Persephone Pioneers: Janet Stephens, Hair Archaeologist

Janet Stephens is a real-life Indiana Jones: by day, she’s a hairdresser, but by night, she’s a hair archaeologist. Her interest isn’t just casual: she’s been published  in academic journals, she presents regularly at conferences, and she is the first person to take studying and recreating ancient hairstyles seriously. Welcome, Janet Stephens!

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3 Medieval Outlaws

Was Robin Hood real? Most evidence (it’s lack) suggests no. He seemed real enough to medieval people. And stories about Robin may have been based on three real medieval outlaws: Hereward the Wake, Eustace the Monk, and Fulk Fitzwarin.

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Red and Mossy: A Brief History of Menstruation

As a historian, as a former SCAdian (medieval re-enactor), as someone who likes neomedieval fiction, the question I’ve seen pop up the most is: What did people in the past do about issues like menstruation? Most SCAdians use modern products under their historical clothing, and fictional series can ignore it. But obviously real people didn’t have that luxury.

This isn’t a comprehensive study of every time and culture (though if someone wants to pay me to do that. . . ). Instead, this is the kind of info you can use to inform your ideas about Game of Thrones or Skyrim characters. Menstruation through largely a historical European lens.

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Mughal Bread: Flat Bread fit for an Emperor

The Mughal Empire was founded in 1529 and at its height reached from Kabul (Afghanistan) to Kanyakumari (in the state of Tamil Nadu, in southernmost India). The Mughals were Persian and their cooks borrowed from Persian and Indian cuisine, leaving us with such beloved dishes as pulau, paneer, and biryani.

This bread recipe is from the 16th century book, Ain i Akbari by Abul Fazl. This translation is by David Friedman.

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Leagues and Leagues of Remarkable Women

It is utterly classic for me to get extraordinarily enthusiastic about a project and then, slowly and inevitably, get dragged down in to the muck and the mire of the details of getting it going. For instance: as a child, I spent hours sculpting the characters for the stories I was of course going to write — excel spreadsheets with the color of hair, shape of forehead, style of dress, and on and on and on. The stories themselves never got all that far off the ground. Read More Leagues and Leagues of Remarkable Women

Happy Charlemagne Coronation Day!

I’m not religious, but I love celebrations. Instead of Christmas, I dedicate my tree to Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne.

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Wassail Was-what?

The holidays are a time for family, friends, fun, and. . . hazy traditions. Wassail is a drink or a time to party or something right? Dating back to Ye Olden Days? Or is it something more?

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A Short History of the Cranberry

I am making cranberry sauce for the first time ever. Because I am a historian, I decided to read up on cranberries. Did they appear at the first Thanksgiving? Is there a reason we eat them as a sauce or (shudder) jelly from a can? Let’s find out!

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