Ancient Mesopotamia : 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, 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 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 used by The Emperors, Kings, Queens, Princesses, Pharaohs and the wealthy, centuries later, still handmade today.
Mardin : located on The Silk Route, The Persian Royal Road, the oldest city in Upper Mesopotamia, a Unesco Tentative Listing; the open museum, 4500 BC with the most preserved architecture in the world, where The Persians 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, Empress, ruled with Justinian 1st for 21 years, a woman from a poor background. 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. Mardin Soap : remarkably, still being handmade today from the same historical area.
Aleppo, 64 BC a Roman Province : Soapmakers continue the more than 2300 year soap history, 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, ensuring same weather pattern as Aleppo), continuing making history, just miles over the border from Aleppo City.
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 (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), known for its plethora of thickly planted mulberry bushes, five miles from Antioch leading down to the Mediterranean waters. Antiochia Soap : centuries later, 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). Nablus Soap, remarkably, from the same historical area since the 10th century. 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.
Ancient Mesopotamia : continuing the ethical and sustainable ethos, the culture and spirit of the first Soapmakers of the world remarkably, still handmade today from the original historical areas whilst supporting their families.
Soap : an ancient product, the greatest medical discovery in human history, cleans away something you cannot see, 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.
Apadana Palace and Throne Hall 'Hundred Column Hall' 518 BC, Darius 1,King of Kings, Archaemenid Empire, Persepolis.
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, The North West Palace, Nineveh; 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.
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, 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 claiming he 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 Oxford. He died in Hove 1910 knowing that Layard wrote 'One of the honestest and most straight forward fellows I ever knew and one whose services have never been acknowledged'.