Researchers examining an ancient village in Egypt's western desert have discovered a 1,700-year-old school with walls covered in Greek texts that include a passage about drugs from The Odyssey.
Located in the ancient town of Trimithis (now called Amheida), the school was discovered by an exploration project whose sponsors include New York University, LiveScience reported. Although the village has been known to researchers since the late 1970s, a recent journal article by NYU classics professor Dr. Raffaella Cribiore has drawn attention to the school and its walls' unusual markings.
Archaeologists so far have focused on three areas of the excavation site, according to NYU's website: "a centrally located upper-class fourth-century AD house with wall paintings, an adjoining school, and underlying remains of a Roman bath complex; a more modest house of the third century; and the temple hill, with remains of the Temple of Thoth built in the first century AD and of earlier structures."
The school is particularly interesting because of what was discovered inside, Cribiore told The Huffington Post in an email. The three-room building contains several walls bearing handwritten Greek inscriptions.
"In the main room there is a text on the wall, five columns of it, written in red ink in impeccable elegiac verses," Cribiore told HuffPost Science. "It was probably written by a teacher since the hand is quite good. The verses encourage students to ascend the hill of rhetoric with the help of Hermes, the god of rhetoric, and of other deities."
In a second room, Cribiore said researchers found a passage from The Odyssey that included a reference to a drug Helen of Troy gave to her guests.
But that's not all.
"In the same room on a different wall and in red, a student wrote a passage from Plutarch, not quoting his text but paraphrasing it," Cribiore said. "It is an anecdote regarding an ignorant king who preferred the neighing of his horse to the divine music of a famous flute player."
It's the first time graffiti of this sort has been discovered on the walls of an ancient Egyptian school, according to LiveScience.