Thousands of years ago, the Greek physician Hippokrates, widely considered to be the father of modern medicine, wrote about diseases he and his students observed and treated, including intestinal parasites. Modern scholars suspected that parasitic worms described in the medical text "Hippokratic Corpus" were actually roundworms, pinworms and tapeworms, but there was no physical evidence to back that up.  However, archaeologists recently discovered remnants of ancient poo that bolster historians' theory about Hippokrates' diagnostic prowess.


The poop — by now decomposed into soil — was found adhering to pelvic bones from a burial site on the Greek island of Kea, which holds remains dating from about 4,000 B.C. in the Neolithic period to A.D. 330. The researchers found that the fecal remnants contained eggs from two types of intestinal parasites — whipworm and roundworm — giving a modern name to Hippocrates' ancient diagnoses from 2,500 years ago and providing the earliest evidence of parasitic worms in the people of ancient Greece, the study authors reported. Study co-author Evilena Anastasiou, a biological anthropologist at the University of Cambridge in England, said in a statement.

"Finding the eggs of intestinal parasites as early as the Neolithic period in Greece is a key advance in our field."

In ancient Greek medical texts, three terms were typically used to describe parasitic worms: Helmins strongyle described "a large round worm," Helmins plateia referred to "a flat worm," and Ascaris was "a small round worm." Scholars suspected these names referred to parasites currently known as roundworms (Ascaris lumbricoides), tapeworms in the Taenia genus and pinworms (Enterobius vermicularis), the researchers wrote in the study:

To investigate that interpretation, the scientists analyzed 25 burials spanning 4,000 years, removing sediment that contained traces of decomposed human excrement. They found evidence of roundworm or whipworm eggs in four individuals, confirming that Hippokrates was probably talking about roundworms in his 2,500-year-old medical texts. The study's lead author Piers Mitchell, a lecturer in biological anthropology at the University of Cambridge, said in a statement:

"The Helmins strongyle worm in the ancient Greek texts is likely to have referred to roundworm, as found at Kea. However, Hippocrates may have conflated two common parasites in his texts. The Ascaris worm described in the ancient medical texts may well have referred to two parasites, pinworm and whipworm, with the latter being found at Kea."

One possible explanation for why only whipworm and roundworm eggs survived the test of time could lie in their robust outer membranes, which shielded the eggs from destruction. Meanwhile, the more delicate eggs of other intestinal parasites, such as hookworms and pinworms, were broken down, the researchers reported.

Previous research suggested that whipworms and roundworms have parasitized people throughout human evolution, and when the first settlers arrived on the Greek island of Kea, those intestinal parasites likely arrived with them, the scientists explained in the new study. In addition to confirming Hippokrates' description of roundworms, their findings also suggested that whipworms were present as parasites in the region thousands of years ago, the study authors reported. According to Mitchell:

"Until now we only had estimates from historians as to what kinds of parasites were described in the ancient Greek medical texts. Our research confirms some aspects of what the historians thought, but also adds new information that the historians did not expect, such as that whipworm was present. This research shows how we can bring together archaeology and history to help us better understand the discoveries of key early medical practitioners and scientists."

The findings were published online in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.
Archaeological teams working with Egyptian archaeologists in the Aswan area have unearthed four intact burials of children in Gebel El-Silsila, a cemetery dating to the First Intermediate Period at Kom Ombo, and a statue thought to depict Artemis in the old town of Aswan.


Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that Maria Nilsson and Swedish researchers discovered the children’s tombs, which yielded a mummy in linen wrappings, traces of wooden coffins, and funerary furniture, including amulets and pottery.

The tombs date to the 18th Dynasty, between 1550 and 1292 B.C. In Kom Ombo, Austrian researchers uncovered mudbrick tombs, pottery, and other grave goods in a cemetery dating to between 2181 and 2055 B.C. The cemetery had been built on top of an older one, as well as an Old Kingdom town.

Abdel Moneim Saeed, general director of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities, added that a mission headed by Swiss Egyptologist Wolfgang Muller found a statue missing its head, feet, and right hand. The figure’s dress resembles that worn by Artemis, who had been combined with the Egyptian Goddesses Isis and Bastet.
So far, researchers have managed to learn a lot about ancient Hellenic culture by interpreting the surviving fragments of age-old pot decorations, mosaics, paintings, and statues. From these discoveries we’ve been able to learn that music played an integral part in the lifestyle of ancient Hellas.


Artwork dating from around 750 to 400 BC often details scenes of music being played at social occasions, such as parties and funerals. The ancient instruments are known to cover three instrumental families—stings, wind, and percussion—with the most common instruments being the lyre (a string instrument that looks like a small harp) and the guitar-like zither. However, more than 2,000 years later, we’ve only just recently been able to learn exactly how they would have sounded. Thanks to newly discovered ancient documents, a group of scholars have figured out how to recreate precise renditions of ancient Greek music. Armand D'Angour, a musician and classics tutor at Oxford University, explains:

“The [ancient Greek] instruments are known from descriptions, paintings and archaeological remains, which allow us to establish the timbres and range of pitches they produced. And now, new revelations about ancient Greek music have emerged from a few dozen ancient documents inscribed with a vocal notation devised around 450 BC, consisting of alphabetic letters and signs placed above the vowels of the Greek words.”

After some decoding, David Creese, one of D'Angour's colleagues from the University of Newcastle, was able to play and record the oldest surviving complete musical composition—titled Seikilos—an epitaph that was inscribed on an ancient, 2,000-year-old marble column. Listen as Creese sings and plays the notes on his handmade zither-like instrument—an “eight-string canon.”
The Washington Post published a very interesting article about Mary Beard yesterday. For those of you unfamiliar with Beard or her impressive body of work, she is an English scholar and classicist. Beard is Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, a fellow of Newnham College, and Royal Academy of Arts Professor of Ancient Literature. She is also the Classics editor of The Times Literary Supplement. In short: she knows her stuff. As the post reports: a new book by Beard links Hellenic mythology to modern (Twitter) trolls, arguing both have a problem with women who speak up.

(Alastair Grant/Associated Press)

The Cambridge University classics professor had been pondering the influence of the ancient world on modern political and public life when she came across mugs and T-shirts bearing an image from Greek mythology: the hero Perseus holding the bloody head of the snake-haired monster Medusa. In this version, Perseus had Donald Trump’s face and the monster bore Clinton’s.

Beard was shocked both by the brutality of the image and “the domesticity of it. ... The idea that you’d be sitting at your breakfast table and you’d have a mug with Hillary Clinton being beheaded on it.”

Beard asks how that ancient image ended up in a modern political campaign in “Women and Power ,” a short but punchy book published Tuesday in the U.S. by Liveright. The book explores the way images and ideas from ancient Greece and Rome have burrowed the way into the Western collective consciousness — and how many of them are about keeping women in their place.

“When it comes to silencing women, Western culture has had thousands of years of practice”

The book begins with one of the first works of Western literature, citing a scene in Homer’s 3,000-year-old “Odyssey,” in which Telemachus tells his mother Penelope to get back to her weaving because “speech will be the business of men.”

Beard argues that modern ideas about public speaking are still shaped by its definition as a male thing. In the book’s second half she explores how power, more widely, came to be defined as something wielded by men.

As well as Clinton, female politicians including Angela Merkel and Theresa May have been caricatured as the serpent-haired Gorgon. Beard argues that such images draw little criticism. In contrast, when comedian Kathy Griffin posed with a fake severed Trump head, it prompted an outcry that saw her fired by CNN. In an echo of the ancient image, online abuse aimed at prominent women often includes threats to rip out tongues or cut off heads.

“(It’s) the idea of cutting off, not just the brain and the beauty but the speaking organ of a woman.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

I think she has a point. As a feminist and a woman, of course I think she has a point. I have experienced it, I have seen it happen to others. Ancient Hellas was a patriarchal society, and we live in a patriarchal society to this day. There has been a shift toward more equality, and we continue to shift toward more equality, but we're not there yet.  I'll be getting Beard's book as a first step toward that future.
The Department of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus, has announced the completion of the 2017 season of archaeological excavations at the Bronze Age settlement of Kisonerga-Skalia near Paphos, conducted by a University of Manchester mission, under the direction of Dr Lindy Crewe (Director, Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute). The site exhibits a long Bronze Age sequence, and earlier Late Chalcolithic occupation, beginning before 2,500 BC until abandonment around 1600 BC.


The aims of the season were to continue to expose the latest phases of occupation preserved at the site. In the north of the area under excavation, the preserved occupation dates to the Chalcolithic period. Here an interesting area of Chalcolithic pit graves was revealed.

Although there were no grave goods to securely date the four burials excavated, sherds within the deposits indicate a likely Middle Chalcolithic date. This is important as it was previously thought that the burials at the neighbouring settlement of Kisonerga-Mosphilia were all associated with houses.
Further southwards, a building complex dating to Middle Cypriote III–Late Cypriote IA1 was revealed. There is no later occupation indicated during the Bronze Age. This final phase at the site is characterised by the construction of a large complex of over 1200m2 devoted to industrial activities, including beer production and large-scale cooking or firing.

Other activities undertaken include spinning fibres and grinding grain. This complex was built over the ruins of earlier Bronze Age houses and appears to indicate a community-wide effort of construction. This unusually large open space may have been used for gatherings or another unknown function.

In Area P/B2 an area of 55m2 was exposed. Two parallel long walls, seen on upper and lower part of Figure 1, appear to form a contained space. On the interior faces of both walls we have investigated wall tumble and superstructure collapse, suggesting that this area may have been roofed. A sounding dug between the walls revealed an underlying area of destroyed building material and extensive ashy deposits. The sequence of events suggests a deliberate destruction of an earlier Bronze Age built feature.

Further areas of stone wall tumble were associated with the wall seen upper left in fig. 1. The wall tumble was removed to reveal a series of two floor deposits. Lying beneath wall collapse and above the upper surface, the upper portion of a terracotta figurine was retrieved (fig. 2). This figurine is unusual but it is probably of Middle Cypriot date. Very few figurines of this period are known and all have variable characteristics. Its decoration is of local Kissonerga style, comprising impressed circles with a central dot and lines framing a row of dots. The figurine has a very elaborate hat and triple pierced ears.

There are still areas of the final phase complex to be revealed at Kisonerga-Skalia. It is hoped that in future seasons evidence for the nature of the occupation and the activities being undertaken at the site will be revealed. Outstanding questions remain: why was such a large complex constructed and only occupied for maybe one or two generations? What was the function of the large open area and why were so many large-scale heating/burning installations constructed?
Marcus Aurelius was Roman emperor from 161 to 180, ruling jointly with Lucius Verus until Verus' death in 169 and jointly with his son, Commodus, from 177. He was a practitioner of Stoicism, and his untitled writing, commonly known as Meditations, is a significant source of our modern understanding of ancient Stoic philosophy. It is considered by many commentators to be one of the greatest works of philosophy.

I'd like to share a quote today, as I spoke to a young woman late last night, who wondered if the Gods were real--who had started to doubt. I sent her this part of the Meditations, and it seemed to sooth her worries. I hope it does the same for you, should you ever doubt.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 2.11-12

“Do, say, and think each thing as if it is possible to die right now. To leave the discussion of human affairs, if there are gods, it is nothing terrible—for they would not ensnare you in evil. If, moreover, there are no gods—or if the realms of men are not their concern—why would I live in a universe emptied of gods or their foresight?

No, there are gods and they are concerned with the affairs of men. And they have completely arranged it that the human race many not fall into evils that are truly evil. And if there is any evil in what remains, they would have foreseen this too, so that it would not be possible for us to fall into it completely. How can anything make a human life worse which cannot make the person worse?

The nature of the totality could not have overlooked this because of ignorance, or, if knowledgeable, because it was incapable of guarding against or correcting these things. Nor could it have made so much a mistake because of inability or lack of skill that good and evil things would happen to good and evil people indiscriminately. Nevertheless, death and life, fame and infamy, pain and pleasure, wealth and poverty, all these things are indications of good and even among men even though they are not intrinsically noble or shameful themselves. Therefore, they are not good or evil.

How swiftly everything disappears—in the universe, the bodies themselves, and in time, their memories with them. What kinds of things are all those sensed goods, especially those that delight us with pleasure or terrify us with pain or are shouted out because of pride! How simple, and despicable, and filthy, and temporary, and dead! It is the mark of our intelligence to recognize this—what these things are whose beliefs and voices obtain fame; what it means to die, and, if a person looks at dying itself and disentangles its phantom fears with a portion of his intelligence, he will suppose that it is nothing else than the work of nature. If the work of nature frightens someone, he is a child.”

Thank you all for the prayers! The fever has started to drop--which is a great relief! I'm going to try to get back to regular posting tomorrow. One more video today, which had me in stitches but which is also educational: The Try Guys Try The Ancient Olympics. See you tomorrow!