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Exploring the Ancient Egypt Pyramids

Exploring the Ancient Egypt Pyramids

Built during a time when Egypt was one of the richest and most powerful civilizations in the world, The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest monument on the list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only surviving wonders. In fact, the Egyptian pyramids are considered one of the most magnificent man-made structures in history, however, there were no cameras around thousands of years ago to document how the pyramids were built.

Savor the Past!

Hi everyone! We did a tumblr post as part of our blogpost #3 assignment. The topic we have worked on is Food Preservation. But before we proceed, here is a brief introduction presented in the form of a poem. Enjoy!

Food Preservation? Yeah that's right!

From Drying through to Canning,

it has put up a good fight!

As something that evolved gradually over time,

having more than a basic understanding is prime.

Fret not, for we'll walk you through the steps

But do brace yourselves, for it may be a little complex.

 

The purpose of our project is for you to understand

the subject of food history that is made to your hand.

Of preservation methods that made sustenance possible,

it is not a doubt that these processes are un-stoppable.

From past to present,

people's mentality have changed,

Of intentions that we have planned

and the roads that we have paved.

From procuring food commercially to preserving at home,

It's usage evident wherever you wander, wherever you roam.

Interests on preservation have shifted from a "need" to a "want"

So, hesitate no further and join us on our food jaunt!

Here is the link for the tumblr account:

http://vee-janz.tumblr.com/

REFERENCES:

Photos:

Cover photo- https://pixabay.com/en/eat-food-vitamins-vegetables-321671/ (CCO- Public Domain, Pixabay)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutefisk#/media/File:Dried_fish_in_Svolv%C3%A6r.jpg (CC by 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Walrus_meat_1_1999-04-01.jpg (CC-BY-SA-2.5, Wikimedia Commons)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeze-drying#/media/File:Lyophilizer_tray_type.jpg ( CC-PD-MARK, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Craft_Beer_at_the_Taedonggang_Microbrewery_No.3(12329931855).jpg  (CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickling#/media/File:Vase_by_Bat_Trang_ceramic_for_pickling_2.JPG (CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

https://pixabay.com/en/raspberries-still-life-697800/

https://pixabay.com/en/mason-jar-canning-lids-shiny-467821/  (CCO Public Domain, Pixabay)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Winery_with_fermentation_tanks.jpg (CC-BY-SA-3.0-migrated, Wikimedia Commons)

https://pixabay.com/en/colorful-cans-stacked-food-fruit-2129/ (CC0 Public Domain, Pixabay)

https://pixabay.com/en/mixed-nuts-food-snack-healthy-1057149/ (CCO Public Domain, Pixabay)

https://pixabay.com/en/shish-kebab-meat-skewer-417994/ (CCO Public Domain, Pixabay)

https://pixabay.com/en/countryside-dining-table-kimchi-food-489652/ (CCO Public Domain, Pixabay)

https://pixabay.com/en/pickles-mixed-food-700131/ (CCO Public Domain, Pixabay)

VIDEOS

Make easy Strawberry jam at home, SeasonalBerries's Channel, 16 September 2011

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdSnrSU4IUY

The dried fruit factory process Cecilia'sFarmStories, 27th October 2013

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paDdBQYdjLU

 

Websites:

Food Preservation, Science Clarified (2016)

http://www.scienceclarified.com/Ex-Ga/Food-Preservation.html

Food Preservation - Scientific Principles, Historical Methods Of Preservation, Thermal Processes, Packaging, Chemical Additives, Irradiation (2016) http://science.jrank.org/pages/2814/Food-Preservation.html

 

Nummer, B.A. (2002) Historical Origins of Food Preservation, National Center for Home Food Preservation

http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/factsheets/food_pres_hist.html

Katie, A. (2015) A Brief History of Food Drying

http://dehydratorjudge.com/a-brief-history-of-food-drying/

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO) (2015) Simple Fish-drying racks improve livelihoods and nutrition in Burundi

http://www.fao.org/in-action/simple-fish-drying-racks-improve-livelihoods-and-nutrition-in-burundi/en/

 

International Dairy Foods Association (2016), The History Of Ice Cream

http://www.idfa.org/news-views/media-kits/ice-cream/the-history-of-ice-cream

Bella's Gelato (2013), The History of Gelato

http://www.bellasgelato.com/gelato-facts.html

History of Ice Cream in Italy, 7th April 2014

http://www.lifeinitaly.com/italian-food/history-ice-cream-italy

Lebovite, D., What is Gelato?, 18th July 2004

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2007/07/whats-gelato/

 

Shurtleff, W. , & Aoyagi, A., (2004) A Brief History of Fermentation, East and West, Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and Soy foods, 1100 B.C. to the 1980s

http://www.soyinfocenter.com/HSS/fermentation.php

 

Alba-Lois, L. & Segal-Kischinevzky, C. (2010) Yeast Fermentation and the Making of Beer and Wine, Beer & Wine Makers, Nature Education 3(9):17

http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/yeast-fermentation-and-the-making-of-beer-14372813

Wise Choice Market (2010)

http://www.wisechoicemarket.com/fermentation-facts/

Zemser, R. (2012) Fermentation- An Old Process Made New

http://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/articles/2012/07/fermentation-an-old-process-made-new.aspx

Terebelski, D. & Ralph,N. (2003), Pickle History Timeline

http://www.nyfoodmuseum.org/_ptime.htm

The Accidental Scientist- Science of Cooking (n.d.)

https://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/pickles/pickling.html

Avey, T. (2014), History in a Jar: The Story of Pickles

http://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/history-pickles/

How Products are made,  Made How, Vol.5, Jam and Jelly

http://www.madehow.com/Volume-5/Jam-and-Jelly.html

Armadillo Peppers (n.d.) Jam and Jelly Guide

http://www.armadillopeppers.com/Jam_and_Jelly_Guide.html

Glatz, J. (2010) Canning Food, from Napoleon to now

http://illinoistimes.com/article-7361-canning-food,-from-napoleon-to-now.html

 

Hartson, W. (2013) Top 10 facts about canned foods

http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/top10facts/392174/Top-10-facts-about-canned-food

Ewald, J. (2014) Life Health, What is canning and what are the benefits?

http://lifeandhealth.org/lifestyle/what-is-canning-and-what-are-the-benefits/172324.html

Canned Food Alliance (n.d.), The Canning Process

http://www.mealtime.org/farm-to-table/the-canning-process.aspx

 

PDF:

Kennedy, C. (2009) Cold feat: choosing the right freezing technology for your production line

http://www.airproducts.com/microsite/liquid-nitrogen/pdf/en-cold-feat-choosing-the-right-freezing-technology-white-paper.pdf

Mescher, V. (n.d.) In a Pickle- Types of Food Preservation in the 19th Century

http://www.raggedsoldier.com/food_preservation.pdf

 

BOOKS:

Delong, D. (2006) How to Dry Foods, The Drying Process (pp.7-11)

https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=h9aA0ImIqLMC&pg=RA1-PR2&lpg=RA1-PR2&dq=drying+of+food+in+modern+times&source=bl&ots=Q3T8m3MGs1&sig=q3L2m0AAg8u5Cs_q2PVLKJMkAkI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjL8dnt0Y7MAhVCbRQKHf6BDrYQ6AEITzAI#v=onepage&q=drying%20of%20food%20in%20modern%20times&f=false

Kalantzopoulos,G., Pintado, M., Gomes, A. (2006) Food Safety: A Practical and Case Study Approach, Exploitation of Microorganisms by the Food and Beverage Industry (pp. 153-154)

https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=HQuFJct-9gIC&pg=PA154&lpg=PA154&dq=was+fermentation+discovered+by+chance?&source=bl&ots=Lbus02KK6o&sig=nPqpopxagEScwmH22E3lsOHs4I8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjEzYDS_JDMAhWClxoKHW-aD0oQ6AEIGzAA#v=onepage&q=was%20fermentation%20discovered%20by%20chance%3F&f=false

 

Hueston,W. & McLeod, A. (2012) Improving Food Safety Through a One Health Approach: Workshop Summary. Overview of the Global Food System: Changes over Time/Space and lessons for Future Food Safety

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK114491/

SURVIVAL 101: How to survive in a MAN-ifested Greece

Greek-Women.png

As many of you know, women had little or no rights in ancient civilization. Just take a look at all the emperors, kings or leaders we’ve learned about in our previous classes. Alexander the GreatQin Shi Huang. Gilgamesh. What do they have in common? That’s right, they’re all males! Throughout the evolution of ancient civilization, one thing that seems to have stuck is that women seemed to be considered the “inferior” gender or even looked upon as second-class human beings. The equality of women has been a hotly debated topic, even in today’s society, and we hope to contribute by showing awareness of how poorly women were treated, especially in the past. It is during the classical period in Greece that we begin our journey and for entertainment purposes, we have devised a survival guide for women living in those times.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbFRFqKsbQU]

Try imagining this in today's society...

It'll probably never happen!

Just to be clear, the ill-treatment of women did NOT happen in ALL of Greece. True, women were not seen as the equal of men but their treatment varies among certain Greek city-states or poleis. Although there are many other city-states such as Corinth and Thebes , many use the 2 more popular states as comparisons and we will be doing the same: the treatment of women in Athens vs Sparta.

CITIZENSHIP

If you were given birth and lived in a certain country for most parts of your life, you would definitely be considered a citizen in said country right? Well, that wasn’t the case for women in Athens. The foundation of being considered an Athenian is purely based on two things: firstly, one has to be given birth by parents who were born in Athens themselves and secondly, you had to be a male (page 9). Thus, women living in Athens throughout their entire lives aren’t even considered to be citizens of the state. Women were only valued for their use of being able to reproduce and to give birth to offspring that could contribute to the state’s military or political purposes (page 9). In contrast, Spartan women were given more responsibilities and were treated more of a citizen than their Athenian counterparts.

OWNING PROPERTY

Imagine you could not have a property under your name. The whole idea of having a roof over your head is basically dependent on either your spouse, father or brother IF you were a women. However, in this instance, Spartan women were lucky enough not to share the same fate as female Athenians. Not only could they own properties, but there are also reports that an estimated “40% of agricultural land” belonged to women (page 222). That’s a stark contrast to women in Athens who were neither allowed to own any sort of land, nor buy or sell any kind of property (page 9).

LEGAL RIGHTS AND INHERITANCE

Athenian women had very, very few legal rights. Firstly, there was even a law dictating the number of women allowed to attend a funeral (page 9). Astonishing isn’t it? To even limit the amount of women who wished to pay their respects to those who have passed away. Secondly, in the event that a women wanted a divorce, she has to seek out a male representative (has to be a relative) in order to initiate divorce (page 9-10). To make matters worse, not only do they have to return the dowries received upon marriage (page 10) but in the event that she has a child/children, custody would immediately be granted to the male parent (page 10). On the contrary, women in Sparta had significantly more legal rights. They do not have to suffer what we would deem as injustice in today’s society but they were also allowed more privileges. Spartan women could inherit an equal portion of their father’s properties (page 11) and this is something that is sorely denied to women in Athens. How could anyone be denied something that belonged to their family? This was the harsh reality that women in Athens faced.

FREEDOM

Clearly, this wasn't the case in ancient Greece

Clearly, this wasn't the case in ancient Greece

As you may have already guessed, women in Sparta were allowed much more freedom as opposed to their Athenian counterparts. Apart from visiting relatives or other wives, women in Athens basically lived in seclusion (page 8). On the other hand, Sparta women were allowed as much freedom as they pleased (page 224). However, not all Athenians were confined to their own homes. There were a few exceptions, who come in the form of “prostitutes, concubines and mistresses” (page 9), otherwise known as hetaera.

EDUCATION

Similar to freedom, women in Sparta were afforded the same amount of education as men (page 224) whereas Athenian women received little or no education (page 222). However, the hetaera received a much higher education than the rest of the women in Athens as they were “taught poetry and music” and could eventually join in on conversations such  as politics (page 9), something that was male dominated in ancient Athens.

POLITICS

Finally! Something that both Spartan and Athenian women have in common. Both sets of women had no public influence on political decisions. In Sparta, men did not allow women to speak publicly and they were isolated from men in this regard (page 11). This was harsher in Athens, where Athenian men felt that women “brought disorder, evil and were utterly useless and caused more confusion than the enemy” and thus, basically incapable of making correct political decisions (page 8).

This post may have portrayed Spartan women to have such carefree and easygoing lives and while that is true (as compared to Athenian women at least), we cannot forget that they were still treated as the lesser gender. Therefore, we came up with a guide essential for women survival in ancient Greece dubbed “Survival 101”.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7PXlZ1jd4s]

All jokes aside, women really were treated very harshly in the ancient times and although the issue of women equality has taken a massive leap forward in today’s society, it is important for us to keep it going and strive for total equality. Spreading awareness of the miserable lives women had to endure in the past is our way of contributing and we hoped that this post was an eye-opener for you readers!

 

Reign of the Mauryan Empire, Defeat of the Armies

Maurya_Dynasty_in_265_BCE.jpg

Ask what is leadership and the typical qualities such as courage, patience, compassion, determination...(you name it) and the whole myriad of synonyms come tumbling out. To embody every single quality and constantly paint oneself in the best possible light is...

Ok... maybe not that impossible but it is truly an insurmountable feat to be able to uphold most of the desired values. In such an aspect, Chandragupta Maurya was no different. He was an extraordinary leader who had a vision for his empire and made good use of the opportunities that came his way. However, we feel luck and help from outsources such as his Prime Minister, Chanakya, were determining factors which paved his way towards success.

Birth & Social Hierarchy

Chandragupta Maurya (c.321-c.297 BCE) was the proud founder of the Mauryan Empire, which was known to be the largest and most supreme because of the power of the army. He first started out by defeating the Nanda dynasty of Magadha. Despite the bureaucratic nature of the kingdom, Chandragupta Maurya was still able to defeat the kingdom and take over ("Chandragupta Maurya: The Monarch Who Unified India", pg 14). Following a series of conquests, his prowess and determination to conquer was not just seen within India when he helped to unify it, but out of India, into the Hellenistic World as well.

However, while most sub-continental ancient leaders of that time flourished because of some element of aristocratic royalty in their blood, Chandragupta Maurya was different...

Discrepancies existed in terms of the ancestry within the family as such leading to confusions as to which caste he was born into. For instance, while it is known that he was born around 340 BCE to a Nanda king and a hairdresser of the Sudra caste, little is known of his lineage. While Brahmin beliefs certify him to be a Sudra by origin, Buddhists associate him to be a higher-end rank of the Kshatriya caste.

Examining Chandragupta’s ancestry and caste is crucial. In those days, primarily, the caste system was a definite means of confining an individual via social beliefs and was continually reinforced by the rigid duties each caste performed. As such, this system was a large determining factor as to how one's life would be paved. Chandragupta Maurya however, was seemingly unaffected by it all. The fact that he was unfazed by the repercussions caste system meted out on people exemplifies and enshrines him to be a visionary of sorts as he overcame the social divisions (Varna) and rose to power.

via GIPHY

Conquests and Battles

Furthermore, Chandragupta's power was evident when he conquered the Nanda throne. But besides his powerful exterior, lay a shrewd and opportunistic leader who made use of the correct moment- when a civil war struck Punjab- to capture Taxila, the capital of Punjab. While it was a difficult task for Chandragupta Maurya to free Punjab from the tyrannical rule of Mascedonia, the demise of King Porus alleviated the problem and enabled him to do so.

These traits of Chandragupta can also be seen when he defeats Alexander the Great. Alexander's successor, Seleucus, rose in the ranks and eventually emerged as the most powerful among Alexander's generals. Seleucus’s prowess did not daunt Chandragupta Maurya from planning his next attack after his failed invasion with Alexander. After the conquest, he ensured an allegiance was formed by marrying Seleucus’s daughter and signing treaties as a mark of friendship. This was a turning point for India as the extended relations out of India resulted in flourishing of trade and agriculture.

This foresight for the country shows us that Chandragupta Maurya was a visionary who was wise, ambitious and above all – opportunistic.

He may have had 99 problems during his early stages of his life but conquering was definitely not one of them.

via GIPHY

Influence of Chanakya

However, one needs to dig deeper to understand the full picture, in isolation from his successes alone. We feel luck may have been in Chandragupta's favor as he was "chosen" by Chanakya because it was believed that he harbored qualities such as courage and charm since young. It is surprising that despite the harsh implications of the caste system, his humble beginnings did not serve as a deterrent to his future successes.

He did not have an easy start and it was with much help of his minister, Chanakya that he managed to rise above the ranks and ultimately unite India. Chanakya guided and coached Chandragupta to utilize the skills taught and advised him on the creation of his army.

As cited in the book, 'Maxims of Chanakya', Chanakya gives advice with regards to War and says,

"One should fight with an inferior but sign a treaty of peace with one's equal and superior".  (Maxims of Chanakya- Introduction, pg 11)

Perhaps, this was the motivation behind Chandragupta Maurya's passing of treaties and establishment of friendships after the conquest of Alexander's troops. Having been known for his political wisdom, statesmanship, and psychological intuitions, Chanakya may have guided and influenced much of Chandragupta Maurya's actions and cued him into the tasks laid out for him to accomplish (Maxims of Chanakya- Introduction, pg 9). Thus, much of his success is attributed to Chanakya, who paved the way for Chandragupta Maurya to descent and take charge.

Further insight into the influence of Chanakya on Chandragupta Maurya can be seen in other sources that cite Chanakya to be the "real brain" behind Chandragupta Maurya's success (Chanakya/Kautilya: History, Philosophy, Theater and the Twentieth-century Political, pg 2). While the extent of influence of Chanakya on Chandragupta Maurya and also.... inevitably his success may vary from one source to another, the idea that Chanakya was the catalyst to Chandragupta Maurya's success is one that is of significance to us.

Takeaways and POVs

Leadership- It is difficult. It demands. In short, it is tough to be a good leader and above all, to be an exemplary one. Nevertheless, while Chandragupta was successful in his period of reign and can be regarded as a good leader for his physical prowess and foresight, much of the decision-making and tactics were taught by Chanakya.

(Regarding Chanakya's influence on Chandragupta Maurya):

People say: "Ohhh... but it takes two hands to clap!!!"

We say: "But it only takes one sound to create a resonating impact".


*Featured Image-

A map of the Maurya Dynasty, showing major ciies, early Buddhist sites, Ashokan Edicts, etc. Vastu at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3d/Maurya_Dynasty_in_265_BCE.jpg

The Discovery of Mummy's Tattoos

mummy17n-1-web.jpg

SIGNIFICANCE OF TATTOOS & ITS CREATOR

“Ang Gong Kia!” (which refers to a kid with red and green patches on their body in hokkien dialect), “Barbarian!”, “Hooligan!” are the common names we give to people with tattoos in today’s world. Often, a negative connotation is associated with tattoo as well as the wearer of the tattoo in this society. However, in recorded history, tattoos held a completely opposite meaning to that of today. Let us take a walk through ancient Egypt’s tattoo culture, where the first tattooed mummy was found-a Nubian (dating to 400 BC)

Back in ancient Egypt, tattoo was common and culturally acceptable. It was generally known as the cradle of tattoo art. Tattoos designs were either plain or elaborate, but it always holds a personal relation to one by acting as an amulet,  signs of religious belief, status symbols or even as a form of punishment (just to name a few).

CREATOR OF TATTOOS IN ANCIENT EGYPT AND THE INSTRUMENT USED

 

Seven “prick points” on display in the Petrie Museum, possibly used for tattooing. Image © UCL Museums & Collections

Resembles Ancient Egyptians' hand tool Paul Roe ©britishink tattoos 1998-2015

The inventor of tattoo in Ancient Egypt was believed to be the olden women of a community who created it to protect the younger women spiritually and physically. They used metals, bamboos and woods as their common tattoo tools. With a history background dated back to c. 3000 B.C- a sharp point set in a wooden handle- was discovered at the site of Abydos. Following it, a set of small bronze instruments, which resemble wide, flattened needles was also found at the ancient town site of Gurob. Both tools were believed to be the tools used for tattoo.  By tying them together in a bunch, a repeated patterns of multiple dots could then formed.

Below shows how a tattoo can be handmade:

[video width="1280" height="720" mp4="https://helloworldciv.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Traditional-Hand-Tattoo-Skin-Art-EP5.mp4"][/video]

 

EVIDENCES OF TATTOOS IN ANCIENT EGYPT

As human remains are not preserved well and are commonly covered in bandages, it is difficult to find evidences of tattoo frequency from the Egyptians. The first tangible examples of Egyptian tattoos date back to the Middle Kingdom, about 2000 BC where several tattooed mummies of women were found at Deir el-Bahari (opposite modern Luxor) in an area associated with royal and elite burials. The markings mainly consist of dots and dashes, often grouped into geometrical patterns and are usually placed on the chest, the abdomen, the arms or the legs.

Fun-fact #1: Did you know? 

Tattoo practice was exclusive to the females only in Ancient Egypt.

Although tattoos are rare on human remains, they seem to be more frequent on female representations as it indicated their status.

There's evidence that women had tattoos on their bodies and limbs from:

  1. figurines c. 4000-3500 B.C.
  2. occasional female figures represented in tomb scenes c. 1200 B.C.
  3. figurine form c. 1300 B.C.,

all with tattoos on their thighs.

 

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF TATTOOS?

All content and images on this blog – unless stated otherwise – are © Trustees of the British Museum.

The meanings and functions of tattoos varies, some showing association to a social group, others having medical or protective purposes. The naturally mummified woman from Sudan in the exhibition bears a monogram of St Michael tattooed on her inner thigh. It combines in one symbol the letters forming the name Michael (MIXAHΛ) in Greek and the monogram is topped with a cross. The tattoo suggests that the woman was of Christian faith, and may indicate that she hoped to place herself under the protection of the Archangel – one of the patron saints of Nubia.

All content and images on this blog – unless stated otherwise – are © Trustees of the British Museum.

Placing the name of a powerful heavenly protector on one's body by a tattoo or amulet was very common in antiquity. The tattooing of ancient Egyptian women had a therapeutic role and functioned as a permanent form of amulet during the very difficult time of pregnancy and birth. Christian women who were pregnant often placed amulets with divine or angelic names on bands on their abdomens to insure a safe delivery of their child. This is supported by the pattern of distribution, largely around the abdomen, on top of the thighs and the breasts, and would also explain the specific types of designs, in particular the net-like distribution of dots applied over the abdomen. During pregnancy, this specific pattern would expand in a protective fashion in the same way bead nets were placed over wrapped mummies to protect them and "keep everything in."

The placing of small figures of the household deity, Bes, at the tops of their thighs would again suggest the use of tattoos as a means of safeguarding the actual birth, since Bes was the protector of women in labor, and his position at the tops of the thighs a suitable location.

Thus, tattoos may be a taboo thing to do in today's world, but it holds a sacred significant to ancient Egyptians. Though we wear the same fashion marking on us, but it bears a completely different meaning compared to the past.

Fun-fact #2: Did you know? 

Amunet, a Priestess of the goddess Hathor at Thebes, was originally written off as a highly-ranked concubine by excavator due to the location she was found. This was only revealed after reading her burial inscriptions, which the excavator did not bothered to.

BEHOLD, The Empress of Rome Singing to her Dead Husband!

……not (sorry friends!) Instead, here's a song we wrote illustrating what we think the Roman empress, Livia Drusilla would’ve wanted her deceased husband Augustus to hear. Lyrics are at the end of the post.

PLUG IN for optimal quality (and for da bass mon').


Disclaimer: In no way is this an exact representation of what Livia Drusilla felt or did. This is a very light-hearted take on her eventful life.

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/231955862" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]


BEFORE YOU CLICK THAT PLAY BUTTON, READ BELOW FOR CONTEXT:

Very seldom do we read about successful women in our history texts. Few were praised and even fewer to the same extents as male rulers were revered. In the case of Livia Drusilla, things were no different. Having been married previously (to Claudius Nero), she had two children (Tiberius and Drusus) under her care when she crossed paths with emperor-to-be Augustus.

Through her marriage with Augustus, she quickly gained a position of even greater influence. This also came with being a personal confidante and advisor to her powerful husband with regards to foreign and domestic affairs. She was able to establish even more connections that would continue to serve her well long after Augustus’s death. Clearly, Livia had well established her path as a woman of power. This was reinforced especially after Augustus died, bestowing on her the title of “Augusta" in his will.

For numerous reasons, her eldest son Tiberius had a turbulent relationship with his step-father, Augustus (and his own mother). In the process of attaining the title of “emperor”, Tiberius was not only forced by his parents to divorce his one true love, but was pushed into consul despite his conflicting beliefs. Thus, it was no surprise that when the opportunity presented itself with Augustus’s passing, he ascended to the throne resentfully.

Surely enough, a woman possessing so much power and influence was not a common sight in Ancient Rome. Livia getting her way with almost everything reaffirmed speculations that not only was she spoilt rotten by her husband, but that she would resort to anything to get what she wanted. Hence, historians (such as Tacitus) and many Romans alike, made her out to be a power-hungry and ambitious mother and wife who was only looking out for her own self-interests. This included the rumour that she poisoned her own husband before he could change the heir to his throne.

Well fret not Livia, for we are here to assist! You may now proceed to press the play button.

 

Terry, Mars, Yong Quan x


Lyrics: 

Not one, took two

But I found you

I mean Nero, he’s cool

But he’s not you

 

I’d stand along

Devoted & true

As not just your wife,

but Advisor too

 

Chorus:

Augustus, my love

How I’ve missed you

Things have been hard

But I’ll make do

 

Cause when you’re in Rome

Do as Romans do

 

It stinks that you’ve passed

From figs, who knew?

Please, the rumours weren’t true

That I killed you

 

Tiberius, that fool

And Tacitus too

I’ll prove I’m not just some mom

But an empress too

 

Chorus:

Augustus my love,

If you only knew

The sorts of lows

That I’ve stooped to

 

Cause when you’re in Rome,

Do as Romans do

That Roman Off-shoulder Look

Autumn is a lovely time for many things: dead plants, dead leaves, and dead people. Yes, autumn is a time for Halloween and with all the talk on Halloween costumes, let’s delve into a crowd favourite: the Roman toga! One key thing to note is that the rulers of Ancient Rome imposed Roman Sumptuary Laws that dictated which type of clothing could be worn by Romans (No crimes against fashion, Roman kiddos!). These laws contributed to the maintenance of a class structure since the clothes worn by an individual provided information about their social status. Great, now that that’s out there, let’s talk about togas (which only Roman citizens were permitted to wear. That means no slaves, and definitely no foreigners. #exclusive)!

 

Togas 101

First, let’s clarify what an actual Roman toga looks like (and not the modern Halloween ones). An authentic Roman toga is made of a large woollen cloth cut with both rounded and straight edges. It would be draped over the body on top of another basic garment called the tunic, without being sewn or pinned.

Roman_-_Emperor_Wearing_a_Toga_-_Walters_23226(Statue of an emperor wearing a toga)

Ain’t nobody got time for that

One important thing to note is that togas were only used for formal affairs and on informal occasions, most Romans would just wear their tunics. Why? Well, togas were heavy and cumbersome to wear and although the wearer appeared dignified, it would have been difficult to perform tasks with great amount of freedom of movement. (Looking good was quite the burden.) Since it was a feat to put the toga on properly by oneself, some renowned Romans even had slaves who were specially trained to perform such a task!

If you are interested to learn how to wear a toga like an Ancient Roman, check this video out!

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQYloC_QcWY[/embed]

Women & Togas

During the early period of the Roman Republic, togas were worn by both sexes. However, in the 2nd century BC, a garment known as the stola was introduced and it was expected to be worn by women. Togas were then worn exclusively by men. Only prostitutes and women who were guilty of adultery were not allowed to wear the stola and instead, they were forced to wear the toga as a form of labelling.

Estatua de LIVIA DRUSILA. Mármol. Primer cuarto del siglo I. Paestum, Campania, Italia. Museo Arqueológico Nacional de España, Madrid.

(A statue of a Roman woman wearing a stola)

Types of Togas

As mentioned earlier, the clothes worn by the Romans served as a form of distinction between the different social classes. Similarly, there were several types of togas that came in different colours and were accompanied by different features. (Ha ha you thought they only had one?)

  • Toga virilis: This was a typical white toga for adult male citizens that was made of undyed wool.
  • Toga praetexta: This was a white toga that had a wide purple border for senators and magistrates. The varying width of the border indicated the specific government position.
  • Toga picta: This was a toga that was dyed purple and had sophisticated gold embroidery. It was for victorious generals and Emperors attending official state events.

Togalife(Example of a toga praetexta)

Caligula_goldtrace_hires_FINAL

(Digital sculpture of Roman Emperor Caligula in a Toga Picta)

Besides togas that helped to distinguish Romans occupying different positions, there were also togas for other purposes.

  • Toga candida: This was a toga for political candidates. It had a bright white-dyed colour, to symbolize the candidate’s honesty and purity.
  • Toga pulla: This was a brown or dark gray toga that was used during periods of mourning.

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(Example of a toga candida)

The various kinds of togas that existed in Ancient Rome showed how clothes played a functional role in the society. They served as a form of identity and emphasized on the division between commoners and people who held power. This played a role in strengthening the social structure which enabled social norms and values to be reinforced. In our modern world, most of us have the tendency to judge others based on their dressing but for the Ancient Romans, clothes clearly did not have such a superficial connotation. (#whatisstyle)