Watch People Playing Ancient Greek Beer Pong for Academic Purposes

By Noah Kaufman |

Academics get to have all the fun. For a research paper out of West Chester University of Pennsylvania, art history associate professor Heather Sharpe recreated Kottabos, the ancient Greek precursor to beer pong. In the game, players use kylixes (wide, shallow bowls) to fling the dregs of their wine at stone targets. If you manage to knock down one of the targets, you win a variety of prizes, from nice pastries to sexual favors. (Why, oh why, didn’t we major in art history?) 

For her paper, titled "Experimental Archaeology with the Kylix: Drinking and Playing Kottabos," Sharpe and a colleague 3-D printed several kylixes and recruited students to play the game with grape juice—and presumably without the favors. Since moving stone with projectile liquids sounds difficult drunk or sober, it's not really surprising that the students had a hard time knocking over their targets. They did learn that the best technique for hurling wine is to treat it like a baseball and go overhand. See, there are real benefits to the study! 

Sharpe said the next step is to try having actual drunk people play the game. In an interview with Live Science, she said, “to get the full experiment, it would be interesting to try it after having a kylix of wine, or after having two kylixes of wine.”

Undergraduate applications for the fall semester at West Chester are due by April 1

If you want to see more results of Sharpe’s study, you can download the presentation she gave to the very real academic people at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America. 

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