Mad honey! A sip of toxic nectar could kill a horse, render a soldier senseless, and inspire the Delphic Oracle
Toxic honey from the Black Sea region apparently immobilized Greek troops under Xenophon in 401 B.C. The 'mad honey' comes from the rhododendron, other members of the heath family, or Mediterranean oleander, especially in early spring. Grayanotoxins in the honey inhibit breathing and produce hypnotic effects. Honey was linked to the Maenads, who were associated with Dionysos, god of madness, and may have been involved in oracles such as the Pythia at Delphi. The 'Homeric Hymn to Hermes' from the 8th-6th centuries B.C. describes 'melissae' or bee-oracles who prophesied under the influence of honey.
Publication Name: Archaeology
The case of the wayward oracle bone
The article describes oracle bones from China's Shang dynasty, dating from around 1200 BC. Questions and possible answers would be inscribed on the bones, which were then heated until they cracked, and the resulting patterns would be read by the diviners.
Publication Name: Expedition
An inscribed bone fragment from Nassington, Peterborough
An inscribed bone fragment, possibly dating from the 10th century, was discovered in 1992 in Peterborough, England. The former use of the bone as a comb and possible meanings for its incomplete inscription are discussed.
Publication Name: Medieval Archaeology
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