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Raudskeggr t1_j6upjw5 wrote

>“They… knew what substances they needed to put on the skin — antibacterial, antifungal substances — to keep the skin best possibly preserved without having any microbiological background, without even knowing about bacteria. This enormous knowledge was accumulated over centuries.”

It's hard for the human mind to conceive of just how old ancient Egypt was. Even when the pyramids were being built, Egypt was already thousands of years old. It really was one of the first "civilizations", in the formal sense of the word.


o_MrBombastic_o t1_j6vbrt6 wrote

Cleopatra lived closer to the time of the Moon Landing than the building of The Pyramids


checkseguy t1_j6vfzv9 wrote

I found it fascinating when I found out that she was lovers with Caesar and then married his second Marc Antony, before the two of them committed suicide. She wouldn’t have such a prominent place in history if it weren’t for that yet I had always assumed as a child that it was a completely different period of events.


JhnWyclf t1_j6vni78 wrote

Have you seen the HBO series Rome?


Shivy_Shankinz t1_j6vnw02 wrote

Got it on my list to watch, any good?


JhnWyclf t1_j6vokr3 wrote

I really liked it. It came out before had the funds to do epic stories justice. As a result the creators had to jam what was going to be multiple seasons into the final season and speed run the rise Octavius.

The cast is great and I really like how the focal point of the story wasn’t just the “great men” ( Caesar, Pompey, Octavius, Cicero). They use Mckidd’s character to view Rome and the events of the time period through multiple lenses which I really enjoyed.

I wish they could have had the full run but it’s good as-is.


Iohet t1_j6vpx7z wrote

Rome and Deadwood were Sopranos hangover victims at HBO. Expensive to produce but didn't bring in the subscribers like Tony and co did

At least Deadwood got a finale movie of sorts


drfakz t1_j6vtchq wrote

The Deadwood movie isn't great but it ties things up I suppose.

I get why they did it, but I really didn't like the flash backs in the movie. Especially having just watched the show but I recognize they had a huge gap in time. I still think most viewers would have rewatched for a refresher instead of trying to force a movie that could stand on its own.


blazenl t1_j6ydj7t wrote

Really good, too bad they canceled it


Remainderking t1_j6w9n81 wrote

Cleopatra went to Sugar Daddy Julius Caesar because the native Kemetians sided with her brother. Caesar wanted a post in Egypt long before he became Caesar. Caesar was in his youth a member of the priesthood of Apollo, who was identified back then as a version of Ra, the Sun God. He really wanted Egypt. Cleopatra was an added side chick bonus.


minneapolisblows t1_j6vqizi wrote

Cleopatra was a potolemy not an actual ancient Egyptian.

First mummified egyptians occurred in 3500 BCE.


msut77 t1_j6wc8od wrote

I think they found some naturally mummified because the dry sand.


capitaine_d t1_j6x9p2w wrote

My favorite Fun Fact she was technically the last of Hellenic royalty. Of what was the ancient greek world, only influences in Egypt were left after the Romans started doing what Romans do best.


Welshhoppo t1_j6xpgdy wrote

Not quite the last. There was Ptolemy of Mauretania who was her grandson.

Famously he was killed by Caligula because apparently he turned up one day with a better looking purple cloak and Caligula took offense at it.


Remainderking t1_j6w9sg3 wrote

By some 3x or more, even without disputing the official ages of the Great Pyramids. Egypt/Kemet is just about the longest lasting continuous civilization ever


gnit2 t1_j6vn599 wrote

Well, one of the first civilizations thats recent enough to still have relics left standing. There must have been plenty of prehistoric civilizations who used much more temporary materials like wood for most of their structures and they left little to nothing to show for their great achievements.


Raudskeggr t1_j6vnya8 wrote

Maybe? Like I said, the "Formal" definition of civilization, which is a fairly specific and biased towards western style civilizations; we know virtually nothing of a civilization if it left behind no relics.

Almost any place where human lives will leave behind some traces though, even if at first they are not obvious. Things like pottery last forever; bone fragments and tools are almost ubiquitous. And of course, the hallmark of homo sapiens vs. pre-modern hominins, art. Beads, figurines, musical instruments, and drawings/carvings.

Though there do exist some cases where we have identified ancient human presence due to a lack of something being there; remains of wooden post-holes in neolithic sites at europe suggested wooden henges and large buildings. In stone-age China, we find remarkably few stone tools. It is believed that this is because they were using bamboo instead, which was easier to obtain and to work. But also left behind little in the way of evidence.


Remainderking t1_j6wa0to wrote

Facts. Civilizations are supply chains, not the race based structures that Western definitions use to promote Western cultures to the detriment of others. A quick read of Herodotus would show that at the beginning of what we call ‘Western Civilization’, the Greeks learned philosophy and religion from Kemet.


Sensitive_File6582 t1_j6x2op2 wrote

It’s not just the west. Humans are trible to a somewhat arbitrary degree. It is a struggle for the species not just a society.


WhatsHupp t1_j6whm9z wrote

Just read an article about some archaeology on California’s Channel islands, one thing that stood out was their mention of the islands’ lack of burrowing rodents. Over decades and centuries those things can really churn up the soil, making it impossible to find less permanent physical evidence that would otherwise tell us a lot about who used to live there.


Jacareadam t1_j6w4kgi wrote

Egypt was as ancient to the Roman Empire as the Roman Empire is to us


Individual_Ad2579 t1_j6v1i7c wrote

So they really taught themselves about bacteria? I wonder how they found out this research


Raudskeggr t1_j6v1qq1 wrote

They didn't know about bacteria. But they did know "this stuff works better than this stuff to preserve" through many iterations of trial and error.


STEELCITY1989 t1_j6v57ek wrote

Exactly. They knew it worked but not why in the literal sense with no paradigm of bacteria.


Angdrambor t1_j6v82dj wrote

They did have some kind of paradigm. it may not have been as complex or complete as our modern study of microbiology, but it would have at least been isomorphic to the truth.

In much the same way, our modern understanding of microbiology will seem woefully inadequate to the people of the future.


nzdastardly t1_j6vlyp3 wrote

"Can you believe those barbarians used SOAP AND HOT WATER instead of a biofilter in the transporter?"

  • some smug 24th century person

[deleted] t1_j6wsh3q wrote



ECrispy t1_j6x2i6j wrote

Or physics, biology and basically every science.


lt_spaghetti t1_j6v8rmg wrote

I mean, at the end of the day we made rocks think and information travel through blinky glass strands, electric airwaves and copper wires.

200 000 years of human lifetime is a long time


GammaGoose85 t1_j6v6nop wrote

Yeah theres alot of knowledge and ancient wisdom that knew the what but didn't know they why or the right why. Makes u wonder what we think we know now but don't really.


Angdrambor t1_j6v7nk4 wrote

Pure observation. Even if you don't have a microscope to see the bacteria, you can see(and smell) their work.


Professional_Bite725 t1_j6uprkq wrote

It's interesting to see how in-depth their research was:

>They revealed ancient Egyptians used a wide variety of substances to anoint the body after death, to reduce unpleasant smells and protect it from fungi, bacteria and putrefaction. Materials identified include plant oils such as juniper, cypress and cedar as well as resins including from pistachio trees, animal fat and beeswax.
>Archaeologists were also able to determine which particular substances were used to preserve different body parts. (Pistachio resin and castor oil, for example, were used only for the head.)


Professional_Bite725 t1_j6uq1or wrote

Another fascinating detail from the article:

>While many of the substances were from across the Mediterranean, they also found residues of dammar gum and elemi resin, which likely came from the forests of southeast Asia, or possibly tropical regions of Africa.
>This, the researchers said, revealed the long-distance exchange of goods

I had no clue their trade networks reached so far.


ThePrussianGrippe t1_j6v6kso wrote

The ancient global trade is a fascinating topic. I’d love to read a book about it.


ClaustroPhoebia t1_j6wjtsp wrote

This is actually what my postgraduate is on; I’m down to answer any questions I may be able to answer.


TheTreesHaveRabies t1_j6ws5kb wrote

Well I'll bite:

What kinds of evidence are you looking at?

How do you navigate the language barriers?

Theoretically, how do you approach questions? Ex. Globally, regionally, locally? How do you derive inferences?


ClaustroPhoebia t1_j6wyr9t wrote

Okay so for context, my specialism is Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt so that is gonna inform my particular evidence. In terms of literature, there are bits and pieces all over the place: Strabo, Pliny the Elder, Diodorus, and a variety of Ptolemaic poets and stuff.

There’s also some contextual evidence such as references to goods that could only have come from abroad. One of the big pieces of evidence is the so-called Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, which is basically a trade guide written by a Roman sailor advising people on the best places to trade and sail in the Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.

We also have papyri which often complements the literary evidence. As a good example, we have one papyrus attesting to the sinking of an elephantegoi, a type of ship developed by Ptolemy II for the acquisition of elephants from East Africa.

Then there’s just archaeology: a Roman coin under a Japanese castle, Greek-inspired art in Southeast Asia, many many pots in India, an Egyptian statue in Zimbabwe just as examples. What’s important to remember is that this doesn’t necessarily indicate that Romans or Greeks necessarily went to these places, but that they were tied into very active and wide ranging trade networks.

Language barriers are always difficult, not least in papyri where they can be in multiple ancient languages and have often been translated into multiple different modern languages. Often the best way is just to have a good knowledge of lots of different languages, especially modern languages in order to access as many translations as possible.

Going forward, I’d really like to work on my Greek and Coptic and try to push digitisation so that papyri are more accessible for future scholars. In other cases, sometimes the beta you can do is find other people who may know relevant languages or have expertise in relevant areas.

Theoretically, I’m of the personal opinion that local, regional, and global narratives are extensions of one another. They can be dealt with separately but a completely picture has to acknowledge that they are neither separate nor isolated.

Personally, I have dealt more with regional understandings of trade than either global or local.

Hope this helps!


TheTreesHaveRabies t1_j6wzbgv wrote

You rock pal! Thanks for that awesome info! Super interesting stuff! Do you have a book recommendation perhaps?

Best of luck to you!


2muchtequila t1_j6y726h wrote

Out of curiosity, do you know if it was it more common at the time for long distance trade routs to be a trader making a super long journey or a series of relays. Like I sell to the market that's only a couple of weeks away, they sell to another market and so on?


ClaustroPhoebia t1_j6zij92 wrote

Okay so for a time there was a theory that most maritime trade was basically this process of traders sorta just working their way along coastlines looking for a profit wherever they could. The idea was that Greek merchants didn’t really have set ideas of where there was a good market for anything so they just bought and sold whatever and wherever they could.

Nowadays, we know that is not true. Merchants in the ancient world actually had a very complex understanding of the wider market and where they could make a profit. As such, they plied specific routes, often over rather large distances, that they knew would make a profit.

For your question, the answer is that it kinda varies. Strabo tells us that, under the Ptolemies, some 20 ships made the journey to India each year which increased to 100 under the Romans. Now whether or not we accept those exact numbers, the point is that he attests to a certain number of Greek and Roman ships making the journey as far as India each year.

However, there are a couple of points to raise here. Firstly, there is no reason to suspect they personally went any further east than India (it just wouldn’t make any financial or personal sense to do so). Secondly, these Greeks and Romans are probably a minority of shipping.

Instead, the main journeys across the Indian Ocean were probably dominated by the Arabians and Ethiopians (specifically Axum) who understood the winds of the Indian Ocean a lot better than the Greeks. That said we do hear of attempts by Ptolemaic explorers to try and map the winds in the later periods of the dynasty.

So for the Greeks and Romans, trade in the Indian Ocean was probably mostly through intermediaries (buying and selling at, say Adulis or Muscat or Petra). However, plenty of Africans and Arabians were making direct trips across the ocean.


livinginlyon t1_j6ww0c9 wrote

I'll bite, as well!

What books do you recommend on the subject.


etaipo t1_j6wwhf3 wrote

also biting

what are your thoughts on possible coca and tobacco use in ancient Egypt?


Triptukhos t1_j6xy9a0 wrote

How are you finding graduate/post-graduate life, both academic and in the job market? My undergrad was half classics/history/archaeology and i greatly enjoyed it (although after four years as a commercial archaeologist i am never going back to that), but decided against grad school/post-grad in those disciplines. I love classics and history i just need to make some money too. I hate having to choose.


Mitchs_Frog_Smacky t1_j6wysx2 wrote

I've heard that the recent discovery of trace tobacco and cocaine in the systems of mummies put into question how large and global trade routes actually were. However due to this discovery, it seems to upend a large amount of current 'accepted' history on trade routes and is being dismissed as a fluke, even though multiple labs agree on the results.

Do you have any information or thoughts on this?

(Two links related to the subject found from Internet search to back my question. Originally heard of this debate on a multi-movie doc on Egypt)


pineguy64 t1_j6yewxm wrote

>I've heard that the recent discovery of trace tobacco and cocaine in the systems of mummies put into question how large and global trade routes actually were. However due to this discovery, it seems to upend a large amount of current 'accepted' history on trade routes and is being dismissed as a fluke, even though multiple labs agree on the results.

>Do you have any information or thoughts on this?

>(Two links related to the subject found from Internet search to back my question. Originally heard of this debate on a multi-movie doc on Egypt)



This is so unbelievable it's almost funny. Tobacco comes from the Americas and wasn't brought to the "Old World" until 1559 for King Phillip II of Spain. Which one is more likely here, that the results of these tests are an error or that the entire history of tobacco as we know it is wrong, as well as hundreds of years of recorded history of trade?


ClaustroPhoebia t1_j71b1ph wrote

OP is basically following on from Balabanova. So I’m actually not sure about this from what I’ve done so far but I did my due diligence and hunted down some bibliography on Balananova’s claims as well as the articles he referenced.

Basically, Balabanova tried toxicology on several unprovenanced mummies from a German museum and found traces indicating cocaine and nicotine (not tobacco) in their system.

I specify this because there are several plants in West Africa that contain nicotine without requiring tobacco. The real question is: cocaine. Now the evidence here is already really dodgy: toxicology on mummies of an uncertain origin, even if they are real mummies, is incredibly dodgy.

Not to mention there being no evidence of either plant anywhere else in the record, the fact that no other mummies have revealed either nicotine or cocaine in the same way. Even Balabanova didn’t suggest that the Egyptians were trading with the Americas, rather than there were (not extinct) varieties of the two plants in Africa at the time of the pharaohs.

The question I have is what about the rest of the stuff? Egypt is great because the dry conditions mean that a lot survives and people put all sorts of stuff, including high value imports, in tombs. So my question is: if the Egyptians did have trade contacts with the Americas, where’s the rest of the stuff?

What about cacao beans or maize? I mean rice and spices and herbs survive from Egypt, so why are there no other indications of this trade?


myownbattles t1_j6vrzhn wrote

Check out the Great Courses series called "The Economic History of the World Since 1400" or something along those lines. It is INCREDIBLE. It's on Prime if you've got it.

It's definitely a broad overview because you can only fit so much in a course, but dang, is it ever useful. It's great context for where we are and how we got here.


Praglik t1_j6w6qqo wrote

This is way too recent, basically covering the silk roads and emerging "Indies Companies" rather than Ancient Egypt and their contemporaries. Is there any documentary about ancient trade networks?


ZippyDan t1_j6w0ks4 wrote

Since 1400 BCE or CE?


Orngog t1_j6wa5eg wrote

CE. It describes itself as being about modern history...

I assume OP is either American or young.


EpilepticFits1 t1_j6wq3kg wrote

"The Silk Roads: A New World History" by Peter Frankopan isn't specifically about ancient trade. But it is a fantastic world history from a Central Asian and Middle Eastern focus.

He does a great job of pointing out the global forces and trends that tied Asia and Europe together. Most histories look at Central Asia as a wasteland that divided the pre-modern world but Frankopan offers a view of a connected world that created Middle Eastern and Mediterranean empires supported by overland trade. It's no coincidence that the European discovery of sea routes to Asia in the 1400-1500's coincides with the economic decline of the Middle East.


Sensitive_File6582 t1_j6x230w wrote

During Egypts known heyday The tin needed for bronze was all sourced from mines in Britain and Afghanistan iirc.


Brabant-ball t1_j6ws77i wrote

The Bronze Age had many long distance trade networks. Tin and precious stones from Afghanistan, cedar and resin from Lebanon, ivory and wood from Punt (Yemen or the Horn of Africa, still debated), copper from Cyrus, pottery from mainland Greece, amber from the Baltic, olives from Italy and much more were to be found in the Egyptian market places.

If you want to get a good overview of the vastness of international networks I'd recommend Eric Cline's 1177: the year civilization collapsed.


CaprioPeter t1_j6ydeb6 wrote

Pre-industrial trade networks in general are pretty amazing. We’ve found pieces of abalone shell gathered on the west coast among the items of tribal people on the Great Plains


walterMARRT t1_j6v2ib3 wrote

Curious how they extracted the plant oils.


jeisen85 t1_j6wd1y6 wrote

I think you can just boil the plants in water and scoop the oil off the top.


jawshoeaw t1_j6uwrtv wrote

The real trick was salt (technically a mixture of salt and baking soda). After removing the organs and brain you’re like a rack of beef. Then they packed you in salt and all the juices drained away. All that bologna about herbs and spices was for odor control


why_rob_y t1_j6uy4eb wrote

Getting pretty hungry over here.


jawshoeaw t1_j6uy9dq wrote

I was just on a sub talking about buying a portion of a cow and now I’m thinking of pastrami mmmm


come_on_seth t1_j6w40or wrote

NYC pastrami….oh the memories of eating in bed and having sex with what’s her name


aknabi t1_j6wbnaq wrote

Pastrami is the most sensual of the cured meats


come_on_seth t1_j6wcnlb wrote

Sometimes I wish I could kiss that stupid sob for all the joy he and his cohorts bring. This will have to do 💋


NessieReddit t1_j6wfy32 wrote

I thought it was bitumen/tar that they used as the main ingredient? Tar/bitumen was called mummia or mummy which is where mummies got their name from.


TatosTatoes t1_j6viwr9 wrote

The real question is why?


ubermeisters t1_j6vp59m wrote

to preserve the body longer so the afterlife is a better experience. your inside have a lot more bacteria than your outsides do. those bacteria rot and bloat your corpse etc etc. so, removal of most of the bacterial load, and further mummification keeps the exterior flesh from rotting away. That's why we can still find the preserve remains.


azlaarlives t1_j6upra4 wrote

I thought we already knew this?


CradleRobin t1_j6v48hx wrote

In the article it talks about what we used to know and what we recently discovered.


ubermeisters t1_j6votm5 wrote

You thought you already knew it, not we thought we already knew it.


PikeOffBerk t1_j6vzcpm wrote

Wrong! Mummies had their pores exfoliated by some sort of advanced power tools. Clearly either aliens or some hyper advanced human civilization ten thousand years ago made all mummies, NOT ancient humans. Mainstream archaeodermatology is LYING to you! ^^^^^^^^^^^^/s