The Herakleidai (Ἡρακλεῖδαι) are the descendants of Herakles. After the death of Herakles, his sons were pursued by Eurystheus. They claimed protection in Athens. The Athenians refused to surrender them and in the war that ensued Eurystheus' sons were killed. Eurystheus himself, who had fled in a chariot, was pursued and had his head cut off by Hyllos, son of Heracles. After the death of Eurystheus, the Herakleidai attacked the Peloponnesos and captured all the cities. When a plague ravaged the country the oracle of Delphi declared that this happened because the Herakleidai had returned before the proper time. So they retired and, after some unfortunate attempts to return, they made themselves masters of the Peloponnesus three generations later. In Erkhia, a yearly sacrifice was made to the sons (and hopefully the daughters) of Herakles and we will do the same on 1 April, at the usual 10 am EDT.

The Herakleidai claimed power in the Peloponnesos because they were descended, through Herakles, from Perseus, the founder of Mycenae. The current ruler op the Peloponnesos, Tisamenus, was a Pelopid, a descendant of Pelops. They also claimed that Tyndareus, ruler of Sparta, had been expelled by Hippokoon and argued that Herakles, having killed Hippokoon and his sons, had given the land in trust to Tyndareus. As such, they were the true rulers of both.

Hyllos, son of Herakles, sought to effect the return to power of the Herakleidai, so he went to Delphi and inquired how to go about this. The oracle declared that 'they should await the third crop before returning'. Hyllos supposed that the third crop signified a three year wait. He did, then returned with his army to Peloponnesos. He failed and was killed by Ekhemos. 

Aristomakhos, son of Kleodaeos, son of Hyllos, had been also killed in battle. His son Temenos blamed the oracle for the death of his father. He said that they had obeyed the oracle but the Oracle answered that they were themselves to blame, for they did not understand the prophecies, seeing that by 'the third crop' it was meant, not a crop of the earth, but a crop of a generation. 

So Temenos waited. He readied the army and built ships at Naupaktos. While the army was there, a soothsayer appeared. Karnos recited oracles but the Herakleidai took him for a magician sent by the Peloponnesians to be the ruin of the army. So Hippotes (son of Phylas, son of Antiochos, son of Herakles) threw a javelin at him and killed him. But Karnos was, indeed, a seer of Apollon and the one who established the cult of Apollo Karneos among the Dorians. Appollon destroyed the naval force and made the army suffer from famine. Eventually it had to disband.

After these two failed attempts, Temenos went back to the Oracle of Delphi to ask how he could stop the misfortune that had befallen them. The Oracle advised him to banish the Hippotes for ten years and to take for his guide 'the Three-Eyed One'. So the Herakleidai banished Hippotes and started searching for the Three-Eyed One.

One day they met Oxylos who was sitting on a one-eyed horse. So, guessing he was the man described by the Oracle, they made him their guide. Oxylos had fled from Aetolia to Elis on account of the accidental murder of Thermios (or Alcidokos, depending on the account). So, with Oxylos as a guide, the Herakleidai invaded the Peloponnesos again and finally defeated them. They slew Tisamenos, the last of the Pelopides to rule the Peloponnesos, and claimed it in its entirety. 

The return of the Herakleidai took place three generations after the end of the Trojan War and the death of Nestor after his return home. When the Herakleidai conquered the Peloponnesos, they cast lots for the cities. Argos was allotted to Temenos. The twin sons of Aristodemos, Prokles and Eurysthenes, got Lacedaemon and Sparta. Messenia was allotted to Kresphontes, who drove the descendants of Nestor from Messenia. Oxylos, for his help, became king of Elis after the victory of the Herakleidai.

What follows is a (probably incomplete) list of those who were called 'Herakleidai' at the time described.

The first generation:
Alcaeos, son of Herakles and Omphale. Father of Belos.
Antiochos, son of Herakles and Meda. Father of Phylas.
Hyllos, son of Herakles and Deianira or Melite. Father of Iole of Kleodaeos and Evaekhme.
Ktesippos, son of Herakles and Astydamia or Deianira. Father of Thrasyanor.
Phaestos, son of Herakles and an unknown mother. Father of Rhopalos.

The second generation:
Belos, son of Alcaeos.
Kleodaeos, son of Hyllos. Father of Aristomachos and Lanassa.
Phylas, son of Antiochos. Father of Hippotes and Thero.
Rhopalos, son of Phaestos. Father of Hippolytos.
Thrasyanor, son of Ktessipos. Father of Agamedidas and Antimachos.

The third generation:
Agamedidas, son of Thrasyanor. Father of Thersander.
Anaxandra, daughter of Thersander. Mother by Eurysthenes of King Agis of Sparta.
Antimakhos, son of Thrasyanor. Father of Deiphontes.
Aristomachos, son of Kleodaeus. Father of Temenos, Kresphontes and Aristodemos.
Eurysthenes, son of Aristodemos. Father of King Agis.
Hippotes, son of Phylas. Father of Aletes.
Hippolytos, son of Rhopalos. Father of Lacestades.
Lathria, daughter of Thersander. Mother by Prokles of King Sous of Sparta.
Prokles, son of Aristodemos. Father by Lathria of Sous and Eurypon.

The fourth generation:
Aristodemos, son of Aristomachos. Father of Eurysthenes and Prokles.
Aletes, son of Hippotes.
Deiphontes, son of Antimakhos. Father of Antimenes, Xanthippos, Argeos, and Orsobia.
Kresphontes, son of Aristomachos. Father of Aepytos.
Lakestades, son of Hippolytos.
Temenos, son of Aristomachos. Father of Agelaos, Eurypylos, Kallias and Hyrnetho (or Kisos, Kerynes, Phalkes, Agraeos, Isthmios and Hyrnetho).
Thersander, son of Agamedidas. Father of Lathria and Anaxandra.

The fifth generation:
Agelaus, son of Temenos.
Agraeus, son of Temenos.
Aepytos, son of Kresphontes.
Eurypylus, son of Temenos.
Hyrnetho, daughter of Temenos.
Isthmios. Son of Temenos.
Kallias, son of Temenos.
Kerynes, son of Temenos.
Kisos, son of Temenos. Father of Phlias and Medon.
Phalkes, son of Temenos.

The ritual for the event can be found here and you can join the community page here.
Archaiologia recently posted a very interesting article on the cemetery of Achlada in Florina (Macedonia). It's in Greek and my Greek is...let's go with "very limited". Thankfully, the Archaeology News Network recently posted a translation and it's a very interesting read because it's not only on the finds made at the cemetery but also on Lynkestis (Λυγκηστίς) or Lynchestia (Λυγκηστία) meaning "land of the lynx". It was a region--and in earlier times a Hellenic kingdom of Upper Macedonia--located on the southern borders of Illyria and Paeonia. The inhabitants of Lynkestis were known as Lynkestai (Λυγκησταί), a northwestern Hellenic tribe that belonged to the Molossian tribal state, or koinon, of Epirus. It's an area and cunture we have very little literary evidence on (a fact also mentioned in the text), so we rely heavily on finds like these. Let me give you the text, but visit either Archaiologia or the Archaeological News Network for more pictures (mostly of some of the amazing finds that were made). I, sadly, have not been able to find a link to the paper mentioned in the text.

Unique archaeological evidence about Lynkestis
A cup in the shape of a ram head
[Credit: Ephorate of Antiquities of Florina ]

A very interesting paper about the “Cemetery of Archaic and Classical times of Achlada in Florina” was presented by archaeologist Liana Gelou (Ephorate of Antiquities of Florina) during the 30th meeting of the Archaeological Work in Macedonia and Thrace, which was organized by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Ministry of Culture. In her paper Mrs. Gelou referred to the finds of the excavations at the site.

Since 2010, the Ephorate of Antiquities of Florina has been supervising the excavations for the mining of lignite at the mine of Achlada. The research has been funded by the Lignit Mines of Achlada. In December 2014, underneath building remains dating back to the Roman period, an organized cemetery was located. The finds were impressive and shed light on hitherto unknown aspects of the civilization developed in Lynkestis during the Archaic and Classical times.

Researchers had long ago pointed out the existence of an ancient settlement and burials on the left bank of Geropotamos, as the Ephorate of Antiquities of Florina informs us. The site was known to the archaeological service as a cemetery of Roman years – a conclusion based on the human skeletal remains in the basin of a stream, and on the inscribed grave stelai of the 2nd and 3rd c. AD which were found in the area and are now exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Florina.
In ancient Greek literature we find very few references to ancient Lynkestis. In addition to that, up to now there were no archaeological finds to fill in the gaps of our knowledge about the area – in particular, during the period prior to the unification of the Macedonian state by Philip II. Until recently, due to this lack of data, it was assumed that the area had been socially and culturally isolated.

We know from ancient Greek written sources that Macedonia was divided in Upper (mountainous) and Lower (plain) Macedonia. The modern regional units of Kastoria, Florina, Kozani and Grevena belonged to Upper Macedonia. Within the geographical boundaries of these regions the following tribes were living: Orestae, Lynkestai, Eordoi, Tymphaioi and Elimiotes. Upper Macedonia comprised kingdoms of related racial groups – races which had an organized social and political system. Macedonian society remained based on the aristocratic structure of the gene connected through royal power, and preserved its racial organization throughout  its history, even after the inclusion of the local kingdoms in the state of Aigai, in 358 BC, by Philip II.

According to Strabo, the Lynkestai come from the tribe of Bacchiads, which were expelled from Corinth in mid-7th c. BC. The first known king of Lynkestis, in mid-5th c. BC, was the son of Bromeros, Arrhabaios I, the granddaughter of which is considered to be Euridice, mother of Philip II. This tradition has been preserved in myths and shows the relationship of Upper Macedonia inhabitants with the Northeastern Pelopponese and the descent of the royal houses (The royal house of the Temenides of Aigai, the Bacchiads of Lynkestis) from Hercules and Argos or Corinth respectively.

The excavations in Achlada are still in progress and the burials found until now are more than 170. In most of these, the skeletal remains are in a bad state of preservation. They date from the 6th to the 4th c. BC, while the burial customs present similarities with other cemeteries of the same period in Macedonia, like the ones in Sindos, Aigai, the Archontikon  of Pella and Aiani. According to the burial customs of Macedonians, the deceased is buried with his/her personal items, like jewelry, which are status symbols, as well as with objects used in burial rituals and refer to beliefs about the after-life.

Men were buried with their weapons, reflecting the ideal of the warrior, and women were buried with their jewelry. Warriors are accompanied by one or two spears or javelins, iron swords and knives, weapons implying real rivalry for dominion and the establishment of territorial possessions. Weapons, jewelry and golden foils characterize the gender and the social status of the deceased, while clay and bronze pottery, figurines and utensils are related to burial rituals and beliefs about the after-life.

Golden mouth-pieces and eye covers with repousse and dotted decoration, golden rosettes and discs for the decoration of clothing, gold and silver-plated earrings were also found. The mouth-pieces, the eye covers and the rest of the foils are possibly related with the widespread belief that gold has a protective power. Due to its imperishable nature, gold has been linked from early on with the ideas of immortality and eternity. Furthermore, an abundance of bronze jewelry has been found. These include fibulae and pins, rings (simple or with depictions on the bezel), earrings and bracelets (simple or spiral ones).

The clay or bronze vases are usually placed near the feet. In early burials, clay pots come mainly from local workshops and feature shapes which have a long tradition in the North Helladic region during the Archaic and Classical period. The oldest (unitl now) imported clay vases were produced in the Corinthian pottery workshop. They were made for aromatic oils and ointments and date to the 6th and early 5th c. BC.

By examining the Achlada pottery it can be concluded that the majority of the craftsmen were indigenous and had been influenced from big artistic centres, like that of Ionia, Corinth and Athens, areas with which the Macedonians had close trade relations. The local craftsmen adopted common types and motifs, the rendering of which depended on the extent to which the artistic trends had been assimilated and the local special characteristics and traditions. There were also foreign craftsmen, goldsmiths, potters, coropolasts, armorers etc. working in Macedonia during the Archaic times.

The burials of the 4th c. BC are accompanied by numerous Attic vases, with shapes which were very popular in cemeteries of the same period throughout the Helladic space. Of special interest is a black-glazed bucket (kados) with plastic decoration, with a relief head at the end of the handle and a sieve across the outflow hole. Also of interest is a vase in the form of a ram head with red-figured decorations and ivy leaves on its neck.

The finds of Achlada confirm the systematic commercial and cultural relations with important centres of south Greece and the colonies. These relations clearly influence the local production and show no differences to the cemeteries of the same period in the rest of the Macedonian territory.

Many answers were hidden in the soil of Achlada and the current research fills in the gaps of the written sources about the history of Macedonia and the national identity of Macedonians. Along with the finds of Aiani, the burial complex of Achlada enriches the archaeological map of the area, documents the historical knowledge and outlines the physiognomy of Hellenism of Upper Macedonia. The recent, unique in the area finds show vividly the unitary nature of Greek culture and prove that, parallel to the Macedonians of Lower Macedonia, the kingdoms of Upper Macedonia of the 6th and 5th c. BC are characterized by a robust economy, a high standard living and a high level of culture.
There are many household Gods in the Hellenic religion and without some background knowledge about how ancient Hellenic houses are built up, it can become a bit of a conglomerated mess when trying to worship all in modern times.  Which God watches out over which area? And where should you place your shrines in a perfect world? And in a realistic world? Why don't we try to suss things out today, hm?

Ancient Hellenic homes were simple structures, made from clay, wood, and stone. The roofs were covered with tiles, or reeds, and the houses had one or two stories. Most houses were small, just a few rooms, with a walled garden or yard in the middle. Others, like the house above, were much larger. They were not solely homes, but often doubled as offices, shops, entertainment areas, and as a place of worship. In many cases, a large wall with a single door connected the house to the street, while insuring maximum privacy tot he occupants of the house. Rooms at the front of the house often served as store rooms or work shops. Other rooms in the house served as bedrooms, as a kitchen, bathroom, and smaller store rooms. Symposia were held in special rooms, reserved only for men. The only women who entered the male-only rooms were serfs. These rooms were called 'andron' (ανδρών). Female-only rooms were called 'gynaikon' (γυναικῶν).

The courtyard of the home often held a bômos, a free standing, raised, altar where the majority of household worship took place. Some houses also had a wall niche, an indoor worship area, either in a room especially designated for worship, or in the main family room. These altars were used to worship the Ephestioi (Εφεστιοι), the most personal of the household Theoi. These almost always included: Hestia, Zeus Ephestios (Overseer of the Hearth), Zeus Kthesios, and Agathós Daímōn. Worship of these deities was highly personal, and many other Theoi could be added to this worship list.

Hestia was represented by the hearth fire that was always kept burning. If it went out, the male head of household would go to the prytaneion (Πρυτανεῖον), the structure where state officials met and where the city kept a fire for Hestia burning day and night, for a new flame. All fires in the house were lit from this one fire, so Hestia would watch over everything and everyone inside the house. Zeus Ephestios was and is a more active defender of the home. He shields the actual structure of the house. Where Hestia watches over the occupants, Zeus Ephestios guards the very walls, the roof, the floor, and any possessions inside the structure. He was worshipped at the main altar.

Zeus Kthesios guards the pantry, and was honored there as well, where he had his own shrine, often adorned with a kathiskos. Agathós Daímōn and the ancestors were also worshipped at the main altar, although they may have had small shrines to themselves, especially in the case of wall niches.

In the courtyard of the house, the Herkeioi (Ἑρκειοι) were honored: those of the herkos or front court. Most notably, this was Zeus Herkeios (Ἑρκειος), protector of the enclosure of the house.

Just outside the house, and especially near the gate to the street, small shrines and altars were placed in honor of the less personal protectors: Apollon (sometimes in his epithet of 'Aguieus' (Ἀγυιεύς), protector of the streets, public places, and the entrances to homes), Hermes Propylaios, Hekate, and especially in Sparta, the Dioskouroi. Hēraklēs sometimes took the place of Apollon.

Zeus Herkeios' altar stood in the courtyard and He, from the inside of the house, protected against anyone wanting to harm the house or the family living in it. These altars were most often pillars, on or around which the offerings could be placed. Hermes, Apollon, and Hekate were represented by a pointy four-sided post. The top was reserved for Apollon, the bottom often held a niche where Deipnon offerings could be placed to Hekate, and Hermes' face (and sometimes his genitalia) was sometimes carved into the post. Hermes sometimes got his own post, called a 'herm', which was a rectangular post, with His face carved on top, and his genitalia carved out on the front.

So how does this translate to modern worship? The structure of houses has changed--many people don't even live in a house but in an apartment without a garden. So, how are the areas divided then? Let's start with a picture of a house with a garden, leading to the street:

The house itself is 'circle' one. It's the realm of the Ephestioi. Their influences reaches right up to the walls. If you live in an apartment, this circle encompasses your entire home. This is where your bômos is, where you might have a pantry shrine to Zeus Kthesios, where you might have a shrine for Hestia if you don't have a fireplace, and so on. This is the main circle of worship.

Then we move out to the garden: anything from the house onward that still belongs to you. In an apartment, this would be the balcony if you have one and arguable also the elevator or staircase and hallway leading to your apartment door. This is the domain of the Herkeioi. You could set up a small shrine near the front door to pour out some libations into. Do you live in an apartment? A flowerpot or plant is a perfect way to hide your little shrine. Do you want to bring things together even more? Zeus is whom is honored here most, and his sacred tree is the oak. Why not plant some acorns and water them with libations of water? This second 'circle' spans the area from the house to the street.

The third 'circle' is not a circle at all: it's a barrier. Just like ancient Hellenic cities often had gated walls, so does the home. There where the driveway, garden fence or building door meets the street, Hekate, Apollon and Hermes (amongst others)  stand tall to guard against any harmful influence from outside. It thus stands to reason that your shrine for Them belongs at that spot.

This third is of course the most tricky of shrines. It's a very visible spot and if you live in an apartment complex, you might not even have the option to put anything of yourself there. I have a friend who lives in an apartment in New York. She has a little mailbox in the entry hall, close to the outer door. At the back of it, she'd put a little bowl and leaves small offerings there whenever she goes to collect her mail. Inventive, hm? Another option would be to 'pull back' this barrier to the door of your house and make a shrine just inside or outside of it. That's what I did when I still lived in an apartment.

I hope this makes things a little clearer and you have a few more handholds to base your worship on.
Phobos (Φοβος) is the God of fear, dread and terror, and his twin-brother Deimos (Δειμος) the god of panic fear, flight and battlefield rout. They are sons of Ares and Aphrodite and often accompany their father into battle, driving His chariot and spreading fear in Their wake. As sons of Aphrodite the twins also represented the fear of loss.

I have been feeling the influence of Phobos and Deimos the last few years. I think the whole world is. Elections that swing to the far right, the 'angry white men', the daily terrorist attacks everywhere in the world. Two days ago, some asshole drove his car into a group of people crossing London Bridge. At least forty were injured and five killed. The attacker then attempted to enter the Houses of Parliament, stabbing a police officer as he tried to force his way in. He was shot and killed by police.

This was by far not the only attack this month alone. Somalia, Cameroon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Mexico, France, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Turkey, Mali, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen all saw attacks by a wide variety of war and religious extremist parties. The death toll is around the 400 mark in March alone.

People are afraid but I think... I think they are also getting angry. Angry at the right source this time, not at their local governments or refugees but at the people committing these acts of violence. They see now, with Trump's continued idiocy and the uselessness of the screaming right wing, that their anger might have been misplaced.

Full disclosure: I do not like England's Prime Minister Theresa May. I hold her almost personally responsible for the flusterfuck that Brexit will be. But in the wake of the London Bridge attack, I saw in her the voice that's rising more and more: the voice not of fear but of someone fed up with lunacy. Her voice was echoed on the streets, by people interviewed. England will not be afraid and it will not bent to the will of the extremists.

Perhaps the sentiment that is rising now is Phobos and Deimos' influence too: with a fear of loss comes a courage to defend. When exposed to terror enough, one can become almost immune. When flight and fear don't bring safety, people are only left with the option to stand tall. I hope we will feel more of that in the times ahead. I hope we will become stronger in the light of all of this horror. I hope we will become wise.

The people of The Netherlands voted for our own personal Trump, but they voted much more for everyone else. On the whole, on March 15, we voted for the status quo and stability. France is next, then Germany and both have their own national Trumps. Here is to hoping that enough exposure to Phobos and Deimos will have made these voters courageous, unyielding, and immune to the right wing's manipulative message of fear.

I pray for this, and feel a strong debt to those who died to harden us. We owe it to them to do better. Vote better. Act better. I am proud of the Dutch and how they voted. I am proud of the Brits who refuse to break. I am proud of the Belgians who survived a year since their subway bombings and speak of hope. Perhaps we need Phobos and Deimos for that, but I do hope their reign comes to an end soon.
A part of a unique terracotta statue has been found at the Crimean bridge construction site during underwater diggings near the Ak-Burun Cape, the narrowest point of the Kerch Strait. The Kerch Strait connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, separating the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea in the west from the Taman Peninsula of Russia's Krasnodar Krai in the east. The strait is 3.1 kilometres (1.9 mi) to 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) wide and up to 18 metres (59 ft) deep. Since 1944, various bridge projects to span the strait have been proposed or attempted, always hampered by the difficult geologic and geographic configuration of the area. After the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea the government of Russia decided to build a bridge across the Kerch Strait. It is expected to be operational in 2019.

Mass production of terracotta artifacts began in the sixth century BC. Usually, figurines not more than 40 centimeters tall were made. However, the fragment unearthed during the current diggings, is believed to have been part of a bigger sculpture. Sergei Olkhovsky, head of the underwater unit of Russia’s Academy of Sciences, said on Wednesday:

"As far as we know, this unique artifact discovery is the first of its kind in the northern Black Sea area, such objects have never been found here before. In order to figure out what it was used for, when and where it was made, we will cooperate with the leading ancient Greek art experts and will also carry out a laboratory test of the clay."

Two diver teams are operating in the area where the artifact was found. The divers are manually digging in order to diminsh the risk of damaging valuable objects. The archeologists plan to conclude the excavation near the Ak Burun Cape by this summer. Meanwhile, the unearthed artifacts will be handed over to the Eastern Crimean Historical and Cultural Museum and Reserve.

The Crimea Bridge information Center elaborated that for more than 2,000 years, the Ak Burun Cape area of the Kerch Bay had served as the main shipping conduit and base on the trade route connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Azov. Some of the transported ceramics were thrown into the sea after being damaged, so large deposits of ceramic objects made in various historic periods were formed near the local piers. A significant volume of sediments containing ceramics were later swept by the sea’s currents to shallow areas of the Ak-Burun Cape thus forming a build-up of ceramic fragments that experts have been closely examining after the construction of the Crimea Bridge had begun.
The first results of the excavation research on the finds made at the Thessaloniki metro station, conducted by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Thessaloniki City, were presented by archaeologist Eleni Lambrothanasi at the 30th scientific meeting about the excavations in Macedonia and Thrace, which was organized by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Ministry of Culture. So far, thousands of artefacts have been unearthed in what is without question the largest excavation ever undertaken in the Macedonian capital of Thessaloniki in Northern Greece ahead of the construction of the new metro.

New finds at Thessaloniki metro station
Mosaic floor at the north entrance [Credit: ANA-MPA]

A crash course on the project for those who are new to the blog. In March of 2013, I blogged about an excavation conducted at the Venizelos metro station which brought to light a very well preserved 70-meter section of a marble-paved road, the remains of buildings dating back to the sixth to ninth centuries AD, as well as big public buildings of the 7th century; a rarity for the Byzantine world. Trouble was (and is) that the site of the find is part of a new subway tunnel and platform which are being built to transport 250,000 passengers daily, and thus decrease traffic congestion and air pollution in the city. The entire subway project has a price-tag of 3.5 billion euros (4.6 billion dollars), and was co-financed by the European Union. To keep the road, the entire subway project would have to be abandoned. To save the subway project, the road would need to be moved, or destroyed--the same thing, according to archaeologists.

By April it looked like Thessaloniki's government and archaeological institutions had found a solution to the problem: they were going to temporarily remove the finds during the station's construction and then restore about 85 percent to 95 percent after the station was completed. The solution proposed had a low cost--0,6 percent to 0.8 percent of the budget--with zero or only a few months delay to the works’ completion. Only a 45 square meter space (out of the area’s 1.600 square meters) would not be restored, due to the placement of vents and escalators.

By February of last year, word got out that the removal of the antiquities from the construction site was suspended in July of last year following a decision reached by the Council of State. In the beginning of April I blogged about the estimation that it will take at least another three years and some 40 million euros for the excavation of ancient ruins to be completed. Well, it seems that that was a careful estimate: the new numbers weren't pretty. the new completion date was somewhere in 2020 and it might cost another 42 million euros in funding for the archaeological work it has lined up to complete the digs, on top of 92 million already spent.

In September, 2015, a new decision issued by the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) favored the in situ preservation of the antiquities found, however, KAS rejected the proposal about the enhancement of the monument on the ground of lacking documentation and asked the Municipality to conduct a complete architectural proposal in collaboration with the relevant services of the Cultural Ministry and the Attiko Metro. The Thessaloniki Municipality claimed that the ministerial decision violated the constitutional principle of proportionality, but the court ruled that the ministerial decisions were legal and in line with the constitution.

More on New finds at Thessaloniki metro station
Selection of artefact from the pre-Cassandrian settlement of the 4th century BC at Pylea
[Credit: Ephorate of Antiquities of Thessaloniki City]

Five excavations were undertaken in 2016 at the main stations of metro line from Pylea Station to New Railway Station with a stopover on the 'Decamanus Maximus' which for centuries was the commercial heart of the city. The pre-Cassandrian settlement of the 4th century BC at the Pylea Station, the monumental complex at the junction of the main Roman road 'Decumanus Maximus' (Egnatia Odos) and the 'cardo' of Aghia Sofia (located on the axis of two important Early Christian monuments at the site of the Aghia Sofia church), and the rich burials from two ancient cemeteries spread over three other stations, have brought to light major discoveries. The archaeologists say:

"[The discoveries] complement our knowledge about the city from its inception in 316/317 BC by King Cassander of Macedon (who in fact named the city after his wife Thessalonike, half-sister of Alexander the Great and princess of Macedon as daughter of Philip II) to the development of a civitas libera in Roman times, and the reigning co-capital of Constantinople until its transformation into a modern European city."

You can read (and see!) a lot more about these discoveries and the history behind them here and here, over at the Archaeology News Network. Some of these finds are absolutely beautiful! I have been invested in this project for five years now and I am still shocked by the amount of support (both governmental and financial) this huge project has had over the years. To see it pay off so beautifully is just icing on the cake. I can't wait to read the reports of the first studies done on all that has been revealed!
Have you heard of the 'Greece is...' magazine? It was inaugurated in the summer of 2015, with its first issue dedicated to Santorini, one of the world’s most beloved and coveted travel destinations. The second issue, 'Greece Is Athens - Summer Edition', is a treasure trove of information on Athens from past to present, distributed exclusively at the Acropolis Museum. The third was about the Peloponnese and the fourth issue, 'Greece Is Democracy', was on the occasion of the 3D Athens Democracy Forum, celebrates and relates to the birth, reality and influence of Athenian democracy, through a compilation of original articles by esteemed Greek and international academics, authors and journalists. If you have not read them yet, you might want to invest the time!

After those came eight more magazines, on the Greek city Thessaloniki, the Greek city of Athens, the Greek island Mykonos and the last was on The Olympics. Then on Athens again, on wine, on the peninsula and regional unit of Greece named Halkidiki and finally on democracy.

Now there are four more: on the Greek city Thessaloniki again, Athens again, the new subject of health and what do you know, wine again! Enjoy!

Ancient Origins recently posted a very interesting article about something writer Jason König from The Conversation noticed on his last visit to Greece: that the money toward preservation and restoration of the ancient Hellenic monuments never ends up on the mountaintops.

Turbines on Arachnaion.

"The mountains of the Mediterranean are permanent reminders of the past. The ancient Greeks climbed to their summits to offer sacrifices to the gods for centuries, even millennia, and handed down stories from generation to generation of the battles and myths which played out on their slopes – Zeus’s defeat of the Titans on Mt Olympus in northern Greece, for instance; or the legendary cave on Crete’s Mt Ida where the goddess Rhea concealed the infant Zeus from his father Cronus to prevent him from being eaten.

There are still traces of these ancient places of worship today. We know of about ten mountaintop sanctuaries with surviving material in mainland Greece and the Aegean, and many more in other parts of the eastern Mediterranean, including dozens on Crete. You might think that these reminders of European life from thousands of years ago would be among the most cherished and protected sites in the world. Instead they are mostly neglected, unloved and ignored.

[...]The lack of interest in these treasures is well illustrated by Mt Arachnaion in the Peloponnese region in southern Greece. Its highest point is home to the ruins of altars to Zeus and also Hera, queen of the Greek gods. It was a place for ritual and sacrifice dating back to the time of the Mycenaeans, Greece’s first ancient civilization (1600 BC to 1100 BC). Now it is the site of a wind farm. [...] Mountain archaeological sites are usually too inconspicuous to be targets for the deliberate destruction we have seen at Palmyra in Syria, but accidental damage is another matter. The summit of the great mountain of Jebel Aqra on the Turkish border with Syria is the site of the biggest surviving ash altar from the ancient world, 55 meters wide and eight meters deep, containing the remains of countless sacrifices. It now stands within a Turkish militarized zone, inaccessible to archaeologists."

The article ‘ Why Do We Ignore the Ancient Treasures on top of Mediterranean Mountains?’ by Jason König was originally published on The Conversation and has been republished under a Creative Commons license. You can read the full article on Ancient Origins or at the source site.
Proklos (Πρόκλος) was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, one of the last major Classical philosophers. He was alive from 8 February 412 AD to 17 April 485 AD, and amongst other things, he wrote five beautiful hymns about the Roman Gods, which can be interpreted for the Hellenic ones as well. The surviving works consist of two hymns to Venus (Aphrodite), one to the Sun (Helios), one to the Muses, and one to Minerva (Athena). Today, you are getting his hymn to the Muses, because I pray they give my mind and words wings today. Today, because one can never have enough love in their life, I'm sharing his hymn to Aphrodite (or Venus).

A CELEBRATED royal fount I sing,
From foam begotten, and of Loves the spring,
Those winged, deathless powers, whose gen'ral sway
In diff'rent modes all mortal tribes obey.
With mental darts some pierce the god-like soul,
And freedom rouse unconscious of control;
That anxious hence the centre to explore
Which leads on high from matter's stormy shore,
The ardent soul may meditate her flight,
And view their mother's palaces of light.
But others, watchful of their father's will,
Attend his councils and his laws fulfil,
His bounteous providence o'er all extend,
And strengthen generation without end.
And others last, the most inferior kind,
Preside o'er marriage, and its contracts bind,
Intent a race immortal to supply
From man calamitous and doomed to die.
While all Cythera's high commands obey,
And bland attention to her labours pay.
O venerable goddess! hear my prayer,
For nought escapes thine universal ear:
Whether t'embrace the mighty heav'n is thine,
And send the world from thence a soul divine;
Or whether, seated in th'aetherial plain
Above these seven-fold starry orbs you reign,
Imparting to our ties, with bounteous mind,
A power untamed, a vigour unconfined;—
Hear me, O goddess, and my life defend,
With labours sad, and anxious for their end;
Transfix my soul with darts of holy fire,
And avert the flames of base desire.
A 20-member scientific team was involved in the underwater research that took place in three sides of Ampelakia Bay on the eastern coast of Salamis island in the months of November and December 2016. They say they have discovered the site where the Hellenic fleet gathered for the Battle of Salamis against the Persians in 480 BC, after finding antiquities in the waters of the bay.

Salamis was a large port city located on the island of Cyprus. According to Homeric legend, Salamis was founded by archer Teucer (or Teukros)from the Trojan War. Salamis was believed to have been the capital of Cyprus as far back as 1100 B.C. Located on the eastern side of the island of Cyprus, it was considered a very important port city. Ships arrived from all over the world, making it a major hub of activity.

When the Persians invaded Greece in 480 BC, they sacked Athens and marched across the mainland after defeating the Hellenes at Thermopylae. The Persian navy then sought to destroy the rest of the Hellenic force in the naval battle at Salamis. If the Persians won at Salamis, Hellas would be lost, and so the site is of great historical value.

According to the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the 2016 main field of research (which is under a three-year program) was the inner (western) part of the Ampelakia Bay. A Ministry of Culture statement says:

"This is the commercial and possibly military port of the Classical and Hellenistic city-municipality of Salamis, the largest and closest to the Athenian state, after the three ports of Piraeus (Kantharos, Zea, Mounichia). It is also the place where at least part of the united Greek fleet gathered on the eve of the great battle of 480 BC, which is adjacent to the most important monuments of Victory: the Polyandreion (tomb) of Salamis and the trophy on Kynosoura. References to the ancient port of Salamis responded to works geographer Skylakos (4th c. BC), the geographer Stravonas (1st Century BC-1st Century AD) and Pausanias (2nd century AD).”

The statement also confirms that submerged antiquities were found on three sides of the Ampelakia Bay (north, west and south:

"...which gradually sink and emerge depending on the change in sea level, with the ebb, especially the February, reaching half a meter. The ancient remains found in shallow waters include traces of harbor structures, fortifications and various buildings. After aerial photography, photogrammetric processing and topographical and architectural documentation of all visible data, the first underwater archaeological map of the region was created, which will be the basis for further research in the coming years."

At the same time, it said, the geophysics and geoarchaeological research conducted by the University of Patras team, generated high quality digital data that “should greatly contribute to the reconstruction of the coastal palaeography of the region.”

The research is the result of cooperation between the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities (EEA) of the Ministry of Culture and Sport, under the direction of the Head of the Inspectorate, Dr. Angeliki Simossi and the Institute of Marine Archaeology (HIMA), under the direction of Ioannina University professor and president of the Institute, Yannos Lolos, with the participation of the Laboratory of Marine Geology and Physical Oceanography at the University of Patras, under Professor George Papatheodorou and with financial support from the British Honor Frost Foundation.
Full disclosure before I start this post: I am a feminist, a nerd and a comic book geek. Of course I am also a fan of anything (ancient) Greek. As such, it won't surprise you when I say that every scrap of information (and video especially) released on the Wonder Woman movie makes me squeal and rewind several times. Feast your eyes on this, people:

For those of you who are not comic book geeks: Wonder Woman is a fictional superheroine appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. In her homeland Themyscira, she is known as Princess Diana, and outside of her homeland, she is known by as Diana Prince. Themyscira (pronunciation: them-IS-kair-ə) is a fictional, lush island nation on Earth. The island is named after the mythological city of Themiscyra, the capital of the Amazon tribe in Greek mythology. Wonder Woman's origin story relates that she was sculpted from clay by her mother and Amazonian Queen Hippolyta and given life by Athena, along with superhuman powers as gifts by the Hellenic Gods. However, in recent years artists updated her profile: she has been depicted as the daughter of Zeus, and jointly raised by her mother Hippolyta and her aunts Antiope and Menalippe. Her Amazonian-training helped to develop a wide range of extraordinary skills in strategy, hunting and fighting. She possesses an arsenal of advanced technology, including the Lasso of Truth, a pair of indestructible bracelets, a tiara which serves as a projectile, and, in older stories, a range of devices based on Amazon technology.

(Warped) Hellenic mythology is woven into her story at every turn. The 1987 (to present) relaunch of Wonder Woman establishes that the Amazons are the reincarnated souls of women slain throughout pre-history by men. Shaped from clay over 3,000 years previous and given new lives by five Olympian Goddesses--Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Hestia, and Aphrodite--the Amazons are granted immortality, great physical strength, highly acute senses, beauty, wisdom, and love for one another. They are tasked to teach the merits of virtue, love, and equality to the men of 'Patriarch’s World'. For centuries, the Amazons of Themyscira live in a perfect state of harmony with their surroundings, under a theocracy. They know no racism, do not think in terms of male gender ('police' instead of 'policeman'), and homosexuality is completely natural to them.

Their city is composed entirely of Greco-Roman architecture from 1200 BCE, and they wear Hellenic garb, togas, sandals, and period armor. The Amazons also all wear the Bracelets of Submission as constant reminders of their Enslavement and obedience to their patrons, although only Diana is able to deflect bullets with them. They are fervently religious, worshipping their Gods as living deities. Artemis is their primary Goddess, and they worship Her with a sacrifice of a deer. The Amazons celebrate their creation each year in a Feast of Five, remembering the Goddesses who brought them to life. A great range of Gods, Goddesses, mythological figures and items is featured in the coming. Beyond the above, Ariadne makes her appearance, Eris, Kirke,Khiron the Kentaur, Pegasos, Ladon, Athena's Aegis (reformed into Diana's bracers), and many more.

Of course, how much of that ends up in the movie, I do not know. Not much, I fear, but I still look forward to it. Womde Woman is a hero to me. I might be an Image Comics girl at heart, but DC has done good with Wonder Woman over the years (for the most part). If they live up to the legacy on June 2, 2017, we will see.
Greece has tried lawsuits, appeals to European and global humanitarian and cultural courts, please, threats--anything to get the Parthenon Marbles back to Greece. Now Greece is offering the British Museum unique ancient archaeological pieces in exchange for the Parthenon Marbles, reports the Independent.

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. The UK, however, maintains its claim and it does not look like they will release it any time soon.

Now it seems the Athenian government, which decided against taking legal action against the UK last year, will instead renew diplomatic efforts with an offer to regularly loan some of the wonders of Ancient Greece to British institutions in exchange as a symbolic act in the fight against anti-democratic forces seeking 'the dissolution of Europe'.

Greek museums hold astonishing art works created in antiquity. The arrival of art such as the 'golden mask of Agamemnon' or the statue of Zeus/Poseidon, which could be expected to cause widespread interest. Lydia Koniordou, the Greek Minister of Culture and Sport, said allowing the restoration of this founding monument of Western values would send a message about Europe’s commitment to democracy – at a time when many believe this is under threat from rising nationalism.

"The reunification of the Parthenon Marbles will be a symbolic act that will highlight the fight against the forces that undermine the values and foundations of the European case against those seeking the dissolution of Europe. The Parthenon monument represents a symbol of Western civilization. It is the emblem of democracy, dialogue and freedom of thought."

Greece is carrying out restoration work on the Parthenon and has built a museum specifically designed to display the sculptures, but currently only has slightly less than half of them. Other fragments are held by several museums in Europe.  Elgin’s staff removed the sculptures somewhat crudely – for example, the heads of a centaur and a human in a dramatic fight scene are in Athens, while their bodies are in London.

Professor Louis Godart, the newly elected chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures (IARPS), said:

"It’s unthinkable that a monument which has been torn apart 200 years ago, which represents the struggle of the world's first democracy for its own survival, is divided into two. We must consider that the Parthenon is a monument that represents our democratic Europe so it is vital that this monument be returned to its former glory. [The Greek government has] resolved to renew and intensify its efforts for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures. The centrepiece of Greece’s renewed push for the return of the sculptures will be a proposal – made in a true spirit of compromise – to offer recurring, long-term loans of rare archaeological treasures from Greek museums in exchange for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures from the British Museum. Greece and its supporters will not rest until all the known surviving sculptural elements from the Parthenon are reunited in the Acropolis Museum in full view of the monument which they once adorned."

Andrew George, chairman of the British Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, said returning the sculptures to Athens would help the UK's reputation in Europe following the Brexit referendum vote.

“Britain has nothing to lose and so much to gain from engaging with the Greek Government in this way. A gracious act by the British would lift our reputation at the very moment our otherwise threadbare negotiating position with the EU appears so grubby and self-seeking. Such a high level and deeply symbolic gesture of this kind would also help counteract the tide of growing right-wing intolerance that is taking hold across Europe. Britain has nothing to lose but a deeply damaged reputation – having clung on for over 200 years to such important artefacts which were stolen from the Greeks when they could do nothing to stop it – and has much to gain at the very time Britain's reputation needs enhancing amongst those countries it wants to do a deal with. And the offer of ancient treasures from Greece “would more than compensate for the apparent loss [of the Marbles].

The British Government has routinely dismissed calls for the return of the sculptures to Greece.
A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said:

"The Parthenon sculptures were acquired legally in accordance with the law of the time. They are the responsibility of the trustees of the British Museum who are legally responsible for their care."
My parents got divorced when I was in my early twenties. They stayed together just long enough for me to grow up (and I always wished they'd just split once the relationship turned sour, but that's beside the point). I always knew it was the very best thing for them to do and I did not mind it one bit. I know others have a different experience. I was recently asked about divorce in Hellenismos: do we have a standpoint on it? Is it allowed? And how was it for the ancient Hellenes? So, I figured I'd put a few things together.

Marriage in ancient Hellas was a family affair. The father of the son--who was often in his thirties by the time he got married--opened negotiations with the family of a bride in her teens. The two families came to an agreement about dowry, a contract was signed by the father of the groom and the father of the bride in front of witnesses, and the groom met his new wife--often for the first time--before taking her to bed.

Men married to have children, and to have someone to tend to the home while he was out, dealing with public affairs. Romance didn't counter into it. Demosthenes, a prominent statesman and orator in ancient Hellas, once said: "We have prostitutes for our pleasure, concubines for our health, and wives to bear us lawful offspring."

Something that's important to understand is that children in ancient Hellas were born with a different sentiment than children are born these days. Children, now, are born out of love and a need of the parents to create something of 'theirs'. A child is precious, irreplaceable. We tend to have few children and place all our eggs in their basket(s). In ancient Hellas, families tended to be as large as possible. Children could help out around the house, the farm or with sustaining the family any other way but they also tended to die. Children were made for the hearth, not the other way around.

So, was there divorce? Yes. These lawful offspring were so important that, if a wife had not bore a husband children by the end of the tenth year of their marriage, the man was forced to file for divorce. This was a costly affair because a divorce meant parting with the dowry that was paid to the husband upon marriage, as the ex-wife was entitled to it.

Adultery was a punishable offense. If a married woman had intercourse with a man other than her husband, she could be killed. Another option was to divorce. She was then sent back to her father. If he rejected her (and he usually did), she was left to fend for herself, which often led to a life of slavery. The man she cheated with was often worse off. He was also liable to get killed, especially if caught in the act, because the husband had the right to kill him, without getting punished for it.

So what abut this divorce? Were the Gods involved? The ancient Hellenes invited the Gods to things for which mortals needed protection and good luck. They invited Them into their homes, and invited Them into their marriages as well. A wedding was an occasion to bring the Gods into because they hoped for children in their marriage, for a partnership at least somewhat productive and enjoyable, and maybe even love.

As far as I am aware, there were no rituals involved with divorce. A divorce was a legal affair and the ancient Hellenes went to court for it. I have found no evidence the Gods were involved, which makes sense. There was no need to include the Gods, nothing to hope or pray for was involved. If and when the people involved married again, they celebrated again. I suppose it's much the same today. Divorce, I suppose, is something human which is taken care of between humans. Perhaps purification rites before partaking in ritual again as there might be a process of loss and grief, but at its foundation it's not a matter for the Gods.
Sorry dear readers, I'm absolutely swamped! Can I interest you in a reconstruction video of the ancient Minoan palace of Knossos, Krete?

The Minoan civilization was an Aegean Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and other Aegean islands and flourished from approximately 3650 to 1400 BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of British archaeologist Arthur Evans. Historian Will Durant referred to it as "the first link in the European chain."

It was not until roughly 5000 BC in the late Neolithic period, that the first signs of advanced agriculture appeared in the Aegean, marking the first signs of civilization. The term "Minoan" refers to the mythic King Minos. Minos was associated in Greek myth with the labyrinth and the minotaur, which Evans identified with the site at Knossos, the largest Bronze Age Minoan site. The poet Homer recorded a tradition that Crete once had 90 cities.

The Minoans were primarily a mercantile people engaged in overseas trade. Their pottery provides the best means of dating. As traders and artists, their cultural influence reached far beyond the island of Crete — throughout the Cyclades, to Egypt's Old Kingdom, to copper-bearing Cyprus, Canaan, and the Levantine coasts beyond, and to Anatolia. Some of its best art is preserved in the city of Akrotiri, on the island of Santorini, very near the Thera eruption.

Though we cannot read their language (Linear A), and there is much dispute, it is generally assumed there was little internal armed conflict in Minoan Crete itself, until the following Mycenaean period. The armed Mycenaeans or the eruption at Thera are two popular theories for the eventual demise of Minoan civilization around 1,400 BC.
On Monday, 20 March, at 10 AM EDT, Elaion hosts a PAT ritual for the Galaxia. This rather obscure festival was held in many places in ancient Hellas, but most notably at Olympia. The Galaxia was closely linked to the vernal equinox, which was used to date it and was (amongst others) in honor of Kronos and Rhea.

The Galaxia is a festival held in honour of the Mother (of the Gods), who in Hellenic mythology is Rhea, although the title is also strongly associated with Gaia and Kybele, who have similar functions. She was worshipped as the mother of Zeus and the Galaxia celebrated His birth just as much as Her giving birth to him. Kronos--as Her consort and His father--was most likely also sacrificed to, along with Hera, who as Zeus' wife deserved honour alongside Him. In our ritual, we have included Helios and the Horai as well, as the Galaxia was associated so closely with the Spring Equinox.

The Galaxia had a special beverage attached to it--well, a special food item: a milk and barley porridge that may have been sacrificed to the Mother, but which was at least consumed at the festival. Pliny the Elder names the porridge a 'puls', which seems to have been a more general term which included pastes made from lentils and beans as well as from grain. On barley-based porridge, he has the following to say in his 'Natural History':

"There are several ways of making barley porridge: the Greeks soak some barley in water and then leave it for a night to dry, and next day dry it by the fire and then grind it in a mill. Some after roasting it more thoroughly sprinkle it again with a small amount of water and dry it before milling; others however shake the young barley out of the ears while green, clean it and while it is wet pound it in a mortar, and wash it of husk in baskets and then dry it in the sun and again pound it, clean it and grind it. But whatever kind of barley is used, when it has been got ready, in the mill they mix in three pounds of flax seed, half a pound of coriander seed, and an eighth of a pint of salt, previously roasting them all. Those who want to keep it for some time in store put it away in new earthenware jars with fine flour and its own bran. Italians bake it without steeping it in water and grind it into fine meal, with the addition of the same ingredients and millet as well." [XVIII-XIV]

Sources which mention the festival speak only of a milk and barley beverage that can be poured. Fundamentally, porridge is made by mixing oats with a fluid (normally water and or milk) and then heating it. Combine barley, water, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring continuously. Turn the heat to low and steam until grains are soft and all the liquid is absorbed. Add the milk once the water level drops below the level of the barley. Cooking time depends on the form of barley used. Use one cup dry barley on three cups of water.

- Hulled barley is unprocessed and takes the longest to boil, about an hour and 15 minutes before it's soft.
- Pearl Barley or Pearled Barley is the most common form of barley available and is sold in most supermarkets. Because the outer hulls including the bran have been removed, the grains have a pearly white color. Cooking time: 50-60 minutes.
- Quick Barley, or instant barley is pearl barley that is pre-steamed then dried, shortening the cooking time considerably, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Barley Grits are processed similar to bulghur wheat. The grain is cracked, and toasted or parboiled, then dried, making it a quick-cooking product--about 2-3 minutes. As such, add a little less water or milk.
- Barley Flakes, Pressed Barley, or Rolled Barley have the appearance of rolled oats and are often included in muesli-type cereals. The cooking time is about 30 minutes.
- Barley Flour is hulled barley that is finely ground and has a lightness and delicate sweetness. It can be stirred into milk until the right consistency is reached.
To get a consistency where the puls can be poured, add milk or water to thin the porridge. If you want to sweeten the porridge a little, add warmed honey to the mixture.

We hope you will join us a week from now, on March 20 at the usual 10 AM. The ritual can be found here and you can join the community here.
When we, in Hellenismos, petition the Gods for aid, we always do so with an offering. This offering can be incense, a libation, a food offering or anything else. It must be something tangible. Good thoughts and intentions don't count. This offering is given freely, joyfully, with pleasure, out of respect and love for the Gods. We ask what we feel we need--sometimes that's a new job, sometimes just a sentiment like honor and prosperity to the household--and never expect to be granted this request. Petitions aren't bribery. We give to the Gods and should They feel inclined to grand us our request, we thank Them by offering to Them again, to which the Gods might respond, to which we will sacrifice, and so on. This circular practice of voluntary giving is called kharis (xάρις), and through it, we built relationships with all Theoi.

Kharis is one of the pillars of Hellenismos, together with xenia and katharmos. Those who practiced kharis properly in ancient Hellas were seen as humble, grateful and good people in general. Kharis is the base of a good few words we use to describe related acts and characteristics to this day; charisma, for instance, and charity. To word it differently; kharis represents your reputation with a specific Deity. Building a relationship with the Theoi was vital for the ancient Hellenes and it's vital in Hellenismos today. It's the foundation of daily practice, of the large-scale festivals of old, of Xenia, katharmos and the whole of Hellenismos. You can't practice Hellenismos without striving for a reciprocal relationship with the Gods.

Literary and artistic evidence from ancient Hellas shows that daily worship centered around the oikos, the household. The courtyard of the home often held a bômos, a free standing, raised, altar where the majority of household worship took place. Some houses also had a wall niche, an indoor worship area, either in a room especially designated for worship, or in the main family room. These altars were used to worship the Ephestioi (Εφεστιοι), the most personal of the household Theoi. These almost always included: Hestia, Zeus Ephestios (Overseer of the Hearth), Zeus Kthesios, and Agathós Daímōn. Worship of these deities was highly personal, and many other Theoi could be added to this worship list.

Most Hellenes gave daily or twice daily sacrifice to the list of deities they'd selected for their household worship. But how do you select these Gods? Can you do that respectfully without leaving any out? There was no definite list everyone had to follow for the ancient Hellenes. The only list there was, was the festival calendar, and through that, most of the 'major' Gods were worshipped throughout the year. This left the ancient Hellenes free to add any Theoi they felt drawn to or whose influence they felt they needed in their life. Ancient fishermen would undoubtedly have included aquatic Gods, merchants Gods connected to trade and travel. Sometimes the choice was sheerly made because they felt a draw to a particular God or Goddess. Aeschylus' Eumenides describes it quite accurately:

"First, in this prayer of mine, I give the place of highest honor among the gods to the first prophet, Earth; and after her to Themis, for she was the second to take this oracular seat of her mother, as legend tells. And in the third allotment, with Themis' consent and not by force, another Titan, child of Earth, Phoebe, took her seat here. She gave it as a birthday gift to Phoebus, who has his name from Phoebe. Leaving the lake1 and ridge of Delos, he landed on Pallas' ship-frequented shores, and came to this region and the dwelling places on Parnassus. The children of Hephaistos, road-builders taming the wildness of the untamed land, escorted him with mighty reverence. And at his arrival, the people and Delphus, helmsman and lord of this land, made a great celebration for him. Zeus inspired his heart with prophetic skill and established him as the fourth prophet on this throne; but Loxias is the spokesman of Zeus, his father.
These are the gods I place in the beginning of my prayer. And Pallas who stands before the temple is honored in my words; and I worship the Nymphs where the Corycian rock is hollow, the delight of birds and haunt of gods. Bromius has held the region—I do not forget him—ever since he, as a god, led the Bacchantes in war, and contrived for Pentheus death as of a hunted hare. I call on the streams of Pleistus and the strength of Poseidon, and highest Zeus, the Fulfiller; and then I take my seat as prophetess upon my throne. And may they allow me now to have the best fortune, far better than on my previous entrances. And if there are any from among the Hellenes here, let them enter, in turn, by lot, as is the custom. For I prophesy as the god leads." [Pythia in the temple of Apollon at Delphi - 1]

I can't help you decide which Gods you should add to your daily practice, but my list can be found here. Perhaps you have UPG experiences with any God that makes you want to include them, perhaps you want to honour the Gods mythically connected to night and day as we perform these rites at the cusp of when Their time starts. Pro tip: start with a short list and build up once you feel comfortable and you have found your rhythm. Remember: there is no manual for this, just go with your heart.
I'm sorry, I'm swamped, so have a piece of news that made me giggle greatly today! It seems a flower pot at a palatial English estate has been identified as a long-lost Roman sarcophagus worth almost $500,000. Oops!

Antique experts visiting Blenheim Palace earlier this week marveled at the intricate designs on a large casket that has been used to hold flowers on the estate for years.

The officials were originally on the grounds to examine several other historic pieces but dropped what they were doing to assess the makeshift flower pot when they saw it tucked away in a corner.
The experts determined the container was a marble sarcophagus dating back to 300 AD.

The archaeological marvel features carved lion's heads and Greek gods including Dionysos, Hercules (our Herakles) and Ariadne.

Since its discovery, the 1800-year-old sarcophagus has been moved to an underground holding room in the palace where it's still visible to the public.

Personal note: I assume they've taken the flowers out since.
We are very proud to announce that Oxfam International has become Pandora's Kharis' Elaphebolion 2017 cause, and specifically their efforts to alleviate the impact of the hunger crisis in (Southern) Africa.

Over 21 million people in Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria, Kenya and South Sudan alone are suffering from hunger. The situation in South Sudan is particularly acute, as 3.2 million people are fleeing the terror of the civil war. Extreme poverty and a persistent drought are exacerbating the situation. The United Nations has declared a famine in certain parts of the country. This means that 2 out of every 10,000 people are dying from malnutrition every day--this is equivalent to 700 deaths daily among the population of Berlin.

The cause of the hunger in northern Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia is the most severe drought in decades. Some 80% of the livestock northern Kenya have already died. This is catastrophic for the people living in the region whose livelihoods depend on livestock. The situation is also dire in the countries around Lake Chad: 7 million people in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger are suffering from food shortages, again caused by violence, poverty and drought.

The continent needs at least $4.5 billion for emergency relief, but just a fraction of that has been raised so far, even as analysis from Oxfam shows that an early response is far cheaper than a late one. The Horn of Africa – particularly Ethiopia – and much of southern Africa is in bad straits; and the weather is not the only factor at play. A country’s ability to cope depends partly on its public finances and ability to mobilize resources; for some, weakening currencies is making food imports more expensive, and conflict is making it difficult to move supplies around.

A five-country study commissioned by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) in Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Niger, Mozambique and Malawi estimated that response at four months after a failed harvest costs $49 per household, whereas response at six months after harvest costs $1,294 per household. A similar study in Ethiopia found that early commercial destocking (selling off animals while they are still healthy) was 137 times cheaper than waiting until herds are depleted then responding with imported food aid and restocking.

The deadline to donate is March 28th, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to Thank you in advance!
On 16 March, at the usual 10 am EDT, Elaion wil host a PAT ritual for the Pandia. This is an ancient state festival attested as having been held annually at Athens as early as the time of Demosthenes--namely the 4th century BC. Very little is known about it, but seeing as we know it was wedged in between a meeting to evaluate the misconduct during the Dionysia on the eitheenth of Elaphebolion and the Dionysia itself, we can at least say with relative accuracy that it was held on the 17th of the month, although the 14th is also mentioned for its connection to the full moon (see below).

What the Pandia celebrate or commemorated is unclear; it's origin story is lost to us and the only records we have of the festival taking place date from much later than its foundation. To the ancient Hellenes who attested to the festival, it was merely a fossilized event that had remained from times past, and they celebrated it in the same way every year--a way obviously not interesting enough to write down. It seems that even they weren't exactly sure about what the festival celebrated.

Pandia (πάνδια) was said to have been a Goddess of the moon, either as an epithet of Selene or as a Goddess onto herself--the daughter of Zeus and Selene. As such, there may have been a connection to the moon for the festival, and either to Pandia, Selene, or Zeus. Another explination would be that the festival is derived from the Attic king Pandion I (Πανδίων Α'), who was said to have lived from 1437 - 1397 BC. Like his father Erichthonius, Pandion married a naiad, Zeuxippe, and they had five children, Erechtheus, Butes, Procne, Philomela, and Cecrops II. According to Pseudo-Apollodorus' Bibliotheca, it was during Pandion I's reign that Demeter and Dionysos came to the city-state of Athens. Before his death, he gave the rule of Athens to Erechtheus, but the priesthoods of Poseidon and Athena to Butes.

A third possibility is that the festival is connected to the Attic tribe Dias, so that the Pandia would have been in the same relation to this tribe as the Panathenaea to Athens. A fourth is that the name of the festival is linked to the tribe, but also the name of Zeus--Dias, Διός--which would make it a festival of Zeus Himself.

The most accepted theory comes from Friedrich Gottlieb Welcker, a German classical philologist and archaeologist, who concluded that the festival was most likely a festival of Zeus celebrated by all the Attic tribes, analogous to the Panathenaea. It was a much smaller festival, however.

If you intend to look up Pandia, you are helped greatly by knowing the name which she was better known as in ancient Hellas: Pandeia (Πανδεια). The Homeric Hymn to Selene mentions Zeus, Selene and Pandia so we have added that hymn to the ritual:

"And next, sweet voiced Muses, daughters of Zeus, well-skilled in song, tell of the long-winged Moon. From her immortal head a radiance is shown from heaven and embraces earth; and great is the beauty that ariseth from her shining light. The air, unlit before, glows with the light of her golden crown, and her rays beam clear, whensoever bright Selene having bathed her lovely body in the waters of Ocean, and donned her far-gleaming, shining team, drives on her long-maned horses at full speed, at eventime in the mid-month: then her great orbit is full and then her beams shine brightest as she increases. So she is a sure token and a sign to mortal men. Once the Son of Cronos was joined with her in love; and she conceived and bare a daughter Pandia, exceeding lovely amongst the deathless gods. Hail, white-armed goddess, bright Selene, mild, bright-tressed queen! And now I will leave you and sing the glories of men half-divine, whose deeds minstrels, the servants of the Muses, celebrate with lovely lips." [XXXII]

The ritual for the event can be found here and the community page on Facebook can be found here.
Oh goodie! Fantastic(al) news like the sort I have for you today is what I live for. It seems archaeologists last month recovered a wealth of ingots of an unusual golden alloy from the wreck sitting in about 3m of water, 300m off the coast of Gela in southern Sicily. Also recovered from the wreck, which sank some 2600 years ago, were two Corinthian war helmets and containers once used to hold precious, scented oils. But it is the rough lumps of metal still shining with red and gold hues after two millennia on the sea floor that has excited the archaeological world. It could be orichalcum.

I've posted about orichalcum before. It was one of fabled Atlantis' marvels. The metal was called 'aurichalcum' by the Romans and is a metal mentioned in several ancient writings, including the story of Atlantis in the Critias dialogue, recorded by Plato. In it, he says:

"Some of their buildings were simple, but in others they put together different stones, varying the colour to please the eye, and to be a natural source of delight. The entire circuit of the wall, which went round the outermost zone, they covered with a coating of brass, and the circuit of the next wall they coated with tin, and the third, which encompassed the citadel, flashed with the red light of orichalcum."

The name derives from the Greek ὀρείχαλκος, oreikhalkos (from ὄρος, oros, mountain and χαλκός, chalkos, copper or bronze), meaning literally 'mountain copper' or 'copper mountain'. The mining of orichalcum would have made Atlantis (or Santorini) very wealthy as it seems the metal was only mined there, and orichalcum was considered second only to gold in value.

In January 2015, a team of divers already discovered dozens of pieces of ancient metal from a shipwreck, aged 2,600 years, off the coast of Sicily island, in the south of Italy. The lumps of metal were arriving to Gela in southern Sicily, possibly coming from Greece or Asia Minor. The ship that was carrying them was likely caught in a storm and sunk just when it was about to enter the port. They were unlike any metal ever found. Analyzed with X-ray fluorescence, the 39 ingots turned to be an alloy made with 75-80 percent copper, 15-20 percent zinc and small percentages of nickel, lead and iron.

Cleaned of 2600 years worth of muck, the orichalcum still glistens with its original hue. Picture: Sebastiano Tusa, Superintendent of the Sea-Sicily Region

Another load of the metal was found recently in roughly the same area as the 2015 find. The archaeologists working on recovering the wreck say it went down within sight of safety. Sicilian archaeologist Sebastiano Tusa told Seeker:

"The ship dates to the end the sixth century BC. It was likely caught in a sudden storm and sunk just when it was about to enter the port. The presence of helmets and weapons aboard ships is rather common. They were used against pirate incursions."

The dating rules out Atlantis itself as Plato, writing in the 4th Century BC, implies that legendary city slipped beneath the waves many hundreds--perhaps thousands--of years earlier.

Also recovered was an anchor, remains of amphorae and several smaller containers used for carrying precious oils. The shipwreck, and that of another two nearby, are yet to be fully excavated. Tusa told La Repubblica that protecting the wrecks remains a concern, with looters believed to be exploiting a lack of policing of the archaeologically rich waters.
Anthesterion is Dionysos' month. Many--if not all-- sacrifices and festivals feature Him in some form or another. The Erkhian calendar holds a sacrifice to Dionysos and His mother Semele on the 16th of the ancient Hellenic month. Will you join us for it on Monday 15 March, at the usual 10 am EST?

There are many versions of Dionysos' birth. In one--perhaps the most famous--Dionysos is born from Semele and Zeus, and while Semele is pregnant with Him, Hera plants seeds of doubt in her mind about the father of the child truly being Zeus. Semele asks Zeus to reveal Himself to her in His true form, and when He is left with no other option, He does so, killing her in the process. Zeus takes pity on His child, and takes Him into either His thigh or testicle, where He is eventually born from. When Dionysos grows up, He raises Semele to Olympos and grants her eternal life. He also places a wreath into the sky to honor her, the Corona Australis. The wreath would be made of myrtle leaves, for Dionysos left a gift of myrtle in the Underworld in return for His mother, and the followers of Dionysos wore crowns of myrtle.

Although the Erkhians left no explanations of the reason of their sacrifices, I am inclined to believe this sacrifice was a local sacrifice in line with the Anthesteria that took place in Athens two days earlier. Most likely, many Erkhians travelled to Athens for the Anthesteria, then back home to sacrifice to Dionysos and His mother in their own hometown as well.

If you are celebrating the Greater Dionysia with us, you could perform this sacrifice instead of the basic ritual we've provided for that day in the rituals for the Dionysia.

Will you join us and honour Dionysos and His mother in your hometown on 15 March, at 10 am EST? You can find the ritual here and join the community here.
The Dionysia ta en Astei (Διονύσια τὰ ἐν Ἄστει), Dionysia ta Megala (Διονύσια τὰ Μεγάλα), Great(er) Dionysia, or City Dionysia, was and is a true theatric festival of Dionysos. The City Dionysia is held on the 10th to 17th days of Elaphebolion and Elaion will host an eight day festival for it, from 9 - 16 March, 2016, at the usual 10 am EST.

The City Dionysia is thought to have been founded, or at least revived, by the tyrant Pisistratus (around 530 BC), and was held in Athens, when the city was once again full of visitors after the winter. The festival honors Dionysos Eleuthereus (Διονυσος Ελευθερευς), who was said to have been introduced into Athens from the village of Eleuterae (Ελευθέραι). The festival focuses on the performance of tragedies, but has included the performing of comedies since 487 BC. It was the second-most important festival after the Panathenaia.

According to myth, the festival was established after Eleutherae, a border-town between Attica and Boeotia, chose to become part of Attica. The Eleuthereans had an established festival of Dionysos--which then became the rural Dionysia--and celebrated to occasion by bringing a statue of Dionysos to Athens. The Athenians, by then not big on the worship of Dionysos, initially rejected the statue, but Dionysos punished the Athenians with a plague affecting the male genitalia. The Athenians, rightfully spooked, accepted the statue and honor of Dionysos, and the plague was cured. These events were recalled each year by two processions, the first, carrying the statue of Dionysos from His temple outside of the city of Athens into the city, and the second where various groups proceeded through the city to the theater, arrayed in groups distinguishable by color or other articles of dress.

Dionysos was a métoikos in a city of Athens, a resident alien, and on the first two days of the festival, the métoikoi of the city got to wear brightly colored festival clothes--mostly purple--and carried trays of offerings in the processions, something métoikoi never got to do otherwise. The Athenian citizens, on the other hand, wore their day-to-day clothes and carried wine and bread with them, or herded the bulls which would be sacrificed. At the end of the processions, the statue of Dionysos was placed in His temple in the theater district, and sacrifices were made to Him. Flute players and poets held contests, and were eager to outdo each other. After all of this, the festival most likely became very Dionysian, indeed.

Singing and dancing had always been a big part of the City Dionysia, but after a while, the structure of the eight day festival became more apparent. Instead of random singing and dancing, from the third day onward, everyone flocked to the theaters to view the plays, whose names and creators had been announced the day prior. The next three days of the festival were devoted to the tragic plays. The three chosen playwrights performed three tragedies and one satyr play each, one set of plays per day. Famous playwrights include Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles. They were judged by judges (agonothetai) chosen on the second day.

On the seventh day of the festival, five comedies by famous playwrights like Philemon, Chionides, and Aristophanes were performed. Comedies were of secondary importance at the Dionysia--the Lenaia was far more important for those--but winning the comedic prize at the Dionysia was still regarded a great honor. It seems that, from the fifth century BC onwards, plays could be recycled, and the audience seemed to have appreciated it. These plays were fan favorites, and were not rushed to completion.

Another procession and celebration was held on the final day and the winners of the competitions were declared. The winning playwrights won a wreath of ivy or a goat, and when old plays were performed, the producer was awarded the prize rather than the long-dead playwright.

For the city Dionysia, we will be reading 'The Bacchae', a play by Euripides. We did it last year as well and we wanted to keep it a tradition. The play premiered posthumously at the Theatre of Dionysus in 405 BC as part of a tetralogy that also included 'Iphigeneia at Aulis' and 'Alcmaeon in Corinth', and which Euripides' son or nephew probably directed. It won first prize in the City Dionysia festival competition.

The Dionysus in Euripides' tale is a young God, angry that his mortal family, the royal house of Cadmus, has denied him a place of honor as a deity. His mortal mother, Semele, was a mistress of Zeus; while pregnant she was killed, through trickery, by Hera, who was jealous of her husband's affair. When Semele died, her sisters said it was Zeus' will and accused her of lying; they also accused their father, Cadmus, of using Zeus as a coverup. Most of Semele's family refuse to believe Dionysus is the son of Zeus, and the young God is spurned in his home. He has traveled throughout Asia and other foreign lands, gathering a cult of female worshipers (Maenads or Bacchantes).

At the play's start he has returned, disguised as a stranger, to take revenge on the house of Cadmus. He has also driven the women of Thebes, including his aunts, into an ecstatic frenzy, sending them dancing and hunting on Mount Cithaeron, much to the horror of their families. Complicating matters, his cousin, the young king Pentheus, has declared a ban on the worship of Dionysus throughout Thebes. The Bacchae is considered to be not only Euripides' greatest tragedy, but one of the greatest ever written, modern or ancient. You can find links to several versions of the play in the rituals document.

You can find the rituals for the event here and join the community here. The first and last days have larger rituals and we've made a small ritual for the days in-between. The idea is that you read part of the play every day and finish it on the day of the last ritual. We hope you will join us in honouring Dionysos in his many, many forms.