an exhibition by the V&A and the Qatar Museums Authority exploring the history of pearls from the early Roman Empire through to present day
Since 2009, the Smithsonian Archives has posted photographs showing women scientists and engineers at work. Here are some images from their archives.
Anna Chao Pai, working on developmental genetics and cross-breeding special strains of mice.
Anna “Vesse” Dahl, a Norwegian adventurer who made great contributions to research on atomic energy.
Bertha Parker Pallan, one of the first female Native American archaeologists.
Aviation expert and pilot Anesia Pinheiro Machado, the first Brazilian woman to make a cross-country flight.
Source: The Smithsonian
Long before Amelia Earhart, female aeronauts were some of the most famous performers of their day, riding aloft in beautiful silk balloons loaded with fireworks to perform acrobatic tricks thousands of feet above the ground. Napoleon’s favorite daredevil was Sophie Blanchard.
… Sophie devised a special balloon for her ascents, which featured a tiny festooned gondola that could hardly fit one standing person. She would float above the crowd as if standing on air, fireworks trailing behind, often wearing a signature white dress with a colorfully plumed hat.
Falling Upwards – an illustrated history of the golden age of hot air balloons and how we took the skies.
Limestone head of an Egyptian woman
Her elaborate wig suggests that she is elite and/or very well off. She has the typical facial characteristics of the 18th dynasty; almond eye, full lips in a gentle smile and a child-like round face.
Egyptian, New Kingdom, 18th dynasty, 1473 - 1352 BCE
Found in Luxor area and purchased in 1909
Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Ammonites are an extinct group of marine cephalopods that are more closely related to modern octopus and squid than the nautiloids that they closely resemble. Appearing as early as the Devonian period approximately 410 million years ago, ammonites survived in a variety of sizes and shapes…
“The Scott Expedition is a 1,800-mile (2,900km), four-month unsupported return journey from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole on foot following [the same route that claimed the lives of Captain Robert Scott and his men a century ago]. Equivalent to 69 back-to-back marathons, the team will face temperatures as low as -50 °C and will haul sledge loads of up to 200kg each.”
Women made most of the oldest-known cave art paintings, suggests a new analysis of ancient handprints. Most scholars had assumed these ancient artists were predominantly men, so the finding overturns decades of archaeological dogma.
Archaeologist Dean Snow of Pennsylvania State University analyzed hand stencils found in eight cave sites in France and Spain. By comparing the relative lengths of certain fingers, Snow determined that three-quarters of the handprints were female.
"There has been a male bias in the literature for a long time," said Snow, whose research was supported by the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration. "People have made a lot of unwarranted assumptions about who made these things, and why." Read more.
Photos © Flood G.
Modern archeologists, excavating ancient Egyptian tombs, have often found something unexpected amongst the tombs’ artifacts: pots of honey, thousands of years old, and yet still preserved. Through millennia, the archeologists discover, the food remains unspoiled, an unmistakable testament to the eternal shelf-life of honey.
There are a few other examples of foods that keep–indefinitely–in their raw state: salt, sugar, dried rice are a few. But there’s something about honey; it can remain preserved in a completely edible form, and while you wouldn’t want to chow down on raw rice or straight salt, one could ostensibly dip into a thousand year old jar of honey and enjoy it, without preparation, as if it were a day old. Moreover, honey’s longevity lends it other properties–mainly medicinal–that other resilient foods don’t have. Which begs the question–what exactly makes honey such a special food?
The answer is ascomplex as honey’s flavor–you don’t get a food source with no expiration date without a whole slew of factors working in perfect harmony.
The world’s oldest TV and radio magazine celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. To mark the event, here is a selection of front pages from those nine decades, covering events including world war two and the moon landings, as well as shows such as Doctor Who, EastEnders and The Singing Detective.
Photograph: Radio Times
Can you name the Seven Wonders of the World without looking them up? What about their geographical locations? Believe it or not, the Hanging Garden of Babylon, perhaps the most well-known of the seven, might as well be re-named the Hanging Garden of Nineveh, one scholar argues.
"During the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the Spaniards could not contain the growth of the Navajo people or curtail their independence. Meanwhile, through trade and war, the Navajos greatly increased their wealth. True to their time-honored traditions, the Navajos conducted warfare and raiding only after performing the appropriate ceremonies. These rituals— as well as the prospect of proving their valor and acquiring riches— inspired Navajo warriors to perform daring exploits in combat and on raids. For protection and courage, they called on the power of animals and imagined that they assumed the form of these animals."
- Peter Iverson in “Native People and Native Histories,” from The Oxford History of the American West.
There’s more to the story of the American West than prospectors and cowboys: “The complex story of the West stretches across centuries, embracing many voices and contrasting cultures. The West is in fact as varied as America itself.”
Image credit: (Old No. 123) Pyramid Butte, Navajo Church in the north end of Zuni uplift, McKinley County, New Mexico., 1871-1878. Public Domain via United States National Archives.
Women invented all the core technologies that made civilization possible. This isn’t some feminist myth; it’s what modern anthropologists believe. Women are thought to have invented pottery, basketmaking, weaving, textiles, horticulture, and agriculture. That’s right: without women’s inventions, we wouldn’t be able to carry things or store things or tie things up or go fishing or hunt with nets or haft a blade or wear clothes or grow our food or live in permanent settlements. Suck on that.
Women have continued to be involved in the creation and advancement of civilization throughout history, whether you know it or not. Pick anything—a technology, a science, an art form, a school of thought—and start digging into the background. You’ll find women there, I guarantee, making critical contributions and often inventing the damn shit in the first place.
Women have made those contributions in spite of astonishing hurdles. Hurdles like not being allowed to go to school. Hurdles like not being allowed to work in an office with men, or join a professional society, or walk on the street, or own property. Example: look up Lise Meitner some time. When she was born in 1878 it was illegal in Austria for girls to attend school past the age of 13. Once the laws finally eased up and she could go to university, she wasn’t allowed to study with the men. Then she got a research post but wasn’t allowed to use the lab on account of girl cooties. Her whole life was like this, but she still managed to discover nuclear fucking fission. Then the Nobel committee gave the prize to her junior male colleague and ignored her existence completely.
Men in all patriarchal civilizations, including ours, have worked to downplay or deny women’s creative contributions. That’s because patriarchy is founded on the belief that women are breeding stock and men are the only people who can think. The easiest way for men to erase women’s contributions is to simply ignore that they happened. Because when you ignore something, it gets forgotten. People in the next generation don’t hear about it, and so they grow up thinking that no women have ever done anything. And then when women in their generation do stuff, they think “it’s a fluke, never happened before in the history of the world, ignore it.” And so they ignore it, and it gets forgotten. And on and on and on. The New York Times article is a perfect illustration of this principle in action.
Finally, and this is important: even those women who weren’t inventors and intellectuals, even those women who really did spend all their lives doing stereotypical “women’s work”—they also built this world. The mundane labor of life is what makes everything else possible. Before you can have scientists and engineers and artists, you have to have a whole bunch of people (and it’s usually women) to hold down the basics: to grow and harvest and cook the food, to provide clothes and shelter, to fetch the firewood and the water, to nurture and nurse, to tend and teach. Every single scrap of civilized inventing and dreaming and thinking rides on top of that foundation. Never forget that."
from a post by Reclusive Leftist on women’s erasure in history.
her comments relate specifically to an article by the NYT thanking “the men” who invented modern technology, but pick absolutely any academic field of study, and women’s contributions are minimized, if not outright ignored.
literature has been a huge part of my life for a long time, and i grew up reading the classics—which, of course, are typically books written by white men, depicting their experiences. i was taught that the first “modern novel” was Don Quixote, written in the early 1600s by a guy (Cervantes). i don’t think i know of a word to accurately describe my mixture of outrage, shock, and pride, when i discovered later that actually, the first modern novel was written 600 years earlier—by a woman! (it’s The Tale of Genji, written by a Japanese lady-in-waiting who was known as Murasaki Shikibu.)
this might not seem important, but if you’re a woman you know just how vital this knowledge is. even now, when women are being told that we can do anything we set our minds to, the historical, literary, and scientific figures we learn about are all men. it’s a much more insidious way to discourage women from aiming high—because what’s the point in putting in so much hard work if it’s not even going to be remembered after you’re dead?