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Did toxic wine kill Alexander the Great? Scientists ‘find plant behind ancient leader’s’…
Daily Mail (UK) ^ | 09:59 EST, 11 January 2014 | (Daily Mail Reporter)

Posted on 01/11/2014 8:09:49 PM PST by Olog-hai

Alexander the Great built a legendary empire before his untimely—and mysterious—death at the age of just 32 in 323 BC.

Some historians argued was death was due to natural causes, while others maintained he was secretly murdered at a celebratory banquet.

Now, an Otago University scientist may have unraveled the case some 2,000 years later. National Poisons Center toxicologist Dr. Leo Schep thinks the culprit could be poisonous wine made from an innocuous-looking plant, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald. […]

His research, co-authored by Otago University classics expert Dr. Pat Wheatley and published in the medical journal Clinical Toxicology, found the most plausible culprit was Veratrum album, known as white hellebore. …

(Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...


TOPICS: Chit/Chat; History; Society
KEYWORDS: alexanderthegreat; ggg; poison; wine
Full Daily Mail title:
Did toxic wine kill Alexander the Great? Scientists ‘find plant behind ancient leader’s agonizing death over 12 days’
Wonder what they will say it is another four years from now. Back in 2010, it was bacterial contamination from river water or suchlike.
1 posted on 01/11/2014 8:09:49 PM PST by Olog-hai
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To: Olog-hai
Wrong pic at the article; that IS a variety of pink Helleborus Orientalis:

This is Veraturm alba, which bears no resemblance to Helleborus:


2 posted on 01/11/2014 9:09:59 PM PST by carriage_hill (Peace is that brief glorious moment in history, when everybody stands around reloading.)
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To: Olog-hai

It is sobering to think that when Alexander the great was my age, he’d been dead for 30 years.


3 posted on 01/11/2014 9:14:17 PM PST by P-Marlowe (There can be no Victory without a fight and no battle without wounds)
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To: carriage_hill

Ah well. Chalk another one up to the Mail’s many blunders. A few more of those and they’ll pass the “Grauniad” (Guardian).


4 posted on 01/11/2014 9:16:03 PM PST by Olog-hai
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To: Olog-hai

Let’s see - the case is over 2000 years old, there is no body or mummified remains or even bones left to examine, the man died in Babylon, a city which no longer exists, and the only witnesses apparently wrote varying accounts of his death in ancient languages on papyrus. Might as well consult a Ouija board - it’s all just speculation at this point.


5 posted on 01/11/2014 9:16:41 PM PST by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: carriage_hill
I noticed that too. Good job IDing the pink-flowered plant. It looks something like a wild geranium. Veratrum is definitely quite toxic. Here is an American variety which is thought to cause serious birth defects (think two heads) in sheep.


Obviously doesn't have white flowers.

6 posted on 01/11/2014 9:51:59 PM PST by TigersEye (Stupid is a Progressive disease.)
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To: AnotherUnixGeek

Restina came about, I think, because the Persians added turpentine to wine in the hopes of poisoning the Greeks, and the Greeks liked it so much they asked for the recipe.

Accidental poisoning in the quest for a better kick is certainly a possibility. Then again, so was deliberately poisoning the conqueror - especially if promising a better high.


7 posted on 01/11/2014 10:00:44 PM PST by tbw2
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To: Olog-hai; All
 photo CALLIFREEP_zpsd531e829.jpg

8 posted on 01/12/2014 1:50:21 AM PST by SWAMPSNIPER (The Second Amendment, a Matter of Fact, Not a Matter of Opinion)
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To: Olog-hai

Think what those Greeks bearing gifts could have accomplished if they had had polonium 210.


9 posted on 01/12/2014 2:00:59 AM PST by cynwoody
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To: TigersEye
The pink plant is actually Helleborus x hybridus "Pink Lady", or one of the many pink/red hybrids.

The wild geranium has similar petaloid features, but the foliage is starkly different.

There are so many hybrids out now, as compared to when I started a 2nd career and new business in the Horticulture industry 25yrs ago, it's mind boggling.

The foliage on that pic you posted looks very similar to the Beltilla striatus, Hardy Chinese Orchid.

10 posted on 01/12/2014 3:26:40 AM PST by carriage_hill (Peace is that brief glorious moment in history, when everybody stands around reloading.)
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To: Olog-hai

Heh; you’d think someone on staff would know how to use Google or one of the search engines for basic research. Fat chance.


11 posted on 01/12/2014 3:30:48 AM PST by carriage_hill (Peace is that brief glorious moment in history, when everybody stands around reloading.)
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To: Olog-hai

LOLMAO!

Had to look-up “Grauniad”, and found this:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=grauniad

First time I’d ever heard of that!


12 posted on 01/12/2014 3:35:01 AM PST by carriage_hill (Peace is that brief glorious moment in history, when everybody stands around reloading.)
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To: Olog-hai

Iraq and the salt marshes have always been high-disease areas, yet we’re supposed to see some great mystery in a guy living a dissolute life in this environment getting sick and dying?


13 posted on 01/12/2014 5:14:43 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: carriage_hill

“...Beltilla...”

Make that Bletilla.


14 posted on 01/12/2014 5:44:43 AM PST by carriage_hill (Peace is that brief glorious moment in history, when everybody stands around reloading.)
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To: carriage_hill
I don't know many horticulturals but I know a lot of wild plants because I got into herbal medicine about 25 years ago. Mostly wild plants of western North America. If the White Hellebore is like the Green Hellebore, and it probably is, they picked a good poison to give a man who was drinking. It will drop BP dramatically and it doesn't take much.

They had no need to ferment it or disguise its bitter taste either. A 1:10 dry plant tincture is so potent it is used by the drop to slow heart rate and lower BP in someone with a bounding pulse and high fever. Only someone with a lot of experience would even think of using it.

15 posted on 01/12/2014 12:24:28 PM PST by TigersEye (Stupid is a Progressive disease.)
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To: TigersEye

You’re right. The entire Hellebore Genus is toxic, and although I have multiple advanced degrees in Marketing, Business and Horticulture, I know for sure that I’m not smart enough to mess with that stuff.


16 posted on 01/12/2014 12:50:57 PM PST by carriage_hill (Peace is that brief glorious moment in history, when everybody stands around reloading.)
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To: carriage_hill

Do you own/run a nursery or green houses? Although I used to go and collect the wild plants that nature did all the work on I love growing plants and have begun to shape up my little home garden in the past couple of years. It’s really enjoyable as an occupation or a preoccupation.


17 posted on 01/12/2014 1:04:54 PM PST by TigersEye (Stupid is a Progressive disease.)
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To: TigersEye

I founded/owned/operated a large Family Farm/Nursery/Garden Ctr business ($8.5mm), with 604 employees over 22yrs, and closed it down end of 2011, liquidated and retired. It was a wildly successful business and a great change of life from working in Midtown NYC for the previous 17yrs.


18 posted on 01/12/2014 1:53:55 PM PST by carriage_hill (Peace is that brief glorious moment in history, when everybody stands around reloading.)
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To: carriage_hill
Wow! Good job. Sounds like a great challenge and a satisfying adventure.
Congratulations on employing so many people.
19 posted on 01/12/2014 2:21:23 PM PST by TigersEye (Stupid is a Progressive disease.)
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