Toxicology in Antiquity

Toxicology in Antiquity

Toxicology in Antiquity Volume I

2nd Edition - October 22, 2018

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  • Editor: Philip Wexler
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128153390
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128153406

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Toxicology in Antiquity provides an authoritative and fascinating exploration into the use of toxins and poisons in antiquity. It brings together the two previously published shorter volumes on the topic, as well as adding considerable new information. Part of the History of Toxicology and Environmental Health series, it covers key accomplishments, scientists, and events in the broad field of toxicology, including environmental health and chemical safety. This first volume sets the tone for the series and starts at the very beginning, historically speaking, with a look at toxicology in ancient times. The book explains that before scientific research methods were developed, toxicology thrived as a very practical discipline. People living in ancient civilizations readily learned to distinguish safe substances from hazardous ones, how to avoid these hazardous substances, and how to use them to inflict harm on enemies. It also describes scholars who compiled compendia of toxic agents. New chapters in this edition focus chiefly on evidence for the use of toxic agents derived from religious texts.

Key Features

  • Provides the historical background for understanding modern toxicology
  • Illustrates the ways previous civilizations learned to distinguish safe from hazardous substances, how to avoid the hazardous substances and how to use them against enemies
  • Explores the way famous historical figures used toxins
  • New chapters focus on evidence of the use of toxins derived from religious texts


Toxicologists, environmental health professionals, science historians, general audience

Table of Contents

  • 1. The Prehistory of Poison Arrows
    2. Beetle and Plant Arrow Poisons of the San People of Southern Africa
    3. Toxicology in Ancient Egypt
    4. The Death of Cleopatra: Suicide by Snakebite or Poisoned by Her Enemies?
    5. Kohl Use in Antiquity: Effects on the Eye
    6. Nicander, Thêriaka, and Alexipharmaka: Venoms, Poisons, and Literature
    7. The Case Against Socrates and His Execution
    8. Murder, Execution, and Suicide in Ancient Greece and Rome
    9. The Oracle at Delphi: The Pythia and the Pneuma, Intoxicating Gas Finds, and Hypotheses
    10. Alexander the Great: A Questionable Death
    11. Mithridates of Pontus and His Universal Antidote
    12. Theriaca Magna: The Glorious Cure-All Remedy
    13. The gates to hell in antiquity and their relation to geogenic CO2 emissions
    14. Lead Poisoning and the Downfall of Rome: Reality or Myth?
    15. Poisons, Poisoners, and Poisoning in Ancient Rome
    16. Chemical and Biological Warfare in Antiquity
    17. Asclepius and the Snake as Toxicological Symbols in Ancient Greece and Rome
    18. Anthropogenic Air Pollution in Ancient Times
    19. Poisoning in Ancient Rome: Images and Rules
    20. “Gleaming and Deadly White”: Toxic Cosmetics in the Roman World
    21. Cherchez la femme: three infamous poisoners of ancient Rome
    22. Did Hannibal really poison himself?
    23. Drugs, Suppositories, and Cult Worship in Antiquity
    24. Entheogens in Ancient Times: Wine and the Rituals of Dionysus
    25. Entheogens (Psychedelic Drugs) and the Ancient Mystery Religions
    26. Ancient Mystery Initiation: Toxic Priestesses and Vaginal Communion
    27. Harmful Botanicals
    28. Pearl, an Ancient Antidote of Eastern Origin
    29. Rhetoric, Demons, and the Poisoner's Tongue in Judaism and Early Christianity
    30. Poisonous Medicine in Ancient China
    31. Toxicity of Ayurvedic Medicines and Safety Concerns: Ancient and Modern Perspectives
    32. Mushroom Intoxication in Mesoamerica



Product details

  • No. of pages: 510
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2018
  • Published: October 22, 2018
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128153390
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128153406

About the Series Volume Editor

Philip Wexler

Philip Wexler
Philip Wexler retired from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) after a long and eminent federal career in its Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program. While there, he participated in and led intra- and inter-agency teams in the development, enhancement, and maintenance of a broad array of toxicology databases, taking advantage of continuously evolving information technologies. He collaborated on the development of the World Library of Toxicology, the ToxLearn educational tutorial, the Toxicology History Room, and the Toxicology History Association. Mr. Wexler served as Editor-in-Chief for all five editions of Information Resources in Toxicology and served in the same role for editions 1-3 of the Encyclopedia of Toxicology, and the ongoing monographic series, History of Toxicology and Environmental Health, all Elsevier publications. A 4th edition of the Encyclopedia is being planned. In addition, he is co-editor of the book, Chemicals, Environment, Health: A Global Management Perspective and the journal, Global Security: Health Science and Policy, both published by Taylor and Francis. He has authored numerous technical journal articles related to toxicology informatics, education, communications, and history, and chaired sessions, lectured and taught widely on these subjects throughout the globe. Mr. Wexler has been a strong advocate of toxicology public outreach and has organized events at various venues to enhance the public's understanding of the role of toxicology in society and people's lives. He is a trustee of the Toxicology Education Foundation and past chair of the Society of Toxicology's World Wide Web Advisory Team. He is a recipient of the NLM Regents Award for Scholarly or Technical Achievement, the Society of Technical Communications's Distinguished Technical Communication Award, and the Society of Toxicology's Public Communications Award.

Affiliations and Expertise

Retired, National Library of Medicine (NLM), Bethesda, MD, USA

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