Valentines Blog 2021 (Part 1)
Before sugar, in pre-industrial times, honey was the main source of concentrated sweetness in the diets of many peoples. On our new logo you will see an ancient Egyptian bee, but why?
Honey has been used medicinally for millennia. In ancient Egyptian medicine it was the most popular medication of its time. It appeared over 500 times in the 900 supposed remedies that were known to the ancient Egyptians.
While at Pharaohs Phlowers we believe, like the ancient Egyptians, that flowers are magical (see part two of our Valentines Blog), but we also agree with Amina Harris
Due to its anti-bacterial properties, it can be used for treating cuts, infections, ulcers etc. a quality of honey is the fact that It has every single nutrient needed to keep a person alive e.g. water, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that give the body the needed energy. The antioxidants in honey also increases the functions of the brain. Additionally honey helps to facilitate the production of immune cells present in the body.
The the earliest methods of bee keeping ever recorded are painted in pictures on the walls of many ancient Egyptian tombs.
At this time the bee was considered sacred and a symbol or resurrection. In Egyptian mythology the Sun God, Ra, created the honey bee from his tears. The bee, representing the word bit – meaning “bee” or “honey” in hieroglyphics, was used as a prefix to the throne name of Egyptian rulers.
‘Bee’ stood for “He of the Bee” or “King of Lower Egypt. Ancient Egyptians practised bee keeping and for four and a half thousand years and they made hives from pipes of clay. Sacred animals were fed cakes sweetened with honey. These animals included the sacred bull at Memphis, the sacred lion at Leontopolis, and the sacred crocodile at Crocodilopolis.
Sometimes, alongside the mummified remains of a Pharaoh, among the numerous provisions for the afterlife, can be found a jar or two of 3000-year-old honey 3
Beekeeping is most famously depicted in the Theban tomb of Pabasa (TT279), an official during the 26th Dynasty (c. 650 BC) (see above).
In 2015 in a tomb Egyptian archaeologists found sealed pots of wine, olive oil and honey. According to ancient Egyptian beliefs, these items were placed there over 3000 years ago to nourish the souls of the dead in the after-life. The wine had gone off, the olive oil had disappeared but the honey was as good as new.
A ritual from the Book of “Am-Tuat” 1, or “the Otherworld”, compares the voices of souls to the hum of bees.
‘Cottonopolis’ And Egypt
Pharaohs Phlowers based in Manchester, uses an ancient bee hieroglyph in our logo and on the back of our printed designs this is because the bee was a symbol for Egypt and Manchester.
Manchester, where we are based also has a strong link with the Bee. As the center and heart of the Industrial Revolution it became the symbol of mass production and hard work, strength and solidarity. Another similarity is that the run off from the Pennines became a lifeblood for the industrial revolution; just like the Nile in Ancient Egypt became their lifeblood. In 1801 10,000 people lived in Manchester but by the end of the century there were 400.000 ‘worker bees’. Most of these workers were women and children. In the mid 1800s there were 108 mills in ‘Cottonopolis’.
All our flowers are preserved a short distance from the famous city of Manchester and in the (often rainy) shadow of the Pennines often described geographically as the “backbone of England”.
Manchester also has other Egyptian links. There are 18,000 Ancient Egyptian objects in the Manchester Museum.
“The collection includes a unique set of ritual objects from a tomb in Thebes, a 3.8-metre-tall pyramid temple column from Herakleopolis Magna, various animal mummies, hundreds of small figurines, gilded mummy masks, jewellery, and statues. Perhaps the highlight of the collection are two mummies of the brothers Nakht-Ankh and Khnum-Nakht and numerous associated items, taken on mass from ‘The Tomb of Two Brothers’ found in the cliffs above the village of Dier Rifa and dating back nearly four millennia to the Middle Kingdom”.Jon Silver, The Meteor, 2019
Originally published on Medium on 02/05/19
The collection was ‘collected’ by William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) and the archaeological excavations were financed by Jesse Haworth (1835–1921), a Cotton Mill Entrepreneur who took over James Dillworth & Son ( started by a 17 year old apprentice in Preston Lancashire).
Part of the collection in the Manchester Museum is Object Number 296. A thin pottery vessel 38cmx7.8cm open at one end and a small hole at the opposite end. Identified at the museum as an ancient Egyptian beehive with traces of pollen and one dead bee inside.
Honey for my Sweet- Are they worth 12 Jars of Honey a year?
Some writers believe that for the Ancient Egyptians honey was a luxury item, sold at prices only the most wealthy could afford (Darby et al. 1977), and the less well-off made do with concentrated fruit juices, especially date juice, as their sweetener. In the 5th century BC, Herodotus wrote that the average Egyptian ate bread, barley, wine, fish and birds: there is no mention of honey, but another writer is of exactly the opposite opinion, stating that honey was widely available and to be found in all households of Ancient Egypt (Ransome, 1937). The wealthy, literate few are survived by their writings, artwork and buildings, while the poor leave us but few clues to the nature of their lives. he truth may be that honey was used by everyone. Ramses III was able to offer the Nile god some 14000 Kg of honey as a sacrifice about 1180 B.C3.
Today the most expensive honey for your sweet comes from Turkey.
Love and Marriage (and Honey)
The first known marriages occurred in ancient Egypt Ancient Egyptian marriage was a social and economic arrangement, not a legal one. They married within their social class and both retained their property.The wedding ring was originally made by weaving hemp into a circle. The wedding ring represented that the combination of the couple and the divine made a complete circle. Bridesmaids and brides wore similar dresses in order to confuse evil spirits. The original wedding bouquets were made of thyme and garlic to keep evil spirits away!
A surviving ancient Egyptian marriage contract states;
(An amount which would come to about 613 kg per year (Ransome, 1937).
The Papyrus Harris
Is the largest and most gorgeously preserved papyri to survive from ancient Egypt. Multiple scrolls some 41 metres long, the Papyrus Harris I is also known as the Great Harris Papyrus and is the longest known papyrus from Egypt, with some 1,500 lines of text, and also some Love poetry.
The text of the papyrus consists of a list of temple endowments and a summary of the entire reign (1186–1155 BC) of king Ramesses III
The text of the papyrus is written in hieratic, which is a cursive script that originated from hieroglyphics. It is said that it was much easier and quicker to write than the symbols of hieroglyphics.
Of course Frank Sinatra mentioned once or twice that love and marriage go together like a..
But the Ancient Egyptians had their own songs.
Ancient Egyptian Love Poetry
“Whenever I Leave You ”
from the Harris Papyrus, 500 Song Cycle 2, 15th Century BCE, Egypt.
Whenever I leave you, I go out of breath
Death must be lonely like I am
I dream lying dreams of your love lost
And my heart stands still inside me
I stare at my favorite datecakes
They would be salt to me now
And pomegranate wine, once sweet to our lips
Bitter, bitter as birdgall
Touching noses with you, love, your kiss alone
And my stuttering heart speaks clear
Breathe me more of your breath, let me live!
Woman, meant for me!
The Goddess herself gave you as Her Holy gift
My love to outlast forever
“Let My Love Love Me Best ”
from the Turin Papyrus, in the Ramesside period circa 1100 BCE, Egypt.
Let my love love me best and I shall ordain
Her hands full of lotus blossoms and flowers
Full of buds and perfumes, strong ale
And beer of every brewable kind
Then she’ll give me, her love, a day to remember
Make me drink down this day to its last shadow
Manchester’s Pyramid and A Leading Lady Snail Farmer.
Manchester, our base, also has more Egyptian Links.
In fact it had its very own ‘Pyramid’ .
On 24th February 1934 John Buckley , a local entrepreneur spent £5000 (£361,000 thousand pounds today) on a piece of land in Sale at 22 Washway Road, to build a large and lavish super cinema pseudo Egyptian in style, Named The Pyramid.
Local churches and police campaign against the project was vivacious. It had a construction budget of 70,000 (about five million pounds in today’s money) internally, the Egyptian theme was like Graumans Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The theme was included in the specially designed Christie Organ, which is currently installed in the Blue Coat School in Oldham.
The magistrates gave way and issued the licenses in early 1934, enabling the Pyramid to open on Monday 26th February 1934 with a stage show and it’s first film ~ “My Lips Betray”, starring Lilian Harvey & John Boles.
The cinema was purchased by Trafford Borough council for £200,000, but by 1987 the costs to the council were estimated at £1.5 million. A campaign was started to save it from demolition.
In 1988, it was advertised for sale by tender and by 1990 the cinema was converted into an American themed nightclub, known as JFK’s, and the nightclub closed around 2001 and the auditorium was transformed into a franchised L.A. Fitness Centre; In 2013 it became a Sports Direct Fitness Club.
The first film shown at the theater was “My Lips Betray”, starring Lilian Harvey & John Boles.
Lilian Harvey’s brother, Walter J Harvey was the cinematographer for the Avengers series in the 1960s starring Patrick Macnee, and director of photography on The Saint starring Roger Moore
Lilian Harvey was born on January 19th, 1906 in London. Her mother was English and her father was German. When she was eight her family moved to Berlin shortly before the outbreak of WW1 after many roles in silent films, UFA found great use for her acting, dancing and language skills in many famous light operettas made with the advent of sound. These highly popular films (usually co-starring Willy Fritsch, with whom she became irrevocably associated in the public’s mind as the romantic dream-team of the European cinema) were usually made in three different languages at once. He was instrumental in helping those persecuted by the Nazis escape until her film popularity waned and she was forced to escape as well.
The political turbulence’s of the 30’s left its mark on the great Lillian Harvey. She spoke for the choreographer Jens Keith and finally helped him to escape to Switzerland. As a result Lillian Harvey was interrogated by the Gestapo.
She eventually landed in the USA and spent most of WW2 in Los Angeles working as a volunteer nurse. After the war, Harvey moved to Paris. In the following years, she travelled as a singer through Scandinavia and Egypt. In 1949, she returned to West Germany giving several concerts.
Lillian Harvey retired to the resort town of Antibes on the French Riviera, where she operated a souvenir shop and raised edible snails.
While you wont find any edible snails in our online shop we do have Egytpian Related Valentines Cards and preserved flowers
Our range of Valentines Cards include a personalised Hieroglyphs card where you can have your sweethearts name in their very own royal cartouche on the front of a card – and its a lot cheaper than twelve jars of honey in Ancient Egypt !
They are left blank inside for your own message – if you are short of inspiration you are welcome to use a 3000 year old Harris Papyrus Love verse….
The only question is, is your sweet worth 12 jars of honey a year ?
To Check out our Valentine cards click below on the photo below
(1) This book is an Ancient Egyptian cosmological treatise which describes the Tuat, the underworld that the boat of the Sun God, Ra, traverses during the night hours. Each chapter deals with one of the twelve hours of the night. A hallucinogenic travelogue of the netherworld, this extensively illustrated book depicts hundreds of gods and goddesses that appear nowhere else in the literature.
Honey revisited: A reappraisal of honey in pre-industrial diets, May 1996 , British Journal Of Nutrition 75(4):513-20
(3) British Journal of Nutrition (1996), 75, 513-520, KAREN A. ALLSOP AND JANETTE BRAND MILLER
Ransome, Hilda M. “The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore”. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1937. Pp. 19-41)
Funerary beliefs and symbols in Ancient Egyptian Elite tombs, Kelee M Siat, 2012, online essay