Archaeologists recently uncovered an ancient brothel attached to a gymnasium and restaurant in northern Greece. It was full of penis-themed items like this vase. But that's not the weird part.
What's intriguing about the ten-year-old finding is how long the brothel had existed as a going concern before it was destroyed in the first century AD. It was likely built in the second century BCE, which means it had been a going concern for about 250 years when an earthquake caused a fire that shut the brothel down forever. Put another way, this brothel operated longer than the United States has so far.
Imagine living in ancient Greece, and visiting a brothel whose history stretched back further than many contemporary nations' histories do. Well, as Atlas Obscura points out, now you can recreate that visit. The brothel is part of an "adults only" museum on the site.
Writing in Archaeology magazine at the time of the brothel's discovery, Yannis N. Stavrakakis said:
Polyxeni Veleni of the Museum of Thessaloniki has identified a circular bathhouse measuring nearly 25 feet in diameter, at the center of which was a sauna. The chamber held as many as 25 separate baths. Adjacent to this room were two pools for hot and cold water and a rectangular hall. Several artifacts found in the hall—a red vessel with a phallic spout, a clay dildo, and an embossed glass vessel depicting Aphrodite—indicate it was probably a brothel. A door connected the bath and brothel so patrons could enjoy both. Dining was offered in a taverna on a level below. Veleni believes the complex was part of a larger building, probably a gymnasium.
I love the idea that you could go work out, have dinner, soak in the tub, and then hire a sex worker to finish off the evening. The Greeks thought of everything.
Based on the number of penis-shaped items in this brothel, one might assume that the sex workers available were probably male. Of course, the ancient Greeks and Romans were pretty into penis statues, so these decorations might have been just par for the sexy course.