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Roman Speciesism and Modern Day Buffoonery – The “Pork Clock”

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Our society often engages in oppressive behaviour under the guise of humour. I thought I’d heard it all, not least the last “joke” I was exposed to at Christmas when a friend of mine made a horses ‘neigh’ sound in the response to an offer of vegan cake. I mean, really?

Anyway, a recent example of this strand of non-humour is particularly bizarre. Not just because it involves an ancient roman “pork clock,” but because classical and roman archaeological enthusiasts have actually gone to the trouble of recreating this “pork clock” as a 3D print.

The original “pork clock”

The original “pork clock” was unearthed during an excavation of the city of Herculaneum in the 1760’s. According to this article in 3D print, archaeologists “found a small piece of silver-coated bronze that ancient ‘artisans’ had formed into the comical shape of an Italian ham (or is it a water jug?), meant to be a portable sundial, and a novelty.”

Christopher Parslow, professor of classical studies and Roman archaeology at Wesleyan University, and creator of the 3D model claims the piece “[represents] a knowledge of how the sun works, and it can be used to tell time.” His 3D model was printed by Christopher Chenier using photos from the original at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.

The original was missing one of its parts – the gnomon, which in this case was a pigs tail. Oh, you Romans. How very droll. Clearly, Parslow felt that this was a significant loss because he went ahead and added a pigs tail to his 3D print. Lovely.

Personally I don’t know what’s more disturbing; the constant reminder of how far back and how deeply entrenched our societal speciesism is, or the fact that a university sinks resources into creating a replica of it.

Hint: It’s the former…

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  • Torvald

    It is quite shameful that all species of animals have been eating other animals and plants for eons. Too bad we all just can’t eat dirt and photosynthesize. I wish not to live in a world where any life, be it plant or animal, is destroyed to provide for the survival of another life form. That’s why I am choosing to become a digital entity, with no need for food, water, or sleep from this day forward.

  • N. Charlotte P.L.

    Yes, it’s disparaging how deeply embedded the idea is that animals aren’t worth caring for and should easily be brutalized. That pork clock is a tasteless souvenir of past barbaric behavior (not that there’s no barbaric behavior today).
    Great job writing – I love the opening sentence: ‘Our society often engages in oppressive behaviour under the guise of humour.’ Truthbomb!

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