PEEL Talent specialises in arranging Guest Speaker and Enrichment Programmes for many of the world’s leading Cruise Lines, drawing from our database of over a thousand speakers, art tutors, crafts instructors, bridge directors and choirmasters.
Eileen is an historian with an MA from the department of Archaeology at the University of London and has been a regular Guest Speaker on cruise ships since 2013.She is also an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society and has appeared as an expert in a documentary on the life of Queen Nefertari.
She is a published author and an authority on the ancient cultures of Egypt, Europe, Mesoamerica. and Australasia and specialises in the History, Culture, Myths & Legends of the Ancient Worlds. She is a keen Maritime Historian particularly of piracy in the Caribbean and South Seas and the coastal waters of the British Isles.
Her first book ‘What Did the Poor Take with Them?’ was published in 2013, while her second book ‘Understanding Ancient Egypt’ was published in 2014.
Updated July 2022
I have 40 interesting, relevant and entertaining lectures covering Ancient Egypt, Europe, Australasia, the Caribbean & Mesoamerica and the UK.
1. Language of the Pharaohs: Discovery & Decipherment
Hieroglyphic script, the sacred language of Ancient Egypt’s pharaonic period, remained an incomprehensible language for over 1,500 years until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone enabled scholars to unlock the mysteries of hieroglyphs and understand the texts. This lecture takes the audience on a journey of discovery, examining the path to decipherment while they learn to identify various symbols, numbers and words in this ancient script.
2. Ancient Artefacts: 3,000 years of Egyptian Treasures
The Narma Palette and Meidum Geese from the Old Kingdom, the Senoswret III pectoral from the Middle Kingdom, and the bust of Nefertiti and Nebamun paintings from the New Kingdom give an indication of the wealth of Ancient Egyptian riches. I will look in depth at some of most interesting treasures, examine the techniques and materials used, who commissioned and owned them, their purpose and hidden meaning.
3. Understanding Ancient Egyptian Art: Wall Reliefs & Murals
Egypt has a wealth of artefacts dated to its ancient past that today can be classified as art. This lecture examines one genre, the splendid wall reliefs and paintings found in tombs, drawing on examples from the Old, Middle and New Kingdom Periods. It identifies the techniques, materials and different styles used by their accomplished artisans to achieve the beautiful paintings and reliefs we can still see today, more than 3,000 years after the burial tombs were sealed.
4. Pharaonic Art: Hidden Meanings Revealed
From pyramids and temples to jewellery and furniture, every item from Ancient Egypt is steeped in religious symbolism and magical power. This lecture reveals the meaningful messages behind the artistry, unravels the religious symbolism inherent in their world and lays bare their greatest hopes and fears
5. Journey to the Afterlife
Every item of Ancient Egyptian art is highly symbolic of the religious beliefs of this ancient culture, especially its belief in the Afterlife. This lecture explores aspects of the deceased’s journey to a heavenly paradise as depicted in the Book of the Dead, the methods used by the team of embalmers to preserve their bodies for eternity, and their faith in magical charms and rituals which ensured eternal life and happiness.
6. Understanding Egyptian Pyramids
The pyramids are an iconic and mysterious symbol of Ancient Egypt and many theories have been put forward regarding the origins of their design and build; many people suggest they were built with slave labour and some claim aliens were responsible. This lecture follows the development of the pyramids from mastaba to the Great Pyramid at Giza and explains the archaeological evidence for their existence as remarkable feats of innovation, design, logistics, and administration.
7. Wonderful Things! – The Treasures of Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun came to the throne as a young boy of eight years old and died nine years later, too young to have achieved very much in his short life, but now the most famous pharaoh, known for the incredible treasures which were buried with him. This lecture introduces us to the ‘boy king’ and his family and explores his small burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings, including the latest evidence on what, and whom, lies behind his tomb walls. Some of the many wonderful things found in his tomb will be examined in detail, focussing on the materials used, their purpose and significant religious symbolism and meaning.
8. What killed Tutankhamun?
The young Pharaoh’s death has been a challenging enigma since his tomb was first opened in 1922 by the British archaeologist, Howard Carter. There are many theories relating to the cause of his death including murder, accident and disease. This lecture examines each possible cause in detail and the evidence for each theory, looking at Carter’s own diary entries, photographs, and modern scientific analysis to unravel the strands of this intriguing mystery.
9. The Tomb Builders
This lecture takes you on a voyage of discovery about the crème de la crème of the Ancient Egyptian workforce who created the Pharaohs’ tombs in the Valley of the Kings. It looks at their homes, families and village life in Deir el Medina as well as the skills, methods and materials they employed to accomplish such commendable work. Examples of their interpretation of the Afterlife in the tombs of the kings and their own burial places will demonstrate their skill and artistry.
10. Ancient Egyptian Magic & Medicine
The magicians were powerful, the doctors knowledgeable and the surgeons were skilled, but could they help and heal the unfortunates they treated? This lecture identifies what worked – and what didn’t!
11. Influential Queens
Throughout the ancient history of Egypt, its queens made a difference to the lives and fortunes of the country and its kings. For us, looking back down the millennia, they remain quite mysterious figures, always walking in the shadow of their husband, the pharaoh. This lecture identifies the women who were a real influence on society, the real powers behind the throne, the queen who was portrayed as a man, and the most beautiful and best loved of all the queens. It also examines the turbulent life and loves of Cleopatra, the last Queen of Egypt.
12. Party Time!
Contrary to popular belief, the daily life of an Ancient Egyptian was not preoccupied with arrangements for his death, burial and the Afterlife. Their frequent celebrations were done in style with good food and drink, and they were entertained by accomplished musicians and dancers. This lecture features the secrets of a good time, Ancient Egyptian style, with details of their festivals, clothes, jewellery, make-up, food and drink, in fact all you need to know about how they ‘strut their stuff’.
13. The Treasure of Tanis
In the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis in the Nile Delta, an entire complex of royal tombs was discovered by Pierre Montet – three were still intact! The treasures uncovered there are one of the greatest, and most beautiful, archaeological discoveries of all time, rivalling even those of Tutankhamun. This lecture covers the exciting discovery of the tombs of the pharaohs with explanations and images of the gold and silver treasures, fine jewellery and artefacts which were meant for the Afterlife.
1. The People’s Crusade –Why did the Crusades start and continue for three centuries? Who took part in the First Crusade and why did they go? What did they achieve? In this talk I will answer those questions and more!
2. The Knights Crusaders – the Orders of knights who helped keep the Kingdom of Jerusalem safe for Christians settled and prospered on islands in the Mediterranean such as Rhodes. Learn of the exploits of the Hospitallers and Templars, their legacies and the notorious Assassins.
3.. Jerusalem: Won and Lost Again – Join the Crusader Princes and their armies on their epic journey to win Jerusalem – only to lose it again to Saladin.
4. The Fall of Constantinople 1453 - Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire after 1,400 years of Christian rule and was eventually renamed Istanbul: find out why and how it happened
5. Mediterranean Artefacts – 3,000 Years of Treasures. The bust of Nefertiti from Ancient Egypt, the Gold Death Mask of Agamemnon and jewellery of the Cretan Warrior give an indication of the wealth of riches from the ancient lands surrounding the Mediterranean. They are a sample of the many discoveries that have been displayed and admired by millions of visitors to museums around the world. This lecture will look in depth at some of the most interesting treasures, examine the techniques and materials used, who commissioned and owned them, their purpose and hidden meaning.
Australasia & South China Seas
1. Understanding Aboriginal Culture. The indigenous population of Australia occupied the land for over 30,000 years in relative isolation. Discover their ancient traditions and how they’ve adapted to modern times since the arrival of Captain Cook,
2. Understanding Maori Culture - New Zealand was first settled by people who emigrated from Taiwan to Melanesia, became Polynesians and are now known as Maori. Learn about their history and traditions and achieve an understanding of their special culture.
3. From Penal Colony to Sovereign Nation – this talk charts the history and development of Australia since the first European settlement was formed in 1788 to its wealthy, talented and multicultural society of modern times.
4. Traditional Magic & Medicine We will uncover the magical rituals, spirituality and medicinal practices of the ancient peoples of Australia and Rongoā Māori, the traditional healing system of the Maori people of New Zealand - learn what works and what doesn’t!
5. Tales from the South Seas For centuries, pirates have terrorised the seas off the coasts of Australia, southern China and the Philippines. Discover their stories of bloodthirsty bravery and how, in the end, they are always defeated.
6. Women in Piracy Women on board ship were regarded as bad luck, but many female pirates were as notoriously vicious as the men and ruled the waves. Hear of the challenging lives of the women left at home and ‘friends’ of pirates s well as the exploits of Ching Shih who started life in a brothel and ended up commander of the Red Flag Fleet of pirate ships in the South China seas
Caribbean & Mesoamerica
1. Mesoamerican Pyramids Colossal pyramids are scattered across Mesoamerica but are they the same as those built by ancient Egyptians? I will take you on a tour of several pyramid sites including Teotihuacan and Chichin Itza to compare their function and design and identify the people who built them and the artefacts they left behind.
2. Bloodthirsty Gods of Mexico Human hearts, blood and children’s tears were all necessary to quench the hunger of the bloodthirsty gods of Mexico. If their needs were not satisfied the consequences for the nation would be catastrophic. Discover some of their ancient gods and learn about the religious rites designed to appease them.
3. Who were the Maya? For thousands of years the Maya lived and thrived in Mesoamerica, developing an advanced writing system and the most accurate calendar system in the world as well as unique art and colossal architecture. In this talk I will introduce you to their history, major power sites and influential rulers and we’ll discover some surprising details of this advanced culture.
4. The Golden Age of Piracy – Robbery on the High Seas! Eighty years of piracy when no-one was safe from buccaneers and privateers in the Caribbean – least of all the French colonies of St. Lucia and Grenada or the Spanish Treasure Fleet. This talk charts the history of the ‘exciting’ golden age of robbery on the high seas, especially in the Caribbean!
5. Pirate – Hero or Villain? We all have an image of pirates from fictional characters like Long John Silver and Captain Jack Sparrow– they’re swashbuckling heroes with a twinkle in their eye! But the real pirates were Calico Jack, Blackbeard, Henry Morgan and Admiral Sir John Hawkins among many others. Find out who were heroes, who were regarded as thieving scoundrels and how different their fortunes were!
6. The Life of a Pirate What was life really like on a pirate ship? We’ll uncover the reality of life on board and bury the myths.
7. Women in Piracy Women on board ship were regarded as bad luck, so how did a female pirate become a queen? Female pirates were as notorious as the worst of the men and one in particular was extremely clever. I will reveal the challenging lives of women pirates, the wives of pirates left at home and ‘friends’ of pirates …one in every port!
8. Pirate Treasure – X marks the spot! X marks the spot on treasure maps where gold bullion and jewellery were buried in treasure chests by swashbuckling pirates. But is that fact or intriguing fiction? I will identify the treasure, who stole it and tell you what happened to their ill-gotten goods – there’s still some to be discovered!
1. Pirate Attack! The coastal towns of the UK were hotbeds of piracy when raiding merchant ships was big business and local citizens were at the mercy of slave traders who snatched them from their homes, some never to be seen again. I will tell you tales of the local infamous pirates and the chilling history of when Britons were enslaved in their thousands.
2. Sunken Treasure What treasures lie beneath the waves as we sail around the English coast? Where did it come from and where was it going? Discover what is still lying on the ocean bed, who searches the seas to discover it and who has made their fortune by finding sunken treasure.
3. Wreckers and Smugglers Smuggling, the corrupt underbelly of British history exposed to reveal that it was everywhere and involved everyone, including the Smugglers Banker and the infamous John Carter, nicknamed the King of Prussia. Learn too about the rough and reckless exploits of the wreckers and the ships they ransacked – did they really lure ships onto the rocks?
4. Women in Piracy The most infamous female pirates were born and bred in the UK and were as vicious and dangerous as any of their male colleagues. Hear the stories of Grace, Anne and Mary, the ‘lady’ of the manor who was a clever, greedy and ruthless killer and the loyal women left at home.
5. Preventives & Owlers Everyone was involved in smuggling during the 17th and 18th centuries and the excise men used all their legal powers to stop them or extract the duty owed to the Crown – but always one step behind, or like the cavalry, they arrived too late. Hear about their exploits, their wins and losses.
1. Mystical Signs & Symbols of the Ancient World - Since the dawn of civilisation, ancient peoples have left clues to their belief systems in all corners of the world in symbols, inscriptions, monuments and artefacts from the Calendar Stone and the Spear of Destiny to the Nasca lines. I will examine in detail the mysteries of these ancient symbols of our ancestors and their desire to control the Universe.
2. Magic & Medicine of the Ancients - The practices of magic and medicine throughout the ancient world were intertwined and often difficult to distinguish. This lecture examines both in the ancient cultures of Greece, Egypt and China to demonstrate the similarities and differences, with details of spells and potions to kill or cure. The magicians were powerful, the doctors knowledgeable and the surgeons were skilled, but could they help and heal the unfortunates they treated? This lecture identifies what worked – and what didn’t!
3. Sun Deities of the World - For thousands of years, humans have attempted to explain the Sun in terms of their own worldviews and have recognized its significance as prime controller of all life on Earth. It was never just a planet that gave warmth and light and topped up a tan! The Sun can be a god, a demon, an all-powerful creator or a ruthless taker of life. This lecture takes you on a world tour of our more fascinating sun god myths and legends and the best, and the worst, practices of sun worship.