Author: laurencetotelin

Tales from the Archives: To Make a Fine Apple Pye

It’s cold, wet and rather miserable in the UK at the moment. Fortunately, the Christmas lights bring some good cheer, as does lovely late-autumn food. My favourite autumnal dish is the apple-crumble, with its perfect balance of sweetness and tartness. Our wonderful Recipes Project archives include some lovely apple-based posts,…

Pigeon slippers

By Robert Ralley and Lauren Kassell The Casebooks Project, a team of scholars at the University of Cambridge, has spent a decade studying 80,000 consultations recorded by the seventeenth-century astrologer-physicians Simon Forman and Richard Napier. To mark the completion of our work, we selected 500 cases for full transcription. When…

Smelling of Roses in Ancient Rome

By Laurence Totelin as part of the perfume series The painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912) had a knack for depicting the — sometimes imaginary — luxurious excesses of the Romans. In The Roses of Heliogabalus, he depicted a banquet hosted by the emperor Elagabalus (218-222 CE). Vast amounts of delicate rose…

A rose is a rose is a rose… but how does it smell?

By Galina Shyndriayeva as part of the Perfume Series Questions of words and the meanings they convey are critical for poetry and literature, but they are just as important in the poetry of the senses. While chemical knowledge seems to have little to do with poetic concerns, European chemistry at…

Tales from the Archives: What Was Perfume in the Eighteenth Century?

In the UK, we are getting towards the end of the wonderful bluebell season. In some cooler parts of the country, forest floors are still covered with the delicately-scented flower. I love the earthy smell of bluebells as it blends with the other scents of the woods. In celebration of…

Nit Picking the Greek and Roman Way

By Laurence Totelin One of the ‘joys’ of parenthood is dealing with lice and nits. In the UK, the NHS helpfully states that ‘there’s nothing you can do to prevent head lice.’ You can only prevent them from spreading like wild fire. This school year, the problem has deepened in…

A Pain in the Backside: Ancient Remedies for Haemorrhoids

By: Glyn Muitjens Although haemorrhoids are not often talked about, as many seem to consider them a source of embarrassment, they are anything but a rare condition. In fact, the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland suspects one in three people in Britain suffers from them sometime in…

Interview with the author: Elaine Leong

Our very own Elaine Leong’s new book Recipes and Everyday Knowledge Medicine, Science, and the Household in Early Modern England has just come out with the University of Chicago Press. We are super excited to offer you this interview with the author. TRP: Congratulations Elaine on your new book! We have read…

Cleopatra’s Eye: The Significance of Kohl in Ancient Egypt

By Hazel Lunn Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in 1963 production of Cleopatra, portraying malachite and galena kohls used in Egyptian makeup. Courtesy of http://flavorwire.com/535384/the-fashions-of-cleopatra-in-cinema Kohl has been a popular cosmetic in civilisations across the world since prehistoric times, but its association with ancient Egypt is most well-known. We are all familiar…

Thanksgiving with Galen and Apicius

By Sean Coughlin For Thanksgiving, I thought I’d come up with a new English translation of a seasonal recipe from the Roman cook-book of Apicius. It comes from the third book of De re coquinaria. The Latin is cucurbitas cum gallina. In Joseph Vehling’s English translation: “Pumpkin and Chicken”. If…

Recreating Ancient Beauty

By Eboni John, published as part of the Undergraduate Series The society of ancient Rome was just as obsessed with cosmetics and beauty as we are today. Indulging in the use of items such as white lead foundation, ash-based eye-shadow and poppy petalled blush, it is clear that the Romans’…

In Search of Efen

By  Allison Shichen Du, published as part of the Undergraduate Series This summer, I started a journey to explore Manchu (Manzu) food both in books and in real life. After reviewing A Comprehensive Manchu-English Dictionary written by Jerry Normanin May, I thought that flour-made foods are very important in the…

Ancient Cures for Asthma: Do They Really Work?

By Joanna Cunningham, as part of the Undergraduate Series Find out more about ancient ideas on asthma, and whether the remedies that ancient physicians used actually work! Asthma and Its Ancient Background Asthma is an affliction of the lungs which numerous ancient physicians discussed in their writings. It was first mentioned…

Tales from the archives: the torture of therapeutics in Rome: Galen on pigeon dung

Recently, I have noticed fewer pigeons at Cardiff station. This probably mean that there has been a cull, which even though I’m no fan of pigeons, made me feel rather melancholy. So, in honour of the humble pigeon, here is, fresh from our archives, a fab post by Caroline Petit…

Conference report: “The Words of Medicine”

By Isabella Bonati From Wednesday 19th to Saturday 22nd September the international Conference “The Words of Medicine: Technical Terminology in Material and Textual Evidence from the Graeco-Roman World” was held at the North-West University of Potchefstroom (South Africa). Sixteen scholars from around the world exchanged knowledge, research and experience, and…

Fevers and the Dog Star in Antiquity

By Laurence Totelin Summer this year in the UK has been particularly hot; we have experienced a heat wave for the first time in almost a decade. The hot days between roughly the tenth of July and the fifteenth of August are known as the Dog Days, so called because…