Thursday, June 09, 2005

Ancient skulls

Another interesting post on Ralph relates to Ancient Stench and Corpse Removal and features the following comment:
And lastly, the Mishnah quotes a saying of Hillel (Pirke Aboth 2:7):
One time he saw a skull (or: head) floating on the waters, he said to it: Because you drowned others, they drowned you; in the end, those who drowned you will drown.
I always thought the occasion for this saying was strange; how likely was it that someone would see a human skull in the water? But now I can see that it would not have been that unusual.
I am reminded of a comment Maurice Casey made to me once concerning Golgotha as the "Place of the Skull". He remarked that it is common to see dogs eating bones of all different shapes and sizes but you seldom see them with a skull in their mouths. Skulls don't fit. He suggested, therefore, that "the Place of the Skull" got its name because it was littered with the skulls left behind by the scavenging dogs.

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