by girls everywhere on a daily basis. Only through explicit focus on collecting and analyzing girl-focused, girl-relevant and sex-disaggregated data, and using these data to inform key policy and program decisions, can we adequately measure and understand the opportunities and challenges girls face, and identify and track progress towards solutions to their most pressing problems.
With this in mind, the theme for this year's International Day of the Girl (11 October) is Girls' Progress = Goals' Progress: What Counts for Girls. While we can applaud the ambition and potential of the SDGs for girls, and recognize how girls’ progress is good not only for girls, but also for families, communities and society at large, we must also take this opportunity to consider how existing gaps in data on girls and young women, lack of systematic analysis, and limited use of existing data significantly limit our ability to monitor and communicate the wellbeing and progress of half of humanity.
Much more can and needs to be done to harness the data required to ensure programs, policies and services effectively respond to the specific needs of girls. When we invest in girls’ health, safety, education and rights - in times of peace and crisis - we empower them to reach for their dreams and build better lives for themselves and their communities. Only when investments in programs for girls on issues that particularly affect them - due to both their age and gender - are complemented with corresponding investments in data on girls, can we make real progress towards greater accountability in domains of critical importance to them.

Read More Here @ UN dot Org