Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sex and drugs in the ancient world

Once again, posting about real corn pone fascists has burned me out and put me into an “I can’t be all DOOM all the time mood.”  Fortunately, last night’s Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Our best animal friends) on Daily Kos included a selection of fun stories from archeology that fit my current mood perfectly.

First, The Daily Pennsylvanian: Dildos, hermaphrodites and old-age intimacy
The Penn Museum hosts an annual event on ancient works concerning sexuality
By Jessica McDowell · February 20, 2014, 9:17 pm
Even 3,000 years ago, people were kinky.

Last night, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology hosted its annual Valentine’s Day presentation, this year called “Blurred Lines,” sponsored by the Young Friends Society. The event, which was rescheduled from Feb. 13 , didn’t suffer in attendance - more than 50 people sat in the audience in the Egyptian gallery.

Surrounded by dozens of artifacts, each thousands of years old, professors Jennifer Wagner and Brian Rose took turns discussing different artifacts and myths from Egypt and Greece, respectively. But this wasn’t just a normal talk. Each story and image projected on the screen detailed the “blurred lines” of sexuality in ancient Egypt and Greece. From winged penises to hermaphrodites to wind chimes made out of dildos, the professors spoke intimately about how sexuality was portrayed in the ancient world.
Follow over the jump for more sex and drugs from the ancient world.

DNA Info New York: Mystery Artifact Unearthed at City Hall Is 19th-Century Feminine Device
By Irene Plagianos on February 19, 2014 6:35am
CITY HALL — An excavation at the city’s political center has unearthed a 3-inch artifact that initially baffled archaeologists — until they realized it was one of the earliest documented feminine hygiene products in New York.

“At first we thought it was maybe a spice-grinder or needle case,” said Alyssa Loorya, president of Chrysalis Archaeology, the firm that oversaw the dig, part of a Department of Design and Construction rehabilitation project at City Hall. “We were stumped.”

The early incarnation of a douche — a hollow, cylinder with small holes at its top made from unidentified mammal bone — was found in a massive heap of buried garbage that dates back to between 1803 and 1815, Loorya said.
Here’s a story from an earlier OND about a discovery of a poem from a woman known for her erotica, Sappho.

Greek Reporter: New Poems of Greek Poetess Sappho Recovered
By Konstantinos Menzel on January 28, 2014
Today, only few poems by the ancient Greek poetess Sappho have survived, but thanks to new findings, two new works have been recovered, giving experts hope to find even more.

These previously unknown poems by the great poetess of the 7th century B.C. came to light when the owner of an ancient papyrus consulted Oxford classicist world-renowned papyrologist Dr. Dirk Obbink about the Greek writings on the tattered scrap.

Despite Sappho’s fame in antiquity and huge literary output, only one complete poem survives until today, along with substantial portions of four others. One of those four was only recovered in 2004, also from a scrap of papyrus.
Next, the drugs.

LiveScience via Sudan Vision: Drug References Found on Walls of Ancient Egyptian School
Archaeologists working in the western desert of Egypt have discovered a school dating back about 1,700 years that contains ancient Greek writings on its walls, including a text about ancient drug use that references Homer's "The Odyssey."

The school — which contains benches that students could sit on to read, or stand on and write on the walls — dates back to a time when the Roman Empire controlled Egypt, and Greek was widely spoken.

In use for less than 20 years, the school structure eventually became part of a large house that contained colorful art, including images of the Olympian gods, the researchers said.
Booze is also a drug.

Neatorama: Forensic Scientists Create The Face Of Crystal Skull Vodka
Zeon Santos
Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 1:00 PM
Forensic artists can’t come across a skull, or skull shaped decanter, without wondering what that person’s fleshy face looked like when they were among the living, and there’s no better testament to your artistic skills than creating a skull sculpture from scratch that actually looks like a human being when clay skin is added.
Finally, another story from an earlier OND.

LiveScience: Ancient Nordic Grog Intoxicated the Elite
By Stephanie Pappas, Senior Writer
Ancient Scandinavians quaffed an alcoholic mixture of barley, honey, cranberries, herbs and even grape wine imported from Greece and Rome, new research finds.

 This Nordic "grog" predates the Vikings. It was found buried in tombs alongside warriors and priestesses, and is now available at liquor stores across the United States, thanks to a reconstruction effort by Patrick McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Delaware-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.

"You'd think, with all these different ingredients, it sort of makes your stomach churn," McGovern, the study's lead author, told LiveScience. "But actually, if you put it in the right amounts and balance out the ingredients, it really does taste very good."
Sex, drugs, but no rock and roll.  The image of Sappho playing a lyre will have to do.

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