Friday, May 25, 2012

By the Book

Bible and all other related words, such as bibliography, had the literal meaning of "paper" or "scroll" and came to be used as the ordinary word for "book". It comes from the Greek bublos, "Egyptian papyrus",  from the name of the Phoenician port Byblos (also known as Gebal) from whence Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece. 

Byblos was also the port closest to the mountain cedar forests of Phoenicia (current Lebanon), so it was the port through which cedar exports flowed. In a list of the accomplishments of Pharaoh Snefru, who reigned over Egypt in 2600 B.C., is the notation, "he brought 40 ships filled with cedar logs." Pharaoh Snefru is better known as the Egyptian king who had the bent pyramid constructed.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Canaanites

Those great maritime traders of ancient times, the Phoenicians, called themselves Canaanites. They are the people of modern day Lebanon. The word Phoenician comes from what the Greeks called them--The Purple People. Makes one think of the silly old song about the Purple People Eater. The Greeks were referring to the purple dye Tyrian Purple derived from Murex snails, which these people produced and traded.

The famous historic cities Tyre, Sydon, and Carthage were Phoenician cities. Historic figures Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great conquered Tyre. Rome fought Carthage for domination of the Mediterranean. The Phoenician founded such cities as Cadiz, as trade outposts. They sailed as far as Cornwall to trade for tin and began the Irish linen industry. A simple alphabet, invented by the Phoenicians, to keep track of trade goods is the source of our alphabet.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Talk Like an Egyptian

Very few Egyptian words made their way into English. Ebony, ivory, and the girl's name Susan are all Egyptian. Susan means Water Lilly in ancient Egyptian. Those exotic African trade goods ebony and ivory retained the name given to them by Egyptian merchants.


Have you ever heard a town called a backwater? Ever wonder what it means? The term was coined during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It refers to a town located in the near upriver area behind a mill dam. The millpond prevented the water in the river from having enough drop or current to turn a mill wheel, so there could not be a mill wheel to power manufacturing in that town. It was in the backwater of the nearby industrialized town, so it could not have the industry or growth associated with the power supplied by a mill wheel.

Its All Greek to Me

If you check the word origin of the names for Egyptian structures, such as sphinx, pyramid, and obelisk, you will find that the words are of Greek origin. This is because the first person to describe them was Greek history and travel writer Herodotus, writing in the 5th century B.C. He traveled to Egypt and described all he had seen there in a book written in Greek for a Greek audience.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Timeless Zodiac

The oldest surviving depiction of the night sky / Zodiac is the Dendera Zodiac, on display at the Louvre in Paris. It came from the Chapel of Osiris in the Temple of Hathor in Dendera, Egypt. The star alignment dates from 50 B.C. Look closely, most of the Zodiac symbols are the familiar ones we know today. Taurus the Bull is of very ancient origins, perhaps dating from the Stone Age.

Dendera Zodiac

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Chesapeake Bay: The Crater

Did you know that Chesapeake Bay was formed by a major meteor impact 35 million years ago? There was also a second smaller impact on the continental shelf just off New Jersey. Scientists assume that a piece broke off a larger body during atmospheric entry.

Chesapeak Bay impact crater

Friday, May 11, 2012

Count Like A Babylonian

The Babylonians used a base 60 number system. Vestiges of this system still remain in the 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and 360 degrees in a circle. With a base 60 system, divisions are all nice whole numbers: one-half is 30, one-third is 20, one-quarter is 15 etc. The Babylonians also had an ingenious method of counting on their fingers. By counting off the finger bones of the four fingers of one hand, totaling 12, by counting 12 five times using the four fingers and thumb of the other hand; you get 60.

Great Pyramid Ramp

French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin theorizes that the Great Pyramid was built using a spiral internal ramp similar to those in a parking garage. The grand gallery has such a high ceiling so that it could be left open to hold counterweights set on rollers until near the end of the project.  See an exploration of supporting evidence in National Geographic: Unlocking the Great Pyramid

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cleopatra: The Rest of The Story

Have you discovered Top Documentaries? Many history and science documentaries are available for free online at this website. Great for home school or for anyone who loves history. I particularly want to recommend  Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer. Did you know that Cleopatra sealed her alliance with Mark Antony by having his men kill her younger sister Arsinoe in the sanctuary of the Temple of Artemis. This act of desecration caused outrage throughout the Roman world. If you enjoy this documentary, you may also enjoy Steven Saylor's novel's Judgement of Caesar and Triumph of Caesar. Saylor has a new book coming June 5th --The Seven Wonders. In the book, the 18 year-old Gordianus embarks on a tour of the Seven Wonders of the ancient World and finds his career as a finder (detective).

Free Kindle Reader for PC

A number of my stories will be available free on Amazon Kindle over weekends this month. If you do not own a kindle, you can get a free kindle reader app to download for your windows OS computer or Mac computer.
I hope you enjoy / enjoyed the stories.

Civilization: A Close Shave

Catalhoyuk, one of the earliest cities, inhabited from 7,500 B.C.E. to 5,700 B.C.E., was a center for the obsidian trade. The volcanic glass was used to make knives, razors, and mirrors. It seems trade in luxury items like razors may well have led to civilization.

Speaking of luxury items used in grooming, tweezers date from the stone-age, when they were carved from clam shells. By 3,000 B.C. E., Egyptians were using a metal variety nearly indistinguishable from today's tweezers. The word tweezers originates from the Old French word Etui, which was a small case used to carry a variety of grooming aids.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Glitter Eyeshadow

Ancient Egyptians, as early as the Mid-Bronze Age c. 3100 B.C., added sparkly silver antimony flakes to their kohl ( Ancient Egyptians burned frankincense, as incense also known as Olibanum [probably oil of Lebanon], and ground the charred resin into a powder used as eye makeup; they called kohl. ) eye makeup, making a black eye shadow with tiny shining silver stars, like the night sky.

The Art of Medieval Tombs

A link to Eleanor of Aquitaine's tomb effigy.

In my time travel romance Not a Ghost of a Chance, I mention that art that actually resembles the individual, instead of merely portraying their station in life, true portraits and sculptures began with tomb effigies. At the end of the story, the knight's tomb has changed to a tomb of a Lord and Lady holding hands. Here is a similar tomb: The Tomb of the Earl and Countess of Arundel

Dressed for The Castle

Here is a link to a website which discusses Medieval women's clothing:

Women's clothing in the Middle Ages

Horsing Around

Here is a great website for the trappings used on a Medieval knight's horse:

Horse Trappings

Medieval Romances

Since we are on the topic of Medieval times today, I want to list my favorite Romances with Medieval settings:

The Wise Virgin by Jo Beverley in A Bride by Christmas

Lord of Midnight by Jo Beverley

Not A Ghost of A Chance

In my story, Not a Ghost of a Chance, I focus on the period when Eleanor of Aquitaine first met Henry. Little is know about how their romance began, which leaves their interactions open to speculation and drama. My story centers around her desire to leave her arranged marriage for a man she chooses and a note to be delivered on a fateful night.
Not A Ghost of A Chance

Read more about:
Eleanor of Aquitaine

Seeing The Light

Abbe Suger and Stained Glass Windows

This is a link to an interesting article on the connection between stained glass windows and the religious philosophy behind the many windows in Gothic cathedrals.


A stained glass window serves as a link between two times in the story Not a Ghost of a Chance. Stained glass windows have often been credited with miracles. This has to do with the same philosophical movement that gave rise to soaring Gothic cathedrals. The brilliant light of the sun was seen as the nearest thing to heaven that we on Earth can see. In fact, looking directly at the sun for a long period will blind. This is glory. Splendor is the light hanging in the air and shining through stained glass windows and reflecting from incorruptible gold. Since gold does not oxidize, it is also considered to be a heavenly thing here on Earth that is meant to show man the splendors of Heaven.

Not A Ghost of A Chance