Hetepheres II

hetepheres-ii

Hetepheres II was an Egyptian princess who was a daughter of the Old Kingdom Pharaoh Khufu (the guy who commissioned the Great Pyramid at Giza). There is a bizarre legend claiming that Khufu forced her into prostitution in order to raise funds for the pyramid’s construction, but this is considered very unlikely by most Egyptologists.

In one tomb painting, Hetepheres II is portrayed as having short yellow-colored hair. Certain white supremacists like to use this image as proof of a “Nordic” ancient Egypt, but there are actually various cultures across Africa wherein people may dye their hair red or blond. In fact, it appears to have been even trendier among the Kushites to the south of Egypt than the Egyptians themselves. So no, I think Hetepheres was aiming for a Beyonce look rather than being a natural blonde.

Egyptian Facial Profiles

egyptian-facial-profiles

These are meant to represent profiles of “typical” ancient Egyptian people as generalized from my referencing the skulls of various mummies. As I’ve said before, I’ve noticed a lot of them seem to have long, low heads with foreheads slanting back (at least to my own eye), as opposed to the shorter skulls and more vertical foreheads of Europeans; I believe this is a common trait among Africans and other warm-climate human populations.

A Princess of the Moors

a-princess-of-the-moors

Today I’ll be serving this lovely young Moorish maiden for your viewing pleasure.

Here I’m using “Moorish” in the broad medieval sense, as a synonym for Africans and other darker-skinned peoples. She is supposed to be of West African origin, in the vicinity of countries like Mali, Senegal, or Ghana.

Hypatia of Alexandria Studies

Hypatia of Alexandria Studies

Hypatia (370-415 AD), the famous and brilliant female scholar from Roman-controlled Egypt, is studying her scrolls within view of the Lighthouse of Alexandria. Some scholars say her death at the hands of an early Christian mob represents the end of classical antiquity in Western history. Whether or not that’s a fair characterization, there can be no doubt that she was a woman knowledgeable about many disciplines, such as philosophy, astronomy, and mathematics.

Nighttime Browsing

Nighttime Browsing

Continuing on with my theme of bio-luminescent dinosaurs, here’s the late Cretaceous sauropod Alamosaurus helping itself to some palm fronds at the edge of the jungle. As you can see, I added some extra bio-luminescence to the foliage as well.

I believe there is a jungle in western India which has glowing green fungi in it, so the glowing stuff on the palm trees shouldn’t be too far-fetched.

The Elephant Joust

The gong rang and reverberated, and the gates to the arena ground open. In rode Huan Xi, Imperial Prince of Zhongguo, on his elephant Longwei. Both he and his mount glimmered with platelets of polished leather armor under the afternoon sun, with bronze blades glinting on the elephant’s tusks. Spreading a proud smile across his pale yellow-brown face, Huan Xi waved with lance in hand to the audience that filled the terraced seating to his right.

Everyone on that side of the arena waved back with cheering and hooting of his name. These men and women were all Zhongguans, Huan Xi’s subjects, come to see him joust for the prize he desired more than anything else. From the lowermost seating there watched the Empress herself, his mother, with a bright pink robe of silk and cherry blossoms in her bun of graying hair. Her eyes twinkled with both Imperial pride and maternal love, but Huan Xi noticed her wringing her hands together with nervous anticipation.

He would make her so proud. This he swore by Zhongdi, Lord of all the Heavens.

Another gong rang from atop the arena’s far end. Afterward there thundered exotic drums as an opposite pair of gates began to part. The right side of the arena fell silent, but the spectators seated along the left erupted into cheering and chanting in a very different language. These other people, dark brown-skinned with brief linen garments, hailed from the ancient kingdom of Khamit far to the southwest of Zhongguo. On their lowest seating was their old Pharaoh Kahotep, with his blue- and gold-striped crown and braided goatee. He flashed a smirk in Huan Xi’s direction.

The Prince of Zhongguo searched the Khamitans’ ranks for a glimpse of Berenib, the Pharaoh’s lovely young daughter. It was over her hand that the joust had been arranged, yet Huan Xi could not make her out anywhere. He could not even find her next to her father or any of his officials. From what he knew of her character, she did not seem like the type of woman who would avoid the sight of blood in the arena, but he was at a loss to explain her curious absence otherwise.

Maybe Kahotep had meant to present her only after the event, for whatever reason. Regardless, as long as Huan Xi had the memory of Berenib’s exquisite beauty in memory, he did not need to be reminded of why he fought.

Longwei the elephant raised his trunk with an anxious rumble. Huan Xi patted his brow while whispering the most soothing words he could muster. In spite of their size, elephants could be skittish animals, but the Prince had to wonder what had intimidated his steed all of a sudden.

The answer came once the other side’s gates had fully opened. The animal that lumbered out onto the arena floor was the strangest and most enormous elephant Huan Xi had ever seen. It dwarfed Longwei by at least one head in height, but the oversized fan-like ears it had outspread gave it the appearance of even greater size. The scaled bronze armor that this hulking southern monster donned almost blinded the Prince of Zhongguo with its dazzling brilliance, as did the blades fitted onto its tusks. And these tusks, of course, ran longer and thicker than those of Longwei or any other elephant Huan Xi had observed.

On this bizaree specimen rode the Khamitan champion, a slender youth with bronze bands around his torso. A mane of black dreadlocks ran out from behind the gold lion’s mask that covered this individual’s entire face. He waved his own lance at the Khamitan audience, and they too cheered and waved back, but none hooted anything that sounded like a name. Huan Xi could not imagine any reason for that odd omission.

“Magnificent steed you got there, Khamitan,” Huan Xi called out. “May I ask for your name?”

“My champion is one of few words and a hidden name, I’m afraid.” It was Pharaoh Kahotep who spoke from his seating. “But you may call the elephant Nofret. Believe me, it was a small mercy on our part not to send a male of her breed here.”

Longwei had his head lowered and legs huddled together in submissive intimidation. Nofret on the contrary held herself high before him, still keeping her big ears outspread, and the rumble she gave was rough like a menacing growl. Huan Xi did not even want to guess what a male of her breed looked like.

“Shall we begin?” Kahotep asked out loud.

There was a pause of silence across the whole arena, except for the whisper of the wind and the rumbling of the elephants. The Empress of Zhongguo had her hands wrung to their tightest as she looked towards her son. The sweat on his brow had turned cold, and he hugged his lance close to his armored chest. But he could not let his dear mother or their people down. Much less his sweet, beautiful Berenib.

Huan Xi nodded, as did the Khamitan champion.

Continue reading “The Elephant Joust”

Kritosaurus

Kritosaurus

Kritosaurus navajovius was a hadrosaur, or “duck-billed” dinosaur, which roamed the southern areas of North America during the Late Cretaceous Period (74.5 to 66 million years ago).

I recently had a dream about dinosaurs with glowing patches of bio-luminescence on their hides, a bit like the creatures in James Cameron’s Avatar. I doubt there’s any way to confirm or falsify bio-luminescence on dinosaurs from the fossil record so far, and it may not have made for practical camouflage. But I thought it made for a totally sweet look.

The Founding of Carthage

The Founding of Carthage

These Phoenician merchants are bartering for settlement rights with a native community on the northwest African coast sometime during the 800s BC. If the deal works out, they get to set up a nearby colony that will become Carthage itself.

There is of course a legend that Carthage was founded by a Phoenician princess named Elissa or Dido, who cut up strips of a cowhide and laid them down to encircle the initial space of colonization. But I chose to disregard that legend and settled for a more historically probable scenario of Phoenician merchants acquiring trade and maybe land rights from the indigenous African community. But then, we may never know for sure what happened back then.

The Africans in this scene would probably be descended from the earliest speakers of the Amazigh (or “Berber”) languages, who would have colonized northernmost Africa from the drying Sahara. Although today’s Berber-speakers have a mixture of African and Mediterranean ancestry in varying proportions depending on ethnic group, I believe the very first speakers of Berber languages would have looked more African. That’s because Berber is a branch of the Afrasan/Afroasiatic phylum, which would have originated in Northeast Africa along the Sudanese to Somali coastline. Of course, as the languages spread northward towards the Gibraltar Strait, they would have assimilated people of Mediterranean background even before coming into contact with the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, etc. But that is to happen over the centuries after this scene.

Yawning Rex

Yawning Rex

Tyrannosaurus rex has a yawn. All right, so it looks like it could be roaring instead, but I had a yawn in mind when I made this.

I’ve read that a close cousin of T. rex, the Tarbosaurus from late Cretaceous Asia, has yielded evidence for a dewlap-like fold of skin under its throat, so I decided to give one to my rex too. However, I do think the current trend of assuming all dinosaurs in any evolutionary grouping had a certain trait only because one member of that group has been found with that trait is overrated. That’s like assuming all big cats must have manes because lions do. If multiple tyrannosaurids were to show evidence of dewlaps, I might accept this was ancestral to the group. But right now, for all we know that dewlap could be unique to Tarbosaurus and its most immediate ancestors.

Hannibal Barca of Carthage

Hannibal Barca

Hannibal Barca is without a doubt the most famous general from ancient Carthage in northwestern Africa. To reiterate, he was the dude who led an army of African elephants across the Alps to attack the Romans. He would have almost wiped them off the map too, except the ruling oligarchy back in Carthage denied his request for reinforcements after his big battle at Cannae. Had his own government shown him much more support, we’d probably be naming dinosaurs with Carthaginian rather than Latin vocabulary. As it happened, he lost the Second Punic War, and after the Third War Carthage itself would be destroyed.