Year of the Snake 2013: The Snakebite
Snakes were both revered and worshipped and feared by early civilizations.
The ancient Egyptians recorded prescribed treatments for snakebites as early as the Thirteenth dynasty in the Brooklyn Papyrus, which includes at least seven venomous species common to the region today, such as the horned vipers. In Judaism, the Nehushtan was a pole with a snake made of copper wrapped around it, similar in appearance to the Rod of Asclepius. The object was considered sacred with the power to heal bites caused by the snakes, which had infested the desert, with victims merely having to touch it in order to save themselves from imminent death.
Historically, snakebites were seen as a means of execution in some cultures. In medieval Europe, a form of capital punishment was to throw people into snake pits, leaving victims to die from multiple venomous bites. A similar form of punishment was common in Southern Han during China’s Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period and in India. Snakebites were also used as a form of suicide, most notably by the Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII, who reportedly died from the bite of an asp—likely an Egyptian cobra after hearing of Mark Antony’s death.
Copper, silver plated
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