Removing what had become over the years a real jungle that covered the western side of the walls of Paestum, the archaeologists of the Archaeological Park came across a completely unexpected discovery: capitals, columns, cornices and triglyphs belonging to a Doric building in the city of temples.

The most surprising discovery is a panel, probably a metope, in sandstone decorated with three rosettes in relief, such as are also found in other Doric buildings built between the sixth and fifth centuries BC in Paestum and its territory.

The cleaning of the walls began a few days ago as part of a European project funded with structural funds and aimed at the restoration and redevelopment of the walls of ancient Paestum, about 5 km long.

The architectural elements, of extreme interest also for the presence of traces of plaster and red painting, seem to have been accumulated along the perimeter walls during agricultural works since the 1960s. They seem to belong to a smaller building - a small temple or a portico (stoà) - which would date back to the same period as the Tomb of the Diver and the Temple of Athena (end of the 6th/beginning of the 5th century BC).

As the director of the Paestum Archaeological Park, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, explains, the area has in the past provided a votive collection, with clay statues of female deities on a throne and ceramic fragments dating back to between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC. It is located in the vicinity of what was probably the kerameikos of Paestum, the craft district where the famous painted vases of the city were made.

"Now, somewhere between the artisan quarter and the city walls, there must have been our building, a real jewel of late archaic Doric architecture. The question remains: where exactly?"
For the second PAT ritual of the month, Elaion would like to present to you the rituals for the Skiraphoria. The Skira(phoria) was celebrated mainly by women, perhaps to contrast the Greater Dionysia celebrated mostly by men, but we have created a separate ritual for men which excludes portions of the festival but does allow them to participate. Will you join us on June 16th at 10 AM EDT?

The Skira, or Skiraphoria was celebrated over a three day period and we have few details about it. What we do know is that the Skira is most likely a fertility festival, mostly of the earth so that a good harvest was ensured for the following year, which started a little more than half a month later. Demeter was certainly honored during the festival, as well as her daughter Kore, as the Goddess of spring growth. Yet, many other deities are tied to the harvest and the success of the nation in some way, especially in Athens from where most of the surviving material originated. There, Athena Skiras and Poseidon Pater also had a role to play.

What we know of the rites is that a gathering left Athens on the day of the Skira, and another delegation left Eleusis. At Skiron, a precinct on the road to Eleusis, stood a sanctuary dedicated to Athena Skiras, Poseidon Pater, Demeter and Kore. Here, the two delegations met, and the priests and priestesses of all Theoi involved interacted in some way; Plutarch mentions that one of the three 'sacred plowings' of the Athenians took place at this time. It is, perhaps, possible that at this time, the priestesses of Athena and the priests Poseidon made amends with the priestesses of Demeter and Kore--there was bad blood between them for, as Apollodorus reminds us:

"Athena, therefore, called the city Athens after herself, and Poseidon in hot anger flooded the Thriasian plain and laid Attica under the sea." [3.14.1]

The Thriasian plain is where Eleusis is located, and it would have been entirely flooded during this episode. Perhaps the Athenian deities ritually made amends for this during the Skira? Alternatively, or perhaps additionally, during the reign of Erechtheus in Athens, war broke out against the Eleusinians, who were assisted by Eumolpus, whose mother was Khione, daughter of Boreas, and whose father was said to be Poseidon Himself. Eumolpus attacked Ahens because, as he put it, that land belonged to his father. Could the rituals of the Skira be penance for this war as well, where Poseidon (and Athena) 'rode out' to meet Demeter and Kore in the middle for a rite that would settle their grievances?

The details of the procession to the Skiron and the subsequent ritual are largely lost to us. Although debated by certain scholars, it seems that those in the procession--or perhaps only the priests and priestesses--carried umbrella-type canopies over their heads which were of a bright white color. It is possible that this was only one large canopy per group, and it was held over the heads of the priests and priestesses by others in the procession. The canopy was or were called 'skiron' as well. Of the sanctuary itself, we know very little besides its location and deities. It is, however, said to have been the place where the first sowing took place, tying the Skira rituals back in with the purpose of fertility.

The Skira was celebrated over a three day period, but when this procession took place is unclear. To bring fertility, the women abstained from intercourse on these days, and to this end they ate garlic to keep the men away. We also know that during the Skira, offerings were thrown into the sacred caves of Demeter located in a cliff at Eleusis: cakes shaped like snakes and phalluses, and very real piglets. These became the Thesmoi--'things laid down'--that were removed in the Thesmophoria. The piglets were fertility symbols but also related to the myth of Demeter, Persephone and Hades, because it is said that when Hades opened a chasm to swallow up Persephone--the caves of Demeter--a swineherd called Eubouleus was grazing his pigs and they were swallowed up in the chasm as well.

For the men, there was a race in which they carried vine-branches from the sanctuary of Dionysos to the temple of Athena Skiras. The winner was given the Fivefold Cup, or 'pentaploa', containing wine, honey, cheese, some corn and olive oil. Only the winner was allowed to pour libations to Athena from the cup, and ask Her to bless these fruits of the season.

For these rites, we will honor Demeter, Kore, Athena, and Poseidon. The female version of the rite which includes Demeter and Kore as well as the Thesmoi, and that of the men has sacrifices to Poseidon, Athena, and Demeter. We also encourage the men to perform some sort of athletic feat afterwards to honour Athena.

The PAT ritual will take place on the 16th of June, at the usual 10 am EDT. The rituals can be found here for the women, and here for the men. We look forward to your participation and if you would like to discuss the rite or festival with others, feel free to join us on Facebook on the event page. We hope you will join us!
A number of doctors participated in a ceremony reviving the Hippocratic Oath in its birthplace, the Asclepeion archaeological site on the Greek island of Kos in the Aegean Sea, where Hippocrates (460-370 BC), the ancient Greek "father" of medicine, lived and practiced, the International Health Tourism Center (IHTC) announced.

Doctors from east China's Anhui Province and representatives of medical associations and universities from Anhui and Shanghai, along with Italian doctors of Reproductive Medicine, took the authentic Hippocratic Oath during an event organized by IHTC that aims at cross border collaboration for high quality health tourism, according to an IHTC e-mailed press release.

The Hippocratic Oath is an ethical code which has been adopted as a guide to conduct by the medical profession throughout the centuries and is still used in graduation ceremonies of several medical schools across the world. In the oath, doctors pledge to do their best to treat their patients and live an exemplary professional and personal life.

The revival of the Hippocratic Oath is an initiative undertaken in cooperation with the Hippocratic Foundation as part of efforts to disseminate ancient Greek medical knowledge to today's and tomorrow's doctors worldwide, IHTC said.

Addressing the event, George Patoulis, IHTC's President, head of Athens Medical Association, and newly elected Governor of Attica, stressed the significance of strengthening such exchanges between medics from the West and the East. Peng Daiyin, head of Anhui University of Chinese Medicine, added:

"After what we lived, after what we felt, I will return to our university in Anhui and announce that from now on all our students will take the authentic Hippocrates Oath at Kos."

"Every doctor must once in his life come into this place to feel the energy, connect with the past, and understand that everything about Medicine really started here," Filippo Maria Ubaldi, Clinical Director of the General Center of Reproductive Medicine of Italy, noted on his part.

The physicians visited Greece on the occasion of a fertility forum organized by IHTC in Athens over the past weekend.
Ever so often, I repost something I published years ago, for the new generation of readers. This video is one of the things I'd like people coming into Hellenismos to view.

This is a video by Cara Schulz; a Google chat session where she spoke to The Order of Hekate about how Hekate was worshipped in ancient times, as well as the basics of Hellenismos. Her talk incorporates Hekate's Deipnon, Noumenia, Agathós Daímōn, household worship, household worship vs. state worship, the future of Hellenismos and interfaith work. It might look like a long video, but it's very worth it, especially once Cara gets on a roll.

Cara, for those unfamiliar with her, is a member of Hellenion, the largest Hellenic polytheist organization in the United States. Her workshops on Hellenismos have been held at some of the largest Pagan gatherings in the United States, including Pagan Spirit Gathering and Sacred Harvest Festival. She is also the Managing editor of the Pagan Newswire Collective and founder of International Pagan Coming Out Day.

Ubisoft has unveiled Gods & Monsters, a light-hearted Hellenic mythology adventure game coming on February 25, 2020. The game is an accessible mainstream title that will run on cloud platforms such as Google Stadia as well as the PC and traditional game consoles, according to Ubisoft game leaders Marc-Alexis Cote and Jonathan Dumont.

The idea is to take the Homeric stories and classical Hellenic myths and make them accessible to everyone. The game will run on the PC, Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Google Stadia.

The idea came to life during the development of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, a hardcore game that was set in ancient Hellas. The team found such a rich array of stories to tell from ancient Hellenic mythology, but they couldn’t include all of it in Odyssey, said Dumont, creative director.

“It’s the story of the most courageous greek hero: you. You are named Phoenix, and your task is to help the Olympians save the Island of the Blessed. To do it, you have to venture into the Underworld and defeat Typhon and his minions.”

The game is a free-form exploration title with risky traversal. If you try to jump across the chasm, you have to make sure you can make that jump. It has over-the-top mythical combat, puzzles, and world challenges.

“The world is vibrant, with light role-playing game mechanics. You will fight Harpes, Cyclops, and other beasts.”

The idea is to go after a mainstream audience with a story that is relatable to everyone. It is an open world based on Hellenic mythology, with a painterly art style, and a light narrative tone. You can do things like dash and kick or engage in aerial combat.

Needless to say, I'm here for this!
Is your life religious, or are you religious in life? There is a difference between the two, and although neither is 'better', or 'more valuable', it is something to consider, at least. Figuring out this question for yourself will come with a lot of clarity. That I can assure you. So, what is the difference? Religion is an interesting thing. For me, who grew up in a non-religious household, religion was something I had to learn. I started out not believing, then I wanted to believe, and over the years, I found myself religious. It took a while, to be honest. I grew up with the sense there was something there, something to explain some of the most important aspects of my life, but what (which eventually turned into 'who') was there, was a question that felt very foreign.

Religion is like a muscle; you can train it. It involves training your brain to see the divine in everything. This has nothing to do with you eyes, by the way. Eyes see--or don't see--everything. It's the brain that filters. And even if you're blind (in whatever way), there is no reason why you cannot invest in the mental pathways to a religious life. To live a religious life means to see the divine in everything, to live a life with the Gods always in mind. To shape yourself in the image They desire of you, to perform pious rites of your own free will, and to spread their message to whomever wants to hear it.

There is a second way to honor the Gods: by being religious in life. By acknowledging the Gods and following a calendar that suits you, by making Them a part of your life, but not the main event. Religion, as a path to happiness. This is not my way, but I support anyone for whom this manner of worship feels right. As I have said before, I don't have knowledge of the One True Way™, I just know what works for me.

Figuring out what place the Gods take in your life brings clarity and peace of mind; you can try to follow a different path, but if it does not suit you, you won't find much happiness in it. This can be a bit of a search, however, and it'll involve asking yourself the hard questions. Sometimes, it means taking some flack for your ideas. In the end, it'll be worth it, though, because not only will you have discovered something about yourself, you will have discovered a way to honor the Gods that you can stick with for years.

There is little to see today of Helike, just a few walls and artefacts scraped clean by archaeologists. The great Greek city, famed across the classical world, sunk into the coastal mud of the Gulf of Corinth in 373 BC during a terrible earthquake. Writers still recalled its fate hundreds of years later.

The traveller Pausanius in the 2nd century AD reported:

"The sea advanced together with the earthquake, and the wave dragged down Helike with all its people, the ruins of Helike are still visible, but not so plainly now as they were once."

Had there been travellers about two million years earlier, the journey north from the temples of Helike to those at Delphi would have been quick and along a simple path. At that time, there was no Gulf of Corinth to separate them. That only started to open up in the crust as tectonic forces pulled the Peloponnese peninsula away from the Greek mainland.

Today the gulf is 100km east to west, from Corinth to Patras, and over 20km north to south. More impressive is its 3·5km maximum depth, a crevice opened up by thousands of tremors over the millennia. Much of that depth is filled by sediments washed down from the surrounding hills. It is into those sediments that members of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) have drilled—to recover a history of the local environment and of the seismic jolts that sculpted this southern Greek landscape.

Professor Lisa McNeill, of the University of Southampton and co-Chief Scientist of the expedition, says:

"The Corinth rift zone is opening up and pulling apart at some of the highest rates on Earth. A magnitude six or larger earthquake occurs on average every 10 years in the area, and today events can impact the populous coastal and tourist communities, including Patras, as well as the large city of Athens."

Helike perished in one such event. More recently, in 1981, three strong jolts hit the eastern end of the gulf in quick succession over a period of eight days, the first killing 22, and destroying 8,000 buildings.

The recent seismic history of the region is well told by written accounts and geophysical studies and recordings. The numerous fault lines, where future events will happen, are quite well known. With GPS measurements experts can tell how fast the Peloponnese peninsula is creeping southwards, creating the tension to fuel the next shudder. But to understand the past seismic and geological history, it is into those submarine sediments the team must dig.

Lisa McNeill co-led an international team that drilled into the gulf's bed in three locations, chosen for the detail they would reveal. The layers of sediments contain geochemical markers, fossil plankton and magnetic properties that reveal their age, as well as pollen, laid down over time. Shaking from earthquakes under or near the basin will have caused landslides and driven sediments into the gulf, along with eroded mountain sediments carried by rivers, as happened at Helike. Professor McNeill explained:

"We can use the ages of the sediments to work out how fast the tectonic processes are occurring."

When tectonic plates move, this creates fractures in the Earth's surface that shift over time. This is interesting not simply for the earthquake hazard it poses, but also because of how oceans start to form. Like the Atlantic 90 million years ago. Or in East Africa's Rift Valley and the Gulf of Corinth right now.

The waterway is landlocked at the eastern end, apart from a spectacular deep shipping canal dug through the Isthmus of Corinth at the end of the 19th century. And, at the west end, Patras was connected to the Greek mainland 15 years ago by an earthquake-resistant road bridge, which is too low for the JOIDES Resolution, the IODP's main drilling ship, to pass under with its tall drilling derrick.

But the team was also able to use commercial research vessels, calling in this instance on the Fugro Synergy, a ship mostly used in oil exploration, but well suited to the task. The schedule onboard was punishing—no time even to visit the nearby resorts which were visible from the deck. But in the two months before Christmas 2017, the crew had hauled up 1·6km of sediment core, spanning millions of years of geological history.

Once the team split open the cores, quickly apparent were the major fluctuations in climate conditions over the age of the Gulf of Corinth: the sedimentary record spans several ice ages, during which Professor McNeill says that erosion increased up to sevenfold because there were fewer plants on land. The evidence also shows that the gulf was cut off from the Mediterranean during the cold spells as a result of the lower sea level: fresher water organisms took the place of marine ones during these periods.

The hard work on reconstructing the tectonics story has only just started. It will matter, says Professor McNeill, because the results will allow the team to reassess which earthquake faults pose the greatest hazard to local populations.

"The slip rates we measure, and fault lengths, can be used to estimate maximum likely earthquake magnitudes and the likely level of shaking."