23. The Garlic Pregnancy Test
As seen above, the pee-on-plants pregnancy test actually worked more often than not. Another fascinating Ancient Egyptian pregnancy test, albeit a less successful one, revolved around garlic. Women who might be pregnant would place a clove of raw garlic next to their cervix when they went to bed at night. When they woke up the next morning, if the sulfuric taste of garlic had migrated to their mouth, they were thought to be pregnant. However, modern scientific tests have not supported the effectiveness of the garlic pregnancy test.
Egyptian men also had a special use for garlic. Ancient Greek philosopher Charmidas wrote that Egyptian husbands chewed garlic cloves on their way home from their mistresses. That way, their wives would not suspect that anybody would have been kissing them with such bad breath. Other ancient cultures ascribed various medicinal properties to garlic, from a rabies cure to headache relief. Faith in garlic’s beneficial effects lasted long after the Bronze Age. The Roman naturalist Pliny thought garlic could sap a magnet’s power, while Roman legionaries were fed garlic in the belief that it would give them courage. Either that or repel the enemy with their garlic breath.