Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo was idling around the innertoobs this soggy Saturday morning when his eye fell on this article over at the Telegraph: Warriors Suffered From Post-Traumatic Stress ‘3,000 Years Ago’. The lead:
Warriors in ancient Iraq more than 3,000 years ago could have been the first people to suffer from post-traumatic stress, researchers have found.
It has long been believed that the first account of PTSD was in 490 BC following the Marathon Wars between the Greeks and the Persians.
The understanding was based on Herodotus’ account of the Athenian spear carrier Epizelus who began to suffer from mutism after the conflict.
But researchers at Anglia Ruskin University have now discovered texts that suggest PTSD could have existed as far back as 1300 BC.
Prof Jamie Hacker Hughes, director of Anglia Ruskin’s Veterans and Families Institute, said the texts references conflicts in the same region as the current Gulf Wars.
He said: “This paper, and the research on which it is based, demonstrates that post traumatic psychological symptoms of battle were evident in ancient Mesopotamia.
“Well before the Greek and Roman eras, before the time of Abraham and the biblical Kings, David and Solomon, and contemporarily with the time of the Pharaohs.”
“Especially significant is that this evidence comes from the area known as the cradle of civilisation and, of course, the site of much recent conflict including the recent Gulf and Iraq Wars in which many British service personnel were involved.”
Now, I’ve never served in uniform, much less combat, but I have studied history and human nature. My first reaction to the story was, “Well, duh.” But that last little bit got me wondering. Why, exactly, is it “especially significant” that this evidence comes from the “cradle of civilization”? Is the suggestion that such stress is a by-product of psychological developments associated with such civilization and, by implication, that it has not been experienced by, say, hunter-gatherer savages populating other parts of the world? Because that would be an interesting idea, if rayther daringly politically incorrect. UPDATE: Or, now that I think about it more, what about civilizations parallel to the one which rose in Mesopotamia? Is there any evidence of PTSD in warriors among, say, the Aztecs or the Incas?
On the other hand, is it just an excuse to adopt an arched eyebrow and an ironic smirk while saying “cradle of civilization” when discussing Iraq?
I don’t know.
UPDATE: Oh, why not? Like I say, soggy Saturday. Enjoy!