Penthesilea: Forgotten Queen of Amazons

Scarcely mentioned in the Greek mythology, Penthesilea was the Queen of Amazons. Texts suggest that she was the daughter of Ares and Otrera. She is among the most famous Amazonian Queens. She was known for being a fierce warrior and even took part in the great battle of Troy. Amazon had a custom of training their women into fierce warriors and Penthesilea was one such legendary warriors. Some texts suggest that the Amazon women were so dedicated to being warriors that they cut off one of their breasts so that they were able to wield the bow better. Though the truth of this fact has been debated in modern times.

Statue of Penthesilea

Statue of Penthesilea


Queen Penthesilea was very skilled with many weapons. Apart from that she was intelligent and beautiful too. Some texts state that she was the inventor of battle axe. But tragedy befell this beautiful and courageous Queen when she went hunting one day. In a freakish accident she killed her sister Hippolyta with a spear that was meant for some other animal. Hippolyta was very close to Penthesilea and she plunged deep in grief. She wished for death, but she could not commit suicide. As Amazon warriors could only die honorably in battlefield.

Penthesilea the Fierce Warrior Queen

Penthesilea the Fierce Warrior Queen


Penthesilea continued ruling Amazon kingdom. Her reign collided with the Trojan War. Initially, Amazons did not take part in the war and Penthesilea herself had decided to stay away from this conflict. But two key events: Achilles killing Hector and Penthesilea killing her sister Hippolyta led to Amazon participation in the war. So, the Amazon army marches to Troy. Penthesilea was not like other typical rulers, who would sit and watch other men fight. She used fight in the battle herself and during the ensuing battle she killed every Greek coming in her path. It is written that she was valiant and swift. She fought just like a man and went on a killing spree during the battle. Her goal though was to kill Achilles and avenge the death of Hector. Or to die in the process.

Some Stone Carvings Showing Penthesilea in Trojan War

Some Stone Carvings Showing Penthesilea during Trojan War


Some texts depict that, no one was able to stop Penthesilea as she made her way towards Achilles. Soon, two met each other face to face. It is said that Achilles fell in love with Penthesilea at first sight. But that did not stop him from killing her with a swift stroke of his blade. He caught her in his arms as Penthesilea fell after being struck the death blow. However, other Greeks did not have any generous feelings towards Penthesilea. It is noted that Thersites mocked Achilles for his treatment of the Queen’s body. Thersites went ahead and removed the eyes of Penthesilea with his sword, enraging Achilles, who slaughtered Thersites. However, after Achilles left, Diomedes who was the cousin of Thersites, dragged the corpse of Penthesilea behind his chariot. He threw the corpse into the river. Achilles is said to have retrieved the body and given Penthesilea proper burial.

Achilles& Penthesilea

Achilles holds Penthesilea after killing her


Ancient Roman poet wrote about Penthesilea in his poem and described her as Bellatrix, which is rumored to be the inspiration for naming of Bellatric Lestrange in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter Series. Though Penthesilea’s story is not told in the Illiad which ends with Hector’s funeral, which happened before the Amazons arrived. Her story is told in the lost epic of Aethiopis.


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Why did Alexander the Great leave his Indian Conquest Incomplete?

Every nation wants to be the greatest nation in the world. Historians grab every possible opportunity to glorify their nation. Often history is molded and real facts are twisted to showcase a nation’s glory. As a child I studied about Alexander the Great and his invasion of India in 325 BC (give or take a couple of years). In the Indian historical texts it is depicted that Alexander was overwhelmed by the character, valor and military might of Indian kings. His conviction was further fortified after meeting Porus and Chandragupta Maurya. It is said that he returned Porus his Kingdom and befriended young Chandragupta. He left hopes of conquering this great nation and returned back home.

Sculpture of Alexander The Great

Sculpture of Alexander the Great


Alas! Truth is far from these golden phrases. Alexander the Great was a highly ambitious man. He was cruel in a way too, because no great conquest can be carried out without a bit of cruelty. Apart from this the person who had conquered great Empires many millions away from home cannot be overwhelmed by a single battle or meeting a youthful talent. So, what was it that propelled Alexander to halt his war machines and turn back towards his native land?

Breastplate of Alexanders Armour

Breastplate of Alexanders Armour

In 336 BC, Alexander ascended to the Macedonian throne after the death of his father Phillip. In the initial days he spent time in consolidating his position as the King of Macedonia by crushing rebellions and various plots. After he was done with these internal strife, in 335 BC he set out to conquer the world with the Balkan conquest. Soon after Persia, Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia was conquered by the skilled troops of Alexander the Great. When Alexander entered Hellespont in 334 BC he has 48,100 soldiers, 6,100 cavalry and 120 ships. Most of the warriors who fought by his side were supremely skilled Greek soldiers. The council members were childhood friends and loyal subjects. Alexander’s army was known for their shrewd and well planned maneuvers in the battlefield. They were driven towards a common goal: to conquer the world.

Alexander's Army Formation

Alexander’s Army Formation


When Alexander’s troops set their reluctant foot on the Indian soil crossing Beas River, the scenario was completely different. The last few campaigns of Alexander were not one of glory. Most of the Greek soldiers were revolting, they ought to because most of them had not seen home for many years. The initial batch of skilled soldiers who had won swift victories were either killed in battle or they had to be sent home. The Greek soldiers were replaced by soldiers from various nationalities (Persians mainly). As a result conflicts within the troop were common. It is learned that most soldiers had asked their King to return back home after the conquest of Bactria and it was Alexander’s convincing power that forced them to cross into Indian Peninsula.

Alexander Crossing Beas River

Alexander Crossing Beas River


By the time Greeks under the leadership of Alexander reached India they were reduced to mere rags. There were hardly any world class soldiers, most were mercenaries and ruffians. They did not have their customary Greek military uniforms or superior equipment’s that accompanied them in the earlier campaigns. Most of the native Greeks had become lazy and arrogant after tasting the riches and luxuries of Persia and Egypt. Some of them had married native women and had a family now. So, the young men who had left Macedonia were now family men with a lot to think about. Far from thinking about world conquest, they wanted just one thing: to return home.

Battle of Hydaspes in India

Battle of Hydaspes in India


When Alexander entered India he invited all the nearby chieftains to submit to his authority and resume their functions as allies. Ambhi was the first to submit to Alexander and placed himself and his forces at the Great Conquerors disposal. But the Greeks met hostilities soon after. King Porus of the Paurava kingdom, situated on the banks of Hydaspes River in modern day Punjab, was defiant and Alexander had to participate in the Battle of Hydaspes. Though Alexander won a great victory in the ensuing battle, but he lost lots of men. The guerilla warfare employed by Porus, cost lot of Greek lives. Apart from this Indian monsoons, thick forests filled with venomous snakes posed a serious threat to Alexander’s army. Diseases claimed lots of life. By the end of the war Greek troops were only a band of few hundred men.

Alexander died on the voyage back home

Alexander died on the voyage back home


Apart from this rebellions were common among the surviving soldiers. Alexander was also tired from soul and his dreams were fading. He understood the logic of not moving forward. In the meantime, rumors spread among the Greek forces that there were thousands of soldiers on the other side of Ganges waiting to slay them. Nanda had a huge army, which was many times larger than Alexander’s small forces. He had the dared elephants (Greeks were quite new to the use of Elephants in battle). So, men could not be persuaded to cross the Ganges. Understanding that his dreams would have to wait, Alexander decided to return back. He gave Porus his kingdom and appointed Seleucus Nictor as the regent for India.

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The Secrets of Knights Templar

After the Christians captured Jerusalem following the First Crusade in 1099, many faith followers made pilgrimages to the Holy Land and the Holy Places scattered around. Though the city was secured but the outskirts were full of bandits who routinely slaughtered the pilgrims, often accounting for hundreds, as the people tried to make their way through the coastline of Jaffa to the Holy Land. Then in 1119. The French knight Hugues de Payens approached the king of Jerusalem Baldwin II with a proposal to create a Monastic Order of knights who would protect the pilgrims. After much deliberation and trial runs, Roman Catholic Church endorsed the Monastic Order of Knights and they were named Knights Templar. Most scholars believe Knights Templar was the first of its kind Warrior Monks. In their early days, the knights had to rely on the alms of travelling pilgrims.

Knights Templar Armor

Knights Templar Armor


In the initial days, Knights Templar instituted of only 9 knights but the number grew significantly as they started finding favor of the European monarchies. Within two centuries the Knights Templar rose as a very powerful organization that could defy anybody barring the Papal orders. They engaged in the following Crusades for supremacy over Jerusalem. They grew rich by looting cities and mosques during the Crusades. Though the Knights Templar were fearsome warriors, but they were respected for their shows of charity towards the poor.

Knights Templar during the Crusades

Knights Templar during the Crusades


Soon the Knights Templar had lot of wealth. So, they invented the banking system. They would finance and help the monarchies in Europe with their funds. Though lending of money on interest was forbidden by the church, yet the Knights loaned huge money and changed the payment process. Soon, their vast wealth became a cause of concern in the royal circles. This led to their demise in hands of King of France and the Pope in 1307 and 1314.

Demise of Knights Templar

When King Phillip of France ascended the throne, Knights Templar was a powerful organization. He felt insecure in their presence, for they wielded unchallenged power. Their vast wealth meant, they could shift the power balance any time they wished for it. So, King Phillip included some of his informants in the group and sought information. After Richard the Lionheart had retreated from Holy Lands, Knights Templars had settled in various parts of England and France. They were now primarily money lenders. They met in private to discuss important issues. King Phillip got all the news regarding their plans from informants. In 1307, King Phillips was planning to wage a war against England’s Edward I and he needed funds. So, he thought of another way to arrange money, rather than lending it from the Knights Templar.

Phillip IV of France

Phillip IV of France, who disbanded the Knights Templar


He had the Knights arrested on the grounds of heresy. This was the only charge that would allow him to seize all their wealth and assets. The Knights Templar was disbanded as an organization and all the members were tortured for confessions. Ridiculous confessions were sought such as homosexuality, sodomy, spitting on the Cross and other unholy practices. King Phillip also urged other monarchies to take similar actions and most of them did.

 Jacques de Molay

Jacques de Molay burned at the stake in 1314


On March 19, 1314 the last Grand Master of Knights Templar, Jacques De Molay was burned at stake in the middle of River Seine in Paris on account of some framed charges. Following this, most of the members fled to Scotland and the movement went silent until it re-surfaced again in 1705. Some scholars feel that the Knights Templar is still operational till present day and they are still secretly undertaking missions.

The Lost Treasure of Knights Templar

When the Knights were arrested Phillip had dreamed of retrieving huge treasures to fund all his campaigns. Though some treasures had been ceased, but the large portion of huge treasures could not be found. Some scholars feel that, Knights already had an idea about the scheme French King was plotting. They had used carriages to send away their treasures for safekeeping. Their motive was to preserve some of the religious relics that might otherwise be lost with time. Their meek surrender to the royal troops was just an effort to bide time while the treasures reach their destination. After the fall of Knights Templar many have tried to retrieve this immense treasure, but no one has been successful.

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Aftermath of Mutiny on Bounty HMS

Mutiny on Bounty HMS refers to the mutiny by the staff against their commanding authority on-board the Bounty HMS. Whenever the story of mutiny on Bounty comes to mind two characters immediately come to mind – William Bligh and Fletcher Christian. One is the oppressor and the other oppressed. In adaptations of this historic tale, Christian is depicted as a righteous man while Bligh is a tyrant. But facts are a bit different from the tale. Some feel that Christian was a power hungry person habituated to idyllic life and Bligh simply became his victim.

Modern Day Replica of HMS Bounty

Modern Day Replica of HMS Bounty


The story begins when a small ship named Bounty was bought by the Royal Navy. In those times, African slaves were transported to West Indies and they were put to work in the islands. Providing for their food was taxing the royal British coffers, so Sir Joseph banks came up with an idea. He wanted to transport lots of breadfruit trees, found in abundance in Tahiti, to West Indies. Breadfruit would provide low cost food supplies for the slaves. HMS Bounty was tasked with setting sail from England to Tahiti and picking up breadfruit plants. They were transport these plants to West Indies and make it back home. With this intention in mind, the ship sailed from Spithead under captaincy of Lieutenant William Bligh. During the outward journey, Bligh demoted the ship’s sailing master John Fryer and replaced him with Fletcher Christian. This caused raised tensions between the captain and John Fryer. However, after a tumultuous journey Bounty reached Tahiti on October 26, 1788 after being ten months at sea.

HMS Bounty in Tahiti

HMS Bounty landing in Tahiti


The crew quickly collected as many breadfruit plants as they could. Bligh decided to have a five months layover period, which was needed for the breadfruit plants to reach a point where they could be easily transported across the sea. This decision proved a blunder for Bligh. Soon the crew formed friendships with the local tribes and they were very welcoming. The crew had everything – good food, ideal lodges and attractive women to build relationships. Christian went as far as marrying a Tahitian woman named Maimati. This did not please the Captain and he started punishing crew members for small, insignificant mistakes. They were flogged on a regular basis and Christian took Bligh’s rant each time. The relation between Christian and Bligh was strained.

Portrait of Fletcher Christian

Portrait of Fletcher Christian


Tensions rose between the Bligh faithful and the discontent sailors when the ship’s plans for departure was revealed. Most of the crew members were happy with the idyllic life of this small Pacific Island and a long journey back, where their life would be at stake was not welcomed. Despite all oppositions, Bounty set sail on April 5, 1789. At night, Christian was already contemplating returning back to the islands after discussing with the Captain. But he knew that Bligh will not allow him. At morning, he found support among the other crew members. So, they took up weapons and stormed into Bligh’s cabin (which remained open at all times). They forced Bligh out of the cabin, though there were many faithful to the Captain but there was no resistance to the mutiny.

Bligh on Small Boat

Following the Mutiny Bligh was set afloat in a small boat


Mutineers forced Bligh and four loyal crew members on to a small boat and set in afloat. But Bligh was a master navigator who sailed for 47 days in the small boat to reach Timor in Dutch East Indies and from there he went back to England. He was later tried and court martialed for losing the ship. Though Bligh was reinstated in the Royal Navy at a later date.

Pitcairn Islands

Pitcairn Islands


For Christian and his followers they traveled to Pitcairn (close to Tahiti) on board the HMS Bounty. Once they reached the islands, which had favorable living conditions. They burnt the ship, in what is now famous as the Bounty Bay. Christian and his mates settled down on this island. Initial days passed in merriment but the tensions started brewing after a few months. Alexander Smith (aka John Adams) last of the surviving crew members who was interviewed by captain of another British ship Topaz stated the facts from the latter life of Fletcher Christian.

As per Smith’s accounts, after a few months Christian became remorseful, he started missing the luxuries of sophisticated life. He was grief stricken and often visited a cave to cry in solitude. His behavior towards other survivors became harsh. Many of the crew members were killed in the ensuing power struggles. In one such fight, Christian killed a Tahitian crew member. Smith further reveals that the Tahitians with an intention to seek revenge then killed Christian. With Christian dead there was a crisis of leadership and many British members vied for the spot. Again many killed each other. Only Alexander Smith, who was able to blend in with the Tahitians, lived on with the families of other crew members on Pitcairn Island.

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Mystery of Cain and Abel

One of the most disturbing stories from the Book of Genesis in Old Testament is that of Cain and Abel. For many thousand years this story has bewildered the readers and stands as a testimony to the disastrous effects of envy. For those of you who do not remember this horrific tale, let’s recall. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Heaven after they tasted the Forbidden Apple. As the couple started their new life on Earth, Eve conceived Cain and sometime later she gave birth to his brother Abel. The elder son, Cain was very ambitious and became the pioneer of agriculture. He learned the art of tilling the soil. He became rich with all the essentials of life at his disposal. While Abel was a nomadic shepherd, often struggling to find his food. But God somehow favored the simpler man of the two, Abel. Cain grew jealous of his brother and one day took him out to the fields. Cain attacked his brother and committed world’s first murder. Cain killed Abel.

Cain murdering Abel

Cain murdering Abel, as per Story of Old Testament


For many years, researchers have argued about the authenticity of the event. But there is a new light thrown to this puzzle with some new discoveries. While seeking the truth we should identify that the Old Testament is highly metaphorical at times. At other times the depictions suggest real events or places. Such as the Garden of Eden with its fours did exist and archeologists found its existence in southern Iraq. The Great Flood did happen as a result of an asteroid impacting the Earth during the Neolithic Age. The Six Days Evolution mentioned in this old text can be compared to the evolutionary theory of mankind.

Homo Sapien & Homo neanderthalensis

Skull of Homo Sapien on Left and Skull of Homo neanderthalensis on Left


So, what is the metaphorical meaning of the Cain and Abel story? Modern day researchers feel that Cain and Abel were not two individuals rather they represented two species – Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis. Both these species had originated from the same father species – Hominid genus. Cain, the elder species murders Abel, the younger species. Such an event perfectly fits with the fossil records of the two species. Homo sapiens emerged some 200,000 years ago while Homo neanderthalensis emerged about 130,000 years ago. For some while the scientists believed that Neanderthals were nothing but a sub-species of Homo sapiens, but that theory has now been refuted.

Neanderthals face

How Neanderthals may have looked like


Early human settlements were indeed the progenitor of planned agriculture, while the Neanderthals were more reliant on hunting, herding and gathering for their subsistence. So, Neanderthals in the role of Abel matches perfectly. As the two species started co-existing, tension brewed. Humans were technologically much advanced, but they had to still compete with the Neanderthals. This not sit well, so the humans started killing the Neanderthals with their smart weapons. The Neanderthals were a much laid back species, who could not defend themselves. Thus they were exterminated by their superior species. Recent evidences have provided evidence of co-habitation, interbreeding and inter-species violence between these two Hominid species.

An archeological dig in Iraq recently came up with a Neanderthal skull. Neanderthal was killed about 50,000 to 75,000 years ago. He took a spear in his rib, and the spear was typically human made. Another Neanderthal male skeleton found in Libya had his head crushed by a human made weapon. These facts clearly point to a genocide carried out by the humans of their resembling species, the Neanderthals.


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The Attack on Pearl Harbor could have been avoided

Attack on Pearl Harbor at 7:55 AM on December 7, 1941 may have changed the course of American history for once and all. The attacks led to US entry into World War II both in European and Pacific theatres. This attack also iterated that an isolationist country was equally vulnerable to external attacks. And the US have followed this lead throughout their later history. But all these lessons came at a very high cost. As per official records, no less than 1500 lives were lost in the attacks. Despite the following success of the US in World War II, many have speculated that the attack on Pearl Harbor could be easily avoided with a little more attention to details. However, some documents suggest that Pearl Harbor might not have been the only target. A failure at Pearly Harbor would have instigated attacks on other areas of the US.

Pearl Harbor attacks

Pearl Harbor attacks from a Distance


But coming to Pearl Harbor attacks by the Imperial Japanese forces, it should be said that both military and government had plenty of clues suggesting that an attack was imminent. The relations between Japan and the US were crumbling. Japan had already entered World War II on the part of Axis powers. They had invaded China in an aggressive move. China fell rather quickly. But this was hurting the US interests. In July, 1941 US President declared a ban on trading relations with Japan. Japan needed the American oil to power their war machines. So, they were angered by this move. Many diplomatic meetings between contingents of both nations failed because Japan were not in a mood to give up their claim on China.

Ships ablaze in Pearl Harbor

Ships ablaze during Pearl Harbor Attacks


Japan had already started a propaganda war against the US. Their television was airing statements suggesting that the US was their enemy. US intelligence had information regarding such statements and the anti-American sentiments that ran within the nation. Some Intelligence officials had even suggested that an aggressive move by Japan was imminent. But the American diplomats felt that Japan was simply not capable of waging such a war.

Japanese Bomber World War II

Nakajima B5N2 Torpedo Bomber takes off from Shokaku for Pearl Harbor


The American ambassador to Japan in those days was Joseph Grew. Grew had received information from his Peruvian counterpart that Japan was planning an attack on Pearl Harbor. Grew received this information January 27, 1941 which was nearly one year prior to the attack. Grew passed this information immediately to the higher officials sitting in Washington. But the information was blown away due to lack of any concrete evidence. After the attacks, Grew went on record to criticize President Roosevelt for America’s involvement in World War II and attack on Pearl Harbor.

Airbase in Pearl Harbor

Airbase in Pearl Harbor after the Attack


In the memoirs of people within the close circles of Roosevelt, it is known that the President was seeking a war with Japan and Germany. He had said in one statement that Allied forces could not win without American help. So, could he be paving the way for such a participation with his inaction? There are many facts that point in the affirmative. After the ban on trading with Japan, the Japanese Prime Minister Prince Konoye wanted to meet Roosevelt in Hawaii (the choice of location would remain suspicious). After initially agreeing, the meeting was rescheduled in Alaska. This meeting never happened. In October, Konoye was replaced by aggressive minded Prime Minister Tojo Hideki. Some diplomats felt that the meeting could have temporarily avoided the attacks.

Naval fleet in Pearl Harbor

Naval Fleet decimated in the Attack


Another suggestion is that, the American code-breakers had already broken through most of the ciphers used by the Japanese during World War II. They had given many suggestions that the Japanese were planning for attacks along the coastline. Maybe, as a precaution plenty of naval fleets and fighters were deployed in Pearl Harbor. But the problem was they were not ready for war. It was down to American complacency, they kept on blowing away realistic suggestions that the war was coming to their land.

Plenty of live could have been saved had the American top officials taken a proactive rather than reactive approach. It seems logic was over-ruled in favor of pride.

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Controversy Regarding Moon Landing

In July, 1969 humankind took a great leap forward when Neil Armstrong and his team set their foot on Moon. It was recorded in history as one of the greatest feats in human civilization. Millions of people were in awe of the feat. But there were some who claimed that the entire thing was a lie and setup. The theorists feel that the entire thing was orchestrated by NASA with the aid of American government to divert attention of the nation from the Vietnam War, as well as show superiority over USSR.


The Conspiracy theorists claim that there are discrepancies in the photo and video footage that was sent by the team from Moon. Some of these images indicate that the mission never left Earth in the first place and these were fake. As an example: photos were taken at the landing site where after planting the American flag, it seems to ripple in the wind instead of curling against the flag pole. As Moon has no atmosphere, so there would be no wind as well. Other discrepancies include: photos and videos from Apollo Moon shuttle show astronaut’s footprints on Moon’s surface and suggest that Moon’s surface is covered by a thick layer of dust. And yet there is no dust buildup around the spaceships feet or any other place where soil should be piled by the powerful thrusters when they were in use while landing.

USA Flag Fluttering on Moon

Flag Fluttering and Lots of Footprints


Other complications arise from the pictures that shadows of rocks and other objects on Moon. All the shadows are in contradicting directions. Moon has only one source of light and it is the Sun. This should suggest that all the shadows should point in the same direction. Shadows falling in different direction implies that there were multiple light sources in the area. Just like the bright lights used on Hollywood sets. Another remains in the shadows itself. The portion of the spaceship not facing the Sun should be completely black and shadowy. And yet the faces of astronauts who are saluting the above mentioned flag can be clearly seen. How is this possible?

American Flag Fluttering on Moon

American Flag Fluttering and a Black Sky in Background


In another photograph there is a jet-black sky shown. Where did the stars go? As Moon has no atmosphere, so the stars should have appeared much brighter than on Earth and ought to have been picked up by the photographic equipment. Yes they were not. Additionally, many photographs at different sites or at different angles seem to have the same background. These are just some of the anomalies sighted by the Conspiracy theorists.

Astronauts on Moon

Clearly visible faces of Astronauts even when they are on the other side of Sun


NASA have explained these anomalies with scientific explanations such as reflected sunlight, reflection of light from astronaut’s spacesuits and a specially constructed flag pole. But perhaps the best proof of Moon landing being a legitimate truth lies in the claims of fakery itself. An organization such as NASA would not commit so many mistakes if they were to fake an incident.


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The Final Resting Place of Antiochus I

Antiochus, was the ruler of Commagene from 70 BC to 36 BC, and he was very unique ruler too. He was the sole son of King Mithridates I and Queen Laodice VII of Commagene. Commagene was a small but famous Armenian kingdom and Antiochus I was its most popular king. Antiochus I claimed his descent from Alexander the Great of Greece on mother’s side and King Darius the Great from father’s side. So, he had a great bloodline no doubt. But what was most interesting about this king was his pride and ego. After ascending the throne Antiochus I quickly declared that he had special relationships with many gods. He even instituted a royal cult or Greek form of religion similar to Zoroastrianism. Through this religion he wanted to be worshiped just like a god after his death.

King Antiochus Statue

King Antiochus Statue


One of the major achievements of Antiochus I was reform of the Commagene calendar. Prior to the reform, Commagene year was calculated on the movements of Moon and Sun. He included the Egyptian system of calculating days. This would suggest that Antiochus I was highly knowledgeable. During his reign, Antiochus I also commissioned the construction of a magnificent religious sanctuary situated on Mount Nemrut (which is a 2,100 meter high mountain). People were instructed to visit the sanctuary and pray to Antiochus. Antiochus wanted the sanctuary to be situated at a high and holy place. Perhaps he wanted to be seen in equal rank with the revered gods.

Statues on Mount Nemrut

Statues on Mount Nemrut


Antiochus I commissioned large number of workers to complete the construction and they built great limestone statues of various gods and a pyramid like tomb where Antiochus wanted to be preserved for eternity. There was an inscription placed on the top of the mountain that claimed resting place of “god king”. The statues of gods belonged to various cultures such as Armenian, Greek and Iranian. The effigies of these gods bear Persian as well as Greek influences.

God Statue at Mount Nemrut

God Statue at Mount Nemrut


When Antiochus I died he is said to have been buried in the pyramid he had built. He had also instructed all subjects to celebrate his birthday (16th day of each month) with great festivities as well as his coronation day (10th day of each month). But the sanctuary that Antiochus I so lovingly built was forgotten with time. Until in 1883 a German archeologist discovered Mount Nemrut. In 1987, Mount Nemrut was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. But the archeologists for long decades could not recover anything by excavating from this great mound. It was only last year, that archeologists used ground-penetrating radar to examine the site. On closer look they found a pyramid shaped structure and a box like object within it. This would be the sarcophagus of the great King Antiochus I.


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The Curious Case of KV55

Egypt is filled with mystery and this is one of the leading mysteries that Egyptologists are looking to solve. This mystery comes to us, not from Giza, but the Valley of Kings, situated on the West Bank in Luxor. This is a story that is interconnected with Tutankhamen, the mysterious king Smenkhkare and heretic king Akhenaten. The mystery is of KV55 which is also known as Tomb 55.

Entrace to KV55

Entrace to KV55 or Tomb 55


The Tomb was discovered in the Valley of Kings on January 6, 1907 by Theodore M. Davis and his hired assistant Edward R. Ayrton. After days of digging, Davis’ team was able to get through the rubble that blocked the entrance to Tomb 55. Inside the Tomb they found a single chamber, simple cartouche and small recess. The team also discovered some items of note such as a coffin, a gilded wooden shrine and two clay bricks. There were also 4 canopic jars found in the small recess. Most would feel that these items would prove helpful in identifying the person who was entombed here, but it was not. The objects belonged to different people. It seemed that these objects were brought to KV55 in a hurry either to entomb someone or find a new tomb for someone who was already buried. Why these items were brought to KV55 is still a mystery.

Canopic Jar with Effigy of Queen Kiya

Canopic Jar with Effigy of Queen Kiya


One of the canopic jars found in KV55 belonged to one of many Akhenaten’s wives named Kiya. The lids of other jars contained effigies of four women. There is a suggestion that these jars were made to hold the remains of Akhenaten’s daughters. But none of these jars were used. The wooden shrine in Tomb 55 is held to have been made for Queen Tiye, who was Akhenaten’s mother. While the clay bricks had the name of Akhenaten inscribed on them. So, this is a complex situation for the Egyptologists.

Face of the Sarcophagus

Face of the Sarcophagus


Now, the mummy inside KV55 was previously assumed to be a woman and scholars believed that it was made for Kiya. But evidence suggests that the sarcophagus was altered to suit a man and there was a beard added. Sometime along the line, sarcophagus was defaced with a purpose. Lower part of the face was broken off and all the inscribing were removed. So, there are no clues on the coffin about whose mummy is placed inside. When the tomb was discovered, Davis and his team believed that an elderly woman lay inside. So, logically most agreed that the coffin belonged to Akhenaten’s mother, Queen Tiye.

Mummy in KV55

Mummy in KV55


However, detailed studies of the showed that KV55 contained a male mummy. CT Scans revealed that the person died in his early or late twenties. The blood tests and skeletal similarities suggest that mummy in KV55 is closely related to King Tutankhamen. Most would assume that the mummy belonged to heretic and disliked King Akhenaten, who was the father of Tutankhamen. However, Akhenaten was much older than his twenties when he died. So, the mummy cannot belong to Akhenaten. So, there is another member from the Armana family who is the ideal candidate for KV55 mummy.

Pharaoh Smenkkhare

Rare Portrait of Pharaoh Smenkkhare


Smenkhkare was a mysterious king of Egypt. He ascended the throne after the death of Akhenaten, but he died shortly. After his death Tutankhamen was proclaimed the new Pharaoh. It is also learned that Smenkhkare ruled for some time as the co-regent of Akhenaten. Not much information about him or his rule can be found in the historical records. His body has still not been found, so he is the ideal candidate for KV55 mummy. What is suggested from the records is that – Smenkhkare was either the elder brother or uncle of Tutankhamen. So, he was closely related to the Boy Pharaoh.

For now it seems that the mysterious case of mummy in Tomb 55 has been solved. Pharaoh Smenkhkare who ruled Egypt for a very short period is the probable mummy.


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Fate of Pope John VIII: The Female Pope

Pope John VIII was the most unique Pope of all times. She was the only woman to hold this position. Her name was erased from the annals of history shortly after her death and the Papacy has kept the lids on upon one of their big errors.

Pope John VIII

Portrait of Pope John VIII


There are scarce resources about Pope John VIII. Her real name was Johannes Angelicus and she was an English woman. Johannes was born in the town of Mainz in modern day Germany. This simple country girl fell in love with a Benedictine monk. She travelled with the monk disguised as a man to Athens. She learned Latin and Greek from the monk before moving to Rome. While in Rome, no one doubted Johannes of being a girl. She gained the attention of Papacy with her keenness to learn things quickly. She was soon tasked to be a papal notary. She was soon promoted to a Cardinal.

Johannes Angelicus as Pope

Johannes Angelicus as Pope


She was not only a keen and quick learner, but passed on the knowledge effectively to her scribes. She had deep insights into things she knew. Such talents made her ideal candidate to become the Pope. She was successful at concealing her gender all the while. When Pope Adrian II died, Johannes Angelicus was elected as the new Pope and assumed the title Pope John VIII. There was rejoicing all around, as customary after the election of a new Pope.

Johannes labor pain

Johannes suffers from labor pain


Few days went by smoothly and everyone around was deeply impressed by the capabilities of Pope John VIII. But all the joys were short-lived. It is learned from some sources that during a procession the Pope suddenly started having labor pain. Her true identity was revealed. She was put in chains immediately. The papal court tried Johannes for heresy and found her guilty. She was moved out of Rome and stoned to death.

After this debacle, the Papacy have included a new ritual in their Pope Election process. The candidate has to seat on a specially constructed seat, with hole in between. The gender is judged and then confirmed.


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