This Week In History News, Aug. 18 – 24

Published August 23, 2019

Cleopatra's perfume discovered, hidden da Vinci sketch found under iconic painting, Soviet message in a bottle washes ashore after 50 years.

Researchers May Have Recreated Cleopatra’s Perfume Thanks To 2,000-Year-Old Residue

Marc Anthony Meeting Cleopatra

Wikimedia CommonsMarc Anthony meeting Cleopatra.

After centuries’ worth of paintings and sculptures, we have a pretty good idea of what Cleopatra, the storied ruler of ancient Egypt, looked like. But now, we may also know what she smelled like.

After years of excavations and study, a group of researchers believe they’ve solved this mystery and actually recreated Cleopatra’s perfume.

Robert Littman and Jay Silverstein of the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa have been investigating the perfumes of the ancient world for years, focusing in particular on what scent Cleopatra herself might have worn.

Read more about Cleopatra’s perfume here.

Hidden Sketch Found Underneath Da Vinci’s 500-Year-Old Masterpiece ‘Virgin Of The Rocks’

Hidden 'Virgin Of The Rocks' Painting

The National GalleryThe finished painting (left) and Da Vinci’s considerations mid-work in sketch form on the right.

Museumgoers at London’s National Gallery have likely walked by and marveled at Leonardo Da Vinci’s 15th-century painting “The Virgin of the Rocks” without a clue as to what lay beneath. As it turns out, for the past 500 years, neither did anyone else.

A recent scientific analysis of the painting using new infrared and hyperspectral imaging revealed Da Vinci’s handprints and early sketches of the work underneath the final product.

Dig deeper in this report.

Soviet Sailor’s Message In A Bottle Washes Ashore In Alaska After 50 Years

Soviet Message In A Bottle

Tyler IvanoffIvanoff was merely looking for firewood when he stumbled upon Botsanenko’s 50-year-old message. Facebook commenters helped him translate the text.

When Tyler Ivanoff went searching for firewood about 20 miles west of his home in Shishmaref, a tiny town on a tiny island in northwestern Alaska, he didn’t expect to find much else — let alone a 50-year-old letter perfectly preserved in an old wine bottle.

The note was authored by Anatoly Botsanenko, a former Soviet sea captain. He was a sailor aboard the Soviet ship Sulak on June 20, 1969, when he penned the letter.

And he did a fine job making sure his message survived the sea.

See more here.

All That's Interesting
A New York-based publisher established in 2010, All That's Interesting brings together subject-level experts in history, true crime, and science to share stories that illuminate our world.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.