I am currently writing the first novel of a pair about the young Cleopatra, which will be published by Orchard in 2015. I've researched my socks off to get things right for this book: gone back to sources (though what sources there are on Cleo herself are unreliable, and written with an agenda), pored over tiny type, ploughed through piles of useless information for just one useful nugget - and perused endless maps and pictures. Have you any idea how hard it is to find contemporary visual evidence in colour as to precisely what boats of the time would have looked like? Believe me - I've searched. And then I discovered, through this programme (which, as I say, I hadn't meant to watch at all), the clue I needed. It was this.
The Nile Mosaic at Palestrina (ancient Praeneste), was commissioned by the Etruscans of what was then the kingdom of Lazio, in about 200 -100BC, depending on which sources you believe. It was made from minute tesserae by Greeks from the city of Alexandria, and is meant to represent the course of the Nile from top to bottom, probably at the flood season of Akhet or Inundation. It contains some extraordinary detail - animals (both mythological and real, including a Sphinx and a possible dinosaur), birds, people (both Ptolemaic Greeks and native Africans), buildings, activites, and (yay!) BOATS of all types.
I needed exactly the one which is depicted at the top of the picture - the one with a sail - to transport my characters up and down the Nile. Of course, it's a little earlier than Cleopatra's time - but I'm taking an educated guess that boats wouldn't have changed much in that timescale.
Sometimes The Goddess of Serendipity gives you just the thing you needed most - so to all of you - I say open yourselves up to her. You never know what you may receive!
Lucy's new picture book, Captain Beastlie's Pirate Party is coming on Feb 6th from Nosy Crow!
Bear's Best Friend, is published by Bloomsbury "A charming story about the magic of friendship which may bring a tear to your eye" Parents in Touch "The language is a joy…thoughtful and enjoyable" Armadillo Magazine. "Coats's ebullient, sympathetic story is perfectly matched by Sarah Dyer's warm and witty illustrations." The Times
Her latest series for 7-9s, Greek Beasts and Heroes is out now from Orion Children's Books.
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Lucy is represented by Sophie Hicks at Ed Victor Ltd