Ritual Lab Data: Group B

Group members: Ruby Becker, Morgan Dieschbourg, Marta Kondratiuk, Chris O’Mara.

This report will be using the 24-hour clock system for timekeeping.

Measurements commonly used in the report.

Introductions and Goals

And so it begins!

No one in our group has ever had experience with anything even remotely similar to religious sacrifice and we were all enthusiastic about performing an ancient ritual for our class. The initial idea was to pray for the Office of Fellowships to give us money for the summer but we could not think of any Greek god who would be in charge of wealth (apparently we should have addressed our prayers to Plutus). We then changed our minds to asking either Athena or Ares to stop all ongoing wars. We were slightly nervous about the wind or the rain messing with the fire or the cooking process but we did not let those anxieties break our spirits.


The following are the weight measurements of our sacrificial beef thighbone, the omentum, the femur wrapped in the omentum, and the oxtail.

FemurOmentumFemur Wrapped in OmentumTail
3.2 kg (3 203.5 g)403 g3.84 kg  (3 840 g)849 g

The following are the weight measurements of the splanchna that we roasted over our sacrifice and later consumed. We had a whole heart and a whole kidney but split the liver with another group.

We wrapped our femur in omentum but, because of the way the omentum was prepared, the fibers were not sticking to one another and kept unwrapping little by little. Thankfully, this minor detail did not prevent us from performing a successful experiment.

287 g198 g178 g
Cutting the splanchna.

We cut the liver and kidney into 3.55 cm chunks to ease the roasting and eating process. The heart was cut into slightly uneven halves, following its natural middle line, to see if it would be harder or simpler to prepare.

Before starting the fire, burning our sacrifice, and roasting our splanchna, we set up the woodpile in accordance with the ancient images that we had analyzed in class. We layered three rows of chopped wood, each row containing four or five pieces. We made certain that the platform for our sacrifice was as flat as we could make it.


The following is the comprehensive timeline of the life of our fire and the sacrifice that we burned upon it.

14:42Fire is started.
14:51Fire is ready for sacrifice.
14:52Tail straightens.
14:53Tail begins to curve.
14:59Tail has curved considerably.
15:13Yellow smoke forms.
15:25Tail breaks.
15:28Thighbone cracks.
15:41Fire is put out.

Our fire had a slow start, perhaps due to the wind and the rain, but after 9 minutes we felt ready to place our offerings onto the platform. The tail straightened only a minute later, which felt like the most incredible breakthrough until, only 1 minute and 8 seconds more, it began to curve. 8 minutes and 20 seconds after being placed on the altar, the tail could be described as having curved appropriately and resembling the images that we have seen on ancient vases. After 35 minutes in the pit, the tale broke in half. Only a minute after that, the thighbone cracked across the middle. Eventually, it ended up breaking into three pieces.

Our sacrifice in stages.
The ominous yellow smoke.

Our sacrifice had one strange aspect about it: the yellow smoke. As we were standing around and warming our hands, we noticed a weird, yellow smoke forming at the bottom of our firepit. We still do not know what it meant; our bone burned well, our tail curved correctly, and our splanchna tasted the same as the other groups’. To my knowledge, nobody else ran into this phenomenon. It felt worth mentioning in this report even though it ended up being inconsequential to our experiment.

After 59 minutes of an open fire, it was put out with red wine. The smell was pleasant and the smoke was immense.

Roasting and Tasting Splanchna

The following is the comprehensive timeline of the cooking of the splanchna. Please refer to the life of the fire in the previous section.

15:14Splanchna is held over the fire.
15:18Liver is at 85°.
15:20Kidney is at 120°.
15:21Liver is at 110°.
15:22Heart is at 125° and is taken off the fire.
15:23Liver is at 120°; kidney is at 140° and is taken off the fire.
15:25Liver is at 140° and is taken off the fire.
Assembling the organs onto the spit.

All of the organ pieces were assembled for cooking on spits kebab-style. Every organ had a separate spit. We held all of our splanchna over the fire at the same time. The edible temperature for meat is considered to be 125° so we did not consider any of our organs cooked until the meat thermometer showed this measurement or above.

From left to right: kidney, liver and heart. About 4 minutes into cooking.

The heart cooked the fastest, taking only 8 minutes to reach optimal temperature, which defied our expectations. It was cut into thin slices to be shared among the class. The taste was deemed the most impressive out of the splanchna provided for the lab. My classmates reported that the heart resembled a tender rare steak in taste and a cooked mushroom in texture.

The kidney was the second longest to be ready, reaching optimal temperature in 9 minutes. The taste of kidney reminded my classmates of beans.

The liver cooked the slowest, taking 11 minutes to become edible, although it deceptively looked more appetizing than the rest of the organs after only 2 minutes over the fire. The liver was not liked by many students but, interestingly, those who liked it also said it tasted like beans, only refried.

Conclusion and Future Use

Marta: “Can people report to me, emotionally, how they are feeling?”

Chris: “I feel great!”

Marta: “Great? Do you feel seen?”

Ruby: “Invigorated…”

Marta: “Invigorated, that’s a good word!”

Chris: “Do we feel seen?”

Marta: “Seen by something bigger than yourself!”

Recorded via Voice Memos at the end of the lab.

I believe that, despite the rain and the wind, the experiment went beautifully. The ritual was accepted by our deities of choice, and the splanchna was delicious. The next morning we came back to check on the bones left in the campfire and deemed them perfect for future reexamination. The following images are the bones that will be buried in the arb for future archaeology classes with included scale references.

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