Ancient Mesopotamia : The untold story, The Near East, more untold then we thought, 40 centuries of soapmaking, still making history, still today, please scroll down. A biblical presence of the world’s first olive oil, pistachio oil, laurel berry oil and almond oil soaps traded on The Silk Route, 2nd century BC -14th century AD (when the Ottoman Empire boycotted trade with the west and closed the route), where the first civilisation of the world started. Ancient Mesopotamia's collection of these imported cultural soaps are skilfully made by hand, hand-cut, dried stored for months reducing moisture content making the soap hard and long lasting with the original ingredients unchanged for 40 centuries, remarkably today, still being handmade from the same historical areas, as the Soapmakers continue making history. The Silk Route, The Soapmakers, all from the area of Ancient Mesopotamia, The Fertile Crescent. Antiochia, Queen Zenobia's preference. Aleppo, laurel berries received daily from Antioch for 300 years. Mardin : The Persians, Assyrians and Romans allowed the Soaps to travel (the abundance of pistachios and pistachios with kernel of the apricot favoured by Assyrian Queens and Princesses for their hair), almond, The Romans preference. The profusion of olive tree plantations at Antioch in the 4th Century AD and 5th Century AD. Nablus Soapmakers began in the 7th Century AD, the families increased through popularity. From the 10th Century the first pressed olive oil was made from the finest ancient olive groves in the world (five thousand years old, still today) Nablus, Palestine, The Fertile Crescent (the preference of Elizabeth 1). 40 centuries of soapmaking, used by The Emperors, Kings, Queens, Princesses, Pharaohs and the wealthy, two thousand years before The Silk Route opened, centuries later, still handmade today.
Ancient Mesopotamia : continuing the ethical and sustainable ethos, the culture and spirit of the first Soapmakers of the world remarkably, 40 centuries later, still handmade today from the original historical areas whilst supporting their families.
Soap : the greatest medical discovery in human history, cleans away something you cannot see, soap does not attract germs, water does. UNICEF : doctors wash their hands half as frequently as they should, if every cook used soap it would cut the world’s rate of respiratory infections by 25%. Saves the life of a healthy person oblivious to the bullet they dodged, has saved more lives than penicillin, doesn't just make cities healthier it makes them possible, enabling our existence.
Mardin : located on The Silk Route, The Persian Royal Road, the oldest city in Upper Mesopotamia, where humans have existed for 11,500 years, the first farming communities of the world (Unesco World Heritage Site Göbekli Tepe, Upper Mesopotamia, Mesopotamia). Mardin the open museum, Unesco Tentative Listing, 4500 BC with the most preserved architecture in the world, where The Persians, Assyrians and Romans allowed the Soaps to travel. The ochre sunset of Mardin, where olive oil, pistachio oil, travelled on The Persian Royal Road, where Persian Sogdian Traders travelled on The Silk Route and spoke the language of Sogdiana for hundreds of years from Chang'an (Han Dynasty), Samarkand to Antioch (The Roman Empire). The Province of Mardin, Dara three miles from the Persian border of Nisibis, founded in 505 AD. Emperor Anastasius builds a city, where masons were summoned to build the last Roman Fortress 114 feet tall : great storehouses, palaces, churches, bazaar, houses, reservoir, water channels and graves of the Roman warriors wrapped around a two and a half mile wall 'Anastasiopolis'.
Emperor Justinian 1st 527-565 AD rebuilds and strengthens the last Roman Fortress, Wife Theodora, exceptionally beautiful, intelligent, Empress, ruled with Justinian 1st for 21 years, a woman from a poor background. Theodora had grown up among the working classes of Constantinople (330 AD the new capital of The Roman Empire (lasting 12 centuries) previously, Ancient Greek City of Byzantium, four times the size of Byzantium, built on seven hills, just like old Rome), she was a child of the circus who became Constantinople's best known actress. Theodora loved the male, female baths and frequented them often, early in the morning and leaving late. The mixed baths (where olive oil and alkali (ash) was used) ended in the 8th century AD. Procopius, Writer, Greek Scholar, Principal Byzantium Historian of the 6th century AD portrayed Theodora as a wanton of the most promiscuous sort, sighting a stage act that the future empress was said to have performed involving her naked body, some grain and a gaggle of trained geese. Justinian 1st passed a law allowing intermarriage between social classes, his marriage to Theodora caused a scandal but, she became one of the most influential women of the Ancient World. The earthquake of earthquakes 526 AD Antioch, Theodora ensured the fine Church of St. Michael and The Basilica of Asterius were rebuilt despatching marble columns from Constantinople (first campaigner of women's rights). Mardin Soap : two thousand years before The Silk Route opened, 40 centuries of soapmaking, still handmade today remarkably, from the same historical area.
Aleppo, 64 BC a Roman Province : Soapmakers continue making history two thousand years before The Silk Route opened remarkably, still being handmade today in Gaziantep, on the Silk Route, just miles over the border from Aleppo City, where laurel berries were received daily from Antioch for 300 years. The mixture of olive oil, water and lye; underground fires begins the process heating the oil for 3 days for the oil to react with the lye and water, creating a thickness thereafter, adding laurel berry oil. Pouring the mixture over a sheet of waxed paper awaiting ageing, chemical changes for the cutter's hand and stamped seal. Reactions with the air gently turning the soap gold on the outside and mystical emerald green on the inside, reducing moisture content making the soap hard and long lasting. The Aleppo Soapmakers : still handmade today in Gaziantep on The Silk Route, 40 centuries of soapmaking, ensuring same weather pattern as Aleppo, continuing making history, just miles over the border from Aleppo City. Aleppo : Unesco World Heritage Site, once ruled by Hittites, Assyrians, Akkadians, today, continuing to stay on the 'The List of World Heritage in Danger'.
Antioch, 64 BC a Roman Province : the third largest city of The Roman Empire, after Alexandria and Rome on The Silk Route, 1,100 acres, the only Roman City illuminated at night for hundreds of years. Third century AD, The Imperial Palace residence of Queen Zenobia (Antiochia, the preference of Queen Zenobia, just a short walk from the Soapmakers), Queen of Palmyra Empire, Queen of Syria, Queen of Egypt, ruler of one third of The Roman Empire (6 years, loved by her people). Libanius, Antioch's celebrated Orator, born Antioch 314 AD, a Greek teacher of rhetoric of the Sophist School who tells the story of the city being illuminated each night 'People of Antioch were sleeping on the roofs at night where the summer breeze would gently stir the garments of the sleepers,' favoured by The Emperors, the centre of literature, the romantic magnet for scholars, writers, philosophers, the marriage of Antony and Cleopatra 37 BC, the park of woods at Daphne (Daphne : ancient Greek meaning laurel, spoken in Ancient Antioch), known for its plethora of thickly planted mulberry bushes, groves of cypresses and laurels forming a dramatic continuous roof, the carpet of rose groves interspersed with streams five miles from Antioch leading down to the Mediterranean waters. Antiochia Soap : two thousand years before The Silk Route opened, 40 centuries of soapmaking, still handmade today remarkably, from the same historical area.
Nablus, Palestine 63 BC a Roman Province : the world's most ancient olive groves, a Unesco World Heritage Site, Central Highland area of Nablus, Battir to Hebron, seven natural springs, The Roman Empire (10th legion) channels and pools irrigate, centuries later, still worked today, continuing making history. Nablus Soapmakers began in the 7th Century AD, the families increased through popularity, from the 10th Century the first pressed olive oil was made from the finest ancient olive groves in the world ( five thousand years old, still today). Local lime, ash (ashes of the barilla plant from the salty banks of the River Jordan) are pounded into a powder, the pure olive oil soap mixture is gently heated and continuously stirred over many days in copper vats, then spread out to set, soaked in red vegetable pigment, a grid of woollen threads leaves its imprint, as the process of lines are established for the cutter's hand, whilst the stamped seal of the two crossed keys completes the process; Nablus Palestine,The Fertile Crescent (the preference of Elizabeth 1) and popular with Jordanian Families, Nablus Soap, remarkably, from the same historical area since the 10th century.
Laurel Berry oil (not seen in the West) with the perfect percentage of Olive oil. Antiochia, Aleppo both assists gardeners, eczema, dermatitis, rosacea, psoriasis. Both natural moisturisers, antiseptic, anti-itching, antibacterial, anti-fungal, assisting problematic skin, calming sensitive skin, leaving skin soft, nourished and silky. Ancient Mesopotamia products contain no perfumes, artificial colours or, preservatives, 100% biodegradable and not tested on animals. Ancient Mesopotamia imports the collection of soaps traded on The Silk Route directly from the Soapmakers. 40 centuries of soapmaking, still handmade today remarkably, from the same historical area.
The Apādana Palace, East Stairway and Throne Hall 'Hundred Column Hall' founded by Darius I in 518 B.C. Persepolis the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. Darius 1, King of Kings : son Xerxes I (486-465 BC), and grandson Artaxerxes I (465-424 BC), Unesco World Heritage Site.
Assyrians with Rams, gifts for The King of King's, Apādana Palace, Persepolis, East Stairway.
Delivering messages Susa (ancient capital of Persia) Sardes, Darius 1, 522-486 BC, Horses from The Royal Stables, The Kings Pirradazis (horse changing), Angareion (horse posting), Royal Chapars, Angaros (riders), in relays 24 hours each 1,677 miles, 111 stations (caravanserai) on the heavily guarded Persian Royal Road, 7-9 days or, 3 months on foot. First postal system of the world.
Ashurbanipal, the last King of Assyria, 7th century BC (Assyrian Empire 1365-609 BC) ,The North West Palace, Nineveh, Upper Mesopotamia; where he establishes the great library, until the Babylonians sacked the city and palace in a rebellion 612 BC resulting in The Palace being burnt down. Ashurbanipal’s library was buried beneath the burning walls of his palace and was lost for over 2,000 years. The first broken and scattered remains of the library were found in 1849 and are now at the British Museum.
1840 Austin Henry Layard assisted by Hormuzd Rassam (a Nineveh local) funded by The British Museum uncovers thousands of clay tablets written in cuneiform and Akkadian language at The North West Palace.
1872 George Smith, intrigued by history of Assyria (by profession, an apprentice bank note engraver) spent each lunch hour observing hundreds of clay tablets at The British Museum. The Museum realised his knowledge and invited him to assemble the tablets. To his amazement he married a clay tablet story about a world drowned by flood, about a man who builds a boat, about a dove released in search of dry land. His thoughts were the Noah's Ark story but, this was not the book of Genesis astonishingly, it was Gilgamesh (Sumerian King), an epic poem inscribed into damp clay around 1800 BC. He was invited to read his translation of the tablet to an audience at The Society for Biblical Archaeology in London attended by Prime Minister Gladstone. Epic of Gilgamesh read by George Smith caused a sensation. The Daily Telegraph put up 1000 guineas for George Smith to continue his investigations and excavations; he died in Aleppo of dysentery at the age of 36 years in 1876 leaving 8 groundbreaking books on Assyria.
Hormuzd Rassam was recalled by The British Museum to continue excavations at the Babylonian city of Sippar discovering the great door of the Palace of Balawat and 70,000 cuneiform tablets.1880 was his final expedition as he was being erased from the records due to hyperbole of Sir Henry Rawlinson he was a trustee of the British Museum from 1876 until his death and a British East India Company army officer, claiming Hormuzd Rassam was just a digger who oversaw works in progress. The British Museum removed his name from plaques and visitor guide books. Hormuzd Rassam could not find one publisher for his memoirs having a good relationship with his best friend Austin Henry Layard since he was 19 years old and after spending 18 months at Magdalen College Oxford. He died in Hove 1910, aged 84 years knowing that Layard wrote 'One of the honestest and most straight forward fellows I ever knew and one whose services have never been acknowledged'.By the end of his life, Rassam's reputation and achievements were once again receiving greater recognition, at least amidst his professional colleagues; in their obituary for Rassam, The Royal Geographical Society wrote: 'The death of Mr Hormuzd Rassam deprives The Royal Geographical Society of one of its older and more distinguished Fellows.'Hormuzd Rassam was also a Fellow of The Society of Biblical Archaeology and The Victoria Institute. Today, The British Museum acknowledges that Hormuzd Rassam was an archaeologist later, an official and an assistant to Austen Henry Layard. His excavation papers are held in the central archives in The British Museum.
The British Museum : The royal gardens at Nineveh were spectacular. They were irrigated by canals which stretched over 31 miles into the mountains in order to make them a year-round oasis of all types of flora. There is a recent argument that the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) were actually those at Nineveh and later writers had confused Nineveh and Babylon. Even if this was not the case, Ashurbanipal’s gardens were certainly impressive and exotic. The King collected plants from across the Ancient World and brought them back to his capital. The largest Capital of The Ancient World. However, it was not just the architecture that made the royal residence impressive, surrounding the palace were orchards, game parks and lush and exotic gardens that evoked a paradise on earth. Ashurbanipal claimed : 'I planted alongside the palace a botanical garden, which has all types of trees and every fruit and vegetable.' The gardens at Nineveh were irrigated by an immense canal network built by Ashurbanipal's grandfather Sennacherib. He brought water to the City over 31 miles using channels and aqueducts to create a year-round oasis of all types of flora.The canals stretching 31 miles into the mountains, and Sennacherib boasted about the engineering technology he used (water screw, predating Archimedes) . A monumental aqueduct crossing the valley at Jewan, which can be seen still today, made of over 2 million stones and waterproof cement. The aqueduct was constructed over 500 years before the Romans started building their aqueducts and inscribed with the following words: Sennacherib King of the world King of Assyria. Over a great distance I had a watercourse directed to the environs of Nineveh, joining together the water, over steep-sided valleys, I spanned an aqueduct of white limestone blocks, I made those waters flow over it.
Oldest surviving Royal Library, Hanging Garden of Nineveh.
Some of the Storytellers - The Near East
Mardin : The Persians, Assyrians and Romans allowed the Soaps to travel the abundance of pistachios favoured by Assyrian Queens and Princesses for their hair, 40 centuries of soapmaking, still making history, still today.
Celebrated Theatres of The Near East
Bosra Theatre Southern Syria, Capital of The Roman Province of Arabia, Emperor Trajan 2nd Century AD, seating 15,000, Unesco World Heritage Site
The Library of Celsus, Ephesus, built in 117AD. The repository having a capacity to hold 12,000 scrolls, Unesco World Heritage Site.
Celsus Library is one of the most beautiful structures in Ephesus built in 117 A.D. it was a monumental tomb for Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the governor of the province of Asia from his son Galius Julius Aquila. Commissioned in 114 AD by Tiberius Julius Acquila and finished by his heirs. Celsus had been a member of the Roman Senate from 105 to 107 AD, the proconsul of Ephesus. Celsus had also been consul in Rome in 92 AD, where he was responsible for all public buildings. Celsus was entombed in a lead coffin encased in a marble sarcophagus decorated with high relief figures of Nike, Eros, rosettes and garlands. The sarcophagus was buried under the flooring near the apsidal wall.