The Top 10 Funniest Archaeology Jokes in Honor of International Archaeology Day!


I loved the concept of a “tablet” from the ancient world being mixed with a modern one :)


So true, there’s so much we don’t know from the past, and can only imagine the reasons behind some of what they did!



I love to think of how archaeologists will view us from the future! In 1000 years from now, how will the next culture perceive ours?


While I admire many scholar’s meticulous and analytical work of what they study, sometimes I think they can come off as taking some things a little too seriously and over thinking it!

6.Department of Archaeology Floor Plan by Whitworth, James:

I love how this cartoon plays off the Law of Superposition , that the older the layers, the older the finds must be! Funny pun on that concept and floor plans!


I sometimes get the naughty urge to think that someone from the past did it just to throw us off! I think it’s highly unlikely, as archaeology as we know it today didn’t exist back then, but it’s fun to imagine…


The anachronistic prediction of researchers studying them and them preparing for that is pretty hilarious in my mind!


I love how they tied in a bit of satire over our modern world and how fast things become outdated in this digital age!


This one was a close second, I think it explains itself as to why it’s so funny!


From the moment I saw this one, I knew it was the number one! The satire of all of the junk in women’s purses, and also tying in the concept of mapping out the stratification of an archaeological dig site is just too funny! I hope some offended women out there make sure not to take that joke “out of context”!

(Tee, hee, I couldn’t help cracking a joke of my own! Get it? Like Archaeological Context!, a closely related concept!…)

Posted in Archaeology and Anthropology, Helping Make History More Interesting, Holidays, Humor | 2 Comments

I Came, I Saw, I Judged: Why is Rome the “Bad Guy?”

To many, Ancient Rome represents an arrogant dictatorship greedy for power and oppressive and draconian towards its subjects. One can’t deny that aspects of Ancient Rome are certainly considered inhumane and barbaric in our society. While we marvel at the splendor of the arena, many find it cruel to find entertainment in the suffering of others. Rome’s imperialism could be considered very oppressive and arrogant nowadays. Roman justice and punishments would probably qualify as “cruel and unusual” by our standards! However, one must understand where the Romans were coming from, before judging them so quickly. While many of their acts are considered brutal and evil, with some context, it puts Rome into perspective.

One specific example of how we characterize Rome as tyrannical is through all of its conquests. We see Rome as being this brutal, oppressive force crushing peaceful barbarian tribes and being too imperialistic. Conflicts such as the Dacian wars are characterized as “genocide” or the Judean revolts as religious oppression. Part of this is most likely a reflection on our own attitudes toward conquest and expansionism. Influenced by imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as some of our own expansions, it is now fashionable to condemn that in the modern perspective due to sensitivities about Image result for roman slavesminority groups. All of those who have the belief that the US was founded on oppression of Africans and Native Americans I guess would think similarly of Rome and its conquests. However, one must realize that it wasn’t just Rome who was imperialistic. Those “barbarian” tribes were just as brutal and genocidal to each other! Like many indigenous peoples we thought of as idyllic and peaceful yet were actually quite brutal and expansionist themselves, many of the conquered peoples of Rome were the same way. Rome won because it was more powerful and larger, but many outsiders would have done to the Romans what Rome did to them. Those conquered peoples were not helpless little victims, defenseless against Rome’s power and no less brutal. When Rome fell, guess who stepped in!…

Another example that goes hand in hand is Rome’s treatment of slaves and peoples once they were conquered. True, many slaves were treated brutally. Slaves in the mines and on farms had it extremely rough. Condemned criminals were expendable and you could see them executed in creatively brutal ways. However, it wasn’t all uniform across the board. Many slaves, especially well educated ones and ones with talents were very valuable and could be in positions of trust, and even considerable authority. One could have close bonds with one’s slaves, as unlike “chattel” they were humans who could be loyal companions. I guess like owning pets or other animals, yes, they’re property, but that doesn’t mean everyone feels they have free reign to mistreat them. Gladiators, in particular could have very good lives, short due to the roughness of what they did, but they could earn considerable money if they won, and fame like celebrities and famous athletes. They could even earn their freedom if they fought well. They had access to good medical care and meals, perhaps better than many free poor people. In our society, slavery is considered as a crime against humanity basically. I won’t dispute that slavery is dehumanizing, but there is some cultural bias still. Our views of what constitutes “dignity” and humanity are culturally bound, and other cultures may have different interpretations on what exactly would “dehumanize” someone. Although it sounds like something universal, what someone considers an integral part of personal dignity and rights based on their humanity depends on cultural values of what makes a person have full personhood. In antiquity, becoming a slave was a merciful and humane option to give your defeated enemy rather than to kill them. You may have a life of servitude, but at least you were spared your life. Our society is more egalitarian than much of antiquity and believes autonomy to be central to humanness. In Rome, society was more stratified and had significant power differentials. This could mean that slaves could still be seen as “human”, versus livestock, but just at the lowest rung socially. Perhaps the free will to make one’s own choices and control one’s destiny wasn’t as central to being considered a full human being, as opposed to just being on a lower rung on the social ladder. Less social privilege, less choices. No doubt being defeated and becoming a slave was very humiliating, but in antiquity, anyone could become a slave, it wasn’t about particular groups. Our own past with slavery and how politicized it is today certainly taints our view of the nature of slavery in antiquity versus the slavery we had. Again, different circumstances, different attitudes…

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Lastly, this particular issue has a Judaeo-Christian bias to it. In Judaism, the Jew’s conflicts with the Romans color our view of Rome, and especially Christianity. In a Judaeo-Christian society, religious bias plays a part in seeing Rome as the bad guy. If you heard stories of Christians being persecuted and being thrown to the lions, especially if you are Christian, it paints Rome as the bad guy to your religion. However, if one looks deeper, one would realize that Christian authors wrote those accounts centuries after, and had an anti-pagan bias of their own. Also, most these “victims” wanted to be martyred so they openly did not sacrifice to the Roman gods. This was a threat to the state, as politics were Image result for early christiansintertwined with religion. Christians who were more “in the closet” were left alone for the most part. The religion was not the issue there, it was the politics and not helping the state. Pagans like the Romans were much more tolerant of other religions, and there were numerous cults in Ancient Rome as one could simply add deities to their pantheon. It wasn’t “all or nothing” like Christianity. The status of Christians was sort of don’t ask, don’t tell. Even Diocletian, who was known for persecuting Christians told an adviser to leave them be if they weren’t threatening the state. The crucifixion of Jesus is another biggie, it seems to encompass most of Roman brutality. No one denies that crucifixion is a barbaric and torturous punishment, but Jesus wasn’t special in receiving it. Also, the Romans did it because he was thought to be a threat to the state, (his whole “King of the Jews” thing…) not for his ideologies on peace and harmony. I won’t go into too much detail here, but also theologically, the whole saving of sins by dying thing was a predetermined plan explicitly mentioned in the Bible, it wasn’t like the Romans did it out of the blue and Jesus was a passive victim. Portraying the Romans as the bad guys helped further a Christian agenda.

Overall, Rome certainly does have aspects that we disapprove of. However, it’s too much of a blanket statement to say they were all “evil” and let that overshadow their accomplishments. In studying all history, it’s important to try to not view their actions through our own cultural matrix, but theirs to truly judge them. Judge the Romans by looking at their circumstances in antiquity and their cultural views, not ours and modern ideologies. I think a lot of it is due to the fact that our society is in many ways, so much like theirs. Their advanced technologies, society and government as well as their success make us see ourselves in them. Like it or not, Ancient Rome has influenced our own culture in more ways than most of us know.Perhaps criticisms of our own society are projected onto them because we can relate to them so much. It’s okay to personally disapprove or disagree with actions they did, I certainly do. I’m not saying Ancient Rome was justified ethically in everything they did despite their circumstances, but to be a little more gentle with your judgement on the Romans. The Romans were a harsh people in a harsher world.

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Posted in Ancient History, Opinion Piece | Leave a comment

Sometimes, It’s The Little Things that Stand Out The Most…

Many scholars say that they wish to get the most intimate and personal view of the peoples and cultures they study. Who doesn’t want to feel “in the moment”, like we were standing there alongside our historical subjects? Perhaps dream of being one of them, just for a day. We say those past peoples were human like us, at their core, and we share many human universals such as emotions, sapience, social ties etc, and we’re not so far off despite the technological and cultural changes. However, sometimes that intimacy can feel like it becomes more and more distant. Perhaps it’s due to the splendor of many finds, like they were “larger than life” so to speak, a lost era of glory. On the flip side, some societies seem so primitive and simple that we can’t imagine living like they did! Many tend to think of them as dull primitives, unlike our “advanced” selves.

Whenever I learn about a time period in history, and the many peoples and cultures, I get enthralled in many details, what they wore, what they looked like, what languages they spoke, what they believed about the world and beyond it etc… Sometimes, it can be hard to imagine them as being like us, but I can also see their humanity, I can see that in many ways, we aren’t that far off, we all share basic human nature. However, some details I can come across are much more poignant and resonate with me in unexpected ways. Many, can be guessed as more intimate looks into their humanness, but some can come more out of the blue. Often, it’s the most mundane things, like a clay pot, or a hairstyle, or even an engraving for me. Many little artifacts don’t trigger that intimacy as much, even though I appreciate the knowledge they give is about other cultures, but some just stand out, some for reasons I can’t quite explain.

One huge example of an artifact that made me feel an emotional connection was a little sculpture of a bird found in the Hohle Fels cave in Germany. It dates from the paleolithic and is believed to be about 30,000 years old. It’s exquisitely crafted, and pretty realistic. It Image result for 30000 year old bird sculpturelooks like it’s diving to get something or in mid-flight. Partly, the thing that amazes me about it is how old it is. Who knew, human beings were so artistically gifted so long ago? It gives one a snapshot of what a prehistoric person saw and rendered. I can almost imagine what that person was seeing when he decided to create it. The other part that struck me was just imagining the craftsman behind the piece. Even though I can’t see who made it, I can imagine a human being crafting it, and leaving it as a trace of his existence. I feel the same way about many artifacts, I imagine the person behind the making of it. I wonder what they felt when they were creating what they made. It stands out in my mind with every sculpture, or brush stroke,Image result for bison paleolithic art or drawing. Some artifacts, especially very ancient ones stand out because they look stunningly modern! These two bison carved on a rock look very realistic, so realistic that I would be tempted to think a modern person made it! Many time periods have their own unique style, but I find the realism to be more modern. Whoever made that was more talented than the majority of us! “Primitive” is not a word I would use to describe he skill needed to create that! Other things, like clay pots that resemble a modern style get to me, or designs that are still in use today. Another example is when unintentional blunders happen, like a fingerprint left behind, or a smudge in the ink! This really leaves a trace that a human being was there, and not some perfect automaton that created the fiImage result for medieval doodles onfimnd! Sometimes, it’s things like doodles that look like you or I drew them or graffiti saying things that we also say in
graffiti! The closer the resemblance to a modern occurrence, the more poignant it is for me, especially if the find is very old.  But sometimes, there are even more intimate finds for me!

What seems most obviously human, human remains such as mummies get to me the most, but not in all ways predictabImage result for A Tocharian female mummyle. Yes, the clothing and personal possessions are very intimate, but what gets me the most are simply the fact that it can look just like you or me. It’s the hairstyle that often makes the most personal connection for me. For example, there’s a female mummy with two braids in her hair. Braids, exactly like the ones I put in my hair sometimes. I can imagine her weaving her hair into a braid the exact same way as I do. It’s amazing to think that this 3000 year old mummy had a hairstyle that was truly uncImage result for tollund manhanged over the millennia. That may be one of the strongest examples that trigger intense emotional feelings in me. Sometimes, it’s just simple human anatomy that strikes me. The Tollund Man, a bog body has a remarkably preserved face. His face still has every wrinkle and looks like he’s sleeping. Now, my logical brain tells me that of course, homo sapiens have the same anatomy since they were homo sapiens, but it still amazes me that people several millennia old still look like us, that all of their physical human features were unchanged throughout all this time. That really boggles my mind!

Overall, I love it when I can get that emotional feeling with a find. It makes me go beyond being solely a scholar, but also connect with humans from the past!

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(Well, perhaps that’s a little too close to history! :)

Posted in Archaeology and Anthropology, Helping Make History More Interesting, Opinion Piece | 1 Comment

What More Is There To Say?…

Last year, I wrote a huge reflection on 9/11 and what it means today 9/11: A New Perspective . It covers the more analytical perspective of 9/11 versus the more commonly seen emotional side. In essence, what it means politically and what could possibly prevent more events like it. Terrorism is still a huge threat in our society and others like it, and unlike many of the days that we all remember, is still relevant in the contemporary sense. Pearl Harbor is not forgotten, yet the threat has passed. WWII is over, we no longer hate Japan, nor is Japan a dictatorship. The JFK assassination was huge, but we moved forward as a nation and kept a stable country going. However, 9/11 is still an open wound, partially because it is still recent compared to those days, but also because the fear isn’t over. We can remember Pearl Harbor as a bad day in our history, for example, but we no longer have that fear we did when it happened. I get it, the thought of potential new 9/11 like events is still a reality. The fear that “it” could happen tomorrow, near you, affecting you, is very powerful. Much of history and how it played out universally was based on fear and emotion over what could happen. In the 40’s we feared we’d lose to major dictatorships, in the 50’s we feared the spread of communism and a possible WWIII. Yeah, terrorism is the threat of today, and we’re all weary.

Despite that, however, I still believe we can improve. We don’t have to let fear and emotion stand in the way of more logical thoughts. On this day, many people take it to remember and for many bloggers out there, write a little piece on 9/11 chronicling what they were doing or what happened. As mentioned last year, many are from an exceedingly emotional standpoint, and few from a more analytical one we use when talking about other historical events. I have also noticed, that many recycle the same information and opinions. Year after year, everyone spouts the same thing, the same perspective, the same facts, over and over again. Now, my perspective on 9/11 hasn’t changed much from last year either, but I began to think this year, why repeat the same things I said last year? To be honest, I think that’s what turned me off greatly from the topic of 9/11 and other popular emotionally charged historical events. Every year, whether it be in school or in society, all I hear is the same information and opinions, nothing new, no fresh perspective, unique angle, different way to look at it. We all know and learn the basic facts about that day, the planes, the places, the people, pretty much. We know it was terrorism, and that it shook the nation and devastated countless families. We’ve covered that for about a decade already, we know. The other thing too, yes, we were devastated, we grieved for everyone who lost their life, we were angry at who did it and we want to “never forget” it. Year after year, that’s all we have to say.

However, why not challenge ourselves to think more? If we really need to spend a day remembering this tragedy, why not challenge ourselves to think about it from a new angle? Many seem to focus on that one day in 2001, but why not expand the dialogue to how it’s still relevant today in today’s climate? Why not take the day to think more about the complex topic of terrorism in today’s world, to the surprise of many, it’s not all black and white, good vs, evil. It’s a cause and effect scenario, in my opinion. Instead of going over and over and over all of the details and feelings of one day in one moment, why don’t we start to move forward by thinking forward to the issues we face today in light of 9/11? Many feel that by not fixating on that one day, we somehow forget the impact of it all, but I digress. We can still remember what happened on 9/11/01, no one’s saying let’s have collective amnesia and be in denial! However, we should move forward from that day, focus more on how it affects us today, each year in light of current events. 9/11 started a change in our society and politics, probably forever, we’re never going to be the same nation we were on 9/10/01. Let’s start intelligent dialogues on that realization, for example. One thing is sadly true, and was true throughout history: there will be more bad days. There will be days in future generations to come that will have the impact 9/11 had on us, or Pearl Harbor had on our grandparents. Maybe not terrorism, but until humanity learns to live in peace, there will be other tragedies. It’s how we handle them, in the moment, and how we move forward that defines how much of an impact it will make. 9/11 seems like the be all – end all right now, but we do, unfortunately, need to move forward so we can absorb the impact of our next big tragedy. Having a level head about this one is practice for the future.

This may be my last post on the subject in such intense detail, as true to what I have expressed here. Plenty of sources can educate you as to what transpired on 9/11, and countless more can recycle the same opinions and feelings over and over each year. I have said my bit on what I think about 9/11 and how we should analyze it and move forward in this and last year’s post. Until I have a brand new perspective or insight, I would only be recycling my same opinions from last year! I think that moving forward, I might commemorate 9/11 by exploring relevant wider topics that 9/11 has forced our nation to address, such as terrorism, or freedom vs. security for examples, but I don’t feel the need to have an obligatory post every September 11th if I have nothing new to add. Collectively, many have covered most of what 9/11 is about to most people, and I added my two cents. What more is there to say?…

Here’s last year’s opinions: 9/11: A New Perspective

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(The new single World Trade Center. One step towards moving forward, instead of always looking back…)

Posted in Holidays, Modern History, Opinion Piece | Leave a comment

Stonehearst Asylum: A Historical Film With a Poignant Message for Today

Stonehearst asylum is a movie made in 2014 set in an insane asylum around the 1900’s. The premise is a Dr. Newgate comes to Stonehearst out of Oxford college to become a medical resident under Dr. Lamb, the superintendent. There, he learns of Dr. Lamb’s progressive treatments he uses with his patients, including not using restraints or drugs, and letting them keep their delusions. He believes keeping them occupied helps them in their recovery from insanity. Dr. Newgate takes a liking to one particular resident, Mrs. Graves who is there for hysteria. Dr. Newgate is taught valuable lessons in treating the patients with dignity and seeing their humanity beyond just drugging them and subduing their behaviors. However, it is not as it seems. One night, he goes downstairs and discovers a bunch of people kept imprisoned in the basement. It is revealed that they are actually the real staff of Stonehearst and Dr. Lamb is an impostor! Dr. Lamb and his staff are actually residents who staged an uprising and overthrew the asylum! Dr. Lamb is cunning and has a dark past as a military surgeon which had to do with his admission to the facility. Dr. Newgate tries to rescue the former staff and asks Mrs. Graves to help him. She refuses, however, and reveals that Dr. Salt, the real superintendent, used all sorts of cruel and dehumanizing treatments on the patients including her. Dr. Newgate asks the head nurse of the former staff how to defeat Dr. Lamb, but she says to view him as a patient, and to heal, not defeat him in order to overpower him.  Dr. Lamb’s running of the asylum starts to fall apart, with them running out of food and heating for the winter. This escalates the situation, and Dr. Lamb becomes suspicious of Dr. Newman. The height of the crisis reaches it’s peak during New Year’s when Dr. Newman, with Mrs. Graves’s help tries to usurp Lamb’s power. Dr. Lamb ends up strapping Dr. Newman into a chair to use electrotherapy to make him a patient there too. as a last request, Dr. Newman asks Dr. Lamb to give a pocket watch to Mrs. Graves, but instead pulls out a picture of a soldier he killed during his time as a military surgeon that Dr. Newgate found in the isolation room where Dr. Lamb stayed as a resident. This gives him a huge flashback and he becomes incapacitated. Meanwhile, Mickey, Dr. Lamb’s henchman tries to take over the electrotherapy. Mrs. Graves comes to the rescue and fights him off, killing him when he electrocutes himself, but also starts a huge fire! Both Dr. Newman and Mrs. Grey rescue the patients, former staff, and even Dr. Lamb. The film flashes forward to the asylum being run more gently and humanely by the former head nurse, and the return of Mrs. Grave’s husband asking for her discharge. Problem is, she was discharged 3 weeks ago by Dr. Newman! This is impossible, the doctor accompanying him says, because He’s Dr. Newman! In one of the biggest plot twists of all, “Dr. Newman” is not a doctor, nor his name is Newman! He is revealed to be an escaped mental patient himself, who fell in love with Mrs. Graves at a medical seminar they were both exhibited at! Mrs. Graves was there because her husband abused her and her father put her there to escape him. In the end, it is revealed that “Dr, Newman”, the impostor, and she set up a new asylum in Italy, and run it with Lamb’s humane methods.

Overall, I thought the film was very good! It had suspense, and violence, but it falls under a more intelligent genre that an average horror/thriller film. It is intellectual in its underlying message: treating patients with dignity and humanity is the best way to treat them. The characters were good, and the plot twists where a true surprise! Everything was not what it seemed! I especially like the complexity of Lamb’s character. He is shown as progressive and kind, but turns into a much more sinister and sadistic figure. On one hand, his methods were much more gentle and humane than the dehumanizing treatments of the day, but he had a dark past and goes to evil lengths to get his way, truly showing his madness. He is the bad guy, yet as the head nurse said, “Even Silas (Dr. Lamb’s first name), has some good in him.” His treatment methods are kind and he truly cares for his patients, but anyone who stands in his way gets the brunt of his cruel side. What stood out to me too, is they didn’t just give him the “bad guy treatment”. It wasn’t about defeating him, but healing him. The way he was ultimately defeated was to be faced with his innermost demons and the side he hid from the world and himself. Dr. Newman even comforted him in the end before he completely lost his mind and was even a patent in the institution still! The clear message is, that by truly healing people, it conquers their demons. Even the disturbed Dr. Lamb was treated with sympathy and compassion in the end. I also liked how Dr. Newman got to grow as a doctor, by learning the lesson of treating patients with compassion and dignity. Even though he wasn’t a doctor, but a patient himself, as it was revealed, he made a great doctor! His compassion and true understanding made him the perfect doctor for the ward. His fate as the head of his own institution fit him well.

The message throughout the film is truly contemporary, yet reflects the changes in thinking at the time. Giving the patients meaningful things to do, simulation, compassion, is now the modern philosophy. Excessive restraints and inhumane treatments even then were being phased out gradually giving way to more fulfilling patient care. By not suppressing their behaviors, but finding avenues for them was shown to have worked far better in truly healing them. Indeed, I could argue the main theme of the movie was about healing. Healing the patients, and even healing the bad guys like Dr. Lamb. I also loved the film from other historical aspects too, such as the terminology, like “alienist” (now a psychiatrist), and the antiquated terms such as “Mongolism”, “Dementia Praecox”, “Idiot”, “Imbecile”, “chronic homosexuality”, even “excessive masturbation”, to name a few! The writers clearly did research into the real history of institutions and psychiatry. They even depicted some treatments accurately from back then, like water treatment, electrotherapy, and a steam room. They truly made an effort to get the details right! The historical elements made the film so much more immensely enjoyable for me!

Overall, the film was an excellent look into the history of psychiatry, with a cool plot line! The plot is intellectual, and not just dumb horror scares in many “asylum” films, but tells a story with a message that rings clear today: treating patients with dignity and compassion. Here’s the link to watch the entire movie! Stonehearst Asylum

Posted in Modern History, Opinion Piece, Reviews | 1 Comment

Idiots, Imbeciles and Morons: Psychology’s Golden Age

Today, we have made great strides in psychology and mental healthcare with new technologies such as genetic research, MRI’s, CAT scans and other ways to see ailments of the brain at a cellular level. We have developed new treatments and more enlightened approaches to caring for patients with mental disorders. However, these strides started around the turn of the century with great names such as Sigmund Freud, Alfred Binet, Henry H. Goddard, Robert Yerkes etc… These researchers and many more were some of the first pioneers into developing the foundation of our modern treatments and attitudes toward psychiatric disorders despite their sometimes now “outdated” language and theories. Interestingly, many of the works of these great researchers have survived and can be read easily by the public. It’s striking, some of the resemblance to our own methods of research and case studies. Here are some of my most favorite ones to read!:

Alois Alzheimer is the man that Alzheimers disease is named after. He conducted research into dementia disorders in the early 1900’s. Not as well known is his case study of a patient named Auguste Deter. Deter was a woman in her early 50’s who had symptoms of Auguste D aus Marktbreit.jpgwhat is now early onset Alzheimers such as memory loss and delusions, as well as behaviors such as screaming in the middle of the night and dragging bed sheets around the house! Her husband committed her to the Institution for the Mentally Ill and for The Epileptics in Frankfurt, Germany in 1901. Alzheimer studied her for a while while she was there. He asked her questions to judge her awareness which she replied “Ich hab mich verloren”, or “I have lost myself” if she didn’t know. Alzheimer kept meticulous notes of all of their interactions and even samples of her handwriting! Alzheimer later moved on to another institution, but was kept in touch with Auguste. She died in 1906 and Alzheimer dissected her brain, revealing later hallmarks of Alzheimers as we know it today. Her medical file was found 90 years after Alzheimer’s death and contains all of the notes on Auguste and Alzheimer’s interactions! Unfortunately, it is not online and I couldn’t find any of Alzheimer’s works either :(  However, there are some published extracts form that file:

Nov 26, 1901

She sits on the bed with a helpless expression. What is your name? Auguste. Last name? Auguste. What is your husband’s name? Auguste, I think. Your husband? Ah, my husband. She looks as if she didn’t understand the question. Are you married? To Auguste. Mrs D? Yes, yes, Auguste D. How long have you been here? She seems to be trying to remember. Three weeks. What is this? I show her a pencil. A pen. A purse and key, diary, cigar are identified correctly. At lunch she eats cauliflower and pork. Asked what she is eating she answers spinach. When she was chewing meat and asked what she was doing, she answered potatoes and then horseradish. When objects are shown to her, she does not remember after a short time which objects have been shown. In between she always speaks about twins. When she is asked to write, she holds the book in such a way that one has the impression that she has a loss in the right visual field. Asked to write Auguste D, she tries to write Mrs and forgets the rest. It is necessary to repeat every word. Amnestic writing disorder. In the evening her spontaneous speech is full of paraphrasic derailments and perseverations.

Extracts from Nov 29, 1901

What year is it? Eighteen hundred. Are you ill? Second month. What are the names of the patients? She answers quickly and correctly. What month is it now? The 11th. What is the name of the 11th month? The last one, if not the last one. Which one? I don’t know. What colour is snow? White. Soot? Black. The sky? Blue. Meadows? Green. How many fingers do you have? 5. Eyes? 2. Legs? 2.. . . If you buy 6 eggs, at 7 dimes each, how much is it? Differently. On what street do you live? I can tell you, I must wait a bit. What did I ask you? Well, this is Frankfurt am Main. On what street do you live? Waldemarstreet, not, no. . . . When did you marry? I don’t know at present. I show her a key, a pencil and a book and she names them correctly. What did I show you? I don’t know, I don’t know. It’s difficult isn’t it? So anxious, so anxious. I show her 3 fingers; how many fingers? 3. Are you still anxious Yes. How many fingers did I show you? Well this is Frankfurt am Main.

The patient is asked to recognise objects by touch, with her eyes closed. A toothbrush, sponge, bread, breadroll, spoon, brush, glass, knife, fork, plate, purse, Mark, cigar, key. She recognises them quickly and correctly. By touch she calls a brass cup a milk jug, a tea-spoon, but when she opens her eyes she immediately says a cup. Writing, she does it as already described. When she has to write Mrs Auguste D, she writes Mrs and we must repeat the other words because she forgets them. The patient is not able to progress in writing and repeats, I have lost myself. No disturbance in speech articulation. She frequently interrupts herself in the articulation of words during the interview (as if she did not know whether she had said something correctly or not). During physical examination she cooperates and is not anxious. When she was brought from the isolation room to the bed she became agitated, screamed, was non-cooperative; ; showed great fear and repeated I will not be cut. I do not cut myself…”

That is as much as I found on her file. The extract comes from here: Auguste D and Alzheimer’s disease. I wish there was more on her case and that they could make a movie about it. Luckily, there is a TV program on it, but it is entirely in German!

A modern snapshot from the TV show! Would have loved for it to be a full length movie.

My other favorite read is an entire book online called The Intelligence of The Feeble Minded by Alfred Binet in 1916. It details extensively the studies done on multiple patients ranging from “Idiots”, to “Imbeciles” and what they are cognitively capable of doing, as well as physical sensations such as pain. Some colorful cases are Denise, a “low grade imbecile” who is always cheerful and imitated everything Alfred Binet did with her. Also this little vignette with a patient called “cretin” during a pain study:

“First notice Denise,a low grade imbecile, a short little woman of twenty-five years with small black eyes brilliant and mobile,who is extremely pleasant.The moment she enters the office, she holds out her hand and begins to laugh, showing her beautiful white teeth. She laughs at everything and nothing; she is very docile, even affectionate.”
“Cretin, middle grade imbecile, behaved altogether differently. In order to learn her sensibility to pain, we raised her sleeve, slightly pinching her arm. At first, she seemed amused, and smiled; indeed it was her first smile that day. Then when we attempted a second time to pinch her, she defended herself drawing back her arm vigorously. We seized her wrist without, however, causing her pain. It was never the less the beginning of a contest; the child began to cry loudly, and to sob,hiding her face behind her sleeve. At the end of several seconds the sobs stopped of themselves. We gave her a sou which she eagerly took and pocketed. But in spite of the gift her sullen attitude only increased, she stood up and insisted upon leaving us, repeating several times, “Me go”.
Q.Eat what?
A.They are eating.
Q.You are going to eat?
A. Yes, it is time.
Q. But stay just a minute, are you afraid of us?
A. I go eat.”
Something about that little scene captures my attention. I wish they made a movie scene with it happening, I can almost imagine it!
Overall, there are plenty more studies I have come across but these two are my favorite so far! I love the intimate descriptions as it is like you’re in the room while it is happening! Primary sources like these can really give you that “human” feel to history and make it that much more real. These sources give you an intimate look into the golden age of psychology!
(Addendum: I almost forgot this gem! It has a ton of pictures of different patients! Types of Mental Defectives)
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Blog Roll Please…

I take pride in the work and dedication I invest all the time into making History is Interesting an interesting and insightful blog for history buffs out there! However, I have not, as of yet, given due credit to the many blogs I have read that are equally if not much more so insightful and informative as my own! These blogs inspire me to be better at writing my own, and learn new things:

Bones Don’t Lie This blog focuses on Mortuary Archaeology from an array of time periods! The author, Katheryn Meyers Emery, has recently earned her PhD in that field! She describes her focus as:

“This blog was created to serve as a way for me to keep up to date with current mortuary and bioarchaeology news, as well as a way to work on my own scholarly writing. Since then it has evolved into a way for me to explore a variety of regions, theories, interpretations, perspectives, and methods in the discipline.”

An Historian Goes to the Movies This blog gives historically based reviews of popular historical movies critiquing their historical accuracy! Really cool reads!

“This blog is about exploring historical films (and TV shows). My goal is to look at films the way a professional historian does, not the way an average film-goer or fan does. I intend to examine issues such as historical accuracy, the relationship between film and scholarship, how films use their historical sources, and so on. While I’m a trained historian, I can’t be an expert on every possible historical subject, so while I make a serious effort to get the historical facts rights, I’m sure I’ll make occasional errors, and sometimes I’ll have to omit details simply for the sake of brevity and readability. I’m a medievalist, so I’m going to tend to focus on films about the Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern periods in Europe, simply because I know most about those. But I’ll periodically cover other historical periods as well.”

Medieval books This blog specializes in the study and analysis of Medieval manuscripts and what they can tell us about Medieval life. The author, Erick Kwakkel, is a professional book historian specializing in Medieval works.

I am a book historian at Leiden University, The Netherlands, where I study medieval manuscripts – books from before the invention of print. My research and teaching is hands-on, with real objects on the table. A good day for me is having medieval dirt on my hands. I am also directing a project on twelfth-century manuscript culture: “Turning Over a New Leaf: Manuscript Innovation in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance.”

From the Garden into the City This blog has a particularly insightful post I linked here about the merits of studying history. She describes her main focus as:

“Disgruntled graduate student of the first millennium A.D. eastern Mediterranean. Interested mainly in historiography, power, and representation. A historical materialist who tries to appreciate that many people really believed in the things they fought for. Complains profusely about the problems of academia while still being complicit in too many of them. Does not feel that pronouns are necessary.”

All Mesopotamia This blog deals with ancient Mesopotamia in great depth!

“Welcome to the All Mesopotamia blog, where you will learn about these civilizations through fun little (and not-so-little) posts, featuring information gathered from sources all over the internet. This blog is part of a network of various social networking platforms through which All Mesopotamia distributes information about this ancient civilization…”

Mercurius Politicus This blog is focused on Early Modern History and focuses on Henry Walker, a 17th century person who made some slanderous pamphlets against another person, John Taylor!

 “I began this blog when I was doing an MA in early modern history at Birkbeck. The MA is now done, but the blog has remained as an outlet for my interest in the early modern period. I am currently researching and writing a life of the ironmonger, pamphleteer and preacher Henry Walker. Walker is well-known to anyone who studies the politics of the English Civil Wars; but he is entirely obscure to anyone else, and he remains something of a figure of fun even amongst scholars. Many historians take the criticisms of his opponents at face value, and have tended to dismiss him as a result. I think there is more to him than that, though.”

The Social Historian This blog is about mostly Early Modern/Post Medieval history and it’s social history. It’s written by Jonathan Healey.

“Adventures in the world of social, economic and local history…”

The History of the Byzantine Empire This blog deals mainly with the Byzantine empire, as the name suggests.

“My name is Robert Horvat and welcome to ‘The History of the Byzantine Empire” blog. This is not a new project in the strictest sense. I have been reading on the subject for about 20 years now. It all began one day when I was looking into reading further about Croatia (my parents birthplace) and its history. There wasn’t many books back in the mid 1990’s on Croatia, so I found myself reading other European history that mentioned Croatia to get my fix. I accidentally stumbled across my first Byzantine history book, entitled The Byzantine Commonwealth: Eastern Europe 500-1453 by Dimitri Obolensky, which had interesting sections dotted throughout on the Balkans and Croatia. Being curious I thought it would be a great investment, so I bought it. I initially struggled through it, but by the end of it I was completely mesmerized by this so called Byzantine Empire. It was full of intrigue and everything about it was exotic (to me).”

There are plenty more great historical blogs, that I have not listed, but I visit these most frequently! I find great blogs all the time, you just have to look and be inspired!

Posted in Ancient History, Archaeology and Anthropology, Helping Make History More Interesting, Middle Ages, Renaissance | 1 Comment