A number of ancient papyri from Oxyrhynchus, part of the Egypt Exploration Society’s collection, have been identified as part of the lot allegedly offered for sale by Professor Dirk Obbink to the American chain Hobby Lobby. The Society has issued a statement on the matter.

“On 25 June 2019 the Egypt Exploration Society (EES) posted a statement on its website that it was working with the Museum of the Bible (MOTB) to clarify whether any texts from the EES Oxyrhynchus collection had been sold or offered for sale to Hobby Lobby or its agents, and if so, when and by whom. This was in response to the online publication by Dr Brent Nongbri, following its release by Professor Michael Holmes of the MOTB, of a redacted copy of a contract of 17 January 2013 between Professor Dirk Obbink and Hobby Lobby Stores for the sale of six items to Hobby Lobby, including four New Testament fragments probably of EES provenance. This statement reports our findings to date.

“With the help of photographs provided by the MOTB, the EES has so far identified thirteen texts from its collection, twelve on papyrus and one on parchment, all with biblical or related content, which are currently held by the MOTB (see the attached list). These texts were taken without authorisation from the EES, and in most of the thirteen cases the catalogue card and photograph are also missing. Fortunately, the EES has back-up records which enable us to identify missing unpublished texts. For clarity, we note that the four texts specified in the handwritten list made public alongside the 2013 contract, which are probably the texts of that contract, remain in the EES collection, and two have been published as P.Oxy. LXXXIII 5345 and 5346.

“The Board of Trustees of the MOTB has accepted the EES claim to ownership of the thirteen pieces identified to date, and is arranging to return them to the EES. The EES is grateful to the MOTB for its co-operation, and has agreed that the research on these texts by scholars under the auspices of the MOTB will receive appropriate recognition when the texts are published in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri series.

“The MOTB has informed the EES that 11 of these pieces came into its care after being sold to Hobby Lobby Stores by Professor Obbink, most of them in two batches in 2010. In August 2016 the EES did not re-appoint Professor Obbink as a General Editor of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri primarily because of unsatisfactory discharge of his editorial duties, but also because of concerns, which he did not allay, about his alleged involvement in the marketing of ancient texts, especially the Sappho text. In June 2019 the EES banned him from any access to its collection pending his satisfactory clarification of the 2013 contract. Oxford University is now investigating, with EES help, the removal from University premises and alleged sale of EES texts.

“The EES is also pursuing identification and recovery of other texts, or parts of texts, which have or may have been illicitly removed from its collection. Systematic checking of the EES collection will be a long process because of its size. Meanwhile, our primary aim remains the authoritative publication for public benefit of the texts of all types in our collection.

“We cannot comment here on any broader legal issues arising from these findings, except to note that they are under consideration by all the institutions concerned.

EES papyri being returned by the MOTB (MOTB inventory number in square brackets)

Genesis 5:  P.Oxy. inv. 39 5B.119/C(4-7)b.  [PAP.000121]
Genesis 17:  P.Oxy. inv. 20 3B.30/F(5-7)b.   [PAP.000463]
Exodus 20-21:  P.Oxy. inv. 102/171(e).   [PAP.000446]
Exodus 30.18-19:  P.Oxy. inv. 105/149(a).   [PAP.000388]
Deuteronomy:  P.Oxy. inv. 93/Dec. 23/M.1.   [PAP.000427]
Psalms 9.23-26:   P.Oxy. inv. 8 1B.188/D(1-3)a.   [PAP.000122]
Sayings of Jesus:  P.Oxy. inv. 16 2B.48/C(a).   [PAP.000377]
Romans 3:  <related to P.Oxy. inv. 101/72(a)>.   [PAP.000467]
Romans 9-10:  P.Oxy. inv. 29 4B.46/G(4-6)a.   [PAP.000425 one part]
1 Corinthians 7-10:  P.Oxy. inv. 106/116(d) + 106/116(c).   [PAP.000120 three small fragments]
Quotation of Hebrews:  P.Oxy. inv. 105/188(c).   [PAP.000378]
Scriptural homily:  P.Oxy. inv. 3 1B.78/B(1-3)a.   [PAP.000395]
(parchment) Acts of Paul:  P.Oxy. inv. 8 1B.192/G(2)b.   [MS.000514]”.

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri are a group of manuscripts discovered during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by papyrologists Bernard Pyne Grenfell and Arthur Surridge Hunt at an ancient rubbish dump near Oxyrhynchus in Egypt (28°32′N 30°40′E, modern el-Bahnasa). The manuscripts date from the time of the Ptolemaic (3rd century BC) and Roman periods of Egyptian history (from 32 BC to the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 640 AD). 

Only an estimated 10% are literary in nature. Most of the papyri found seem to consist mainly of public and private documents: codes, edicts, registers, official correspondence, census-returns, tax-assessments, petitions, court-records, sales, leases, wills, bills, accounts, inventories, horoscopes, and private letters.

Although most of the papyri were written in Greek, some texts written in Egyptian (Egyptian hieroglyphics, Hieratic, Demotic, mostly Coptic), Latin and Arabic were also found. Texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac and Pahlavi have so far represented only a small percentage of the total. Since 1898 academics have puzzled together and transcribed over 5000 documents from what were originally hundreds of boxes of papyrus fragments the size of large cornflakes. This is thought to represent only 1 to 2 percent of what is estimated to be at least half a million papyri still remaining to be conserved, transcribed, deciphered and catalogued.
It's hot in Greece. Anyone who has ever been to Greece in the summer months knows this. And it's always even hotter in an urban area because biology is sloppy and people are warm. It was equally hot in ancient Hellas, and the ancient Hellenes found a way to make the heat work for them: solar architecture. Technically the term 'solar architecture' refers to the integration of passive solar, active solar or solar panel technology with modern building techniques. In ancient Hellas, the only method was passive integration, but they were the first to do so!

The idea of passive solar building design first appeared in ancient Hellas around the fifth century BC. Up until that time, the main source of fuel was charcoal, but due to a major shortage of wood to burn they were forced to find a new way of heating their houses. With necessity as their motivation, the ancient Hellenes revolutionized the design of their cities. They began using building materials that absorbed solar energy--mostly stone--and also started orienting the buildings so that they faced south. These revolutions, coupled with an overhang that kept out the hot summer sun, created structures which required very little heating and cooling. It was Socrates who instigated the trend. In 'Memorabelia' he mentions:

"When someone wishes to build the proper house, must he make it as pleasant to live in and as useful as it can be? And is it not pleasant to have the house cool in summer and warm in winter? Now in houses with a southern orientation, the sun’s rays penetrate into the porticoes, but in summer the path of the sun is right over our heads and above the roof, so we have shade. It is in such a house that the owner can find a pleasant retreat in all seasons…which makes the house at once the most useful and most beautiful." [3.8.9]
 The Ancient Hellenes built entire cities which were optimal for solar exposure. In the fifth century BC, for example, a neighbourhood for about 2500 people was built in the city of Olynthus, an ancient city of Chalcidice. The city plan of Olynthus can be found above. The streets were built perpendicular to each other, running long in the east-west direction, so that each of the five houses on each side of the street could be built with southern exposure. A street plan oriented at the cardinal points was not new at the time, but the Greeks did more. It seems that not all houses were consistently built around a south-facing courtyard. The houses that faced south on the street and south to the sun were entered through the court, straight from the street. The houses that faced north to the street and south to the sun were entered through a passageway that led from the street through the main body of the house and into the court, from which access was gained to all other spaces.

Why is this important? In keeping with the democratic ethos of the period, the height of buildings was strictly limited so that each courtyard received an equal amount of sunshine. In winter, rays from the sun traveling low across the southern sky streamed across the south-facing courts, through the portico, and into the house, heating the main rooms. The north walls were made of adobe bricks one and a half feet thick, which kept out the cold north winds of winter.

Another obvious example of Ancient Greek solar planning was Priene, rebuilt in 350 BC and located in present-day Turkey. The city had about 4000 inhabitants living in 400 houses. Its buildings and street plan were similar to those in Olynthus, but because the city was built on the slope of a steep mountain, many of the fifteen secondary streets, running north-south, were actually stairways. The seven main avenues were terraced on an east-west axis.

After Olynthus, other cities followed, and eventually Socrates architectural design was being implemented as far away as central Bulgaria. Solar cities became the norm and the ‘modern choice’ and those who did not have the intelligence to construct their homes in such a way were considered primitives.

Greece’s Ministry of Culture issued a statement on Friday informing the public about the new discoveries made recently at the wreck site which once yielded the “Antikythera mechanism” off the island of Antikythera, south of the Peloponnesian peninsula.

The statement noted that ”bones were collected, which now need to be analyzed, (as well as) olive kernels, and bronze nails from the ship as well as a bronze ring, whose use remains unknown.”
Among the findings which were discovered were sections of the bodies of ancient amphorae, as well as the bases and the necks from the main bodies of the vases.

The types of amphorae are identified as those which were typically used on the island of Kos and in Southern Italy in ancient times. The Greek Ministry noted

"This scientific mission of October 2019 completed the first five-year research program. Based on the results of the latest research, preparations for the new five-year program, starting in May 2020, will begin immediately with the continuation of excavation research in various areas of the wreck, where there are good indications that impressive new findings will come to light. The mission was concluded with great success despite adverse weather conditions and the limited length of time for the rescue research."

A large team of Greek scientists carried out the delicate mission of recovering the antiquities from the site which once uncovered the unique type of ancient brass computing mechanism, known as the “Antikythera machine,” which could predict the positions of the stars.

This latest research at the famed shipwreck site was made possible by support from the Athanasios Laskarides Public Benefit Foundation.
The wreck of The Mentor, which sank in 1802 while carrying the “Elgin Marbles” from Athens to Britain, has yielded more valuable ancient treasures to divers of Greece’s Ephorate for Underwater Antiquities.

The divers who were working under the direction of chief archaeologist Dimitris Korkoumelis recovered a gold ring, a pair of gold earrings and three chess pieces. They also recovered intact cookware, along with other wooden and iron items which were most likely ship fittings.

In 2015, the wreck yielded to marine archaelogists three amphorae handles from the 3rd century BC and a small stone vessel. The following year divers recovered ancient coins, jewellery, and Egyptian statues.

The Mentor was carrying for Lord Elgin, the world-famous statues that had recently been stripped from the Parthenon and were on their way to Britain, when on September 15, 1802, a heavy storm caused the ship to sink near Aflemonas on Kythera island, south east of the Peloponnese.

The 16 boxes in the hold of The Mentor contained not only the famous marbles but other treasures of the ancient world.

The sinking ship’s crew of 12 were rescued by the crew of a passing vessel, the Anikitos, which was sailing under the Austrian flag.

Lord Elgin organised a salvage mission and with the help of the people of Kythera and sponge divers from the islands of Simi and Kalymnos, he recovered the Parthenon marbles and these were sent on to London where they are now housed in the British Museum.

The recovery effort proved so costly that it nearly ruined Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin.

For more images, please go here.
Short on time today, so you're getting a theological tidbit about, you guessed it, the origin of snakes! It comes from Aelian's On the Nature of Animals.

Claudius Aelianus (Κλαύδιος Αἰλιανός), commonly called Aelian, was born at Praeneste around 175 AD. He was a Roman author and teacher of rhetoric who spoke Greek so perfectly that he was called "honey-tongued" (meliglossos). He preferred Greek authors, and wrote in a slightly archaizing Greek himself. "On the Nature of Animals" (Περὶ Ζῴων Ἰδιότητος) is a collection of seventeen books. 

Aelian has written some really weird things, among them the origin of snakes: 

"The spine of a dead man, they say, transforms the putrefying marrow into a snake. The brute emerges, and from the gentlest of beings crawls forth the fiercest. Now the remains of those that were fine and noble are at rest and their reward is peace, even as the soul also of such men has the rewards which wise men celebrate in their songs. But it is from the spine of evil-doers that such evil monsters are begotten even after life. 

The fact is, the whole story is either a fable, or if it is to be relied upon as true, then the corpse of a wicked man receives (so I think) the reward of his ways in becoming the progenitor of a snake. "

You all know I like modern inventions bringing to light more of ancient history, so of course I am interested in this ground-breaking project that has recently shed new light on Scotland's Isle of Arran’s ancient past.

A cutting-edge archaeological project using innovative technology has revealed around 1,000 previously unknown archaeological sites on the Isle of Arran. The project, undertaken by archaeologists at Historic Environment Scotland (HES), used airborne laser scanning, also known as lidar, to document the land surface in 3D. The survey is the largest of its type so far in Scotland and has detected the remains of ancient monuments on the island.

Previously unknown ancient archaeological sites which have been discovered include prehistoric settlements and medieval farmsteads, as well as a Neolithic cursus monument — an exceptionally rare find on the west coast of Scotland. Dave Cowley, Rapid Archaeological Mapping Manager at HES, said:

"This survey has shown us that there are double the number of ancient monuments on Arran than we previously knew about. This new 3D technology has allowed us to undertake a rapid archaeological survey, over weeks rather than months or years, and allowed us to discover sites that might even have been impossible to find otherwise. We have been able to see how densely settled parts of Arran were, and the medieval and post-medieval shieling sites that were discovered have told us how upland areas were used by shepherds. This is an exciting time to be involved in the development of remote sensing and archaeological mapping. We are exploring the benefits of new technology and new datasets to record Scotland’s historic environment and inform our knowledge of the past. As a result, we are enriching the information through which we tell Scotland’s story. And Arran is just a first step. As this technology become more widely available, we expect to find tens of thousands more ancient sites across the rest of Scotland – working at a pace that was unimaginable a few years ago."

The lidar data is available from the Scottish Government Remote Sensing Portal. Shona Nicol, Head of the Geographical Information Science and Analysis team said:

"It is great to see HES making such exciting use of the increasing amount of remote sensing data becoming available which will help to play a part in keeping Scotland at the forefront in this field."

Research and technological advances like this create possibilities for discoveries in other part of the world, including the areas that made up ancient Hellas.
A room of classics students is about to get a lesson in ancient literature via a very unexpected method: Instructor Brandon Bourgeois — clad in black, a gold medallion depicting the face of Medusa slung around his neck — is ready to rap.

3,000 years ago, a Greek poet whose name was Homer composed a flow for his feta, he was a real rov-uh.
He spun and spread a tale of lust, war, rage and revenge.
A tapestry, a masterpiece, words stitched together without a pen.
A story — rather gory in detail:
10 years of bloody battle waged by Greeks over a female — hell, you heard-uh Helen.
She sailed to Asia with a prince named Paris already married to a Spartan king named Menelaus.
Ran to his brother — the great king Agamemnon: “What happened to my queen?!” The brotha told him to stay strong: “We out for blood!
“Grab your weapons, spread the message to all the kings in Greece. We’ll have your Helen home in no time, a matter of weeks.”

The lyrics are his hip-hop adaptation of the prologue to The Iliad, delivered as a rap lecture in staccato bursts to music Bourgeois composed using Apple’s GarageBand app. It’s his way of making the classic poem — one of the foundational texts of Western civilization — relevant to a modern audience. But it’s also more than that. For centuries, The Iliad passed from generation to generation by spoken word.

Homer lived in the eighth century B.C. and told a story that dated from the 12th century B.C., Bourgeois said. It wasn’t until the third or fourth century B.C. that scholars in Alexandria committed the sprawling epic to the page.

Bourgeois believes that the oral tradition that kept The Iliad alive bears remarkable similarities to modern rap. Both tell tales of everyday life, hardship, violence, love lost and gained. Both are histories.

"Homer is at the end of a long line of bards just like him,” Bourgeois noted. “And he happens to be the best at it. He happens to do things with the stories that no one else has done before. It’s like having Jay-Z. Jay-Z’s not the first rapper ever, but he’s in the tradition."

Bourgeois arrived this summer at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences as a freshly minted assistant professor of classics. His primary area of research focuses on Roman political tradition.

Bourgeois acknowledges that the classics have long been considered the domain of white scholars. The glory of Greece and Rome have even been invoked by white supremacists to allege their superiority. But he notes that the classics have also been used as a tool for emancipation.

Frederick Douglass was inspired and informed by a primer on classical oratory that he spirited from the room of his owner’s son. Enslaved Africans across America in the 18th century absorbed the classics to promote insurgency.

And it didn’t end there. Bourgeois added that Black Panther Party co-founder Huey Newton reportedly taught himself to read by reading Plato’s The Republic; Newton’s autobiography,

It’s hard to imagine that Bourgeois would end up as a classics professor, much less an accomplished rapper, based on his early academic aspirations. The son of a nurse and a pharmaceutical executive, Bourgeois headed to the University of Chicago as an economics major.

"I wanted to be filthy rich. I wanted to be one of those guys that you would see in a limo or something, and people would shout down the street, ‘Die, you capitalist pig.’ I wanted to be that rich."

There was only one problem: He hated economics. His path began to change thanks to a fraternity friend who spoke 16 languages and dabbled in classics. That led Bourgeois to courses in the subject and, ultimately, a PhD from Ohio State University.

Bourgeois’ ability to translate The Iliad into rap lyrics comes from more than his knowledge of ancient tomes. He was an avid actor in high school, even becoming the national president of the Junior Thespian Society. He also plays guitar and plinks the piano when he visits his parents.
Those diverse talents and interests have coalesced into his performance project, which he calls Hype 4 Homer. His ultimate goal is to render the entire Iliad in rap — what he calls “The Trilliad” (“Trill” is hip-hop slang for true).

"The project is not just a marriage between hip hop and ancient Greek poetry,” he said, “but a marriage between Homer and I."
It's been a while but I like to spend a post every now and again on the Delphic Maxims. They are very important for our faith and as such, talking about them--and keeping them in mind--matters. Today I want to talk about number 21: 'cling to discipline' (Παιδειας αντεχου).

I'm not sure if all of you are aware, but I am a bit on the Autism spectrum. Not diagnosed, but it runs (diagnosed) in the family. It's manageable and doesn’t affect my life much; it’s just something to remain vigilant of. One of my primary ‘symptoms’ is that I enjoy structure. I enjoy doing the same thing at the same time every day, or every week, or every month. I like things being predictable. 

For me, doing these things does not require discipline. It might for others, but for me, doing things over and over is exactly what makes me happy. What I have to be vigilant about is the anxiety that comes from breaking my routine. If I do something solely because I can’t stop, I’m in trouble. And it’s happened quite a bit in the past.

Especially as a teenager, I often ended up hooked on things. I was smart enough to avoid drugs or alcohol (both of my parents are prone to addiction issues so I wasn’t going to risk it), but gaming, for example, has been a downfall. What took discipline was putting the controller down. I am not allowed to do Multiplayer Online games anymore because I still have trouble balancing the time I spent doing them. There are more examples, but that goes beyond the purpose of this post.

What I want to talk about today is discipline itself. Discipline, in general, means forcing yourself to behave in a manner not entirely comfortable to your own being. It means getting up to work out if all you want to do is lie around on the couch. It means heading to the office five days a week, even though the tasks suck. It means not doing all the things you want to do because other things are more important, or are better for you.

In order to exhibit discipline, you first need to be aware of your own behavior and your own inclinations towards life. In short, discipline requires the highest good of the ancient Hellenes: knowledge of the self. You need to know who you are in order to affect your own behavior. No matter who you are, facing all the good and all the bad in you takes discipline. There is nothing easy about it. It’s great to pat yourself on the back over all your fine qualities but the bad? No one wants to face the bad. And that is exactly the part that discipline speaks to.

‘Cling to discipline’, as a maxim, reminds me of two things: to do well in, and stick with all things I might not want to do but should do to help myself and others in the long run, and to learn as much about myself and the behavior I am inherently comfortable with so In don’t self-sabotage my life—like I have done often in the past. Discipline, to me, means working towards a better version of yourself, and I believe the ancient Hellenes might have viewed it in the same way. It’s a worthwhile endeavor, after all. 
The excavation conducted this season by the University of Athens at ancient Alasarna (today’s Kardamaina) on Kos is into its 35th year. It is the longest, continuous, systematic archaeological research on the island, as well as one of the most long term university excavations in Greece. Hundreds of Greek and foreign archaeologists have trained there since 1985 to the present, many of whom now are employed at the Archaeological service or teach at Universities in Greece, Cyprus, Poland, Australia and elsewhere.

Ancient Alasarna’s advantageous position by the sea, opposite Nisyros and the Knidos peninsula, had attracted inhabitants since antiquity and was associated with the most ancient cult of the Koans, that of their forefather Apollo Pythaius or Pythaeus. For this reason, magnificent buildings in his honour were erected in Hellenistic times, and numerous inscriptions and statues and other offerings were established.

After the repeated catastrophic earthquakes that hit the island and the prevailing of Christianity, the sanctuary area was taken over by part of a flourishing early Byzantine settlement that grew in the area, while the excellent quality clay and location of the settlement on the wheat sea route from Egypt in Constantinople led to a new flowering, until the settlement was finally abandoned in the 7th century AD due to raids by the Arabs.

This year’s excavation team worked for one month. It was headed by Emeritus women Professors G. Kokkorou- Alevra, S. Kalopisi-Verti and M. Panagiotidou-Kesisoglou and was made up of 45 people; PhD holders, postgraduate and graduate students.

The unearthing continued of the monumental enclosure (Building E) which appears to have surrounded a magnificent Hellenistic temple (Building C), possibly that of Apollo as testified by inscriptions, issues were looked into related to the construction and chronology of the Roman temple (Building D) located outside the enclosure and lastly, selected areas were excavated for a fuller understanding of the early Byzantine settlement that had occupied the sanctuary district since 400 AD and perhaps even earlier.

The unearthing of one more Roman building to the west of the Roman temple (Building D) is of particular interest, testifying to a greater flowering of the sanctuary in Roman times than what excavations had shown to date.

The most distinguished of this year’s finds are a clay Cupid figurine, a Hellenistic skyphos vase with relief decoration, oil lamps, a coin from the times of Augustus, architectural members, fragments of frescoed plaster, early Byzantine amphorae with graffiti and more.

At the same time, movable and immovable finds from the excavation are being studied, as the volumes that make up the Alasarna series (Thales European Programme of Excellence) continue to be published. To date, this places the University excavation of Kardamaina among the few systematic Greek excavations that provides a series of publications, as is usually the case with excavations conducted by foreign archaeological schools in Greece.

The excavation is supervised by the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Dodecanese and is funded annually by the General Secretariat of the Aegean and Island Policy while receiving increasingly warm support from local authorities, the Kardamaina community and educational and cultural institutions of Kos. The ultimate goal is to promote the site and hand it over to the inhabitants and visitors of the island.
Will you be joining us at 10 AM EDT on 13 October to celebrate the female heroes that we have so plentifully in our religion?

The ancient Erkhians honoured the Heroines twice a year, once on the 19th of Metageitnion, and once on the 14th of Pyanepsion. Certain heroines--like Basile--were worshipped separately from the group as well, most likely because they were local heroines instead of universally accepted heroines like Atalanta, who hunted the Calydonian boar, slew Centaurs, and defeated Peleus in wrestling, or Kallisto, who was an Arcadian princess and hunting companion of the Goddess Artemis. The Heroines received a white sheep in sacrifice, of which the meat was partly sacrificed and partly eaten by those who came out to sacrifice. The skin of the animal went towards the priestess.

Heroes and heroines have a special place in Hellenismos, as they had in ancient Hellas. These were humans--most with at least a part divine heritage--who were considered so brave, so skillful, so extraordinary in their lifetime that they became revered. Some were priests or priestesses of a temple, some excelled in battle, others were skilled healers or good rulers. Once they passed to the realm of Hades, their names were remembered at least once a year on a special occasion, because the ancient Hellenes believed that if the name and deeds of a person were remembered, they would live forever and potentially look out for those they had looked out for before.

Archaeological evidence suggests that hero worship was closer to Khthonic sacrifices in execution than Ouranic ones the further back in time you go; especially in the archaic period, it seems that hero worship consisted of destructive sacrifices--sometimes in the form of a holókaustos where the entire animal was burned, sometimes in a sacrifice where only a part (most often 'a ninth' of the animal) was burned and the rest remained on the altar for the heroes to eat from until gone. The sacrifices were generally burned in an offering pit known as a bothros. The food offered to heroes consisted of meat, blood, and 'food eaten by men' like grains, fruits and other every-day dishes. These were usually offered to the heroes on a table--known as a trapeza--and the heroes were sometimes offered chairs or a bench to sit on. As time went on, the living began to eat part of the meal laid out for the heroes, joining them in celebration.

You can find the ritual here and join our community page here. We have added some of the other main Hellenic Goddesses to the ritual as well. Feel free to add more of our Goddesses and heroines to your own ritual, especially if you feel close to Them! This ritual will be a celebration of the feminine power in our religion! 
Percy Bysshe Shelley (4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822) was one of the major English Romantic poets and is regarded by critics as amongst the finest lyric poets in the English language. A radical in his poetry as well as his political and social views, Shelley did not achieve fame during his lifetime, but recognition for his poetry grew steadily following his death. Shelley was a key member of a close circle of visionary poets and writers that included Lord Byron; Leigh Hunt; Thomas Love Peacock; and his own second wife, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.

The poetry I'm sharing today is Prometheus Unbound, a four-act lyrical drama first published in 1818. It is concerned with the torments of the Greek mythological figure Prometheus, who defies the gods and gives fire to humanity, for which he is subjected to eternal punishment and suffering at the hands of Zeus. It is inspired by the classical Prometheia, a trilogy of plays attributed to Aeschylus. Shelley's play concerns Prometheus' release from captivity, but unlike Aeschylus' version, there is no reconciliation between Prometheus and Jupiter (Zeus). Instead, Jupiter is abandoned by his supportive elements and falls from power, which allows Prometheus to be released.

Shelley's play is closet drama, meaning it was not intended to be produced on the stage. In the tradition of Romantic poetry, Shelley wrote for the imagination, intending his play's stage to reside in the imaginations of his readers. However, the play is filled with suspense, mystery and other dramatic effects that make it, in theory, performable. This is an excerpt.

SCENE.—A Ravine of Icy Rocks in the Indian Caucasus. Prometheus is discovered bound to the Precipice. Panthea and Ione are seated at his feet. Time, night. During the Scene, morning slowly breaks.

Monarch of Gods and Dæmons, and all Spirits
But One, who throng those bright and rolling worlds
Which Thou and I alone of living things
Behold with sleepless eyes! regard this Earth
Made multitudinous with thy slaves, whom thou
Requitest for knee-worship, prayer, and praise,
And toil, and hecatombs of broken hearts,
With fear and self-contempt and barren hope.
Whilst me, who am thy foe, eyeless in hate,
Hast thou made reign and triumph, to thy scorn,
O'er mine own misery and thy vain revenge.
Three thousand years of sleep-unsheltered hours,
And moments aye divided by keen pangs
Till they seemed years, torture and solitude,
Scorn and despair,—these are mine empire:—
More glorious far than that which thou surveyest
From thine unenvied throne, O Mighty God!
Almighty, had I deigned to share the shame
Of thine ill tyranny, and hung not here
Nailed to this wall of eagle-baffling mountain,
Black, wintry, dead, unmeasured; without herb,
Insect, or beast, or shape or sound of life.
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, for ever!

No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, for ever!

The crawling glaciers pierce me with the spears
Of their moon-freezing crystals, the bright chains
Eat with their burning cold into my bones.
Heaven's wingèd hound, polluting from thy lips
His beak in poison not his own, tears up
My heart; and shapeless sights come wandering by,
The ghastly people of the realm of dream,
Mocking me: and the Earthquake-fiends are charged
To wrench the rivets from my quivering wounds
When the rocks split and close again behind:
While from their loud abysses howling throng
The genii of the storm, urging the rage
Of whirlwind, and afflict me with keen hail.
And yet to me welcome is day and night,
Whether one breaks the hoar frost of the morn,
Or starry, dim, and slow, the other climbs
The leaden-coloured east; for then they lead
The wingless, crawling hours, one among whom
—As some dark Priest hales the reluctant victim—
Shall drag thee, cruel King, to kiss the blood
From these pale feet, which then might trample thee
If they disdained not such a prostrate slave.
Disdain! Ah no! I pity thee. What ruin
Will hunt thee undefended through wide Heaven!
How will thy soul, cloven to its depth with terror,
Gape like a hell within! I speak in grief,
Not exultation, for I hate no more,
As then ere misery made me wise. The curse
Once breathed on thee I would recall. Ye Mountains,
Whose many-voicèd Echoes, through the mist
Of cataracts, flung the thunder of that spell!
Ye icy Springs, stagnant with wrinkling frost,
Which vibrated to hear me, and then crept
Shuddering through India! Thou serenest Air,
Through which the Sun walks burning without beams!
And ye swift Whirlwinds, who on poisèd wings
Hung mute and moveless o'er yon hushed abyss,
As thunder, louder than your own, made rock
The orbèd world! If then my words had power,
Though I am changed so that aught evil wish
Is dead within; although no memory be
Of what is hate, let them not lose it now!
What was that curse? for ye all heard me speak. 
A group of European scientists has found a hidden ancient Greek text on the back of a papyrus that was burnt after the Vesuvius volcano eruption in 79 AD. The scrolls – known as the Herculaneum papyri or Herculaneum scrolls — are more than 1,800 papyri found in the ancient Italian village Herculaneum in the 18th century. They were carbonized by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Herculaneum was a resort during ancient times and it is often referred to as “the other Pompeii,” because it was buried in superheated pyroclastic material after the volcano eruption. It is also famous as one of the few ancient cities that can now be seen in almost its original splendor.

In the 18th century, a group of archaeologists uncovered a remarkable library scroll that had been carbonized. In the beginning, scientists attempted to unroll the burnt papyri, but because of their fragile state, many of them were destroyed.

Italian and other European scientists have, for the first time, using a high-tech non-invasive imaging method, managed to see fragments of ancient Greek text hidden behind the back of one of Herculaneum’s famous scrolls.

These papyri, many of which relate to works of Hellenic philosophers, were discovered in 1752-54 in archaeological excavations at the so-called “papyrus villa” in Herculaneum  (today Ercolano) in Campania, Italy. The villa was destroyed and buried in the ashes after the eruption of the nearby Vesuvius volcano in 79 AD.

Today, some 1,840 papyri are kept at the National Library of Naples and at the Institute of France in Paris. It is essentially the only ancient Greek-Roman library preserved in a small room of the Roman villa. They are the first Greek papyri found in archaeological excavations.

Following the eruption of the Mount Vesuvius volcano, a surge of hot air, reaching 320 degrees Celsius, burned the delicate papyri and left them in a state of extreme vulnerability. Up to now, scientists and archaeologists have tried to open them, but with disastrous or limited results.

However, with the use of advanced digital technology, researchers from Italy, France, Germany and Russia “announced that by using the ultrasound imaging technique in the short infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (1,000 to 2,500 nanometers), they were able to” see “portions of Greek text hidden behind the PHerc. 1691/1021 papyrus.

This papyrus, the most famous of the collection, contains text from the “History of the Academy” (of Plato), which is part of a much larger work by the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus.

Reading through the new technology – which yields better results than the previous imaging at 950 nanometers – paves the way for something similar to other charred papyri of the same or other collection, which will greatly help experts on papyrus reading and restoration, on philology and ancient philosophy. Thanks to the new technique, the hidden text is even clearer than the one on the front, visible side.
Important remains from the Early Minoan era (circa 2,600 BC), including an intact skeleton of a woman, were revealed recently near the complex of monuments currently being excavated by archaeologists in Sisi, in the Lasithi region on Crete.

The Greek Ministry of Culture noted in its announcement on Thursday:

"After the abandonment of the settlement by its people, who left almost the entirety of their material culture in loco, a monumental structure was constructed to the east of the village. This building became the heart of the later west wing. Even though it was destroyed by a fire in 2,500 BC, its remains were almost fully incorporated into the construction of a complex of monumental buildings with a courtyard, which was constructed around 1,700 BC."

Further excavations have revealed a decorated floor, constructed with a high-quality mortar, and a well-made 33-meter (109-foot) long clay drainage pipe, the ministry said.

Significant finds from lesser-known eras have also been unearthed in other parts of the hill, among them a residence that was destroyed in the Mid-Minoan Era, most likely by an earthquake.
The woman’s skeleton found in Sisi

A box-shaped grave belonging to the Post-Minoan era containing an almost intact skeleton of a woman was also found.

A copper mirror with an ivory handle, dress pins made of copper and a necklace with 15 olive-shaped golden beads and fifteen smaller golden beads were also found inside the woman’s grave. These types of graves are rare on Crete and are usually only found in Knossos and Chania.

The Culture Ministry said that over a hundred archaeologists from different nations participated in the 10th excavation period conducted by the Belgian School of Athens in Sisi, in collaboration with the Lasithi Antiquities Ephorate.

The dig near Sisi was under the guidance of Professor Jan Driessen.
On October 8th, we'll host a PAT ritual for the Stenia. The Stenia is connected to the Eleusinian Mysteries, Demeter, and Persephone.

The Stenia is celebrated on 9 Pyanepsion. It was a festival dedicated solely to Demeter and Persephone and was held three days before the Thesmophoria. Not much information about this festival has survived, but because bits and pieces have survived of the Thesmophoria and the preceding Skiraphoria, we can put parts of the festival back together.

A little background first: On 12 Skirophorion, the Skiraphoria was celebrated. The Skiraphoria was one of the few days when the women of ancient Athens would gather in public to honor Demeter and bless the harvest. They refused to sleep with the men on this day and took part in a very odd tradition: casting piglets down into a chasm where they were left to rot until the Stenia.

During the Stenia, women came together and begun the extensive purification rituals needed to partake in the Thesmophoria. How, exactly, the women purified themselves is unknown but it is known that the women engaged in Aiskhrologia, insulting each other and using foul language. To understand this practice, it's important to know the mythology behind it. Nearly all festivals where Demeter is included, recount the myth of Kore/Persephone who was abducted by Hades. While Demeter grieved and vowed to get her daughter out, Persephone was seduced to eat of the pomegranate fruit. This decision allowed Hades to keep Persephone in the Underworld for a part of the year, while she was allowed to rejoin her mother for the rest of it. While Demeter grieved, there was only one who could make her laugh: the strange old woman Iambe. From the Homeric Hymn 2: To Demeter:

"But Demeter bringer of seasons and giver of perfect gifts, would not sit upon the bright couch, but stayed silent with lovely eyes cast down until careful Iambe placed a jointed seat for her and threw over it a silvery fleece. Then she sat down and held her veil in her hands before her face. A long time she sat upon the stool without speaking because of her sorrow, and greeted no one by word or by sign, but rested, never smiling, and tasting neither food nor drink, because she pined with longing for her deep-bosomed daughter, until careful Iambe - who pleased her moods in aftertime also - moved the holy lady with many a quip and jest to smile and laugh and cheer her heart." [188]

I believe that a large part of the Stenia was to make the other women laugh by shouting witty insults, making crude jokes or any other way they could think of that was out of character and liberal. It's a laughing day. Yet, there was also a serious note to it. At the Stenia, some women, called 'Bailers', hiked to the chasm where the piglets had been thrown into months ago. Then, in a gruesome display of devotion, the women hauled out the rotting corpses of the piglets and carried them to the Thesmophorion, a site probably on the hillside of the Pnyx, in preparation for the Thesmophoria.

The Stenia is a female only festival, sorry guys! We can't really provide you with laughter and jokes, so here is my suggestion: get all your friends together and have a girl's night. Find Magic Mike on Netflix and break out the wine and popcorn. The ritual will focus on the religious part. You can find the ritual here and chat amongst yourselves here.
Researchers led by the renowned ancient artefacts decoder, Professor Brent Seales, will be using Diamond, the UK’s national synchrotron science facility in the heart of Oxfordshire, to examine a collection of world-famous ancient artefacts owned by the Institut de France.

Using this powerful light source and special techniques the team has developed, the researchers are working to virtually unwrap two complete scrolls and four fragments from the damaged Herculaneum scrolls. After decades of effort, Seales thinks the scans from Diamond represent his teams best chance yet to reveal the elusive contents of these 2,000-year-old papyri.

Prof Seales is director of the Digital Restoration Initiative at the University of Kentucky (US), a research program dedicated to the development of software tools that enable the recovery of fragile, unreadable texts. According to Seales:

"Diamond Light Source is an absolutely crucial element in our long-term plan to reveal the writing from damaged materials, as it offers unparalleled brightness and control for the images we can create, plus access to a brain trust of scientists who understand our challenges and are eager to help us succeed. Texts from the ancient world are rare and precious, and they simply can not be revealed through any other known process. Thanks to the opportunity to study the scrolls at Diamond Light Source, which has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew Mellon Foundation, we are poised to take a tremendous step forward in our ability to read and visualize this material. The scan session promises to be a key moment in our quest for a reliable pathway to reading the invisible library."

Over the past two decades, Prof Seales and his team have worked to digitally restore and read the vast amount of material in the “invisible library” of irreparably damaged manuscripts. In 2015 they achieved singular success when they visualized the never-before and never-to-be-seen writing trapped inside five complete wraps of the ancient Hebrew scroll from EnGedi (see science Advances). For the first time ever, a complete text from an object so severely damaged that it could never be opened physically was digitally retrieved and recreated, representing a true technical breakthrough (see Virtually Unwrapping the En Gedi Scroll). It is this technology that Seales’ team plans to deploy on the data collected at Diamond.

A long-term goal of Prof Seales has been to reveal the contents of the most iconic items in the invisible library, the Herculaneum scrolls. Buried and carbonized by the deadly eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD, the scrolls are too fragile to be opened and represent the perfect storm of important content, massive damage, extreme fragility, and difficult-to-detect ink.

These famous papyri were discovered in 1752 in an ancient Roman villa near the Bay of Naples believed to belong to the family of Julius Caesar. As such, they represent the only surviving library from antiquity. The majority of the 1,800 scrolls reside at the Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli, although a few were offered as gifts to dignitaries by the King of Naples and wound up at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, the British Library, and the Institut de France.

Last May, Prof Seales headed a small team of undergraduate students in Paris to survey the Institut de France’s Herculaneum collection. They examined two completely intact scrolls, along with four small fragments from scrolls unrolled in the late 1800s. All six items will be scanned at Diamond. Because the four fragments contain many layers and feature visible, exposed writing on the top, they will provide the key data needed to develop the next iteration of the team’s “virtual unwrapping” software pipeline, a machine learning algorithm that will enable the visualization of carbon ink.

“We do not expect to immediately see the text from the upcoming scans, but they will provide the crucial building blocks for enabling that visualization. First, we will immediately see the internal structure of the scrolls in more definition than has ever been possible, and we need that level of detail to ferret out the highly compressed layers on which the text sits. In addition, we believe strongly—and contrary to conventional wisdom—that tomography does indeed capture subtle, non-density-based evidence of ink, even when it is invisible to the naked eye in the scan data.  The machine learning tool we are developing will amplify that ink signal by training a computer algorithm to recognize it—pixel by pixel—from photographs of opened fragments that show exactly where the ink is—voxel by voxel—in the corresponding tomographic data of the fragments. The tool can then be deployed on data from the still-rolled scrolls, identify the hidden ink, and make it more prominently visible to any reader.”

The scanning of these delicate items at the leading science facility, Diamond, will be a mammoth undertaking, for all involved. Because of their extreme fragility, the Seales team fabricated custom-fit cases for the scrolls that enable as little handling as possible. Only highly trained conservators are allowed to handle the samples. The Director of the Bibliothèque at the Institut de France, Mme Françoise Bérard will personally pack the scrolls into their special cases for travel to the UK, and after arrival, they will be inserted into the I12 beamline at Diamond. The I12 beamline or JEEP (Joint Engineering, Environmental, and Processing) beamline is a high energy X-ray beamline for imaging, diffraction and scattering, which operates at photon energies of 53-150 keV.

While a handful of the scrolls from Herculaneum have been subjected to physical (and largely disastrous) efforts to open them, no one as yet has managed to reveal complete texts from the hundreds that remain tightly closed. Principal Beamline Scientist on the Diamond I12 Beamline where the experiment will take place, Dr Thomas Connolley, adds:

"This is the first time an intact scroll has been scanned in such detail at Diamond Light Source. We are very excited to work with the research team, playing our part in what we hope will be a major step forward in unlocking the secrets that the scrolls contain. It’s ironic and somewhat poetic that the scrolls sacrificed during the past era of disastrous physical methods will serve as the key to retrieving the text from those survive but are unreadable. And by digitally restoring and reading these texts, which are arguably the most challenging and prestigious to decipher, we will forge a pathway for revealing any type of ink on any type of substrate in any type of damaged cultural artefact."