pharaoh's den

Queen and Courtesan

Her illustrious golden hair,
the epitome of the unattainable
like the aurate glow
of the timeless dunes.

Her fiery, rosy cheeks
boiling in frustration and ire,
raging like the Nile
on a torrid afternoon.

Her beauty was a weapon
sharpened with oil and perfume,
dissuasive enough to convince
a man to attend his doom.

And as the noblemen gasped their last
they felt her power in their sunken chests.

She was feared, 
a pharaoh revered
and in flames she disappeared.

Only to reappear
after fifteen hundred years;
as a courtesan named Rhodopis.

Now, her golden hair
as cheap as her asking price,
is a mockery of the wealth
that keeps her imprisoned.

And her sultry, rosy cheeks
flushed from worry and shame,
only rouse her ‘patrons’
who leave her coarse and crimson.

Her beauty was a weapon
bent inwards from objectification,
abrasive enough to convince herself
that it was the only crown that would fit.

And though the courtesan did find fortune,
she never found the strength that it cost her
to be beautiful in this strange, cruel age.

Near-Eastern Archaeology: The Nahal Mishmar Hoard

The Nahal Mishmar hoard (מטמון נחל משמר in Hebrew) is a hoard of copper artifacts from the Chalcolithic period in Israel. This hoard was found wrapped in a grass mat, in a small cave situated in a cliff in the Judean desert. It consists of over 400 artifacts, made of copper, ivory, hematite, hippopotamus canines and more. 

This treasure bears much significance in our understanding of the Chalcolithic Near East, particularly - the southern Levant. 
The Chalcolithic period in the southern Levant (6500BP - 5500BP) acts as the entrance period to the Bronze Age. It is, if you will, a “Bronze Age Pilot”: agriculture and animal husbandry was already established, big villages (or, if you’d like, small cities) are popping up, specialized/professionalized crafts are emerging (people who learn and specialize in a specific craft, like pottery, flintknapping, building etc) - complex societies are already a thing, and most importantly, so is social hierarchy. 

What is also interesting about this is that, even though the period is referred to as “the Chalcolithic”, the copper period, there is very little copper. The absolute majority (over 90%) of the copper that is found in Israel that is dated to the Chalcolithic, is in the Nahal Mishmar hoard. This could mean that copper wasn’t yet a standard craft in the area, or perhaps wasn’t a craft at all, and was mostly imported from other areas (like Egypt and Jordan). But who imported these items? were they considered religious-ritualistic items? or perhaps luxurious? would that mean that only the rich, those high up in the Chalcolithic societal hierarchy, could afford to own these?

The maceheads in the Nahal Mishmar hoard were suggested to be connected to Egyptian ruling concepts, where the ruler holds a mace, a sceptre, to signify power: in the pic - Pharaoh Den holding a mace, bearing similarity to the sceptres and maceheads apparent in our treasure. 

This interpertation of the maceheads suggests this hoard belonged to, or was meant for the ruling classes of society. Other interpertations suggest the hoard belonged to a merchant who hid it, for whatever reason, and never came back. Or to a group of merchants using the cave as sort of a storage room. Similar interpertations suggest the hoard collectively belonged to some unknown villages which, for unknown reasons, had to uproot themselves and flee, hiding their valuables thinking they’d come back. Another theory suggests the hoard is of religious-ritualistic purposes, and belongs to the Ein Gedi Temple, which was abandoned during the same period, and is located 12km away from the cave.

Theories regarding the Nahal Mishmar hoard run wild in all directions, but not one theory is exclusively established and accepted. 

The facts :
- These items were definitely not work tools, as they are made from fragile materials that would shatter easily.
- The artifacts contain high levels of Arsenic: a chemical element that most likely did not exist in Israel at that time. The closest origin of this element to Israel was the Caucasus Mountains.
- The copper used to make these artifacts could originate from Jordan’s Wadi Feynan. 

Whatever purpose these artifacts served, one can’t deny theyre absolutely beautiful and well crafted. Just look at this cool goathead-thingy!