Uncomfortable Details About Ancient Greece That Weren't In The History Books

There was a lot going on in ancient Greece, and chances are you already know a little bit about their laws, customs, and culture. After all, there’s been a lot of films set in the era. But you might not know the specific things on this list, because they’re simply too gross or too unpleasant for your average blockbuster or high school history class. Here’s what the textbooks didn’t tell you.

The ancient Greeks used stones for wiping

Here’s something you may not have learned about in history class: what the ancient Greeks used instead of toilet paper. If you’re eating right now, put the food down — this is a pretty gross subject!

It’s most likely that the ancient Greeks used pessoi, which were round pebbles or broken bits of ceramic. Doesn’t sound comfortable, does it?

Some of these stones survive to the present day!

Archaeologists have found examples of pessoi — with modern DNA techniques they were able to discover what they were used for — and even an ancient cup with a drawing showing exactly how those nasty little stones were used.

But there’s more! Evidence suggests that some people carved the names of politicians they didn’t like on their pieces of ceramic before they used them. Ewww.

The Greeks exercised naked

Bet you didn’t know that we get the word “gymnasium” from the ancient Greeks. It came from the word gumazo, which means exercise, and the word gumnos, which means… nude.

The ancient Greeks believed that having a healthy, buff body was a good way to honor the gods, so you got Greek men who would simply spend all their time in the gym. Just like some people do today!

Women were banned from sports

That was men, but what about women? Did they exercise while naked, too? Well… they didn’t really get much of a choice. A woman who wanted to partake in sporting activities would be seriously frowned upon.

The average woman (sometimes exceptions were made for women of high status) couldn’t even attend the Olympics, let alone participate. Another reason men were usually naked while doing sports was so that everyone could check they weren’t women.