ulrich pinder urine wheel

The Urine Wheel

Ulrich Pinder’s urine wheel is a thing of beauty. Created in 1506, it describes the colors, tastes and smells of urine belonging to people in various diseased states. Image from this Nature article on “metabonomics,” the modern-day equivalent.

Scholarly Attitude

I shouldn’t enjoy it as much as I do, but I love when I can spot a scholar’s dislike of a historical personage—it shows their humanity. Perhaps the pretense of neutrality is what makes us academics so vitriolic when writing in nonacademic settings. FINALLY WE CAN LASH OUT. Here’s what Susan Karant-Nunn has to say[…]

Ointment For Asshole Jesus

If I stopped to mark all the Biblical moments that give me pause, my Bible would double its weight in sticky notes. (Sticky notes are the mattress-mites of academic books.) However, I just got the shiny new facsimile copy of the 1560 Geneva Bible, which means I get to experience verses I’ve already read again,[…]

How To Kill the 17th Century Serpent in Your Garden of Eden

John Dunton, one of my favorite late seventeenth-century fellas (of whose Athenian Mercury I wrote a series for The Awl), decided to amalgamate “extracts and abridgements of the most valuable books printed in England” between 1665 and 1692. It’s called The Young Students’ Library, and there’s an entry on what I’m 90% sure are modern-day rattlesnakes. Here’s the[…]

A Cure for Balding

Joannes de Mediolanus’ 1528 cookbook is full of intriguing accounts of what food does to bodies and bodies do to food. Here, he prescribes onions as an aphrodisiac an antidote for dog bites a tremendous cure for baldness and warts the opposite of a cognitive enhancer (Spelling has been modernized.) Onions sodden and stamped restore[…]