Weekly Roundup of Archaeology, History and Historical Fiction Dec 24- 30

Happy New Year! 

The posts I enjoyed this week from around the web:

I love this stuff. It’s like history was made to be turned into fiction. Here’s an Egyptian prescription for trichiasis–ingrown eyelashes, a disease that still exists in Egypt:

“Bull fat, bat blood… donkey blood… what looks like the heart of a lizard. And a little pulverised pottery and a dash of honey.” This fragment of Egyptian papyrus is being studied in Copenhagen and part of what’s intriguing is the way the grad student is also looking at where else this prescription shows up in the ancient world, how it gets transmitted from Arabian countries to Greece etc. All of which emphasizes how seriously they took this brew. Maybe big pharma should look into lizard hearts and donkey blood. Sounds like Shakespeare’s witches used Egyptian pharmacology.

Click here for Science Nordic’s “Bull fat, bat’s bloo and lizard poop were drugs of choice in Ancient Egypt”


As a writer who has used a curse as a key plot element, I always perk up when I hear mention of curses. So here’s a medieval curse reported in Archaeology Magazine. It starts with a magic well that heals people, progresses to a dispute of ownership of said well between a priest and the agent of a neighboring landowner, and it ends with the priest laying a curse that—bam!—kills both the priest and the agent. So much for greed paying off. Maybe St. Anne, who is said to have been the source of the healing, had had enough of their bickering over her well. Don’t mess with lady saints, goddesses and other powerful female figures with divine powers. Click here for Archaeology Magazine “The Curse of a Medieval English Well”

image of Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

The last year or so has seen Macedonian tombs brought to light. This tomb, which archaeologists say was built by wealthy soldiers returning from Alexander the Great’s campaign in the East, is now restored and open to the public. It was originally found in 1910 by an Ottoman architect. It suffered exposure to the elements, etc. for a century and now has been preserved and protected. Another reason to visit northern Greece. Click here for Archaeology News Network “Important Ancient Macedonian Tomb In Thessaloniki Open To Public”




image of Cycladic figurine female

Cycladic figurine female

The small Cycladic figurines from the Greek Islands, spare and elegant, seem familiar to our contemporary eyes, although they are 5,000 years old, because their style influenced twentieth century art so strongly in the works of Modigliani, Brancusi, Matisse, and Picasso. Now the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens has created an exhibit that puts these evocative sculptures into their cultural context and roles within daily life. Art for art’s sake is fine, as far as it goes, but I love art as a reflection of the hearts and inner impulses, needs and dreams of a culture even better. When the culture left no words to interpret it, the art seems a welcome window into the minds of the creators. Click here for Archaeology News Network “Cycladic Society: 5000 Years Ago’ at the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens”

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