Hexbyte Glen Cove A Turkish harem on the Acropolis? It’s most likely a Greek myth

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Fotokon/Shutterstock

The Acropolis of Athens counts among the world’s greatest architectural and artistic monuments. Visitors come to admire the marble buildings that testify to the glory of Ancient Greece more than two millennia ago. Typically, only little attention is paid to the site’s rich medieval and Ottoman history. But one of the few stories commonly told about this period concerns the temple with six iconic sculptures of maidens, the so-called Caryatids.

Ancient Athenians built the temple with the Caryatids as the holiest shrine for Athena, the goddess of wisdom. In the medieval period, it was used as a church. But its fate supposedly changed dramatically following the Ottoman Turkish conquest of Athens in the 15th century. The story goes that the Muslim Turks had no interest in preserving the temple’s sacrality, and instead converted it into something radically different: a harem. This was said to be the residence of the Turkish castle warden’s wives and sometimes thought of as a place of seduction.

But my new research shows this information might need to be revised. As part of this study, I analyzed all relevant historical sources about the Acropolis from the Ottoman period. It turns out the idea of a Turkish harem here originated in the 17th century with two visitors from France and England. They published popular books in which they asserted that the building was a harem. These visitors, however, did not even enter the building and gave contradictory, possibly speculative information about it.

Fantasy or not, the notion of the harem has long fascinated western audiences, who’ve enjoyed these exotic tales of the Orient. Later authors simply repeated the information. This was even the case after the building had fallen to ruin in the Venetian bombardment of 1687.

My research also included several understudied Turkish sources. None of these mentions anything like a harem in the temple of the Caryatids either. But they do seem to say that it was in use as some kind of palace. All in all, there is little to suggest that the temple was ever converted into a place of erotic encounters.

The Caryatid Porch on the Acropolis, Athens, Greece. Nikolay Antonov/Shutterstock

Harems and temples

Stories about harems in the temple of the Caryatids already existed in the time of the ancient Greeks—many centuries before the Turks arrived. The striking Caryatids themselves appear like petrified women in front of the building. They likely played a role in the creation of such tales. Time and again, visitors to the Acropolis have given meaning to the mysterious building based on these sculptures.

Anthropological research shows that impressive statues like the Caryatids can stir the imagination, prompting wild stories that are sometimes mistaken for “factual” history. To the casual onlooker, the Caryatids could serve as evidence for the harem.

But the idea of the harem is also deeply problematic as it continues a long-lived western stereotype of the Turks as violent, sacrilegious barbarians. This stereotype originates in the many centuries of warfare between Christian European countries and the Muslim Ottoman Empire. Then too developed the popular fantasy that Turkish harems were mysterious, erotic places of seclusion.

The idea that the temple of the Caryatids became a decadent harem fitted right into this negative western sentiment about the Turks. That sentiment had dire consequences: shortly after the young Greek state’s conquest of Athens in the 19th century, it led to the complete annihilation of the Turkish town that stood on the Acropolis. The same attitude led Lord Elgin, a British nobleman, to remove many Acropolis sculptures in the early 19th century—including one of the Caryatids.

Théodore Chassériau, Harem (oil on panel, 1851–1852). Paintings like these capture the western fantasy of the harem as an erotic place. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Imprisoned sister

Still today, these sculptures reside in the British Museum in London, to the dismay of many (in Greece and elsewhere), who wish to see them returned to Athens. Though the Caryatids still continue to fire the imagination: local legend claims the marble girls who remain in Athens can be heard crying out at night in lament for their imprisoned sister in London.

The notion of a Turkish harem ties in with the current meaning of the Acropolis as an important archaeological site and a symbol of Greece and western civilisation. But this symbolism has a dark side: anti-eastern stories continue to be told at the expense of the Turks.

The Turks are typically portrayed as the villains of the Acropolis, but my research shows this is a crude interpretation of more than three centuries of Turkish presence. And it doesn’t do justice to their actual attitudes: historical sources show that the Turks were not always the violent barbarians they are often made out to be. Rather, they were just as fascinated about the antiquities as modern tourists are today.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

A Turkish harem on the Acropolis? It’s most likely a Greek myth (2022, January 14)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Measuring medicine use in livestock supports the fight against antimicrobial resistance

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Measuring how much antimicrobial medication is given to food animals is key to understanding how to slow antimicrobial resistance, when dangerous microbes get so used to antimicrobials that they evolve stronger defenses against them. However, measuring the actual antimicrobial use in animals on a large scale is still a logistical challenge. Because data on antimicrobial sales for use in food animals are easier to obtain, they are frequently used at the national levels as proxies for antimicrobial use. In a first-of-its-kind study published recently in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, scientists at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine analyzed four different measurement methods used across the globe in the hopes of steering governing groups toward a more unified system. The study was supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Each governing group used similar equations to calculate how many veterinary were sold for use in each year—but with a few key differences, and no one method was a silver bullet, said Renata Ivanek, associate professor of population medicine and diagnostic sciences. “Our study will aid the global action against antimicrobial resistance,” Ivanek said.

Ivanek and Dr. Ece Bulut, post-doctoral fellow in Ivanek’s lab, looked at methods used by the FDA, the European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE); using each one with U.S.-specific antimicrobial and data. “We are grateful to the experts at the FDA, ESVAC, PHAC and OIE for help with details about their methods,” Ivanek said.

Overall, the scientists found that the FDA’s method had a higher level of detail when estimating the total animal weight in a country, while the OIE’s method was easier to use and apply to many countries around the world, with the two other methods falling roughly in between the FDA’s high level of resolution and the OIE’s ease of comparability.

Each method employs a similar formula: The total kilograms of antimicrobial sales in a year for a food-producing animal species in a country is divided by total weight of all animals of that species (i.e., biomass) present in a year. The resulting number is the total amount of antimicrobial sales per kilogram of animal weight in a year.

All four methods use national antimicrobial sales, animal population data and average weight of animals in a country for their calculations for estimating weight-adjusted antimicrobial sales per animal category.

“For example, matching their agriculture’s characteristics, the European Union does not include beef cattle that have calved in the estimation of weight-adjusted antimicrobial sales, but that is an important cattle production category in the U.S.,” said Bulut. “Therefore, the cattle weight in the U.S. would be underestimated if the European Union’s methodology is used.”

“It was surprising to find that the four methodologies resulted in substantially different estimates,” said Bulut, noting that the FDA and OIE rendered higher biomass estimates than the others. The reason for this, Bulut says, is because the FDA and OIE use the weight of animals at the time of their slaughter, while the Canadian and European methods use the animals’ weight at their time of treatment.

Each method presents flaws. Using an animal’s slaughter weight typically overestimates the true biomass number, as most animals are typically heavier at slaughter than they are when they receive antimicrobial treatment. On the other hand, getting accurate, annual data on animals’ weight at treatment is difficult to do, thus the Canadian and European methods use the same standardized weight values for several years at a time, which ignores the potential weight changes for an animal category in a country, such as because animals are raised differently or for a different length of time.

“Understanding the nuances about the weight parameters used in the four methods and their influence on the weight-adjusted antimicrobial sales not only help interpret estimates, but can also guide future research efforts in monitoring antimicrobial sales,” Ivanek said.

The study also exposes the fact that none of these tools are perfect for monitoring veterinary antimicrobial sales. “All the methodologies are limited by the quality of the databases of actual animal population and weight of animals,” said Bulut. “In addition, the weight parameters used by all methodologies are flawed.”

By exposing these issues, the scientists hope it will inspire more rigor in the systems used to monitor antimicrobial use. “We hope that our findings will lead the way to a better and hopefully more uniform methodology to track antimicrobial use globally by efforts toward resolving the identified limitations,” said Ivanek. “Even more importantly, once we have a good understanding of when, why and how antimicrobials are actually used in food animals, we will be able to assess whether regulations are successful, and aid future policies and studies on the association between antimicrobial use in animals and the One Health burden of antimicrobial resistance.”

More information:
Ece Bulut et al, Comparison of different biomass methodologies to adjust sales data on veterinary antimicrobials in the USA, Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (2021). DOI: 10.1093/jac/dkab441

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Hexbyte Glen Cove ‘We conclude’ or ‘I believe?’ Study finds rationality declined decades ago

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Examples of trends in the use of words related to rationality (top panel) versus intuition (bottom panel). Credit: Marten Scheffer, Ingrid van de Leemput, Johan Bollen

Scientists from Wageningen University and Research (WUR) and Indiana University have discovered that the increasing irrelevance of factual truth in public discourse is part of a groundswell trend that started decades ago.

While the current “post-truth era” has taken many by surprise, the study shows that over the past forty years, public interest has undergone an accelerating shift from the collective to the individual, and from towards emotion.

From ratio to sentiment

Analyzing language from millions of books, the researchers found that words associated with reasoning, such as “determine” and “conclusion,” rose systematically beginning in 1850, while words related to human experience such as “feel” and “believe” declined. This pattern has reversed over the past 40 years, paralleled by a shift from a collectivistic to an individualistic focus as reflected by the ratio of singular to plural pronouns such as “I”/”we.”

“Interpreting this synchronous sea-change in book language remains challenging,” says co-author Johan Bollen of Indiana University. “However, as we show, the nature of this reversal occurs in fiction as well as non-fiction. Moreover, we observe the same pattern of change between sentiment and rationality flag words in New York Times articles, suggesting that it is not an artifact of the book corpora we analyzed.”


“Inferring the drivers of long-term patterns seen from 1850 until 1980 necessarily remains speculative,” says lead author Marten Scheffer of WUR. “One possibility when it comes to the trends from 1850 to 1980 is that the rapid developments in science and technology and their socio- drove a rise in status of the scientific approach, which gradually permeated culture, society, and its institutions ranging from the education to politics. As argued early on by Max Weber, this may have led to a process of ‘disenchantment’ as the role of spiritualism dwindled in modernized, bureaucratic, and secularized societies.”

What precisely caused the observed reversal of the long-term trend around 1980 remains perhaps even more difficult to pinpoint. However, according to the authors there could be a connection to tensions arising from changes in economic policies since the early 1980s, which may have been defended on rational arguments but the benefits of which were not equally distributed.

Social media

The authors did find that the shift from rationality to sentiment in book language accelerated around 2007 with the rise of , when across languages the frequency of fact-related words dropped while emotion-laden language surged, a trend paralleled by a shift from collectivistic to individualistic .

Co-author Ingrid van de Leemput from WUR notes, “Whatever the drivers, our results suggest that the post-truth phenomenon is linked to a historical seesaw in the balance between our two fundamental modes of thinking: Reasoning versus intuition. If true, it may well be impossible to reverse the sea change we signal. Instead, societies may need to find a new balance, explicitly recognizing the importance of intuition and emotion, while at the same time making best use of the much needed power of rationality and science to deal with topics in their full complexity.”

More information:
Marten Scheffer et al, The rise and fall of rationality in language, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2021). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2107848118

‘We conclude’ or ‘I believe?’ Study finds rationality declined decades ago (2022, January 12)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Bones of whale extinct for 300 years that were once stored in North Carolina couple’s garage are headed for Smithsonian

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Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

A couple walking on a North Carolina beach made a rare discovery that could help researchers solve mysteries from long ago.

Rita and Tom McCabe were used to finding shells during their walks on West Onslow Beach in the 1970s—but then they started stumbling upon large bones. After years of keeping the remains in their garage, the couple gave them to the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

It turns out, the bones belonged to a extinct for about 300 years.

“We grew very excited because there was very little scientific information on the North Atlantic because it was no longer here,” David Webster, a longtime professor and senior associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences at UNCW, said in a news release.

The whale specimen—believed to be the “most complete” of its kind—found a new home at UNCW, where it remained for decades.

Now officials say the bones began a new chapter at the Smithsonian in late 2021.

Webster said he thinks the couple, who have both since died, would find joy in knowing their collection could continue to help researchers.

“I’m sure they are just tickled pink,” he said in the news release. “They are probably saying, ‘Can you believe it? We made it big time.'”

The Smithsonian said it hopes the donated specimen will help offer clues about North Atlantic gray whales and what life was like hundreds of years ago.

“Specimens like these, tie to place and time,” Nicholas Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the National Museum of Natural History, said in a Smithsonian Ocean article. “They tell us how the world once was.”

The museum will have the bones on display, according to UNCW. But getting the massive load more than 300 miles from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., was no easy feat.

The bones were loaded onto a van that “looked more like a minibus” and were cushioned with “layers and layers of bubble wrap,” David Bohaska, a vertebrate paleontology collections specialist, told Smithsonian Ocean.

The journey was reminiscent of the time the couple first dropped the bones off at UNCW.

“They drove a small Chevy S10 pickup truck to campus, and they had bones hanging out all over the place,” Webster said in the news release for the school, which today has about 18,000 students.

After initially thinking the specimen was a humpback whale, researchers said closer examination revealed a more rare surprise. The bones have stains that helped them determine where the animal may have been.

“UNCW researchers discovered through radiocarbon tests that the bones are hundreds of years old and probably washed ashore after the young whale died of during a migration period,” the college said. “They theorize that the carcass floated into the New River Inlet and ended up in the nearby salt marshes.”

The remains, found along West Onslow Beach near the Camp Lejeune military base, also have marks that indicate Native Americans may have butchered the whale after it died, UNCW professor David La Vere said in the news release.

North Atlantic gray weighed up to 90,000 pounds and were found in the northern part of the world before they were last seen in the 1700s. Though the exact cause of their extinction isn’t known, their habitats near the shore made them vulnerable to whaling, the Smithsonian Ocean website said.

2022 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Bones of whale extinct for 300 years that were once stored in North Carolina couple’s garage are headed for Smithsonian (2022, January 12)

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Widespread megaripple activity found on Martian north pole area

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Polar bedform sites with active megaripples, as viewed in HiRISE. Approximate transport direction is toward the lower left and the inset is 100 meters wide. Credit: HiRISE data: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Part of the uncertainty when studying planetary polar landforms is the long, cold polar winter that eventually covers the region in carbon dioxide and water ice. For wind-driven bedforms, such as megaripples, that means they are unable to migrate for nearly half of the year. “However, it appears the late spring and summer winds that descend off the polar cap more than make up for these other periods of inactivity,” Chojnacki said.

“Megaripples were found to be widespread across the region and migrating at relatively high rates relative to other sites on Mars that are at lower latitudes. This enhanced activity is likely related to the greater sand fluxes found for neighboring dunes which are driven by summer-time seasonal winds when polar ice is sublimating. This supports the idea that much of the Martian surface is actively being modified and not just ancient or static.” Chojnacki said. “In contrast, other megaripples appear to be stabilized, a likely result of inter-granular ice within low wind areas.”

More information:
Matthew Chojnacki et al, Widespread Megaripple Activity Across the North Polar Ergs of Mars, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets (2021). DOI: 10.1029/2021JE006970

Widespread megaripple activity found on Martian north pole area (2022, January 12)
retrieved 13 January 2022
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