Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Grin and Bear It: Ancient Death-Smile Potion Decoded?

 From National Geographic...

By James Owen

Thousands of years before the Joker gassed comic book victims into a grinning death, Phoenician colonists on the island of Sardinia (map) were forcing smiles on the faces of the dead.

Now scientists say they know just how the ancient seafaring traders created the gruesome smiles some 2,800 years ago—not with a toxic gas like Batman's nemesis but with a plant-based potion.

And someday that plant might be used to Botox-like effect, perhaps reducing rather than adding smile lines, the researchers speculate.

(Related: "Phoenician Blood Endures 3,000 Years, DNA Study Shows.")

Ancient Death Grins

By the eighth century B.C., Homer had coined the term "sardonic grin"—"sardonic" having its roots in "Sardinia"—in writings referring to the island's ritual killings via grimace-inducing potion.

Click here to read the rest.

Image via National Geographic Online

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