Just Because: First-Century Portrait of a Woman (with Perfume!)

Portrait of a Woman. Er-Rubayat, ca. 100-120 A.D.
Portrait of a Woman. Er-Rubayat, ca. 100-120 A.D.

The British Museum describes this small mummy-portrait as “cheerful” if “rather amateurish.” It also notes her jewelry—the snake bracelet, the dangling earrings, the layered necklaces—and, last but not least, the small bottle she clasps:

“In her hand she holds a small unguentarium, or bottle for scented oils, which were often placed in graves as offerings to the dead. Here, perhaps, it is simply intended to represent a bottle of her favorite perfume.”

Indeed. If you were an ancient Egyptian, wouldn’t you want to take your favorite fragrances into the afterlife with you? I would.

Source: Paul Roberts, Mummy Portraits of Roman Egypt. London, The British Museum, 2008.

A Little Princess: It’s a Girl!

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Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a baby girl today. I do enjoy following the big news stories from the British royals — I remember Charles and Diana’s wedding, and the birth of William himself, so I’m sort of sentimental about this event. And, in one of my ever-multiplying freelance jobs, I just wrote a story about royal second siblings for Biography. You can read it here.

April Fool’s Day!


From Britannica:

There are variations between countries in the celebration of April Fools’ Day, but all have in common an excuse to make someone play the fool. In France, for example, the fooled person is called poisson d’avril (“April fish”), perhaps in reference to a young fish and hence to one that is easily caught…

Image: La Vie Parisienne, April 7, 1923.

Just Because: Colgate Rapid Transit Soap


I’m sorry I’m not posting as regularly as usual right now. I just started a new job last week, so I’ve been a little busier than usual, and technology hasn’t developed far enough for me to blog on the subway!

In the meantime, here’s a wonderful vintage soap advertisement for your viewing pleasure. I wish Colgate would bring back this product for all of us tired-and-dirty commuters.

Image via National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.