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A Little History

Ancient Mesopotamia : Mesopotamia, ancient Greek meaning ‘land between two rivers' ( Meso middle, potamos river ) the Tigris-Euphrates, the biblical land known as Ancient Mesopotamia, The Fertile Crescent, on The Silk Route, the rise of the first civilisation of the world, where time began, Sumerians : 60 parts, 360 degrees, Babylonians : 60 seconds, 60 minutes, The Map. Sumerians : the wheel, weaving cloth, the cart, the chariot, the sailboat, the plough, mathematics, architecture, sun-dried bricks, astronomy, astrology, agriculture, irrigation, cuneiform writing, monarchy, stamp seals, cylinder seals, copper tools, arrowheads, razors, swords, harpoons, maces, slings, clubs and beer made from barley.

Sumerians created distillation by applying resin or, fat with alkali, elementary soapmaking, cleaning wounds and sores, they were excellent at washing wounds and preparation of poultices, they also used essence of cedar accomplished by distillation and the washing of the diseased part with beer and hot water. The birth of the first antiseptics, alcohol, honey and myrrh, the battle of humans and bacteria. Soap : an ancient product has saved more lives than penicillin, Sumerians 2200 BC : where oils in soap began.

Sumerians, four main classes : Priests, Upper Class which, included The Royals, Lower Class and Slaves. Unchanged words of The Sumerians, still today, crocus (flower), Saffron (colour and spice). Sumerians were paid for their work, women had the freedom to work and able to set-up their own business.

First use of soap recorded on a cuneiform tablet Girsu, a City of ancient Sumer 2,500 BC used for removing lanolin from sheep, alkalis from burned wood and fats equals saponification, water absorbs the alkali from the ash 'leaching' creating impure soap. The Sumer City of Ur would call up to 10,000 to labour, dominated by women producing four hundred tons of wool each year. First known recipe of soap one quart of oil, six quarts of potash equals impure soap. The first evidence of soap being used  to clean the skin, cuneiform tablet found in the Hittite capital Boghazkoi. The first recorded evidence of soap production written in cuneiform on a clay tablet 2800 BC, Sumerians. 2200 BC, Sumerians (where oils in soap began), a formula of soap consisting of water, alkali (ash) and cassia oil (cinnamomum) was written on a clay tablet (two thousand years before The Silk Route opened) . King Nabonidus, Neo-Babylonian 6th century BC : ashes, cypress extract, sesame oil (antibacterial, antiviral) written on clay cylinders Ur.

Babylon, Mesopotamia : the eighth gate to the inner city, The Ishtar Gate 575 BC, one of the seven wonders of the world, a Unesco World Heritage Site, where eighty five percent of Babylon remains unexcavated, still today, 164 feet from end gate to end gate, each side of the gate consisted of nineteen, 39 feet high wall sections. The gates measured more than 38 feet high with a vast antechamber on the southern side. Etemenanki : Babylon’s largest Ziggurat cited in Ancient Greek accounts as The Temple of Belus and the probable inspiration for The Tower of Babel 298 feet high.The Processional Way : New Year celebrations, over a half a mile long, with walls over 50 feet tall on each side built by order of The King Nebuchadnezzar 11 dedicated to The Babylonian goddess Ishtar. In the works of Greek historians Babylon was distant, exotic and incredible. Greek historian Herodotus, declaring 'Overwhelmingly opulent, the walls so broad chariots could race around them'. Implementers of The Seven Wonders of The World, of the known Ancient World : Herodotus, Philo of Byzantium his work 'On Seven Wonders' 225 BC, Callimachus of Cyrene Architect, Writer, Chief of The Library of Alexandria, Diodorus Siculus Ancient Greek Historian, Antipater of Sidon, Greek Writer, Poet 2nd century BC begins the official listing replacing The Ishtar Gate for The Lighthouse of Alexandria.

The first handmade olive oil, pistachio oil, laurel berry oil and almond oil soaps traded on The Silk Route at a time when Jesus was born, Roman Emperors, Kings, Queens, Princesses, Pharaohs of Egypt reigned, where the cradle of civilisation began : Sumer, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Alexander the Great's greatest expansionism of the know Ancient World.

Galen of Pergamum : 130-200 AD, Philosopher, Greek Physician, Surgeon, Personal Physician of The Emperors (Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, Septimius Severus), Chief Physician for the treating of wounds to the gladiator school in Pergamum. Discoverer, that urine was formed in the kidney (as opposed to the bladder which, was common belief) and arteries carried blood, not air ( as had been taught for 400 years). His theories dominated medicine for 1500 years.He was a prolific writer 300 titles of works, 150 survive today. His journeys from Corinth (medical school), Pergamum (medical school), Cilicia, Antioch, Aleppo, Smyrna (medical school) to the greatest medical school of the Ancient World, Alexandria were frequent, 44 years old summoned to Rome, declaring to his patients the importance of hygiene and the healing powers of the oils in soap (antiseptic, anti-itching, antibacterial) Soap : the greatest medical discovery in human history. Galen collected plants with healing properties for debates of their uses. Galen’s final works were written after 207 AD, which suggests that his Arab biographers were correct in their claim that he died at age 87, in 216-217 AD, either in Pergamum or, Sicily. 

Zosimos of Panopolis 3rd century AD, Greek-Egyptian Alchemist, investigates the composition and chemical changes that occurred in the water and oils. Centuries later, still handmade today, remarkably, from the same historical areas, as the Soapmakers continue making history; hand-cut, dried stored for months being traditionally produced by hand through the generations of families, with only natural ingredients, unchanged throughout the centuries.

The Silk Route : The Merchants of Antioch earned their reputation for hundreds of years from the sale of silk, soap, glass, spices, cotton, dyeing, tanning, furs, wine (vineyards produced the cities wine but, produced much to export with The Orontes River busy with olive oil, wine and rich fishing (eels for the poor), bread (wheat for the wealthy,  barley for the poor), copper tools and the appalling trade of Slaves. Caravans of camels loaded with jewels and spices from Cappadocia, Persia, India, Arabia travelled through the city where exchanges on a large scale were conducted. Trading under 1400 Roman columns, 18 feet tall and porticoes for more than two miles, using their vegetable oil filled lamps each night to light up The Colonnaded Street for more than 800 years. Hedonistic Antioch, 'Queen of the East' of the known Ancient World, the City of up to 500,000 people (115 AD), patrolled by Roman Legionaires, where residents used their oil filled lamps outside their homes ( where rich houses were almost always three stories) increasing the illumination of the City at night, Hellenistic art, a fusion of Greek and Near East artistry. Persian Sogdian Traders travelled and spoke the language of Sogdiana for hundreds of years from Chang'an, (perpetual peace), Han Dynasty, Samarkand to Antioch the third largest city of The Roman Empire, where Hadrian was in command of the army of the East. Commissioned by the 9th Emperor Vespasian establishing The Praetorian Fleets : Classis  (Fleet Syriaca. Cassis (Fleet) Mesopotamica. Patrolling Antioch (Selucia, seaport) to Alexandria, reinforced, if necessary, with 200 ships from Classes Praetoriae. Emperor Hadrian (Imperator) nominated by his legions of the East, Antioch, 11th August 117 AD, 41 years old, 11 months later he journeyed to Rome arriving 9th July 118 AD. The Roman Empire reaching its most expansionism upon the death of Emperor Trajan, where Emperor Hadrian stabilises The Empire for the next 21 years, the third of the five Good Emperors.

The Vespasianus - Titus Tunnel (The Dam), 1st century AD, Antoninus Pius completes, 2nd century AD (Unesco Tentative Listing) . 10th Legion Engineers, built by Roman Legionaries, Sailors and skilled Jewish Prisoners, more than three quarters of a mile digging into The Nur Mountains. The longest  handmade dug tunnel in history, preserved authenticity, without damage still today, ensuring Antioch's seaport Seleucia from silting-up, flooding and water supply during summer.

Silk : 2696 BC Lei Zu, daughter of Xi Ling, Empress, Wife of The Yellow Emperor, the implementer of silk; by chance a silkworm cocoon fell from a tree into her tea cup unwrapping the silk and strong but, soft thread. The Han Dynasty wanted a formidable cavalry horse and found a special breed of horse large and of great stamina located in the Fergana Valley, north of the Hindu Kush, the valley being continuous across eastern Uzbekistan, south of Kyrgyzstan, northern Tajikistan. Permission was granted to trade outside of China for the first time, silk for horses and later, silk for gold with The Roman Empire. Chang'an, Capital of China -Antioch 3rd largest City of The Roman Empire on the Mediterranean waters, 4,025 miles. By 102 BC China controlled traffic and taxes at  Tun-Huang Oasis later, called Dunhuang Oasis. Traders from the West were compelled to wait until Chinese soldiers checked for silkworms or, cocoons. The Roman Empire's Pliny the Elder 'At least a hundred million sesterces flow out of the empire every year to India, China and Arabia, that is how much luxury and women cost us'. Yellow silk : a class distinction. 552 AD : Emperor Justinian Ist sends two emissaries (Nestorian monks) to China to smuggle silkworm eggs, hidden in rods of bamboo, tired of paying exorbitant silk prices. Later, sericulture (silk farming) began.


The Museum Hotel (Antioch), Hatay Province.

Centuries Later, Still Preserved Today, 10 year project, 8.5 metres below ground level, 4 acres of Antioch (Savonerrie, where the Soapmakers made history) excavating, authenticity preserved, still today.

30,000 objects dating back to the 3rd Century BC : The Necmi Asfuroğlu Archaeology Museum, Hatay Archaeology Museum overlooking Mt. Silpius. Peter digs the foundation of the first church, Mt. Starius, Antioch (Unesco Tentative Listing). His missionary's were his imperative, suffering martyrdom under Emperor Nero, Rome : The Marble Roman Forum, public meeting place 9000 sq ft, The Pegasus mosaic, 160 shades of plant dyed stone, Frescoes of Apollo and Nine Muses 2nd century AD, Eros : marble statue 200 AD, World's largest single floor Mosaic 11,302 sq ft, observing its undulating flow, subsidence, earthquakes 4th Century AD, Wildlife Mosaic 5th Century AD, Roman Baths 5th Century AD.

Mosaics, columns and walls of ancient Antioch, the third largest City of The Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria, favoured by The Emperors, 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), declaring ancestry with Cleopatra, educated in Greek, Latin, Egyptian and Aramaic, defeated by Emperor Aurelius, chained in gold chains, treated with humility for a life in Tivoli, Rome, died 34 years old, 4 children.

Antioch, the centre of literature, the royal library, theatre, temples, public squares, baths, palatial homes, churches, aqueducts (Hadrian's finest work). Theatre, Augustus Caesar, enlarged by Agrippa, Tiberius, Trajan, 1st Century BC - 2nd Century AD. Amphitheatre, from the Greek word  amphitheatron, spectators all around, on both sides, Julius Caesar 47 BC. Hippodrome, Circus, chariot racing, 80,000 spectators, obelisk from Egypt, spina divides the course, donated by Quintius Marcius Rex proconsul of Cilicia 67 BC.1400 Roman columns and porticoes for more than two miles, The Colonnaded Street, the surface of Egyptian granite, ordered by Emperor Antoninus Pius 138-161 AD paving the great east to west artery wide enough to accommodate caravans, as the merchants passed through buying and selling, until 3 a.m. ( the abundance of mules, asses, camels, horses). Libanius, Antioch's celebrated Orator 314-393 AD 'Indeed, if a man had the idea of travelling all over the earth, not to see how cities looked, but to learn their ways, our city would fulfil his purpose and save him his journeying. If he sits in our market place he will sample every city, there will be so many from each place with whom he can talk. The city loves the virtues of those who come to it exactly as it does the virtues of its children, imitating the Athenians in this also'. The only Roman City illuminated at night for more than 800 years. The romantic magnet for scholars, writers, philosophers. Antioch, 64 BC a Roman Province. Antioch, where The Silk Route 200 BC, on The Mediterranean waters ended.

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