A Ptolemaic tomb has been rediscovered and fully documented by Oxford-based team of archaeologists working at Elkab, Egypt.

During its last fieldwork season, the Oxford Epigraphic Expedition to Elkab, in southern Egypt, successfully rediscovered a Ptolemaic painted tomb. The tomb had originally discovered in the 19th century but its exact whereabouts had since become unknown.

Originally located by iconic archaeologist K.R. Lepsius (1810-1884) in 1844, the tomb had never been the subject of proper scientific investigation.

During its last fieldwork season, the Oxford Epigraphic Expedition to Elkab located the tomb in the Graeco-Roman sector of the main necropolis. According to a statement:

“Through its inscriptions, we can precisely date the tomb to the reign of King Ptolemy III (3rd century BC), at the time of the Greek rule of Egypt. Despite the fading of much of the tomb’s decoration, digital technologies have allowed us to record and study it in all its original beauty.”

Ptolemy III Euergetes (Πτολεμαῖος Εὐεργέτης, Ptolemaĩos Euergétēs was the third king of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt from 246 to 222 BC. He maintained his father's foreign policy of subduing Macedonia by supporting its enemies. Ptolemy backed the Achaean League, a collaboration of Hellenic city-states, and enemies of Macedonia, but switched his support to Sparta when it came into conflict with the Achaean League and proved itself more apt to fighting the Macedonians. He continued his predecessor's work on Alexandria, especially in the Great Library. He had every book unloaded in the Alexandria docks seized, had copies made of each one, and gave the copies to the previous owners while the original copies were kept in the Library. It is said that he borrowed works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides from Athens but decided to forfeit the considerable deposit he paid for them, keeping them for the Library rather than returning them. The Ptolemaic kingdom reached the height of its power during this reign.

A first description of the tomb along with a description of the Oxford Epigraphic Expedition’s research and documentation work there is available through Egyptian Archaeology 53 (2018): 4–12. Accessible via Academia.edu.

As a basic viewpoint, Elaion believes that the Mysteries need not be pursued; they are not a spiritual ‘formula’ that experimentation will eventually rediscover. That said, we also acknowledge that it's a festival many have been drawn to--both then and now--and we want to give our members a chance to celebrate it in a way that is as Recon as possible once you accept that we know far too little about it to ever accurately be so. Since the proceedings of the Eleusinian Mysteries were kept secret in fear of the punishment of death, we will never be able to restore these rites. But we do know a few basics and we have formulated our celebration accordingly. Please read through all information as well as the rituals before deciding to join.

The Eleusinian Mysteries (Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) had festivals throughout the year, which were tied to agriculture through Demeter's refusal to perform her duties as an agricultural Goddess while her daughter Persephone is with Hades, and to the afterlife and Underworld through Persephone's return to the surface of the earth after Her mandatory stay with Hades has ended. Initiation ceremonies were held every year at Eleusis. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, the mysteries at Eleusis were assumed to be of great importance to a large portion of the ancient Hellenes. The cult itself likely had origins dating back to the Mycenean period of around 1600 to 1100 BC, and it is believed that the cult of Demeter Herself was established in 1500 BC.

The Eleusinian Mysteries consist mostly of two festivals, but the worship of Demeter and Persephone consist of a cycle of seven festivals: the Greater Mysteries (13-23 Boedromion), the Proerosia (6 Pyanepsion), the Stenia (9 Pyanepsion), the Thesmophoria (11-13 Pyanepsion), the Haloa (26 Poseideon), the Lesser Mysteries (20-26 Anthesterion), and the Skiraphoria (12 Skirophorion). These are placed in sequence of the Athenian year.

Mythologically, the foundations of the Eleusinian Mysteries can be found in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Within the hymn, Demeter travels the globe in her grief over losing Her daughter. She eventually settles at the home of Keleus. Demeter plans to make one of his sons immortal in return for his hospitality but She is interrupted. Instead, she tells Keleus to build Her a temple and altar so she can teach human beings the knowledge they need to have a good life.

The Mysteries were obviously celebrated to honor Demeter--Demeter Eleusinia, specifically. Through the honoring of Demeter, the ancient Hellenes prayed for a good harvest, and through the worship of Persephone--Kore--those who were initiated in the Mysteries assured they would be looked upon favorably in the Afterlife.

For those who wish to join us, the Eleusinian Mysteries will be a ten day event, starting on September 17th with a rite meant to emulate the walk to Eleusis from Athens that all initiates eventually undertook. The procession would have started from the shine of Iakkhos, and Iakkhos was invited to come along to Eleusis by those in the procession. The mystai would sacrifice at all shrines along the way. The mystai would arrive in darkness, or at least guided by torchlight, as Demeter searched for Her daughter with a torch in hand. Upon arrival, sacrifices were made to Demeter. After undertaking this rite, we encourage everyone articipating to put on a króki. Króki were pieces of string (wool), worn around the wrist. The initiates of the Mysteries recieved yellow ones on the way to Eleusis.

For the continuation of the days, you can make daily sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone, as laid out in the rituals provided. All have a different character and different steps to undertake so reading through them ahead of time is quite important. While not mandatory, we also encourage those who join to potentially limit or cut out their intake of pomegranates, apples, eggs, fowls, and fish as the ancient Hellenes would have done for the duration of the Mysteries.

Then, we have prepared a rite for the Epidauria. The Epidauria was a festival of Asklepios placed smack in the middle of the Mysteries--exactly six months after the other major festival of Asklepios in Athens: the one during the Greater Dionysia. The day was named after Asklepios healing centre to the south at Epidauros. It was said that on this day, the cult of Asklepios and Hygeia joined the Eleusinian Mysteries rites in Athens.

What, exactly, happened during the Epidauria is unclear as discussing the rites that took place at Eleusis carried a death sentence, but I think we can safely say that the rites at Eleusis involving Asklepios were most likely similar to the rites to Asklepios that took place at other places--including Epidauros. What we do know is that the rites of sacrifices were held at Demeter’s Eleusinion temple in Athens to honour Asklepios, His daughter Hygeia, and Demeter and Persephone, who also were revered as healing deities.

Asklepios' worship almost always included a 'night watch'; a night time period of meditation and contemplation at a temple to Asklepios; the Asklepion. the initiates would most likely sit, contemplate, and cleanse themselves of ailments, distress, and anything that might distract them form the proceedings to follow. The temple of Asklepios was built near the enclosure of a sacred spring in a small cave and it included an abaton, a sleeping hall sacred to Asklepios where initiates could sleep while watched over by priests of Asklepios who prayed to Asklepios to visit these initiates in their sleep and give them messages intended to heal and cleanse. The following morning, initiates would tell their dream to a priest of Asklepios or Hygeia, called 'therapeutes'. The initiate would then be encouraged to put the advice he or she had gotten into practice. We ask you to take part in this night time practice and follow it up with sacrifices to Asklepios and His daughter the day after.

The day after the epidauria was the day the initiates would have traveled to Eleusis. We moved this to the start as a way to introduce you to the Mysteries themselves, but for the ancient Hellenes, this was a walk that ended in darkness, with a torch lit procession to the shrine of Demeter and an offering that was not burned but buried. In the case of the ancient Hellenes, this was most likely a pig but we leave it to you what you want to offer to the Goddess.

We can say with a relative degree of certainty, that the day before the actual initiation was a day on which the initiates fasted in preparation of the main initiatory rite that took place in the nighttime hours of the next day. If you wish to join us for that fast, we would encourage you to stop eating at dusk on 1 October and consume nothing but water (or juice, if you need to!) until after the main rite that takes place in after dusk on 21 September, once it's completely dark out.

While the Eleusinian Mysteries were held largely out of gratitude for the agricultural knowledge provided to us by Demeter, the ancient Hellenes became initiates for an entirely different reason: to be looked more favourably upon by the Theoi in death. Through the worship of Demeter and Persephone, participants hoped that Persephone would talk to Her Husband and the Judges of the dead. It is this focus that all rituals have: the rites of being initiated into the Mysteries in order to be well taken care of after death.

After the main initiatory right, the festival winded down. It's quite possible the initiated didn't sleep throughout the night of their initiation and the attested sacrifice to Demeter and Persephone the next day, we feel, was most likely done at dusk. Feel free to hold it at the standard PAT ritual time of 10 AM EDT, though. the focus of this sacrifice was the complete tipping out of two jugs of water onto the eath by the initiated, one to Demeter and one to Persephone, most likely in gratitude of the experience and knowledge gleamed the previous night.

The following day, we are unsure of what happened, exactly, but we take it to be a resting day and have prepared a simple rite to the Theoi for it. Day nine is another, general, rite, but we encourage you--as the initiated were--to add prayers and hymns to the Theoi you feel closest to to it with the goal of reestablishing the connection with Them after being so immersed in rites with a Kthonic character.

On the final day, we have prepared a closing rite which thanks the Theoi for guiding you on this journey and has you take off the króki you tied around your wrist on the first day. This will signal the end of the Mysteries.

To make things easier, we have laid out a time table:

  • September 15 / 15 Boedromion: starting ritual 

  • September 16 / 16 Boedromion: purification rite

  • September 17 / 17 & 18 Boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone / prayers to Asklepios for prophetic dreams and healing (nighttime)

  • September 18 / 18 Boedromion: Epidauria ritual

  • September 18 / 19 Boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter (nighttime) (fasting day)

  • September 19 / 20 Boedromion: initiation rite (nighttime) 

  • September 20 / 20 Boedromion: tipping out of water jugs to Demeter and Persephone

  • September 21 / 21 Boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone 

  • September 22 / 22 Boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone + personal sacrifices

  • September 23 / 23 Boedromion: closing rite

  • We truly hope you will join us for this event. You can share your experience with the community here and all rituals can be found here. Note, these are ALL rituals, eleven of them in total. One for every day, plus one extra. Read the explanation above and see the schedule for clarification. It is highly encouraged you read through them before the Mysteries start! We are very excited about the opportunity of offering this experience to you and we hope you will find a glimmer of what the ancient Hellenes might have experienced during the most anticipated days of the year.
    Aspasia is perhaps the most famous woman ancient Athens produced. She was born in the Ionian colony of Miletus on the coast of Asia Minor and immigrated to Athens about 450 BC, where she resided as a métoikos or resident alien. She was an accomplished hetaira, educated and trained in the art of conversation and entertainment, and the companion of the great leader of democratic Athens, Pericles.

    It is not known under what circumstances she first traveled to Athens. In fact, very little is known about her life and her as a person. We do suspect that she ran a brothel and worked as a hetaira until her marriage to Pericles. As a hetaira, she would have recieved and offered a very extensive education in order to be able to provide conversation for the many men who attended the ancient Hellenic symposia. As such, she was a well known figure in the ancient Athenian culture and hosted many parties which many famous men attended. According to Plutarch, her house became an intellectual centre in Athens, attracting the most prominent writers and thinkers, including the philosopher Socrates. It has also been suggested that the teachings of Aspasia influenced Socrates. Aspasia was mentioned in the writing of philosophers Plato, Aristophanes, Xenophon, and other authors of the day.

    Her status as a foreigner freed Aspasia from the legal restraints that traditionally confined married women to their homes and allowed her to participate in the public life of Athens. Mistress of her own house and hostess to friends and supporters who visited, she was witty and educated.

     It is attested that Pericles met Aspasia at a symposium and fell for her. She came to live with him as his concubine after Pericles divorced his wife (c.445 BC, if not earlier) and bore him a child of the same name. She was not permitted to marry an Athenian citizen--ironically, because of legislation that Pericles, himself, had enacted shortly before Aspasia arrived--and would remain his concubine until Pericles died of the plague in 429 BC. He lived with her as her husband and treated her as an equal. In fact, it's said he always kissed her goodbye and hello whe he left and came home. This was unseemly for a respectable man, and for a man of Pericles' standing, unheard of. He was often criticized for his relationship with Aspasia, and for his obvious reliance on her help and judgment.

    Aspasia is said by the Suda, a tenth-century Byzantine encyclopedia, to have been 'clever with regards to words', a sophist, and to have taught rhetoric. Cicero, in De Inventione, quotes a lost dialogue by Aeschines to demonstrate her skill in counseling Xenophon and his wife. Neither will be happy, she says, as long as they desire an ideal spouse; rather, each must be the best spouse, if their partner's wish is to be fulfilled.

    "All argumentation, then, is to be carried on either by induction or by deduction. Induction is a form of argument which leads the person with whom one is arguing to give assent to certain undisputed facts; through this assent it wins his approval of a doubtful proposition because this resembles the facts to which he has assented. For instance, in a dialogue by Aeschines Socraticus Socrates reveals that Aspasia reasoned thus with Xenophon's wife and with Xenophon himself: "Please tell me, madam, if your neighbour had a better gold ornament than you have, would you prefer that one or your own?" "That one, " she replied. "Now, if she had dresses and other feminine finery more expensive than you have, would you prefer yours or hers?" "Hers, of course," she replied. "Well now, if she had a better husband than you have, would you prefer your husband or hers?" At this the woman blushed. But Aspasia then began to speak to Xenophon. "I wish you would tell me, Xenophon," she said, "if your neighbour had a better horse than yours, would you prefer your horse or his?" "His" was his answer. "And if he had a better farm than you have, which farm would your prefer to have?" The better farm, naturally," he said. "Now if he had a better wife than you have, would you prefer yours or his?" And at this Xenophon, too, himself was silent. Then Aspasia: "Since both of you have failed to tell me the only thing I wished to hear, I myself will tell you what you both are thinking. That is, you, madam, wish to have the best husband, and you, Xenophon, desire above all things to have the finest wife. Therefore, unless you can contrive that there be no better man or finer woman on earth you will certainly always be in dire want of what you consider best, namely, that you be the husband of the very best of wives, and that she be wedded to the very best of men." [I.31.51-52]

    In 430 BC, at the beginning of the second year of the Peloponnesian War, a disastrous plague broke out in Athens. It killed the two sons of Pericles by his first wife, and he asked for an exemption from the law to permit his son by Aspasia to be legitimated and made a citizen, which was granted. The next year, Pericles, himself, died from the plague, and Aspasia was left alone. She soon found another protector in Lysicles, who rose to prominence under her tutelage. Sadly, he died a year later. The time of her death that most historians give (c. 401 BC-400 BC) is based on the assessment that Aspasia died before the execution of Socrates in 399 BC, a chronology which is implied in the structure of Aeschines' Aspasia.
    MOR-architects and EP Architects were awarded the first position in the competition for the new Archaeological Museum of Sparta. With an architectural concept based on creating an elevated space of exhibition on top of the archaeological site, the winning project generates a constant visual connection between the old and the new.

    The proposed scheme comes as an addition to a listed building of industrial legacy, and to the surrounding archaeological site. According to the designers, “the existing building and its expansion compose an “island” in an “archaeological sea” which surrounds them”.  The new addition will take place in the old storage space of the existing factory.

    The architects announce that they have conceived the New Archaeological Museum of Sparta as “an open museum, […] aiming to express and enhance the relationship between the antiquities on-site, the listed factory building, and the new building complex”. In fact, this is achieved through a composition combining connectivity, integration, transparency, and flexibility.

    The exhibition space showcases a flexible layout, with a “simultaneous perception of the main exhibition areas, the ongoing archaeological excavation and the iconic landscape.” The connection of the new building with a network of paths links the existing archaeological spaces to the contemporary city of Sparta. Finally, the archaeological park is introduced into the building through “outdoor exhibition spaces and shaded social areas underneath the elevated volume of the main exhibition”.

    Many more images/artist impressions here.
    The recent announcement by Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis regarding the removal of antiquities found during the construction of Thessaloniki’s Venizelos Metro Station has sparked fierce reactions from Greece’s main opposition party as well as archaeologists.

    Mitsotakis made the announcement during his speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair, where he also said that the Thessaloniki Metro will be in operation by 2023, not by 2020, as Greece’s previous Syriza government had promised.

    The prime minister’s statements on the archaeological discoveries also generated a confrontation between the Syriza and New Democracy parties in Parliament on Tuesday. The previous administration’s Ministry of Culture and Sports had agreed with Thessaloniki’s municipal authority, and all other parties involved, to display the antiquities found during the metro tunnel excavations in situ, at the stations where they were discovered.

    However, the New Democracy government has decided that the antiquities which were unearthed will be exhibited at a new museum, which is yet to be constructed, because displaying them inside the stations would further delay the completion of the Metro project.

    Kostas Karamanlis, Greece’s Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, stated that there are simply too many antiquities to be displayed at that particular station, and if they were to be exhibited there, the opening of the Thessaloniki Metro would be significantly delayed.

    During the meeting Karamanlis held on Tuesday with chairman Nikos Tahiaos and CEO Nikos Kouretas of the new Attico Metro system, the minister admitted that displaying the antiquities where they were found was an idea that had been agreed upon five years ago. However, the necessary studies for the project have not been finalized to this day.

    Members of the Syriza government’s Department of Culture are accusing the government of discrediting the work of archaeologists and the importance of the findings. They charge that the current government would rather promote a “dubious archaeological Disneyland” instead of displaying them as found, in situ, at the stations.

    The main opposition statement terms the decision to remove the archaeological finds from the Venizelos Metro Station as “catastrophic,” claiming that it shows a total disregard not only for the city’s cultural heritage but also the desire of Thessaloniki citizens to have the finds displayed where they were found. The statement also says that the new move is “suspicious” and indicates that the Prime Minister and the ruling party are serving private interests instead of the public interest.

    The opposition’s statement is signed by former Culture Ministers and Deputy Ministers Nikos Xydakis, Aristidis Baltas, Lydia Koniordou, Myrsini Zorba, Costas Stratis as well as General Secretary of Culture Maria Vlazaki. Syriza MP and former candidate for the Thessaloniki mayorship Katerina Notopoulou called the proposed removal of the antiquities and their subsequent placement in a yet-to-be-constructed museum a “humiliating act for the city.”

    In a press release issued by Notopoulou’s office, Prime Minister Mitsotakis is described “as a young Elgin, who has announced, without any prior consultation with all pertinent authorities involved and the citizens, the plunder and removal of the archaeological finds in order to house them in the planned Museum of Archeological Findings of the Metro.” The press release further charges that the decision to remove the antiquities from the place where they were found “is a crime against the city.”

    The Association of Greek Archaeologists also opposes the removal of the Thessaloniki finds.
    The Association issued a statement saying,

    “The rich dialogue between scientists that took place over the past years has shown that the coexistence (of the metro station and the antiquities) is not only technically feasible but also imperative, in that it presents a unique monumental ensemble highlighting the Byzantine past of Thessaloniki.”

    The statement went on to note that this implicit understanding “has been embraced by the people of Thessaloniki, the municipal authorities and the international community.”
    The Demokratia festival celebrates the blessings of democratic government, constitutional law and freedom of speech. Because of our current political climate, we thought it was time to bring it back. We will hold the ritual on 12 Boedromion, which is 12 September, at the usual 10 am EDT.

    The festival included sacrifices to Zeus Agoraios, Athena Agoraia (literally "Zeus and Athene of the low place") and to the Goddess Themis.  Images of Zeus and Athena were paraded in the agora, the lower city below the Acropolis ("High Place"). Themis, one of the Titans, is Goddess of divine law--the primal, unwritten laws governing human conduct which were first established by the gods of heaven. She was believed to have issued these edicts to mankind through the great oracle of Delphoi over which she presided alongside the God Apollon.  Clearly, the establishment of democracy in Athens was seen as a divine gift of Themis, especially, as well as Zeus (her father) and Athena.

    Today, we use the term demokratia to mean a direct democracy, as opposed to our more familiar modern invention, representative democracy. The demokratia was first begun in Athens around 500 BCE. In such a government, citizens’ (no women or slaves) votes were counted directly. By the same token, in a true demokratia, each citizen is also directly responsible for the various duties of keeping the society running. That is, every voting citizen is expected to participate in some way, in the functioning of the necessary social services, governance, and so on.

    Will you join us in honoring the Gods who guard our democracy? You can find the ritual here and join the community page here.
    Mental illness in ancient Hellas was often considered as sent by the Gods, either in punishment, as a lesson, or even a reward. It depended on the illness. I'd like to share some of the Gods and Goddesses especially willing to assist when you are suffering from mental illness or a dangerously low level of mental health spoons. I'm sure it won't surprise you that many of Them also take care of the body--the two are intrinsically linked, after all.

    The most obvious deities associated with any form of health are Asklēpiós and His daughter Hygeia. the ancient Hellenes didn't really distinguish between mental and physical health, and so both came to be petitioned for both, although Hygeia seemed especially receptive to lending aid in the mental department.

    For neither Apollon, nor Dionysos who follows, I have 'from the top of my head'-sources, so file this one under UPG for today. I'll get back to it. Apollon is a healing God, and the father of Asklēpiós. By extension alone, He can also be petitioned for mental health aid, and UPG-wise, it makes sense to me; as a God of Light, that tends to be exactly what is missing in my head when I trigger; light. Hope. All I can see is what happened over and over again, and I get sad, and guilty, and dark. Apollon can burn that darkness away and offer relief to an aching head and heart.

    Again, file under UPG for now, but Dionysos can bring madness, and take it away as well. He is a God whose main influence is felt on the mind, and His influence can be both positive and negative. Until I get the research in, let me tell you a story; sometimes I can feel the darkness coming on. It used to happen a lot when I was still a teen and in my early twenties, although it's been blissfully stable the last few years. Whenever I would feel that, I would dance to the loudest music I could find--uplifting music that I put on high volume on my speakers or headphones, and then I would just dance. I'd dance until I was out of breath and my feet hurt, and my back hurt, and I would pray to Dionysos to lift my burdens from me all the while. I'd dance until I collapsed, and I would always, always, feel better. That is the kind of relief Dionysos offers--the one you need to work for, the one that hurts, but also the one that is so very rewarding in the end.
    The mystery of what happened to the Minoan civilization has tormented archaeologists for over a century, and the tale has now taken a new twist. Nothing happened to them, say archaeologists who have been excavating the island of Crete for over thirty years.

    This extraordinary people, who produced palatial architecture unparalleled in the Aegean region at the time, were not immolated by the volcanic eruption of Thera as once thought, crushed by earthquake, or squashed by Mycenean Greece as more recently supposed. Rather, the Minoans,- who had for centuries wielded influence throughout the Aegean, did experience earthquakes that rattled them, were indeed badly weakened by the volcanic blast from Thera on the nearby island of Santorini, and did experience the unamiable attentions of the mainland Hellenes.

    But although the two cultures appear to have struggled, over time the elite elements of both became virtually indistinguishable, after 1450 B.C.E., if not earlier. Minoan influence as such would recede and the by-then-Mycenaeanised islanders would soldier on until the great collapse of civilization around the Mediterranean Basin, around 1,200 B.C.E.

    It bears adding that archaeologists had once thought the Minoans must have "come from somewhere else" because of their advancement compared with the surroundings. But genetic analyses in 2017 concluded that both the Minoans and Mycenaeans descended from the stone-age farmers of western Anatolia and the Aegean, plus smidgens of heritage from the Caucasus and Iran. The two were very closely related.

    Yet the destruction layers found in the main Minoan city of Knossos weren’t the result of Theran ash raining down 3,600 years ago but may be debris from Minoan resistance to Mycenaean incursions, or possibly from local rebellions between 1470 to 1450 B.C.E., sums up Colin Macdonald, an archaeologist with the British School in Athens.

    The island of Santorini was evacuated and buried under meters of pumice. The shores of Crete would have been hit by tsunamis, which also wrecked the Knossos port on that island. Though much of the ash-fall blew in other directions, the eruption apparently did trigger decline on the island, the east part of which became quite depopulated. However: “Thera’s eruption did not directly affect Knossos – no volcanic-induced earthquake or tsunami struck the palace which, in any case, is 100 meters above sea level,” Macdonald points out. Archaeologists have found evidence of widespread destruction in the settlements of ancient Crete a generation or two after Thera’s eruption. How the devastation was caused has yet to be demonstrated.

    Absent specific indicators, the cause could have been earthquake, famine, attacks from mainland centers of ancient Greece, like Mycenae, or some combination of the above, though a wholescale invasion of marauding Mycenaean mainlanders as the central factor seems less likely.

    It is also theoretically possible that Knossos, not having been much physically affected by the eruption, tried to flex its muscle and attacked other centers of civilization on its own home island, Crete. Or, there could have been local unrest: class struggles, with the country people rising up against the elites.

    What can be said is that some decades after the destruction in Crete in about 1450 B,C.E., a different style of burial custom appeared at Knossos and the administration adopted a new language and writing system.

    It is the change in writing system that indicates top-down change at Knossos. The earliest writing in Crete dates to the early Bronze Age and was hieroglyphic. That was followed by a syllabic writing system called Linear A, one of the oldest known in the world, which remains undeciphered to this day. But starting around 1450 B.C.E., the very time of the destruction layers in Crete, the tablets archaeologists find in Knossos were written in Linear B, which was the Greek and Mycenaean writing system at the time. Possibly, the Minoan administrative apparatus at Knossos was taken over by Greeks from the mainland; or Knossos came under outright control of Greek mainland centers, perhaps even Mycenae.

    Another change after 1450 B.C.E. is that the practice by stonemasons of leaving marks on their work, disappeared from Knossos. (This was a practice throughout the region, not a local invention.)
    The bottom line is that by the 14th century B.C.E., the Mycenaeans seem to have overrun Minoan interests in the eastern Mediterranean. Mycenaean material culture became ubiquitous in the south Aegean Sea, where once Minoan influence had been strong.

    It was quite the reversal of fate.In the centuries before the eruption, Cretan culture had exercised notable influence on the Greek mainland. But even though the blast didn’t necessarily affect Knossos too much directly, it plausibly weakened Cretan civilizations, opening the door to Mycenaean influences, as reflected in changes in administration and burial practices.

    With the administration, perhaps even religious authority collapsed. “This could well have manifested itself in local uprisings and the burning of administrative and elite buildings,” Macdonald speculates. If the eruption did not break the backbone of Minoan civilization, it may have fractured its economy, and Mycenae - the powerhouse of mainland Greece – exploited that.

    This theory is supported by the fact that the eruption destroyed the Theran port that had been aligned with Crete and Knossos, plausibly enabling the Mycenaeans to develop their own trading hubs, such as the other largest site in the Cyclades, namely Phylakopi, on Milos. There is no doubt that Phylakopi was instrumental in promoting the Mycenaean Greek language and writing, Linear B, as the lingua franca of Aegean economy after the eruption.

    According to historians, Knossos was Europe’s oldest proper city, established between 2000 to 1900 B.C.E.. Its palace had features considered very advanced for the time, for instance monumental architecture, stone-built storm drains and sewers, and lavatories. And although the Minoans did suffer from earthquakes, studies of the architectural remains at the palace of Knossos have shown that the basic plan remained the same over 500 years, with some major renovations, repairs and additional buildings that added to the palace’s grandeur.

    “Earthquakes were not ‘game changers’, but often spurred the authorities to try something new,” says Macdonald adding, “The earthquakes were important in terms of architectural change but not of cultural discontinuity.”

    The palace storerooms and advanced drainage systems, built around 2000 B.C.E., remained in use until the final destruction of the palace in the 14th century B.C.E.  The palace was destroyed sometime in the 14th century B.C.E., perhaps towards its end, by a conflagration that baked the Linear B clay tablets and seal impressions. In the 13th century B.C.E., there are scattered signs of reoccupation in the badly damaged palace buildings. But by this time the Minoans, with or without the “Mycenaean veneer”, had largely disappeared from the world stage of history.