Placeholder Picture

Kings & Queens of Britain

Notes: Chapter 1

It will be seen that I often quote Wikipedia to whom I’ve sent money when I can to help their brilliant project. I hope the various disciplines touched on here won’t find too many errors. I use the BCE/CE calendar system in which numbers are the same as in BC/AD, so 100 BC is 100 BCE (Before Common Era) and 100 AD is 100 CE (Common Era). It strips out the commitment to one faith. I offer a lot of notes, especially at the beginning, since there’s no reason why readers should trust me.

  1. Detail of ivory knife handle of c.3300-3200 BCE, found at Gebel el-Arak on the Nile, showing King He Who Saw the Abyss holding apart two lions - who smile delightfully. Photo,, 2006, from Wikipedia, Gebel-el-Arak Knife.
  2. I’m calling him King He Who Saw the Abyss, out of several epithets known for him, for that’s how he’s addressed in the opening lines of the version of his life/myths written in Akkadian by Moon God Accepts My Prayer c.1300-1000 BCE. See Wikipedia, Sîn léqi-unninni and Wikipedia, Gilgamesh, including captions. Possible meaning of King He Who Saw the Abyss’s name as Gilgamesh,
  3. George Smith ‘jumped up’, David Damrosche, Smithsonian Magazine, May 2007.
  4. Wikipedia has entries for David Livingstone, Henry Stanley, Heinrich Schliemann, and Burkhart Waldecker. Wikipedia entries.
  5. The exact date of the meeting between Stanley and Livingstone was 10 November 1871, Wikipedia, Henry Stanley.
  6. 365,000 square miles is the size of today’s Tanzania.
  7. That ‘Darkest Africa’ was a popular 19th century English language term for the Tanzanian region south of the Equator, Wikipedia, White Nile.


  1. Livingstone’s childhood and the lions of Bechuanaland (Botswana), Wikipedia.
  2. The noise was what impressed me most…”, John Clynes, quoted by Spartacus. in 2020.
  3. “The vast plains…” Wikipedia, David Livingstone/vision for Africa, citing William Garden Blaikie.
  4. Botswana today identified as the oldest continuous African democracy etc, Wikipedia entry.
  5. The current guess that Botswana is where humanity evolved. Wikipedia, Botswana/early history, citing Human Origins in a Southern African Palaeo Wetland and First Migrations, Nature (weekly scientific journal), 28 October 2019 (many authors), and Aylin Woodward, New Study Pinpoints the Ancestral Homeland of all Humans Alive Today,, 29 October 2019.
  6. Livingstone and the lions, his Wikipedia entry.
  7. Or latitude -26° and latitude 24, depending which way up you hold the world.


  1. A suspicion that texts presented as by God might have been by human beings. This was (e.g.) Napoleon’s belief. “Bonaparte's secretary wrote that his employer had no serious interest in Islam or any other religion beyond their political value. [His] principle look upon religions as the work of men, but to respect them everywhere as a powerful engine of government...” See also Wikipedia, Historicity of the Bible.
  2. Livingstone and science, Wikipedia, David Livingstone.
  3. Goethe, author of The Sorrows of Werther, admired Niebuhr, Wikipedia, Carsten Niebuhr/death and legacy. “You carry a name”, he said to Niebuhr’s son, “which I have honoured since my youth.”
  4. The TaNaKh, the usual term today among Hebrew-speakers for the texts which Christianity in English calls the Old Testament. It’s an acronym, hence the up and down spellings, of the first Hebrew letter of each of the three traditional divisions, the Torah (or five Books of Moses), the Nevi’im (‘Prophets), and the Ketuvim (‘Writings). An older alternative to TaNaKh is Miqra (“that which is read”). Wikipedia, Hebrew Bible/the name “tanakh’. See also first-words-of-the-bible.
  5. The term "Middle Ages" apparently first appears in Latin in 1469 as media tempestas or "middle season", Wikipedia, Middle Ages/terminology & periodisation.
  6. It was an Italian Renaissance perception that a whole era, 400s CE to early 1400s CE, had just passed away.
  7. ‘Middle Ages’, as a term, is first known from the 17th century.
  8. I’m using ‘middle season’ (covering 400s to 1400s CE) because it seems refreshing. ‘Middle Ages’ was over-used in the 19th century and is surely now jaded.
  9. “I met a traveller…” From Ozymandias (1818) by Shelley, adapted from the text at
  10. Shelley had Egypt in mind with his broken statue, not Asia, for the British Museum had just, in 1818, acquired from Thebes a fragment of a colossal statue of Ramesses II.
  11. The Persepolis inscription, Wikipedia, Carsten Niebuhr/expeditions.


  1. Momoro’s ideas: his Wikipedia entry. Also, Wikipedia, Dechristianization of France during the French Revolution/new policies of the revolutionary authorities.
  2. “I did not learn…”. Wikipedia, Nineveh/archaeology.
  3. Possible composition date of the Nevi’im story of Jonah and the whale. Wikipedia Book of Jonah.
  4. Possible alternative explanations of the name ‘Shaddai’ are ‘god of the Mountain’ and “god the Destroyer”. For Shaddai, see Wikipedia, El Shaddai.
  5. For the attack on the Peruvians’ faith in many gods. Wikipedia Francisco Pizzaro/legacy.
  6. The footnote about the agreed mis-translation of ‘Shaddai’ as ‘Almighty God’ is in the Oxford Holy Bible Anglicized Edition (1995) p.13, note ‘s’ to verse 1, ch.1. Some translators of the Bible into English have kept ‘Shaddai’. John Bunyan of Bedford (1628-1688), author of the Pilgrim’s Progress, did so. See The Holy War, Wikipedia, and The New Jerusalem Bible (1985), approved for use in the Roman Christian communion, apparently retains ‘Shaddai’.


  1. Transform kingdom of Israel:, also known as Samaria, c.930-720 BCE. Wikipedia, Kingdom of Israel (Samaria).
  2. Yemini trade in perfumes (incense), and how gum is induced to bleed from thorn bushes by repeatedly wounding them. Wikipedia, Myrrh.
  3. Nineveh the largest city on earth c.700 BCE “The enclosed area had more than 100,000 inhabitants (maybe closer to 150,000), about twice as many as Babylon at the time, placing it among the largest settlements worldwide”. The size was still remembered - 100, 000 inhabitants - in the early 600s CE in the Quran, 37:148.
  4. For Inanna, known as Ishtar in the Akkadian tongue, Wikipedia, Inanna. Her name derives, it’s thought, from Nin-An-A(k) in the Sumerian language of the days of King He Who Saw the Abyss.
  5. ‘Proud of her vulva’. See Chapter Two, Queen Lady Who Ascends Into Heaven.
  6. That Nabu was female to begin with, c.2125 BCE. Wikipedia, Nisaba.
  7. The ear of grain in the hat. How writing, it came to be believed in Nineveh and Babylon, came to be invented by the inhabitants of southern Iraq, and Nabu’s symbols as goddess/god of grain and writing. Wikipedia, Nisaba.


  1. ‘The Big Flaw’, Jonathan Ford and Madison Marriage, Financial Times, 1 August 2018.
  2. The meaning of the name En-Heduanna, I assume professional singers and writers of c.500s BCE, whether Hebrew or of Nineveh, would have been aware of “Lady Ornament”, despite her having lived 1,600 or so years before their own lives.
  3. The provable real-life existence of En-Hedu-An c.2200 BCE was proposed by Adam Falkenstein (1906-1966), writing in German in Revue d’Assyriologie et d’Archéologie Orientale in 1958.
  4. Falkenstein was reappraising artefacts brought out of the el-Muqayyar mound in southern Iraq in 1927 by the Hackney-born British excavator of the site, Leonard Woolley (1880-1960). Woolley identified el-Muqayyar as the original “Ur of the Chaldees”, to great media excitement.
  5. Gods who dictated texts before the 700s BCE: it became a teaching in synagogues that Shaddai had dictated the Torah, the first five books of the TaNaKh, concerning his own origins and the Jewish sense of identity, over the course of forty years to a prophet called Moses (‘son’ or ‘deliverer’), beginning in 1312 BCE. Wikipedia,Torah /Torah and Judaism.
  6. ‘And anthropologists…’: Marta Weigle (1944-2018), An American anthropologist, learned of “Lady Ornament” in 1976 and drew the attention of American feminists to this new gender primacy. Wikipedia, Enheduanna.


  1. Meaning of the name Jonah.
  2. Chaplin drops a stove on the head of the bully in Easy Street.
  3. The size of Nineveh. Wikipedia.
  4. London’s population in 1300 CE. Wikipedia, History of London.
  5. Population of Jerusalem. Wikipedia, Demographic History of Jerusalem/Persian period.
  6. Aramaic.
  7. Suspendisse pulvinar mi at hendrerit gravida
  8. Akkadian (extinct), had two dialects, Babylonian and, in Nineveh, Assyrian.
  9. Jonah heads for Sardinia: perhaps. Wikipedia, Tarshish.
  10. The Samarra story: A man is jostled by a woman in the market place in Babylon and, turning crossly, see she is Death. He begs a horse off his master and rides frantically for Samarra, eighty miles off. His master, back in Babylon, or in Baghdad, sees the woman and asks, why did you make a threatening gesture against my servant? That wasn’t a threatening gesture, says Death, it was a start of surprise: I have an appointment with him in Samarra.
  11. I assume the Samarra story was an immortal one, told for tens of thousands of years.
  12. Samarra is now a city of death, part of the Sunni Triangle of violence (2020) and the British seized it during “the Bastard War” of 1917, losing 56,000 British and dominion/colonial troops to injury or death (18,000 of them to illness), with unknown numbers of locals dying in Samarra.
  13. Sailing speed, google answer.


  1. I imagine the sophisticates of Nineveh c.600 BCE would have worn eyeliner and nail polish
  2. ‘Prophet’ deriving in English from Greek for ‘spokesman’, Used as an equivalent of the Hebrew nabj, a predicter of upcoming events.
  3. A man in Bahrain.
  4. ‘For 2,484 years…’; 612 BCE (destruction of Nineveh) plus 1872 CE (Smith reads the long-buried inscription).
  5. ‘The first-known prophet…’: Enki of Eridu: a god in the fiction of c.1300-1000 BCE discovered by George Smith. I assume that some prophetic individual or series of individuals lay behind the ‘god’ version. Eridu was a city twenty-five or so miles from the shores of the Persian Gulf and 600 or so miles south of Nineveh.
  6. ‘In 380 CE…’: the year Christianity was made the official religion of the Roman Empire.
  7. Gospel of Matthew mentions of Jesus speaking of Jonah are in e.g. chapter 12 verses 38-41, and also in Luke.


  1. For Champollion. Wikipedia.
  2. I assume scholars would receive from an army quartermaster in a war the worst of the violently-seized accommodations en-route and the worst of the mounts stolen from locals.
  3. Champollion ‘congratulated by an amazed audience…’: Wikipedia, Jean-François Champollion/letter to dacier.
  4. The Académie itself was founded far earlier on advice to a French king, Louis XIV, in 1663.
  5. The crater. ibid/legacy.


  1. For Champollion and the ‘wedges’, Wikipedia, Jean-François Champollion/contribution to the decipherment of cuneiform.
  2. The pot was the “Caylus vase” in alabaster, held today at the Cabinet des Medailles, Paris.
  3. The Dane was Bishop Friedrich Münter of Copenhagen (1761-1830).
    The Germans were Carsten Niebuhr from Saxony (1733-1815), Georg Grotefend (1775-185), also of Saxony, and Julius Oppert of Hamburg (1825-1905).
    The Occitanian was Jean-François Champollion of Cahors (1790-1832).
    The Norwegian was Christian Lassen of Bergen (1800-1876).
    The Frenchmen was Eugène Bournouf of Paris (1801-1852).
    The Irishman was Edward Hincks from Cork (1792-1866).
    The Englishmen were Sir Thomas Herbert (1606-1682); Oxfordshire-born Sir Henry Rawlinson (1810-1895); and Henry Fox Talbot of Lacock (1800-1877), also one of the pioneers of photography.
  4. Events of 1857. Wikipedia.
  5. ‘The Weeping Time’ in Georgia: to pay his gambling debts, Pearce Mease Butler, a grandson of a “Founding Father of the United States” (Major Pierce Butler (1744-1822, a delegate at the United States Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia of 1787), arranged “the largest single sale of enslaved people in US history”, Wikipedia, The Great Slave Auction.
  6. Butler sold four hundred and thirty-six black plantation workers, children, women and men, including skilled craft-workers and engineers, the descendants of families kidnapped and brought to the Americas from west Africa in the 18th century by Bristol, Liverpool, and London-owned ships.
  7. Also about ‘The Weeping Time’ in Georgia: for four days before the auction the four hundred and thirty-six black citizens of the USA were kept in stalls meant for horses at a race-track (in Savannah, Georgia), where prospective buyers treated them as farm livestock. The bidders “poked, pinched, and fondled them. The buyers opened their mouths, inspecting their teeth and examined them for ruptures or defects on their bodies that might affect their productivity.” Wikipedia, ibid.