Research led by the University of Arizona Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research has anchored a long sequence of tree rings, providing context for the civilizations that existed throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages. Charlotte Pearson, a University of Arizona assistant professor of dendrochronology and anthropology, is lead author of a paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which she and her colleagues have used a new hybrid approach to assign calendar dates to a sequence of tree rings, which spans the period during which Thera erupted, to within one year of a calendar date. This allows them to present new evidence that could support an eruption date around 1560 B.C.

Trees grow in accordance with the conditions of their local environment. Each year, trees produce a new layer of concentric growth, called a tree ring, which can record information about rainfall, temperature, wildfires, soil conditions and more. Trees can even record solar activity as it waxes and wanes.

When a sequence of rings from trees of various ages are overlapped and added together, they can span hundreds or thousands of years, providing insight about past climate conditions and context for concurrent civilizations.

“The longest chronology in the world stretches back 12,000 years. But in the Mediterranean, the problem is that we don’t have a full, continuous record going back to the time of Thera. We have recorded the last 2,000 years very well, but then there’s a gap. We have tree rings from earlier periods, but we don’t know exactly which dates the rings correspond to. This is what’s called a ‘floating chronology.'”

Filling this gap could help pin down the Thera eruption date and paint a climatic backdrop for the various civilizations that rose and fell during the Bronze and Iron ages, which together spanned between 5,000 and 2,500 years ago.

“Until you can put an exact year on events on a scale that makes sense to people – one year – it’s not quite as powerful. This study is really about taking (my co-author and tree ring lab research professor) Peter Kuniholm’s chronology that he’s put together over 45 years of work and dating it in a way not possible before. Most importantly, it is fixed in time, just as if we had filled our tree ring gap.”

Since the inception of the UArizona Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research in 1937, an assortment of tree ring samples from all over the world accumulated in less-than-ideal conditions beneath Arizona Stadium. But since the completion of the university’s upgraded Bryant Bannister Tree Ring Building in 2013, the curation team, led by Peter Brewer, has been relocating, organizing and preserving samples for future research.

“This is the collection that founded the field of tree ring research, and it’s by far the world’s largest Researchers come from all over to use our collection. It’s just crammed full of the remains of ancient forests and archaeological sites, which no longer exist, and it contains wood samples that were fundamental in the growth of the discipline of dendrochronology.”

The collection includes timbers from the Midas Mound Tumulus at Gordion in Turkey – a giant tomb of a man that was likely Midas’ father or grandfather. From timbers like these, Kuniholm has been building a tree ring chronology from the Mediterranean for nearly a half century. Together, Kuniholm’s record from the B.C. period spans over 2,000 years, including trees growing downwind of the Thera eruption, making it key to the team’s research. Despite the length of this chronology, it remained undated. To pin it down, the team decided to try something new.

When cosmic rays from space enter the Earth’s atmosphere, neutrons collide with nitrogen atoms to create a radioactive version of carbon, called carbon-14, which spreads around the planet. All other life on Earth, including tree rings, pick up the carbon-14, and because tree-rings lock away a measurement of carbon-14 for each year that they grow, they hold patterns showing how it changed over time. These patterns of carbon-14 in tree rings around the world should match.

Pearson and her team used the patterns of carbon-14 captured in the Gordion tree rings to anchor the floating chronology to similar patterns from other calendar dated tree ring sequences.

“It’s a new way to anchor floating tree ring chronologies that makes use of the annual precision of tree rings.”

To validate their findings, the team turned to the calendar-dated rings of high-elevation bristlecone pines from western North America that lived at the same time as the Gordion. Second author, Matthew Salzer, research scientist at the tree ring laboratory, said:

“When there are large volcanic eruptions, it often scars bristlecone by freezing during the growing season, creating a frost ring. Then we compared the dates of the frost rings with what was going on in the Mediterranean trees, which respond to volcanoes by growing wider rings. And it worked. It showed that the wide rings in the Mediterranean chronology occurred in the same years as the frost rings in the bristlecone. We took that to be confirmation that the dating was probably correct.”

The team then thought to use a new piece of technology in the lab called the X-ray fluorescence machine to scan the wood for chemical changes.

“We scanned the entire period across when Thera is known to have happened and we detected a very slight depletion in calcium, right where I saw this lighter ring years ago.”

While it’s a slight fluctuation, it is significant and only occurs at one point in the years around 1560 B.C.

“We put that in the paper and tentatively suggest it’s a possible date for Thera.”

Something changed the chemistry of the environment in which the tree grew; acid deposition from a volcano is one possibility, wildfire is another, but because the date happens to coincide with other tree ring markers for a major eruption, Pearson she says it’s worthy of further exploration.

“I think to do good science you have to investigate everything and keep an open mind until sufficient data comes together. This is another little piece of the puzzle.”
The ancient Patara Lighthouse, constructed on the order of one of the most famed emperors in Roman history, Nero, in 64 AD, is set to be restored and once again shine on the shores of Kaş, in southern Antalya (Greek Attaleia), centuries after it went dark.

Professor Havva İşkan Işık from the Department of Archaeology at Akdeniz University said the lighthouse will be reconstructed with its original stones. The ancient 30-meter-high lighthouse has the potential to become one of the most important cultural heritage sites in the country.

"The lighthouse is the most fascinating artwork in the Patara area. God willing, after restoration, the lights of Patara’s Lighthouse will shine a way for sailors in the future."

Işık noted that even though the lighthouse is not the oldest of its kind in the world, it still has historical importance for Turkey, including playing an important role in the history of the Roman Empire.

"The Lighthouse of Nero has a huge potential to attract a great number of tourists. The government has declared 2020 as the year of Patara. I thank the president for making this possible."

The lighthouse was introduced to the world by William Gell, who carried out research visits on behalf of the Society of Dilettanti – an association examining ancient Greek and Roman arts – between 1812 and 1813, while the term lighthouse was first used by Turkish professor Fahri Işık who inaugurated the excavations in 1988. The second excavations to unearth the original stones used in the construction began in August 2004.

The lighthouse consists of two main sections – a podium and a tower – while the tower consists of two interlocking cylindrical structures connected by a spiral-shaped ladder. The wall thickness is 1.2 meters (4 feet). The tower will reach a height of about 26 meters (85 feet) on the podium after it is rebuilt.

Patara was said to have been founded by Pataros, a son of Apollo. It was situated at a distance of 60 stadia to the southeast of the mouth of the river Xanthos. Patara (later renamed Arsinoe) was noted in antiquity for its temple and oracle of Apollo, second only to that of Delphi.

Ancient writers mentioned Patara as one of the principal cities of Lycia. It was Lycia's primary seaport, and a leading city of the Lycian League.

The city, with the rest of Lycia, surrendered to Alexander the Great in 333 BC. During the Hellenistic Period, the Lycian Bouleuterion (Council Building) was built. It is regarded as a symbol of democracy in Lycia and a sign of its ancient glory.

Antiochus III captured Patara in 196 BC. The Rhodians occupied the city, and as a Roman ally, the city with the rest of Lycia was granted its freedom in 167 BC. In 88 BC, the city suffered siege by Mithridates I
Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility, and I am here for it. While I'm a cis-woman, I know some awesome transgendered or otherwise genderqueer individuals, and I want to celebrate their awesomeness today! In true Baring the Aegis style, I'll do this by sharing the myths of some intersexed, gender-shifting, gender-merging or otherwise genderqueer individuals.

I must, of course, start with Hermaphroditos (Ἑρμαφρόδιτος), who is the child of Aphrodite and Hermes. He became a minor deity of bisexuality and effeminacy, and was portrayed as a female figure with male genitals. In the myth told by the Roman poet Ovid, Hermaphroditos was born fully male. As a young man, he wandered the lands and encountered a nymph, Salmacis (Σαλμακίς), in her pool. Salmacis fell for the boy right away, tried to seduce him. Hermaphroditos rebuked her, but she still jumped him when undressed for a bath in her pool. As he tried to fight her off, Salmacis cried out for the Theoi to let them stay forever merged--upon which the Theoi agreed: the two fused together, becoming the first hermaphrodite.

I've mentioned before that Ovid's myths aren't reflective of ancient Hellenic mythology--and in Hellenic myth, Hermaphroditos was either born with both male and female part, or he was simply very feminine in that he had pale skin and was very delicate, while still possessing the strength of a male. Especially in the latter case, there is a beautiful gender duality in Hermaphroditos that I much appreciate.

Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' is the source for a few other Hellenic-inspired Roman myth: the myth about the immensely strong warrior Kaineus (Καινεύς), for example, who was born as a woman named Kainis, and asked to be transformed into a male after being raped by Poseidon (or Hermes). Poseidon agrees, and makes Kaineus impervious to mortal weapons to boot, making him a capable warrior. Kaineus is mentioned in ancient classics like the Illiad, but without the gender-shift. In the Illiad, he is one of the earlies heroic, and extraordinary, warriors.

Another of Ovid's metamorphoses happens to Teiresias (Τειρεσίας), the blind prophet from Thebes. There is more Hellenic support for this myth, however. As the story goes, Teiresias was out one day, and came upon a pair of snakes, who were mating in the bush. He swiftly hit them over the head with a stick and killed both of them. Hera witnessed his actions and was not pleased: she transformed Teiresias into a woman. After recovering from the shock, Teiresias accepted her fate and married. She also became a priestess of Hera to make up for her crime. Eventually, Teiresias had children and a decent life. Yet, when he came upon another pair of mating snakes seven years later, he either clubbed them to death again, or left them alone. Either action let to another change of sex: Teiresias was male again. How his husband dealt with this is unclear. In a later myth, Hera blinds the prophet when he is asked to settle a dispute between her and Zeus: who enjoys sex more, male or female. Teiresias, who has experienced both, must side with Zeus: women most definitely enjoy sex more.

A myth of which only fragments have survived is the story of Siproites of Krete, who saw Artemis bathing in the woods one day, and was changed by her into a woman. Why this exact punishment was placed upon Siproites is unclear.

The last myth I'll retell today is the one about Leucippus (Λεύκιππος), who was born female to Lamprus and Galatea. Lamprus had warned Galatea that he would only accept a male child, so when Leucippus turned out to be female, Galatea hid the gender of the child from her husband and raised Leucippus as male. Of course, once Leucippus reached adolescence, her gender became hard to hide. In some versions of the myth, Leucippus fell for the girl next door, making it even more prudent that Leucippus became the male she wanted to be. And so, Galatea went to the temple of Leto and prayed to turn her daughter into the son she had promised her husband. Leto, moved by the mother's plea, did as she was asked. The people of Phaistos, there the myth took place, honored Leto by her epithet 'Phytia' (to grow, φύω), in reference to Leucippus' newly grown penis. The people of Phaistos also founded a feast called the 'Ekdysia' (undressing, ἑκδύω), because Leucippus was no longer forced to wear women's clothes. It also became custom for the women of Phaestus to lie next to the statue of Leucippus before their wedding.

I doubt the ancient Hellens had any concept of the term 'transgendered', or even related to it--I think the societal gender roles were too strict too even question if your sex matched your gender. Yet, gender and sex were definitely themes in mythology. There are many more examples. To my readers I would ask to become trans* allies--if you are not already--to speak out against injustice, to stand up against hate. Too many people are killed, beaten up, sexually or verbally abused over trans* issues. It's time for the hate to stop, and to remember those who have already lost their lives while living the life they were meant to live. Stop violence, end ignorance, fight hate. Remember, and most of all, celebrate!
These are trying times for all and most of us could use a bit of divine help when it comes to our mental well-being, on top of our physical well-being. I'd like to share the names of some of the Gods and Goddesses especially willing to assist when you are dealing with a 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.

Asklēpiós and Hygeia
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.

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.

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. 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.

Stay strong, everyone. This too shall pass.
Epictetus (Ἐπίκτητος) was a Hellenic Stoic philosopher. He was born around 55 AD as a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present day Pamukkale, Turkey). Philosophy, Epictetus taught, is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control; we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses. 'The Golden Sayings' collect much of his teachings, and today I would like to share the fragments, which are one-sentence rules to live by, for sure.

I - A life entangled with Fortune is like a torrent. It is turbulent and muddy; hard to pass and masterful of mood: noisy and of brief continuance.
II - The soul that companies with Virtue is like an ever-flowing source. It is a pure, clear, and wholesome draught; sweet, rich, and generous of its store; that injures not, neither destroys.
III - It is a shame that one who sweetens his drink with the gifts of the bee, should embitter God's gift Reason with vice.
IV - Crows pick out the eyes of the dead, when the dead have no longer need of them; but flatterers mar the soul of the living, and her eyes they blind.
V - Keep neither a blunt knife nor an ill-disciplined looseness of tongue.
VI - Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.
VII - Do not give sentence in another tribunal till you have been yourself judged in the tribunal of Justice.
VIII - If is shameful for a Judge to be judged by others.
IX - Give me by all means the shorter and nobler life, instead of one that is longer but of less account!
X - Freedom is the name of virtue: Slavery, of vice. . . . None is a slave whose acts are free.
XI - Of pleasures, those which occur most rarely give the most delight.
XII - Exceed due measure, and the most delightful things become the least delightful.
XIII - The anger of an ape--the threat of a flatterer:--these deserve equal regard.
XIV - Chastise thy passions that they avenge not themselves upon thee.
XV - No man is free who is not master of himself.
XVI - A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope.
XVII - Fortify thyself with contentment: that is an impregnable stronghold.
XVIII - No man who is a lover of money, of pleasure, of glory, is likewise a lover of Men; but only he that is a lover of whatsoever things are fair and good.
XIX - Think of God more often than thou breathest.
XX - Choose the life that is noblest, for custom can make it sweet to thee.
XXI - Let thy speech of God be renewed day by day, aye, rather than thy meat and drink.
XXII - Even as the Sun doth not wait for prayers and incantations to rise, but shines forth and is welcomed by all: so thou also wait not for clapping of hands and shouts and praise to do thy duty; nay, do good of thine own accord, and thou wilt be loved like the Sun.
XXIII - Let no man think that he is loved by any who loveth none.
XXIV - If thou rememberest that God standeth by to behold and visit all that thou doest; whether in the body or in the soul, thou surely wilt not err in any prayer or deed; and thou shalt have God to dwell with thee.
Isaac Newton was a student at Cambridge when the Great Plague of London hit. His university cancelled classes and, just like many of us today, he was forced to stay at home. Fortunately for us all, he used that time wisely. It was during his self-quarantine that he developed the foundations for calculus, optics and gravity. So, too can we make good use of this time, if we are willing and able, to learn, to read, to philosophize.

Classical Wisdom, would like to help during these trying times, whether it’s a way to stay sane in insane times or just continue the pursuit of knowledge. As such, Classical Wisdom will be offering their ancient Greek history video course, The Essential Greeks, completely FREE to everyone staying in. Founder and Director, Anya Leonard explains:

"From the comfort and safety of your own home, you can sign up and begin classes – including 40 videos covering the most important Greeks from Homer to Aristotle, original texts, e-books, biographies and quizzes. The Essential Greeks course has begun Sunday March 22nd, but you will have full access to the materials as soon as you sign up.

Sign up yourself, your friends, family members, or anyone you think would enjoy the journey and appreciate an educational distraction. After all, it is at times of crisis when we need the classics the most, for the perspective and wisdom they can provide…”

Sign up for the Essential Greeks Video Course Completely FREE here.
On Mounuchion 6, the Athenian festival of the Delphinia (Δελφίνια) starts in honor of Apollon and Artemis. To celebrate this festival, Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual at 10 am EDT on March 31. Will you be joining us?

The Delphinia is a festival to ask for the protection of all ships and sailors, to ask for guidance for young boys and girls transitioning into adulthood and--as a festival of purification--the Delphinia can be interpreted to be open to all who are going through a time of transition and/or struggle.

What is known about this festival is that virgin girls walked to the Delphinion (Δελφίνιον) atop the Acropolis in procession, carrying olive branches bound with wool (known as 'iketiria') and baked cakes known as Popana, made of soft cheese and flower. There is overwhelming evidence that the festival was held on the sixth of the month of Mounukhion, most notably from Plutarch, but the seventh of same month is also considered a possible date, quite possibly because the festivities could have taken place in the daylight hours of the sixth day, which is the same day as the start of the seventh of the month, as dusk rained in a new day.

Plutarch connects the sixth of the month Mounukhion to Apollon and Theseus--most importantly to Theseus' quest for the Minotaur--in his 'Life of Theseus'. Theseus vows to look over those the lots choose to be offered to the Minotaur in the maze on Krete. Roughly in the month of Mounukhion, the seafaring season started. It's therefor not odd that lots would have been cast about this time, for the youths--and everyone else with business across the sea--would set sail as soon as the weather allowed. The rising of the Pleiades, located in the constellation of Taurus, around late April, the beginning of May, was a signal for the boldest of sea-goers that the treacherous sea was at least moderately accessible. Still, it would be at least several months before the favoured seafaring season started, so anyone braving the sea, could probably use some protection. Somewhere shortly after the Delphinia would have been Theseus' first opportunity to sail to Krete, but it would place his return almost five months later; quite some time for a three day journey (one way) in favourable conditions.

During the Delphinia, young maidens presented Apollon Delphinion, and perhaps Artemis Delphinia, with the iketiria Theseus had presented them with as well, in the hopes of receiving for the Athenians the same guidance and protection at sea as the Kretan colonists, as well as Theseus and the youths, had gotten.

A connection can also be made with Theseus visiting the shrine of Apollon Delphinios as an opportunity for purification before his great quest, as the young supplicants who prepared for their personal collective journeys into adulthood would desire purification of their own, and Apollon in many of his epithets is a purifier. Also, in a little less than a month, the Thargelia took place in Delos, an event where the births of Artemis, and especially Apollon were celebrated. The rites at the Delphinia might have been part of the purification processes for those who were to go to Delos (with thanks to Daphne Lykeia for this interpretation).

As a festival of purification, the Delphinia can be interpreted to be open to all who are going through a time of transition and/or struggle. A divine purification of miasma might allow you to focus better on these issues, and receive guidance from the Theoi more easily--like Theseus, who purified himself  at the Delphinion and prayed for the guidance of Aphrodite directly thereafter. Aphrodite made Ariadne fall for him, saving his life and those of the young men and women in the process.

One can celebrate this day by offering both Apollon and Artemis hymns, libations, and Popana cakes, and presenting Artemis with an iketiria, an olive branch wrapped with white wool, if you are a young female looking for aid. An iketiria was primarily used in rites of supplication.

The popana (or popanon) should be a flat cake with a single 'knob' in the center. We don't have a surviving recipe, but Cato's recipes for 'libum' seems to hold many of the same ingredients. It goes as follows:

"'Make libum by this method. Break up two pounds of cheese well in a mortar. When they will have been well broken up, put in a pound of wheat flour or, if you wish it to be more delicate, half a pound of fine flour and mix it well together with the cheese. Add one egg ...and mix together well. Then make into bread, places leaves beneath, and cook slowly on a hot hearth under an earthen pot."

That's a lot of Popana. Make this if you're with a large group, else the recipe would look something like this for something the size of a good loaf of bread or its equivalent in smaller portions:

- 14 ounces good ricotta or any fresh cheese, preferably unpasteurized (ricotta should always be drained overnight in a colander)
- 4 ounces (approx) flour, preferably farro
- 1 large egg
- a pinch of salt
- several bay leaves, preferably fresh
- olive oil, for the pan

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

You can either make large cakes or small ones. If you're making large ones, line a baking pan or sheet with bay leaves and brush them lightly with olive oil. If you don't have enough leaves to cover the surface, distribute the leaves as best you can. If you are going to make smaller cakes, brush one leaf with oil for each cake you are going to make.

Knead all the ingredients (except the bay leaves) until well blended. Add flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Shape the dough into a single, or several smaller cakes. Place either the large cake on top of the bay leaves, or put each little one on top of one. Then put it in a baking pan and into the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes for a large cake, or (much) less long for smaller cakes. Just watch them until they are firm and light golden brown. Don't forget to enjoy it yourself!

The ritual for the event can be found here and you can join the community here.
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, 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 Mounukhion:
  • Mounukhion 4 - March 29 - Sacrifice to the Herakleidai at Erkhia
  • Mounukhion 6 - March 31 - Delphinia - in honor of Artemis, and perhaps Apollon and Theseus
  • Mounukhion16n - April 9 - Mounikhia - festival in honor of Artemis as the moon Goddess and Mistress of the animals
  • Mounukhion 19 - April 14 - Olympieia - festival in honor of Olympian Zeus
  • Mounukhion 20 - April 14 - Sacrifice to Leukaspis at Erkhia
  • Mounukhion 21 - April 15 - Sacrifice to Tritopatores at Erkhia

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.
In the world of video gaming, using Ancient Hellas for a backdrop is trending more than ever. But that shouldn’t be surprising, considering that ancient Hellas has everything to offer as the ultimate setting — from beauty, magic and powerful Gods, to the ruins (intact back in ancient times!), islands and culture.

Everyone recognizes that ancient Hellas played a major role in western civilization, and everyone must be curious about what it would have been like to live there. Check out these 12 video games while you're self-isolating--and you ARE self-isolating, right?

1. Odyssey – Assassin’s Creed

Throughout the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, players deal with an array of political and scientific themes such as democracy vs. tyranny, myth vs. science and order vs. chaos. The game takes place in ancient Hellas during the Peloponnesian War.

Ubisoft Quebec, the studio behind the popular Assassin’s Creed syndicate, truly went the extra mile to ensure the authenticity of ancient Hellas in their new Odyssey game by depicting ancient Athens as a colorful, vibrant, multi-faceted city with many districts to explore.

2. God of War

God of War is a bloody, battle-filled adventure and strategy game also set in ancient Hellas. Developed by Santa Monica Studios, it revolves around Kratos, the protagonist, who encounters all of the most well-known Hellenic Gods of Hellenic mythology. The graphics are quite detailed, as Kratos completes his “quests” while taking players through ancient landscapes.

3. 300: March to Glory

Most modern theatergoers know the recent movie “300”. Similarly, in the “300: March To Glory” game, the player is also Leonidas, the ruler of Sparta, before the time of the famous battle of Thermopylae.

Inspired by the movie and comic book which were very popular at the time of its creation, the game was developed by Collision Studios and published by Warner Bros. Games. “300: March to Glory” gives the player the chance to re-write history… and who wouldn’t want to be able to do that?

4. Age of Mythology

This game features heavy elements from Hellenic mythology, along with Egyptian and Norse mythology. It is a real-time strategy game, developed by Ensemble Studios, which later went on to develop the popular Age of Empire series. Here you will find all of the buildings and cityscapes of ancient Hellas.

5. Wrath of the Gods

This adventure game is all about ancient Hellas. The player’s background story alone is right out of Hellenic mythology! The player begins the adventure as a young royal child who has been abandoned in the high mountains of ancient Hellas.

He and is soon found by a centaur by the name of Chiron, who raises the child. The player soon sets off to reclaim their Kingdom — no matter what it takes. The game was developed and published by Luminaria.

6. Zeus: Master Of Olympus

When it comes to city-building game series, this is one of the best which features ancient Hellas. You as the player are thrown into the ancient land during a time of great intrigue and adventure — where Hellenic Gods, mythology and legends all played a crucial role in society.

The game has several options for players, including a story mode, missions mode, and a sandbox mode. This is the fifth stand-alone game in the series by Impressions Games’ City Building.

7. Okhlos

This game was developed by the Argentina-based studio Coffee Powered Machine and published by Devolver Digital. It is also based in ancient Hellas and, of course, this means that the law of the land is that of the Hellenic Gods!

Okhlos is an action-packed game where the player is a scholar who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the Hellenic Gods, and sets out on a mission to destroy them.

8. Spartan: Total Warrior

Brought to you by Creative Assembly, in this “hack-and-slash” video game you are a Spartan warrior who is under the tutelage of none other than Aris, the Hellenic God of war! This game is all about defending ancient Hellas from the invading Roman empire.

9. Spartan Wars: Blood And Fire

This strategy-based video game has 155,000 five-star reviews out of a total of 220,000 reviews! It is a real-time mobile/tablet game, using beautifully-rendered animation, which lets you build your own ancient Hellenic city.

It also allows you to assemble your own army to defend your land in the (unlikely!) event of “server vs. server wars”. The game is brought to you by developed by Tap4Fun Corp. Ltd.

10. Hegemony Gold: Wars Of Ancient Greece

This real-time strategy video game is all about ancient Hellas, and in particular, the military campaign of Phillip the Second of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. This game is all about battles and strategy, all of which you map out before the actual battle begins. It was developed and published by Longbow Digital Arts Inc.

11. NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits

If all you want to do is see what it would be like to be a Hellenic God, in this video game, developed by the Spanish developers Over The Top Games, you can do exactly that! You can play as two protagonists, known as Icarus and Nyx, who are given special powers by the Hellenic Gods Zeus and Eolus, as they go on adventures and conquer the land.

12. 0 A.D.

Developed by Wildfire games, this game is quite accurate when it comes to historical facts regarding Hellenic civilization from 500 B.C. to 1 B.C. There is even an updated scenario that focuses from 1 A.D. to 500 A.D. This is a free, open-source, real-time strategy video game which will take you through the best and worst of times in the history of Hellenic civilization!

Try out some of these fun and colorful games to “get your Greek on” and discover a bit of what it may have been like to live back in ancient Hellas!
The Herakleidai (Ἡρακλεῖδαι) are the descendants of Herakles. After the death of Herakles, his sons were pursued by Eurystheus. They claimed protection in Athens. The Athenians refused to surrender them and in the war that ensued Eurystheus' sons were killed. Eurystheus himself, who had fled in a chariot, was pursued and had his head cut off by Hyllos, son of Heracles. After the death of Eurystheus, the Herakleidai attacked the Peloponnesos and captured all the cities. When a plague ravaged the country the oracle of Delphi declared that this happened because the Herakleidai had returned before the proper time. So they retired and, after some unfortunate attempts to return, they made themselves masters of the Peloponnesus three generations later. In Erkhia, a yearly sacrifice was made to the sons (and hopefully the daughters) of Herakles and we will do the same on 29 March at the usual 10 am EDT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ritual for the event can be found here and you can join the community page here.
I found more museums and walks to visit while cooped up at home! Listed here.

The following Museums provide web browsing applications for their collections and their exhibition spaces and they have ancient Hellenic exhibitions and/or sections.

National Archaeological Museum

Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki

Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki

Lefkos Pyrgos/White Tower of Thessaloniki

Numismatic Museum

Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Heraklion Archaeological Museum selected exhibits

Archaeological Museum of Ioannina

Igoumenitsa Archaeological Museum

Tegea Archaeological Museum
I'm a little short on time so I am going to leave you with a playlist of anient Hellenic myths, beautifully illustrated. Enjoy!

The myth of Cupido en Psyche - Brendan Pelsue

The myth of Arachne - Iseult Gillespie

The myth of Hercules: 12 labors in 8-bits - Alex Gendler

The myth of Icarus and Daedalus - Amy Adkins

The myth of Prometheus - Iseult Gillespie

The tragic myth of Orpheus and Eurydice - Brendan Pelsue

The myth of King Midas and his golden touch - Iseult Gillespie

The myth of Sisyphus - Alex Gendler

The myth of Pandora’s box - Iseult Gillespie

The myth of Jason and the Argonauts - Iseult Gillespie

The Greek myth of Talos, the first robot - Adrienne Mayor
Radiocarbon dating, invented in the late 1940s and improved ever since to provide more precise measurements, is the standard method for determining the dates of artifacts in archaeology and other disciplines.

“If it’s organic and old – up to 50,000 years – you date it by radiocarbon,” said Sturt Manning, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Classical Archaeology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Manning is lead author of a new paper that points out the need for an important new refinement to the technique. The outcomes of his study, published March 18 in Science Advances, have relevance for understanding key dates in Mediterranean history and prehistory, including the tomb of Tutankhamen and a controversial but important volcanic eruption on the Greek island of Santorini.

Radiocarbon dating measures the decomposition of carbon-14, an unstable isotope of carbon created by cosmic radiation and found in all organic matter. Cosmic radiation, however, is not constant at all times. To account for fluctuations of cosmic radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere, the radiocarbon content of known-age tree rings was measured backward in time from the 20th century, for thousands of years.

Tree-ring calibrated radiocarbon started to be widely used 50 years ago. A standard calibration curve was introduced in 1986 and is updated every few years as more data are added. Manning and co-authors write:

“A single Northern Hemisphere calibration curve has formed the basis of radiocarbon dating in Europe and the Mediterranean for five decades, setting the time frame for prehistory. However, as measurement precision increases, there is mounting evidence for some small but substantive regional (partly growing season) offsets in the same-year radiocarbon levels.”

In their study, Manning and co-authors question the accuracy of a single calibration curve for all of the Northern Hemisphere. Using data collected by only one lab to control for interlaboratory variation, they compared radiocarbon data from northern Europe (Germany) and from the Mediterranean (central Turkey) in the 2nd and 1st millennia BC. They found that some small but critical periods of variation for Mediterranean radiocarbon levels exist. Data from two other radiocarbon labs on samples from central Italy and northern Turkey then provided consistency.

Growing seasons play a role, the paper says. The radiocarbon level on Earth varies according to the season; there’s a winter low and a summer high, Manning said. The carbon in a tree ring reflects when the tree was photosynthesizing and, therefore, taking carbon out of the atmosphere.

“In northern Europe or in North America, a tree is going to be doing this in April through September. But a tree in Jordan or Israel does that October through April – almost the opposite time of the year.”

These variations, although small, potentially affect calendar dates for prehistory by up to a few decades, the paper concludes. Even small date offsets – 50 years or less – are important for building the timeline of the Mediterranean region, which, in the last two millennia B.C., was a hotbed of interrelated cultures.

The adjusted dates confirm previously awkward timelines, where radiocarbon and history did not seem to agree for some historical landmarks, including the death and burial of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen, which is dated around the 1320s to 1310s BC, according to recent Egyptology.

The study also addresses a debate over the date of a massive volcanic eruption on Santorini. This much-studied event is dated around 1500 BC by archaeologists but earlier – 1630 to 1600 BC – by scientists. Manning said the new findings rule out the date of 1500 BC, but may also modify the science. A 1630-1600 B.C. date remains possible, but a later date in the range 1600-1550 BC now becomes plausible, and even works better with existing archaeological and historical records, including writings from Egypt.

The study also has ramifications for understanding which culture influenced the Minoans and Mycenaeans, which led to ancient Greece.

“Getting the date right will rewrite and get our history correct in terms of what groups were significant in shaping what then became classical civilization. An accurate timeline is key to our history.”

He predicts follow-up on this study and a future with more specific regional calibration curves within the Northern Hemisphere – as well as subsequent adjustment to historical dates.
On 20 March, at 10 AM EDT, Elaion hosts a PAT ritual for the Galaxia. This rather obscure festival was held in many places in ancient Hellas, but most notably at Olympia. The Galaxia was closely linked to the vernal equinox, which was used to date it and was (amongst others) in honor of Kronos and Rhea.

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

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

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

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

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

We hope you will join us today, on March 20 at the usual 10 AM. The ritual can be found here and you can join the community here.
I'm assuming you're self-isolating as much as possible and that means virtual entertainment! Why not spend some time learning about ancient Hellas by visiting some sites and museums without risks to your health?

Acropolis Virtual Tour
Haven't been to the Acropolis yet? Couldn't see it because of all the tourists? Why not have a look online?

Benaki Museum of Greek Civilization
Not exactly a tour but still lots of beautiful pieces on display.

Museum of Cycladic Art
Same story.

Museum of Modern Greek Culture
They cover ancient life too, but it's also fun to get a different perspective. Enjoy!

Pergamon Museum
The Pergamon is one of Germany’s largest museums and it’s home for the Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the Greek Pergamon Altar.

The ancient temples of Sicily's Valle Dei Templi
Embark on a magical journey through the temple of Juno, the temple of Zeus and an early Christian necropolis.

The British Museum
Not without controversy, of course, but the British Museum definitely has a large section on ancient Hellas!

If you know of any more, leave them in the comments!

Not exactly Hellenic but so very interesting! Villagers in what is today Israel were the first to cultivate olive trees, an international study that pooled data from countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea has concluded. This start of olive domestication apparently began in the Galilee around 7,000 to 6,500 years ago, the team estimates.

Olives and especially olive oil were staples of ancient economies around the Mediterranean Basin: The oil was used for cooking, lighting as well as medicinal and ritual purposes. But so far there has been little agreement among researchers as to where and when people first domesticated the plant. Dating estimates have ranged from more than 6,000 to 4,000 years ago, and multiple areas of the Eastern or Central Mediterranean have been suggested as the location of the first domestication of this important crop.

The uncertainty is largely because the archaeological and genetic evidence on the olive tend to contradict each other, says Dr. Dafna Langgut, an archaeobotanist at Tel Aviv University who led the new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Holocene.

To try to resolve the conundrum, Langgut and colleagues came up with the idea of analyzing fossilized pollen samples from across the Mediterranean to look for significant increases in olive pollen in the flora of each region. Crucially, the researchers looked for spikes in olive pollen that were not accompanied by an increased presence of plants with similar habitat requirements, such as oaks and pistachios, that would have benefited from improved environmental conditions.

This allowed them to identify increases that could only be explained by sustained large-scale human cultivation of the olive. They also correlated the data from the pollen with archaeological finds from each region to map the spread of olive cultivation across the Mediterranean.

Palynology, or the study of ancient pollens, has made great strides in recent years, providing us with information on everything from which crops ancient peoples grew to the crippling effects of environmental disasters that occurred millennia ago.

For this kind of studies, researchers analyze sediment cores extracted from the bottoms of lakes, swamps or other bodies of still water. Plant pollen can travel for dozens of kilometers (miles) carried by winds before being deposited on the surface of a lake and sinking to the bottom. There, if the microscopic grains are quickly covered by silt, they are trapped in an anaerobic environment and may be preserved for thousands of years, allowing experts to reconstruct what the surrounding vegetation looked like in different periods.

In the olive domestication study, the researchers studied 23 pollen records from across the Mediterranean spanning the entire Holocene, the current geological era, which began more than 11,000 years ago.

A small percentage of olive pollen was present across the Mediterranean throughout this era. It was initially fairly stable and attributable to wild olive trees, which are native to the region. But the researchers identified a massive spike of olive pollen – uncorrelated with the growth of vegetation with similar requirements – around 7,000 years ago in the Sea of Galilee and then some 6,500 years ago in the Dead Sea.

To illustrate the magnitude of the spike: 7,300 years ago, just 3.5 percent of the pollen that fell into the Sea of Galilee came from olive trees. By 6,900 years before present it was above 17 percent.This can only mean that large-scale cultivation of olive trees had begun in the vicinity of the lake, within a maximum radius of 50 kilometers (30 miles) of the Sea of Galilee, Langgut explains. This would mark the hilly territory of the Galilee or the Golan Heights, as well as the highlands of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank, as possible wellsprings for the first domesticated olive trees.

Archaeologically, among these regions, the Galilee is particularly rich in finds that point to it as an area where olive consumption and oil production began very early, Langgut notes. In fact, there is evidence of such activity that even predates the time given for domestication by the pollen record by a few centuries.

Archaeologists have found 7,600-year-old crushed olive pits – likely a sign of olive production – in the submerged Neolithic village of Kfar Samir, just off the northern Israeli city of Haifa. Residue analysis of clay vessels found at Ein Zippori, a Neolithic and Chalcolithic site midway between Haifa and the Sea of Galilee, turned up traces of olive oil, dated to between 8,000 and 7,000 years ago.

These earliest samples of olive oil were probably produced using fruits from wild trees, Langgut says. In this phase, farmers had not yet mastered the cultivation of olives, but probably “managed” wild trees by pruning their branches in order to increase yield, she says.

Though wild olives are small and bitter, it is still possible to produce oil from them, and it makes sense that humans would have figured this out before domesticating the plant because of the complexity involved in the process.

“Domesticating a fruit tree is a huge investment: unlike grains, which mature in a few months, it takes about four or five years for an olive tree just to bear fruits, and only then can you start selecting and crossbreeding plants to improve yields or the quality of the olives,” Langgut tells Haaretz. “So they must have known there was something useful there before they embarked on such a project.”

It is not a far-fetched postulation. One might wonder how prehistoric farmers unschooled in genetics knew about artificial selection to improve their crops – but actually the process would likely have been intuitive. You would take seeds for sowing from a nice juicy plant that tastes good, not from a nasty shriveled one that you don’t like. The fact is, archaeologists have deduced that domestication resulted in genetic changes to plants such as wheat and barley from the very start of agriculture.

The start of olive cultivation in the Southern Levant highlights the transition from the Late Neolithic to the Early Chalcolithic, the researcher says. While urbanization was still a long time in coming, farmers were already creating more complex societies, moving beyond mere subsistence to produce staples that could stimulate trade and generate wealth.

“This shows that these societies had the agricultural surplus that allowed them to invest in olive cultivation and enough stability in land rights that people could pass on ownership of the orchards they must have worked on for most of their lives to the next generation,” Langgut surmises.

The recent study goes on to track the spread of olive cultivation outside of the Southern Levant, based on data collected by scientists from eight countries.

Interestingly, pollen records indicate that the second area where the tree was cultivated on a large scale was in Crete and the Aegean islands between 6,000 and 5,500 years ago. It is not clear whether this was the result of a transfer of plants or knowledge from the Southern Levant or an independent event, the study says. However it came to the Aegean islands, the ancient Greeks took a particular liking to the olive. By the 6th century B.C.E., the Athenian legislator Solon had passed laws to protect the plant, sentencing to death anyone convicted of cutting down an olive tree.

After reaching Greece, it took another few good centuries for olive cultivation to spread to the Northern Levant – reaching Syria around 4,800 years ago and Turkey 3,200 years ago. The data shows that it spread to Italy around 3,400 years before present and finally to the Iberian Peninsula some 2,500 years ago, likely travelling with Greek and Phoenician colonizers.

Since then, olive oil has continued to play a central role in Mediterranean cultures: it was given out as a prize at sports competitions, anointed kings and religious leaders, fueled international trade, preserved food and dressed salads.

If the study’s conclusions are confirmed, olives would be the second major crop recently found to have been first domesticated in what is today Israel. Back in 2015, researchers concluded that Neolithic farmers here were the first to cultivate the fava bean, still today a major staple in the Middle Eastern diet.

Scientists are often interested in pinpointing where a certain crop was first domesticated not just because this gives us interesting information about human history and the development of early sedentary societies. Such studies can also have implications for modern farming, because most species, including humans, display their greatest genetic diversity in the area where they first evolved. So locating where human farmers first started tinkering with wild plants can also lead to discovering varieties with greater resilience to parasites, diseases – and, possibly, to climate change.