Ever suffered from dry eyes? A late Coptic medical text may have the cure for you! Written on a small piece of parchment, probably in the 11th century CE, the remedy requires just two ingredients: the warm blood of a hoopoe and cardamom. “For eyes starting to cry salt: heated hoopoe’s blood and a herb … More Warm Hoopoe’s Blood for the Eyes: A Coptic Remedy
The Roman fort Vindolanda is located just south of Hadrian’s Wall in northern England. Occupied approximately from 85–370 CE, the fort guarded the Stanegate, the Roman road that ran from the River Tyne to the Solway Firth. In addition to the archaeological remains of the site, a large number of Latin texts written on postcard-sized … More Birthday Parties on the Roman Frontier
On 17 June 250 CE, Aurelius Sakis had a certificate drawn up that proved he and his children Aion and Heras had participated in the sacrifice of an animal to pagan gods. Two other men, Aurelius Serenus and Aurelius Hermas witness the declaration, confirming that they had actually witnessed the sacrifice. “To those appointed to … More Imperial Decrees, Animal Sacrifices, and Christian Persecution
Perhaps one of the best-known aspects of the Egyptian mummification process is that the brain was removed from the body and discarded. The brain’s function and importance were not understood. Instead, the heart was not only recognised as a beating organ that pumped blood, for the ancient Egyptian it was also the source of intelligence, … More His Mind is Shrouded in Darkness
In the village of Deir el-Medina, the home of the workmen who built the royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings, donkeys were big business. While scenes from the New Kingdom show pharaoh riding a horse-drawn chariot into battle, neither horses nor camels played a part in the day-to-day lives of villagers – camels weren’t … More A Donkey Called Rameses
*GUEST POST by Moudhy Al-Rashid (see her bio here) Amid the ruins of Nippur is a house, inspiringly named “House F”, made up of a small courtyard with four rooms. The crumbled remains of benches appear in one room and in the courtyard, where there are also three recessed boxes constructed from mud brick. In … More “Schoolboy, where have you been going so long?”: The Old Babylonian Student and School
When dealing with ancient texts, the term ostracon refers to pottery sherds and limestone flakes that were reused to write documents. Pottery is by far the more common material used, but some areas show a particular preference for limestone. They are especially well-known from Egypt, but the practice occurs across the ancient world; see, e.g., … More What is an Ostracon?