Helen King

Helen King

I'm Professor Emerita in Classical Studies at The Open University. My main research interests are in the history of medicine and I'm passionate about extending access to learning for everyone.

Location Milton Keynes, England



  • Sorry about the lack of moderators, Michael - it's a great pity that FL no longer offers this.

  • @KhinMyintMyatWin Thanks, I definitely need to read up on this area!

  • I like the theory too, but I’m not sure whether that’s just because it looks like one! Except for being a sponge not a brush... @GiuliettaClark

  • Sorry the link is broken. You may instead enjoy this one on the stones, https://youtu.be/le72YWjwExM or this one, https://youtu.be/24coYKPga9o

  • Wow, that is so interesting @KhinMyintMyatWin - where are you from?

  • Helen King made a comment

    Just a note to say that we won’t be able to share your learning on this course after it closes to new joiners in a few days’ time - but for those of you continuing the journey, thanks for coming and we hope you have fun!

  • How very interesting! Can you tell us any more?

  • It’s extraordinary how long beliefs last, isn’t it? @JaneWarren - and of course bloodletting was still being carried out centuries after William Harvey discovered blood circulates rather than being made in the liver and drawn out in a one-way system to places needing it!

  • Thanks Christine - we just felt we had to write that article as the myths out there were so very dodgy!

  • There’s a very interesting approach to ancient Greek colour terms here: http://kiwihellenist.blogspot.com/2020/05/ancient-greek-colours.html

  • @BHARTIC @JayneTreasure I've just done a little series of videos for the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh and the first one is up on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdyzY1TL2jg&feature=youtu.be

  • Hmm, you could try the 'Support' button at the bottom right of the screen?

  • You’re never too old, Annie! Open University students are right across the age range. As for the IT skills, you seem to be doing fine and I’m glad you enjoy the FutureLearn method.

  • Sorry if you run out of bookshelves @RobertElliott. But thank you for your enthusiasm!

  • It would be lovely to do one @DavaCastillo but it costs many thousands of pounds in people’s time so I don’t think it will happen...

  • Sorry to have missed this query, @NinaBaker - but I can’t help! I wonder If Sutcliffe had something like trachoma in mind?

  • Thank you, Dava. Delighted to read your comments. On the ‘hours’, I probably add in too many See Also links, but I don’t want anyone to miss anything - and then the learners come up with even more, so there’s even more wonderful material to read...!

  • I never cease to be amazed at the range of courses on offer!

  • It's very tempting to diagnose these as something that we recognise today but it's possible they conflated several conditions under that label.

  • There have been some challenges to the identification of these remains, and questions over whether the DNA evidence is as conclusive as it is claimed, https://www.historyextra.com/period/medieval/was-the-skeleton-in-the-leicester-car-park-really-richard-iii/ And I’m not sure how the discovery, even if it is Richard, changes our view of the period.

  • At least you were spared the expletives when I got my finger stuck in the armour at one point!

  • Alcohol... and fainting! @RitaEgan

  • @MaggieEliana there’s a little more detail on some of the plants on the news story from when the garden opened, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7631249.stm

  • @SophieG Great question - I can't answer it! I think I've read suggestions that those showing the whole of someone's head could be about such problems, but then there's the question of where the seat of consciousness was supposed to be. Not everyone answered 'the brain'; it could be the heart, the breath, the diaphragm area (in ancient Greek called the...

  • My gran, born 1888, used to say “You’ve got to eat your peck of dirt before you die”, @RandalOulton - which made me even more determined not to eat dirt on my food!

  • by the way, since I wrote this course, I've become obsessed with 'Nydia the blind flower girl of Pompeii' - a fictional character, who appears in the novel The Last Days of Pompeii - to the extent that I have a chapter about her in a book due to come out in 2021; if you want a bit more about her, read the novel (free online) or look at...

  • yes we have!

  • Hmm, Metrodora in English... that could be a problem. There's some useful information about her in a PhD thesis you can download on...

  • There are plenty of stories from different ancient cultures about babies being suckled by animals - e.g. Romulus and Remus and the wolf - and often these involve them imbibing qualities, like strength, from the animal @CynthiaBurton

  • That's very interesting about botulism - thanks for the links!

  • Miscarriage is one potential source of knowledge, sadly.

  • We look at this in week 6

  • I hope you and your students find lots of interest - due to lockdown we have more than the usual number of school and university students here.

  • You haven’t missed it! Very interesting topic and you may be interested in the book Right Hand, Left Hand, which includes a website for all the footnotes which the book couldn’t include, http://www.righthandlefthand.com/

  • lovely film - my favourite moment was that first little tinkly music box playing of 'You are my sunshine'... And I loved the version of English which reminded me of Russell Hoban's post-apocalyptic novel 'Riddley Walker'

  • It's easy to get to Ostia from Rome by public transport - highly recommended!

  • The story is even worse than just abandoning the babies - it's about throwing them off the mountain if they were considered 'not worth the rearing'. However archaeological excavations show no evidence -https://www.abc.net.au/news/2007-12-11/study-finds-no-evidence-of-discarded-spartan-babies/983848

  • Well, it's partly that a drunken nurse is likely to neglect the child - by 'overlaying' it (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25115673/) or just by sleeping off the alcohol and not paying attention. But also, as they believed the liver made blood out of food, and that milk is a form of blood, they would logically connect what the wet nurse eats and drinks with...

  • thank you for the recommendations - especially Richard Lehman!

  • @KarynDon Yes, everyone knew what 'stay at home' meant (well, except for Dominic Cummings) but the replacement slogan 'stay alert' doesn't seem to be understood at all.

  • Me too