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.

 "I'm confused... is Baring the Aegis part of Elaion? What are you in all of this? I'm not trying to be rude, I am just confused. Sorry."

No need to be sorry! Okay, let's see. Elaion has been around for a lot longer than I am a Hellenist, but I did join it almost a year ago. Since then I have become a core member and help Robert Clark--my very, very good friend and religious partner--with the day to day of running Elaion. By and large, he is responsible for the Yahoo groups and the mentoring program, and I have set up and take care of the Elaion Facebook Page. I hope it makes better sense now.

"In your post Of Stains and Devotion there are pictures of your gorgeous ritual tools, cups, and so on. Where do you buy it? I really want to buy especially a kylix and a khernibeion, but I don't know where! I have googled but come up empty-handed :("

When I joined Paganism in 2000, I decided I would get my ritual tools from thrift stores and other such places only. I was not allowed to go out and hunt for them, or order them anywhere; I had to walk into them in unlikely places. I let go of a bit of that philosophy once I got into Hellenism, but all the ritual tools I have were either bought myself at thrift stores or given to me by friends who came across them in thrift stores. Only my books and the hand towels I use were bought new.

As for where to buy these items if you were looking for them; my khernibion is simply a bowl; try any cooking shop or fancy home deco store. Same goes for the mortar I use to burn my offerings in. As for the kylix; perhaps one of my readers knows somewhere to order them cheap? I'd be much obliged!

"Where does Neo-Platonism fall in regard to [multideism]"

This question was asked in regards to the 'rules' of Multideism--specifically rule one: 'the gods are many, separate and distinct. Any attempt to reduce the multitude of divinities to a single source or being is not multideism, but monotheism.'

To be honest, I don't know. I was going to answer this question on that blog post itself, but I could use your help. I am not a Neo-Platonist, and I believe strongly that philosophy and religion are not one and the same, although they can influence each other greatly. From what I understand of Neo-Platonism, the One is not so much an entity, but simply a source. It's panentheism, if anything, and while it alludes to one source, this source does not, in fact, stand alone. There are many Gods (etc.) in the Neo-Platonic divine hierarchy so I would classify it as Multideistic, but if you feel uncomfortable with that, a case for monotheism can also be made. As always, that is the problem with labels; there will always be cases where the lines blur.

"I'm curious as to what your take is on polyamory and a modern day Hellenic practice."

While I answered this one a while ago, I wanted to include it today, simply because I was thinking back then that I really should do something with my answer--as others might find it interesting as well--but couldn't figure out how. As such, I'm posting my answer as I gave it for everyone to take from what they wish.

When we look at ancient Hellenic practices, I'd say it depends on your definition [of polyamory]. In general--especially in Attica, etc.--marriage was between one woman and one man, where the man was allowed mistresses. Do you count the relationship with the mistress as a poly relationship? Personally, I don't, because in the hierarchy, the mistress is lower than the wife. For a true polyamorous relationship, the three of them should be equal (or at least the women should be, in this case). 

In a more modern context, I don't think the Gods care much--if at all--about our sexual preference and subsequent sexual behaviour. Marriage vows matter, as does family, but for a poly relationship to work, all parties involved must agree and function well together as a family unit. This leaves the core values of the faith intact--and probably more honest than some non-poly relationships; there is a level of honesty required in poly relationships that goes beyond any requirement in a two person relationship (although it would help!).

The fifth constellation Ptolemy made famous was the constellation Aries: the ram. Obviously, this constellation is still recognized by modern astronomers. For the story of the constellation Aries, we have to go back to the Argo Navis: the ran the constellation resembles was the very same ram that carried the young king Phrixos to the palace of Helios before he could be killed in a plot by his step-mother.

The myth of the ram with the golden wool is part of the myth of Iásōn. Phrixos (Φρίξος) was the son of Athamas, king of Boiotia, and Nephele (a goddess of clouds). His twin sister Helle and he were hated by their stepmother, Ino. So hated, in fact, that Ino burned the local crops and asked for an oracular message to see if the Theoi were angry at her husband's people. She bribed the messengers to tell her husband that the Theoi were, indeed, angry at him. To appease Them, Phrixos and Helle had to be sacrificed. Pious Athamas did as he was told, but just before they could be killed, a ram with golden wool appeared by order of Nephele, and carried the children off.

The ram flew over the ocean and Helle looked down. Spooked by the height, she fell off of the back of the ram, leading to her death. The stretch of water she fell into was called the Hellespontos (Ἑλλήσποντος), literally 'Sea of Helle', a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It was later renamed Dardanellia (Δαρδανέλλια).

The ram, unfortunately did not get to live a long, healthy life. As soon as the ram delivered Phrixos to the palace of King Aeëtes--the son of the sun god Helios--on Colchis, it was sacrificed to Zeus. It's golden fleece was hung from a tree in a sacred grove of Ares, guarded night and day by a dragon that never slept. Iásōn eventually slew the dragon with Mēdeia's help and took the fleece back to Iolkos. The ram, after being sacrificed, was placed into the sky by Zeus.

The constellation Aries is visible at latitudes between +90° and −60° and is best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of December.

The last few days have been....rough. Not so much for me personally, but looking at the world and seeing dividedness, anger, and fear. It can't have escaped anyone's notice that America has been having a rough go at it, so let me post up some words of Hesiod to ponder.

"And now I will tell a fable for princes who themselves understand. Thus said the hawk to the nightingale with speckled neck, while he carried her high up among the clouds, gripped fast in his talons, and she, pierced by his crooked talons, cried pitifully. To her he spoke disdainfully: `Miserable thing, why do you cry out? One far stronger than you now holds you fast, and you must go wherever I take you, songstress as you are. And if I please I will make my meal of you, or let you go. He is a fool who tries to withstand the stronger, for he does not get the mastery and suffers pain besides his shame.' So said the swiftly flying hawk, the long- winged bird.

But you, Perses, listen to right and do not foster violence; for violence is bad for a poor man. Even the prosperous cannot easily bear its burden, but is weighed down under it when he has fallen into delusion. The better path is to go by on the other side towards justice; for Justice beats Outrage when she comes at length to the end of the race. 

But only when he has suffered does the fool learn this. For Oath keeps pace with wrong judgements. There is a noise when Justice is being dragged in the way where those who devour bribes and give sentence with crooked judgements, take her. And she, wrapped in mist, follows to the city and haunts of the people, weeping, and bringing mischief to men, even to such as have driven her forth in that they did not deal straightly with her. 

But they who give straight judgements to strangers and to the men of the land, and go not aside from what is just, their city flourishes, and the people prosper in it: Peace, the nurse of children, is abroad in their land, and all-seeing Zeus never decrees cruel war against them. Neither famine nor disaster ever haunt men who do true justice; but light-heartedly they tend the fields which are all their care. The earth bears them victual in plenty, and on the mountains the oak bears acorns upon the top and bees in the midst. Their woolly sheep are laden with fleeces; their women bear children like their parents. They flourish continually with good things, and do not travel on ships, for the grain-giving earth bears them fruit.

But for those who practise violence and cruel deeds far-seeing Zeus, the son of Kronos, ordains a punishment. Often even a whole city suffers for a bad man who sins and devises presumptuous deeds, and the son of Kronos lays great trouble upon the people, famine and plague together, so that the men perish away, and their women do not bear children, and their houses become few, through the contriving of Olympian Zeus. And again, at another time, the son of Kronos either destroys their wide army, or their walls, or else makes an end of their ships on the sea.

You princes, mark well this punishment you also; for the deathless Gods are near among men and mark all those who oppress their fellows with crooked judgements, and reck not the anger of the Gods. For upon the bounteous earth Zeus has thrice ten thousand spirits, watchers of mortal men, and these keep watch on judgements and deeds of wrong as they roam, clothed in mist, all over the earth. And there is virgin Justice, the daughter of Zeus, who is honoured and reverenced among the Gods who dwell on Olympus, and whenever anyone hurts her with lying slander, she sits beside her father, Zeus the son of Kronos, and tells him of men's wicked heart, until the people pay for the mad folly of their princes who, evilly minded, pervert judgement and give sentence crookedly. Keep watch against this, you princes, and make straight your judgements, you who devour bribes; put crooked judgements altogether from your thoughts.

He does mischief to himself who does mischief to another, and evil planned harms the plotter most." 

[Works and Days, 202 - 266]