Understanding the Hieroglyphs By Fatima Imran

Understanding the Hieroglyphs

Definition:

“Egyptian hieroglyphic  was formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood. Less formal variations of the script called hieratic and demotic, are technically not hieroglyphs” (“Egyptians hieroglyphs”)

Background:

Hieroglyphic writing was first started around 5000 years ago.In 400 A.D, Egyptian wrote in hieroglyphs, hieroglyphs are words pictures, and there are more than 2000 hieroglyphic characters.(“Hieroglyphic”). According to an ancient Egyptian belief, the god Thoth had given them knowledge of hieroglyphs so they named it “divine intelligence.”  The Greek visitors on seeing these word pictures on the tomb and temple walls called it as a hieroglyph that means “sacred carving.”  There were more than 700 hieroglyphic signs that were taken by observing images e.g. building, birds, people, flowers, and animals. According to Brunner the prehistoric Hittites, Mayans, and Cretans used   very different hieroglyphs than that of Egypt.Later it was felt that there is a need to convey messages in written form then pictographs came into being.  The Egyptians thus used a system that combined phonograms, that is, sound-signs that spelt out the word in an alphabetic system, and ideograms, sense-signs that were added to the spelled-out word to depict its meaning, and this language had its own syntax, grammar, and vocabulary.

Figure 1 Hieroglyphic Script

 After Diodorous Siculus visited Egypt, it became common belief that the hieroglyphs were installed with hidden meaning.  The influential philosopher Plotinus said that the hieroglyphs were nothing less than Platonic ideas in visual form, “each picture a kind of understanding and wisdom” revealing to the initiated true knowledge as to the essence and substance of things.  Some signs represent sound and indicate consonants.  There was no alphabetic system sometimes one sign could represent a combination of more than two words and there were no vowels in it.  Some signs were not pronounced instead they were used an indicators.  Between 3400, 3200 BCE, Abydos discovered many inscribed stones which is the oldest Egyptian writing.  The last Egyptian written inscription was set up approximately in 5 century.  A Greek based alphabet system Coptic with some demotic signs became the main writing system used in Egypt.  Egyptians also used hieroglyphs for math. (5-22) This language is not understood now because when Arab invaded Egypt they introduced Arabic that is still practiced today.  Saints used Hieroglyphs and they were written in pictorial writing on ancient monuments in order to preserve the nation’s history and religious texts. ( Street 3)

Development of Hieroglyphic

According to Brunner hieroglyphic are the phonetic symbols that were initially carved on the ceramic jars or on ivory tablets that were placed in gravestones for the identification of the dead.  The need to classify pictorial representation of unique event or royal individual led to the emergence of hieroglyphic writing in a monumental setting.  This writing was used to demonstrate the particular event and reflects the history of the nation.  In the begging of  dynasty, Images of non-royal individual were annotated with their name or titles, these were additional steps toward expressing the individuality and exclusiveness.  The first two ivory tablets of two dynasties were the pictorial demonstration of the events, incidents, the places .For example, accompanying a scene of the Pharaohs’ triumph over his opponent is the annotation “the first occasion of the defeat of the Libyans.”  During the first dynasty, only the names of kings were carved on stones.  In the second dynasty, designations and the names of the offspring were appeared and at the end of this dynasty, proper sentences came about for the first time.  The discovery of a black papyrus scroll showed that the longer sentences might have been written in the early part of the first dynasty.(40-59)

Impact Of fine art on writing

According to Brunner the diversity of these hieroglyphs reflected the fine art style of ancient time.  The standard rule of Egyptian hieroglyphic writing was set in the three dynasties.  The hieroglyphic signs are closely related to the fine arts and this is because same artisans painted or carved both the pictograms and the scripts.  The variations occurred in the writing style when the hieroglyph contained those patterns that fine arts had eliminated.  In ancient times, Hieroglyphic signs were carved on stone monuments, metals, woods.  Moreover, these signs were appeared in the varied types of metal and wood inlay work.  All the techniques match exactly with fine arts techniques. .(60-86)

Medium for hieroglyphic writing

Hieroglyphic texts appeared mainly on tombs, temples and walls, but they were also found on tombstone, sculpture, coffins and on all types of vessels and tools.  Brunner described  that this writing was mainly used for preserving secular content like historic description, legal manuscript, and scientific documents and myths, legends, faction sacrament, grave inscription of all kinds, and prayers.  These were attractive monumental scripts.  The hieratic script gained popularity and shorten form of pictograms were written with ink and brush on the smooth surface of wood, limestone and papyrus.( 87-99)

Religious impact

Brunner has discussed that the hieroglyphic signs were influenced by the religion that was established by two common usages.  Firstly, certain distorted symbols were carved or avoided on the gravestone; these symbols were human figures and perilous animals such as scorpions and snakes.  Secondly some signs that have religious importance were placed before   other signs even if they were to be read after them, these were hieroglyphs for King , God, or the  palace, For example the two signs  , stands for “servant of God’ in this the symbol of God  is in front of the servant  although the God is to be read last.( 88-90)

Characteristics of hieroglyphic writing

The hieroglyphic writing system consists of signals that represent real objects and these can grouped into three classes. Brunner has described following characteristic of hieroglyphic .

Logogram: In this class, a single word represents its meaning and sound.  Ideogram can be read as the object they symbolize such as /, “wood, stick,” or can have extended meanings, such as the sun disk, ☉, which can be interpreted as “sun’.(116-121)

Phonogram: This class signifies a sound or series of sound in the language.  This group includes simple phonemes that are derived from logograms of the objects they portray and it includes biliterals and trilliteral signs (signs that represent two or three sounds.(121-125)

Determinative: This class contains determinatives that are not phonetic signs instead; they are used to state meaning and help in word distribution.  For example, the phonetic writing p + r + t can signify the infinitive of the verb “to go,” the name of the winter season, or the word for “fruit, seed.”  The meaning of the word is signaled by a terminal determinative that also acts as a word marker: the walking legs ( ), the sun disk (☉), or the pellet sign (°), respectively Generic Determinatives are those that denotes action and movement  like walking,  running, eating.  Egyptians scripts are a combination of all these signs and it can be modified.  Egyptian writing is deprived of vowels thus its pronunciation is poorly reflected in the hieroglyphic writing system.(126-138)

Number of symbols: In the Egyptian writing total number of hieroglyphs are approximately 700, their number increased with the invention of new signs and forms.  This shows that the Egyptian writing system was flexible.(139-143)

Direction of writing: Hieroglyphic inscriptions were written from right to left and this was indicated by the orientation of the signs.  The right to left orientation was followed in writing the hieratic script and the reverse of this orientation was used for a decorative or religious purpose.  However, Egyptian monuments were adorned according to the strict rule of symmetry, tombs and temples are usually decorated with scripts that face in the both ways, to give an illustration of axial balance.  Inscriptions were written either in a vertical column or in horizontal rows considered as an ideal way of decorating the doorways, walls, and lintels.  In two-dimensional scenes containing human or divine figures, the hieroglyphic scripts were written with the images to which they pertained, so images and texts were orientated in the same direction.(145-160)

Tools: The tools used for writing hieroglyphics were chisels, hammers for stone carving and brushes for colouring and painting, leather and papyrus were the writing surfaces .

Figure 2 Carving tools

Brushes were made by cutting the stems diagonally then it was chewed to shape the fibres into a brush like tip after that it was used for writing.  In 3 century, BCE Greek introduced the technique of using a spilt Calamus reed for writing implements. (121-129)

Hieratic Script : Hieratic is cursive (joint writing) script writing system that was used in the origin of the Pharaohs in Egypt and Nubia.  This script writing was closely associated with the hieroglyphic writing because it was developed with the hieroglyphic system and it’s written from  right to left orientation .Hieratic script was easy to write about because it was mainly written in ink with a reed brush on papyrus, wood, stone or potter .  In the 2nd century, Saint Clement of Alexandria first time used the term derived from Greek phrase γράμματα ἱερατικά (grammata hieratika; literally “priestly writing) because it was used for writing religious scripts (“Hieratic”), .The Edwin Smith papyrus is the world’s oldest surgical document that is written in hieratic script and it describes the explanation, examination, treatment and prognosis of  forty-eight types of medical problems in fine detail.

Figure 3 Hieratic Script

This script contained methods and techniques for healing wounds with sutures, curing infection with bread mold and honey, stop bleeding with raw material and immobilization of head and spinal cord injuries.  This document revealed that ancient Egyptian were expert in medicine and surgery.  The hieratic was used for writing legal documents, governmental documents, legal texts and letter, mathematical, surgery, literary and texts.  Moreover, hieratic script was written on stone, papyrus, ceramic debris and woods, leather rolls, linen.(Hieratic, 16-31)

Demotic script: Demotic is derived from the Greek work means “popular”, Egyptian called it Demotic script but Clement of Alexandria called it  (epistolographikē) “letter writing” and western scholars Thomas Young called it  ‘Enchorial Egyptian’.

Figure 4 Demotic Script

  During the reign of Amasis, it became the official administrative and legal script.  During this  period, Demotic was used only for administrative, legal, and commercial texts, while hieroglyphs and hieratic were reserved for other texts.( Demotic, 1-8)

 

The Rosetta stone (EA 24)

Date: Ptolemaic Periods -196 BC

The Rosetta stone is named after the city where it was found .It is a granite slab of 1114.4 centimeters high, 72.3 centimeters wide, and 27.9 centimeters thick.  It weighs estimate 1676 pounds.  In 1799, General Napoleon Bonaparte was leading his French republican army into Egypt to capture it, accidentally a lieutenant Bouchard discovered a black slab of stone that had been built into the wall.  He informed the archaeologists and it became one of the greatest discoveries of 18 century.  The Rosetta stone had three horizontal lines with the inscriptions carved in two languages, Egyptian and Greek, with three diverse scripts on each band they were hieroglyphics, demotic script, and koine Greek.  The Greek part was already known so it indicated that rest of three inscriptions contained the same message.

Figure 5 Rosetta Stone

The inscriptions on the stones were written by saint Memphis summarizing the benefactions given to Ptolemy V Epiphanes (205-180 BC) and were written in the ninth year of his reign in commemoration of his accession to the throne.  In 1822 Thomas Young was the first person to explain that hieroglyphs written on the Rosetta stone were the sounds of royal name Ptolemy.  In 1822 at 16 years old, Frenchman Jean-Francois Champollion deciphered all the hieroglyphs.  He became expert in six oriental languages as well as in Greek, Coptic, and Latin.  He explained that the hieroglyphs on the stone were phonetic and had a sound that represents spoken alphabetic signs and syllables; he compared the 1,419 hieroglyphics with Greek text that was less than in 500 words.

He also demonstrated that 66 words out of 1419 hieroglyphs were original while the rest were repeated.  He assembled an Egyptian Grammar and dictionary for ancient prehistoric middle kingdom Egyptian hieroglyphics.  In 1801 British troops defeated the French in Egypt and the original stone became British property under the Alexandria.  The stone then transferred to the British Museum and it has been on public display since 1802. (Deciphering Hieroglyphs of Ancient Egypt)

Egyptian hieroglyphic Tables

 

References:

1. Brunner, et al “hieroglyphic writing”, (Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc , 2013,). (Web)

2. “Deciphering Hieroglyphs of Ancient Egypt” http://www.bible-history.com/resource/ff_hiero.htm”.(Web)

3.” Demotic” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demotic_(Egyptian) (Web)

4,. Hieratic”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hieratic .(Web)

5. Goldwasser Oldy , “How the alphabet was born from hieroglyphs”,( Biblical Archaeology Review ,2010).

(Web)

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Tombstone Tales

Former New York City mayor Edward I. Koch, who died last week at the age of 88, was buried today at Trinity Cemetery in northern Manhattan. In the years leading up to his death, Koch talked openly about his funeral plans, going so far as to give tours of his burial plot to journalists and informing them that he had chosen its location, in part, for its close proximity to public transportation—making it easier for his admirers to come pay their respects. Always good for a memorable quote, Koch also revealed what words he had chosen for his tombstone. In a nod to his Jewish roots, he selected both a Hebrew prayer, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One,” and the final words of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, spoken just before his murder by Islamic militants in 2002, “ My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.” Koch composed his own final epitaph for the base of his tombstone, stating how he wished to be remembered:

He was fiercely proud of his Jewish faith. He fiercely defended the City of New York, and he fiercely loved its people.
Above all, he loved his country, the United States of America, in whose armed forces he served in World War II.

This got us thinking about how other historical figures have been posthumously remembered. Here’s a look at some of the stories we unearthed from beyond the grave.

Winston Churchill
The British statesman and prime minister’s biting wit and sharp tongue were well known throughout his lifetime and the caustic Churchill frequently clashed with other politicians and even fellow aristocrats. In one memorable exchange, Nancy Astor, the American-born debutante who married into Britain’s upper class and later became the first female member of Parliament, rebuked Churchill for his behavior, stating: “Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison.” Not to be outdone, Churchill chirped right back, responding, “If I were your husband I would take it.” When Churchill died in January 1965, he conceded that he might not be so easy to get along with it—especially for all eternity:

I am ready to meet my Maker.
Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.

Spike Milligan
Another famed British wit, comedian and writer Spike Milligan, left behind an admonition for friends and family on his tombstone. Milligan, who rocketed to fame with the influential comedy program “The Goon Show,” suffered from bi-polar disorder for much of his life before finally succumbing to kidney failure in 2002. Along with the usual commemoration of dates of birth and death, Mulligan opted to chide those who had doubted his precarious health. There was one problem: The East Sussex cemetery he had selected for his final resting place refused to comply, considering his request offensive. Mulligan’s family eventually agreed to include a Gaelic translation of Mulligan’s parting words, which now appear at the base of the tombstone:

I told you I was ill.

Dorothy Parker
While we’re on the subject of witty writers, let’s discuss the 20-year post-mortem saga of Mrs. Parker. Upon her death in 1967, Parker, a lifelong advocate for racial equality, left her estate to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.—despite the fact that the two had never met. In the case of King’s death, her will stipulated that the estate go to the NAACP, which is exactly what happened the following year. While Parker made careful provisions for her literary legacy, she failed to do the same for her physical one. Parker chose as her executor fellow author Lillian Hellman, who failed terrifically in her role as posthumous caretaker. Not only did Hellman hold a public funeral—against Parker’s express wishes— she also refused to collect Parker’s ashes following her cremation. Hellman then proceeded to spend more than a decade unsuccessfully suing the NAACP for control of Parker’s valuable estate. All the while, poor Dorothy’s remains remained in storage. Finally, in 1988, the NAACP claimed the ashes and finally put Parker to rest—not in her beloved New York City—but at their Baltimore, Maryland, headquarters. The memorial plaque pays tribute to Parker’s social advocacy, but also includes the appropriately pithy epitaph she chose for herself:

Excuse my dust.

thomas-jeffersonThomas Jefferson
Of course, one of the most famous examples of the self-penned epitaph comes from one of America’s best-loved founding fathers. Always a perfectionist, Jefferson decided exactly what should be included on his tombstone at Monticello. A proud Virginian to the end, Jefferson chose to highlight the work he had done on behalf of the Old Dominion, omitting a rather important part of Jefferson’s resume—his tenure as America’s third president:

Here was buried Thomas Jefferson,
author of the Declaration of American Independence,
of the statute of Virginia for religious freedom,
and father of the University of Virginia.

Benjamin Franklin
Sometimes a planned epitaph can fall by the wayside. As a young man, Franklin confided to his diary what he wanted written on his tombstone. Weaving together his work as one of the colonies’ premier publishers with his lifelong goal of constant self-improvement, he chose:

The Body of B. Franklin, Printer; like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be wholly lost; For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more, In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended By the Author.

That’s not quite how it worked out, though. Franklin, never one to shy away from self-promotion, was surprisingly modest when he made his final wishes known—his grave in Philadelphia’s Christ Church cemetery simply reads, “Benjamin and Deborah Franklin.”

Ludolph van Ceulen
Others haven’t been so self-effacing. Dutch mathematician van Ceulen was happy to brag about his greatest achievement—one of the most comprehensive calculations of the numerical value of Pi, or π. After he died in 1610, he had the 35 characters he had discovered included on his tombstone:

3.14159265358979323846264338327950288…

The Outlaws
Sometimes family members decide to overlook the negative aspects of a person’s life. For example, when Jesse James was murdered by supposed friend and fellow gang member Robert Ford in April 1882, his bereaved mother chose to commemorate her son with these words:

Murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here.

Famed (and doomed) outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow lived, robbed and died together, but despite their wishes were buried in separate Dallas, Texas cemeteries. Bonnie’s grave reflects how she wished to be remembered.

As the flowers are all made sweeter by the sunshine and the dew, so this old world is made brighter by the lives of folks like you.
Outlaw, bank robber and partner of Clyde Barrow

Clyde’s however, makes no mention of Bonnie at all:

Gone but not forgotten.

Shakespeare and Keats
Leave it the literary lions to come up with some of the most potent funereal prose. For a man whose works are full of curses, ghosts, murderers and otherworldly figures, it’s perhaps not surprising that William Shakespeare hoped to ensure an undisturbed sleep in the afterlife with these words of warning:

Good Friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here:
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.

More than 300 years later John Keats did not go quietly into the night, but instead offered up this attack against his perceived enemies.

This Grave contains all that was Mortal of a Young English Poet
Who on his Death Bed in the Bitterness of his Heart at the Malicious Power of his Enemies
Desired these words to be engraved on his Tomb Stone
“Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water.”

The Entertainers
Many entertainers wind up cribbing lines from their most popular works. That’s what Rat Packers Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin did for their respective curtain calls; “The best is yet to come” and “Everybody loves somebody sometime.” Others choose a more sentimental farewell, like the husband-and-wife team of George Burns and Gracie Allen. When Gracie died in 1964, George continued on his own until his own death in 1998—at which point their joint crypt was marked with two simple words, “Together Again.”

Few can top Mel Blanc, though. The legendary Blanc was the voice of dozens of Warner Brothers cartoon characters, and chose for his epitaph one of Porky Pig’s signature lines:

That’s All  Folks.

Source: (http://www.history.com/news/history-blog/tombstone-tales-historys-most-famous-epitaphs)

Founding Mothers: Anne Hutchinson, Puritan Rebel

5 months pregnant. 46 years old. Standing all day, two days in a row. Badgered by the most powerful men in her colony, Puritans of power and assurance, who were threatened by her teaching. No woman could teach, they said. And she must not prophesy. And she certainly must not preach! She should simply—shut up.
hutchinsontrial
But Anne Hutchinson didn’t just shut up. In 1637, she faced down the Dobsons and the Falwells of her day, standing trial for defying the Puritan ministry and government. She held her ground  with a remarkable mix of logic, rhetoric, and faith.

If you’ve ever gotten discouraged about challenging sexism, theocracy, and fundamentalist power, take a lesson from Anne Hutchinson: never, ever, let them shut you up.

Anne Marbury, Clergyman’s Daughter
Born in 1591 in Lincolnshire, England, Anne  was the daughter of a clergyman, Francis Marbury. She was doubtless educated at home, since girls might spend a few years attending school, but they were not allowed at English universities.  Even amongst the educated, some subjects were considered quite inappropriate for girls: Latin and Greek, for example. And since many scholarly texts were published only in Latin and Greek, women were shut out of most advanced studies.                    womenreading
But Anne may have been different. Judging from her later words, it seems possible that Anne was schooled in some of the more “masculine” studies of her day: rhetoric and theology, perhaps. She was certainly highly literate in English, and had a great grasp of Biblical studies.

“Unfeminine” or not, her intellect was no barrier to finding a husband, and in 1612 she married William Hutchinson, also from Lincolnshire but now a successful merchant in London.

Anne Hutchinson, Puritan Convert
As their family grew and their business prospered, Anne and William came under the spell of John Cotton, an energetic preacher with opinions labeled “Puritan.” A significant minority in the Church of England, these ardent believers thought that the English (Anglican) Church was not “pure” enough. In other words, although it was Protestant, it was not Protestant enough.
johncotton
According to Puritans,  it held too many remnants of the old Catholic order–vestments, ritual, and bishops appointed by the king and enforcing his edicts. They also believed that salvation is pre-determined by God; our actions in life do not “earn” us salvation or damnation.

Despite this, each community must work to be pure and follow God’s will collectively, not to earn salvation but to please God.  They were deeply concerned with “improving” their communities to be more Godly, with no sports on Sundays, no Maypoles and no Christmas (all pagan, according to the Puritans). They believed if the kingdom did not become more godly, this was a sign of its damnation. Playwright Ben Johnson (one of Shakespeare’s competitors) wrote a “Puritan” character called “Zeale-of-the-Land-Busy,” which gives us a sense of how outsiders viewed this sect: industrious and irritating.

The Puritan Crisis
Under the reign of Charles I, beginning in 1625, tensions flared between “Puritans” and other Anglican factions. The king encouraged his bishops to enforce doctrinal and ritual conformity.
Clergyman who would not abide by the rules would have to step down. Fines for blasphemy and speaking against the royal family were strictly enforced.
puritans
For those of Puritan belief, it seemed that the entire kingdom was falling into heresy and straying from God’s will–a situation that could only lead to disaster. A small group of Puritans responded by setting up a colony in the New World, Massachusetts Bay,  where they could build a Godly community.

Anne Hutchinson, Midwife and Teacher
As devout Puritans, it is little surprise that Anne and William Hutchinson decided to undertake the arduous journey to Massachusetts Bay in 1634. Their favorite preacher, John Cotton, had fled their the year before in 1633.

Along with ten of their children, they settled into the colony, where both of them enjoyed positions of respect. William was elected a magistrate in 1635, and Anne practiced as a midwife.

Midwives were respected female leaders in English communities. They had to be officially licensed as to their good character, and were some of the only women who might be expected to testify in court on a regular basis (on matters of paternity suits or accusations of infanticide, usually), much like the coroner or sheriff might testify. Midwives were just about the only female “public official” in 17th century England.
midwife
So it’s not surprising that Anne was a leader. She held women’s meetings in her home to explain  sermons to her less-well-educated Puritan sisters. She must have been a dynamic and inspiring teacher, for soon the women of the town brought their husbands to hear her words.

Anne’s  meetings attracted the interest of prominent figures like Sir Henry Vane the Younger, a 22- year-old Puritan aristocrat who would be elected governor of the colony in 1636. As many as 80 people a night crowded into her little home, spilling out into the street; her meetings were sometimes more popular than the sermons they were interpreting.

Anne Hutchinson, Puritan Rebel
Hutchinson did not hesitate to criticize the ministers of the Bay. She argued that the ministers and leaders of the Bay were becoming excessively focused on “good works,” ignoring the fact that, as Protestants, they believed in salvation though God’s grace alone.     hutchinsonpreaching

She emphasized the need to commune directly with the Spirit, and suggested that focusing heavily on their sinful natures was leading the Puritan community astray. She denied that children were full of sin, challenging the idea of Original Sin. Trust in God should always be first and foremost, according to Hutchinson, not adherence to laws set up by men (even godly men!).

Such words were ill-received by those she singled out. Hutchinson’s timing was unfortunate.The colony had already been rocked by a raging disagreement between minster Roger Williams (who advocated “soul freedom,” or freedom of conscience) and the majority of the theocracy, which demanded proof of salvation before allowing men to participate in civil government.

In 1637, Hutchinson’s fan Henry Vane lost the governorship to John Winthrop, first governor of the colony and one of those who opposed Hutchinson’s  meetings. Winthrop and his supporters pounced on the chance to silence Hutchinson.

winthrop
Anne Hutchinson, Defiant Defendant

Probably motivated by some combination of all three, the colony’s leaders put Hutchinson on trial in 1637. In her mid-forties and pregnant with her 14th (or 15th) child, she stood for two days hours under withering questions and gave clear, cool well-constructed answers that her questioners had trouble deflecting.
hutchinsonortrait
The clergy denied her entire ability to teach (for women should not teach men, they said), and Hutchinson responded with a spirited and intelligent discussion of women as Biblical prophets.  Then she defended her claim to be inspired by God with wit and passion.

Enraged by this, the judges sentenced Anne to house arrest. John Cotton backed away form supporting her and his betrayal almost certainly sealed her fate.
marydyer
She was banished and put under house arrest for three months at the home of one of the judges. There she came under almost constant scrutiny and pressure to recant. She withstood it all A second church trial ensued, at which Anne was excommunicated for heresy.

Anne Hutchinson, Prophet in Exile
She and her family, and several loyal followers, were forced to abandon Massachusetts and set up again in the wilderness of Rhode Island, where Roger Williams welcomed dissenters of all stripes, including those, like Hutchinson, with whom he disagreed.
puritancoupleAnne still had no privacy. In the fall of 1638, she had miscarried; somehow her old nemesis John Winthrop was able to get a report on the miscarriage, saying it was a “monstrous birth,” representing her “monstrous” opinions.

Was her banishment a sign of God’s favor, or the cruel act of an illegitimate theocracy? Even her death in 1643 was part of a wider debate. Murdered by members of the Siwanoy tribe in Long Island Sound, her death was either  a just punishment (according to Winthrop) or more blood on the hands of the Massachusetts government (according to Hutchinson’s supporters.)

Hutchinson’s legacy remains debated and complex. She is undeniably inspiring for her intelligence and courage in the face of overwhelming authoritarian oppression. Further, her insistence on being open to the Spirit of God led several of her followers to embrace Quaker beliefs and establish some of the first Quaker congregations in the colonies.
hutchinsonstatue
In 1987, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis pardoned her, reversing her banishment 350 years before.  Her statue now stands before the State House in Boston, affirming her key role as one of our Founding Mothers.

Source: (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/09/03/242443/-Founding-Mothers-Anne-Hutchinson-Puritan-Rebel)

Fidel Castro: Bay of Pigs Invasion

On January 1, 1959, a young Cuban nationalist named Fidel Castro (1926-) drove his guerilla army into Havana and overthrew General Fulgencio Batista (1901-1973), the nation’s American-backed president. For the next two years, officials at the U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) attempted to push Castro from power. Finally, in April 1961, the CIA launched what its leaders believed would be the definitive strike: a full-scale invasion of Cuba by 1,400 American-trained Cubans who had fled their homes when Castro took over. However, the invasion did not go well: The invaders were badly outnumbered by Castro’s troops, and they surrendered after less than 24 hours of fighting.

Bay of Pigs: President Kennedy and the Cold War

Many Cubans welcomed Fidel Castro’s 1959 overthrow of the dictatorial President Fulgencio Batista, yet the new order on the island just about 100 miles from the United States made American officials nervous. Batista had been a corrupt and repressive dictator, but he was considered to be pro-American and was an ally to U.S. companies.

At that time, American corporations and wealthy individuals owned almost half of Cuba’s sugar plantations and the majority of its cattle ranches, mines and utilities. Batista did little to restrict their operations. He was also reliably anticommunist. Castro, by contrast, disapproved of the approach that Americans took to their business and interests in Cuba. It was time, he believed, for Cubans to assume more control of their nation. “Cuba Sí, Yanquis No” became one of his most popular slogans.

Almost as soon as he came to power, Castro took steps to reduce American influence on the island. He nationalized American-dominated industries such as sugar and mining, introduced land reform schemes and called on other Latin American governments to act with more autonomy. In response, early in 1960 President Eisenhower authorized the CIA to recruit 1,400 Cuban exiles living in Miami and begin training them to overthrow Castro.

In May 1960, Castro established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, and the United States responded by prohibiting the importation of Cuban sugar. To prevent the Cuban economy from collapsing–sugar exports to the United States comprised 80 percent of the country’s total–the USSR agreed to buy the sugar.

In January 1961, the U.S. government severed diplomatic relations with Cuba and stepped up its preparations for an invasion. Some State Department and other advisors to the new American president, John F. Kennedy, maintained that Castro posed no real threat to America, but the new president believed that masterminding the Cuban leader’s removal would show Russia, China and skeptical Americans that he was serious about winning the Cold War.

Bay of Pigs: The Plan

Kennedy had inherited Eisenhower’s CIA campaign to train and equip a guerilla army of Cuban exiles, but he had some doubts about the wisdom of the plan. The last thing he wanted, he said, was “direct, overt” intervention by the American military in Cuba: The Soviets would likely see this as an act of war and might retaliate. However, CIA officers told him they could keep U.S. involvement in the invasion a secret and, if all went according to plan, the campaign would spark an anti-Castro uprising on the island.

Bay of Pigs: The Invasion

The first part of the plan was to destroy Castro’s tiny air force, making it impossible for his military to resist the invaders. On April 15, 1961, a group of Cuban exiles took off from Nicaragua in a squadron of American B-26 bombers, painted to look like stolen Cuban planes, and conducted a strike against Cuban airfields. However, it turned out that Castro and his advisers knew about the raid and had moved his planes out of harm’s way. Frustrated, Kennedy began to suspect that the plan the CIA had promised would be “both clandestine and successful” might in fact be “too large to be clandestine and too small to be successful.”
But it was too late to apply the brakes. On April 17, the Cuban exile brigade began its invasion at an isolated spot on the island’s southern shore known as the Bay of Pigs. Almost immediately, the invasion was a disaster. The CIA had wanted to keep it a secret for as long as possible, but a radio station on the beach (which the agency’s reconnaissance team had failed to spot) broadcast every detail of the operation to listeners across Cuba. Unexpected coral reefs sank some of the exiles’ ships as they pulled into shore. Backup paratroopers landed in the wrong place. Before long,

Castro’s troops had pinned the invaders on the beach, and the exiles surrendered after less than a day of fighting; 114 were killed and over 1,100 were taken prisoner.

Bay of Pigs: The Aftermath

According to many historians, the CIA and the Cuban exile brigade believed that President Kennedy would eventually allow the American military to intervene in Cuba on their behalf. However, the president was resolute: As much as he did not want to “abandon Cuba to the communists,” he said, he would not start a fight that might end in World War III. His efforts to overthrow Castro never flagged–in November 1961, he approved Operation Mongoose, an espionage and sabotage campaign–but never went so far as to provoke an outright war. In 1962, the Cuban missile crisis inflamed American-Cuban-Soviet tensions even further.

Fidel Castro is still Cuba’s symbolic leader today, although his younger brother Raúl (1931-) has taken over the presidency and serves as commander in chief of the armed forces.

Source: (http://www.history.com/topics/bay-of-pigs-invasion)

The Tragic Losses To Our Shared Human Heritage

Our human heritage is as much in danger today, as it was a thousand years ago. The notion of a shared human heritage is a doctrine of international law. It believes that certain regional areas and cultural elements should be protected from exploitation and destruction. To conserve our ancestry and customs, we have to start thinking of our cultures and precious monuments as part of a united world culture. Through the ages innumerable ancient sites and monuments were destroyed by wars, vandals or natural disasters. Apart from the 7 ancient wonders of the world (of which only the great pyramid is still left), here are ten of the most tragic losses.

10

The Desecration of Baghdad
Iraq

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It is said that the desecration of Baghdad in 1258 by the Mongols ended thegolden era of Islam. In this era, Iraq had developed canal systems that supported its agriculture. Baghdad had a refined culture, was a leading centre of education and was host to various mosques, palaces, hospitals and libraries. As the Mongols conquered and leveled the city, they also destroyed the House of Wisdom and the Grand Library—survivors claimed that the waters of the Tigris turned black from the vast amounts of books flung into it. Thousand were murdered, including the caliph. To this day, its former glory has never been restored.

9

The Parthenon, Athens
Greece

Parthenon Night View

The Parthenon was completed in 438 B.C.. It’s scarred and skeletal remains are the most important surviving remnants of Classical Greece. Through the ages, the temple served as a treasury, Christian church, mosque and a munitions dump. It was home to grandiose carvings, sculptures and decorative stonework—most notably the chryselephantine sculpture of Athena created by the famous sculptor Phidias, now lost and only known from descriptions, gems, coins and paintings. It was damaged beyond repair in 1687 when the munitions were ignited during a Venetian assault. During the 18th century, the ruins were desecrated even further when the remains of the sculptures and friezes were severed from the walls.

8

The downfall of Memphis
Egypt

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Memphis was the Capital of Ancient Egypt for several centuries. It was also the seat of the cult of the god Ptah. During its golden age, Memphis was the primary royal residence and sources speak of immense palaces that were built underneath important royal pyramids. Invaded by the Hyksos in 1650 B.C., the astounding monuments, temples, palaces and statues were destroyed and looted. The city gradually became a quarry for new settlements being built in the area. Even the foundations of Cairo were laid with stones from the destroyed temples. Today, apart from its ruins, almost nothing remains of ancient Memphis.

7

Solomon’s Temple
Jerusalem, Israel

Bait Suci

The First Temple or Holy Temple was dedicated to the God of Israel and is believed to have been built by King Solomon in 832 B.C. on the Temple Mount. It was the first fixed temple structure of the Jewish people as previously tents or tabernacles were used. It harbored the Ark of the Covenant that contained the two tablets Moses received from the Lord, as well as numerous sacred vessels and sculptures. Certain parts of the temple were even plated and glazed with gold. Though limited proof has been found to verify the temple’s existence, the sensitive religious and political nature of the area makes archaeological excavations impossible. Its destruction is one of the most tragic events in Jewish history.

6

Imperial Gardens
Beijing, China

Yuanmingyuan Zuoshi

The Imperial Gardens, built in the 18th century, was the residence of the emperors of the Qing Dynasty. (The Forbidden City played host to formal ceremonies.) It was a combination of palaces, halls, pavilions, lakes and gardens that covered 860 acres, roughly 8 times the size of the Vatican City. It had one of the largest and most exquisite art collections in the world that included unique copies of manuscripts and compositions. It was destroyed in 1860 by British and French troops after two British envoys were murdered. Of the surviving relics most remain in private collections despite the Chinese government’s efforts to retrieve them.

5
Imperial Library of Constantinople
Istanbul, Turkey

210 258 Hagia Sophia

Constantinople was the biggest and most prosperous capital in the Eastern Roman Empire. The Imperial Library was the last of the great libraries. It conserved ancient Greek and Roman manuscripts and also had a Scriptorium to duplicate the ancient texts in a time when uncertainty and chaos brought about their mass destruction in Africa and Europe. In fact, most of the Greek classics known today are copies that came from the Imperial Library. The greater part of the library was destroyed during the 4th Crusade in 1204 with the last vestiges completely lost after the Ottomans captured Constantinople in 1453. Some manuscripts were said to have survived into the Ottoman era but none has ever been found.

4

Timbuktu’s Ahmed Baba Institute
Mali

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Timbuktu lies 620 miles northeast of Bamako. Its cultural treasures made it a hotspot for venturesome tourists and international academics. Home to priceless artifacts, thousands of ancient manuscripts and sacred tombs it is believed by many to be the academic and religious center of Africa. In April 2012 Timbuktu was captured by Islamist militants. In what has been called an “offense against the whole of Africa” the following months saw the destruction of several ancient tombs of Sufi saints because it “contravened Islam”. As Timbuktu was liberated by French and Malian forces, the militantsfurther outraged the international community by setting fire to the Ahmed Baba Institute, burning thousands of ancient manuscripts.

3

Aristotle’s Lost Dialogues

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Aristotle is one of the most influential people to have ever walked this earth. He contributed to nearly every area of human understanding and pioneered several new fields of study. His writings and dialogues (of which the majority are believed to be lost) covered a vast area of subjects. The remaining texts mostly consist of working drafts or notes that were used in Aristotle’s school. It is believed that the writings ended up in a cellar a few generations after his death where they were severely damaged. Rediscovered in the 1st century B.C., numerous errors were introduced into the writings when Apellicon of Teos tried to restore them.

2

Conquering of Tenochtitlan
Mexico

Tenochtitlan2

Tenochtitlan was the capital of the Mexica Empire. Located on an island on Lake Texcoco, it was the largest city in the New World. In comparison to Europe, only Constantinople, Venice and Paris were larger. It was connected to the mainland by causeways obstructed by bridges that could be retracted if the city came under attack. It was home to the palace of Montezuma, the Templo Mayor temple complex, zoos, an aquarium and botanical gardens. The glorious city was destroyed by the Spanish conquistador Cortés in 1519. The city was destroyed and its palace and temple dismantled whereupon the Spanish constructed a cathedral and colonial city on top of it.

1

Destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas
Afghanistan

Taller Buddha Of Bamiyan Before And After Destruction

Created in the 4th century A.D., the Bamyan Buddhas were the largest standing Buddha carvings in existence. Placed at a crucial waypoint next to the fabled Silk trading route, these cultural landmarks were a testimony to the exchanging of Indian, Roman, Hellenistic and Islamic ideas for hundreds of years. They were also important figures in the accession of Mahayana Buddhist tutelage, which accentuated the capacity of each and every person to obtain enlightenment. In March 2001, the Taliban regime declared the statues to be “against Islam” and had them demolished with anti-aircraft munitions and dynamite. The methodical eradication of Afghanistan’s Buddhist inheritance has been criticized internationally.

 

Source: (http://listverse.com/2013/03/15/10-tragic-losses-to-our-shared-human-heritage/)

11 Historical Head Turners

Twain, Mark [Credit: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. LC-USZ62-112728]In the world of fashion, what’s old is frequently made new again. As such, we mined the annals of history in search of some fresh faces. And, what do you know, our time warp casting call turned up plenty of the sort of fierce attitudes (and high cheekbones) that define modern fashion advertising.

#1: Shi Pei Pu

 

<p>Chinese opera singer and spy Shi Pei Pu</p> [Credit: AP]Androgyny is in, and as such, this gender-bending spy is prime for exploitation. Contemporary double threat Andrej Pejic—who models both men’s and women’s clothing—would have some real competition from Shi, whose talents extended beyond cross-dressing to opera singing and espionage. See if that little whiff of scandal doesn’t sell a few pairs of slacks.

#2: Mark Twain

Twain, Mark: Constantinople, circa 1867 [Credit: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. LC-USZ62-28851]Mr. Clemens may have evolved into a style icon in his own right in his later years—who wouldn’t recognize his white suits and matching shock of hair?—but we want the younger version. Squeeze this mustachioed Narcissus into a pair of skinny jeans and he’ll practically bleed hipster irony.

#3: Jesse James

James, Jesse [Credit: MPI/Hulton Archive/Getty Images]Bad boys are always in. Why not, then, avail ourselves of an actual outlaw? His refined bone structure and devil-may-care attitude might lend just the edge we need to make the fall line pop in the latest glossies. Of course, wrestling the trigger-happy bandit off of his horse and into the time warp is going to be a bit of a trial.

#4: Shaka

 

Shaka [Credit: Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co. Ltd.]Though this Zulu chief’s lifestyle may say “ruthless,” his abs say “swimsuit season.” If we can convince him to trade his loincloth for some Lycra shorts—and keep him from spearing the stylist—we’ve found the face of the resort collection.

#5: Johannes Brahms

 

Brahms, Johannes: 1853 [Credit: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.]Comfortable in the higher echelons of society, this composer could certainly rock a suit. And some major hair.

#6: Lord Byron

 

Byron, George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron [Credit: © Photos.com/Thinkstock]Though his predilections for narcotics and general shenanigans would make him a liability in the high-stakes world of haute couture, his pouty good looks might be worth the risk. That brooding countenance could be just the one on which to hang the latest shades.

#7: Sir Walter Raleigh

 

Raleigh, Sir Walter [Credit: Mansell Collection—Time Life Pictures/Getty Images]No stranger to high fashion, the English explorer could easily be the fresh face of the season with his cupid’s-bow lips and sensitive eyes. After a bath and a good delousing, of course. You know those Elizabethans.

#8: Montezuma

 

Cortés, Hernán, marqués del Valle de Oaxaca: Montezuma II being held captive by Cortés [Credit: Photos.com/Thinkstock]Time for this Aztec emperor to avenge himself in a way that doesn’t entail restricting tourists to bottled water. How better to stick it to Western expansion than by appearing in air-brushed splendor above Times Square, attired only in the latest intimate apparel? OK, so there are probably better ways, but really, when traveler’s diarrhea is named after you, anything’s an improvement.
#9: Shah Jahān

#9: Shah Jahān

 

Shah Jahān [Credit: © Ronald Sheridan/Ancient Art & Architecture Collection]With an unparalleled collection of gems, Shah Jahān was the Elizabeth Taylor of his day. Accustomed to festooning himself and his wives with sparkly things, he’s a shoo-in to model the latest jewelry line. A little moonlighting might be just what he needs to distract himself from the death of wife Mumtāz Maḥal .

#10: Augustus Caesar

 

Augustus [Credit: Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum]Though the promise of a lucrative contract shilling designer duds might not be enough to coax Octavian into giving up the Roman empire and stepping into our fashion time warp, with those chiseled cheekbones, it’d sure be worth a try. He certainly posed for enough statues.

#11: Alexander the Great

 

Alexander the Great: portrait coin [Credit: Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co. Ltd.]Alexander was a practitioner of the ultimate extreme workout: empire building. Hand-to-hand combat is great for building muscle mass. Given that the Macedonians weren’t known for their prudery, “the Great” probably wouldn’t have too much of a problem offering some of his rippling bronzed flesh up to the lens in the name of the new skin care line. Right?

10 Terrifying Historical Figures You’ve Never Heard Of

We’ve all learned about some of the scariest people who have ever lived, from Adolf Hitler to Charles Manson, yet there are countless other terrifying figures from history who get very little mention in textbooks. The following ten people were brutal monsters among men; people who became infamous for things like bathing in blood, murdering scores of helpless children, or committing heinous, unforgivable crimes against humanity in times of war. Read on to discover ten terrifying but obscure historical figures whose troubling lifestyles haunt our human history to this day.

 Gilles de Rais (1404-1440), Serial Killer of Children

Gilles de Rais (1404-1440), Serial Killer of ChildrenGilles de Rais was a celebrated Breton knight who fought in the French army alongside none other than Joan of Arc. However, it is not de Rais’ prowess as a soldier for which he is best remembered; his life ended after he confessed to murdering at least eighty to two hundred peasant and servant children. The actual number of his victims will never be known, but some scholars speculate that de Rais killed up to six hundred children over a seven year period.

After de Rais retired from the military, he admitted to dabbling in the occult, attempting to summon demons and offering pieces of his victims as sacrifices. Finding children to murder was not difficult, as peasant children would often approach his castle begging for food. Since he selected children from very poor families, no one had the clout to accuse him of wrongdoing when their children went missing.

Once de Rais had abducted the children, he took great pleasure in torturing, sodomizing, and murdering them. His preferred method of death was decapitation, but he would also cut their throats, dismember them, or break their necks. He admitted that it was his habit to pleasure himself sexually in the bloody remains of his victims.

In 1440, de Rais made a fatal error when he kidnapped a prestigious cleric, prompting a formal investigation and trial. De Rais, who was about to be tortured into a confession, finally admitted to murdering hundreds of children. He, along with a few accomplices who had helped him on his gruesome mission, were executed by hanging and burning in 1440.(Link | Photo)

 Elizabeth Báthory (1560-1614), “The Blood Countess”

Elizabeth Báthory (1560-1614), Elizabeth Báthory was a countess from a prestigious noble family in Hungary. Báthory was well educated and able to read and write in four languages, and due to her social rank she was an important person who was well known in Vienna and the surrounding countryside. It is because of her noble blood and influential husband that her heinous crimes went unpunished for so long.

Once Báthory’s husband died in 1604, the whispers from local villagers could no longer be ignored by authorities. Rumors circulated that young women and girls kept disappearing in and around the Countess’ many castles. Most of the victims were peasants and servants who Báthory assumed would not be missed, but towards the end of her reign of terror she made the mistake of kidnapping the daughters of lesser nobility, which is how she was eventually caught and tried for murder.

Báthory’s trial lasted for several weeks and had hundreds of witnesses testifying against her. Most of the witnesses were family members of missing girls, but there were also women who had managed to escape Báthory’s clutches and who told sordid tales of what they had endured. Eventually, Báthory confessed and she and four collaborators were convicted of torturing and killing hundreds of girls. One witness claimed that Báthory and her cohorts murdered over six hundred and fifty young girls, however they could only prove that she had murdered eighty.

Báthory is called “The Blood Countess” because she is rumored to have bathed in the blood of her virginal victims, thinking that doing so would help preserve her youthful appearance. After Báthory was convicted of her crimes, she was sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest. She was bricked into a series of small rooms in her castle, with just small slits for the passing of food and oxygen, where she remained for four years until her death in 1614. (Link)

 Maximilien de Robespierre (1758-1794), Obsessed with The Guillotine

Maximilien de Robespierre (1758-1794), Obsessed with The GuillotineMaximilien de Robespierre was a French lawyer and politician who was also one of the most influential figures of the French Revolution. Robespierre was a skilled orator, captivating audiences with speeches about virtue, patriotism, and morals. He truly wanted freedom and civil rights for the people of France. Unfortunately, once he rose to power he became a tyrant who believed that the only way to accomplish his democratic goals was to terrorize the people with the threat of execution.

De Robespierre became obsessed with the French method of execution, the guillotine. During a ten month “Reign of Terror,” de Robespierre ordered mass executions of people whom he thought were not supporting the Revolution. De Robespierre had hundreds of people guillotined without trials, including some of his own friends and family members. Even minor crimes such as hoarding, desertion, or rebellion were cause for execution under de Robespierre’s reign. French political cartoons from that era depict de Robespierre guillotining the executioner after everyone else had already been killed.

An estimated forty thousand people were either executed or sentenced to life in prison, including famous people like King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. De Robespierre also ordered hundreds of thousands of soldiers to fight losing battles, including the attack of Vendee, in which over one hundred thousand men, women, and children were murdered. Eventually, de Robespierre suffered the same fate as his victims when he was guillotined without a trial in 1794. (Link)

 Timur (1336-1405), Ruthless Conqueror and Mass Murderer

Timur (1336-1405), Ruthless Conqueror and Mass MurdererAlthough Tamerlane (a.k.a. Timur) is heralded for being an epic Asian conqueror who founded the Timurid Empire and Timurid Dynasty, he is also remembered as being a brutal barbarian and bloodthirsty ruler who left a trail of death in his wake. Timur’s methods of conquering were ruthless and cruel, causing destruction and devastation to millions of people during his lifetime.

Timur was fond of forcing both soldiers and civilians alike to commit suicide by jumping from great heights. In India, Timur ordered over two hundred thousand captured soldiers to jump from a cliff to their death. He also ordered his minions to behead tens of thousands of villagers and soldiers in Aleppo, Ifshan, Tikrit, Baghdad, and more.

Timur had towers of human skeletons built for his amusement, and over the course of his lifetime it is estimated that he is responsible for the death of twenty million people. (Link | Photo)

 Ilse Koch (1906-1967), “The Bitch of Buchenwald”

Ilse Koch (1906-1967), The story of Ilse Koch is just one of the tales of horror to emerge from the Holocaust. Ilse Koch was married to Karl Koch, one of Adolf Hitler’s commandants at the Buchenwald concentration camp. Ilse Koch lived with her husband at Buchenwald, but instead of living the life of the typical commandant’s wife, she joined the Nazi movement wholeheartedly, becoming a SS Aufseherin (overseer) of the camp.

Ilse embraced her position with the zeal of a true sadist, often riding her horse through the camp and brutally whipping prisoners (often to death) for no reason at all. She enjoyed randomly picking out prisoners who had skin that interested her; she would then have the prisoner killed and their skin tanned in order to make gruesome items like skin lampshades, book bindings, and clothing. She was particularly proud of a handbag that she often carried that was made out of human flesh.

Koch was eventually arrested for her war crimes, and her husband was executed in Munich in 1945. Later, Koch was sentenced to life in prison. Ilse and Karl Koch’s only son committed suicide after the war, apparently unable to live with himself after learning about his parents’ part in the Holocaust. While in prison, Koch was impregnated by an unknown man, and nineteen years later her son became a frequent visitor to her jail cell. After twenty years in jail, Koch suddenly took her own life on the night before she was expecting a visit from her son. (Link | Photo)

 Ranavalona I (1778-1861), The Mad Queen of Madagascar

Ranavalona I (1778-1861), The Mad Queen of MadagascarRanavalona I was the Queen of the Kingdom of Madagascar for thirty-three years. During that time, Ranavalona worked tirelessly to reduce Madagascar’s dependency on Europe, repel French attacks, and grow a formidable army. Ranavalona’s preferred method of amassing her thirty thousand-strong army was to force peasants who were behind on their taxes to take up arms, build public works, and work without pay as a way to repay their debts. Millions of people perished during her reign thanks to constant warfare, disease, famine, harsh punishments for minor crimes, and forced labor.

During her lifetime, Ranavalona was viewed as a tyrant who may or may not have been certifiably insane. Her frequent use of excessive force on both her people and Europeans (especially the French) caused many Europeans to refer to her by names such as “The Mad Queen of Madagascar,” “Ranavalona The Cruel,” “The Bloody Mary of Madagascar,” the “Most Mad Queen of History,” the “Wicked Queen Ranavalona,” and the “Female Caligula.” (Link | Photo)

 Liu Pengli (Unknown – Approximately 144 BC), One of the First Serial Killers Ever

Liu Pengli (Unknown - Approximately 144 BC), One of the First Serial Killers Ever*Note: The above image is not Liu Pengli. There are no known images of Pengli.

Liu Pengli was the Prince of Jidong, China and a cousin of the Emperor. Pengli was both arrogant and cruel. He enjoyed taking groups of his equally-corrupt kinsmen and slaves on ambushes of local villages, where they would rape, loot, murder, and take more slaves as souvenirs. Pengli terrorized people for sport, stealing from them, murdering their loved ones, and leaving them for dead. The people of Jidong lived in fear of their prince, hiding in their homes and avoiding being out and about at night. Pengli is responsible for the deaths of at least one hundred confirmed victims, but there are likely many more that went unreported.

Pengli’s crimes were finally reported to the Emperor, but the Emperor refused to execute his own cousin, so he removed Pengli’s royal ties and took away his land and fortune, making him a commoner, and banished him to a distant county. (Photo)

 Belle Gunness (1859-?), “Hell’s Belle”

Belle Gunness (1859-?), Belle Gunness was born in Norway, and according to some sources she lead a relatively normal life until she was kicked in the stomach by a man in her teens, causing her to miscarry her first child. Gunness’s personality then changed drastically. Also, perhaps coincidentally, the man who hurt her died shortly afterward from “stomach cancer.”

In 1881, Gunness immigrated to the U.S. where she worked as a servant, got married, and had children. Gunness learned how to work the insurance system, taking out large policies on her family members and their place of business. Soon after the policies were in place, her children started dying of stomach issues, and their business burned to the ground. Later, Gunness’s husband also died from intestinal distress, reportedly the one day of the year on which two of his life insurance policies overlapped. Gunness collected all of the policy payouts and then remarried.

Within a week of her second marriage, her husband’s child from his previous marriage died while under Belle’s care. Within a year, her second husband was dead from a mysterious head wound. Once again, Gunness collected the insurance money and moved on.

Eventually, Gunness’s crimes were brought to light by a handyman whose affections she had spurned. It was determined that she had killed most of her suitors and boyfriends as well as her two daughters, and it is suspected that she killed both of her husbands and all of their children (approximately twenty to forty people) over a period of about twenty years. She grew quite rich by collecting life insurance, cash, and valuables from her victims. Gunness was never jailed for her crimes; she emptied her bank accounts and disappeared sometime in the early 1900s. (Link | Photo)

 Empress Wu Zetian (625-705), The “Enchanting” Empress

Empress Wu Zetian (625-705), The *Photo is an artist’s rendition of Empress Wu Zetian.

Wu Zetian was the only female empress in Chinese history, and she is known as being a fearsome, ruthless person who never hesitated to resort to murder to benefit herself or her country. Empress Zetian lead China to a period of political and military leadership, and she is responsible for a major expansion of the Chinese empire. However, she was a heartless, cruel, sexually-depraved and brutal leader who even had her own infant daughter killed to further her political career.

Every day of her reign, Wu Zetian ordered tortures, executions, and forced suicides. She organized the murder of her rivals, family members, clergymen, and countless more people. Empress Zetian also ordered tens of thousands of her people to be killed by poison, or boiled alive, or sometimes simply mutilated. She ruled China until her death, by natural causes, at the age of eighty-one. (Link | Photo)

 Thug Behram (1765-1840), The World’s Most Prolific Serial Killer

Thug Behram (1765-1840), The World's Most Prolific Serial KillerBetween the years of 1790 and 1840, an Indian cult leader called Thug Behram murdered nine hundred and thirty-one people in Avadh, India. The English word “thug” is derived from Behram’s name, and the gang itself was called “Thuggee.” Using a ceremonial cloth called a “Rumal,” similar to a handkerchief or a cumberbun, Behram would strangle his victims in a ritualistic killing style witnessed by many members of his cult.

In 1840, Behram was executed for his crimes by hanging.(Link | Photo)

(Taken from  http://www.oddee.com/item_98641.aspx )