Sarcophagi “flesh eater” in ancient Turkey turned bodies into skeletons in 40 days

(ORDO NEWS) — In the ancient city of Assos in Turkey, there was a strange phenomenon – stone sarcophagi in the necropolis of Assos could decompose bodies unusually quickly.

Instead of the 20-50 years it took for the bodies to decay, they only needed 40 days. Therefore, they began to be called σαρκο φαγοσ (“sarco phagos”) in Greek, which translates as “flesh eater”, and it is from this interpretation that the word “sarcophagus” comes.

Assos is a small historically rich city in the Turkish province of Canakkale, founded between 1000 and 900 BC by Aeolian colonists from the island of Lesvos.

Settlers built a Doric temple of Athena on top of a cliff in 530 BC, from where Hermias, Plato’s disciple, ruled the region, bringing great prosperity and turning Assos into a center for some of the world’s greatest philosophers.

It was here that Aristotle married the Pythia in 348 BC. This “golden period” of Assos ended a few years later when the Persians arrived and subsequently tortured Hermias to death.

The Persians were expelled by Alexander the Great in 334 BC. Then for a century the kings of Pergamon ruled here, after which they lost control of the city, and it was absorbed by the Roman Empire.

The first sarcophagi appeared in the necropolis of Assos in the 5th century BC. These were simple andesite stone coffins with a flat lid on top. In Roman times, they became more ornate.

Sarcophagi appear to have gained early recognition for their unique characteristics, and they were widely traded from the harbor of Assos, reaching as far as Rome and Egypt.

Scientists still do not fully understand what properties of the stone cause the bodies inside to decompose rapidly, but research continues to unravel the mystery of the “flesh eaters” – the sarcophagi of Assos.


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