The Psammetichus Experiment
- Year(s) Conducted: Sometime Between 664 to 610 B.C.
- Nation Involved: Egypt
The Psammetichus Experiment is the oldest known psychological experiment known to history. We know of it due to the story from respected Greek historian, Herodotus. The story goes that the Egyptian Pharaoh Psammetichus I performed an experiment to determine if humans were born with the ability to speak. If so, which specific language is within them to actually use. To find this out, he ordered that two infants be brought up in a remote place by a shepherd.
The shepherd was told to never speak around the children. After two years, the children first began to speak. The word they seemed to repeat most often was “becos.” This is actually the Phyrian word for “bread.” This made Psammetichus feel that the capacity for speech was innate and that the natural language for humans is clearly Phyrian. Of course, there is a lot wrong with this specific experiment. Yet the Egyptian Pharaoh was onto something, causing similar experiments to happen in the future.