Berlin police confirmed Wednesday that they are investigating the vandalism of dozens of antiquities in three of the capital's museums this month. About 70 artifacts were visibly damaged at the Pergamon Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie and Neues Museum, police said. All three are on Berlin’s Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Spree River that courses through the city.

Carsten Pfohl, the criminal director at the State Criminal Police Office, said police have not been able to identify the perpetrator or perpetrators on security video footage. He said he would not “engage in speculation” about a motive. Investigators have looked for links among the objects that were damaged but have not found any, he said.

German media have noted that the Pergamon Museum has become a target for conspiracy theorists in recent months. QAnon, a theory that falsely alleges that a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring and battling to bring down President Trump, has gained new followers in Germany during the coronavirus pandemic.

Attila Hildmann, a vegan chef who has become prominent during anti-lockdown protests in Germany spouting baseless theories on topics such as forced vaccines and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, is one of QAnon’s most vocal proponents in Germany, and he has also taken aim at the Pergamon Museum.

He has described the museum’s Pergamon Altar, a 2nd-century B.C. artifact built in ancient Greece during the reign of King Eumenes II, as the throne of Satan and a site for child sacrifice. It is undergoing a long refurbishment and is not displayed to visitors. Hildmann called on his followers to storm the museum in August, according to German news reports.

Christina Haak, the deputy director general of state museums in Berlin, said several acts of vandalism occurred outside the museums over the summer, with posters cut up and graffiti sprayed. However, she said, the latest attacks on dozens of exhibits amounted to the worst vandalism at the city’s museums.

“The vandalism shocked us,” she said, adding that 63 exhibits were soiled, three or four of which were on loan. It was not immediately possible to put a price on the damage, she said.

 A touch of Roman today. Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (80–70 BC – after c. 15 BC), commonly known as Vitruvius, was a Roman author, architect, civil engineer, and military engineer during the 1st century BC, known for his multi-volume work entitled De architectura. His discussion of perfect proportion in architecture and the human body led to the famous Renaissance drawing by Leonardo da Vinci of Vitruvian Man. He was also the one who, in 40 BCE, invented the idea that all buildings should have three attributes: firmitas, utilitas, and venustas, meaning: strength, utility, and beauty. These principles were later adopted by the Romans. His only surviving work is 'De Architectura.'

De architectura (On architecture, published as Ten Books on Architecture) is a treatise on architecture, dedicated to his patron, the emperor Caesar Augustus, as a guide for building projects. As the only treatise on architecture to survive from antiquity, it has been regarded since the Renaissance as the first book on architectural theory, as well as a major source on the canon of classical architecture. It contains a variety of information on Greek and Roman buildings, as well as prescriptions for the planning and design of military camps, cities, and structures both large (aqueducts, buildings, baths, harbours) and small (machines, measuring devices, instruments). Since Vitruvius published before the development of cross vaulting, domes, concrete, and other innovations associated with Imperial Roman architecture, his ten books are not regarded as a source of information on these hallmarks of Roman building design and technology.

A few paragraphs from Book 1 today.

“The building of temples relies on symmetry and architects need to most carefully understand the reason for this. It comes from proposition, which was called “analogy” in Greek. Proportion derives from fixed segments of the parts of the building and the whole—and the balance of symmetry is achieved through this. For no building can have an order in its design without symmetry and proportion, unless it has something like the precise design of a well-figured human body.  For nature has so composed the human body that the face from the chin to the top of the brow and the roots of the hair is one tenth of the whole and the palm of the hand from the wrist to the end of the middle finger is the same.

The head from the chin to the top is one eighth and the top of the chest where it meets the neck to the hair’s roots is a sixth. From the middle of the chest to the crown is one quarter of the whole. The third part of the length of the face extends from the bottom of the chin to the base of the nostrils. The nose from the nostril base to the space between the brows is the same. From that line to hair forms the forehead, a third part. The foot comprises a sixth of the body’s height and the chest is a quarter. The other limbs all have appropriate measures too. And ancient painters earned great praise by observing all these measures.

In the same way, the limbs of temples should have proportions of their various parts responding appropriately to the general size of the whole construction. Consider that the navel is the natural center of the body. For, if a person should lie on the ground with hands and feet spread wide and a circle has the navel as the center, fingers and toes will touch the line of the circumference. In addition, a square can be traced within the figure in the same way. For, if we take the measure from the sole to the top of the head and compare to measure to the distance from one hand to another, the lengths will be found equal, just like foundations squared with a rule. For this reason, if nature designed the body so that the parts correspond in their dimension to the whole design, then ancient people seem to have decided with good reason that they should keep in their works the exact proportions of the separate components to the design of the whole. Therefore, they have handed down orders in all of their works, especially in temples to the gods, the kinds of accomplishments whose excellence and weakness persist for generations.”

"Just a random question - do you happen to know if a portion of chthonic sacrifices was offered first to Hestia?  I had always heard that She received the first and last portion of all sacrifices, but given the difference between Olympian and Chthonic sacrifices, I have to wonder.  Any light you can shed on the question would be appreciated!"

There are records that at least in some parts of ancient Hellas, Hestia was always sacrificed to first and last in state festivals, and I have adopted that for my household worship as well; many modern Hellenists have. That said, there is a difference between rituals held for the Ouranic deities and the Khthonic; most notably for this question, in the altar used.

In ancient Hellas, an altar was called a 'bômos' (βωμός)--properly signifying any elevation--with an 'epipuron' (ἐπίπυρον)--a movable pan or brazier--used on top of the bômos so it could serve as an altar for burnt-offerings. The household hearth was used to make sacrifices as well, and thus served as an altar of sorts. It was named after the Theia of the home and hearth: 'hestía' (ἑστία). Some state-owned altars--especially when they were simply large fires--were named 'hestía' as well.

These altars were used for sacrifices to the Ouranic Theoi, but were rarely--if ever--used for sacrifices for the Khthonic Theoi. For Khthonic Theoi, an offering pit--'bothros' (βόθρος) in Greek texts--was used. Bothroi were usually dug when the occasion called for it, and closed up afterwards. As written previously, the Khthonic Theoi received special nighttime offerings of black animals, unmixed wine and special libations of milk and honey. Animal sacrifice was always done in a holókaustos--a sacrifice where the entire animal was burned and none of the meat was saved for human consumptions.

State festivals were almost always held for Ouranic deities, and they included a feast, consisting of the meat of the sacrificed animal. This wasn't possible with sacrifices to the Khthonic deities; there was no meat to feast on--and no occasion to feast. This matters, because our primary evidence on the topic is one of the Homeric Hymns to Hestia:

"Hestia, in the high dwellings of all, both deathless gods and men who walk on earth, you have gained an everlasting abode and highest honour: glorious is your portion and your right. For without you mortals hold no banquet, -- where one does not duly pour sweet wine in offering to Hestia both first and last." [XXIX]

It is my personal opinion that Hestia was not honoured (first, last or at all) in Khthonic rites. In fact, I think as few as possible Gods were called in these rites, and all of them had a Khthonic character. I think this is tied to the practice of miasma--after all, contact with the Underworld (and thus the Khthonic Gods) was a major source of it.

Within Hellenic practice, miasma describes the lingering aura of uncleanliness in regards to a person or space through which contact is made with the Gods. Next to piety, being ritually clean is one of the most important things to adhere to within Hellenismos. Miasma occurs whenever the space or person comes into contact with death, sickness, birth, sex, excessive negative emotions and bodily fluids. It also comes from a lack of contact with the Hellenic Gods. As a note, I should say that not the actual acts of dying, sex and birth cause miasma but the opening up of the way to the Underworld (with births and deaths) as well as contact with sweat, blood, semen, menstrual blood and urine.

Our Gods are immortal and are sometimes called the Deathless Ones. It's our duty to uphold this sacred name by making sure no Gods but psychopomps (guides of the dead) come in contact with death even if it's through us. If we can not respect Their purity, They might be inclined to withhold Their gifts from us. As such, I cannot even phantom inviting Hestia into a ritual with a Khthonic character.

One of the most important private collections of ancient Hellenic and Roman marble sculptures opened for the first time to the general public in Rome last week. The 90 works from the Torlonia Collection – the most prestigious private collection of Greek-Roman sculptures in the world – opened in the newly rebuilt Palazzo Caffarelli, overlooking the Roman Forum.

The collection began more than a century ago by Prince Alessandro Torlonia. He found many of the pieces on the grounds of his family’s Roman properties. Wealthy from a business relationship with the Vatican, the family purchased other well-known sculpture collections. In 1884, the Prince built his own museum to show off his collection. When the museum closed in 1976, the pieces went into storage.

Italy’s Culture Minister Dario Franceschini says the works “take your breath away,”  when he spoke to reporters on Monday. He added that it was unfortunate that COVID-19 safety restrictions would limit the number of people who can visit.

The show will stay open until June 29, 2021. It is the result of public and private cooperation among the culture ministry, the city of Rome, the Torlonia Foundation, and the Roman jeweler Bvlgari.

Archaeologists working in the ancient Hellenic city of Soli Pompeipolis in the southern Mersin province in Turkey have unveiled the memorial tomb of the Greek poet and astronomer Aratus, who was born in 315 BC.

The city, located in the ancient region of Paphlagonia, was still prominent during Roman times but was only rediscovered in the 1800s with the unearthing of the ruins of Zımbıllı Tepe in the Black Sea region of the country.

Soli Pompeipolis, lying just across the river from Taşköprü, in the Gökırmak (Greek: Amnias) Valley, in ancient times stretched as far as the Küre and Ilgaz mountains

The tomb of the gifted poet and astronomer is being excavated by Professor Remzi Yağcı, who is the head of the Department of Museology at Turkey’s Dokuz Eylül University.

According to the archaeologist, the discovery is of lasting importance to the history of the area and will be of great interest to travelers who will want to see the monument. Speaking to interviewers from the Anadolu News Agency, Yağcı said “For the first time, a memorial tomb has been unearthed linked to the archaeology of the ancient city of Soli Pompeiopolis.

“Aside from more familiar structures, such as the colonnaded streets, the ancient port, the theater, and the bathhouse, something very unique has been found. This find brings dynamism to the ancient city and can influence tourism in the region – for both those interested in cultural heritage and general visitors to the region.”

The unearthing of the ruins has been ongoing since July 20 of this year, Yağcı said. Showing photographs of the unique discovery, he indicated the two rows of hexagonal structures and arches around the memorial tomb that had been unearthed by his workers.

“This place looks like a crater, and has a circular area (that could have been used by) an astronomer. We have also come across a solid and large monumental structure.”

Yağcı added that Aratus was widely known during both the Hellenistic and Roman periods and his works on astronomy, as well as his poetry, are still read and studied to this day.

Additionally, he noted that NASA had named a crater on the moon after the brilliant Greek thinker, leading the archaeologist to hope that the tomb of the great man will one day be included on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.

 On the day of the Hene kai Nea (or sometimes, like this month, on the day after), I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

PAT rituals for Maimakterion:
  • 16 Maimakterion - 2 November - 20 Maimakteria - festival for Zeus Maimaktes ('Blustering') to be gentle come winter.
  • 25 Maimakterion - 11 November - Pompaia - festival in honor of Zeus Meilikhios ('Kindly') and Hermes

Anything else?
Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.

Would you like to support me? Buy me a coffee.

The 29th of Pyanepsion is the date for the Khalkeia. It's the only festival to be held on a Deipnon and we will be celebrating it on 17 October, 10 am EDT.

The Khalkiea was the festival of bronze workers, a religious festival devoted to the God Hēphaistos and the Goddess Athena Ergane (Εργανη, Worker). In ancient Hellas, this was the day priestesses of Athena started work on a special peplos to be presented to Her during the Panathenaia. This festival involved a procession of workers with baskets of grain for offerings as well as meat sacrifices. Originally, it seems to have been a festival for Athena solely but over the centuries the focus shifted to Hēphaistos instead.

Elaion is holding a PAT ritual for the Khalkeia on 17 October, EDT. You can find the ritual here and join the community here. Also, make sure to celebrate the day by doing something crafty!