A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of supporting a research workshop about Ancient Perspectives on Ageing, Retirement and Health organised by Professor Tim Parkin in Classics & Ancient History here at the university.
Tim asked me to get out some of the Museum’s objects relating to the topic. Some were obvious, like the Pythonesque votive offering in the shape of a foot from northern Italy (30075), and another, of triangular shape, said to represent the lungs, heart, diaphragm, stomach, etc (accession number 1987.71). Is that the heart at the top of the triangle and the gall bladder at the bottom? Is it the right way up?
A clay representation of a woman’s uterus or womb is on display in the Discovering Archaeology gallery. I also found a selection of bronze probes that, according to our documentation system, were thought to have a medical use. I also put in a figurine depicting a woman breast feeding and an ancient Greek pyxis with a charming scene showing a woman dandling a child upon her lap.
Discussion about whether the bronze toilet implements were indeed medical and it was reassuring to learn that one of the delegates had said that they had had this discussed during the workshop and the consensus was that they could be used for a variety of purposes. So medical as well as toiletry. One of ours came from Angel Court, London (accession number 1986.16).
Added to which this is the one hundredth Blog posted about Ancient Worlds. A modest achievement perhaps but one worthy of a little celebration I would hope.