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Concept: Alexander the Great


King Philip II was the father of Alexander the Great. He suffered a notorious penetrating wound by a lance through his leg that was nearly fatal and left him lame in 339 B.C.E. (i.e., 3 y before his assassination in 336 B.C.E.). In 1977 and 1978 two male skeletons were excavated in the Royal Tombs II and I of Vergina, Greece, respectively. Tomb I also contained another adult (likely a female) and a newborn skeleton. The current view is that Philip II was buried in Tomb II. However, the male skeleton of Tomb II bears no lesions to his legs that would indicate lameness. We investigated the skeletal material of Tomb I with modern forensic techniques. The male individual in Tomb I displays a conspicuous case of knee ankylosis that is conclusive evidence of lameness. Right through the overgrowth of the knee, there is a hole. There are no obvious signs that are characteristic of infection and osteomyelitis. This evidence indicates that the injury was likely caused by a severe penetrating wound to the knee, which resulted in an active inflammatory process that stopped years before death. Standard anthropological age-estimation techniques based on dry bone, epiphyseal lines, and tooth analysis gave very wide age ranges for the male, centered around 45 y. The female would be around 18-y-old and the infant would be a newborn. It is concluded that King Philip II, his wife Cleopatra, and their newborn child are the occupants of Tomb I.

Concepts: Alexander IV of Macedon, Philip II of Spain, Philip III of Macedon, Skeleton, Olympias, Human skeleton, Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great


The debate on the food-drug continuum could benefit from a historical dimension. This study aims at showing this through one case: the food-drug continuum in Greece in the fifth- and fourth-century BCE. I suggest that at the time the boundary between food and drug - and that between dietetics and pharmacology - was rather blurred.

Concepts: Achaemenid Empire, Spacetime, Renaissance, British Museum, Ancient Egypt, Alexander the Great, Nutrition, Ancient Rome


From the ancient times, there are three basic approaches for the interpretation of the different psychic phenomena: the organic, the psychological, and the sacred approach. The sacred approach forms the primordial foundation for any psychopathological development, innate to the prelogical human mind. Until the second millennium B.C., the Great Mother ruled the Universe and shamans cured the different mental disorders. But, around 1500 B.C., the predominance of the Hellenic civilization over the Pelasgic brought great changes in the theological and psychopathological fields. The Hellenes eliminated the cult of the Great Mother and worshiped Dias, a male deity, the father of gods and humans. With the Father’s help and divinatory powers, the warrior-hero made diagnoses and found the right therapies for mental illness; in this way, sacerdotal psychiatry was born.

Concepts: Greece, God, Ancient Egypt, Psychiatry, Ancient Rome, Alexander the Great, Mental disorder, Psychology


Descriptions of the preparation of ancient Egyptian mummies that appear in both scientific and popular literature are derived largely from accounts by the Greek historians Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus. Our reliance on these normative descriptions obscures the wide range of techniques practised, and so stifles the study of geographic, chronological, and social variations in the practice. Using published descriptions in the literature for 150 mummies and 3D reconstructions from computed tomography data for 7 mummies, this study compares empirical data with classical descriptions of evisceration, organ treatment, and body cavity treatment. Techniques for accessing the body cavity, removal and treatment of the organs, and treatment of the eviscerated body cavity vary with time period, sex, and status, and are discussed in relation to their treatment in the literature and their radiological appearance. The Herodotean and Diodorean stereotypes, including the restriction of transabdominal evisceration to the elite and cedar oil enema evisceration to commoners, are falsified by the data. The transperineal forms are present only in elites, and chemical evisceration is not apparent at all. Additionally, the dogmatic contention that the heart was universally retained in situ, or replaced if accidentally removed, is also greatly exaggerated.

Concepts: Empirical, Time, Alexander the Great, Elite, Diodorus Siculus, Science, Scientific method, Ancient Egypt


The ancient Greeks honoured the concept of kleos (κλέος) aphthiton, eternal renown. An ancient Greek hero earned kleos through great deeds, up to and including his own death. However, the Greeks also believed that kleos could be earned through feats of intellectual procreation. Publication is thus the modern avenue for an academic to earn kleos. The young academic must perforce make an Achillean choice, to go with the mainstream flow and pragmatically publish only that which is needed or required for career advancement - the more facile path - or to strive to produce respectable papers over and above that which is strictly required. The latter is a much more onerous path, but one that is ultimately satisfying and eventually even becomes pour le sport: for fun.

Concepts: Italy, Greek alphabet, Publishing, Alexander the Great, Greek language, Renaissance, Ancient Greece


 Gallstones are rarely mentioned in the medical texts of antiquity. The physician, Alexander of Tralles mentions-for the first time-stones in the gallbladder as a possible cause for obstructive jaundice. This designation is found in his textbook on medicine under the heading “obstruction of the liver”. Based on that observation, we describe the ancient history of hepatic obstruction and investigate the connection with the rare reference of gallstones in the medical texts of antiquity.

Concepts: Surgery, Bilirubin, Gastroenterology, Alexander the Great, Ancient history, Jaundice, Hepatology, Liver


A suspicion on West Nile virus (WNV) in Serbia was first reported in 1972 by a seroprevalence study, after which no data were available for four decades. We report full sequence of the isolate obtained for the first time from a human sample in Serbia. The closest clustering was obtained with lineage 2 WNV identified in Greece in 2010. Since WNV lineage 2 emerged in Europe in 2004, a cocirculation of lineages 1 and 2-as observed in Hungary and Italy-cannot be excluded. The reinforcement of surveillance will be required to investigate the possible cocirculation of the two lineages and the burden of WNV in the local population.

Concepts: Alexander the Great, Ribavirin, Serbia, Germany, European Union, West Nile virus, Europe


Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, succeeded his brother, Perdiccas III, to the throne of Macedonia in 360 BC. He has been described by historians as a generous king and military genius who managed to achieve his ambitious plans by expanding the Macedonian city-state over the whole Greek territory and the greater part of the Balkan Peninsula. The aim of our study was to present the evidence with regard to the facial injury of King Philip II of Macedonia and discuss the treatment of the wound by his famous physician, Critobulos. We reviewed the literature for historical, archaeological, and paleopathological evidence of King Philip’s facial injury. We include a modern reconstruction of Philip’s face based on the evidence of his injury by a team of anatomists and archaeologists from the Universities of Bristol and Manchester. In the light of the archaeological findings by Professor Andronikos and the paleopathological evidence by Musgrave, it can be claimed with confidence that King Philip II suffered a significant injury of his zygomaticomaxillary complex and supraorbital rim caused by an arrow as can be confirmed in many historical sources. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first attempt to present the trauma of King Philip II from a maxillofacial surgeon’s point of view.

Concepts: Ancient Greece, Greek language, Greeks, Olympias, Greece, Ancient Macedonians, Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great


The emergence of West Nile virus lineage 2 in central Macedonia, Greece, in 2010 resulted in large outbreaks for 5 consecutive years. We report a case of viral meningitis in an individual infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1, which preceded the recognition of the outbreak and was confirmed retrospectively as West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Greece, Europe, Alexander the Great, West Nile virus, AIDS, Infection, Virus


As ancient Greeks started looking for deities that could fulfil the pragmatic needs of common people, local heroes started being mythologized and worshipped through cults. The most widespread such example was Asclepius, possibly a skilled war surgeon who followed military expeditions to Colchis and Troy. He was worshipped at religious temples called Asclepieia where certain specific medical and surgical techniques were followed. The most advanced must have been skull trepanation, most likely done as an acute operation to release intracranial pressure. The contemporary Hippocratic corpus provided extensive descriptions of the technique and archaeological evidence have shown that many patients survived the operation. Decompressive craniectomy techniques have been practiced for millennia but it is possible that they were first systematized as a neurosurgical innovation through the Ancient Greek religious cult followed in Asclepieia.

Concepts: Cult, Ancient Greek, Physician, Surgery, Alexander the Great, Neurosurgery, Greek alphabet, Intracranial pressure