Category: rebecca-t

My Empire: Help me Build the Roman Pyramids in Fun New Facebook Game

myempire_happyIt seems like Im never going to get to build the Pyramids in my ancient Roman settlement never mind the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Ive spent all my money on lemon trees and fountains and now my people are deliriously happy, but not generating the bucks or resources I need to expand my empire. Its a situation that a lot of social gamers might find themselves in today, as social gaming gurus Playfish launch their latest game on Facebook My Empire.

My Empire is a city building sim, where the player gets to build a Roman town, unlocking new building types as the game progresses, and (this is the social network part) inviting friends to help them build monuments and other major structures.

We’re All in the Same Bath

Theres a nod at authenticity. The first thing you do as a Roman leader is hire somebody to collect your taxes. Smart move for a growing empire, and one that some of the major builders of Romes empire relied on.

Image from My Empire

Once youve got your main man on the job, its time to start creating that authentic Roman town. As soon as youve built your first shack built, the wisdom of ancient Rome suggests that you start building public baths in order to make its inhabitants happy. It seems a bit full on recreating the splendour of Bath for a family in a mud hut, but then the baths were an integral part of life for all classes of Roman, and in my Roman town, they shall have bathe like kings. In it goes, along with decorations and monuments to make my shack-dwellers happy, such as flowers and pillars.

Interestingly, in My Empire, a hungry goat generates the same level of fame and glee as an ancient sculpture. Could this form the basis of a like-for-like loan deal for Egyptian antiquities?

Work it, Baby

In My Empire, a hungry goat generates the same level of fame and glee as an ancient sculpture. Could this form the basis of a like-for-like loan deal for Egyptian antiquities?

Like many Empire builders, My Empire places great importance on making the citizens happy in order to get them to build things for you without revolting. In the PC, iPhone and console game Civilization, citizens will revolt and set fire to their own cities if you dont keep them happy with Colosseums, theatres and world wonders perhaps thats what happened to Qin Shi Huangs mausoleum, which, it has just been discovered, was not only vandalised but also set alight, possibly by his angry people? Recent events in Greece also show how close to real life the in-game consequences of an unhappy populace can be.

The fine balance of keeping citizens happy whilst galvanising them to work is one that is trod demonstrably finely by the great cultures of ancient history. As Helen points out in her article, there are no pyramids in Ohio because the leaders there werent brutally self-aggrandising enough, or organised enough, to force people into labour. The Egyptians, on the other hand, kept an extreme level of control over their subjects, not through brutality (although the behaviour of Akhenaten doesnt win him any points), but through the instigation of a complex religious system that was the basis of all behaviour, from health and beauty to gaming.

Rule Like a Roman

Image from the Facebook game My Empire

The Romans had a different means of control they taxed high and then wooed their subjects with cool communal baths, great food, decadent parties (ok, for the rich), and a whole raft of improvements such as aqueducts, social reform, and roads (watch this hilarious Monty Python sketch for a full list).

In our recent fantasy election, the two main parties that emerged were Emperor Augustus with his policy of a corn dole for all people, and Alexander the Great with his high taxes, war, and investment in education. Britains new Tory government should take notes tax em high, keep em happy Alexander came out tops. Just saying.

Other structures that youd expect to see in an ancient Roman town are all there too the arena, the court, the temple, as well as functional structures such as farms, mines and workshops. Some of these you can drop right in straight away, but for others you need to entice your Facebook friends to join you as neighbours and help with the build.

Im currently trying to galvanise the staff of Heritage Key to help me build a temple for my Sims. Its not easy. All credit to any world leader who manages to get these things off the ground.

Seven Roman Wonders of the Ancient World?


Interestingly for an authentic Roman city, I am also able to build some of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, plus extras. The Pyramids, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria are all there in the line-up, plus you can build Stonehenge, the Parthenon and the Great Sphinx, as well as a Victory Arch. The real Romans would have loved to get their hands on such wonders.

Im currently building Stonehenge, on the beach, in my fantasy Roman town. But Ive run into a major obstacle I seem to have run out of tar, which is seemingly a key ingredient in a pile of big stones. Perhaps Ill need to duck into Stonehenge Virtual to ask advice from the builders in there? In the meantime, come on Ann, Sean, Meral, Malcolm and Prad and anyone else who would like to change history – help me build this temple!

114 Terracotta Warriors Discovered in the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang

pit no 2 and number 3114 Terracotta Warriors, and several artefacts, have been discovered in the mausoleum of Chinas first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. The warriors were discovered in No 1 pit, the largest pit, and retained some of the richly-coloured paint that all of the warriors would have displayed originally. They also showed signs of man-made fire damage, prompting speculation about who may have harmed the warriors.

In an article by China Daily News, Xu Weihong, head of the excavation team, said: “The total area of the excavation was some 200 sq m and we were pleasantly surprised to find rich colors on Terracotta Warriors.”

Photos of the warriors, which are mostly infantrymen, have not yet been released, but the researchers describe them as between 1.8 and 2 metres tall, and brightly coloured. Their eyes and hair colour were naturalistic most had black hair and either brown or black eyes. Interestingly, their faces varied between white, pink and green, and archaeologists have noted that the different face colours are matched to different costumes.

Who Destroyed the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an?

Despite retaining their original paint, the warriors were not in a perfect state of preservation most were broken into pieces. Liu Zhanchang, Director of the Archaeology Division of the Museum of Qin Shihuang Terracotta Warriors and Horses, also revealed that the warriors, and the walls of the museum, showed burn marks, suggesting that the mausoleum may have been set on fire. Archaeologists believe that the fire was man-made.

The warriors, and the walls of the museum, showed burn marks, suggesting that the mausoleum may have been on fire

The mausoleum was vandalised after the death of the much-hated emperor, and many warriors were smashed to pieces by Qin Shi Huang’s angry subjects. Its possible that these newly-discovered figures could have been damaged in the same way, and that the vandals even attempted to burn the whole pit of warriors. Global Times reports that researchers are considering the possibility that the figures were damaged by General Xiang Yu, who purportedly raided the mausoleum less than five years after the death of the First Emperor.

Fortunately, researchers have been able to salvage the broken warriors. “It was hard work to restore the clay warriors as they were broken into pieces. It took us at least 10 days to restore one,” Xu said.

See the Warriors (but not the Tomb)

A number of other relics including weapons, chariots, drums and painted wooden rings were also found during the excavation, as well as a well-preserved box, the purpose of which remains a mystery.

The mausoleum was discovered in the 1970s near the ancient city of Xi’an in China’s Shaanxi Province, and contains the un-excavated tomb of Chinas first emperor. It is thought that the tomb may contain toxic levels of mercury, the substance that the emperor believed would make him immortal, and there are no plans as yet to continue the excavation into the actual tomb. The third excavation project began at the site in June 2009 (see video footage of the excavation here), and has resulted in a number of important finds, including the discovery of teenage soldiers amongst the ranks in October 2009.

If you missed the latest tour of the famed clay army, there will be a chance to visit a number of the Terracotta Warriors at The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army in Torontos ROM museum from 26th June 2010 the largest exhibition of the warriors ever to be held in North America.

How to Vote in the Fantasy Election: Main Parties Policy Analysis

VOTEIts been a tense few days on the Heritage Key fantasy election trail. Since the worlds ancient leaders first went to the polls on Saturday, voters have turned out in typical numbers to exercise their right to vote. Early indications show that this years election is a two-horse race: firmly in the lead is Alexander the Great, with Romes Augustus closing in as a close second.

Alexander can certain talk the talk. But are the voters swayed by his powers of persuasion and provocative title, or are they actually voting for policies? Is rival Augustus the thinking historians choice, or is he really second-best to the frontrunner? As election day draws close, we outline the main policies of the leading candidates to help you select the right leader in Heritage Key’s fantasy election.

Alexander the Great – Big on Offence

Click here to read Alexander the Greats manifesto in full, or VOTE NOW

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Greats Manifesto is heavy on defence. He proposes to spend a fortune on it … and on offence too. Voters might be put off by his ruthless invasions of other countries, but remember taxes from those countries paid for your ancient libraries, gymnasia and theatres. Do you really want to give those up?

Which brings us onto education. Like Boris Johnson, Alexander placed great stock in educating the masses. Having benefitted from an Aristotelian education himself, he set out to bring enlightenment to his people. One of his greatest achievements is the city and library of Alexandria (Philosopher Hypatia would be an ideal campaign buddy).

Education is high up on the agenda in his political manifesto, and lovers of literature, learning and the Classics will surely be swayed by his policies.

But a word of warning can we really trust Alexander with the economy? His track record is fairly dismal, with an over-indulgent military and considerable national debt.

Emperor Augustus – King of Family Values

Click here to read Augustus’ manifesto in full, or VOTE NOW

In contrast to war-mongering, money-squandering Alexander, Augustus promises a return to family values. Its a popular policy that has been wheeled out by many parties since, and Augustus makes a convincing demonstration by imposing severe penalties on adultery and refusal to marry.

Emperor Augustus sculpture in MUSEO DELL'ARA<br /> PACIS, Rome

Voters hankering for electoral reform may also be interested in Augustuss policy on a new, autocratic, political system. Forget wayward ministers with their own agenda, or getting to grips with a hung parliament a vote for Augustus is just that. As an all-powerful one-man autocrat, hell certainly keep things simple, and not bother you with new leaders for quite some time.

Augustus promise of a free corn dole to citizens (make sure you read the small print before voting he doesnt mean everyone) is bound to prove popular, as is his habit of building cool new theatres and forums. But just be careful who youre seen there with. If, like many of us, you hanker back to the Roman era of debauchery and violence, then Augustus’ new world order might not be for you.

And what about Augustus the man? He may have the face of an angel, but can we trust our blue-eyed boy knowing that he changes his own name at the drop of a toga? Whats hiding amongst the folds of those previous identities?

Last Chance to Vote

Of course, you don’t need to go with the main parties. If you don’t want to vote tactically, you could always fling your vote at a no-hoper like Boudicca or Akhenaten, or even throw in your lot with dangerous heretic Qin Shi Huang or make a protest vote for Jesus.

Voting ends at midnight tomorrow (making it several hours ‘better’ than the UK election). You can only vote once, so think carefully – who do you want in charge?

Click here to cast your vote now

Beltane Fire Festival: Naked Dancing Permitted, Wicker Man Sacrifices Now Banned

Beltane Fire Festival 2009 - The Bonfire (0021)Tomorrow, a happy collection of hippies, druids and general revellers will climb up Calton Hill in Edinburgh to celebrate the ancient festival of Beltane. In my experience, the festival is a positive, celebratory, and quite spectacular event with near-naked hippies sporting all-over body paint and leaves and dancing around fires, drinking warm cans of cider. There are drums hundreds of them, practically making the whole hilltop vibrate and hypnotic chanting. Revellers express their joy and drunkenness much in the same way as they do at Hogmanay by dancing around on the spot outdoors, and kissing passing strangers. Its a good party!

Bad PR From the Romans

Of course, there was no way I would have hiked up Calton Hill for the Beltane Festival if Caesar was still doing the PR. After his visits to Scotland in the first centuries AD, he described how Druids would make human sacrifices to Pagan gods by burning people alive inside giant wicker man effigies.

DSC_0330 Beltane Fire Festival 2009 - Calton Hill, Edinburgh -<br /> Flames at the Acropolis

The whole nation of the Gauls is greatly devoted to ritual observances, and for that reason those who are smitten with the more grievous maladies and who are engaged in the perils of battle either sacrifice human victims or vow so to do, employing the druids as ministers for such sacrifices. They believe, in effect, that, unless for a man’s life a man’s life be paid, the majesty of the immortal gods may not be appeased; and in public, as in private life they observe an ordinance of sacrifices of the same kind.

Others use figures of immense size whose limbs, woven out of twigs, they fill with living men and set on fire, and the men perish in a sheet of flame. They believe that the execution of those who have been caught in the act of theft or robbery or some crime is more pleasing to the immortal gods; but when the supply of such fails they resort to the execution even of the innocent.

Scary stuff, but he would say that, wouldnt he? Given his reluctance to take on the Scots in battle, hes not going to describe the Beltane revellers as a bunch of happy drunks on a hill.

Beltane Fire Festival 2009 - Calton Hill,<br /> Edinburgh - Half Naked Red Men

The Real Wicker Man

Julius Caesars description of the giant wicker effigy is now replaced in all our minds by the portrayal in the 1973 cult movie, The Wicker Man. In the film, the shocking Pagan rituals of sex and human sacrifice carried out by the inhabitants of a remote Scottish island are slowly revealed to cop Edward Woodwood.

But is there any evidence that these wicker men were ever used for the purpose of human sacrifice? Obviously, no burned real or wicker men remain for us to study (although one body was found with a ceremonial wicker mask), but there is some evidence to suggest that human sacrifice occured in ancient Britain, as in Mesopotamia and Latin America.Several bog bodies found in Scotland have been thought suggest evidence of ritual sacrifice.

Rituals of Death by Fire

DSC_0340 Beltane Fire Festival 2009 - Calton Hill, Edinburgh - May<br /> QueenOne Beltane custom which survived into the 18th century was to share a specially-baked cake. Whoever drew the unlucky blackened portion was called the Beltane Carline, and the group pretended to throw that person into the bonfire, and also referred to that person as if he/she was dead for some time afterwards.

Sir James George Frazer writes in his 1922 book The Golden Bough that similar rituals of pretending to burn a human sacrifice on a fire take place around Europe with considerable similarities, suggesting that the rituals could well stem from an ancient version in which humans really were thrown to the flames.

Just a Nice Spring Solstice Festival?

There are several differing accounts of the ancient practices of Beltane, however. It is thought that the festival celebrated the transition from Spring and Summer, and that far from erasing young offenders from the crime stats the bonfires celebrated Spring and fertility, and were used for burning winter bed and floor covers.

Click To Watch Video
Episode 8: Spring Equinox at Stonehenge
Nicole Favish heads to Stonehenge to experience the Spring Equinox – the point in the year where the day and the night are of equal length.

Its also said that cattle were ritually driven from one fire to another to protect them against disease (wonder how they figured that one worked?), and that a tree would be burned on the fire, leading to the Maypole tradition.

Whether the true origins of the Beltane Fire Festival were sinister horror-movie-style murders, or leaf-trailing, cattle-rousing love-ins, well never know. One things for sure though, Edinburgh City Council have not authorised the burning of a giant wicker man effigy with a criminal inside, or the dragging of cows from one fire to another, although they do allow semi-naked dancing and a lot of drumming.

I would say that it’s just as mysterious, and actually much more exciting, than (dare I say it?) the Stonehenge solstice events. The rituals are carried out in great detail, and with great fanfare, and obviously the costumes are awesome. The symbolism of the red men, who represent disorder, chaos and libido, and the white women, who represent order and purity, make for a compelling drama. Apparently, the joy of the event is in the ‘resolution of these conflicting forces’ (nudge, nudge).

Unlike the original Pagan event, however, you do need to get a ticket. Click here for details, and please post your images in our Flickr pool afterwards!

How to Train Your Dragon Movie Could Help Teach us Humans to Play Nice

Still image from How to Train Your DragonI went to see How to Tame Your Dragon at the weekend – a beautiful and delightful film by Dreamworks Animation about Hiccup, a distinctly un-Viking-like young boy from a village of blood-thirsty Vikings. Hiccup discovers that creatures who are different from them are not necessarily the enemy a discovery that his marauding fellow Vikings are unlikely to believe easily. Differentiating foreign from invading is a difficult concept that mankind has long struggled to grasp. But do we really still live in an era where a social message like this is necessary – are we still as socially and politically sophisticated as animated Vikings?

Differentiating foreign from invading is a difficult concept that mankind has long struggled to grasp

The film doesnt give a huge amount of insight into the real day-to-day life of the Vikings theyre satisfyingly large, bearded and fierce, but historical fidelity ends there. For instance, the violent Vikings all have Scottish accents and the cute Vikings are American, the landscape would be impossible to sail in and out of, and they sit around campfires built on mountainous terraces of wobbly wooden scaffolding. Oh, and these Vikings are plagued by a host of multi-coloured dragons of many different breeds, which set themselves on fire and steal fish. Unlike the real Vikings.

Psychologically, however, there were many aspects of the film that resonated as authentic. The sight of a fleet of frightened, angry, determined, confused Vikings sailing out into the unknown determined to beat whatever threat lurked out there. The anxiety of the teen preparing to inherit her parents war. The ambivalence of the father torn between his son and his tribe. Especially, the general, all-encompassing sense of us and them that was the focal point of the story.

Divide and Conquer

Still image from the movie How to Train Your DragonHow to Tame Your Dragon is really about the way in which we create divisions and make assumptions about little-known and different nations. This must have happened all the time, we think, back in the time of the Vikings, when cultures were still emerging from blinkered ignorance into an unknown world. Now were sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and armed with facts, images and the benefit of the worlds experience online and in the press. Weve come a long way since the Vikings, right?

Ancient cultures were often more cosmopolitan than we like to think. Humans have always roamed the world, and evidence of Siberians in China and an Asian in Roman Vagnari showed that even very early foreigners found a role, however inferior, in foreign cultures, or at least were allowed to exist alongside them.The famous Silk Road, stretching from China, through the Middle East, as far as Rome, represented a hugely effective trade route through which cultures learnt about each other.

In ancient Egypt, they sailed to the Land of Punt which was so other-worldly and resource-rich that they dubbed it the Land of the Gods. When the Egyptians discovered baboons in this magical land, they didnt catapult them to death like these movie Vikings they adopted them as pets, just as Hiccup would have done.

The active imperialism of the ancient world gave occupying and occupied states the kind of insights into foreign lifestyles that we dont experience today. Egypt was controlled by Rome and Greece at different points, leading to Antony and Cleopatra establishing the most celebrated ancient international love story of all time, and the emergence of Alexandria as the centre of Greek philosophy.

Half the world was taken over by Rome, who conquered through very grown-up strategies of interaction, assimilation and culture. Im not saying these were just cosy love-ins with occupying forces just that the immediacy of a different culture being able to take over your country completely is something that we dont experience to the same extent in the world today.

Modern Vikings

Then, as now, our default attitude towards foreign civilizations is often to either trade with them or wage war with them (or refuse to trade with them – a kind of semi-war). These days, surprisingly, we often still go in for unjust wars and attempt to wipe out cultures that we dont like. At the same time, we clearly have a strong interest in foreign civilizations. Unlike the colonised Egyptians and ancient Brits, we now view other cultures from a distance, as tourists, travellers, virtual explorers (click here to start), and consumers, and, of course, through films.

Still image from<br /> movie How to Train Your DragonI asked my 4-year-old which character hed liked the most in the film. Without hesitation he replied The big Viking, because he was the best fighter. Not the boy who was the first Viking ever to make friends with a dragon and (minor spoiler alert) go on amazing dragon rides? Or the cool girl Viking?. No the big Viking, because he was the best fighter. Of course.

The desire to discover and learn from foreign cultures has always been there, as has the desire to whack them over the head with a big heavy club (after all, it’s in our genes). Weve definitely come some way since the Vikings, but theres still plenty more for us (some more than others) to learn. Luckily, we still have films like How to Train Your Dragon and history – to help or teach us how to behave. With an iPhone app and game also available, we should really be able to study hard.

Glasgow Battlefield Archaeology Department Should Deploy Time Team Celebs to Help Stop Closure

Plans to close the University of Glasgows Centre for Battlefield Archaeology as part of funding cuts have been met with strong criticism from prestigious quarters since coming to light earlier this month. The centre, part of Guard and the Department of Archaeology, is an arm of the university which offers archaeological services to external organisations. Its biggest claim to fame is its work supporting Channel 4s Time Team programme. The Director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology, Dr Tony Pollard, has appeared on some of the Time Team programmes, including excavation of a WWII bunker in Ypres, Belgium, and even co-presented Two Men in a Trench – a BBC series on battlefield archaeology. But can the centre’s media credentials help save it from closure?

The Battle Commences

There’s a lot at stake if the centre closes. It also offers a MLitt/PgDip in Battlefield and Conflict Archaeology, and carries out research projects around the world, instigating new techniques such as metal detector survey and geophysics on battlegrounds and sites in France, Belgium, Libya, South Africa and South America, as well as publishing the Journal of Conflict Archaeology.

East Lothian PyramidA recent project revealed that the Battle of Prestonpans – between the Jacobites and Hanovians in 1745 – was actually around 500 metres east of where it was previously thought to have happened. A pyramid-shaped vantage point which gives visitors a view of where the battle was previously thought to have taken place offers a fortunately wide view of the area. The team are now in Germany, carrying out ‘the most intensive archaeological survey of a battlefield anywhere in the world’ in Lutzen.

The university had claimed that the service wasnt generating sufficient income, but staff have refuted this, countering that the service generates hundreds of thousands of pounds for the university every year. In response to the backlash, the ruling court of Glasgow University have now set up a committee to establish how viable the centre is, meaning that the Universitys plan to simply go ahead with the closure is prevented for now.

This week, support for the centre was boosted when international battlefield archaeology expert Roger Moore wrote to Glasgow’s Herald newspaper stating that the centre must be saved. He said:

Scotland will lose an invaluable and academically groundbreaking resource should the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology be closed as a result of funding difficulties… I cannot overstate the blow to the discipline of conflict archaeology, and to Scottish heritage, that would result from shutting down the programme.

Historic Scotland will surely be following the progress of the enquiry – it has been working to protect the battlefield sites of Scotland for archaeologists, and is planning to publish a list of protected iconic battlefield sites next year. If plans to close the centre go ahead, there might be no working battlefield experts to take advantage of these actions by then.

Recession-era Archaeology

Even if the division is saved, it seems inevitable that the cuts will be felt elsewhere instead. Academic institutions across the UK are making drastic cuts. Kings College Londons Palaeography department is under threat, and
Last month, proposed cuts at the University ofSussex led to the riot police being called in.

Museums, publishers and heritage sites are also threatened by the economic crisis. Publishers White Star and Thalamus both closed last year, and the future of Canterburys Roman Museum is uncertain.

Even major charities are feeling the pinch. The Times Online reported that an enquiry into the running of the National Trust for Scotland has sparked demand for a total reform of the organisation, including a possible merge with Historic Scotland. National Trust for Scotland owns and maintains 120 sites including St Kilda, Staffa and Culzean Castle, and has been rocked by financial problems and accusations of ineffective management in recent times. Last year, the charity announced the closure of eleven properties, but a fierce public outcry meant that several of these were saved. Since a change in the law allowed it, the organisation has since been selling off properties, including a Leith townhouse visited by Mary Queen of Scots, in order to salvage its financial situation.

Celebrity Support Needed!

Perhaps the centre could take a lead from supporters of Colchester’s Roman Circus and bring in their celebrity Time Team friends to help campaign for the future safety of the centre. The Roman Circus which was threatened with closure as part of council cuts, but could well be safeguarded after campaigners harnessed the power of social networking, and established celebrity support from Caroline Lawrence and Millie Binks, in order to reach the target of 200,000 needed to trigger council funding. The organisers are looking forward to a screening of Gladiator in May to further support their campaign.

The University of Glasgow is forced to make cuts somewhere. Perhaps instead of drastically chopping whole limbs, such as the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology, from the university body, the cuts could be incorporated across all departments. If they are intent on taking on the Battlefield experts, they should definitely be prepared for a fight (if a disorganised one) – or at least a screening of Braveheart introduced by Tony Robinson.

Is Plastic Surgery Fan the Reincarnation of Nefertiti… or King Tut?

It seems that Michael Jackson wasnt the only person to put himself through extensive cosmetic surgery in order to make himself look like a bust of an ancient Egyptian. Nileen Namita, a 49-year-old artist from Brighton, has undergone no less than 51 cosmetic operations, spending over 200,000 pounds in the process, in order to sculpt herself into the living image of Queen Nefertiti.

King TutReplica of the bust of Queen Nefertiti 18th Dynasty Egypt

Namita says, in her interview with the Daily Mail:

Throughout my childhood and teen years I had constant vivid dreams of this ancient queen. They were visions of incredible intensity – I could see where she lived, her servants, her rooms, even the food she ate – and although at first I found the dreams frightening, I began to research what they meant.

Aged 23 I underwent psychoanalysis with a counsellor. Slowly I began to realise that I was having these dreams because I am a reincarnation of Nefertiti.

Which Mummy?

The before and after photos show just how radical a transformation Namita has undergone. Her new shapely lips and smokey eyes certainly reflect Nefertiti’s glamourous look. But how authentic is the famous bust that Namita’s plastic surgeon presumably used as a model? Evidence suggests that the bust may be a fake, created in the 1920s.If so, it could reveal more about the art deco fashions of the time than the accurate physical characteristics of Nefertiti.

“Slowly I began to realise that I was having these dreams because I am a reincarnation of Nefertiti”

Before the surgery, Namita bore more of a resemblance to 3D reconstructions of King Tut the soft-faced, feminine, youthful-looking King of the same era – than to the famous queen.

There is some evidence that Nefertiti could actually have been the mother of King Tut, or, more probably, his mother-in-law. Certainly, most experts agree that Nefertitis husband, Akhenaten, was the father of the boy king.

Perhaps Namita’s counsellor got it wrong, and she is actually the reincarnation of King Tut? That would explain why she has such vivid memories of teatime with Nefertiti!

Did Michael Jackson Model Himself on This Egyptian Statue?

A few weeks ago, I speculated that Jeff Koons’ statue Michael Jackson & Bubbles was inspired by Tutankhamun. With his deathmask-like face and opulent gilding, Koons’ Michael seemed eerily reminiscent of the boy king. One extremely expensive burial featuring in-your-face-Tut’esque golden coffin later, the parallels between the two icons started adding up. Now, an ancient Egyptian statue in Chicago’s Field Museum has been seen to show a shocking similarity to the face of the late Michael Jackson.

The Chicago Sun-Timespointed outthat Jacksoncould have actually modelled himself on the limestone statue:

The limestone bust, which went on public display in 1988, was carved during the New Kingdom Period (1550 B.C. to 1050 B.C.); the same time period as Ramesses and King Tut… In 1993, Jackson, whose face was then virtually identical to the statue, cut a video titled “Remember The Time,” which he sets in ancient Egypt – during the time of the Pharaoh Ramesses.

Click here to watch the video for Remember The Time on Youtube, or watch it below (Eddie Murphy plays Ramesses!).

Distinguishing Feature

Michael Jackson and Bubbles

Michael Jackson may have baulked at the irony of both his own nose, and that of the statue, disintegrating in later years. The statue’s nose now bears an uncanny likeness to the late star’s own over-worked feature. The chicago-ist adds:

A spokesperson at the Field Museum told us, “according to the curator, 95% of Egyptian statues and busts were defiled by early Christians and Muslims because they were used for idolatry. They looked at these as idols and taking the nose off made them ‘non-human.'”

Perhaps, though, he would have enjoyed the comparison to the ‘Boy King’ – another grown man who was thrust into the limelight from an early age. King Tut is often thought of as a child – a perception that

Jackson, whose face was then virtually identical to the statue, cut a video titled “Remember The Time,” which he sets in ancient Egypt – during the time of the Pharaoh Ramesses

Jackson seemed to have of himself, but which somehow, and perhaps in a sinister way, was warped. In the end, at least he achieved the moniker of ‘king’.

Thankfully, Tut fans can now mould their own face and body, and vent their passion for ancient Egypt, in Heritage Key’s Virtual King Tut, potentially rendering the need for plastic surgery redundant.

Log in to create your own heroic avatar – we won’t tell.

Hatshepsut Bust Fake Claim for Berlin

NYC - Brooklyn Museum - Head of Hatshepsut or Thutmose III

An article on Spiegel Online on Sunday made a shocking claim the bust of Hatshepsut, in Berlin Museum, may in fact be a fake. IOL reports:

The bust in brown granite of female Pharaoh Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt for 22 years, is one of the draws at the German capital’s Egyptian Museum and is only outshone by the limestone bust of exquisite Queen Nefertiti.

Scientists at the Technical University of Berlin have discovered the Hatshepsut stone is rich in the minerals magnesite and siderite.

No other bust from the Nile region is made of such rock, suggesting that the 16.5cm figure might be a modern fake.

The museum, which apparently paid a cool million marks for the bust, was said to be unhappy about the news release:

“The purchase was long before my time,” said Wildung, who became head of the museum in 1989 and retired two weeks ago. He criticised the media for “sneakily” going public with the report without clearance from the museum.

To further complicate matters, the Technical University of Berlin responded that it had never carried out the tests described by Spiegel Online, although they had analysed some flecks of rock back in 2007.

‘The analysis found these flakes were made of rock rich in the minerals magnesite and siderite. Where these flakes came from has not been established,’ a statement by the university said.

No other bust from the Nile region is made of such rock

Its not the first time that big-ticket Berlin busts have been outed as fakes. The famous and beautiful bust of Nefertiti was actually created in the 1920s, according to Egyptologist Henri Stierlin. He cites the fact that the remarkable find was never mentioned by the discoverers, and points out similarities with the fashionable Art Deco style of the time.

The museum has been widely criticised for refusing to return the bust of Nefertiti to Cairo. Their argument is that the bust (which they bought from Britain) is too delicate to endure the journey, but perhaps the museum will have to change its tune if it finds out that its priceless ancient artefacts are in fact relatively hardy twenties kitsch.

How Old is Topper? Time Team America Investigates Pre-Clovis Man

A Time Team episode will tonight investigate one of the most controversial debates in American archaeology: when, and by what route, did the first humans arrive in America? University of South Carolina archaeologist Al Goodyear claims to have found evidence at the archaeological site of Topper in South Carolina that could change our whole understanding about America’s earliest people.

The Topper site is one of a handful of what are thought to be Clovis sites discovered since the 1920s in the Americas, including the more famous Mesa Verde and Monte Verde, and the less prettily-named Head-Smashed-In. The Clovis era, around 12500-12900 BC, was generally agreed to represent the earliest human inhabitation of the Americas. Clovis society revolved around big game hunting, and man was capable of creating distinctive tools for hunting and butchering. He was also capable of the kind of unsustainable hunting technique that would make conservationists turn in their graves.

If the hunting to extinction of endangered species by man makes your blood boil, look away now.

One Clovis hunting technique the Buffalo Jump – involved surrounding a large herd of Buffalo or bison (or any other suitably at-risk animals), and charging at them until they were effectively herded over the edge of a cliff. At the bottom of the cliff, they would pick one or two animals to butcher and eat, and leave the rest to rot. There would be a lot of waste.

It is thought that over-hunting, combined with a loss of fauna through climate change, led to the decline of big game populations. And with no big game to hunt, the big game hunters were wiped out. A ‘black mat‘ discovered in America from the same era suggests an alternative ending to the Clovis people. It is thought that the blackened area is the result of a meteorite hitting the earth, which would have sparked widespread fires across the dry plains of America, wiping out the population.

Clovis man goes back pretty far, but there are now claims that humans existed even earlier in the Americas. The term ‘Pre-Clovis’ was coined, not from a lack of imagination, but from a lack of evidence about how an earlier human would have lived. And the dates? Well, some people are bandying around the idea that pre-Clovis humans inhabited America up to 50,000 years ago.

Field Trip, 50th Annual Meeting, Society for American Archaeology, Denver, Colorado 1985.05.06

Al Goodyear, who leads the excavations at Topper, has claimed that he has found charcoal concentrations and chert that could be seen as evidence of Pre-Clovis human habitation at the site up to 50,000 years ago. If Goodyear is right, archaeologists will have to rethink some of their assumptions about how humans reached North America.

It had long-since been assumed that they arrived via Russia and Siberia into Alaska about 13,000 years ago. If Pre-Clovis man was around as early as Goodyear claims, it seems more likely that they had arrived via the Bering land bridge, probably during an ice age. The first Americans could even have descended from Europe – a theory (called the Solutrean Theory) supported by differences in diet and tools in Preclovis compared to Clovis man.

The claims are controversial, and not all scientists believe that the Topper site dates back as far as Goodyear claims. Archaeologist and writer Kris Hurst concludes that the dates are “crazy”, and says there is no way humans could have reached America as early as this:

“The earliest humans appear in Australia about 45,000 years ago. Some of the oldest sites in Australia are closer to 60,000 years ago, and it is possible that that threshold will be pushed back–but there is currently no evidence of any Homo sapiens east of Australia until much later. In fact, the oldest site known in Siberia is the Yana Rhinoceros Horn Site, some 27,000 years ago. This makes 50,000 years of human occupation in America very unlikely.”

Hurst might need to eat her words after the results of tonight’s programme.

Time Team America: Topper airs tonight on PBS, and you can watch it in full online.

Image by fossilmike. All rights reserved.