As the summer comes to full swing, the archaeological season comes to a close at many ancient sites. As such, reports of these finds are now frequent and some are quite interesting!


2016 Pteria excavations (central Turkey)
The 'Pteria Ancient City' is located near the village of Şahmuratlı in Yozgat province's Sorgun district in central Turkey. An excavation team of 45 under the supervision of the American archaeologist Scott Branting discovered significant remains in the ruins of the ancient city this season.


According to Branting, this year's excavations mainly focused on the northern part of the ancient city, focusing on the ruins of several houses. According to the archaeologists, the city block which they excavated this year is only one of 757 city blocks in the ancient city. A team of 30 academics and students from various universities, together with 15 villagers from Şahmuratlı, participated in the excavations.

The vice president of the excavations, Yasemin Özarslan of Koç University's Department of Archaeology, said they launched this year's excavations on May 15 and stressed that they discovered very important findings during the dig. Özarslan said:

"We excavated some buildings and open air spaces located in the northern part of the city. The archaeological team managed to finish the dig on a building with columns. Avenues and roads furnished with stones have been unearthed this year. We successfully unearthed some of these roads. Some objects from 700 B.C., meaning belonging to the Iron Age, have been discovered."


2016 Yeronisos Island excavations
Yeronisos, or 'Sacred Island, is 12,000 square meters of calcareous rock just off the coast of western Cyprus. The archaeological expedition to the island was under the direction of Joan Breton Connelly, Professor of Classics and Art History at New York University. Eight undergraduates and graduate students from New York University participated in the excavation field school.


Excavations within the island sanctuary have yielded significant ostraca and inscriptions dating to the final years of Ptolemaic rule in Cyprus. Angelos Chaniotis, Professor at Princeton University, head of a team of eminent epigraphists, came out to study the material, assisted by Dr. Benjamin Wieland of the University of Fribourg.

A second major focus of the 2016 season was the architecture of Yeronisos island buildings. Professor Pieter Broucke from Middlebury College in Vermont began the study of ashlar blocs, architectural members and architectural moldings discovered on the island. The architectural fragments belonged to a small Ionic temple that once stood on the westernmost cliff of the island. The temple rested on a podium measured 8.47 m. in width and it was built from finely dressed limestone blocks, carefully plastered to resemble marble. It had a central doorway framed by engaged Ionic columns and carried a small Ionic entablature with horizontal geison. The roof was gabled, had pediments at its short ends and solid walls on all four sides, terminating in an epikranitis course with an Ionic molding on top.

PhD student Luca Cherstich joined the team for study of local rock cut tombs in an effort to understand Yeronisos within the broader context of the community living just opposite on the mainland during the Hellenistic period. Architect Richard Anderson continued work on the 3-D digital survey of the island’s architectural remains.

Prof. Jolanta Mlynarczyk of the University of Warsaw undertook the study of the Yeronisos pottery while Dr. Mariusz Burdajewicz completed work on his publication on the Geronisos glass finds. Dr. Paul Croft of the Lemba Archaeological Field Station studied animal bones collected from the island.
I doubt it'll surprise you that I am beyond excited the olympics start off again in just a few short days. I'm a little gym rat (well, in my home gym once the renovations are completed) and I absolutely love watching others achieve their athletic goals. It also has a special place in my heart because the foundations of it lie in ancient Hellas.

An artist's impression of Altis, the sanctuary in Olympia

The Olympic Games were held every four years, like they are now, from 776 B.C. to A.D. 394. They were, however, part of a cycle of sports events, known as the Panhellenic Games. The Olympic Games were dedicated to Zeus, were held in Olympia, Elis, and were held every four years. The Pythian Games were dedicated to Apollon, were held in Delphi and were held every four years, starting three years after the Olympic Games. The Nemean Games were dedicated to Zeus also, were held in Nemea, Corinthia, and were held every two years. Lastly, the Isthmian Games were dedicated to Poseidon, were held in Corinth, and were also held every two years.

The most important events at the Olympic Games weren't the sport events; they were the sacrifices, offerings and other dedicatory practices which were continually performed during the five day event. There were also artistic happenings; writers, sculptures and painters showed what they could do in their given trade. Palmistry was practiced, wine flowed freely and there were a lot of prostitutes, who made more money in these five days than in the whole of a year without the sporting event. The Olympics were a festival unlike any other and every four years Hellas went nuts for it.

The opening ceremony was as spectacular as it is today, but in an entirely different manner; athletes filed into the arena and were presented to the audience. Then, they were presented to a towering statue of Zeus, who carried a thunderbolt and a heft scowl. They swore on a bloody slice of boar's meat that they would obey the rules of the competition and not cheat to gain victory.

The torch relay I take great joy in, was not practiced in Ancient Hellas. In fact, it was introduced in 1936 by Hitler in response to an idea by Carl Diem to further the reign of the Nazi's and, in their eyes, glorify the Aryan super race, the Spartans.

Not everyone was allowed to participate in the games; non-Hellenics and women were unable to compete. There were exceptions made for non-Hellenics, like Roman Emperor Nero, when the situation called for it, but women were never allowed to compete. Married women weren't even allowed to enter the arena. There was, however, a secondary series of sporting events held in honor of Hera where women competed.

The Olympic sport events back then were: chariot racing, wrestling, boxing, pankration, foot races, and the pentathlon which consisted of wrestling, stadion, long jump, javelin throw, and discus throw. Pankration was a fighting sport in which everything went. It was a kind of mixed martial-arts event in which broken bones were the norm, choke holds were encouraged and the only thing that you really couldn't do was gauge someone's eyes out. Everything else went. You won when the other guy went K.O.

Except the chariot races, all Olympic sports were performed naked. This included the Pankration, so you can imagine where most of the pain was inflicted. The woman weren't completely naked, but participated with one breast exposed, in honor of the Amazonian women who were said to be so incredible at sports and warfare alike.

Over 40.000 people came to watch the Games. Olympia was in the middle of nowhere. If you came from Athens, it meant a 340 kilometer (210 mile) long walk just to get to Altis. Because of the festival and the presence of the Gods, all these people traveled the distance anyway.

Winners of the Olympic Games got rather minor rewards; Olympic winners recieved a garland of olives, Pythian winners recieved a laurel wreath, Nemean winners recieved a wild celery garland and the Isthmian winner recieved a pine garland. There was no runner-up; you won or you lost. All athletes were bathed in fame and glory until they lost, but the winner was brought home to his polis a king. He would never have to work again, was covered in riches and women, and his name and family name would be forever remembered and honored.

The end of the Olympic Games is guestimated to 394 A.D. after a decree to cease all pagan festivals by Christian emperor Theodosius I.

Undoubtedly, there will be more olympics inspired posts on Baring the Aegis in the coming days. I might be on vacation but the posts will keep coming and I will definitely be catching every bit of the olympics I can!
A little news round-up today as my holidays have started and when this is posted, I will be in a car heading to Germany.


Mycenaean ‘Battle Krater’ on public display for the first time
The largest bronze artefact of the Mycenaean era known as the ‘Battle krater’ will be on public display for the first time in 140 years at Athens National Archaeological Museum in the framework of the ‘Unseen Museum’ programme. This reports Protothema.

kra1

The large silver vessel was discovered in the tomb of a prince during excavations carried out by Heinrich and Sophie Schliemann in Mycenae, in 1876. The find was made in the royal tombs within Grave Circle A, where both objects and funeral rites dating back to the 16th century B.C. and previously entirely unknown to archaeologists were discovered.

The largest surviving bronze artefact was eventually reconstructed and the battle depicting two rival hoplite groups fighting over a fallen warrior was restored.

The krater will be on display at the Hall of the Altar until September 25. Culture and Sports Minister Aristidis Baltas, who was shown around the storerooms, was present during the transfer of the find o the museum. On August 7 and 28 and on September 16 and 25, museum archaeologists will be greet visitors and talk about the artefact itself, as well as the rich variety of other grave goods interred alongside it, with that same early Mycenaean-era prince.


Athenian visitors ‘travel’ back to 5th century BC in a trireme
Also from Protothema: The Greek Navy invited some lucky visitors to journey back in time, as they took the oars of the Olympias trireme, a replica of the original vessel, at the Faliron gulf.


The trireme was a fast attack, light displacement vessel. It was rowed by 170 oarsmen, three rows per side, who were either poor citizens or dolos--slaves. A trireme would try to sink an enemy ship by ramming it from the side with its bronze nose. Alternative, they would sail past and allow the soldiers to throw spears at their enemy. Sometimes, however, they threw pots filled with burning liquids, or even poisonous snakes.

In 1985–1987 a shipbuilder in Piraeus, financed by Frank Welsh (an author, Suffolk banker, writer and trireme enthusiast), advised by historian J. S. Morrison and naval architect John F. Coates (who with Welsh founded the Trireme Trust that initiated and managed the project), and informed by evidence from underwater archaeology, built a reconstructed Athenian trireme, 'Olympias'. Crewed by 170 volunteer oarsmen, Olympias in 1988 achieved 9 knots (17 km/h or 10.5 mph). Additional sea trials took place in 1987, 1990, 1992 and 1994. In 2004 Olympias was used ceremonially to transport the Olympic Flame from the port of Keratsini to the main port of Piraeus as the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay entered its final stages in the run-up to the 2004 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Due to high maintenance costs, was subsequently put in dry dock at the Naval Tradition Park in Faliro, Athens, on November 25, 2005, where it has remained ever since.

The next voyage is planned by the Greek navy for August 28.
Time for another bit of ancient beauty! I love little gems like this. It is not truly a hymn as such, but more an invocation: a short work that is meant to supplicate. This one is to Apollon and the muse Kalliope, the muse who presides over eloquence and epic poetry. It was written by Mesomodes.

Mesomedes of Krete (Μεσομήδης ὁ Κρής) was a Roman-era Greek lyric poet and composer of the early 2nd century AD. Two epigrams by him in the Greek Anthology are extant, and a hymn to Nemesis as well as one to Helios. The hymn is one of four which preserve the ancient musical notation written over the text. A total of 15 poems by Mesomedes are known. Prior to the discovery of the Seikilos epitaph in the late 19th century, the hymns of Mesomedes were the only surviving written music from the ancient world. The hymns to Nemesis, the muse Kalliope, and Helios can be read here and listened to here.

This version was reconstructed by Christodoulos Halaris and has been recorded on his album 'Music of Ancient Greece'. Greek composer and scholar Christodoulos Halaris is a leading expert on the study and reconstruction of ancient Greek and Byzantine music. He turned to musicology and composing after studying mathematics in Paris. Taking his cues from religious iconography and traditional popular Greek music, Halaris began reconstructing fragmentary (and sometimes nonexistent) old Greek music documents. He has published more than fifty CD's of this music and helped create the Museum of Thessalonica, devoted to Greek music. The English translations are from Ancient Greek Music by M. L. West, Oxford University Press, 1992.


Invocation to Apollon and Kalliope

Sing for me, dear Muse,
begin my tuneful strain;
a breeze blow from your groves
to stir my listless brain.
 
Skilful Calliope,
leader of the delightsome Muses,
and skilful instructor,
son of Leto, Delian Paian,
favour and be with me.
The results of the excavations conducted from May 30 until July 8, 2016 on the uninhabited islet of Despotiko, west of Antiparos (Cyclades), are in and they are very significant, shedding light on the history and the topography of the Apollon sanctuary. This reports the Archaeological News Network.


Systematic investigations at the Mandra site began in 1997 by archaeologist Yannis Kouragios (Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades) and have brought to light an extended Archaic sanctuary – the largest known so far in the Cyclades after Delos. Its peak is dated to the 6th century BC.

Until now, excavations have brought to light 15 buildings, ancillary to the temple, and an hestiatorion, a ritual dining hall. The cult center was a temenos protected by a precinct. Here, a marble portico temple and a ritual dining hall were built. Ritual dining rooms were invented by the Parians in the Archaic period. However, the site was in use earlier, in the Geometric period.

This year, the excavation of the two oldest buildings that came to light in front of the stylobate, the Archaic temple’s platform and the Archaic cult Building Δ. In particular, south of the Building Δ, the excavation of the partly preserved apsidal or ellipsoidal building O, dating back to the late 9th or the early 8th century BC (Geometric period) has been completed.

In 2012, south of the Building O and in front of the stylobate of the Archaic temple, part of the rectangular Building Ξ was excavated. This building dates back to the last decades of the 8th century BC and it was probably due to this building that Building O was destroyed.

In the north of these buildings, a layer with abundant skeletal remains and decorated pottery sherds came to light, dating from the 8th to the 6th century BC. This layer was used to build the Archaic Building Δ. Also found within the layer were metal objects, clay figurines, scarabs etc.

To the south of the temenos, extended surveys were conducted in the Buildings M and N, which had been partially excavated in 2015. Also, another building came to light, Building Π, with a temple-shaped ground plan, measuring 9.90 × 6.20 meters. This building dates back to the 6th century BC. Thus, during this excavation season it has been clarified that from the Archaic period until the Late Classical period, a building complex of 350 square meters, including Buildings Μ, Ν, Π, was in use.

In the atrium of Building M archaeologists found traces of a monumental structure (5×9.5m), with four strong walls of 1.5m height. They believe that the structure served as a cistern, until it was abandoned in the 4th c. BC, when it was buried again with stones and pottery sherds dating from the 7th to the 4th c. BC.

Probably at that time, the rooms of Building Μ and the small portico at its south side were built, while the buried structure served as an atrium to this building. At the same time, the four rooms in the south and east of the portico and the atrium were built (these also came to light during this year’s excavations). In two of them, well-preserved pebbled floors were found.

Outside the temenos, between the Buildings B and Z, part of another building was located. This will be further investigated in 2017. Furthermore, a strong-built structure came to light, a kind of protective precinct, 25 meters long and 1.1m wide, built in the Archaic period, when the sanctuary was in use, in order to protect the ancillary buildings outside the temenos. The precinct connected the harbor with the temenos.

Apart from the abundance of plain and decorated pottery sherds, dating from the late 9th until the 4th century BC, this year’s finds also include more than 40 lamps, 25 bases of vessels (skyphoi and phialai) with engraved inscriptions of the name Apollon, an inscribed sherd of the 6th century BC depicting one of Hercules’ labors, sherds of black-figure Archaic kylikes with images of warriors, red-figure kraters of a Classic-era Attic workshop depicting Dionysus, satyrs and maenads, Corinthian aryballoi and alabasters, Geometric zoomorphic figurines, scarab seals, Bronze fibulae and five sherds of the lower limbs of Archaic kouroi.

After this year’s excavations, it is clear that the sanctuary occupied a large area of the Despotiko peninsula and attracted many visitors, a fact that resulted in constant modifications and expansions of the site until the Late Classical era.
The 23th of Hekatombaion is traditionally the first night in a week long series of events that make up the Panathenaia festival. This birthday celebration of the city of Athenes and grand honouring of Athena was one of ancient Athens' highlights and people would have flocked there from afar to take part. Will you take part as well during two days of the event, namely the first and last? The first event will take place on the 27th of July and the second on August 3rd. For details on the times, see below.


The Panathenaia was an Athenian festival celebrated every year in honor of the Goddess Athena. The Lesser Panathenaia (Panathenaia ta mikra) was an annual event, while the Greater (Panathenaia ta megala) was held every four years and assimilated the practices of the Panathenaia ta mikra into itself. The set date for the festival was from the 23rd to the 29th of Hekatombaion and the festival was similar, in practice, to the Olympic Games but it had its own unique elements as well. In short, The Panathenaia was the 'birthday of the city' and referred to Athens. The actual practice was very involved but usually included:
  • A procession from outside of the city walls to the Acropolis
  • The hanging of a new (and elaborately woven) garment on the shoulders of the statue of Athena inside the Parthenon, named a Peplos.
  • A torch race
  • An all-night service called the Pannychos
  • A large offering (and ritual slaughter) of a hundred cows in honor of Athena
  • A meat meal for everyone at the city's expense
  • During the Panathenaia ta megala, wrestling competitions, athletic competitions, chariot races and many other horse-based games were also held. The Panathenaia was known for its boat races.
The athletic contests included foot races, wrestling, boxing, pankration (a combination of wrestling and boxing), pentathlon (five-event contest: stade race, javelin-throw, discus throw, long jump, and wrestling), four-horse chariot and two-horse chariot races, horseback race, javelin-throw from horseback, apobatês race, pyrrhic dancing, euandria (physical fitness or beauty contest), torch relay race, and boat race.  All these events, except for the torch and boat races, were held in each of three age categories: boys (12-16), ageneios (16-20), and men (20+) and took place in the Agora until 330 BCE when a stadium was built in the outskirts of Athens.

Boat races were not typically part of Greek athletic festivals, but they may have found a place in the Panathenaic festival because of Athena's connection with boat-building. Pyrrhic dancing, physical fitness, torch relay race, and boat races were tribal competitions restricted to Athenian citizens, whereas even non-Athenians took part in the track and field and equestrian events.  Except for the four last-named contests, the prizes (for first and second place only) were varying numbers of amphoras filled with olive oil. The olive tree and its fruit were sacred to Athena and the oil was a very valuable commodity in the ancient world used for cooking, as soap, and as fuel for lamps.  The winning athletes normally sold their prize oil for cash. Besides the everyday usefulness mentioned above, olive oil was in great demand by administrators of the numerous athletic festivals throughout the Greek world. Athletes rubbed themselves with olive oil before competition and scraped it off afterwards with a metal device called a stlengis.

As an indication of value, in the fourth century B.C. the prize for the victor in the stade race (a 600 ft. long foot race) in the men's category was 100 amphoras of olive oil. In terms of today's dollar, the olive oil would be worth at a minimum $39,000 and the amphoras, which held the oil, about $1600.  Greeks from other cities were allowed to compete in all the athletic contests among individuals.  The competitions among tribes were limited to Athenians.

The two-mile torch relay race with four runners from each of the ten Athenian tribes was run from the altar of Eros outside the Dipylon gate to the Acropolis. The object was to win the race without causing the torch to go out.  The winning tribe received a bull and 100 drachmas. The fire of the winning torch was used to light the sacrificial fire on the great altar of Athena on the Acropolis. The torch race was part of an all-night (pannychos) celebration also involving music and dancing on the night before the most important day of the festival when the procession and sacrifice took place. The apobatês race and the boat race closed out the festival contests.

Three musical contests involved singers accompanying themselves on kithara (kitharôidos), singers accompanied by an aulos (a reed wind instrument similar to a clarinet or oboe), and aulos players.  The prizes for these contests were crowns (for first place winners only) and cash. For example, the first prize for the kithara-singer was an olive crown in gold worth 1,000 drachmas (at least $32,000 and 500 silver drachmas (at least $16,000).

Reciters called rhapsodes (literally, 'stitchers of song') competed at public festivals in the recitation of epic poetry, in particular the Homeric poems and other poems belonging to the Epic Cycle. They performed without musical accompaniment. Prizes are unknown.

The great procession the Panathenaia was known for assembled before dawn in the following order:
  • four little girls carrying a peplos for the life-size statue of Athena Polias 
  • priestesses of Athena and Athenian women carrying gifts 
  • sacrificial animals (bulls and sheep) for the communal meals of thanksgiving
  • metics (resident aliens), wearing purple robes and carrying trays with cakes and honeycombs for offerings 
  • musicians playing the aulos and the kithara
  • a colossal peplos (for Athena Parthenos) hung on the mast of a ship on wheels 
  • old men carrying olive branches
  • four-horse chariots with a charioteer and fully armed man (apobatês) 
  • craftswomen (ergastinai - weavers of the peplos) 
  • infantry and cavalry 
  • victors in the games 
  • ordinary Athenians arranged by deme
The procession made its way on the Panathenaic Way through the Agora towards the Acropolis.  Some sacrifices were offered on the Areopagus and in front of the temple of Athena Nikê next to the Propylaea (Gateway). Only Athenian citizens were allowed to pass through the Propylaea and enter the Acropolis. The procession passed the Parthenon and stopped at the great altar of Athena in front of the Erechtheum. Each year a newly woven peplos (robe) was taken by the craftswomen (ergastinai) into the Erechtheum and placed on a life-size old wooden statue of Athena Polias ('Guardian of the City'), while every four years in the Great Panathenaea, an enormous peplos was taken to the Acropolis for Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin) in the Parthenon. This peplos was so large that it was carried on the mast of a ship on wheels (like a float in a modern parade). The connection between the ship and Athena is unknown, but the use of a ship to carry the peplos must have seem appropriate in the fifth century after Athens had built the great fleet with which it dominated a large part of the Aegean world. This was followed by a huge animal sacrifice at the Athena's altar and representatives from each deme in Attica, chosen by lot, enjoyed a meat banquet along with bread and cakes.

The ritual for the first day of the Panathenaia can be found here. It includes a torch-lit procession (which can also be conducted with a wind light or electric candle) and libations to Athena in Her many forms related to the Panathenaia. It can be performed either in the night of the 27th of July or the daylight hours of the 28th (the 27th is the encouraged time).

The ritual for the last day of the Panathenaia can be found here. It honours Athena, Zeus, Agathos Daimon, Hera, Poseidon, and Hestia. We will be performing it at 10:00 AM EDT on 3 August.

If you would like to join our group for the event, please go here.
Beginning at sundown on the 25th of July, the Kourotrophos (child nurturers) were honoured. Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Aglauros and Pandrosos shall be sacrificed to. Elaion will be organizing another Practicing Apart Together ritual for this event in the daylight hours of the 26th. Will you join us?


The Kourotrophos are (mostly) female deities who watched over growing children--Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Eirênê, Aglauros and Pandrosos, especially. This specific offering is known from the demos Erkhia, but duplicates similar offerings on the Acropolis of Athens.

In this ritual, we honor Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Aglauros and Pandrosos. Artemis is named Kourotrophos by Diodorus Siculus, a Hellenic historian, in book five of his library:

"And Artemis, we are told, discovered how to effect the healing of young children and the foods which are suitable to the nature of babes, this being the reason why she is also called Kourotrophos." [5.73.5]

Hesiod, in his 'Theogony', explains why Hekate is Kourotrophos:

"So, then. albeit her mother's only child, she is honoured amongst all the deathless gods. And the son of Kronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Eos (Dawn). So from the beginning she is a nurse of the young (kourotrophos), and these are her honours." [404]

Aglauros and her sister Pandrosos seem to have been fertility deities in Athens. They were eventually regarded as daughter of the Athenian king Cecrops, however, and myth tells us the sisters were entrusted with the care for Erichthonios, hidden away in a basket. He was the son of Athena and Hēphaistos, who grew to term in the Earth (Gaea), and would later rule Athens as king. Aglauros had a sanctuary on the Acropolis in which young men of military age swore an oath to her as well as to Zeus and to other deities. Herse, sometimes regarded as a third sister, has no mention in these accounts.

Gaea, as a mother and raiser of many children, of course receives honors as well during the Kourotrophos. Pausanias, in his 'Description of Greece' says:

"There is also a sanctuary of Ge (Earth) Kourotrophe (Nurse of the Young) [at Athens], and of Demeter Khloe (Green). You can learn all about their names by conversing with the priests." [1.22.3]

We are also considering adding Eirene, as Euripides, in Bacchae says the following about Her:

"The god [Dionysos], the son of Zeus, delights in banquets, and loves Eirene (Peace), giver of riches (olbodotes), goddess who nourishes youths (thea kourotrophos). To the blessed and to the less fortunate, he gives an equal pleasure from wine that banishes grief." [420] 

You can find the full version of the ritual here and you can follow the event of Facebook here.



I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today is one of those posts.


"Is there any way around having to use blood in certain sacrifices?"

So, I’ve read your question a couple of times and I am left wondering what information you have been reading that focusses so specifically on blood. If it’s a source for a specific rite then maybe there isn’t. If it’s a general source about animal sacrifice (but why, then, ask me about blood specifically and not animal sacrifice?) then yes, there are.

Very few modern Hellenists practice animal sacrifice due to logistics, ethics or law. Even in ancient times, poorer families and people with certain dietary or philosophical philosophies decided against sacrificing animals and giving cakes in the form of the required animal instead, or they focused on giving libations or First Fruit offerings, which is a fancy term to describe that the Theoi got the first portion of anything the family would consume.

So you don’t have to practice animal sacrifice in Hellenismos, but again, if this is a specific rite that somehow calls for blood (I don’t recall any but they could very well be out there), then maybe there isn’t.

~~~

"What do you make the fire to burn your offerings from? And what kind of bowl is it? I want to burn mine but I don't know how to do it safely inside and I have a lot of nosy neighbours so burning out in the garden daily is a no lol"

I burn everything, and because of privacy limitations, I burn everything indoors. For this I use bio-ethanol, the burning agent I use when building a fire indoors. This is a form of biofuel (fuel derived from biological sources), and a variation of denatured alcohol. It’s a clear, flammable liquid which burns without smoke and without scent. As such, it works very well for indoor use. Make sure to use a cast-iron or at least solid container to burn in! It gets hot and if it cracks, you will burn the house down. Make sure to test it out a couple of times and usually if it says ‘oven proof’, you’re good.

~~~

"Is it normal for hellenists to have multiple smaller altars? I think I mainly see people who have one altar, but personally I think it would be more appropriate for me to worship more than one God and I don't have other places of worship I could go."

Ah, there is a terminology issue here that has you tripped up. Easily fixed! There is a difference between an altar and a shrine. An altar is one of those basic necessities within Hellenismos, and it differs from a shrine. Where an altar is a 'work space', dedicated not so much to a specific deity, but used to do the bulk of the (daily) rituals, a shrine is a devotional area where an altar might be located. In ancient Hellas, the shrine was usually a temple, the altar an actual altar, standing outside of it. Household worship took place at a multitude of shrines. Labelling something a shrine, does not mean you can't sacrifice at these spots in your home. In general, you decorate a shrine but leave the altar rather bare.

~~~

"Hi! I want to bring an offering for Athena,mostly because I am interested in hellenism and Athena is the goddess I identify most with.I don't actually believe in hellenistic gods tho,so I wonder if that would be disrespectful?"

Disrespectful...? To whom? I doubt the Gods care whether you believe in Them or not. What I am wondering about, though, is why you want to sacrifice to something/someone you don’t believe in? What’s the point? Nothing is stopping you, though! Go right ahead. I am just not sure how useful it will be...

~~~

"I'm new to Hellenism and I've been going through your blog to learn, but I was wondering if rituals, altars, and sacrifices are required? Because I have very strict Christian parents who are not open to other beliefs and would not be able to do anything like that. Thank you in advance!"

That depends on if you want to be a Traditional Hellenist or not. The short answer is: yes, they are required. At the foundation of our faith is kharis--religious reciprocity--and traditionally, it is only established through proper ritual and regular sacrifice. The idea is that you give freely (and loudly) to the Gods and They give freely to you. So in a Traditional sense, they are required.

Now, if you truly can’t find a way to practice sacrifice (perhaps in the form of a libation; the easiest to hide), then... well, you would need to look at the religion and kharis from a more modern viewpoint. Dedication could then, in theory, become a way to establish kharis. Set a goal, tell whomever you are dedicating it to that it is for Them before you start, complete the goal and tell Them you have completed it in Their name. It has to be something that challenges you, though. And/or something that counts in the grand scheme of things. Some examples off of the top of my head:

- Dedicate a 5 mile run to Ares once you have worked up to it
- Volunteer for a good cause related to a deity (animals for Artemis, for example)
- Collect money or goods for a good cause related to a deity (cancer research for Asklepios or Apollon, for example)
- Learn a new craft and make something with it for Athena
- Do something nice every day for your family/a person in your family for a month and dedicate it to Hera

Things like that. I hope this helps!

~~~

"As a reconstructionist, how do you feel about communication with the theoi? are you the kind that's like yeh let's grab a pint and chat it up, or are you more like NO the gods are silent and we don't deserve their attention. cuz (most of) the gods are kinda brickwalling me and I'm just like could u maybe not."

I am... somewhere between that. I think the Gods are bigger than us and if we want Their attention, we need to go through the proper ritual steps. That’s what they are there for: in the ancient Hellenic religion, it was believed that the procession with loud singing and dancing and musical instruments drew the attention of the Theoi. Once you had that, you sang your hymns to make sure the Theoi who would be given sacrifice to would stick around to receive it. Then you said your prayers out loud as you sacrificed so they raised up to the Gods with the smoke of the sacrifice.

This ‘evening chat’-sort of thing that is prevalent more in modern Pagan worship is actually very Christian inspired. The Abrahamic Gods see all, after all, so you had better always play nice or there will be punishment. On the flip side, that also means that whenever you whisper a prayer or request for guidance to the Abrahamic God, He’ll hear it. And hopefully He’ll choose to help.

So I don’t have conversations with the Theoi. I have very meaningful interaction with Them, though, through ritual. And through that ritual I establish kharis and They will think of me every now and again and make my life better.

Remember: Hellenismos is a religion where the central figure(s) are the Gods, not the worshipper. We often think all religions are, but in the Abrahamic religions, for example, it is the other way around. God is there to guide, forgive and punish humanity. In Hellenismos, we are there to honour the Theoi and if they so see fit, They will help us. But it is not a given and it is not a requirement. They were worshipped because They were higher beings and They were undoubtedly there. As such, appeasing them and building a relationship with them was not just the smart thing to do but the essential thing to do, because your life and livelihood depended on it.
Many people--myself included--sometimes forget how extensive the ancient Hellenic empire was. It wasn't just what is now modern Greece. It extended all the way down to, for example, Syria. Today: Hippos.


Hippos (Ἵππος) is an archaeological site in Israel, located on a flat-topped foothill 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) east of and 350 metres (1,150 ft) above the Sea of Galilae. The site is just on the Israeli side of the 1949 UN-demarcated border between Syria and Israel, near modern Kibbutz Ein Gev.

Between the 3rd century BC and the 7th century AD, Hippos was the site of a Graeco-Roman city, which then declined under Muslim rule and was abandoned after an earthquake in 749. Besides the fortified city itself, Hippos controlled two port facilities on the lake and an area of the surrounding countryside. Hippos was part of the Decapolis, or Ten Cities, a region in Roman Jordan, Syria and Israel that were culturally tied more closely to Hellas and Rome than to the Semitic ethnoi around.

Established as Antioch of Hippos (Ἀντιόχεια τοῦ Ἵππου) by Seleucid settlers, the city is named after the Greek language word for horse, Hippos, and a common name of Seleucid monarchs, Antiochus. The Seleucis Empire, by the way, was a Hellenistic state ruled by the Seleucid dynasty, which existed from 312 BC to 63 BC; it was founded by Seleucus I Nicator following the division of the Macedonian empire vastly expanded by Alexander the Great.The Aramaic name, Sussita (Hebrew: סוסיתא‎‎), was also adopted into Hebrew and also means horse, while the Arabic name, Qal'at al-Hisn, means 'Fortress of the Horse/Stallion'. Other names include the alternate spelling Hippus and the Latinized version of the Greek name: Hippum. The precise reason why the city received this name is unknown.

Excavations in Hippos have revealed traces of habitation from as early as the Neolithic period. The site was again inhabited in the third century BC by the Ptolemies, though whether it was an urban settlement or a military outpost is still unknown. During this time, Coele-Syria served as the battleground between two dynasties descending from captains of Alexander the Great, the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. It is likely that Hippos, on a very defensible site along the border lines of the 3rd century BC, was founded as a border fortress for the Ptolemies. The city of Hippos was most likely established in the middle of the second century BC.

As the Seleucids took possession of all of Coele-Syria, Hippos grew into a full-fledged polis, a city-state with control over the surrounding countryside. Antiochia Hippos was improved with all the makings of an Hellenic polis: a temple, a central market area, and other public structures. The availability of water limited the size of Hellenistic Hippos. The citizens relied on rain-collecting cisterns for all their water; this kept the city from supporting a very large population.

Hellas' rule did not last. The Maccabean revolt resulted in an independent Jewish kingdom under the Hasmonean dynasty in 142 BC. In c. 83-80 BC, Alexander Jannaeus led a Hasmonean campaign to conquer lands east of the Jordan River.

In 63 BC the Roman general Pompey conquered Coele-Syria, including Judea, and ended Hasmonean independence. Pompey granted self-rule to roughly ten ten cities on Coele-Syria's eastern frontier; this group, of which Hippos was one, came to be called the Decapolis and was incorporated into the Roman Provincia Syria. Under Roman rule, Hippos was granted a certain degree of autonomy. The city minted its own coins, stamped with the image of a horse in honor of the city's name.

Its rule exchanged hands several more times before the Romans created the province of Palaestina in 135, of which Hippos was a part. This was the beginning of Hippos' greatest period of prosperity and growth. It was rebuilt along a grid pattern, centered around a long decumanus maximus running east-west through the city. The streets were lined with hundreds of red granite columns imported from Egypt. The great expense required to haul these columns to Palestine and up the hill is proof of the city's wealth. Other improvements included a Kalybe (a shrine to the Emperor), a theatre, an odeon, a basilica, and new city walls. The most important improvement, however, was the aqueduct, which led water into Hippos from springs in the Golan Heights, 50 km away. The water, collected in a large, vaulted cistern, allowed a large population to live in the city.

When Christianity became officially tolerated in the Roman Empire, Palestine became the target of Imperial subsidies for churches and monasteries, and Christian pilgrims brought additional revenue. Industry expanded and more luxury goods became available to common people. Christianity came slowly to Hippos. There is no evidence of any Christian presence before the 4th century. A Byzantine-era pagan tomb of a man named Hermes has been found just outside the city walls, attesting to the relatively late presence of pre-Christian religions here. Gradually, however, the city was Christianized, becoming the seat of a bishop by at least 359. One Bishop Peter of Hippos is listed in surviving records of church councils in 359 and 362.

The Muslim armies of the Rashidun period invaded Palestine in the 7th century, completing their conquest by 641. Hippos' new Arab rulers allowed the citizens to continue practicing Christianity, a policy then continued by the Umayyad Caliphate. However, the population and economy continued to decline. The earthquake of 749 destroyed Hippos and it was abandoned permanently.

Archaeological surveys were conducted here in the late 19th C by Gottlieb Schumacher. During the early 50s there were clashes on this border, and the IDF fortified the Sussita hill as a front post. This is an archaeologist's dream--the ruins were mostly undisturbed, and the treasures found under the debris are fascinating. However, it will take years to complete this enormous task of excavation, reconstruction and preservation.
You know, sometimes I miss Witchcraft. Not so much the actual practice of it but the emotion of it. Let me be very clear in saying that Hellenismos is where I belong and it's not even a contest if I will remain in it. It's a religion in which I can put plenty of emotion, even in its repetitiveness. To follow the same cycle every day and every year brings with it a stability, a depth of understanding and a connectiveness I have never experienced in Witchcraft. But it's not 'sexy'; it's not exciting. It's not full of midnight rites with too many candles and too much incense and that one smoke detector you forgot to turn off. It's not putting together rituals that are full of flair and creating circles that you just have to take a picture of and show all your witch friends because it was just so darn pretty.

Every now and again, I really, really miss Witchcraft. It usually happens when I am thinking of stories (I write, trying to become a writer at least part-time if not full time). A lot of them have supernatural elements in them and they rely heavily on my knowledge of ancient mythical systems and occult history. History was always my speciality--history and reasearching it. When I write is when I break out my old books on Witchcraft--the ones I kept, anyway. The ones that either inspire me (even if they are super bad and inaccurate) or the ones that are simply so good that you can find anything in them you need (written by the Parker's of Witchcraft and Wicca). Reading all this faux-history, fanciful origin stories and in-depth knowledge always gives me a thrill. It did that when I was twelve years old and it still does that now I am about to turn thirty-one.

I think it, in part, has to do with how long I practiced it and when. I became a Witch in my teens, at the height of needing something to hold on to and identify with. Witchcraft was my perfect rebellion but even more so, my perfect getaway. It gave me a sense of control over my life that I had to give up once I realized you can't rule over and force the Gods. When I submitted myself to Their counsel, I gave up that power. When times get busy as they are now, and the world becomes a bit too scary a place, I long to have that sense of power back and the escape Witchcraft offered me. The safety of believing you could directly influence your fate--and I still think you can, I just choose to submit instead.

Funnily enough, I find safety in submitting, too. I control my part of my relationship with the Theoi through my practice and establishing kharis. In return, I trust Them to know what I could not possibly have known as a Witch and let Them set my course instead of forcing it. And my life has become so much better and more stable since. Even funnier: I have found I can find that same sense of escapism I found in Witchcraft in any hobby. I can go out and play Pokemon Go for an hour to forget about another bombing. I can go for a run to get out work stress. I can read the night away and feel filled with the bewonderment of the world created by another.

I was a Witch through many of my formative years and it has most certainly shaped me. It's a beautiful Tradition and one can put into and get out of it anything one might desire. It's unique in that perspective. It is completely free and completely fluid. I both loved that about it and hated it for it. It's exactly why I got out of it and it's also exactly why I still long for it sometimes. But it is a fleeting desire because this depth of religious experience I experience in Hellenismos, the purpose it gives me and the stability are far more valuable to me.

I could never live without the Theoi and honouring Them traditionally, but I gave up Witchcraft within only a few days time. This is my religious home. And when I long for Witchcraft, I read, or write a post about it like now and it'll leave my system. Because at the end of the day, I belong to the Theoi, solely. As it should be.
Back in February, the 'Athenians’ Association' launched a lawsuit at the European Court of Human Rights against the United Kingdom for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. According to the Association, the initiative to launch the lawsuit came when the board of directors was informed that the United Kingdom responded negatively to participating in mediation a procedure, as part of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Goods in the Country of Origin. The lawsuit recently came to court and was rejected.


The European Court stated that since the alleged crime of stealing the marbles from Greece took place 150 years ago that it did not have the legislative power to consider the lawsuit, since the robbery occurred before the UK signed into the human rights convention.

"It is clear from the nature of the applicant’s complaints that its underlying grievance is the allegedly unlawful removal of the marbles from Greece. The removal having occurred some 150 years before the Convention was drafted and ratified by the respondent state, the applicant’s complaints would appear to be inadmissible."

Furthermore, the judges also added that the Athenians’ Association did not have ' any right…to have the marbles returned to Greece.'

This action is not deterring the Athenians’ Association in the least. They said that they will continue to pursue getting the UK to return the stolen marbles to Greece. Vassilis Sotiropoulo, legal representative for the Athenians’ Association stated:

"Globally, this first statement of the European Court, historically the first court judgement, on the subject of the Parthenon Marbles highlights the points that Greece should focus on with particular attention in her recourse against the United Kingdom."

Recent polls have shown an overwhelming majority of UK citizens support the reunification of the Greek Marbles as an Ipsos-Mori poll recently showed 69 percent of Britons were in favor of returning the marbles, while only a mere 13 percent were against.

Also, MPs put forth a new Bill, The Parthenon Sculptures (Return to Greece), which was presented on July 10 by a joint-partisan panel composed of Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams, supported by Conservative Jeremy Lefroy and 10 other MPs from Labor, the SNP and Plaid Cymru. Mark Williams said of the bill:

"It’s time we engaged in a gracious act. To put right a 200-year wrong. These magnificent artifacts were improperly dragged and sawn off the remains of the Parthenon."

Now, let me make clear: I want these antiquities returned to Greece. I want them returned because I think they belong in Greece--in Athens, specifically--and I think it will help the economy of said country. Let me also make clear that I think these legal actions are the wrong way about it and they are also quite useless. As the European Court stated: what happened with the Marbles happened long before the EU. If the Marbles are to return, it has to be because the UK and Greece come to an agreement about it, not because it was forced by legislation.

The Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, is a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural members that originally were part of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin obtained a controversial permit from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Parthenon while serving as the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803. Since then, there has been great controvercy surrounding the legitimacy of this permit and the validity of the UK's claim to keep the Marbles instead of sending them home to Greece.
Note that says 'Hercules' in the title and not 'Herakles'. That's because the mosaic dates back to Roman times, not Hellenic times. Still, the find is extraordinary and worth posting. Cyprus was under Roman control from 31 BC to the 4th century AD. The mosaic dates back to the 2nd century AD and is made up of five sections, depicting all of Hercules' labours between them. So far, two sections have been uncovered.

 
 

The mosaic was found by the Larnaca Sewage Board staff, who were opening a canal for the waste to pass, when they discovered the work. The sewage board of the city has stopped wok in the area since the discovery of the mosaic. The road has also been sealed off from traffic.

Only part of the mosaic, measuring 19 meter long by 7 meter wide (62 foot by 23 foot), has been excavated and officials believe more is still buried. The antiquities department said in a statement:

"A preliminary estimation would suggest that scenes of the Labours of Hercules are depicted and that it is dated to the Roman period."

They also stated that the mosaic was evidence that Ancient Kition--on which modern Larnaca was built--played an important role in establishing Roman culture in Cyprus. However, up to this day Roman remains found in the city are very few. The antiquities department thus noted that:

"Therefore, the mosaic floor that came to light provides important evidence for the development of the city during the Roman period."

Transport Minister Marios Demetriades, who visited the site in Larnaca, told reporters the department of antiquities, which falls under his ministry, planned to move the mosaic to a museum. The mosaic cannot stay in place because it would incur damage from water and the elements. Demetriades, who is also minister of works and communications, said the mosaic was important because

"...nothing similar has been discovered so far. It’s a unique mosaic and we have to exhibit it in the most appropriate way. The intention is to transfer it to a museum, to build a specific room [where it will be displayed]... because this is the best way to protect it."
I'm a little tired today. No, that is not the correct word: weary. I'm weary with the world today. I woke up and I have been avoiding the news. I'd rather stay indoors on one of our rare summer's days than go outside where the rest of the world is. Too much has happened the last week or so. I'm longing for reprieve from information about pain and suffering. When I get contemplative like this, you tend to get some ancient words of wisdom and today is no different.

If you have ever read Athenaeus of Naucratis' Deipnosophistae (Δειπνοσοφισταί, Deipnosophistaí, 'The Dinner Philosophers'), you know that mad had a lot to say about fish. Athenaeus was a Greco-Egyptian author who lived in the early 3rd-century AD. The Deipnosophistae is a long work of literary, historical, and antiquarian references set in Rome at a series of banquets held by the protagonist Publius Livius Larensis for an assembly of grammarians, lexicographers, jurists, musicians, and hangers-on. It is sometimes called the oldest surviving cookbook and rightfully so. Not even Jaime Oliver talks this much and this in-depth about food.

In the midst of a long discussion about fish and fisherman, though, Athenaeus has one of his speakers quote advice allegedly given by others. I'll quote it as the whole passage and include a more modern translation below which combines the advice into a whole.


"On his [Sardanapallus (the Greek name for the Syrian king Ashurbanipal)] tomb, says Chrysippus, are inscribed these words: 'Though knowing full well that thou art but mortal, indulge thy desire, find joy in thy feasts. Dead, though shalt have no delight. Yes, I am dust, though I was king of mighty Nineveh. I have only what I have eaten, what wantonness I have committed, what joys I received through passion; but my many rich possessions are now utterly dissolved. This is a wise counsel for living, and I shall forget it never. Let him who wants it, acquire gold without end.'

Of the Phaeacians, also, the Poet has said: 'And ever to us is the feast dear, and the harp, and dancers, and changes of raiment, warm baths, and sleep.' Another writer's words we have, who was like Sardanapalus, and who also gave this advice to the foolish: 'All mortals I fain would counsel to live this fleeting life in pleasure. For he that has died is nothingness, only a shade in the world below. Life is short, and while you live it behooves you to enjoy it.'

And the comic poet Amphis says in The Wail from Asia: 'Whosoever is mortal-born and seeks not to add any pleasure to his life, letting all else go, is a fool before the bar of my judgement and that of all wise men; the gods have damned him.' Also, in Government by Women, as its title runs, he has similar advice: 'Drink! play! Life is mortal, short is our time on earth. Death is deathless, once one is dead.' And a man named Bacchidas, who also lived a life like Sardanapalus, has inscribed on his tomb, now that he is dead: 'Drink, eat, indulge in all things the heart's desire. For lo! I stand here, a stone to represent Bacchias."

Modern translation:

“Know well that you are mortal: fill your heart By delighting in the feasts: nothing is useful to you when you’re dead. I am ash, though I ruled great Ninevah as king. I keep whatever I ate, the insults I made, and the joy I took from sex. My wealth and many blessings are gone. This is wise advice for life: I will never forget it. Let anyone who wants to accumulate limitless gold.

And ever to us is the feast dear, and the harp, and dancers, and changes of raiment, warm baths, and sleep. All mortals I believe would be wise to live this fleeting life in pleasure. For he that has died is nothingness, only a shade in the world below. Life is short, and while you live it behooves you to enjoy it.

Drink. Play. Your life is mortal and time on earth is but short. Death itself is everlasting once a man has died. Drink. Eat. Yield everything to your soul. For I am the stone that stands in place of Bachidas."
Okay, confession time: I, like many, many others, am entirely hooked on Pokemon GO. I was a huge fan of the Gameboy games and Pokemon Go is pretty much everything I wanted Pokemon to be as a child. So I sit here writing this as a grown ass woman who reached level 21 in seven days and who will go out after work to kick team Valor out of my gym (Go team Mystic! Don't tell me you are suprised I chose the path of wisdom). At any rate, it seems not just the players have taken notice of Pokemon GO. Unless you have lived under a rock somewhere the last week or so, you know what Pokemon GO is and how it works.


Pokemon GO is an augmented reality game. Basically you walk around with your phone. Through a collaboration with Google(Maps), Pokemon GO shows you an overlay of your location and places items into it, like Pokemon and battle gyms. What it also does, though, is turn landmarks like churches and artworks into hotspots which players must visit to get items that are important in the game. This is not a new concept, by the way, but it's never been used in anything as mainstream as Pokemon GO, meaning that many people are now familiar with the idea.

Pokestops (and gyms) have become either the bane or the bread of many small businesses, who have realized that these two attract people to their business. Some find it frustrating to have a bunch of people in front fo their store or out on their terrace with their head down to a screen but it's befinitely a boon for PR and (hopefully) sales.

The wild success of Pokémon Go has illustrated the potential of augmented reality to the masses. It has also inspired a number of archaeologists to begin to ponder how iOS and Android AR apps could be used to involve students and the general public in the history and heritage of various archaeological sites. In the wake of Pokémon Go mania, gamifying archaeology presents more possibilities for engaging the public and preserving cultural heritage than ever before.

Forbes spoke with Andrew Reinhard, a scholar and archaeologist on the forefront of gaming and archaeology, who heads up publications at the American Numismatic Society. Besides work in both fields, he also writes about archaeogaming on his blog. His recent blog post discusses the role of AR in archaeology and his own quest to visit a few PokéStops around Princeton, New Jersey. He, too, has taken note of the usefulness for small business owners of luring people to pokestops and gyms and calls to apply it to ancient sites as well.

"Sites that want visitor traffic to increase should use those [small business] steps… A site is a business. It competes for one’s discretionary time and income (if admission is charged)."

He notes that museums such as the MOMA are already doing this and archaeological sites are not far behind. But why not go beyond it?

Certainly there were a number of archaeologists working to introduce augmented reality apps to cultural heritage sites long before Pokémon Go came around. Pokémon Go’s parent company, Niantic, already has an app called “Field Trip” that runs in the background of your phone and alerts you when you are near certain sites. A pop-up card comes onto your screen when you get near certain historical places or markers of interest. Reinhard was integral to bringing together the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) with Field Trip, so that visitors to the Athenian Agora could learn more about the ancient sites. The app similarly focuses on the novelty of discovery and uses the GPS functionality of most cell phones, but is missing a key component: gaming.

Just imagine a mobile game where people could go to the site and race an ancient runner. Integrating the public into the site via competition and games, rather than just giving them Wikipedia-like entries, is what will likely hold their interest more fully.

Other archaeologists are thinking about how AR can recreate more than just the view. Some are also trying to reconstruct the sensory environment of sites. An app currently under development wants to allow visitors to see, smell, hear, and touch sites. Another AR app under development, this one from University of British Columbia archaeologist Kevin Fisher and UBC’s MAGIC Centre wants to allow users to see recreations of ancient sites in the same mode as Google Street View. The first site they are focusing on is the Late Bronze Age archaeological site of Kalavasos on the island of Cyprus.

These projects make it clear that the future of classical archaeology may rely on allowing visitors not only to view, but also to participate in archaeological sites. Speaking of which: the impact on cultural heritage sites has been both good and bad so far. As Reinhard remarked:

"Some hallowed places have banned people from playing Pokemon GO while visiting: The Holocaust Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, Auschwitz. Niantic had not screened sensitive sites to keep monsters from appearing there.”

As augmented reality apps become more well-known to the general public, there will be new caveats and pitfalls to consider, but Pokémon Go will undoubtedly have an impact on the field. I, for one, am very interested to see what will happen.
On the 15th and 16th of Hekatombaion, the Synoikia (συνοίκια or συνοικέσια) festival was held in Athens. It was a community festival, sacred to primarily Athena, and was somewhat of a two-day festival held every year. Why the Sunoikia was celebrated, and what its origins are is not entirely clear; best I can tell is that it reaches back to the unification of twelve small towns into the metropolis of Athens, and is thus linked to the myth of Theseus. Will you celebrate with us on July 20th and July 21th?


I stated that the Synoikia was 'somewhat' of a two-day festival; the 16th was the official sacred day, but the 15th was important as well. Parke, in 'Festivals of the Athenians' (1977), states that:

"Some light on the subject comes from a fragment of the fifth-century code of sacrificial regulations found in the Agora. It records among the festival held every second year as the earliest in the calendar sacrifices held on the 15th and 16th of Hecatombaion. This is evidently the Synoikia though the name does not appear in the inscription. Thuclydides did not mention anything about a two-yearly celebration, and one would naturally expect the commemoration of a historic even to take place annually. But the part of the code dealing with the annual festivals of Hecatombaion is lost, and it probably contained references to the annual Synoikia on the 16th, and one should picture the celebration as taking place on this one day every year, and every second year being held in a larger and more extended form over the two days of the 15th and the 16th." [p. 31]

The second day was the main event, and it contained sacrifices to Zeus Phratrios, Eirênê (Ειρηνη, Goddess of peace and spring), and most importantly: Athena. The Synoikia was believed to have been instituted by Theseus to commemorate the concentration, the Synoecism, of the government of the various towns of Attica and Athens. This unification is described by Thucydides, in his 'History of the Peloponnesian War':

"In this manner spake the Mytilenaeans. And the Lacedaemonians and their confederates, when they had heard and allowed their reasons, decreed not only a league with the Lesbians but also again to make an invasion into Attica. And to that purpose the Lacedaemonians appointed their confederates there present to make as much speed as they could with two parts of their forces into the isthmus; and they themselves being first there prepared engines in the isthmus for the drawing up of galleys, with intention to carry the navy from Corinth to the other sea that lieth towards Athens, and to set upon them both by sea and land. [2] And these things diligently did they. But the rest of the confederates assembled but slowly, being busied in the gathering in of their fruits and weary of warfare." [3. 15]

Prior to this mythical event taking place, it seems the Synoikia was solely a festival for Athena, as caretaker of Athens. All sacrifices went to Her. After the Synoecism, however, Zeus Phatrios gained importance: he oversaw the various phratries (clans) of Athens who had come together to form a unified people. The content of the Synoikia was solidified in a time of many wars, and it seemed many people were not only tired of them, but saw them as a threat to the solidity of Athens and Attica. As such, the inclusion Eirênê makes sense, as well as Elaion's additions of Aphrodite and Peitho.

Even in ancient times, the sacrifices were a bit lacklustre: a young ewe on the 15th, and two young bullocks on the 16th. Neither sacrifice included a feast and the meat--save for what was sacrificed, of course--was sold right away, indicating not many people attended and that the festival was held most for form; and antiquated festival even then. Today, reading up on the history of Athens and sacrificing to Athena, Zeus Phatrios, and Eirênê suffices to celebrate the Synoikia--and join in with our PAT ritual, of course! You can find the rituals here and the community page here.

When I find myself in troubled times, I turn to the ancient writers for the comfort of their now familiar words. Yesterday I picked up Hesiod's Works and Days. Works and Days is a very soothing piece of writing for me. It describes the day to day; it looks in, not out. While the wold burns, it gives reprieve.

Works and Days (Erga kaí Hemérai, Ἔργα καὶ Ἡμέραι), by the way, is a didactic poem written by the very early ancient Hellenic poet Hesiod. It was probably written around 700 BCE or earlier and is the first example we have of Hellenic didactic poetry (poetry that emphasizes instructional and informative qualities). It embodies the experiences of his daily life and work, forming a sort of shepherd's calendar, interwoven with episodes of myth, allegory, advice and personal history. It may have been written against a background of an agrarian crisis in mainland Hellas, which inspired a wave of documented colonizations in search of new land.

While I was reading last night, I recognized that turmoil in the pages and I found his words even more sound and soothing. As part of Works and Days, Hesiod speaks of the creation of mankind by the Gods. Hesiod distinguishes five, separate, Ages where the Gods made a form of mankind; the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, the Heroic Age, and the Iron Age.

Hesiod placed himself in the Iron Age, and regretfully so. The Iron Age is a moral continuation of the Bronze Age, not the Heroic Age; those of the Heroic Age were far nobler. Men of the Iron Age bicker amongst themselves, there is no respect for parents, for guests, or the Theoi. Bitter war rules, and those who have the strength to cease power, do so without hesitation and without caring about the lives of those they oppress. It is a bleak Age, because those of the Iron Age are even more wicked than those of the Bronze age: they will not end their own lives. Either the Theoi will end this Age, or They will retreat from it, leaving the race to fend for themselves.

Roman Christian priest, Saint Jerome (c. 347 – 420), contemplated Hesiod's Ages and figured it still ongoing. Many have contemplated since if that is correct. I leave you with Hesiod's words now and I will ask of you: is this the Iron Age?

"And again far-seeing Zeus made yet another generation, the fifth, of men who are upon the bounteous earth. Thereafter, would that I were not among the men of the fifth generation, but either had died before or been born afterwards. For now truly is a race of iron, and men never rest from labour and sorrow by day, and from perishing by night; and the gods shall lay sore trouble upon them.

But, notwithstanding, even these shall have some good mingled with their evils. And Zeus will destroy this race of mortal men also when they come to have grey hair on the temples at their birth.

The father will not agree with his children, nor the children with their father, nor guest with his host, nor comrade with comrade; nor will brother be dear to brother as aforetime. Men will dishonour their parents as they grow quickly old, and will carp at them, chiding them with bitter words, hard-hearted they, not knowing the fear of the gods. They will not repay their aged parents the cost their nurture, for might shall be their right: and one man will sack another's city.

There will be no favour for the man who keeps his oath or for the just or for the good; but rather men will praise the evil-doer and his violent dealing. Strength will be right and reverence will cease to be; and the wicked will hurt the worthy man, speaking false words against him, and will swear an oath upon them. Envy, foul-mouthed, delighting in evil, with scowling face, will go along with wretched men one and all.

And then Aidos and Nemesis, with their sweet forms wrapped in white robes, will go from the wide-pathed earth and forsake mankind to join the company of the deathless gods: and bitter sorrows will be left for mortal men, and there will be no help against evil."

I pose another option: that Hesiod's fifth Age has come to pass-: the Theoi had forsaken mankind for a long time, as mankind turned to other Gods--and we are now--as the worship of the Theoi comes back slowly--in a transitional period towards a new Age, an Age of remembrance of the old Hellenic ways and their Gods. A better Age than the Iron Age... or worse, perhaps, depending on what we do with it. As always, I choose to live in hope, not fear.
It's been exactly 33 days since I last posted this prayer. Then it was for the people in Orlando, today it's for the people in Nice. I could have posted it often inbetween; since then, at least 1606 people have lost their lives in terrorist attacks (788 in the second part of June and 818 in July until Nice). Some with the highest death counts:

14/06 Mass execution at Lake Chad, Cameroon: 52 dead
16/06 Suicide bombing and execution in Sirte, Libya: 22 dead
17/06 Shooting at a funeral in Kuda, Nigeria: 24+ dead
20/06 Suicide bombing on Canadian Embassy Guards in Kabul, Afganistan: 16 dead
22/06 Clash between security forces and ISIS in Sirte, Lybia: 55+ dead
24/06 ISIS attack on a civilians village in Kot, Afganistan: 20+ dead
25/06 Suicide car bombing and hostage-taking in Mogadishu, Somalia: 15+ dead
27/06 June 2016 Mukalla attacks in Al Mukalla, Yemen: 50 dead
28/06 Atatürk Airport attack in Istanbul, Turkey: 44 dead (239 injured)
30/06 30 June 2016 Afghanistan bombings, Wardak, Afghanistan: 40 dead (50 injured)

01/07 Shooting and hostage-taking in Dhaka, Bangladesh: 24 dead
03/07 2016 Karrada, Baghdad bombing in Baghdad, Iraq: 308 dead (246 injured)
05/07 Suicide bombing in Al-Hasakah, Syria: 25+ dead
05/07 Mass execution in Um al-Housh, Syria: 40 dead
06/07 Suicide bombing and raid in Aden, Yemen: 25+ dead
07/07 Ali al-Hadi Mausoleum attack, Balad, Iraq: 100+ dead (75+ injured)
09/07 Mortar attacks and other attacks in Aleppo, Syria: 36+ dead (143 injured)
11/07 Suicide bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia: 30+ dead

And now Nice, France. A truck drove through a crowd of people on the Promenade des Anglais who were celebrating the French National Day. At the time of writing the death toll is 84. It will undoubtedly climb even higher than that. Another senseless attack, more senseless death.

I debated myself on if I should write about the Nice attacks this morning. I sat at my desk and pondered. I didn't write about all the above: the news only covered those in 30 second clips, after all--if that. Nice is right around the corner for me. It shouldn't matter but it does.

I sat at my desk and realized that I could write about nothing else today. Because I was affected. Shocked. Pained. I'm no longer surprised--this is the reality of our world right now. It'll get better eventually but right now, this is our reality. But I sat on the couch last night, catching Pidgey's around my house in Pokemon Go, and suddenly a perfectly average day was no longer average. I went to bed last night and held my girl a little tighter because I realized how easily it can all be taken away.

These attacks are not about leaving as many dead as possible--that strategy is outdated. This war is fought not in death but in fear. 'We can get you anywhere. You are never safe.' It's a message that rang loud an clear yesterday. How do you stop a lunatic in a truck from doing what he did? You don't. And yet, before it happens, you think you can. That governments can, that politicians can, that police forces can. But they can't. That is the sad and scary reality of our lives.

'We will take it all'. 

But they won't. You know, pretty much the whole of Syria is a post-apocalyptic wasteland of destroyed buildings and militants roaming the street. And yet, children go to school. Shops are open. Life goes on. They mourn the newly dead and pray to their Gods that they won't be the next one mourned. They accept life and move forward. I have so much respect for these people; people living--truly living--in warzones.

We don't live in warzones here, in the West, let me make that abundantly clear. What we experience is a vague, distant glimpse of that horror. Our news headlights--unless something like the Nice attacks happens--are about Pokemon. We are insanely privileged in most Western countries. And yet there are dead to mourn and lessons to learn. And there are questions to get answers for, guilty parties to find, scapegoats to blame. Politicians will fall on their swords and a national holiday will never be the same again.

No, I couldn't write about anything else today. And every now and again--hopefully few and far between--something will happen that will have me write about terror again. Because it matters. Nice matters, Yemen matters, Iraq matters, Turkey matters, Somalia matters, Afghanistan matters. And remember, people: these are the countries our refugees come from. These are the countries so many people want to send them back to. Countries where attacks like in Nice yesterday happen every other day--if they are lucky. That's why I get so angry sometimes at these blatant displays of privilege: just because these killing are far away does not make them any less deadly.

I weep for those who died in Nice yesterday, for those who died in terrorist attacks in the time between the Orlando shooting and the Nice attack, and for those who have lost their lives since: at least three so far; marine soldiers in Manilop, the Philippines. We live in a dark world but I refuse to be silent and I refuse to live in fear. If anything happens, it happens. I won't let them win, not ever. So say your prayers, pour your libations, mourn loudly and remember, but live. Live. Don't give them the satisfaction of seeing you change anything, of being afraid. Live your life to it's absolute fullest. If it gets taken away, then at least it will have been well spent!


"May Hermes Psychopompos carry the souls of the dead safely cross the river Styx.
May Hades accept them favourably, and may the judges judge them fairly.
May Asklēpiós tend to the wounds of the injured.
May Ares instill in them the passion of life, and the strength of a thousand warriors.
May Hypnos sooth their weary minds, and cloud them in sleep.
May Dionysos calm their terror.
May They offer the same to emergency personnel and passers-by who were witnesses.
May Dikē who weeps at the injustice done upon all touched by this tragedy, clutch the strong thigh of Zeus the All-wise, and beg of Him the severest of punishments.
May All-Mighty Zeus send winged Nemesis to administer swift judgement.
May Her judgement take from the guilty parties an equal or greater price than their victims have had to pay.
May Hēlios the All-seeing whisper truth to law enforcement, and guide the investigation swiftly towards those who conceived of this terrible crime.
May wise Athena led Her aid to them.
May Zeus the All-mighty bless those who ran not from the area, but towards it, in an attempt to offer aid to those wounded or dead.
May He look favourably upon those who ran away as well, as the will to live is at the core of every mortal's life.
To all Theoi: a last plea. To protect those whom the media will persecute, but are innocent of the crime.
To protect the innocent scapegoat from the actions of a species in the grips of fear and revenge."
A joint Greek-American archaeological expedition has found 23 ancient wrecks around the small Fourni archipelago, confirming the Greek site is the ancient shipwreck capital of the world. Discovered last month, the 23 shipwrecks add to other 22 identified last September, bringing the total to 45 wrecks in the last nine months.


One July afternoon in 2015, the maritime archaeologist George Koutsouflakis was talking with a colleague in his Athens office when his phone rang. The caller was a free diver and spear-fisher from the remote Fourni archipelago, a small cluster of islands between Samos and Ikaria in the eastern Aegean. During years of diving and fishing in the coastal waters around Fourni, the man had spotted dozens of areas where the seafloor was strewn with ancient clay vessels—the coral-encrusted cargoes from ships lost at sea long ago. Over the past year he'd made a hand-drawn map and marked the locations of nearly 40 possible shipwrecks. He wanted to show Koutsouflakis the sites.

The timing of the call was perfect: as a native Ikarian, Koutsouflakis had heard rumors of shipwrecks at Fourni for years, and that summer he'd been trying to organize an expedition to locate them. But funding was still precarious. While Koutsouflakis listened to the spear-fisher describe everything he'd seen, he flashed his colleague a grin. He knew that the project would happen.

In just 11 days of diving in September 2015, Koutsouflakis and his co-director Peter Campbell of RPM Nautical discovered 22 shipwrecks. This June they returned to the Fourni archipelago with a team of 25 divers, archaeologists, and artifact conservators. Over 22 days of diving they found an additional 23 pre-modern shipwrecks, raising the total number identified at Fourni so far to 45, an astonishing 20 percent of all known shipwrecks in Greek waters. Peter Campbell recently told Discovery News:

"These shipwrecks demonstrate the truly exceptional significance of the archipelago and establish the project as one of the most exciting currently in archaeology."

A collection of 13 islands and islets located between the eastern Aegean islands of Samos and Icaria, the Fourni archipelago had a critical role both as a navigational and anchorage point. The archipelago lies right in the middle of a major east-west crossing route, as well as the primary north-south route that connected the Aegean to the Levant. Ships traveling from the Hellenic mainland to Asia Minor, or ships leaving the Aegean for the Levant had to pass by Fourni.

Archaeologists from the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and RPM Nautical Foundation surveyed the seabed along the coastline to depths up to 213 feet. They found shipwrecks from the Archaic period (700-480 B.C.) to the Classical (480-323 B.C.) Hellenistic (323-31 B.C.) and Late Roman (about 300-600 A.D.) through the Early Modern Period (about 1750-1850).

"Overall, Late Roman vessels are still the predominant type, but we see that ships were traveling past Fourni in every time period."

The most significant shipwrecks of the 2016 campaign were a Late Archaic-early Classical wreck with amphoras from the eastern Aegean, a Hellenistic cargo of amphoras from Kos, three Roman cargos of Sinopean (carrot-shaped) amphoras, a wreck of North African amphoras of the 3rd-4th century AD, and a cargo of Late Roman tableware.

The archaeologists also documented a large number of finds such as jettisoned pottery and ancient anchors. Indeed, two massive stone-stocks of ancient anchors dating to the Archaic period are the largest found in the Aegean so far.

"Some shipwrecks even carried goods from North Africa, Spain, and Italy."

He explained the high volume of ship traffic along the trade networks is the reason for the high concentration of wrecks found around Fournï:

"The small islands were really not unsafe. On the contrary, ships were making use of their many bays for shelter from winds and weather while traveling along the Eastern Aegean trade routes."

The archaeologists plan to continue the survey through 2018 to unveil what might be the largest concentrations of ancient shipwrecks in the world.

"For comparison, the United States recently created a national marine sanctuary in Lake Michigan to protect 39 known shipwrecks located in 875 square miles. Fourni has 45 known shipwrecks around its 17 square mile territory."

So far the project, funded by the Honor Frost Foundation and Deep Blue Explorers, has covered less than 50 percent of Fourni's coastline. Many deepwater areas remain to be explored. After mapping each wreck using photogrammetry to create 3D site plans, the project will consider excavating shipwrecks of significant scientific value.
"We believe there are many more wreck sites to be found."

Peter Campbell has earlier commented on the larger impact of the project, saying it could transform the island into the premier destination for underwater archaeology in the Mediterranean.
 
"We really don't want to be one of those projects where a bunch of foreigners come in, find some artifacts, and then ship them back to Athens. We hope to support the people so they can fund and maintain a world-class maritime museum right here on the island."

Fourni's mayor, John Marousis, said that just a decade ago many Athenians, and nearly all foreigners, had never heard of the archipelago. The main island only got electricity in 1969, and today the permanent population hovers around 1,200 people. The economy depends on tourism, which has declined since the economic crisis. He would like to see a museum on the island, but not just to draw tourists. As a tiny cluster of islands flanked by larger Samos and Ikaria, Fourni has long felt overshadowed.
 
"Mainly, it's about identity. Samos is famous for their wine and as the birthplace of Pythagoras. Ikaria is famous for the number of old people and the myth of Icarus. Now, we have the shipwrecks."
The 12th of Hekatombion marks the start of the ancient Hellenic Kronia festival. The Kronia honours Kronos, Zeus' father, not to be confused with Khronos; creator of the Gods and Lord of Time. Will you be joining us for the celebration on July 17th, at the usual 10 am EDT?


In Athens, Kronos and Rhea--His wife and sister--shared a temple. They represented an age before the Theoi took to rule; a time when societal rules did not exist yet, and there was no hierarchy. As such, on the day Kronos was worshipped, the fixed order of society was suspended, and slaves joined--and even ruled over--a banquet given by their masters; they ran through the streets screaming and hollering. On Krete, they could whip their masters. As much fun as this was, the day served as a reminder that for a society to function, societal rules were necessary, and as such, it was also necessary for Zeus to overthrow His father and assume the throne.

Besides a banquette, the Kronia must have been celebrated with an official sacrifice as well, in the temple to Him and Rhea, as the Kronia was a harvest festival of sorts. Unlike many rites to Demeter, the Kronia focused on the harvest--most likely of cereals--that was completed around this time. It was the end of a hectic period where slaves were worked hard, and their masters as well. A communal meal and a little bit of payback on the side of the serfs was most likely at the root of this festival, along with gratitude for the successful harvest; the Hellenic summers were too hot to grow much of anything, so the food eaten in this barren season ahead needed to be taken in and thrashed (where needed) prior to the swell of summer heat. The Kronia was a good mark for this.

There is a little bit of evidence that human sacrifice--in the form of 'scapegoat' rituals was performed on or around the date of the Kronia in the very distant past, but by the time Hellas--and especially Athens--became civilized in the way we speak of today, this practice was long outdated. It seems that a criminal condemned to death was taken outside of the city gates for a reason now lost to us, possibly fed copious amounts of wine, and then killed in honor (or placation) of Kronos. Needless to say, there is no reason to bring this practice back.

You can find the ritual here and the community page here.