Ancient Greeks homes may have doubled as bars and brothels

The Ancient Greeks may have made cash on the side by turning parts of their homes into bars and brothels, researchers have found.

Excavations at sites across the Greek mainland have uncovered hundreds of drinking cups and erotic objects in homes dating back to the 5th and 4th centuries BC, suggesting rooms and courtyards were used for dubious commerical practices.

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The discovery may solve the longstanding mystery of why archaeologists have found so little evidence of bawdy Greek tavernas, despite featuring so prominently in classical literature.

"This has a real impact on how we view the economy in classical Greece," Clare Kelly Blazeby at Leeds University told New Scientist magazine. "A lot of trade and industry was based within the home."

She reviewed archaeolgoical remains unearthed at several prominent sites dating from 475 to 323 BC, including the Villa of Good Fortune in Olynthus, and a residence known as building Z in Athens.

To many archaeologists, the vast numbers of mugs, erotic graffiti and objects found at the sites indicate no more than well-off families that threw lavish parties. But Kelly Blazeby will tell the Archaeological Institute of America meeting in Philadelphia this week that a more plausible explanation is that residents turned over rooms in their houses to selling wine, gambling and even prostitution.

"If you look at the remains coming from ancient Greek homes, it seems very clear to me that these buildings had another function, that some areas were used for commercial purposes," she said. "It's amazing how entrenched people in the field are. We are trying to change archaeologists' minds by pointing out that houses could be used economically as well being residences."

Building Z was discovered in an area of Athens that at the time was popular with prostitutes. Archaeologists working at the site found large numbers of ancient cups, but also noticed that the room had unusual cubicles around the edge. "It may have been a place where men went to drink and where they could choose a prostitute," said Kelly Blazeby.

The Villa of Good Fortune is unusual in having two "androns", or men's rooms, with floors patterned with mosaics relating to good luck and drinking, prompting some researchers to speculate it was an ancient casino.

Originally Posted @ Archaeology News

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