Archive for December, 2010

Ancient Cosmetics- The Beautiful Killer

By: The Scribe on December, 2010

Many people think that the makeup that is being worn today is extreme. While it may be unusual and extreme in some ways it is much safer than the cosmetics that were worn throughout history by both men and women.

Today, people worry more about what they are putting on their skin and normally want a look that makes them seem healthy and natural. In the past, this was less of a concern. Part of this was due to the fact that people were unaware of the effects that some ingredients would have on their health. Part of it was due to the fact that very specific looks were desirable and that your appearance could have a huge impact on your social standing.image

One practice that was common to many different cultures was the practice of making the skin lighter. Whether it was just a light coating to make a woman look paler or an extreme white face was immaterial. Many women in a variety of cultures would use powdered lead in order to lighten their skin. Women from Ancient Egypt straight through to the Elizabethan era would use cosmetics containing powdered lead to make their skin look whiter and brighter. Mercury was often used during this time period as well.

The Egyptians were among some of the most prolific users of makeup of any of the ancient cultures. The products they used included unguents that could hydrate the skin and various types of pigments and powders that would color their faces and change the appearance of Egyptian men and women. The oldest makeup on record was found in Egypt and dated from between 3100 and 2907 BCE. image

Egyptian women often made their eyes up using a variety of different cosmetic products, some of which were quite toxic. Kohl, for example, was a dark substance that was used to line the eyes. The kohl that was commonly used by Egyptian women was made from one of two main ingredients. It was either made from galena or lead sulfide. Soot was also used in some cases instead of kohl.

The use of makeup is often designed to make a woman look sexually alluring as well. One sign of attraction is a dilated pupil and women throughout history were known to use drops of Belladonna in their eyes since it caused the pupils to expand. This effect, coupled with darkly-lined eyes and red lips could cause a woman to look extremely attractive. This substance was also known as Atropine, a toxic substance made from the Henbane plant.

Henna has been used as a cosmetic and a skincare product for many years. A number of cultures use this as a way to celebrate important events for thousands of years. Henna paste stains the skin or hair and has become a popular form of temporary tattooing. It is also used as a way to celebrate weddings and other events and Middle Eastern and Indian weddings would not be the same without a bride, her hands and feet coated with intricate henna designs.

Are the Central American Crystal Skulls real?

By: The Scribe on December, 2010

Although many different artifacts have been unearthed in Central America, some of the most intriguing have been 13 crystal skulls. These skulls are made of various types of hard stone such as quartz or rock crystal. Some skulls are clear while others are milky. A number of small, bead shaped skulls were discovered but it is the 13 human-sized skulls that have been the focus of research and speculation by scientists and archaeologists.

Many of the skulls were found in the late 19th century and in the early 20th century. At the time, many of them did not have visible tool marks. Experts in lapidary who originally examined the skulls declared that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to carve these skulls without shattering or cracking them. There was much speculation about who had made them and where they came from. At the time, reports stated that some skulls were anywhere from 5,000 to 36,000 years old.image

A number of claims have been made about these skulls. They are believed to have been found in areas surrounding Mayan and Aztec ruins and yet, there is no documentation that they were found at any recognized dig site. It is believed by many people that these items were used as ritual objects and one legend in particular states that crystal skulls were used for healing because of their supernatural powers.

There have been many claims about what these skulls are capable of doing. Some individuals believe that their power can be used to heal diseases such as cancer or can be used for darker purposes such as using them to kill others. It is believed that crystal skulls were seen as premonitions of events such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy.image

Many of the skulls are on display in museums or are part of private collections around the world. Some look like human skulls and others have overbites and other deformities that make them look more like aliens. When you consider the artwork that was common to many Central American peoples, it seems fitting that some of the skulls would look somewhat otherworldly.

Some of the skulls have never been examined or subjected to scientific testing while others have. Using modern equipment, scientists have been able to tell quite a bit about the crystal skulls. Many of them do show evidence of modern tool marks and one, known as the Paris skull, was found to contain traces of water that dated from the 19th century.

Using modern testing methods, scientists have been able to prove that some of the skulls were actually part of the vast trade in fake archeological artifacts that were bought and sold at the end of the 19th century. Regardless of this proof, many people still view the 13 crystal skulls as strange and mysterious artifacts that were part of ancient Central American history and as items of the occult in general.

There have been many books written about the 13 largest skulls and they have also appeared in many movies such as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Did Caesar and Cleopatra really have a son?

By: The Scribe on December, 2010

Many people know the history surrounding the relationship between Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. Not as much is known about the child that they had together. Born in 47BCE, the son, named Ptolemy Caesar and called Caesarion actually reigned along with his mother. But who was he really?

Caesar stayed in Egypt for two years and it was known that during this time, Cleopatra and Caesar had been involved. Cleopatra bore the son although he was never acknowledged by Caesar. Even though he was not officially acknowledged by Julius Caesar, he did permit the boy to carry a part of his name. The mother and son also spent two years in Rome where they were Caesar’s guests. Caesarion was Cleopatra’s eldest son although she did go on to bear other children to Mark Antony. If it is true that he was Caesar’s son, he was the only son that Julius Caesar fathered.

imageIt is widely known how things unfolded. Caesar was assassinated in Rome in 44BCE. Cleopatra took her son back to Egypt and they began to rule there as co-rulers. It was known that while Cleopatra wanted her son to rule the country with her she did not give up any of her authority. This was not surprising since the boy was only three years of age when he was proclaimed King of Egypt.

Mark Antony and Cleopatra went on to form a relationship and she bore him three children. Antony was busy ruling Rome along with Octavian and Lepidus but this dissolved several years later. This was the beginning of the end. Finally, Antony was killed and Octavian became the sole ruler of Rome. He set about to destroy his rivals, one of whom was Caesarion.

Octavian invaded the capital of Egypt in 30BCE. By the time he gained entry to the capital Mark Antony had already killed himself. Cleopatra lasted approximately twelve days after Octavian’s arrival but she too eventually committed suicide. Caesarion’s safety was left in the hands of people who were more worried about their own safety than the boy’s and they allowed Octavian to learn about Caesarion’s whereabouts. image

Here is where documented history gets a bit fuzzy. Some reports say that although Caesarion was sent away, he was tracked down and executed in Alexandria. Other reports and rumors suggest that he was actually sent to India by his mother. Regardless of whether he was sent to India or found in Alexandria the fact is that he was eventually found and assassinated. Popular historical accounts claim that he was strangled although it is not known whether this is true or not.

Caesarion is a fascinating character simply because we don’t know that much about him. He appears in many of the different stories about Cleopatra and Caesar although his age and the role he played in the politics of the time are normally glossed over. Regardless of how he is portrayed in film and on television he is remembered as a successor to Cleopatra as Pharaoh of Egypt.

Commodus- the Emperor who thought he was a Gladiator

By: The Scribe on December, 2010


The ancient Romans loved their entertainment. The Coliseum was very popular and a variety of different entertainments were staged there. From full on naval battles to gladiatorial combat, Romans flocked there in order to be entertained. And although the Romans could accept quite a bit, one thing that they could not accept was an Emperor fighting in the ring like a gladiator.

Now, while it is true that the masses loved gladiators (in much the same way that we love professional athletes) there was a problem with an Emperor acting like a gladiator. Gladiators were slaves, plain and simple. They were bought, trained and forced to fight in the ring to the death. So, when an Emperor decided to fight like a gladiator and act like a slave in public, that public was not impressed.

Anyone who has seen the movie Gladiator remembers the Emperor Commodus fighting in the ring. In real life, not only did he do so to prove a point or to destroy an enemy, he did so regularly and enjoyed it immensely when he did so. But who was Commodus? What kind of man could be raised to wealth and privilege and still feel compelled to fight like a common slave?image

The Emperor’s full name was Lucius Aurelius Commodus. He was the son of Marcus Aurelius who was one of the best loved emperors to rule Rome. He knew from a very early age that he would rule after his father. Much of this had to do with the fact that he was the only male child to make it to adulthood. Although many people think that the position of Emperor normally passed from father to son this was actually not usually the case. In fact, the fact that Commodus was born during his father’s reign was something very unusual indeed. Before Commodus, no other emperor had been born during the reign of their father.

Although Marcus Aurelius was known as being one of Rome’s “Five Good Emperors”, Commodus was not. He was known as being petty and megalomaniacal. He saw himself as having god-like power, something that is bound to go to the head of anyone given enough time. He loved the myth of Hercules and often compared himself to the Greek hero. A large number of statues were put up around the city that showed Commodus dressed as Hercules.

Of course, getting in the ring and fighting as a slave was not Commodus’ only unpopular action. He also changed the names of the calendar months and became known for killing his enemies regardless of whether they were real or imagined. Although his father had introduced a number of very popular policies, Commodus decided to discard many of them and began to lead a lifestyle that was full of cruel practices and wild excesses.

When Commodus entered the ring, he usually squared off against amputees, wounded soldiers, and citizens that were unable to fight. Of course, no citizen would fight back against the Emperor so it was unlikely that they would have won even if they were up to fighting.

Commodus’ lifestyle was so cruel and outrageous that it was no wonder he was assassinated in CE193, beginning a period that would see five different men take the position of Emperor in a single year.

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