A man of 34 was arrested on Tuesday November 26 in Messenia, Greece, by police officers from the Department of Cultural Heritage and Antiquities of the Security Directorate of Attica for the illegal possession of a highly valuable ancient movable monument with intention to sell.

A criminal case has been filed against him for infringement of the provisions of the Law on the Protection of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage in general.

Specifically, while investigating a case of illegal possession of a very valuable ancient statue by a person seeking buyers for the sum of € 350,000, a team of police officers located the man and while searching his home, found and confiscated part of a marble statue.

The confiscated antiquity was then shown to an expert archaeologist from the Ephorate of Antiquities of Messenia, who pronounced it to be subject to the provisions of the Protection of Antiquities Act and Cultural Heritage in general and an object of great value, originating from an ancient provincial workshop. It is part of a marble statue of the Archaic period (6th century BC) with high relief details, 60cm high and 33cm wide, depicting a nude youth.

The ancient artefact will be handed over to the Archaeological Museum of Kalamata for safekeeping and a final evaluation.
I am short on time today, so have a video about the ancient wonders of ancient Hellas! It's an older one but quite enjoyable.

"Greece, a land of breathtaking beauty and light. A land where science, art and inspiration from the gods combined to produce some of the world's greatest marvels of architecture and design. The ancient Greeks used buildings and structures to reflect the variety of life at the core of their civilisation - they built the first theatres, staged the first sports events and worshipped in some of the most spectacular temples ever built.

From prehistoric palaces to bold symbols of victory, this programme explores the Seven Ancient Wonders of Greece - the Theatre of Epidaurus, Olympia, Delphi, the Colossus of Rhodes, Santorini, The Palace of Knossos and the greatest masterpiece of them all - The Parthenon. Revealing the true icons of this incredible civilisation, we explore how and why the seven wonders of Ancient Greece still retain the power to amaze the world today. By recounting the stories behind the people who designed and oversaw their construction and unravelling the tales and myths of those who lived within them, we unearth the secrets behind The Seven Wonders of Ancient Greece."

Professor Alexander Cambitoglou, the first person of Greek background to become a university professor in Australia in 1963, has passed away at the age of 97. Cambitoglou spent more than five decades tirelessly championing Australian research in Greece as well as his lifelong passions of classical archaeology and attic vase painting. He was also a world authority on the subject of red-figure vase painting of the Greek colonies of southern Italy.

Born in Thessaloniki in 1922 to parents hailing from Veria and Thessaloniki he was a bright and studious child in what was then an interesting, cosmopolitan centre, receiving private tuition in Ancient Greek, Latin, French, German, English, and piano in addition to his formal high school education. He proceeded to obtain a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Thessaloniki as well as Doctorates at the Universities of London and Oxford, eventually becoming a Classical Archaeologist.

In 1980 he had the insight to create the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA) promoting and enabling Australian research in Greece and leaving a legacy for future Australian scholars, and at 96 years old he was still working at his office at the University of Sydney on a daily basis. Professor Cambitoglou told Greek City Times in an interview in 2018:

"The most important achievement for me is the creation of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens, through which Australia joined another 18 foreign schools or institutes in the Greek capital. My love for Australia and Greece led me to create the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens."

The Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens announced that Professor Cambitoglou’s passed away on Friday the 29th of November. Dr. Stavros Paspalas, Acting Director, spoke of Cambitoglou:

"The long list of Professor Cambitoglou’s achievements is truly awe-inspiring. His dedicated efforts have established Classical Archaeology, and more widely Greek studies, in Australia on a very firm footing. His vision has inspired generations of students, and will continue to do so, while his dedication to his field has set a benchmark for many of his colleagues. Alexander will be greatly missed, both here in Australia and in Greece, as well as more generally internationally as he is widely recognised as one of the great classical archaeologists of his generation. His multi-faceted legacy, well characterised by the AAIA, is his lasting gift to Australia and for this, and much more, I am certain that we are all grateful to him."
The deme of Erkhia has many sacrifices, and Elaion has pretty much adopted them all. One of these sacrifices--or actually two of them--are on Poseideon 16. Both are to Zeus. The first to Zeus without epithet, the other to Zeus Horios: 'of the boundary stones'. Will you join us for this combined sacrifice on December 13th at 10 am, EST?

Zeus Horios is responsible for the preservation of boundary stones. In order to mark their territories (especially between public and private), the ancient Hellenes relied on boundary markers, called 'horoi'. A horos (χορός) was usually a stele of marble or limestone, no larger than a meter high, rectangular and roughly hewn except for the upper front face, which was dressed smooth for inscribed letters. It was usually inscribed, sometimes with just the word 'horos', or sometimes specifying the territory (e.g., 'horos of the sanctuary'), or even the name of a deity. Some horoi were inscribed in the first person; a famous horos stone found by the ancient Athenia agora reads 'I am the horos of the Agora'. Specificity and clarity were crucial; passersby needed to know what sort of land they were entering because a boundary marker's message was enforced with a legal enforceable meaning.

The Arkhian calendar describes the sacrifices as such:

"[...] on the sixteenth [of Poseideon], for Zeus, on the rock or rocky place at Erkhia, a sheep, no taking away. For Zeus Horios, at Erkhia, a piglet, no taking away."

'No taking away' in this case means to consume the sacrifice on the spot. No part of it can be carried away from the site. So the skins and bones, as well as some of the meat are to be burned and the rest of the meat eaten, not sold or stored. Some scientists and archaeologists have come to call this type of sacrifice 'Ou phora', after Scott Scullion's definition.

In Sullivan's definition of 'Olympian' and 'Khthonian', 'Khthonian' was extended to include not only sacrifices in which the victim was destroyed, but also all sacrifices from which the meat could not be carried away and had to be consumed on the spot. He connects ou phora sacrifices to Khthonian deities or heroes, but this theory has been widely debated because it simply does not seem to resonate with other knowledge we have of these divinities and Their cults.

Poseideon was ruled by Poseidon, Zeus and Dionysos. Poseideon is the first true winter month; the first harvest was over, seafaring had ceased and thus war had come to an end. The focus was on the home and preparation for true, deep winter: the weather turned and the crops needed protecting. Because of this, it was also a month of threat; if the crops failed, if the seas became too rough when a daring fisherman was out on it, or if a river went out of bounds and flooded a well populated area there would be death. Zeus Horios watches over the boundaries of the home and was thus vital in this divine protection.

In current times we might not have most of these fears, but we still want trespassers to stay off our property (burglars, anyone?), and we want our personal, emotional, boundaries to be observed as well by the people we meet. Zeus Horios still influences our lives. So will you join us in honoring Zeus and Zeus Horios come December 13th at 10 am, EST?

The community for the event can be found here and the ritual for the event can be found here.
Workers installing cables under a road in the Sicilian town of Gela have uncovered part of an ancient Hellenic burial site.

Residents of Via Di Bartolo, in Gela, Sicily, had expected disrruption from roadworks this month as workers installed fibre optic cables under the street. But instead they've ended up with an archaeological dig taking place outside their front doors, after the Open Fiber cable company uncovered part of an ancient necropolis dating back to the 7th century BC.

Finds so far along the small strip of road include a ceramic water jug which contained the bones of a newborn baby, and parts of a large animal skeleton, according to local authorities.

The finds were reportedly made by Open Fiber's in-house archaeologist, Gianluca Cala, who had been on call during the installation work in case of such discoveries, which are not that unusual in Sicily.

A sarcophagus containing an intact skeleton thought to be from the same period was discovered earlier this month in Gela."Two weeks after the last important discovery, in what is certainly a Greek necropolis, Gela gives us other extraordinary testimonies of the past” the Sicilian regional government stated in a press release.

The area where the discoveries were made is believed to be part of a necropolis first excavated at the beginning of the twentieth century by Paolo Orsi, according to the La Sicilia newspaper. President of the Sicilian Region, Nello Musumeci, said:

"Once again Gela is confirmed to be a part of Sicily that can tell us an important part of our ancient history. Two important archaeological finds, a short distance from each other, show that great attention is paid to the Gela area, which I believe to be a precious treasure chest."

Open Fiber said it would be willing to enlarge the excavation area to help historians and archaeologists uncover more ancient finds in Gela, La Sicilia wrote.

Gela is believed to be the site of one of the earliest settlements of Greeks, from Rhodes and Crete.

"The newly-uncovered graves are seen as particularly important by historians, as they're thought to hold the remains of the first settlers along with examples of the fine ceramics they brought with them."
Knossos is the site of the most important and better known palace of Minoan civilisation. It is located in a prominent position on Kefala Hill, 6 km. southeast of Herakleion, surrounded by olive groves, vineyards and cypress trees. According to tradition, it was the seat of the legendary King Minos. The Palace is also connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur, and the story of Daidalos and Icaros. The site was continuously inhabited from the Neolithic period (7000-3000 B.C.) until Roman times. Most people believe that Knossos was discovered by Sir Arthur Evans in 1900. In fact, the first excavation took place in 1878, by the Cretan merchant and antiquarian Minos Kalokairinos, but his contribution has been largely overshadowed by that of Evans.

Minos Kalokairinos was born in 1843. His father was a rich landowner, who owned the site of the palace of Knossos. As Dr Katerina Kopaka notes, “Kalokairinos tried to combine his responsibilities as an homme d’ affaires with his vision of a man of letters”. He obtained secondary education on the isle of Syros, then enrolled at the law faculty of the University of Athens where he only studied a year, as he was forced to abandon his studies after his father fell seriously ill and died. He then took over, together with his brother Lysimachus, the family-owned business until 1871.

Kalokairinos later went into soap manufacturing, winning awards at world exhibitions. Unfortunately, however, his business enterprises were not destined to be successful to the end; in 1895, he was forced to declare bankruptcy and was thus deprived of the right to engage in commerce. In 1903 he decided to resume his legal studies at the university, and was later awarded a degree. In 1878 his passion for archaeology and classical studies led him to attempt the first systematic excavations at Knossos. He bought the site where he wanted to conduct excavations from Zekiris Bey, Ibrahim Efentakis and according to Turkish archaeological law he would be entitled to 1/3 of the findings. The main excavation lasted three weeks and covered different parts of the Royal Palace complex, focusing on its west and south wings.

In 1879, the Christian General Commander of Crete, Fotiadis Pasha, visited Knossos to see the progress of the excavations. With the agreement of the city’s scholars, he decided to stop the excavations in order to protect the findings, because he was afraid that they would be transferred to Istanbul, as Crete was still under Turkish occupation.

Kalokairinos, who wanted to make Knossos broadly known, escorted archaeologists, diplomats, newspaper correspondents and other VIPs at the site and showed them his private collection.

In 1886 he was visited by the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, who was famous for the discovery of Troy. Kalokairinos showed him his findings, but he also failed to obtain permission to continue the excavations.

In 1894 it was Evans’ turn to visit Crete and to be informed about the excavations. Sir Arthur Evans was impressed and bought ¼ of the Kephala Hill for 6,000 drachmas. On 23 March, 1900, excavations began. Evans’ most important colleagues were the archaeologist D. Mackenzie, known for his excavation in Melos, who undertook to keep the excavation journal, and the architects C. Doll, F.G. Newton and Piet de Jong.

First came to light the “throne room” and within two years Evans and his team managed to dig Knossos out of the ashes and lava. Kalokairinos had already retired, on account of the dramatic events he’d experienced: during the slaughter of civilians by the Turks on August 25th 1898, his brother Lysimachus was beheaded, his niece had disappeared and his son was murdered. His home was set on fire and the collection of findings from Knossos, destined for the Archaeological Museum of Athens, was destroyed.

In 1903, a new mansion was built by Kalokairinos’ nephew, son of Lysimachus. Today this mansion houses the Historical Museum of Herakleion. Shortly before Minos Kalokairinos’ death, he published the journal “Cretan Archaeological Ephemeris”, much of which was devoted to Knossos.

Kalokairinos had a strong disposition towards ancient Hellenic literature, especially Homer, Plato, Strabo, Pausanias and their accounts of Cretan antiquity. As he confesses in his book Prolegomena 1893, his strong desire to draw upon these works in order to elucidate the ancient history of Crete, led him to the undertaking of the excavations.

Minos Kalokairinos had found a large collection of objects during his excavations. The findings that survived after the violent events of 25 August, 1898, mostly amphorae found in the western wing of the palace, were donated to museums of Greece, Paris and London in order to promote public interest in Knossos.

Cretan archeology owes a great debt to Kalokairinos for this early exploration of Knossos which highlighted the islands prehistoric past and opened the path for discoveries that surpassed all expectations.

Source: Greek News Agenda
The Διονύσια κατ᾽ ἀγρούς, or μικρά, the rural or lesser Dionysia, a vintage festival, was celebrated in the various demes of Attica in the month of Poseideon. It was celebrated with a large procession in which men carried a phallus and cakes. Revelers and singers were also a part of the procession. A representation of the God was included to represent His coming. The festival also included stage comedies and the playing of lighthearted games. Generally, it was a joyful festival, shared by all, even the serfs. Will you join us for it on December 7th at 10 am EST?

The Dionysia was originally a rural festival in Eleutherae, Attica, probably celebrating the cultivation of vines. It was probably a very ancient festival, perhaps not originally associated with Dionysus. This 'rural Dionysia' was held during the winter, in the month of Poseideon. The central event was the pompe (πομπή), the procession, in which phalloi (φαλλοί) were carried by phallophoroi (φαλλοφόροι). Also participating in the pompe were kanephoroi (κανηφόροι – young girls carrying baskets), obeliaphoroi (ὀβελιαφόροι – who carried long loaves of bread), skaphephoroi (σκαφηφόροι – who carried other offerings), hydriaphoroi (ὑδριαφόροι – who carried jars of water), and askophoroi (ἀσκοφόροι – who carried jars of wine).

After the pompe procession was completed, there were contests of dancing and singing, and choruses (led by a choregos) would perform dithyrambs. Some festivals may have included dramatic performances, possibly of the tragedies and comedies that had been produced at the City Dionysia the previous year. This was more common in the larger towns, such as Piraeus and Eleusis.

Because the various towns in Attica held their festivals on different days, it was possible for spectators to visit more than one festival per season. It was also an opportunity for Athenian citizens to travel outside the city if they did not have the opportunity to do so during the rest of the year. This also allowed travelling companies of actors to perform in more than one town during the period of the festival.

The community for the event can be found here and the ritual here.
Italian authorities recently unveiled to the public an ancient fresco depicting a famous Hellenicmyth in Pompeii, the Roman city which was completely destroyed after the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano in 79 AD.

The fresco, which was first discovered only last year, was unveiled recently to the public following a great deal of archaeological work performed by a group of experts.

The fresco is inside a ”domus,” or a home belonging to the upper class of society at the time. It is believed to have belonged to a rich tradesman who desired to decorate his house with artwork inspired by Greek and Roman myths as a gesture of demonstrating his education and wealth.

The fresco just unveiled to the public depicts the ancient Greek myth of Leda and the Swan.

This is an erotic myth in which the god Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduces (or, according to other variations of the tale, rapes) Leda, the Aetolian princess who later became Queen of Sparta.

Pompeii, located in Campania, southern Italy, is an open-air museum where visitors can easily view the shockingly-vivid remnants of the complete devastation of the city after the violent volcanic eruption. Nearby Mt. Vesuvius is still an active volcano, although it is currently dormant.
After the quiet month of Poseideon brings with it a slew of festivals. We'll start on december 2nd with the Plerosia. Will you be joining us at 10 AM EST? If you are a woman that is; it seems the Plerosia was a women-only festival.

The Plerosia is a non-Athenian festival. As such, the details of the celebration are somewhat vague. So we extrapolate from the placement of the festival and the little information we have. What we know for sure is that Zeus was worshipped, and that it's often linked to the Proerosia. As such, we can assume Demeter was also honored, and that it was a harvest festival of sorts--the name translates roughly to 'festival of completion'. This is where the assumptions begin, but we get an extra hint of the intended purpose of the festival because of Zeus' inclusion and the name of the festival.

Poseideon marks the end of the harvesting season, as well as the trading season. The majority of the work is done. Now it's time to return home, take stock, and stay warm. It's a time to thank the Theoi for all that has been received and all that will get us through the winter. The word ‘plerosis’ means fulfillment, satiated, filled, and implies banqueting and celebration of the bounty of the season that is ending. This is also the spirit we have tried to capture in the ritual.

As a separate--and very important--note: the Plerosia seems to have been a women-only festival, like the Skira(phoria) and the Thesmophoria. We're not sure this is correct, but we'll go with it anyway. Once reason I could think of is that now the winter is upon us, we turn to the domain of the women: the house(hold). As such, it is her prerogative to thank the Gods for the food she can feed her family with.

The ritual for this sacrifice can be found here and you can join our community page here. We hope you will join us in celebrating this joyous event.
On the day of the Hene kai Nea (or sometimes, like now, the day after), I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

PAT rituals for Poseideon:
  • 5 Poseideon - 2 December 2019 - Plerosia - festival at Attic deme of Myrrhinus
  • 10 Poseideon - 7 December 2019 - Rustic or Lesser Dionysiain honor of Dionysos
  • 16 Poseideon - 13 December 2019 - Sacrifice to Zeus Horios at Erkhia
  • 24 Poseideon - 20n-21d December 2019 - Poseidea - festival in honor of Poseidon
  • 26 Poseideon - 23 December 2019 - Haloa - fertility festival in honor of Dionysos and Demeter

Anything else?
Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.

Would you like to support me? Buy me a coffee.

The Centre for Classical and Humanistic Studies of the University of Coimbra, Portugal, announces the first edition of its biennial Conference in Classics and Ancient History (22nd–25th June 2020, at the University of Coimbra. Below is the announcement and open call.

"We welcome proposals from scholars of any country for single-discipline or interdisciplinary panels in such research areas as Greek and Roman literature, ancient history, archaeology, philosophy, art, religious studies, linguistics concerning any period of Antiquity or its reception up to the present day.
The Organizing and Scientific Committees of the conference include scholars from different countries; the Conference aims to be a forum for experts from all over the world.

Each panel must be proposed by at least two organizers. They are responsible for submitting the panel topic for evaluation by the Organizing Committee and, after approval, for elaborating and promoting the Call for Papers for their panel. We recommend 10 as minimum number and 15 as maximum number of speakers per panel.

Accepted languages: it is up to the panel organizers, when recruiting their panel members, to indicate their range of language(s) for academic discourse. All panels should in principle consider submissions in English or Portuguese. The organization of the event will use English as its official language, for the sake of wide international accessibility.

Deadlines (more info here):
-15th January 2020 (panel submissions)
-25th  January 2020 (communication of accepted proposals)
-31st March 2020 (communication to the Organizing Committee of  the final program of each panel)

Detailed information on the Conference is available on the website.

In particular, we would like to draw your attention to the need to consult the information relating to:
– Call for Panels
– Instructions for Panel Organizers
– Registration

E-mail address for submitting proposals: cech.carmensoares@gmail.com"
Neanderthals and early humans may have made it to the Greek island of Naxos, about 24 miles south of Mykonos, some 200,000 years ago, much earlier than thought, which could require a rewriting of the country’s ancient history’s beginnings, a team of scientists from Ontario’s McMaster University said after research.

Lead author and associate anthropology professor Tristan Carter in a university release, C/Net news reported:

"Until recently, this part of the world was seen as irrelevant to early human studies, but the results force us to completely rethink the history of the Mediterranean islands."

They surmised it may have been done using crude boats after using foot routes along the Aegean Sea coastline, pushing back initial estimates.

The research, published in the journal Science Advances after years of excavation by the scientists disputed current theories on Stone Age migration across Europe with scholars believing Neanderthals and early hominids settled Mediterranean islands to have been settled for only about 9,000 years. Stone Age hunters, meanwhile, are known to have been on mainland Europe for more than 1 million years, but the research team discovered evidence of human activity on islands spanning almost 200,000 years in a prehistoric quarry.

This research is part of the Stelida Naxos Archeological Project, a larger collaboration involving scholars from all over the world, also suggesting that early humans were more cognitively advanced than previously believed.

The team unearthed the evidence at a prehistoric quarry site called Stelida on the island of Naxos, located in the Aegean basin between southern mainland Greece and western Turkey. Hominins, likely including Neanderthals, used chert stone found at the site to make tools and weapons, although no bones were found at the site, said the Times of Israel in its report.

The Stelida site, a hill 152 meters above sea level, was first excavated in 1981 and was initially believed to be 20,000-4,500 years old.

The Canadian-led research teams uncovered some 12,000 artifacts from the site, including tools for cutting, scraping and piercing, representing some 200,000 years of history. The age and type of the artifacts, as well as Neanderthal remains found in southern Greece alongside similar artifacts, point to the species’ presence on the island, the researchers said. Earlier human species may have also been on the island.

The team suggests that scholars rethink the dispersal of hominins during the Pleistocene epoch, which stretched from 2.58 million years ago until around 11,700 years ago.

While the Aegean Sea was thought impassable then, during the Ice Age, at certain points the receding sea level in the Mediterranean may have exposed a land route connecting Europe and Africa, allowing early humans to cross marshy plains in the Aegean to get to the island.

Scholars previously argued that only anatomically modern humans had been able to voyage over water and colonize islands, as well as other remote or extreme environments, including deserts and mountain ranges, the paper said, citing the findings.

Evidence of Neanderthals has previously been found in mainland Greece and Turkey, and indirect evidence in Greece suggested they may have been able to undertake short trips across water.

"In entering this region the pre-Neanderthal populations would have been faced with a new and challenging environment, with different animals, plants and diseases, all requiring new adaptive strategies."
It has been a long, long time since I did one of these, but a long time ago, I started a series about plants, trees and herbs which are mentioned in Hellenic mythology. You can find previous installments here. Today, I want to talk about valerian (root).

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis, Caprifoliaceae) is a perennial flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. In the summer when the mature plant may have a height of 1.5 metres (5 ft), it bears sweetly scented pink or white flowers. Crude extract of valerian root may have sedative and anxiolytic effects, and is commonly sold in dietary supplement capsules to promote sleep.

Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Hippocrates described its properties, and Galen later prescribed it as a remedy for insomnia.

The name valerian or Valeriana was not mentioned by Hippocrates, Theophrastus, Pliny, or Dioscorides, the major Greek authors from 500 B.C. until 100 A.D whose writings survive. Valerian first appeared in the literature sometime around the 9th or 10th century, but it is not certain whether the word originated from an earlier time in Greece, during the Roman Empire or later from Anglo-Saxon medicine or Arabian medicine (9th-12th centuries). As early as 1515 Valeriana was repeatedly said to be synonymous with fu or phu.

Although not a major medicinal plant in the Hellenic pharmacopoeia, valerian was valued as a bitter compound with digestive and diuretic uses. Its aroma was described as pleasant by these authors and it was often included in perfumes—certainly not the case for today’s users who often complain about the pungent, "dirty socks" odor of valerian.
The creation of an archaeological park at the ancient administrative acropolis of Idalion was announced by the Antiquities Department on Friday.

Idalion was an ancient city where modern day Dali is now found, near Nicosia. It was founded on the copper trade in the third millennium BC.

According to the Antiquities Department they have been working with the architectural office of Pefkios Georgiades on infrastructure projects within the archaeological site of Idalion. Specifically, the project will enclose the ancient acropolis area in Idalion where many sites have been excavated which will encompass the archaeological park.

The Local Archaeological Museum of Idalion will be included in the park. A study has also been carried out to test the viability of two extra shelters which will cover sensitive areas of the ancient palace. The shelters will be similar to those installed at the ancient palace in 2016. These projects are expected to begin in December 2019.

Alongside infrastructure projects it is planned that by May 2020 information signs will be installed at all points of interest and information leaflets distributed free of charge to visitors.

Finally, by July 2020, a digital application will be created, which visitors can download on their smart devices and will act as a digital guide to the site with information and surveillance material.The developments are part of the long-term goal of the Antiquities Department to create a major archaeological site in Dali.

The ancient city included two acropolises while houses were in the lower city. The fortified palace was built in 750-600 BC on Ampileri Hill, the west acropolis of the city, and rebuilt in 600-475 BC against attacks by Kition.

The work will be carried out under the Promoting Cultural Heritage as a Local Development Instrument programme.

According to the department’s announcement the project is funded 85 per cent by the Business Cooperation Programme Interreg V-A Cyprus-Greece 2020 and 15 per cent through national funds.

The projects are being implemented by the Antiquities Department, Antiquities Authority of Lesbos and Nicosia Development Corporation. The aim is to promote a common methodology for the protection, management and promotion of the cultural heritage of Cyprus and Greece.
I don't know how things are in your neck of the woods, but it's cold here. It finally feels like winter has arrived. I read some Plutarch today, as a little pick-me-up. He was a Hellenic historian, biographer, and essayist, who later in his life became a Roman citizen and he wrote a lot about a lot of things. Of course, he also wrote about cold, in his "Moralia." Well, about the philosophy behind cold.

"Is there, then, Favorinus, an active principle or substance of Cold (as fire is of Heat) through the presence of which and through participation in which everything else becomes cold? Or is coldness rather a negation of warmth, as they say darkness is of light and rest of motion? 

Cold, indeed, seems to have the quality of being stationary, as heat has that of motion; while the cooling off of hot things is not caused by the presence of any force, but merely by the displacement of heat, for it can be seen to depart completely at the same time as the remainder cools off. 

[...] It is the nature of coldness, however, to produce affects and alterations in bodies that it enters no less than those caused by heat. Many objects can be frozen solid, or become condensed or made viscous, by cold. Moreover, the property whereby coldness promotes rest and resists most is not inert,
but acts by pressure and resistance, being constrictive and preservative because of its strength. This explains how, though negation is a disappearance and departure of the contrary force, many things may yet become cold while all the time containing within themselves considerable warmth.

[...] Furthermore, we find that cold can be perceived as well as heat; but mere negation cannot be seen or heard or touched or recognized by the other senses. [...] If, therefore, cold were a privation of warmth, we ought not to be able to feel it, but only to infer it from the deficiency in warmth; but if cold is perceived by the contraction and condensation of our flesh (just as heat is by the warming and loosening of it), clearly there is some special first principle and source of coldness, just as there is of heat.

[...] Is cold, then, so like this sort of privation that it produces no effects that differ? Or is the contrary true: Do not great and useful pleasures accrue to our bodies from the presence of cold, as well as mighty detriments and pains and depressions, before which the heat does not always depart and quit the field? Often, rather, though cut off within, it makes a stand and gives battle. This struggle of hot and cold is called shivering or shaking; and if heat is overcome, freezing and torpor set in; but if cold is defeated, there is diffused through the body a relaxed and pleasantly warm sensation which Homer calls "to be aglow." Surely these facts are obvious to everyone; and it is chiefly by these effects that cold is shown to be in opposition to heat, not as a negation or privation, but as one substance or one state13 to another: it is not a mere destruction or abolition of heat, but a positive substance or force. Otherwise we might just as well exclude winter from the list of seasons or the northerly blasts from that of winds, on the pretext that they are only a deficiency of hot weather or southerly gales and have no proper origin of their own."
Busy, busy, busy, so have a video today. This lecture was taught by Professor Eric H. Cline, Ph.D., He is a Professor of Classics and Anthropology and the current Director of The George Washington University (GWU) Capitol Archaeological Institute.

He holds a Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from Yale University, and a B.A. in Classical Archaeology modified by Anthropology from Dartmouth College. He is also a National Geographic Explorer, a Fulbright Scholar, and a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Public Scholar.

In this video you can "Follow the exploits of Heinrich Schliemann, a 19th-century amateur archaeologist who was determined to find the site of Homer’s Troy. Learn about his dig through nine stratified cities, the astonishing finds, and the intense debates concerning which city was the actual Troy. Trace subsequent work at the site and examine the compelling conclusions."

Linear A is the yet-undeciphered language of the ancient Minoan civilization of Crete that flourished from roughly 1700 BCE to 1490 BCE. Linguist and archaeologist Brent Davis, a lecturer at the University of Melbourne, is one of only a handful of people around the world to have made any significant headway on solving Linear A in the last 50 years.

The Minoans live on in myth as people of the land of King Minos who kept the half-bull, half-man Minotaur in a labyrinth below his palace at Knossos. They are also possibly the oldest civilization of Western Europe, and their language could reveal more about a people and culture that was the foundation on which Ancient Greek and (ultimately) Roman culture were built.

The eccentric English architect Michael Ventris famously cracked Linear B, a slightly later but closely related script found in Crete and mainland Greece, in 1952. He discovered that Linear B was actually a very early form of ancient Greek—Mycenaean—and his finding extended the origin of ancient Greek civilization back a further 500 years earlier than first thought.

The Linear B tablets were preserved by chance when the dried clay that had been written on was fired as a result of palaces and other buildings burning down during natural and human-made calamities.
The information they revealed proved to be largely inventories of people, produce, accounts, offerings, and other goods, giving us glimpses of people and their occupations.

Linear A is likely to reveal similar information, but Davis says much Linear A occurs as religious script. “If we can decipher these inscriptions, we will have the personal prayers of Minoan people,” he says.

At the time he cracked Linear B, Ventris told the BBC it was like having to solve a crossword puzzle without knowing which spaces are blacked-out. In fact, Ventris’ achievement was built on the crucial work of little-acknowledged US classicist Alice Kober, who died in 1950. It was Kober who identified similar word endings in Linear B, allowing her to find some root words she thought were place names and which Ventris would later realize were akin to Greek. She also devised a method for tabulating the relationships between signs that Ventris would build on—leaving behind more than 180,000 index cards.

Deciphering Linear B was a monumental achievement, but the challenge of Linear A is even more difficult. That’s partly because the language behind the script doesn’t appear to be like any other language. Davis says:

"It seems to be a wholly unknown indigenous language. Linear B took most of its signs from Linear A, and because we can read Linear B, we can actually pronounce Linear A inscriptions, but if you do pronounce them, it just sounds like complete gobbledygook."

Like Ventris, Davis became fascinated with deciphering ancient languages as a boy, particularly the story of how Egyptian hieroglyphs were deciphered using the Rosetta Stone that Napoleon’s soldiers found in Egypt. But he’s always known that solving Linear A was a tough task.

"Ventris vowed, when he was just 14, that one day he’d solve Linear B. At the same age I was saying I’d love to solve Linear A, but I’m not promising anything."

By establishing the word order of the language, linguists can identify the function of a word in a sentence just from its position. It’s like finding a key word in a massive crossword puzzle.

"The definite word order in English is subject (S)-verb (V)-object (O), as in the phrase John likes cats. And we know that about 97% of human languages are either in this form or S-O-V (John cats likes) or V-S-O (Likes John cats). What we really need to find is a palace archive, which is where we are likely to find enough Linear A to finally decipher it."

But when Davis looked at other Bronze Age languages of this period in the region, none were like English. They were either S-O-V (like early Greek and Sumerian), or V-S-O (like ancient Egyptian). He guessed Linear A was likely to have one of these two word orders. He then applied this framework to a series of inscriptions that appear on Minoan offering bowls. To put it simply, he found that the words on the bowls tended to recur in what was obviously a formula, except for the second word in the inscription, which was always different from bowl to bowl. His guess was that this word was probably the name of the person (the subject) making the offering. If correct then Linear A was likely a V-S-O language.

That was confirmed when he found the Linear B sign for “olives” (which it borrowed borrowed from Linear A), occurring after the name as the object of the phrase. The repeated start of the phrase was therefore a verb, like “gives”, yielding the phrase “gives Yasumatu olives,” or in English, “Yasumatu gives olives.” Just such an offering of olives in a goblet has been found, preserved at the bottom of a sacred Minoan well. “It was a huge feeling of discovery, completely thrilling,” says Davis.

But he cautions that understanding the word order alone won’t be enough to solve Linear A.

"Examining the word order provides something of a magic key, but we if we are to crack it what we need most is simply more material."

Material was another advantage that Ventris had in deciphering Linear B. There were 20,000 examples of Linear B signs occurring in inscriptions, compared to just 7,000 examples of Linear A signs.

"That is about three-to-four A4 pages worth. Mathematicians tells us that if we are to crack Linear A, we’ll need something like 10,000 to 12,000 examples of signs, which means we aren’t that far away—but it all depends on archaeology. Discoveries are still being made, so I’m optimistic, but what we really need to find is a palace archive, which is where we are likely to find enough Linear A to finally decipher it."

Davis is the 2019 winner of the Michael Ventris Award at the University of London, which the Michael Ventris Memorial Fund supports.

Source: University of Melbourne.
Those who visit this blog on a regular basis know that I'm a fan of Solon and his reformations of the political landscape of Athens in the sixth century BC. Solon (Σόλων) was an Athenian statesman and lawmaker who lived from 638 BC to 558 BC. He spent most of his adult life trying to legislate against political, economic, and moral decline in archaic Athens. His ideologies are often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy. Solon's reforms created a system where the power was in the hands of the people, because instead of leaving justice to be administered by the aristocracy. He was also a poet and some of his work has miraculously survived. Today, I would like to share one of the fragments of his work that have survived.

"Glorious children of Olympian Zeus and Memory
Pierian Muses, hear me as I pray.
Grant me happiness from the blessed Gods and possession
Of a good reputation among all people forever.
In this may I be sweet to my friends and bitter to my enemies,
Revered by the former and terrible for the latter to see.
I long to have money, but I do not want to obtain it

Unjustly—punishment inevitably comes later."

[Fr. 13. 1–8
Translation here.]
Italian art police have searched houses and buildings in four countries, including Britain, and arrested 23 people on charges of trafficking archeological artefacts. Italian police say the trafficked items included antique jars, jewellery and vases worth millions of euros.

The Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, a branch of the Italian carabinieri responsible for combatting art and antiquities crimes, believe the suspects are members of an criminal gang operating in Calabria that trafficked ancient items, such as antique jars, jewellery and vases from the 4th and 2nd century BC and worth millions of euros.

Dario Franceschini, the Italian culture minister, said the operation had led to the recovery of thousands of artefacts that came from illegal archaeological digs in Calabria. The items were eventually exported to countries outside of Italy, including Germany, Britain, France and Serbia. The investigation was supported by the Metropolitan police in London, the criminal police of Baden-Württemberg and French and Serbian forces.

According to Italian police officials, the items were stolen using bulldozers that dug craters several metres deep in the areas within the provinces of Crotone and Catanzaro. The thieves then used sophisticated metal detectors to scour the area.

"The stolen finds were finally transferred abroad where they were put up for auction in important international auction houses and sold at very high figures,"

Some of the artefacts, including vases and jars from ancient Greece, were also found in the homes of the men arrested, who are all Italian.

The Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage has been operating since 1969 to defend Italy’s cultural heritage. For 50 years, this special squad – nicknamed Monuments Men, after the George Clooney film based on an allied group of investigators given the task of finding and saving pieces of art during the second world war before the Nazis stole them – has tracked down stolen paintings and statues in a country with the highest number of art thefts in the world.

According to the most recent stolen artworks bulletin issued by the carabinieri, in the last year alone 8,405 items have gone missing in Italy. These include archaeological artefacts, ancient weapons and medieval texts. Statues and paintings have been taken from churches, which often have no security systems.

Despite the carabinieri’s record of recovering more than 3m objects of art and archaeology, over 1m pieces of art are still missing.
Today I would like to share with you one of the prayers from the Papyri Graecae Magicae, also known as the 'Greek Magical Papyri'. They are a body of papyri from Graeco-Roman Egypt, which each contain a number of magical spells, formulae, hymns and rituals. The materials in the papyri date from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD. The manuscripts came to light through the antiquities trade, from the 18th century onwards.

Today, I will quote to you from the first book of spells and invocations. This prayer was noted down to Selene, Goddess of the moon, and served as an interlude to 'Any Spell'. It came with the instructions too:

'Offering for The Rite: For doing Good, offer Storax, Myrrh, Sage, Frankincense, a Fruit Pit. But for doing Harm, offer Magical Material of a Dog and a Dappled Goat (or in a similar way, of a Virgin Untimely Dead).

Protective Charm for The Rite: Take a Lodestone and on it have carved a Three-faced Hekate. And let the Middle Face be that of a Maiden wearing Horns, and the Left Face that of a Dog, and the One on the Right that of a Goat. After the Carving is done, clean with Natron and Water, and dip in the Blood of One who has died a Violent Death. Then make Food Offering to it and say the same Spell at the time of the Ritual.'

The prayer goes as follows:

"Come to me, O Beloved Mistress, Three-faced
Selene; kindly hear my Sacred Chants;
Night's Ornament, young, bringing Light to Mortals,
O Child of Morn who ride upon the Fierce Bulls,
O Queen who drive Your Car on Equal Course
With Helios, who with the Triple Forms
Of Triple Graces dance in Revel with
The Stars. You're Justice and the Moira's Threads:
Klotho and Lachesis and Atropos
Three-headed, You're Persephone, Megaira,
Allekto, Many-Formed, who arm Your Hands
With Dreaded, Murky Lamps, who shake Your Locks
Of fearful Serpents on Your Brow, who sound
The Roar of Bulls out from Your Mouths, whose Womb
Is decked out with the Scales of Creeping Things,
With Pois'nous Rows of Serpents down the Back,
Bound down Your Backs with Horrifying Chains
Night-Crier, Bull-faced, loving Solitude,
Bull-headed, You have Eyes of Bulls, the Voice
Of Dogs; You hide Your Forms in Shanks of Lions,
Your Ankle is Wolf-shaped, Fierce Dogs are dear
To You, wherefore they call You Hekate,
Many-named, Mene, cleaving Air just like
Dart-shooter Artemis, Persephone,
Shooter of Deer, night shining, triple-sounding,
Triple-headed, triple-voiced Selene
Triple-pointed, triple-faced, triple-necked,
And Goddess of the Triple Ways, who hold
Untiring Flaming Fire in Triple Baskets,
And You who oft frequent the Triple Way
And rule the Triple Decades, unto me
Who'm calling You be gracious and with Kindness
Give Heed, You who protect the Spacious World
At night, before whom Daimons quake in Fear
And Gods Immortal tremble, Goddess who
Exalt Men, You of Many Names, who bear
Fair Offspring, Bull-eyed, Horned, Mother of Gods
And Men, and Nature, Mother of All Things,
For You frequent Olympos, and the broad
And boundless Chasm You traverse. Beginning
And End are You, and You Alone rule All.
For All Things are from You, and in You do
All Things, Eternal One, come to their End.
As Everlasting Band around Your Temples
You wear Great Kronos' Chains, unbreakable
And unremovable, and You hold in
Your Hands a Golden Scepter. Letters 'round
Your Scepter Kronos wrote Himself and gave
To You to wear that All Things stay steadfast:
Subduer and subdued, Mankind's Subduer,
And Force-subduer; Chaos, too, You rule.
Hail, Goddess, and attend Your Epithets,
I burn for You this Spice, O Child of Zeus,
Dart-shooter, Heav'nly One, Goddess of Harbors,
Who roam the Mountains, Goddess of Crossroads,
O Nether and Nocturnal, and Infernal,
Goddess of Dark, Quiet and Frightful One,
O You who have Your Meal amid the Graves,
Night, Darkness, Broad Chaos: Necessity
Hard to escape are You; You're Moira and
Erinys, Torment, Justice and Destroyer,
And You keep Kerberos in Chains, with Scales
Of Serpents are You dark, O You with Hair
Of Serpents, Serpent-girded, who drink Blood,
Who bring Death and Destruction, and who feast
On Hearts, Flesh Eater, who devour Those Dead
Untimely, and You who make Grief resound
And spread Madness, come to my Sacrifices,
And now for me do You fulfill this Matter."
[VI. xxvii]
In the ancient Hellenic society, there was very little--if any--difference between honouring and worshipping; this was also why mortals (especially kings) were sometimes revered as Gods. That said, looking at the difference in meaning of the ancient Greek words for both practices, we can identify a difference.

'Honouring' is best covered by the ancient Greek word 'timaó (τιμάω), meaning to value, to honour, to have in honour, to revere, or to venerate. 'Worship', however, is best covered by the word 'proskuneō' (προσκυνέω), meaning to prostrate oneself in homage, to do reverence to, to adore, or simply to worship. 'Proskuneō' is also used to describe the actual act of worshipping. For the ancient Persian people, for example, we know that the word was used to describe the act of falling upon the knees and touching the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence. Of course, there are many other words that mean something along the same lines, but for today's post, I'm going to go with these.

In essence, one of these terms has to do with admiration and esteeming and the other has to do with acknowledging one as superior and service to them, be they human or God. One naturally follows the other--is an extension of the other--but they do not mean exactly the same. That said, within the Hellenic pantheon, you can be sure I honour every single God or Goddess; They are all my Gods, but some have a larger impact on my life and daily worship than others.

Let me give you an example: Aristeos (more often spelled 'Aristaios' (Αρισταιος). He is the rustic God of shepherds and cheese-making, bee-keeping, honey, honey-mead, olive growing, medicinal herbs and the Etesian winds which eased the scorching heat of midsummer. His name was derived from the Greek word 'aristos', meaning 'most excellent' or 'most useful'.

Now, Aristaios is a God, a beautiful God who has quite a bit of ancient writing to His person. The ancient Hellenes obviously honoured and worshipped Him often. I, however, am not in the business of cheese-making or bee-keeping. I do not regularly grow or use medicinal herbs, and while I enjoy honey, I dislike olives. the Etesian winds have very little influence in my life, and I am definitely not a shepherd. Aristaios' direct influence in my life is therefor very limited--in essence, our paths don't cross much. As such, he is not a part of my daily worship and the only reason I would have to actively worship Him is for a festival or some such, because as much as I honour Him, His domains don't influence me directly. In short: I honour Aristaios, but I don't worship Him.

The Hellenic religion knows hundreds of Gods, many of Them with specialized domains like Aristaios. Worshipping all of them on a daily or even weekly or monthly basis is impossible, and it would also be quite useless. Looking at kharis--a cornerstone of the Hellenic faith--it's prudent to have at least neutral standing with all the Gods, but to foster only a great amount of it with the gods who directly impact your life and person. This religious reciprocity is achieved by active worship--so by performing sacrifices to Them--but simply reading Their mythology, speaking well of Them, and thinking of Them whenever you come in contact with one of their domains--bee-keeping, for example, for Aristaios--goes a long way to establishing this relationship.

Which of the Gods you establish the greatest amount of kharis with--and thus actively worship--depends on your person and your life; a farmer will worship different deities than a soldier or lawyer, the old may worship other Gods than the young, etc. That is the way it should be; what matters is that we all honour all the Gods, that we speak well of Them and are aware of Their influence on our lives. For the ancient Hellenes, both acts were noble and logical, and it should be for us as well.