The world’s most famous ancient theatres, the Roman Odeon, goes digital through Landmark, GeoSLAM’s Greek distributor.

The Roman Odeon, among the most important and best preserved monuments in Nicopolis, is a true architectural masterpiece by some unknown but great architect. It lies at the centre of the town, on the west side of the Early Christian wall, adjacent to the Roman agora (forum). It was used for lectures, literary and musical contests and theatrical performances during the Nea Aktia religious games honouring Apollon

Being adjacent to the agora, it probably operated as a bouleuterion (council chamber) for the remaining months of the year. It was built during the reign of Augustus (early first century AD) and frequently repaired and remodelled in the late second century – early third century AD.

The odeon consisted of the cavea, the orchestra and the scene. The cavea contained 19 rows of seats and was divided into two sections by a small horizontal central corridor.

Considering the monument’s age and impressive structure, the survey called for a mobile mapping system that was lightweight and could navigate the depth of the structure and difficult-to-access spaces. Using the ZEB Revo’s ‘walk and scan’ method of data collection, the device enabled the team to capture the historic site and understand its layout in an impressive 15-minutes. 

Once completed, the scans of the cavea – picked up some areas that needed further restoration and, as a result, the scan data was passed on to the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports. For some time now, GeoSLAM solutions have been used widely in the understanding and maintenance of historic monuments.

A statue of the ancient Hellenic God of health Asklepios and a bust of the God Zeus-Serapis were found during an excavations in the ancient city of Cibyra (Κιβύρα), also referred to as Cibyra Magna, in southern Polydorion (Πολυδώριον, Turkish: Burdur) province.

Stating that the discovery of the statuette of Asklepios and the bust of Zeus-Serapis in Cibyra is very important, the head of excavations, Mehmet Akif Ersoy University (MAKU) Archeology Department faculty member Şükrü Özüdoğru said:

“The Asclepius statue was found during excavations in the Kaisarion [Emperor Cult Temple] structure in Kibyra. This 38-centimeter-high figurine was unearthed in six pieces in a fire layer during excavations. These pieces were integrated after careful cleaning, conservation and consolidation by experts.”

Stating that it is known that Kibyra was once a very famous city in the field of medicine according to ancient sources and referring to the inscriptions found in Kibyra, Özüdoğru said:

“The statue has verified what we know about it. The figurine was traced back to 2nd century A.D.”

Stating that during the excavations carried out in the Roman Bath Complex in Kibyra in 2019, a bust without a head made of Afyon marble was found and it was taken under protection in the excavation house.

“In the 2020 excavation season, a bearded head was found during the short-term cleaning and excavation work in the same part of the Roman Bath Complex. This head merged with the bust found in 2019 so that the bust of Serapis was completed in full. It is an Egyptian god with many attributes such as the god of light.”

By this time, the worship of Serapis was combined with Zeus.

He said that the statue of Asklepios and the bust of Zeus-Serapis, delivered to the Burdur Archeology Museum, will be displayed in the coming days

Asklepios is the ancient Hellenic God of medicine, and he was also credited with powers of prophecy. The God had several sanctuaries across Greece. The most famous was at Epidaurus which became an important centre of healing in both ancient Greek and Roman times and was the site of athletic, dramatic, and musical games held in Asklepios’ honour every four years.

Zeus-Serapis is a Greco-Egyptian God of the Underworld and fertility. He is also the main deity of Alexandria in northern Egypt, established by Alexander the Great.

 Sometimes I get asked questions which require only short answers, but which would be interesting to readers of this blog, or questions which I have answered in the past but could bear repeating. I'd like to collect some of those questions today.

"Did you ever felt drawn to the Norse gods? Or any particular deity outside Hellenismos?"

I feel a fluxuating religious draw to the Kemetic belief system—reconstruction of the old Egyptian religious practices. It’s not always there, but when I was looking to commit myself to Hellenismos, it played through my mind quite heavily. Most of the Egyptian religion is not for me, and while the ancient Hellenes made it work somehow, I can’t imagine mixing the two. There is one concept, however, in Kemeticism, that I am drawn to so much: Ma’at. Ma’at, to me, means the active endeavour to promote order (as opposed to Isfet—chaos). This means living to the letter of the law, fostering stability within yourself so you are not swayed by Isfet, and actively removing chaos from the world when possible (the famous shopping cart example comes to mind here). There are philosophical equivalents in Hellenismos, but Ma’at is the Kemetic kharis, or xenia, or any other core value. It’s inseparable from the Kemetic religion, where it would be possible for us to simply not adhere to this.

Solely for the beautiful lifestyle that Ma’at dictates, I considered the Egyptian Gods—who, I admit, speak to me as well. I have never truly worshipped Them—They have never seemed like the forgiving sort, and where the Hellenic Gods accommodated the Neo-Wiccan style rituals of days past, I never felt like the Kemetic Gods would do so. The mythology and the rituals are beautiful, though, and I have often mused about how incredibly easy it is here in the Netherlands to get statues of the Egyptian Gods while I have to mail order statues of the Hellenic Gods. That always seemed unfair to me.

I have a great appreciation for the Norse Gods, and one of my very, very, dear friends is an Asatruar, so I think of Them fondly… but no. Their mythology and their entire feel (if that makes sense) is not for me. they are far more detached than the Hellenic Gods, and I like that the Hellenic Gods are so close to their followers.

So, for about two seconds, there was a chance I would take a detour into Kemeticism first… but it would always have been a detour. I belong here, in Hellenismos, and while I acknowledge all the Gods exist, I am solely called to worship the Theoi.

"Are there many Hellenic Polytheists in the Netherlands? How would you say Hellenismos in Dutch?"

I know of literally three Hellenic Polytheists in The Netherlands (myself included), a hand full in Belgium, and one in Germany, so no… not many, I fear. Which is a shame, because I still long for community. As for how to say ‘Hellenismos’, I either use that term or ‘Hellenisme’.

"Does my shrine/altar where I perform the lustral rite need to be facing any certain direction?" 

In ancient Hellas, the altar—called the bômos—was located in front of the temple, not inside it. If a temple did have an indoor altar, it was almost always used for bloodless sacrifices. The bômos almost always faced east, in front of the temple. If a temple was replaced by another, the altar usually remained in place. In some cases, this led to a misalignment of temple and altar. The altar of Athena Polias and the Erechtheum on the Athenian Acropolis are great examples of this. It was doubtful this was seen as a huge problem, though.

Those who performed the rites—the magistrates, usually, priests and priestesses solely maintained the temples; festivals were officiated by magistrates—stood on the west side of the altar. If you have the choice to align your bômos as such, then go for it, but in many modern households, this is not doable, and I don’t think household altars adhered to the same rules even in ancient Hellas. So, no, I don’t think you need to face a specific way, but if you have the option, face east.

"So, when making khernips, should I cleanse myself with them and then cleanse my deities' altar with them afterward? I've been slightly confused with the order. Thank you! Also, I’ve used bay leaves as the smoldering leaf to put in the khernips, is that alright? I was told it’s fine to use dried bay leaves but I just want to make sure. Thanks again!"

I prefer to cleanse first myself, then sprinkle the space, and then go on with the ritual. In ancient Hellas, celebrants would enter the sacred site after sprinkling themselves and the sacrificial animal, then clockwise walk around the altar. I assume the altar was sprinkled with khernips and barley then.

I haven’t found an ancient instance where bay leaves were used, but modern practitioners seem to use it quite often. It should be fine to use it, except for (maybe) Apollo, as Daphne—his love interest—got turned into the first laurel against his will. Hum… maybe he would actually prefer you use bay leaf, then?

"Do you like praying in dutch? Some people say it's quite a poetic language."

I’m fairy certain that Dutch is one of the least poetic languages in the world, but yes, I appreciate praying in Dutch. I would like to pray in Greek, but my skills with it aren’t high enough to do that without the risk of messing up, and I don’t want to stumble along phonetically praying. At least Dutch is a language I understand and I can vocalize my thoughts and true intentions. There is also something devotional in translating hymns and prayers, trying to find a way to establish flow and trigger memory. I quite like doing that.

Archeology experts are excitedly examining an array of ancient coins recently rescued from a criminal gang.

Security services have announced approximately 480 historical coins have been apprehended following a major police operation. An anti-smuggling operation in Turkey’s capital Istanbul has resulted in the seizure of many rare coins, with some believed to date back thousands of years.

A source involved close to the operation revealed the suspect, identified by the initials A.Ş, was detained by gendarmerie forces in Istanbul’s Gaziosmanpaşa district.

During the operation, gendarmerie forces stopped the suspect's vehicle and seized the 479 coins.

The bronze, lead, and copper vintage tender reportedly dates back to the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras.

The coins were then handed over to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.

Wonder Woman is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics, a TV-series, and recently, two feature length films. But the Amazons of Greek mythology and the real-life warrior women that led to this iconic modern-day Wonder Woman might, in fact, have roots in ancient Persia – modern-day Iran.

Adrienne Mayor, scholar at Stanford University and author of The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World, tells BBC Culture:

"There have always been stories of Amazons and Amazon-like women; sometimes they have circulated hidden under the surface and other times, like today, they break through into popular culture. It is no longer possible to deny the reality behind the myths of Amazons."

While the story of a race of warrior women first appeared in Greek mythology, excavations across the north and east of the Black Sea region have revealed that warrior women like the Amazons existed in real life. In December 2019, the graves of four female warriors from the 4th Century BC Sarmatian region were found in the village of Devitsa, in what is now Western Russia. The Sarmatians were a people of Iranian heritage, with men and women skilled in horsemanship and battle. Excavations within the modern borders of Iran have revealed the existence of female warriors. In the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz, 109 warrior graves were unearthed. Archeologist Alireza Hejebri-Nobari confirmed in a 2004 interview that the DNA found in one belonged to a woman. DNA testing was due to take place on other warrior graves, 38 of which are still intact, but according to Mayor's contacts in Iran, that DNA research was halted in August 2020 due to a lack of resources.

The great rivalries of the ancient Greeks and Persians are well documented in Greek art, history and mythology, so much so that historians of Ancient Persia rely on the Greek interpretation of the region to unlock its history. Experts have identified depictions of the women in battle with Greek men on vases and other ceramics as dressed in Persian-style clothing: the Kandys cloak, the Anaxyrides trousers, the Persikay shoes. By the 470s, the Greeks began to refer to portrayals of the Persians as the Amazons, turning their real-life adversaries into mythological folklore. Even the word "Amazon", meaning "warrior", is likely rooted in the Iranian language.

According to Herodotus, a 5th-Century Greek writer and geographer often credited with being the first historian, the Amazons maintained an idyllic all-female existence in modern-day Turkey. They pillaged the Persian Empire and procreated with neighbouring tribes, keeping the baby girls to raise as the next generation of warriors. They would meet their ultimate fate at an encounter with the Greeks in the battle of Thermodon. Sent out to sea, The Amazons eventually entered Scythia near the Black Sea. The Amazons and Scythians, slated to fight one another, would instead join forces, whose descendants are the Sarmatians. Both the Scythians and Sarmatians are connected to modern-day Iran.

 On the day of the Hene kai Nea, 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 Gamelion:
  • Gamelion 7 - January 21 - Sacrifice to the Kourotrophos and Apollon Delphios
  • Gamelion 7 - January 21 - Sacrifice to Apollon Lykeios
  • Gamelion 8 - January 22 - Sacrifice to Apollon Apotropaius, Apollon Nymphegetes, & the Nymphs at Erkhia
  • Gamelion 9 - January 23 - Sacrifice to Athena at Erkhia
  • Gamelion 12-15 - January 25 - 29 - Lenaia - festival in honor of Dionysus in the Attic deme of Limnai
  • Gamelion 27 - February 10 - Theogamia/Gamelia - celebrating the sacred marriage of Zeus Teleios and Hera Telei
  • Gamelion 27 - February 10 - Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Hera, Zeus Teleius, and Poseidon at Erkhia

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 sixth and the last archaeology season has been scheduled to possibly unearth the main structure of Laodicea Temple, Nahavand’s tourism chief Mohsen Khanjan announced on Sunday. A budget of three billion rials (some $71,000 at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) has been allocated to the mission which will commence in the month of Esfand (starting Feb. 19).

Regarding the achievements of the last five archaeological seasons, the official noted: 

"In addition to a Greek inscription, other significant objects such as bronze statues of Greek gods, a stone altar, column head, column shaft, column base and pottery pieces had been discovered in Dokhaharan neighborhood [of Nahavand]. Regarding those findings, we concluded that the history of the city of Nahavand goes far back in prehistoric times, on the contrary to what previously believed it only dates back to the Seleucid period. The outcome of previous excavations determined that a Seleucid city was established on remains of a prehistoric settlement… and the sixth season aims to discover the main structure of Laodicea Temple."

In the fifth season of excavation, 12 trenches were dug tightly based on speculations and discoveries made during the four previous seasons… the season, however, yielded some new clues on the ancient sanctuary, Khanjan explained.

The archaeological project also aims at solving the problems of the residents of the districts near the site, who haven’t been allowed to construct buildings for over 50 years.

In 1943, archaeologists discovered an 85x36 centimeter ancient inscription of 30 lines written in Greek calling on the people of Nahavand to obey the laws of the government. The inscription indicated the existence of the Laodicea Temple, which had been built by the Seleucid king who ruled Asia Minor, Antiochus III the Great (223-187 BC), for his wife Queen Laodicea.

Two of the inscriptions as well as four bronze statuettes, unearthed at the site, are on display in the National Museum of Iran in downtown Tehran. And, column capitals and bases are currently being used as decorations in Nahavand’s Hajian Bazaar and several other parts of the city.

Antiochus was the most distinguished of the Seleucids. Having made vassal states out of Parthia in present-day northeastern Iran and Bactria (an ancient country in Central Asia), he warred successfully against the Egyptian king Ptolemy V and in 198 BC obtained possession of all of Palestine and Lebanon.

He later became involved in a conflict with the Romans, who defeated him at Thermopylae in 191 BC and Magnesia (now Manisa, Turkey) in 190 BC. As the price of peace, he was forced to surrender all his dominions west of the Taurus Mountains and to pay costly tribute. Antiochus, who early in his reign had restored the Seleucid Empire, finally forfeited its influence in the eastern Mediterranean by his failure to recognize the rising power of Rome.

The Seleucid Empire was a Hellenistic state ruled by the Seleucid dynasty which existed from 312 BC to 63 BC; Seleucus I Nicator founded it following the division of the Macedonian Empire vastly expanded by Alexander the Great. Seleucus received Babylonia (321 BC) and from there expanded his dominions to include much of Alexander's near-eastern territories. At the height of its power, the Empire included central Anatolia, Persia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and what is now Kuwait, Afghanistan, and parts of Pakistan and Turkmenistan.