Excavations are under way in Salonika in northern Greece to unearth what is believed to be the oldest known brothel in the world. Experts are calling this one of the most important archaeological finds in Greece this century.
Since 1962, archaeologists have been working on a lavish Roman forum, but little did they know that beneath it lay a bordello - that is, until they started unearthing all manner of sex toys recently. These were found in a rectangular room bordering a well-preserved bath house, complete with mosiac floor, and archaeologists believe they have only unearthed 10% of what lies hidden. Even though ancient brothels in Ephesus and Pompeii were better preserved, they weren't as old and lacked the abundance of artefacts.
Items found include: numerous erotic figurines/statuettes; a small clay dildo; countless offerings to Aphrodite (Goddess of love); a red pitcher with a phallic spout.
It is thought the brothel was part of a late-Hellenistic pleasure complex, operating around 100 BC. Hundreds of normal artefacts, such as glass plates, oil lamps, jugs and perfume bottles, have led experts to conclude that the rectangular room was a place for sexual congress below a tavern. Customers would move downstairs after eating/drinking and take a steam bath in one of the 25 marble baths built around the central boiler of heated stones. Then they could take a swim, either in the kiln-heated pool, or the unheated one. After that, they could go to the rectangular room and seek the pleasure of prostitutes, which probably meant young boys and girls.
This find has renewed interest in Salonika and its Roman forum, which was built when the town straddled the Via Egnatia - the Roman road built to link the Empire with Byzantium and the East.
Saturday, 6th June, 1998.