Friday, December 17, 2010


Sorrel has always been an integral part of Caribbean food and culture, especially during the festive Christmas season. Made from the dried petals of the sorrel flower, sorrel makes a beautiful deep-red, delicious fruity-fragrant floral tea or infusion.

Sorrel is officially called the Roselle plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa), a species of hibiscus native to the Old World tropics. Thought to have originated in Africa, Ancient Egyptian legend has it that sorrel or roselle tea was the favorite beverage of the Pharaohs of the Nile Valley. It contains natural cooling and healing properties.
Rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, it has been used as a health tonic for centuries.
It is said to help lower cholesterol and treat a variety of ailments from cough, gout, to high blood pressure, as well as act as a mild laxative.
Some parts of the sorrel plant are also rich in calcium, magnesium and beta-carotene. It is also caffeine-free. It has been suggested that drinking a cup of sorrel or roselle tea after meals can help reduce the absorption of dietary fats and carbohydrates, thanks to its natural enzyme inhibitors.
It is not recommended for those with low blood pressure or suffering from gastric ulcers.

Sorrel drink is drawn from the red petals of the Roselle plant, referred to as Sorrel in the Caribbean. It’s an annual plant and grows to a height of about two metres. The blossoms are picked and then dried to make the juice.

Mixed with sugar or honey to temper the tartness of the fruit, Sorrel is served cold with ice. It’s often mixed with rum during the holidays and prepared with spices and orange or lime peel. You can also try drinking it warm, like apple cider.

Recipe for traditional Sorrel Punch:
1 cup sorrel petals (dried)
1 litre boiling water

Orange or lime peel

1 tablespoon cloves
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground pimento

1 teaspoon cinnamon

25 g brown sugar

Dark rum (if desired)

Pour boiling water over sorrel in a glass jar or jug. Leave overnight or up to 24 hours. Strain off liquid, add sugar and rum (if desired) to taste. Chill and serve. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Orange Blossom Eau de Parfum

Orange Blossom Eau de Parfum is a single floral perfume which, like Lime Tea, also contains natural Barbados sugar alcohol as the base.
Featuring  a blend of neroli essential oil and  other essential oils and fragrance oils, it's my attempt at paying homage to the delightful aroma of true orange blossoms.

Available in a 5 ml / 1/6 oz version from my Etsy store, along with the perfume oil.

Friday, November 26, 2010

New & Improved Moringa Rose

Moringa Rose Facial Essence has gotten an upgrade! This aromatic facial elixir now includes even more skin-nourishing ingredients including organic rosehip extract, calendula and rosalina essential oil.

Still available in 10 ml size apothecary bottles through my Etsy store, a few drops of this fortified skin care oil will last a very long time!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lime Tea Eau de Toilette

A special eau de toilette version of Lime Tea perfume is now available in my Etsy store.
A light, slightly sweet and refreshing perfume oil, inspired by a 16th century formula, Lime Tea contains notes of  lime peel balanced with lemon verbena, citrus and green herbs all hand-blended into a base of natural sugar alcohol obtained right here on the island.

I also added a little bit of lime leaf tincture from the lime tree in my garden.

Made from Barbadian-distilled sugar alcohol, the sugar canes were cultivated pesticide-free and distilled using organic, traditional and time-honoured methods.

The sugar alcohol which I was fortunate enough to obtain is pure, un-aged and quite fragrant. The sweet aroma of the sugar canes marries beautifully with the individual notes of the perfume, magically uplifting, transforming and lending an understated sugar-y accord to the aromatic blend. So local Barbados sugar canes played a vital and intricate role in the formation of this unisex fragrance.

Lime Tea Eau de Toilette is not available to be shipped overseas at this time, but it can be purchased from my Etsy store to be shipped within the island.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wild tobacco

Tobacco flowers
While visiting my grandmother a couple weeks ago, I discovered she had some wild tobacco growing in her back garden. My gran has quite a few things growing in her garden, and I’m not sure if she was even aware it was back there.

My aunt gave me a few of the tobacco seeds to plant and told me they are easy to grow, just give it lots of water. Which I’ve been doing diligently so far, so we’ll see how it goes.

This is what wild tobacco looks like:

There are more than fifty types of tobacco. Wild tobacco (nicotiana rustica) is not the same as nicotiana tabacum – the commercial variety which you sniff, smoke and chew.

Wild tobacco (Nicotiana rustica) is indigenous to the West Indies and to North America east and immediately west of the Mississippi River and Lower Eastern Canada.

First Nation People have long possessed a strong medical knowledge of the tobacco plant and treated it with great reverence and as a sacred plant. For thousands of years, their respect for the plant prevented them from becoming addicted to it. It was also used to treat a variety of ailments including asthma and fever.

Steffen Arctander describes the aroma of fresh tobacco flowers as “extremely delicate, yet rich and sweet, spicy-floral, somewhat reminiscent of carnation with a fresher note, almost fruity.”

Dried tobacco leaves
Tobacco absolute – solvent extracted from the cured and fermented leaves - is a rare and prized ingredient in natural perfumery. Used as a base note, it is said to add a complex and sophisticated note to perfumes. It blends especially well with florals. On her website, Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes describes it as: musky, "dirty" and slightly sweet with floral undertones.”

Here is an update on this post.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lime, thyme and cocoa

My tincturing experiments which I began a while back have been coming along quite nicely, so I thought I would post a few photos of the results here.
As you may recall, I had started tincturing the lime leaves and broadleaf  thyme from my garden back in May, and then I tinctured some cocoa beans from Grenada in early August.

Grenadian cocoa

Broadleaf thyme

Lime leaf

 I'm quite pleased with the results, especially as this was my first attempt at tincturing anything.
The cocoa tincture has the strongest smell - I am quite surprised at how strong it is - and it's aroma is also very sweet and caramel-like, along with the chocolate smell. When I first decided to tincture the cocoa, I had envisioned it to smell like rich dark chocolate, so the sweetness surprised me - but in a pleasant way.

The lime leaf and thyme are much lighter in their scent but also very pleasant too. I think I will give these two a bit longer to marry with the alcohol.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ife: Portrait of a city

The British Museum recently held an exhibition on the Kingdom of Ife. Ife (pronounced ‘ee-fay’) was one of the great city-states of West Africa, and was located in what is now south-western Nigeria. Ife first emerged around AD 800 as a commercial, political and spiritual centre with access to lucrative trade networks.

The London exhibition showcased rarely seen brass, copper, stone and terracotta sculptures from medieval West Africa – an extraordinary display of beautiful, long-forgotten art.

Ife’s artists made remarkable works of art in copper, brass, terracotta and stone. The refined and highly naturalistic sculptures they produced were of such exquisite beauty that Ife’s place in the history of world art was assured.

By the 1100’s Ife had developed as a powerful urban trading centre. Trade operated across local, regional and long distance routes.

Trade routes ran across the Sahara desert linking North Africa and the Mediterranean to West Africa. A wide range of commodities was imported into the region including glass and carnelian beads, copper and brass. These were exchanged for locally-made glass beads, ivory and forest products such as kola nuts.

The superb sculpted heads in the exhibition featured statues of sick people, monuments to warriors, royal heads whose intriguing vertical scars tell of the ceremonies of the court. This brass head with crown, possibly representing a queen of Ife, comes from Wunmonjie Compound, Ife, 1300s - early 1400s:

Here, curators set up a seated figure cast in almost pure copper, from the village of Tada on the river Niger, late 1200s - early 1300s:

Sculptors in Ife imitated the human face with extreme detail, accuracy and sensitivity - achieving in each sculpture - like this 14th - 15th century mask - a sense of harmony, balance and proportion:

This terracotta head (below), wearing an elaborate tiered headdress or crown, was discovered from the pavement site of Ita Yemoo, Ife, 1100's - 1400s.
As you can see, there is so much still to learn about the art of Ife and the amazing world that created it. Hopefully this exhibition will be a starting point. To behold these royal heads is to travel to a fabled realm far beyond our imagination.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tincturing chocolate

Took advantage of the extra long weekend that we had last week, and decided to try my hand at tincturing some cocoa beans. The aim of course was to see if that rich, dark chocolate aroma that most of us know and love so much could be captured, and I must say I am quite pleased with the results so far. The beans I used came from Grenada, and were ground together in the form of their traditional cocoa balls.
I cleaned the beans and then pounded them into a coarse powder using a mortar and pestle, soaked them in undenatured alcohol, and shook vigourously throughout the day.

When tincturing leaves and flowers it can sometimes take weeks or more before they start to release their scent into the alcohol. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that in this case the cocoa beans released their scent almost immediately. Here is a picture of the cocoa tincture as it is coming along so far:
It smells rich, sweet and chocolaty and blends very nicely with the aroma of the sugar alcohol. I will be diluting it a bit more as I go along - as you can see it kind of looks like milk chocolate right now. With the right opportunity I will be using this tincture in a perfume, as I have longed dreamed about creating a gourmand-type perfume based around the aroma of chocolate.
Tincturing can be quite addictive, and opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Sometimes the tincturing experiments are not too successful (like the ones I tried with lemongrass). But always it allows you to feel even more appreciative and sensually connected to the natural plant materials around us.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Frangipani First Bloom

Frangipani First Bloom
Originally uploaded by BajanScent
The very first flower from my recently planted frangipani plant.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Legendary Argan Oil

Here's another premium organic oil I am offering. I'll admit I wanted to keep this one all for myself! It really makes a great all-round beauty oil - rich in antioxidants and very lightweight on the skin, you can just feel it sinking right in. I love using it around the eye area especially. See my Etsy store for more details.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Organic Tea Oil

I love collecting natural plant oils from different regions around the world, and this certified organic tea oil I am currently offering in my Etsy store. I hope to start offering a wider range of oils in my store soon.
Camellia sinensis is the sub-tropical tea plant from which green, black, white and oolong tea leaves are harvested. The tea plant, which grows naturally in the wild through much of Asia, is cultivated in a variety of settings from small family gardens to giant estates covering thousands of acres. Just like these popular teas, camellia oil also known as tea oil or white tea oil, has been proven to exhibit exceptional antioxidant activity. It has been used for centuries in the East for its rejuvenating and revitalizing properties.
The organic tea oil offered in my Etsy store is available in a 15 ml glass bottle.

Update: Since this post I got a bit greedy and decided to keep this lovely tea oil for myself! So it is no longer available in my store at the moment. But I do plan to get it back in stock again, hopefully in a few months.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I've been busy tincturing some herbs from my garden lately. Tincturing is when you take flowers, herbs, leaves, seeds and other plant materials and soak them in undenatured alcohol for a long period of time so that you can extract their scent. After storing them in a cool, dark place for a while you remove the leaves, etc. and the alcohol is left nicely scented and with all the therapeutic qualities from the plant material.
At the moment I am tincturing lemongrass leaves, broadleaf thyme and lime leaves from my garden. It will be  another few weeks before I can tell how well they came out. I have been shaking them and changing the leaves every few days as instructed.

At first, I was not happy with the progress of the lemongrass tincture at all - to me it had a very "off" smell, although when I stuck a scent strip in it I could detect the nice smell of lemongrass coming through after the "off" smell wore off. Anya McCoy, president of the Natural Perfumers Guild, said this could possibly be because the alcohol is pulling out certain chemical components from the lemongrass first, so I'll be patient and see how it goes.

The thyme and the lime leaf seem to be coming along quite nicely though.

I also just planted some frangipani and I am looking forward to when they start to bear so that I can tincture their flowers.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Vintage recipes as suggested by Rufus

Rufus Estes was one of the finest chefs of the early 1900's. Born into enslavement in 1857 in Tennessee, he went on to live an exceptional life during difficult times. After losing both of his brothers in the Civil War, he took odd jobs milking cows, gathering wood, and carrying the hot dinners for labourers who worked in the fields.
At age sixteen he got a job working at a restaurant in Nashville, and some years later entered the Pullman Service - a private car travellers agency.
For the next fourteen years Estes served some of the most prominent people in the world including presidents, business tycoons and entertainers. He published his first cookbook in 1911. Entitled: "Good Things To Eat As Suggested by Rufus - A Collection of Practical Recipes for Preparing Meats, Game, Fowl, Fish, Puddings, Pastries, Etc.", the volume took him ten years to write and contains recipes for soups, breads, pies, sauces, souffles, preserves, ice creams, beverages - many of them written in a short and charming style. This significant work represents the life of a stylish, talented and creative man.

Here are two of his recipes, for Spice Cake and Fig Layer Cake:

Spice Cake
For little spice cakes cream one-half cup of butter with one cup of sugar, add one beaten egg, one-half cup of sour milk, and one-half level teaspoon each of soda, baking powder and cinnamon, and a few gratings of nutmeg sifted with two and one-half cups of pastry flour. Stir in on-half cup each of chopped walnut meats and seeded and chopped raisins. Roll out thin and cut in shape or put small spoonfuls some distance apart on a buttered pan and press out with the end of a baking powder can until as thin as needed; do not add more flour. Bake slowly.

Fig Layer Cake
Cream one-quarter cup of butter with one cup of sugar, add one beaten egg, one cup of milk, two cups of flour sifted twice with four teaspoons of baking powder. Bake in layer tins.
For the filling chop one-half pound of figs fine, add one-half cup of sugar and one quarter cup of cold water. Cook in a double boiler until soft, let cool, and spread between the cakes.

Recipes taken from: 'Good Things To Eat As Suggested by Rufus - A Collection of Practical Recipes for Preparing Meats, Game, Fowl, Fish, Puddings, Pastries, Etc.' Copyright 1999, Howling At The Moon Press.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Leather and Lace: The antique-inspired accessories of Urban Heirlooms

I recently had the chance to interview Dana Osborne-Biggs, a talented designer who lives in New Jersey, United States. Dana is the owner of Urban Heirlooms, where she designs and handcrafts leather bags, cuffs, key jewellery and other accessories. Using genuine, luxurious leather (she purchases entire leather hides to make her bags, cuffs and wallets), authentic skeleton keys, vintage crochet lace and other components in her handmade creations, Dana embraces and replicates the beauty of time-worn objects and elements of the past. But most importantly, her designs reflect the beauty of utilitarian objects. A true vintage connoisseur and collector, her creations also have an elegantly natural quality.

I love how you describe your online boutique:
"If this were a storefront, it would be on a sunny, tree-lined street behind plate glass windows, with a wooden swing in front trailing sweet honeysuckle vines. Ella Fitzgerald would be singing from the Cole Porter Songbook, and I'd offer you a glass of sweet tea." 
When I wrote that passage I was daydreaming, as I do often, of southern summers where things move more slowly than they do here in the Northeast. You take time to stroll and amble so you have time to notice things like the heady scent of honeysuckle in full bloom, the peeling paint on window frames, dust motes in a beam of sunlight, and polished wood floors –just pretty things like that.
Would you say that your work is influenced by any particular time period or movement in history?
"I can’t say that I am influenced by any one particular time in history, but when I think of the vision I have for my shop and what I create, in the back of my mind you’ll find an old-fashioned manual cash register, packages wrapped in brown paper and twine, and clothing made from linen and cotton.
I’m imagining there’s a blacksmith down a dusty road and my skirts are long, sweeping tailored things, like Audra’s on that western, The Big Valley. I daydream a lot!"

Was there any special reason you chose to use leather as the primary medium in your designs? What do you love most about using leather?
Making leather my primary medium is something that really just evolved. In the beginning when I started making articles to sell, my intent was to work with vintage fabrics accented with just touches of vintage leather. I would buy vintage leather jackets and cut them up to use on purses, but after a while I began to feel that working that way created too much waste, and maybe that leather jacket was better left intact for some vintage clothing lover to enjoy for a few more years than for me to hack it up and fret over the scraps.

I came up with the idea of a simple leather wallet with an antique skeleton key as a closure; the first ones were made from vintage leather cut from jackets, but when the wallets became popular, it was difficult to locate vintage jackets with enough yardage that didn’t have seams and details running through them, so I started using new leather.
The wallets sold well and took on a life of their own and eventually became my signature item, so I learned how to purchase entire leather hides and fell in love with it. Good leather is heavenly to feel and smell, and it’s so beautiful, organic and versatile; you can use as much or as little detail as you want on your leather goods and if it’s excellent quality leather, it will most likely result in a gorgeous item.

What other materials besides leather do you like to work with?
I have shelves stacked with vintage crochet lace and intricate doilies, barkcloth, embroidered cottons and linens, and vintage damasks. Maybe I’m just a fabric hoarder, but I’m always swearing I’ll get back to them…as soon as I make this next leather bag…

The vintage skeleton keys you use impart an aura of mystery and hidden secrets to your work.
Do you find beauty and inspiration in the mysterious, darker elements of the past?
It’s more that I find beauty in utilitarian elements. I’m not one to go nosing around in a dark musty cobwebby basement by myself unless there are enough people at the top of the stairs to hear my screams and come rescue me! I guess you can call me "The Accidental Steampunk". I’ve heard many say that skeleton keys are dark and mysterious.
For me the mystery is wondering what doors and locks they opened—that’s why I prefer to use keys that have actual grooved bits instead of just blanks; I know they’ve most likely been used and that gets me—and my customers--to wondering. I know I have a piece of someone’s history. I love how practical tools were made with an eye for beauty and décor. What’s that saying? ““Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. The keys I collect are all of that, from the simplest hand-forged keys to the most ornately carved ones.

Do you have any favourite books, movies, songs, other artists, destination spots, works of art, anything at all that inspires or informs your work?
I’m inspired by blues and vintage jazz music, Country Living magazine, my ever-growing collection of antique and vintage African-American photographs, antiques & collectibles, flea markets, and gazing at pictures of antique laces and sexy antique French keys.
Beautiful images that set my mind to wandering, the tools of my trade…these things light up my imagination, get my hands moving, and make me want to create something wonderful.
There’s a lovely song called “Bonfire” by Lamb. I love the following passage:

“…When walking just walk, when sitting just sit,

when being just be

Above all don’t stray from your chosen path

Burn like a good bonfire

In whatever you do

Burn like a good bonfire

And I know you’ll come through…”

Those lyrics inspire me to be who I am, my truest self. I’ve had moments where I’ve ventured away from my own aesthetic and tried to make what I thought would sell and better fit a certain venue. All I got for that was a box of abandoned supplies that look silly to me now, like, what in the world was I thinking? Now I respect my own niche, focus on what I find to be beautiful, what moves and excites me in design, and I believe those creations will find their perfect audience as a result.
What's the one tool or piece of equipment that you can’t do without?
Can’t live without my rotary cutter. It allows me to cut a fluid line or curve so you don’t see that stop-start messiness you sometimes get from using scissors, and it’s easier on the hands.

Is there anything you like to do to keep the creative juices flowing?
I like a pot of hot tea, plenty of light, and a talk radio show or a chatty DJ playing new music. That keeps me entertained in the wee hours when my husband and dog are asleep and I am too aware that I’m the only one awake.

What is the most important thing you would want people to know about your work?
That important thing would be that I value what I create and it comes from an honest place-- much more an artistic place than an economic one. I take great pride in crafting a well-made item and I aim to make that evident in every design and every detail. I want everything I make to be a conversation piece, something that will delight its owner for a very long time; hopefully long enough to be passed down for the next generation to enjoy.

(All photos © Urban Heirlooms)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

King Tutankhamun’s Treasures: Perfumes, alabaster vessels and wine for the afterlife

Dr. Janice Kamrin, head of the Egyptian Museum Database Project, recently discussed some of the lifestyle objects found in Tutankhamun’s tomb by in 1922, and now housed in The Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Board games, and containers for perfumes, cosmetics and unguents, were amongst the objects displayed. These give us an insight into the lifestyles of the rich and famous ancient Egyptians.

Also shown were some of the many unguent and perfumer containers that would have been used by King Tutankhamun. Like many of the calcite vessels in King Tut's tomb, this container originally held some type of unguent, judging from the residue that still remained inside. The double golden containers rest on a silver platform around the border on which the hieroglyphs for "life" (ankh) and "dominion" (was) are incised.
The embossing on the sides of the boxes each depict the god Heh, kneeling on a basket and grasping the notched palm brand. Both in front of and behind his head are cartouches of the king, while directly over head his throne name, Nebkheperura ("Ra is the Lord of Manifestations"), is written without a cartouche, and the traditional beetle, meaning "manifestations" (or "images") is replaced by a winged beetle.

The ibex-shaped unguent container pictured below is a remarkable artefact, with one horn fashioned from real ibex horn, although the second horn is missing. Using real ibex horn would ensure that the content was effective in medicine, magic or both - as was usual in ancient Egypt:

A calcite cosmetic jar in the form of the god Bes is also on display. The container was perhaps intended for a new mother, as Bes was the protector of women in childbirth, and women and children in general.

Kamrin then shows us King Tut's stash of wine jars. The wine jars have their year written as a label on the outside, just as we do it today. The wine jars could be magically refilled in the afterlife.

With perfume, cosmetics, entertainment and plenty of food and drink available, the objects shown here help build up a picture of a rich and comfortable lifestyle for the ancient Egyptians - and a particular insight into the personality of King Tutankhamun.

Taken from:

Source: Paula Veiga, author and Egyptologist.

All photos: Copyright Sandro Vannini. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 25, 2010

BBC 4’s Lost Kingdoms of Africa: Nubia

A review by K.N. Chimbiri
The BBC’s four-part Lost Kingdoms of Africa series with art historian Dr. Gus Casely-Hayford began on Tuesday, 5th January with an episode entitled 'Nubia'. The documentary followed Dr. Casely-Hayford’s personal journey of discovery; starting with the early rock art from 7,000 years ago, through to the first kingdom of Kush with its capital at Kerma down the millennia to meet one group of the modern Nuba people. Dr. Casely-Hayford showed us beautiful Kerma pottery from the past and revealed how the tradition has continued until today. He shared his enthusiasm for ancient Kerma before moving on to Jebel Barkal
and then to Meroё.

Surprisingly, there was only one mention of gold. This is particularly surprising since many scholars consider the origin of the word ‘Nubia’ is derived from the Egyptian word ‘nbw’ which means gold. It’s not conclusive, but the documentary did not mention this at all. Instead we were told that ‘there is a suggestion that Nubia might come from Nuba and Nuba means slave’!

Nothing much was said about the legendary reputation of the ancient Kushites as promised at the start of the documentary– in fact had I not known differently I might have felt that all the other ancient civilizations only said bad things about them all the time! Kushite contributions to Egypt other than as ‘tributes’ under colonisation weren’t covered here, so viewers might have been left with the impression that these two neighbouring kingdoms only fought each other and never actually helped each other in any way at all during their thousands of years of history.

The documentary showed beautiful scenery of the landscape, pyramids and ruins like the Deffufa at Kerma and Meroё. It was easy to follow and well presented. The Kushite achievements in pottery making, pyramid building and conquest were all described. And Dr. Casely-Hayford highlighted that Kush ruled ancient Egypt for a time and that the Kushites once achieved a huge empire. I really liked the way Dr. Casely-Hayford linked the past to the present for us through the pottery, iron smelting at modern Meroё and issues of climate change. He was engaging and I especially enjoyed the end when he even tried some of the Nuba wrestling!

Like ancient Egypt, Kush had an economy that was based on agriculture. If this were simply a travelogue it would have been satisfying enough to see the traditions in pottery, music, dancing, wrestling, cattle culture, iron-smelting and ruins which have survived until today. But this was advertised as a history programme and yet it failed to show an accurate picture of Kushite past achievements.

We were told to expect history "as impressive and extraordinary as anywhere else in the world"; but then we were not shown (or even told in passing) about the more complex cultural Kushite achievements, for example, the achievements in literacy, creating an alphabet, the trade in luxury goods, nor anything of the legendary gold working traditions. Nor did we hear of any of the Kushite contributions to Egypt or beyond.

Unfortunately, although it was well-shot and well-presented, Lost Kingdoms of Africa: Nubia did not live up to its own claims. Parents, guardians and teachers around the world often look to documentaries, particularly those by the BBC, as a source of up-to-date information to use at home or in the classroom for educational purposes. Lost Kingdoms of Africa: Nubia could have been a useful resource. However, since the lost aspects of this once great civilization were omitted in favour of present links through singing, dancing, wrestling, etc., educators will have to look elsewhere.

Kandace Chimbiri is a history writer who resides in London. She is especially interested in the classical eras of African history. Her website is

If you missed it, Lost Kingdoms of Africa: Nubia is available on BBC iPlayer until 8.59pm on Tuesday 2nd February 2010. Photos shown here are copyrighted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)