Before the Digestive Biscuit Game

One of the oldest elite games has just three rules: fuck it, cook it, eat it. Tue 20 December 2022

Halfway through the Digestive Biscuit Game. Source: Mel Magazine

Before continuing, at least be familiar with this:

And be aware that the banquets now re-branded as:

  1. The Last Supper
  2. Herod's Feast
  3. The Hero's Banquet
  4. The Peacock's Feast

were 'feasts with benefits'.

If you are new to feasts with benefits, here's a quick guide:

1. The Last Supper:

Best summarised as the controversy about Mary Magdalene's relationship with Jesus. And whether she was passive or active at the Last Supper.

2. Herod's Feast:

This one is easy:

Salomé can have anything she wants. Source: Salome's Dance

Including the most delicate sweetmeat of all.

3. The Hero's Banquet:

From Plakous, pelanos and other ‘cakes’ of the Hellenic Tradition:

the pyramous was given as a reward to those who had remained awake during the night ceremonies

Plutarch states that it was given as a reward to the young winners in gymnastics contests or at the Pyrrhic dance.

'Pyrrhic' suggests there were a lot of bodies to clear up in the morning:

You say: "Pyrrhic"; I say "Demented Shit". Source: Westworld

In 1928, a researcher known as 'G. H.' may have suspected 'demented shit' when he asked readers of Notes & Queries about the entertainment Kings Lynn minster laid on at its Peacock's Feasts.

4. The Peacock's Feast:

From Notes & Queries, 1928-08-11:


Below their effigies is the representation of a Peacock Feast, a form of entertainment to which members of the corporation of that day were addicted, and especially when some Royal Prince honoured the feast with his presence.

Twelve virgins participate in the feast. A Norfolk historian describes the peacock as "that Noble Bird, the food of Lovers, and the meat of Lords."

On the upper part of the S.W. tower, facing west, is a Moon-Dial. This has been called "the night or nocturnal dial," and also the "the tide dial."

Attached to the north side and near the west end, was the charnel house, the receptacle for bones of the dead, when their honoured resting-place within the precincts of the church was invaded, and the sacred contents thrown out. Over the charnel house was a room used first as a chapel, and then as a Free School (Schola ?) which has developed into King Edward VII's Grammar School. When the charnel house disappeared, the ground floor being devoted to butcher's stalls ; the room above to the Grammar School, later a club room.

Would readers of 'Notes & Queries' kindly furnish further examples and information concerning the peacock's feast; the moon dial', the charnel house - cf. S. Saviour's Boys' School in London, underneath which has been found a great number of female skeletons.

G. H.

This part:

S. Saviour's Boys' School in London, underneath which has been found a great number of female skeletons

refers to Crossbones Cemetery - a graveyard of prostitutes and newborns at the Bishop of Winchester's Palace in Southwark, London.

Having improved our understanding of high-end dining in the past, we can look more closely at the entertainment.

Then inspect the menu.

Then determine how high-end dishes-du-jours-ancien morphed into the softest of soft porn: soggy biscuits.

We start with the allegedly ancient Greeks. And their notion of religious ceremony.

From Sacred Cakes of Ancient Greece:

The cultic rituals of worshipping the Greek gods, goddesses, and other immortalised figures often involved a procession with choral dancing or rhythmical proceeding.

Young girls of exemplary manners and beauty were particularly appointed to deliver sacred cakes, perhaps because it gave them a platform to attract the best suitors with their dancing and balancing skills.

Twerkos is an ancient Greek dance. Source: Rihoutdid Rihanna Twerking

It seems churches also presented exotic dancers in the days before they switched to The Lord Is My Shepherd. In the English church wall-painting below, Salomé performs her routine. She's the one at the bottom. Arched right over:

Lap dancer at St Peter and Paul church, Heydon, Norfolk. Source

From Heydon, Norfolk - Herod’s Feast, with Salome:

Salome dances in athletic medieval tumbler style, her body bent backwards with head (mostly gone) near the floor and her large hands braced, supporting her.

This is not, of course, the kind of dancing to be indulged in by a princess; it was the preserve of the professional dancer, who would in all probability have performed naked.

If you need more help envisioning that, here's an image from Anzy-le-Duc, France:

Note the ribs. We will flesh them out later. Source: Images of Lust: Sexual Carvings on Medieval Churches, p41.

Back in England, at St Huberts church in Old Idsworth, Hampshire:

She dances with swords. Source

From Old Idsworth, Hampshire:

The unusual feature here is the presence of a number of swords, wielded by Salome as she dances, body bent backwards with her head almost touching the ground. Each hand holds a sword...

A third sword, its red hilt showing clearly, seems to be held by the point of its blade in her mouth.

Crumbs from Herod's Feasts can still found among the tables of southern Russia and Ukraine:

Yes, but imagine the divorce. Source: Cossack & Caucaus Sword Dance

The woman below is called a 'Baubo'. She seems to be holding a menu. What's on the menu?

Pork. Any way you want it. Source: Images of Lust: Sexual Carvings on Medieval Churches, p113.

From Images of Lust: Sexual Carvings on Medieval Churches, p113:

splay-legged figurines have become known as Baubo, many of these being found in Hellenistic contexts in Egypt.

And also in Europe. Images of Lust: Sexual Carvings on Medieval Churches, chapter ten discusses the 'enigma' of mainland Europe's splay-legged 'Baubo' figurines and 'Baubo' folklore. It says 'Baubo' are the European version of the British and Irish sheela na gigs.

From Images of Lust: Sexual Carvings on Medieval Churches, p113:

They could well have been personifications of the vulva, and the word 'Baubo' may have meant 'vulva'.

Summarised in one image:

Baubo and beer, Long Island. Source: Pens & Patron

Images of Lust quotes a story from Aristotle's Protrepticus II, saying 'Baubo' offered the gods gruel. When the gods refused it, Baubo hitched up her dress and flashed a glimpse of her Baubo. At which point the gods broke out in smiles and - presumably - reached for their wallets.

Sheela na gig from Llandrindod Wells, Wales. Source: The Sheela Na Gig Project

From Hathor - Wikipedia:

In Roman times, terracotta figurines, sometimes found in a domestic context, depicted a woman with an elaborate headdress exposing her genitals, as Hathor did to cheer up Ra.

The link between Hathor and deceased women was maintained into the Roman Period, the last stage of ancient Egyptian religion before its extinction.

From Sacred Cakes in Ancient Greece:

Although the ritual practice of developing an inner connection with a deity through eating symbolic pieces of their body does not start with the Greeks in ancient history, its adoption by later religions such as Christianity is a visible effect of the Greek cultural influence in the Roman Empire and beyond.

Agreed. It is very visible.

From Littlecote Roman Villa:

... in 360... the site was converted to a religious centre dedicated to the cult of Orpheus and Bacchus which dates to ancient Greece.

Religious historians have carefully reviewed the Baubo of Greece, Egypt and Wales. They have carefully reviewed images of lap dancers depicted on English church walls. Perhaps they even reviewed the exotic sword-dancers of southern Russia. Faced with the evidence, historians acknowledge that exotic dance survived the collapse of the Greek and Roman empires. And they say it continued on in the 'Christian' Church. They mean the western European medieval church, the Holy Roman church.

So it's not disputed. It's just not mentioned.

We turn our attention to the menu:

'Salomé' wasn't a million slices away from 'salami'. Source: Pens & Patron

And to the delicacies hinted at by the phrase: 'symbolic pieces of their body'.

From Plakous, pelanos and other ‘cakes’ of the Hellenic Tradition:

Kribanai are a kind of plakous that Athenaeus, citing Sosibius (Spartan source) describes as being breast-shaped.


cakes in the shape of the female genitalia were made with sesame seeds and honey, and were called mylloi throughout Sicily, and were carried in procession in honour of the Goddesses.

Like baklava today, the sacred 'cakes' of Greece were often drenched with honey. A culinary tradition continued by the Romans.

From Plakous, pelanos and other ‘cakes’ of the Hellenic Tradition:

The enkris, the Roman globus or globulus, was a doughnut, fried in oil or lard and dipped in honey

Honey-dipped doughnut: a Roman favourite. Source: Novan Oxy

There are more than 20 references to honey in the dishes described in Plakous, pelanos and other ‘cakes’ of the Hellenic Tradition. Meats, fats, flour and fruit dishes were soaked in honey, boiled in honey or drizzled with honey. They were sweetmeat in the truest sense - a mix of sweet and meat.

From Plakous, pelanos and other ‘cakes’ of the Hellenic Tradition:

the phthois, a round cake used in sacrifices, perhaps called Selene, consisting of wheat flour, cheese and honey would be consumed along with the flesh of the animals which had been sacrificed

Which animals had been sacrificed?

Hint: we're talking about Herod's Feast. What is King Herod famous for?

The Massacre of the Innocents.

From Sacred Cakes in Ancient Greece:

An example... is the development of the Roman cheese flatbread, placenta, from the Hellenic layered cheesecake, plakous, which has inspired some researchers... as probable precursors of pizza.

Like this 'sacrificial offering' from Pompeii:

A sacrificial proto-pizza. Source: Precursor of Pizza

Zuchtriegel says the fresco shows a sacrificial meal with 'offerings'. But he doesn't say what was 'offered'.

Meanwhile, in the article that accompanied the video, journalists noted the white egg-shapes under the bowl can't be pineapples.

It's tempting to suspect the small egg-shapes on the pizza are that classic sweetmeat: surplus testicles from castrated stock. But that wouldn't account for the larger globes beneath the soup bowl.

However, there are other clues:

Aghadoe sheela na gig, Ireland. Source: DH_Age and Inktober Sheela.

One 'enigma' of sheela na gig imagery is that it frequently shows placentas and babies, sometimes associated with a knife-wielding woman.

From Plakous, pelanos and other ‘cakes’ of the Hellenic Tradition:

there may also be a fifth cake, the pemptos bous, the fifth ox. This is a round cake, quite large but light, with a central ‘knob or bulge’

In the preliminary sacrifices it is often associated with the Two Goddesses

Preliminary sacrifices? Two goddesses? Breast shapes? A fifth ox?

What on earth does he mean?

He means this:

Julius Terentius Performs a Sacrifice. Source: Temple of Bel, Dura-Europos, Iraq

It's a Roman wall-painting from the Temple of Bel 1, Dura-Europos, Mesopotamia. Now called Iraq. Allegedly, it dates from about AD 100. It shows preparations for a sacrifice.

From Temple of Bel at Dura-Europos:

The discovery of wall paintings in the temple sparked interest and the find was even reported in The New York Times, in an article from 10 June 1922. This article noted that the paintings represented a transitional stage between 'decadent Oriental Hellenistic art' and Byzantine art. The Temple of Bel was one of the first structures discovered at Dura in 1920. It was fully excavated but never published.

At the time of their discovery, they were very well-preserved and the colours remained very vivid.

The faces were particularly well-executed by the artists and appear to be portraits of specific individuals.

Below the statues, there are two female deities.

Firstly, the three figures top left of the image are not statues. They are rendered no differently than the other entities in the painting. They are contestants standing on plinths. Gold, silver and bronze winners, as it were, of a Pyrrhic contest.

Wikipedia also claims Julius Terentius is sacrificing incense.

He's simply lighting a brazier.

As of 2023-03-27, Wikipedia's description of the guests at Julius Terentius' sacrifice ends with its description of the two goddesses bottom left.

But look again. Wikipedia leaves out the three naked people in front of the goddesses. Extracted from the lower left corner of the wall-painting:

Two goddesses. Plus - presumably - mum, dad and baby.

Here it is again, outlined:

The couple appear to be swimming, Dad reaching with his left hand for the edge of the bathhouse pool.

The goddess to the viewer's right has the baby by the head. Mum is holding Dad's hand and curiously, her right hand clutches her right breast. As if trying to draw attention to it. Perhaps she was trying to bargain a breast for the life of her baby.

From Plakous, pelanos and other ‘cakes’ of the Hellenic Tradition:

the same representations frequently appear on reliefs of the Hero’s Banquet. Although very rare, some anthropomorphic (ie human-shaped) cakes, probably linked to the cult of Persephone have been found and identified in Locri in a scene depicted on pinakes.

Now you know why the Dura-Europos finds went unpublished. And why Wikipedia avoids drawing your attention to the three naked characters in the Temple of Bel's Terentius wall-painting.

Baby carcasses are often found clustered beneath England's Roman villas and bath-houses. Arranged neatly around walls, under floors, and clustered in 'sewers'. Most are newborns.

97 dead babies can only mean one thing. Source: Digging for Britain: Britannia

This thing:

Benefits. In the middle of nowhere. Source: Digging for Britain: Britannia

Those 'hair pins' are toothpicks. They found them at London's Mithraeum too. And at Carsington Cave, Derbyshire.

At Yewden, a shallow ford carried a Roman road over the Thames. Nearby was a Roman army camp. It's straightforward retail logic. See Hertfordshire's Incredible Ancient Roman ‘Service Station’.

Or take London's Mithraeum temple:

Roman ports meant soldiers and travelers. Source: London Mithraeum

What do soldiers and travelers want?


And 'company'.

Mystic Britain also offered clues about Yewden's menu.

Such as this peacock clue:

It's OK. We'll just deny it. Source: Digging for Britain: Britannia

Do you know Juno? Even if you live far from any major population centres, you can still see her. Simply pop your location into - Escorts. Then go pay homage to your choice of mother goddess.

Speaking of mother goddesses, archaeologist Eleanor Scott noted England's baby carcasses are often found in food-preparation areas and near hearths.

From A critical review of the interpretation of infant burials in Roman Britain, with particular reference to villas, Journal of Theoretical Archaeology 1, 1990:

The deposition of infants in areas containing malting floors and ovens and hearths used in agricultural processing may have been encouraged by rituals and the 'requirements' associated with the brewing and agricultural processes.

When taking part in the rituals, those 'decadent Oriental Hellenists' might have ordered a Pemptos bous:

Romans simply ordered a 'Caesarian'. Source: Under the Dome

In England, the evidence has been covered up - apart from the occasional naked lap dancer found on British church wall.

But evidence of the cover up abounds. In fact, there is evidence these practices were covered up, then uncovered and carefully inspected, then destroyed, then the evidence of the destruction covered up:

Cover. Uncover, report, record and destroy. Source: Ewaranon - 4 - LLG - 02 - The Ships Of Heaven

What imagery might they have uncovered, reported, recorded and destroyed?

From Transactions of the Leicestershire Architectural and Archaeological Society Vol V Part I, James Neale, describing a tour of Melbourne church, Leicestershire, 1875-08-11 on p5:

A very imperfect picture was discovered during the restorations, upon one of the pillars, of a female being held by the hand by a man who had in his other hand a great club, while another man was squatting down as though lying in wait.

Some church art was performance art. Art designed to be watched and appreciated:

High pews in south aisle of Priory Church, Leominster, 1860. Source: Ewaranon - 4 - LLG - 02 - The Ships Of Heaven

Priory Church's high pews were removed some time between this 1860 photograph and 1889. But the church had already been extensively restored before 1860. And we don't know what had already been removed.

But we can guess.

From Annual Excursion in Transactions of the Leicestershire Architectural and Archaeological Society Vol V Part I, describing a tour of St Mary and St Hardulph church, Breedon (part of Breedon Priory), Leicestershire in summer 1875, p7:

There was an ornamental pew with a canopy - a large erection like a state bed, which was carefully guarded - cut off from the rest of the church by strong iron gates. This was not to be commended; and he might say with regard to the rest of the church, that if it could be reseated, and they could get rid of the high pews, it would be an improvement.

Indeed. Because high pews reminded people that these structures had once provided food and entertainment.

Note the ossuary in the background. Source: The Witcher

Hey, maybe they just liked to listen to sermons while sitting on a large erection.

If you didn't understand the reference to ossuaries, try Bone Warehouses for the Discerning DIYer.

How else might the fifth ox, pemptos bous, have been prepared for table?

The neighbourhood around Southwark's Crossbones Cemetery was noted for theatres and brothels.

And, curiously, for tanneries.

Why would tanneries - with their effluent and awful smell - be welcome, or even commercially viable, in a neighbourhood devoted to pleasure?

Skinned sheela na gig, Dunnaman Castle, Co. Limerick, Ireland. Source: Images of Lust: Sexual Carvings on Medieval Churches, p119.

Many, many sheela na gig carvings depict the sheela's ribs. They resemble the imagery of skinned humans in Danse Macabre.

From The Anthesteria, describing the first and second days of a three-day Greek festival celebrating new wine and death:

people gathered... and opened the pithoi that contained the wine made from the last autumn's grapes. The wine was then drunk.

The Choes was the main day of the Anthesteria. The name of the second day refers to the shape of the vessels from which the wine was drunk, the chous. On this day city-wide drinking of wine at private parties occurred. There was even a drinking competition that the Archon Basileus oversaw. Aristophanes recalls the opening words of this contest:

“Listen-up, people! In accordance with the ways of our ancestors, drink the chous on the sound of the trumpet! And he who downs it first will take away a wineskin…"

Aristophanes, Acharnians.

This contest was no mean feat, as a chous could contain around three litres of wine.

As could a pithoi made from the carefully peeled skin of a Southwark newborn. Three litres being the volume of a new-born human baby's skin.

First though, the skin would need to be peeled and cured:

Just add honey. Source

And wine. And heroes.

Herod's Feast wasn't only about gorging on newborns:

Typical chous decoration: male toddlers and birds. Source

Note the chous tipped above the toddler's head. It's ancient Greek for 'condiment'.

From Plakous, pelanos and other ‘cakes’ of the Hellenic Tradition:

The plakous was often offered in sacrifices, as a religious calendar from 5th century Miletus clearly shows.

A poem of the 3rd century BCE describes the gift of a child to Apollo, after his hair was cut for the first time: a cock and a sizeable plakous with a cheese filling (Anth. Pal 6.55)

"The gift of a child after his hair was cut for the first" time is a reference to culling boys at three years old.

Children who witnessed this and survived probably grew up with some peculiar ideas. Ideas that may explain the bizarrely butchered adults at Knobb's Farm in Somersham, Cambridgeshire:

We can explain this - provided the public doesn't look closely. Source

The black shapes are 'grave goods'.

Here are some close ups:

In England 'chous' are called 'grave goods'. Source: Extreme Justice: Decapitations and Prone Burials in Three Late Roman Cemeteries at Knobb's Farm, Cambridgeshire

From Extreme Justice: Decapitations and Prone Burials in Three Late Roman Cemeteries at Knobb's Farm, Cambridgeshire:

Some were kneeling when they died.

Archaeologists' explanations for the Knobb's Farm skeletons include these two rib-ticklers:

These settlements were extensive rural settlements that provided grain and meat to the Roman army.


Roman laws seem to have been applied particularly harshly at Knobb’s Farm because it was associated with supplying the Roman army, so there were many decapitations.

Knobb's Farm is an enigma. It's possible diners selected their meal while it was still alive. As we do with lobsters today.

Another explanation for the Knobb's Farm mutilations is that child witnesses of earlier peacock feasts grew up with a better grasp of weaponry than of nurture and nutrition:

I don't blame the parents. Source: Westworld

I blame society.

But which society? Wikipedia says excavation reports for Roman Dura-Europos (in Mesopotamia/Iraq) were never published. But early reports of its wall-paintings can be found. And they hint at which society:

From Oriental Forerunners of Byzantine Painting, James Henry Breasted, 1924, p44:

It is a curiously unexpected fact that, in the first century of our era, a family of renown in such a remote provincial city should have had themselves thus depicted on the walls of the sanctuary, precisely as noble families fifteen centuries later were wont to do in the Christian churches of Europe.

Do the math:

AD 100


1500 (fifteen centuries)

= AD 1600.

Also curiously unexpected - although Breasted didn't point this out - is nobility's millennia-hopping taste for showing off forked beards at death scenes:

Dura-Europos wall painting. Approx AD 100 (allegedly). Source: Oriental Forerunners of Byzantine Painting


Fork-beard oversees a 16th century gutting. Source: Theodore de Bry - America tertia 4


Fork-beard at centre of Royston death cult. Pre-1742. Source: The Origin and Use of Royston Cave, 1858 - Behrend sketch Original here

Breasted's 'curiously unexpected fact' resolves if Dura-Europas was destroyed closer to the 16th century than the first century.

That would also explain how Britain's lap-dancer church paintings and sheela na gig carvings provide supporting evidence for James Breasted's other claim. That feasts with benefits continued - at least in the British Isles - into the Reformation.

Today, publicly-known feasts with benefits have shrivelled down to the Digestive Biscuit Game. Precisely how the game evolved is a private matter for elite boarding schools. But a small hint of the game's continuity with the past may be encrypted in an ancient biscuit recipe from Crete:

From Plakous, pelanos and other ‘cakes’ of the Hellenic Tradition:

The gastris was a Cretan specialty made with walnuts, poppy seeds and sesame seeds. Athenaeus gives us the recipe: walnuts and hazelnuts, together with almonds and poppy seeds, honey, pepper and white sesame seeds.

So it's possible that in classical Greece, the Digestive Biscuit Game was another competition among heroes: the Gastris Biscuit Game.

With supplies of the recipe's exotic ingredients dwindling in the chaos of the Reformation, Britian's boarding school tuck-shops would have run short of its seedy ingredients. Forced to abandon the recipe's traditional Mediterranean seed list, elite school-boarders came up with an alternative: the seed they had to hand.

English locations discussed in this evidence.

© All rights reserved. The original author retains ownership and rights.

  1. 'Temple of Bel' means 'Temple of Beauty'. In modern lingo: 'whore-house'. Goddesses were laid on for whoreship. 

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