Ancient Greeks were known to spit on themselves to ward off the Evil Eye, and the ritual extended to babies as well. This somehow evolved into medieval nurses licked the faces of their babies.



c.500-470 BC


Two friezes, the inner one representing a hare-hunt: Four hounds running at full speed to right after a hare, which flees towards a net, behind which a hunter (the λίνόπτης) crouches to left; he is nude and beardless, with drapery over right arm and a stick in left hand.
Outer frieze: Crow (?) and fox confronted (twice repeated); similar bird to right with wings extended (the heads of this and the first bird are obliterated); snake to right, scorpion to left, and snake to left. In the field, imitation inscriptions.

(Source: The British Museum)


Cuneiform tablet: administrative account of barley distribution with cylinder seal impression of a male figure, hunting dogs, and boars.

Sumerian, Jemdet Nasr period, ca. 3100–2900 B.C. Mesopotamia, probably from Uruk (modern Warka).

In about 3300 B.C. writing was invented in Mesopotamia, perhaps in the city of Uruk, where the earliest inscribed clay tablets have been found in abundance. This was not an isolated development but occurred during a period of profound transformations in politics, economy, and representational art. During the Uruk period of the fourth millennium B.C., the first Mesopotamian cities were settled, the first kings were crowned, and a range of goods—from ceramic vessels to textiles—were mass-produced in state workshops. Early writing was used primarily as a means of recording and storing economic information, but from the beginnings a significant component of the written tradition consisted of lists of words and names that scribes needed to know in order to keep their accounts. Signs were drawn with a reed stylus on pillow-shaped tablets, most of which were only a few inches wide. The stylus left small marks in the clay which we call cuneiform, or wedge-shaped, writing.

This tablet most likely documents grain distributed by a large temple, although the absence of verbs in early texts make them difficult to interpret with certainty. The seal impression depicts a male figure guiding two dogs on a leash and hunting or herding boars in a marsh environment. (met)

Courtesy & currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, via their online collections.