Ancient Pregnancy Tests

The modern urine-based home pregnancy test first appeared in drug stores in 1977.  Unlike the streamlined, simple color-coded test results prospective parents enjoy today, this test was complicated, involving several implements and steps, and was also finicky and time-consuming.  The slightest vibration could spoil the test results.

“it contained a vial of purified water, an angled mirror, a test tube and red blood cells taken from a sheep.” — New York Time

egyptian-wall-carving-of wheat

But, the idea that the urine of a pregnant woman was perceptibly different from that of a non-pregnant woman has persisted since ancient times.  The first known recorded pregnancy test dates to 1350 BCE in ancient Egypt.

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Textual Cultures, Material Cultures: Callousness among the Ruins by Michael

Source: Textual Cultures, Material Cultures: Callousness among the Ruins


This is a sobering article about the value placed on human lives versus antiquities and archaeological sites in Syria.  It will take me a while to process it.  The tendency to over-value(?) irreplaceable antiquities that could be appreciated for many generations to come, and to undervalue (no question mark here) the lives of people living on or near these sites, and people who lose their lives studying sites in war-torn regions of the world isn’t limited to archaeologists.

The Griffin Warrior

There is a grave near Pylos that dates back to Mycenaean Greece.  The grave goods document something that is well known about Mycenaean Greece: the cultural and trade exchanges that occurred between Greece and Crete at the time.  Nearby lie the ruins of the Palace of Nestor, first discovered in an olive grove in 1939.  Though this palace was destroyed by fire long ago, it is the most complete and well-preserved Bronze Age Greek palace found to date.

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Ancient Bread Revisited

Earlier this month, I blogged about the re-engineering of a 2000-year-old loaf of Pompeiian Bread.  Last weekend, I decided to try baking one of my own.  I watched the video showing Giorgio Locatelli bring his recipe theories to life, but the recipe didn’t appeal to me.  Dry yeast? Gluten?  These ingredients didn’t exist in ancient Pompeii.

I found a link to another recipe at that satisfied both my intent to use ingredients and techniques available at the time and my desire for a tasty, well-sprung loaf.  The recipe is for a Miche – a very large round loaf weighing 1.5 kg.  I cut the recipe roughly in half and made a 2 lb loaf.  My banneton nearly overflowed, but the resulting loaf was excellent.

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Revelations via an etched Mesolithic pendant found in Yorkshire.


The pendant dates to 11,o00 years ago.  When I first read the article’s title, I was skeptical about “secret codes”, and I still think it’s a bit on the sensationalist side.

This pendant has connections.  The lines are similar to those drawn on batons found in Asia, related to societies with shamanic, animist based religions.  If the usage was as similar as the marks themselves, then the long lines may represent hunts, and the small lines that make tick marks along the longer ones may represent the number of animals taken in the hunt.

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