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November 12, 2019

Both the term “graffiti” and its rarely used singular form “graffito” are from the Italian word graffiato meaning scratched. In ancient times, graffiti was scratched into surfaces with a sharp object, although chalk and coal were also used. Graffiti is defined as a form of artistic expression ranging from simple words to elaborate paintings made without permission and within public view.


Graffiti has occurred since anci...

November 5, 2019

“Will you look at that!” Bion made a sound, equal parts gasp and squeal. “No wonder he slept with a cudgel.” As he lifted the sack out of the chest, he said, “For the love of Isis, this must weigh several librae.”


How much was a libra, the Roman unit of weight? It was almost three-quarters of a pound, but the truth is there’s no way to know the exact correspondence. Units of measure then were not so standardized the way...

October 29, 2019

Miriam bat Isaac, a budding alchemist and amateur sleuth in first-century CE Alexandria, becomes frantic when her best friend, Phoebe, is kidnapped. At the same time, a brute of a man is stalking Nathaniel ben Ruben, an itinerant potbellied dwarf. Could this brute, the last surviving jewel thief from the Temple of Artemis, be the same man who has kidnapped Phoebe?
Let THE DEADLIEST THIEF take you into the Alexandria's...

October 22, 2019

In THE DEADLIEST HATE, when Miriam is in Caesarea, she takes the side streets to avoid not only the traffic but the assassins who could be lurking in the shadow of every portico, the shade of every alley, and the plume of every cloud of dust. And so, along the lanes, she peeks over the lattice fences to see the pools of floating lotus lilies, their delicately-scented flowers unfurled for their morning pollinators.


October 15, 2019

Catching criminals has always been difficult, but centuries ago, all sleuths had to go on were their wits and whatever clues the culprit left behind. Selected by Wiki Ezvid, The Deadliest Lie is one of the nine most riveting mysteries taking place in a bygone era.


Set during the days of the Roman Empire, it features Miriam bat Isaac, a clever investigator and renowned alchemist who tracks the culprit who stole from he...

October 8, 2019

Olives are served frequently in the Miriam bat Isaac novels. For example, in THE DEADLIEST HATE, Miriam’s second adventure, when she is sailing to Caesarea on the Orion, a portly waiter wheels in a cart bearing a platter of roasted capons and salvers of brined olives, deviled eggs, and melon balls. Once in Caesarea when visiting the owner of a bookshop, she is served a silver tray of Egyptian dates, Damascus figs, olives, barl...

October 1, 2019

Alexander’s spectacular campaigns not only won for him an empire stretching from his Greek homeland, Macedonia, to the western border of India, but they united most of the Greek people. Prior to his conquests, they’d lived in autonomous and fiercely independent city-states, each with its own culture, politics, and resources.


The empire was divided into three parts after Alexander died in 323 BCE. Ptolemy I, one of Alexa...

September 24, 2019

Miriam often refers to the comfort of Phoebe’s lavender-scented embrace. In THE DEADLIEST SPORT, Miriam tells of Phoebe’s Shabbat visits to her home. Crossing the threshold of her atrium and cutting short her trill of delight, Phoebe opens her arms to gather Miriam into her lavender-scented bosom and swallow her up in the folds of her body.


In THE DEADLIEST THIEF, when Miriam fears that Phoebe is dead, she moans:...

September 17, 2019

In THE DEADLIEST LIE, Miriam brags about living in the finest neighborhood of Alexandria:

Of the three residential quarters in Alexandria, the Jewish quarter is the district Ptolemy I pledged to our people to encourage us to settle here. We’re on the coast and farthest from the main necropolis. Alexandrians have been burying their dead there for more than a century, whether in multi-chambered underground tombs of stone decorate...

September 10, 2019

In THE DEADLIEST LIE, Aunt Hannah tells Miriam about her mother’s visit to an astrologer: “When your mother felt life quicken inside her, she went to her astrologer, who told her that she’d have a daughter with great gifts, one whose contributions would be famous for centuries but who would also experience great losses. So, she knew your life would be exceptional.”


With the conquest of Asia by Alexander the Great, astro...

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