Archive for the 'Mythology' Category

Fertility Magic: The Science of Ancient Egyptian Childbearing

We love our ancient Egyptians here at the Museum of Mysteries. Enjoy this!

 

 

From Tour Egypt,

 

Childbirth and Children in Ancient Egypt
By Marie Parsons

 

“Children were considered a blessing in ancient Egypt. Sons and daughters took care of their parents in their old age. They were often called “the staff of old age,” that is, one upon whom the elderly parents could depend upon for support and care. The scribe Ani instructed that children repay the devotion of Egyptian mothers:

 

“Repay your mother for all her care. Give her as much bread as she needs, and carry her as she carried you, for you were a heavy burden to her. When you were finally born, she still carried you on her neck and for three years she suckled you and kept you clean.”

 

It was also expected that the older son or child carry on the funerary provisioning of the parents after their death. Children had value in ancient Egypt. The Greeks, who were accustomed to leaving infants exposed to the elements, were stunned to observe that every baby born to Egyptian families were cared for and raised. This care was not easy. Many children died to infection and disease. There was a high rate of infant mortality, one death out of two or three births, but the number of children born to a family on average were four to six, some even having ten to fifteen.

 

The Kahun, Berlin and Carlsberg papyri contain an extraordinary series of tests for fertility, pregnancy and to determine the sex of the unborn child. These tests cover a wide range of procedures, including the induction of vomiting and examination of the eyes. Perhaps the most famous test says: to see if a woman will or will not bear a child. Emmer and barley, the lady should moisten with her urine every day, like dates and like sand in two bags. If they all grow, she will bear a child. If the barley grows it will be a male, if the emmer grows it will be a female, if neither grow she will not bear a child.

 

This technique was tested in the late 20th century, and it showed no growth of either seed when watered with male or non-pregnant female urine. With forty specimens from pregnant women, there was growth of one or both species in more than 50% of the cases. While this seemed a good indicator of pregnancy, no growth failed to exclude pregnancy in 30% of the cases. When only one species germinated, the prediction of gender was correct in seven cases, and incorrect in sixteen cases…”

 

For the rest, click here.

 

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The ancient Maya most likely predicted meteor showers…

On the heels of the eclipse, here’s a timely piece — the Maya may have known even more than we thought about the machinations of the heavens….

 

From EOS, Earth and Space Science News,

 

Ancient Maya May Have Foreseen Meteor Showers
Modern astronomical techniques have uncovered clues to a possible facet of Mayan astronomy from nearly 2 millennia ago not found in surviving records.

 

 

“Using state-of-the-art computer models, an amateur historian and a professional astronomer have found evidence that many important societal events recorded in Mayan hieroglyphic inscriptions may coincide with outbursts of meteor showers related to Halley’s Comet.

 

In newly published research, the two-person research team has found more than a dozen instances of hieroglyphic records from the Mayan Classic Period (250–909 CE) indicating that important events occurred within just a few days of an outburst of Eta Aquariid meteor showers, one of the celestial displays tied to the comet.

 

No Mayan astronomical records from that period survived the Spanish invasion, and the four surviving Mayan codices from later eras do not mention meteor showers. However, the researchers suspect that many significant historical events that coincided with meteor showers, like a ruler’s assumption of power or a declaration of war recorded in the codices and carved in stone monuments, are not chance overlaps.

 

Instead, the Maya most likely predicted meteor showers, the researchers argue in a paper, already available online, that will be published in the 15 September issue of Planetary and Space Science. What’s more, the ancient civilization might have purposefully timed significant occasions to coincide with portentous celestial events…”

 

For the rest, click here.

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The myth of the female Viking is not a myth…

This incredible discovery has been all over the net the last few days. We thought we would supplement the news with a link to the scientific abstract published in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology on September 8th…

 

 

A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics

 

The objective of this study has been to confirm the sex and the affinity of an individual buried in a well-furnished warrior grave (Bj 581) in the Viking Age town of Birka, Sweden. Previously, based on the material and historical records, the male sex has been associated with the gender of the warrior and such was the case with Bj 581. An earlier osteological classification of the individual as female was considered controversial in a historical and archaeological context. A genomic confirmation of the biological sex of the individual was considered necessary to solve the issue.

 

“Already in the early middle ages, there were narratives about fierce female Vikings fighting alongside men. Although, continuously reoccurring in art as well as in poetry, the women warriors have generally been dismissed as mythological phenomena (Garde?a, 2013; Jesch, 1991; Jochens, 1996).

 

Archaeological evidence of warrior graves is numerous, especially in the Viking Age of Northern Europe. Situated in Eastern Central Sweden, Birka was a key centre for trade during the 8th–late 10th century (Figure 1) (S1), linked to a social, cultural and economic network that reached beyond the Ural Mountains into the Caliphate in the east and south to the Byzantine Empire (Ambrosiani, 2012). Birka’s population of approximately 700–1000 inhabitants consisted of trading families, artisans and warriors (Hedenstierna-Jonson, 2014). The urban culture in Birka was different from the everyday life and practices of the surrounding region…”

 

For the rest, click here.

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