Author Archive | Martha Shelley

Esther = Ishtar: the Pagan Origins of Purim

Cakes for Purim Purim has been called “the Jewish Halloween.” In its origins, however, I’d say it was more like Carnival. On Purim Jews in various countries dress up in costumes, get drunk, put on plays, sing, parade, burn effigies of Haman (the traditional enemy), and eat little triangular filled cakes. Central to the holiday […]

Continue Reading 2

Oil for the Lamps of Assyria

Natural oil seep, Iraq You and I live in a petroleum-based global economy. Most likely you’ve heard of the theory of “peak oil,” meaning that there’s only so much oil in the ground. Once we start running out, prices will skyrocket. Scientists, economists, and oil industry representatives have been arguing about this theory for years. […]

Continue Reading 0

Israel v Palestine: a Proposal

Gaza War, 2014 I grew up in a large family of pogrom and Holocaust survivors. We were taught that Israel’s existence gave all Jews a sense of pride and security that had been denied us for almost two millennia. The Arabs? I knew nothing about them. One afternoon in 1982, when I was a novice […]

Continue Reading 3

Nile Mud, Dirt, and Ancient Medicine

In December, I blogged about how modern scientists are rediscovering the use of copper to kill germs. This week I’m interested in reports of a new antibiotic, one that doesn’t seem to induce resistance. We know that the overuse of antibiotics in modern medicine and factory farming has allowed bad bugs to evolve into badder, […]

Continue Reading 1

Scurrilous Cartoons in Ancient Egypt

It has been quite a week for the cartoon industry. Seems like everyone either insists they are Charlie, or wants to murder them. I checked out the Charlie Hebdo covers published by The Huffington Post and found them adolescent and poorly drawn, sometimes obscene but never particularly funny. Certainly not worth the effort of killing […]

Continue Reading 0

Copper, Germs, and Ancient Egypt

In the process of writing historical fiction, the challenge is often to integrate research about the period into a story that captivates the reader. In my novel The Throne in the Heart of the Sea and its sequel, The Stars in their Courses, one of my characters becomes a physician, so I first had to […]

Continue Reading 0

The Hurricane Headed for Cuba

Cuba has been big news this week. What I’ve gathered from the papers, including readers’ comments, is there seem to be three points of view: 1) Most Americans are happy about the prospect of normal relations between the U.S. and that island nation. 2) A handful of aging anti-Communist exiles, and their Republican supporters, are […]

Continue Reading 2

Assyrian Empire: Blood at the Banquet

This week the big news in the U.S. has been about torture, as conducted by the C.I.A. after 9/11. I’ve spent some time with the comments section in my hometown newspaper: the majority of readers are outraged, while some defend the practice. Some even seem naïve enough to be shocked. However, most ruling elites, ours […]

Continue Reading 0

Privacy Policy

We do not retain any credit card information
and will not sell, lend, or otherwise transfer your
contact information to anyone, ever.