Mortality and Morbidity in human history: Urinary Schistosomiasis

There is a parasitic worm that can be spread by contact with water contaminated with infected urine or feces or via snails. The worms develop and reproduce in snails and then can live in freshwater on their own for about two days.

If they are able to penetrate someone’s skin, they set up camp in the blood vessels and make lots of eggs. Some of the eggs migrate to the bladder and bowels where they can then pass back to the outside world but not before causing inflammation to the affected areas. Upon first contact, it can cause a rash. In a month or two, fever, chills, coughing and aches can develop. If left untreated, the worm can cause liver damage and in rare cases eggs can migrate to the brain and spinal cord and cause seizures or paralysis and the body tries to rid itself of the attacker.

ancient Egyptian fishermen

Ancient Egyptian fishermen

The Schistosoma haematobium worm can affect other parts of they body but my particular interest here is when it affects the urinary system. In ancient Egypt, it appears to have been a common affliction among fishermen. Initially, it causes hematuria, or blood in the urine. There is reason to believe that it may have been regarded as a “virile menstruation” because of the relative lack of information in medical papyri and because it disproportionately affected young men.






Medicine in the Days of the Pharaohs by Bruno Halioua and Bernard Ziskind



Atalanta, the badass

I’ve been bouncing the idea around of a longer work about Atalanta for years now. Procrastination and harsh self-criticism have kept me from progressing very far on it so I thought if I did it in small spurts it would be easier. The written part, however, will have to stay hidden until it’s completed.



This is from “The Earthly Paradise” by William Morris. It’s in a super cool compilation of tales of gods and heroes from 1899 I found in a curios shop in Colorado.

Atalanta, daughter of King Schoeneus, not willing to lose her virgin’s estate, made it a law to all suitors that they should run a race with her in the public place, and if they failed to overcome her should die unrevenged; and thus many brave men perished. At last came Milanion, the son of Amphidamas, who outraged her with the help of Venus, gained the virgin and wedded her. 

anonymous hetaira

Amid the glittering list of ancient heroes there are an embarrassingly small number of women. So here’s to the hetaera, the coolest chicks around. hetairaThe hetaera are misleadingly labeled prostitutes. They were in fact charming, educated and talented women that, unlike other women in ancient Greece, were free to go about in public and attend the symposia which were typically the domain of men. There were some notables among their ranks, more are soon to follow…

Roman Sketching: Hannibal

We really don’t learn enough about the Punic Wars in school. In high school our world history teacher said that the state of Texas wanted each student to memorize 10 important dates in history. The Magna Carta, Battle of Hastings, Battle of Tours, etc. No one I actually took this class with remembers this as even a part of the curriculum so I can’t ask them but I’m almost positive the Battle of Zama was not on that list. This is the battle that gave the Romans supremacy over the mediterranean. The importance of this is obvious but cooler still is that these wars effectively whipped Rome into the bureaucratic shape it needed to then expand as far as it did. hannibal

Basically the fall of Hannibal led to all of those pre-Roman Iberian people getting fucked. **pours beer on the ground for the Cantabri, Lusitani, Oretani, Turduli, Vettones, etc, etc, etc.**

This is my first stab at Hannibal, the bust anyway. It’s very likely he was not quite so european-looking.