Thursday, 12 May 2016

Perfume by Ramses

In 1916, a new perfume company called Ramses was established by M. de Bertalot.  The luxury brand soon became a major exporter and opened offices in Paris and Istanbul.  The Egyptian theme was also featured on their shop which had five monumental figures of pharaohs in marble on the facade.  The building was destroyed in 1929 after the company closed.

Ramses' range of of perfumes were Egyptian inspired and included the following:

1917  Secret of the Sphinx
1918  Lotus Sacre
1919  Rose Antique
1920  Sidon
1920  Ioldys
1920  Ambre de Nubia
1920  Sphinx D'Or
1920  Ivresse d'Amour
1920  Chypre
1920  Origan
1920  Jasmin d'Egypte
1920  Hycsos
1920  Folie de Fleurs
1920  Folie d'Opium
1920  Douce Melodie

Below is the perfume bottle for Ambre de Nubie.  The bottle is in the shape of a lion canonic jar and was made by Baccarat glass.  The poster advert is from 1920, the year it was launched.

Image via Pinterest
Image via Pinterest


Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Book Review

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers 
by Mary Roach 
Penguin Books 2003

I have come rather late to reading this book; it was published way back in 2003.  It was recommended to me by a friend, who knew that it would interest me as a researcher of 19th century Egyptian mummies and the strange uses they were subjected to.  She was not wrong – I found it immensely readable and couldn’t put it down. Stiff is an unlikely compelling book about what happens to our bodies when we die.  For thousands of years corpses have been subjected to numerous uses, be it for safety experiments such as reducing the impact of car crashes, used as fertilizer (yes…really!), medical cures (spoiler: eating human remains was one method of “curing” illnesses), or for scientific studies to name just a few.  Mary Roach’s book covers them all with a bold, curious and at times witty, journey into this largely unspoken world.

Television shows such as C.S.I., Silent Witness and Six Feet Under, give us glimpses into autopsies and funeral preparation, but there is so much more to know about the fate of bodies once the people they once were have gone.  Roach covers them all, seeking interviews with people engaged in these fields, and not being afraid to ask questions that we all secretly want to ask.  It is a well-researched book whose chapters cover a wide range of areas such as using human remains in surgery, testing injury tolerance, there is a discussion on the history of body snatching and information on how throughout the centuries dead bodies have been used for the advancement of medical science.  There is a chapter covering the use of remains to determine the authenticity of the Turin Shroud.  Human decay is also covered, as is a captivating discussion on the moral argument of when death occurs and in what part of the body the soul is seated.  Roach also looks at what it means to donate your body to science and where you may eventually end up.  Her marvelous footnotes add to the narrative, providing fascinating (and often funny but respectful) asides.

Roach can often be colourful with her descriptions and her style may be somewhat flippant for some readers. Also Stiff pulls no punches and those of a delicate stomach may wish to veto it on these grounds.  I however found it fascinating – it made me laugh (unusually, given the subject matter!), made me angry (experiments on animals strangely enough) and gave me plenty of food for thought, especially as to how I want my own body to be disposed of.  The book gives a unique approach to talking about issues that surround the subject of death and Roach really touches on what makes us human.  Ultimately Stiff leads you to ponder over the human race’s often-irrational attachment to the physical self. 

Mary Roach has written six books including Stiff:

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (2005) (published in some markets as Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife)

My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places

Monday, 25 April 2016

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Research into Ancient Egyptian Shrews Reveal Species

Interesting article about shrews in Ancient Egypt in the Smithsonian Insider.  Here is a taster:
"Nocturnal, solitary and fiercely territorial the adult Egyptian pigmy shrew—one of the smallest mammals on earth—weighs just 7 grams. French zoologist Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire first described this tiny-eyed, pointy snouted insect eater in 1826 from 2,000-year-old mummified specimens excavated inside an ancient temple in Thebes, Egypt. He named it Crocidura religiosa, or the sacred shrew.
“Egyptian pilgrims coming to worship a god would buy a mummified shrew from the temple priest and present it as a votive offering,” explains Neal Woodman, shrew expert and U.S. Geological Survey Curator of Mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. “One way of getting your request to the gods was to have a messenger.” A mummified shrew or other animal associated with a particular god served as that messenger.
Today, C. religiosa and other ancient shrew mummies are the emissaries of a different message. Using X-rays to penetrate their linen-wrapped bodies, with “the right angle and a good image of the skull,” Woodman is able to identify what species they are. “I’ve been working with an Egyptian archaeologist who is also interested in animal mummies and animal mummification. I have been identifying shrews from the images that she sends me. It’s been interesting.”
Six species of mummified shrews have been identified, Woodman explains. “Of these, one species is extinct, and another no longer occurs in Egypt.” He is now attempting to create a simple identification key to the various shrew species of Egypt, one that archaeologists who find shrew mummies in temples around Egypt can use."
Image via Smithsonian Inside
Read full article here

Afternoon Tea at the Pyramid

This photograph really evokes a past elegance of travel to Egypt

View from a guest room in the late 1920s at Mena House, Egypt
Image via Mena House Hotel

Thursday, 21 April 2016

At the Mummies Ball

Sheet music for At The Mummies Ball (1921)
Would love to hear this played!

Photo by megaeralorenz on Flickr

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

8 Year Old Discovers Egyptian Amulet

An amulet bearing the partial name of the Pharaoh Thutmose II of the Eighteenth Dynasty was discovered by an 8 year old girl in Jerusalem.

"A Jerusalem girl is being credited with unearthing an ancient Egyptian amulet while participating in an archaeological dig when she was just 8 years old.

City of David officials recently announced the extremely rare discovery made inside Jerusalem’s Emek Tzurim national park, after taking four years to authenticate the estimated 3,200-year-old relic.

The pendant-shaped amulet bears the partial name of Pharaoh Thutmose III of the Eighteenth Dynasty. It also has a hole at the top that would allow it to be strung, officials said in a press release.

Neshama Spielman, who is now 12 years old, said she was participating in the Temple Mount Sifting Project, a volunteer-based dig, when she found the unusual object.

“While I was sifting, I came across a piece of pottery that was different from others I had seen, and I immediately thought that maybe I had found something special,” she said in a statement. “It’s amazing to find something thousands of years old from ancient Egypt all the way here in Jerusalem!”

Read the full story here