Let's put this under the heading of 'goals'. Dentist Özkan Arıkantürk, 69, collected 4,000 artifacts in 25 years, beginning collecting first after he bought a Roman-era glass bottle that he admired.


Living in the Burhaniye district in the western province of Balıkesir, Arıkantürk said, “A glass bottle caused me to start creating this collection. It was a very thin bottle that survived until today under the ground without getting any damage for more than 2,000 years.”

Throughout the years, Arıkantürk collected nearly 600 antique works such as glass, terracotta items, bronze works, ornaments and jewelries. His collection also includes 3,500 coins, which were used by civilizations that existed in the region.

Dentist collecting ancient artifacts for 25 years

Stating that he was interested in history and archaeology since his childhood, Arıkantürk said that he wanted to be an archaeologist, but he became a dentist in the course of life.

He said that his interest in history continued, adding, “I decided to create my own collection with the information I have read and learned over the years. With the collector certificate I received from the Culture Ministry 25 years ago, I started collecting ancient artifacts. During this time, I had nearly 600 works. There are many works such as glass, terracotta items, bronze works, ornaments, and many others.”

Speaking about the Roman-era glass bottle, his first item in the collection, Arıkantürk said, “It was a very thin bottle that survived underground without any damage for more than 2,000 years. Who knows, who got it? It was a great feeling to have this bottle. It is a great feeling to protect, preserve and even exhibit it today."

"In the following period, I improved my archaeological artifact collection. From war tools such as glass, which are actually perfume bottles and publicly known as tear bottles, to various jewelry, terracotta materials, ax used in wars, arrowheads and sling stones made of lead, I created a large collection that also includes olive oil lamps used in antiquity and the products used for food and beverage," he added.

From Troas to Mysia and Aiolis

Along with his nearly 600 artifacts, Arıkantürk also has another collection of 3,500 coins. He chose three ancient regions in northwestern Anatolia as the target area and is currently displaying coins of 70 ancient cities in his collection.

“The coins in my collection consist of the ones printed by the ancient cities around us. These are the periods that begin from the 6th century B.C. until the Byzantine and Roman times. The coins I collected belong to different periods of each city. Some cities printed Greek coins only, while others printed coins of even Roman times along with the Greek ones," he said.

Dentist collecting ancient artifacts for 25 years"Among these ancient cities, for example Antandros is a city of Troas. Adramytteion, or today’s Edremit, belongs to Mysia region. There are 3,500 coins from three ancient regions including Aiolis, which includes today’s Cunda – Ayvalık,” he explained.

Founder of Sarıkız Kazdağı Ethnography Gallery, where the collection of Arıkantürk is exhibited, Uğur Bostancıoğlu said, “In our museum, we introduce Ida Mount and Edremit region, its mythology, culture, fauna and vegetation. We have also displayed Özkan Arıkantürk’s collection in our gallery with a special permission from the Culture Ministry for about three years. The collection, which generally contains works from the Roman and Byzantine periods, draws great attention.”
This aerial photograph shot on Sunday of a snow-capped Mount Olympus, the home of Zeus and the ancient Greek gods, has gone viral. The photo was captured by Kostas Rossidis of the Hellenic Seaplane Association as a way to mark “World Snow Day.”


World Snow Day, an initiative of the World Ski Federation (FIS) was celebrated on January 19. An array of events were organized on that day at ski resorts in many countries.

Mount Olympus’s Mytikas peak rises to a majestic 2,918 meters, or around 9,573 feet, and is the highest point in all of Greece.

August 2 marks the anniversary of the first time it was climbed successfully in 1913, and every year tens of thousands of people travel to the mountain to climb it. The Olympus region was declared Greece’s first national park in 1938.

The noble aim of this important act was cited at the time as “the preservation in perpetuity of the natural environment of the region, i.e. of wild flora, fauna and natural landscape, as well as its cultural and other values.”

The entire area around Mt. Olympus was proclaimed ‘Biosphere Reserve’  in 1981 by UNESCO.
New hopes emerged last week that the Parthenon Marbles could eventually be returned to their rightful home after the British authorities ordered the country’s museums to assess their collections with a new “decolonizing” checklist to ease the repatriation of cultural treasures.


The Arts Council, the supreme body championing and developing art and culture across Britain, has called on experts to draw up new guidelines to address sacred and significant objects like the Parthenon Marbles, which have long provoked pleas for repatriation from Greece after being seized in the age of empire.

An Arts Council spokeswoman said: “The aim of the guidance is to encourage a more proactive and coordinated approach across the UK museum sector by providing museums with a practical resource to support them in engaging with and responding to all aspects of restitution and repatriation.”

The idea follows the promise made by French president Emmanuel Macron to repatriate colonial objects.

Foreseeing ever-increasing demands for repatriation in future, the Arts Council has offered a £42,000 contract to experts who can draw up guidance on decolonization.

The contract states: “There is significant government, public and press interest and increasing calls for action by UK museums and sector bodies to address this agenda.”

It is understood that planned guidance will work as a checklist to handle claims, from how to deal with publicity and activist agitation, to possible repatriation.

An Easter Island Moai looming in the British Museum, an Aboriginal shield, and Ethiopian sacred tablets are among the many artefacts acquired amid imperial expansion which have been demanded back by their ancestral owners.
Please, take this with the uttermost grain of salt, but it was too good not to share. We all knwow hat Atlantis is, right? Atlantis is the (fictional?) island first described by Plato in his texts Timaeus and Critias, said to be an antagonist naval power that besieged Ancient Athens. In the story, Athens repels the Atlantean attack unlike any other nation of the known world, supposedly giving testament to the superiority of ancient Greece. The story concludes with Atlantis falling out of favour with the deities and submerging into the Atlantic Ocean.

In two YouTube video posted on his channel Ancient Architects, the expert claimed that Rockall is the most likely location for Atlantis and there are clear and obvious manmade features that leave no doubt of a lost ancient civilisation.

"The description of Atlantis should be our starting position when looking for it. First of all, to simplify his words, Plato says that beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, in the Atlantic Ocean is an island as big as Libya and Asia put together. From this island, you could pass to yet more islands before ending up at the opposite continents that surround the Atlantic Ocean. The opposite continent has to be the Americans, it is on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean and therefore this piece of information must rule out the Americas as a possible location. 

With this in mind, geologically speaking, there is no huge sunken supercontinent within the Atlantic Ocean, between the Strait of Gibraltar and the Americas that match the description. Therefore, in my opinion, Plato, or whoever this piece of information came from, was exaggerating the size for political reasons. If any specific place fits Plato’s words, I would say that this area is Rockall. For a start, Plato is explicit that Atlantis isn’t a city, but an island, that leads to other islands, then to the enormous opposite continent, which can only be the Americas. The other islands he refers to must be situated between the Americas and sunken continental landmass of Atlantis, close to Europe and Africa as Plato says it is outside of the Pillars of Hercules."

Mr Sibson went on to identify Rockall, an uninhabited granite islet off the coast of the UK, as a possible candidate.

"The only sizeable piece of continental crust under the sea our side of the Pillars of Hercules is Rockall. Furthermore, you can island hop from Rockall to the Americas via Iceland and Greenland. Plato goes on to say that a wonderful empire had arisen in Atlantis, which had rule over the island, as well as many others. I would suggest that the islands that belonged to Atlantis were the ones that connected it to the Americas. Plato says there was a time of extraordinary earthquakes and inundations, and in one terrible storm the warriors of Atlantis were swallowed and Atlantis likewise sank into the sea and vanished. He says this is why the ocean in this part can not be navigated or explored, owing to the great depth of mud caused by the subsiding of the island."

Mr Sibson explained why geological activity near Rockall may have caused it to fall into the Atlantic.

"It is still the case that the sea is too shallow to sail over, with numerous ships in history caught in the rocks. This part of the northern Atlantic has quite a complex geological history and there is clear evidence that Rockall was torn apart through numerous faults. The highly faulted Atlantic Ocean would have been forced into moving geologically both vertically and horizontally, leading to increasing volcanic activity and major water displacement in the form of tsunamis. Interestingly, the northernmost part of the ridge looks somewhat different to the main rift valley, in that there is one enormous fault zone in the ocean crust."





On the Erkhian calendar, Kourotrophos, Hera, Zeus, and Poseidon are all sacrificed to on 27 Gamelion, at the same location: the temple of Hera. Also, as Kourotrophos Herself was often honored first with other deities and especially on this occasion, it seems to make sense that it was one ritual with four sacrifices as listed on the calendar. Will you join us for this sacrifice on January 23, after the ritual for the Theogamia? We've set the time at 11 AM EST.


The Kourotrophoi are mostly female deities who watch over growing children. Specific offerings to Them are known from the demos Erkhia (or Erchia), but duplicate similar offerings on the Acropolis of Athens. Especially at Erkhia, it varied per sacrifice which Kourotrophos was/were sacrificed to. In this case, where no specific deity is listed, none of the above were most likely honored. The deity in question was Kourotrophos Herself, a deity whose main function was to watch over nursing children and their mothers.

You can find the ritual here and join the community here.
Those who visit this blog on a regular basis know that I'm a fan of Solon and his reformations of the political landscape of Athens in the sixth century BC. Solon (Σόλων) was an Athenian statesman and lawmaker who lived from 638 BC to 558 BC. He spent most of his adult life trying to legislate against political, economic, and moral decline in archaic Athens. His ideologies are often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy. Solon's reforms created a system where the power was in the hands of the people instead of leaving justice to be administered by the aristocracy. With current affrairs being what they are, I'd like to quote Aeschines today, from "Against Timarchus"

“[Solon] believed that someone who managed their own personal affairs badly would manage matters of state similarly. It did not seem likely to the lawgiver that that the same person who was a scoundrel in private would be a useful citizen in public. He also did not think right that a person should come to speak in public before being prepared for it, not just for words but in life.

And he also thought that advice from a good and noble person, however poorly and simply it was framed, is beneficial to those who hear it, while the words of a person who has no shame, who has made a mockery of his own body and who has shamefully managed his inheritance—well, these words he believed would never help the people who heard them, not even if they were delivered well.

This is why he keeps these kinds of people from the platform, why he forbids them from addressing the public. If someone speaks, then, not merely against these precepts but also for the sack of bribery and criminality, and if the state can no longer endure such a person, he adds “Let any citizens who desires it, and who is able, sue him…”

[translation source here]


Around Valentine's day, us Hellenists honour a beautiful festival of love and social stability: the Theogamia, also known as the Gamelia or Hieros Gamos. This festival celebrates the anniversary of the marriage (gamos, γάμος) of Zeus Teleios (Τελειος, Of the Marriage Rites) and Hera Teleia (Τέλεια, same). Zeus Teleios and Hera Teleia are considered the patron Gods of marriage. To celebrate this divine marriage and ask for blessings upon the romantic ties we may have in life, Elaion is organising a PAT ritual on 23 January. The time is set for 10 AM EST. Will you join us?


We know very little about the actual Theogamia festival. In ancient sources it's sometimes called 'hieros gamos', the sacred marriage, and was referred to as a domestic festival. A day to spend at home, with your wedded partner. Hera Teleia was the primary deity of the festival, with Zeus Teleios being of secondary importance. It was celebrated for sure in Athens, and most likely also in city-states around Athens. It included a shared dinner, and presumably lovemaking, between husband and wife. Unmarried men were most likely free of religious obligations, and were free to dine out.

There seems to be a suggestion that the gamos of Zeus and Hera was enacted as part of the rituals of a hieros gamos festival, but there is no concrete evidence for this. The closest we get to a Hellenic 'Great Rite' is a ritual performed near Knossos in Krete, but the details are so very vague that we can't be sure about anything.

It doesn't take much imagination to fill in how to best celebrate this festival. If you are married or have a partner, have a nice dinner together, have some romance, spent the night together and bond. Think about ways in which you will help, honor and love your partner in the year to come. And, of course, join our ritual! I want to leave you with a quote from the Ilias that has nothing to do with the Theogamia itself but does describe the eternal love between Zeus and Hera so very beautifully.

“Zeus, the Cloud-Driver, saw her, and instantly his sharp mind was overwhelmed by longing, as in the days when they first found love, sleeping together without their dear parents’ knowledge. [...] ‘Hera, [...] let us taste the joys of love; for never has such desire for goddess or mortal woman so gripped and overwhelmed my heart, not even when I was seized by love for Ixion’s wife, who gave birth to Peirithous the gods’ rival in wisdom; or for Acrisius’ daughter, slim-ankled Danaë, who bore Perseus, greatest of warriors; or for the far-famed daughter of Phoenix, who gave me Minos and godlike Rhadamanthus; or for Semele mother of Dionysus, who brings men joy; or for Alcmene at Thebes, whose son was lion-hearted Heracles; or for Demeter of the lovely tresses; or for glorious Leto; or even for you yourself, as this love and sweet desire for you grips me now.’” (Iliad XIV)

The ritual can be found here and you can join the community here. Enjoy the Theogamia, everyone!
These nine muses were born from Zeus and his aunt and fifth wife, Mnemosyne, who was the personification of memory. The Muses, back then, were simply Deities, in charge of Their own aspects of mortal life. Euterpe was the 'Giver of light', for example. Their function and status as Muses was a later, Roman, addition.

Although most sources say there are nine Muses, the archaic poet Sappho of Lesbos was called the tenth by Plato, a great compliment. It's Sappho's status as 'the tenth Muse' that paved the way to the conventional compliment paid to female poets and those who inspire.

I refer to the muses often; when I'm trying to write but can't find the inspiration, or when I'm trying to sleep but can't because my mind is full of words that want to come out are the most common occurrences. I also thank Them for the inspiration I have gotten to write blog posts or articles.

The muses are well represented in both mythology as Hellenic art. Not only does nearly every hero, poet and even some of the Theoi call out for Them when They're in a bind, but there is even a tragic story in which nine young women get turned into birds for their hubris. In this myth, King Pierus, king of Macedon named his nine beautiful and talented daughters after the muses and went on to boast that the Pierides--his daughters--were equal or even better in their arts than the Muses ever were. Needless to say, neither the Muses, nor the Gods took to this kindly. As punishment for his hubris, Pierus had to watch as his beautiful daughters were transformed into Magpies.

Apollon Mousagetēs, an epithet of Apollon, is said to lead the Muses. His name means 'Apollon Muse-leader'. As such, he can be seen depicted on vases and murals with the Muses.


Here is Apollon to the left, followed by the Muses. If I tell you Calliope carries a writing tablet, Clio carries a scroll and books, Erato is often seen with a lyre and/or a crown of roses, Euterpe carries a flute, Melpomene is often seen with a tragic mask, Polyhymnia is often seen with a pensive expression, Terpsichore is often seen dancing and carrying a lyre, Thaleia is often seen with a comic mask and Urania carries a pair of compasses and the celestial globe, how many can you pick out?

Within Hellenismos, worship, libations and offerings to the Muses is an individual choice. If you feel a need to do so--and poets, musicians, writers and other artists might definitely feel that need--do so. I know I do. As did the ancient writers; there is both an Homeric and an Orphic Hymn to the Muses one can use to honor Them:

Homeric Hymn to the Muses:

I will begin with the Muses and Apollon and Zeus. For it is through the Muses and Apollon that there are singers upon the earth and players upon the lyre; but kings are from Zeus. Happy is he whom the Muses love: sweet flows speech from his lips. Hail, children of Zeus! Give honour to my song! And now I will remember you and another song also.

Orphic Hymn to the Muses:

Daughters of Jove, dire-sounding and divine,
Renown'd Pierian, sweetly speaking Nine;
To those whose breasts your sacred furies fire
Much-form'd, the objects of supreme desire:

Sources of blameless virtue to mankind,
Who form to excellence the youthful mind;
Who nurse the soul, and give her to descry
The paths of right with Reason's steady eye.

Commanding queens who lead to sacred light
The intellect refin'd from Error's night;
And to mankind each holy rite disclose,
For mystic knowledge from your nature flows.

Clio, and Erato, who charms the sight,
With thee Euterpe minist'ring delight:
Thalia flourishing, Polymina fam'd,
Melpomene from skill in music nam'd:

Terpischore, Urania heav'nly bright,
With thee who gav'st me to behold the light.
Come, venerable, various, pow'rs divine,
With fav'ring aspect on your mystics shine;
Bring glorious, ardent, lovely, fam'd desire,
And warm my bosom with your sacred fire.

Yet, I strongly feel one honors the Muses best when being creative and inspired. Write, make art, sing, make music, do whatever you can that invites the inspiration of the Muses. Be aware of your inspiration, allow it to flow freely, and if you feel the need, give honor to the Deities who granted it.
The site of the ancient city of Oeniadae, in the regional unit of Aetolia-Acarnania in Greece, boasts one of the best preserved shipyards of the antiquity. An important city in the antiquity, Oeniadae used to have three ports, strong fortifications and a large theatre. Its well-preserved ruins make it a monument of great interest to this day.


Oeniadae was an ancient city of southern Acarnania on the northern bank of the Achelous River; the river, stretching from Aeolia (modern Thessaly) to the Ionian Sea, forms a natural boundary between what used to be the ancient regions of Acarnania and Aetolia. Oeniadae was Acarnania’s second most important city after Stratos. Its position allowed it to control the entrance to the Gulf of Patras; surrounded by marshes, it was naturally barricaded, while strong additional fortifications were built to protect it. Its position was also favourable for the development of commercial activities, as well as for shipbuilding.

Its name appears linked to the mythical Oeneus, king of Calydon; according to the myth, its founder was the Argive leader Alcmaeon, who fled there pursued by the Furies for having committed matricide. Many historians place its founding in the sixth century BC, as a Corinthian colony. While in the early years of the Peloponnesian War the city was hostile to Athens, in 424 BC it joined the Athenian Alliance and served as a base for the Athenian warships.

It continued to be a place of importance during the Macedonian and Roman wars. In the time of Alexander the Great, the Aetolians, who had extended their dominions on the west bank of the Achelous, obtained possession of Oeniadae and expelled its inhabitants.
The city remained in their hands until 219 BC, when it was taken by Philip V of Macedonia who strongly fortified the citadel, and commenced uniting the harbour and the arsenal with the citadel by means of walls. In 211 BC it was taken by the Romans under Marcus Valerius Laevinus, and given to the Aetolians, who were then their allies; in 189 BCE it was finally restored to the Acarnanians by virtue of one of the conditions of the peace made between the Romans and Aetolians in that year. Thereafter, progressive silting of its harbours diminished the city’s usefulness.

The remains of the ancient city are located on a flat-topped hill, over the surrounding alluvial plain, which used to be a marshland in the ancient times. Since the medieval times, the site’s name has been Trikardo or Trikardokastro. The walls of the ancient city, built along the brow of the hill in a polygonal style, are still well preserved, while the port and shipyards are protected by separate fortifications. Inside the central fortification we find public buildings, forming part of the Agora, as well as private buildings, a small temple close to the port and a bath complex. No signs of medieval occupation of the site exist. The modern-day municipal unit Oiniades, of the Missolonghi municipality, was named after the ancient town of Oeniadae.

Oinades had three different ports. The fortified port, which also featured a shipyard and ship sheds, is one of the best preserved from the antiquity. It was used for hauling and repairing ships and storing them in the winter months. It was a roofed structure, with its floor carved into the rock, divided by five colonnades. This served as a tow ramp. The site was in full operation until the 3rd century BC when the roof receded and the colonnades collapsed.

The city’s largest harbour, used for commerce, was on the southwest side of the hill, near the large central gate of the city, with easier access to Achelous River, while a third smaller port also used to exist.

The site of Oinades also features a theatre, which was built close to the Agora, with with great acoustics and panoramic views of the Achelous River and the coastal lowlands.
The theatre was constructed in two separate phases: it was built when the Athenians occupied the city, in the 4th century BC, with a one-storey stage and a particularly large orchestra.
In the 3rd century, reconstruction operations were carried out, possibly by the Macedonian king Philip V. Among other alterations, a foreground was added, as well as an additional storey for the stage. Its capacity reached 4,600 spectators. The theatre is open to the public, and concerts and plays are held every summer as part of the Oeniades Festival, held by the Messolonghi municipality.
One thing I love about research is that you are never done. No matter how much you know, or how well you know a text, there will always be some reference inviting further research. While I was researching for my post on abstinence, I came across a small mention of something interesting: the 'handle-kiss'. In Hans Licht's 'Sexual Life in Ancient Greece', he makes note of the following:

"Eunicus wrote a comedy, Anteia, yet we can say nothing more explicit of the hetaira of this name nor of the comedy itself than that from it only a single verse is preserved - 'Take me by the ears and give me the handle-kiss'." [p.308]

Intrigued, I took to the internet, as my bookshelves offered no further explanation. Here, I found an excellent paper by Richard Hawley, titled 'Give Me a Thousand Kisses', which focusses on kissing practices in ancient Hellas. It's quite a wonderful read. He also mentions the handle-kiss--or as he calls it, the 'jug-kiss', translated from the same source Licht used.
"The affectionate kissing of children, indeed, spawns a unique type of special kiss, the chutra, or ‘jug-kiss’. The Greek lexicographer Pollux records (Onomasticon 10.100) that the chutra is a type of kiss when one kisses one’s children, holding them up by the ears, as if they were two handles of a jug. By way of illustration Pollux cites a fragment (fr. 1) of the comedy Anteia by Eunicus: ‘lift him up by the ears and give him the chutra kiss.’ Bizarrely perhaps, this classical custom is still alive and kicking by the time of Tibullus in the late first century BC, who refers to a child kissing his father while holding his father’s ears (2.5.92), and Plutarch, who writes in the first-second century AD that ‘many people kiss little children by holding their ears and asking the children to do the same’ (Moral Essays 38c).

It is significant that in these instances, it is the parent who is generally described as the active agent, the kisser, and the child as the passive recipient of the kiss. Although sometimes the child kisses back, the narrative focus is upon the kiss as a symbol of the love the parent bears the child, and thus acts to characterise the parent’s virtue of familial affection." [p.5]

From his, we can gather that the handle-kiss (or jug-kiss, or chutra kiss) was a kiss between parent and child, a non-sexual kiss, meant to convey affection by reaching for the ears of the child, or sometimes where the child reaches for the ears of the parent as well. It sounds like a sweet practice.

Julius Pollux's Onomasticon--a collection of ten books which functions as a dictionary for ancient Hellenic life--is not available in English online, not even for purchase, I fear. from him, we will thus learn no more about this practice. Albius Tibullus was a Latin poet, and we can access his works. the full sentence Hawley refers to goes as follows:

"And the mother will bear him a child, the child grab his father’s ears to snatch a kiss: and the grandfather won’t be bored with watching his little grandson, the old man babbling with the young." [2.5.92]

It is part of a poem about the blessings of Apollo(n), should Apollon chose to place blessings upon mankind. 'So once it was, but at last, you, kind Apollo, submerge monstrous things in the savage depths...'. We can also find the reference to Plutarch. In full, it reads:

"Most people in bestowing an affectionate kiss on little children not only take hold of children by the ears but bid the children to do the same by them, thus insinuating in a playful way that they must love most those who confer benefit through the ears. For surely the fact is plain, that the young man who is debarred from hearing all instruction and gets no taste of speech not only remains wholly unfruitful and makes no growth towards virtue, but may also be perverted towards vice, and the product of his mind, like that of a fallow and untilled piece of ground, will be a plentiful crop of wild oats. For if the impulses towards pleasure and the feelings of suspicion towards hard work (which are not of external origin nor imported products of the spoken word, but indigenous sources, as it were, of pestilent emotions and disorders without number) be allowed to continue unconstrained along their natural channels, and if they be not either removed or diverted another way through the agency of goodly discourse, thus putting the natural endowments in a fit condition, there is not one of the wild beasts but would be found more civilized than man." [38c-d]

Thus, Plutarch gives us a valuable clue about the 'why' of the handle-kiss: he feels that the kiss exists because children need to learn that listening--to knowledge being shared, but also military orders and sound advice--needs to be associated with good things (kisses and affection) very early on, and that they must listen to those who speak with hat same affection. He also stresses that those who confer wisdom need to be appreciated for it, this is why the child is asked to hold the ears of his father as well.

The tradition of the handle-kiss suddenly makes a lot of sense in the grand, Hellenic, scheme, doesn't it? With its focus on knowledge, temperance and learning, it seems like a wonderful way to confer to your children from a long age that their ears are there to use and gain great things through. Perhaps, if I ever have a child, I will place the kiss on them as well. It never hurts to try.
The Institute for Mediterranean Studies (Rethymno, Crete) organised the first summer school on the civilization of ancient Crete in July 2019. Participants included 12 undergraduate, graduate and PhD students from China and Hong King, Brazil, Italy, the United Kingdom and Greece.

Given the great success of 2019, the Institute is pleased to announce the Second Summer school, which will take place between 25th of June – 1st of July 2020.

The prehistoric civilization of Minoan Crete is world-famous and attracts major scholarly and lay attention. As for classical antiquity, the history and archaeology of Crete have largely remained outside wider purview and mainly explored by specialist scholars. This is despite the variety and fascinating nature of the existing sources about ancient Crete and the important questions and answers they provide.

The purpose of this summer school is to introduce participants to the lost world of ancient Crete and its history, archaeology and culture. It will examine how Crete illuminates wider trends and phenomena in ancient history, archaeology and culture, as well as how Cretan communities  differed both between themselves and in relation to the rest of the Greek and the wider Mediterranean world.

The summer school will employ a long-term perspective on ancient Crete, starting from the second millennium BCE through the novel circumstances of the first millennium to the incorporation of ancient Crete into the Roman Empire and the world of late antiquity. This perspective will enable participants to explore both long-term continuities, as well as major changing points in Cretan history and archaeology.

The classes offered will explore writing systems and their uses; material and visual culture; politics and warfare; institutions and laws; economic and social conditions; sexuality and gender; religion; and the image of Crete and Cretans in ancient Greek literature.

The trips to archaeological sites and museums (Knossos, Phaistos, Gortyn, Eleftherna, Herakleion museum) will enable participants to gain a first-hand experience of Cretan topography and the Cretan material world and contextualise the classes based on literary sources, inscriptions and coins.

Classes will be held in the premises of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies, in a stunning complex of buildings of the Venetian and Ottoman era. Accommodation will be provided by the House of Europe, hosted in a traditional refurbished building. Both classes and accommodation will be located in the scenic Old Town of Rethymno, allowing participants to explore also the post-classical history and culture of Crete and its Byzantine, Venetian, Ottoman and Modern Greek phases.

This summer school is addressed to undergraduate and graduate students in the fields of Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology, Philology, Near Eastern studies and Late Antique studies. There is a limited number of places available (between 10-15) in order to offer an intensive learning experience to all participants. The cost will be 750 euros, covering tuition fees, trips to archaeological sites/museums, and accommodation.

The deadline for applications is the 10th of February 2020.

For further information and application forms, please visit the summer school’s web page at https://summerschool.ims.forth.gr/2020/

The Organising Committee
Kostas Vlassopoulos (University of Crete) Melina Tamiolaki (University of Crete)
A new analysis of Lord Elgin’s original casts of the Parthenon marbles, recently published in Antiquity, has revealed details effaced by Victorian vandals - and air pollution - following the classical sculptures’ removal from Greece in the early 19th century.


Dr Emma Payne, a specialist in classics and archaeological conservation based at King’s College London, conducted 3D scans of the plaster casts made by Elgin's workman of parts of the West frieze, which was removed from the monument in 1993 and is now in the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

Payne hoped to answer two key questions: First, how accurate were the 19th-century casts, and second, do the casts “preserve sculptural features that have since been worn away from the originals — do they now represent a form of time capsule, faithfully reflecting the condition of the sculptures in the early 19th century?”

"Elgin’s casts could be important records of the state of the sculptures in the very early 19th century before modern pollution would hasten their deterioration."

Payne compared Elgin's casts to a second set of casts commissioned by the British Museum in 1872, and created under the supervision of Charles Merlin, British consul to Athens. She found that the casts of the West frieze of the Parthenon revealed features that are now lost, including the faces of some of the sculptures, and chisel marks showing they had intentionally been chipped away by Victorian-era vandals. Indeed, Payne's analysis showed that more damage was caused in the intervening seven decades than in the 120 years that followed, meaning that a century of traffic pollution did less harm than Elgin and his compatriots.

"The marble of the Parthenon sculptures displays an orange-brown patina, approximately 100–150 μm thick. The origins of this patina—whether ancient or modern, natural or manmade—have been disputed. It is, however, stable and uniform, preserving the original surface details. This patina is distinct from the thicker, disfiguring pollution crust (from 200 μm to several mm thick) that once covered the sculptures, but has now mostly been removed from the West Frieze by laser cleaning... Such crusts are caused by suspension of atmospheric pollutants in a gypsum matrix, created by the reaction of the marble with sulphur dioxide. The crust, where present, retains the surface details of the original to a certain extent, but is discoloured and highly friable.

"It is noteworthy that the decay of the sculptures appears to have slowed during the twentieth century — precisely when problems with sulphurous emissions and acid rain were at their most acute. In turn, this leads to the conclusion that the apparently greater rate of deterioration during the nineteenth century can be largely attributed to deliberate defacement... rather than the cumulative effects of long-term environmental conditions. The relative lack of change in detail preserved between the Merlin casts and originals suggests that these attacks subsided following Greek independence in the 1830s and with subsequent restoration efforts."

The sculptures held in London, on the other hand, have suffered not only from 19th-century pollution, which persisted until the mid-20th century, they have also undergone irreparable damage caused by 'cleaning methods' employed by British Museum staff in 1838, 1858 and 1937–38.

The last cleaning process commissioned by Lord Duveen, for example, scraped away much of the detailed tone of many carvings and in some places the surface removed may have been as much as one-tenth of an inch (2.5 mm).
Hellenismos asks of all practitioners to consider the ethics. What they may be is up to the practitioner, but being informed and having an opinion on issues that esist in our world is a must. That can lead to a lot fo black and white thinking, and 'us versus them' behavior. This is not the goal of phylosophy and ethics.

In Plutarch's essay, "How a Man May Become Aware of His Progress in Virtue" (79e), he writes something I like to remind people of every once in a while:

"Rightly has it been said: Adjust the stone to fit the line, and not the line to fit the stone. But those who do not adjust their tenets to fit the facts, but rather try to force the facts into an unnatural agreement with their own assumptions, have filled philosophy with a great number of difficulties, of which the greatest is that which would assign all men to a general category of badness with the single exception of the absolutely perfect man; the result of which is to make a puzzle out of what we call progress, since it falls but little short of the utmost foolishness, and represents men who have been released by it from all kinds of passions and weaknesses as living in a state of equal wretchedness with those who have not yet been freed from a single one of the worst evils.

Now these men really refute themselves when, in their lectures, they put the wrongdoing of Aristeides on an equality with that of Phalaris, and cowardice of Brasidas on equality with that of Dolon, Band the hard-hearted attitude of Plato as actually not differing at all from that of Meletus; whereas in their life and practice they show an aversion for these latter men and avoid them as ruthless, but the former they seem to think are men of great worth, for they cite them with confidence in the most important matters.

But as for us, we observe that there are degrees in every kind of evil, and especially in the indeterminate and undefined kind that has to do with the soul. (In the same way also there are different degrees of progress produced by the abatement of baseness like a receding shadow, as reason gradually illuminates and purifies the soul.) We do not, therefore, think that consciousness of the change is unreasonable in the case of persons who are, as it were, making their way upward out of some deep gorge, but there are ways in which it can be computed.

Of these I beg you to consider the first without further preface. Just as men sailing out into the open sea calculate their run by the time elapsed in conjunction with the strength of the wind, reckoning how much distance, after spending a certain time, while carried onward by a certain force, they are likely to have accomplished; so too in philosophy a man may take for himself as a proof that he is gaining ground the uniformity and continuity of his course, which makes on the way no frequent halts, followed by leaps and bounds, but smoothly and regularly forges ahead, and goes through the course of philosophic reasoning without mishap.

For the lines: If even small upon the small you place and do this oft, dare not merely well put in regard to the increase of money, but they apply to everything, and especially to advancement in virtue, since reason thereby gains the aid of constant and effective habit. But the variation and obtuseness often shown by students of philosophy not only cause delays and stoppages in their progress on the road to knowledge, but also bring about retrogressions, since vice always makes an onset on the man who yields ground by loitering, and carries him backward in the opposite direction."
The polis (πόλις) literally means "city" in Greek. The plural is "poleis" (πόλεις). It's almost synonymous with "city-state": a sovereign state, also described as a type of small independent country, that usually consists of a single city and its dependent territories. Athens was one, for example, as was Sparta.

In the ancient world, the polis was a nucleus, the central urban area that could also have controlled the surrounding countryside, which were usually part of the polis. These outskirts were called usually called "Khôra" (χώρα). There were around 1500 archaic and classical Hellenic poleis. Many of them are listed here. The region formed by a cluster of poleis, bound geographically and ethnically, was an ethnos (ἔθνος, nation). Its plural is "ethne."

The Ancient Hellenic city-state developed during the Archaic period as the ancestor of city, state, and citizenship and persisted (though with decreasing influence) well into Roman times. The term polis, which in archaic Greece meant "city", changed with the development of the governance center in the city to signify "state" (which included its surrounding villages). Finally, with the emergence of a notion of citizenship among landowners, it came to describe the entire body of citizens. The ancient Hellenes did not always refer to Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and other poleis as such; they often spoke instead of the Athenians, Lacedaemonians, Thebans and so on. The body of citizens came to be the most important meaning of the term polis in ancient Hellas.

Plato analyzes the polis in The Republic, whose Greek title, Πολιτεία (Politeia), itself derives from the word polis. The best form of government of the polis for Plato is the one that leads to the common good. According to Plato, there are five main economic classes of any polis: producers, merchants, sailors/shipowners, retail traders, and wage earners. Along with the two principles and five economic classes, there are four virtues. The four virtues of a "just city" include, wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice. With all of these principles, classes, and virtues, it was believed that a "just city" (polis) would exist.

Derivatives of polis are common in many modern European languages. This is indicative of the influence of the polis-centred Hellenic world view. Derivative words in English include policy, polity, police, and politics. In Greek, words deriving from polis include politēs and politismos, whose exact equivalents in Latin, Romance, and other European languages, respectively civis ("citizen"), civilisatio ("civilization"), etc., are similarly derived.
Apollon is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Hellenic and Roman mythology. The son of Zeus and Leto, Apollo was said to be the god of archery, music and dance, truth and prophecy, healing and diseases, the Sun and light, poetry, and more. As the patron deity of Delphi, near Phocis, a sanctuary was erected in the fourth century BC by architects Spintharus, Xenodoros, and Agathon to worship Apollon.



Despite much of the buildings being destroyed by an earthquake in 373BC, Amazon Prime’s "Secrets of Archaeology” revealed how breakthroughs are still being made after millennia. The narrator explained in 2014:

"The ancient sacred road that leads to the sanctuary crammed today with tourists wanting to see the archaeological site was lined in ancient times with statues and small temples. They were the treasures of Delphi and this treasure of the Athenians is the best-preserved one, but there were many all containing valuables and artworks, most of which were carried off over the centuries and never found again. Yet Delphi never fails to amaze with gold, bronze and ivory votive objects and a magnificent sphinx, perhaps the city’s most beautiful statue have been unearthed. These superb objects, however, were not mentioned in history books."

The series went on to reveal how archaeologists found many relics intact below the ground. It added:

"Scholars found the answer to this mystery by examining the disasters that occurred in the area, like earthquakes and landslides on the hills at Delphi. Had the gifts offered to Apollo been damaged in the disasters, they could no longer be displayed, that’s why people buried them below the sanctuary. So the many masterpieces, already under the ground, can now be admired at the local museum. Another beautiful construction is these tools, a splendid circular building with a diameter of approximately 30 feet and was 23 feet high. It wasn’t very big, but it expressed the Greek’s tendency to seek perfection and was an unusual building in classical Greece."

The series went on to explain why the sanctuary was so important to the ancient Greeks. It continued:

"To worshippers, their images of the power and majesty of the gods was embodied in the beauty of this building. Besides being a place of worship, Delphi also played host to the Pythian Games, one of the four athletic and artistic festivals of Ancient Greece. The battles at the Pythian Games included competition in wrestling, running, and throwing and the event was held every four years between the Olympic Games. Winners were awarded crowns of laurel wreaths, the plant worn by Apollo himself, to whom the games were dedicated. Apollo was known for his wisdom and sense of justice, he was the patron of archery and bows, and showed great courage, even as a child."
Applications are now open for the Hephaistos Summer Program running un June 2020. This unique accredited program on the History of Western European Jewelry is offered through the Ilia Lalaounis Jewelry Museum’s Education Center in collaboration with esteemed Greek and international academics, archaeologists and jewelry experts.

The Program challenges the participants to discover the fascinating world of Ancient Greece and the history of Western Jewelry through its most spectacular artifacts.

The history and archaeology of Ancient Hellenic jewelry from Classical Greece to the Byzantine era will be followed by a survey of the history of western European jewelry up to the most amazing contemporary artistic productions. The class on Studio Jewelry is tailored to the discipline of contemporary art jewelry and researches its creative methods. Participants will map diverse aspects of wearability and social coding of the body, as also investigate how concepts and cultural values materialize into jewelry formats. This exploration opens a new dimension to students concerning individual creativity and its application with tools and machinery in different vocations.

Guest lectures will be offered throughout the course on a wide range of topics, from illicit trafficking of antiquities to Athenian architecture and museum management. All lectures will be held at the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum Lecture Hall.

Participants will enjoy instructive guided tours of and on-site lectures by academics in the historical center of Athens and Museums with the most important jewelry collections. These include the Acropolis archaeological site and Museum, the National Archaeological Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum. Visits to jewelry making workshops will introduce students to the secrets of successful jewelry making in Greece. Open doors to the havens of industrial units of fine jewelers and artist’s studios will give an insight of the exciting use of ancient and modern goldsmithery techniques and the use of non-traditional materials for the delight of contemporary creations.

Apply now following the link: http://jss.gr/application-form/.
Investigators with the Hellenic Police’s (ELAS) department for the protection of cultural heritage and antiquities seized what is believed to be a rare 6th century BC statue fragment during a raid in Corinth, according to an announcement this week.


The fragment is a 40 cm head and part of the neck of a larger-than-life kouros, a statue of a young man, dating from the archaic period and considered of tremendous archaeological value because of its age, provenance, details and construction.

The item was found hidden among rocks on a rural road in Nemea in Corinth, during an investigation into a Greek man who was allegedly planning to sell the artifact for 500,000 euros. The suspect has been arrested, while the head has been sent for expert analysis.

Earlier this week Greek authorities also arrested a 61-year-old doctor and his 42-year-old wife on charges on antiquities smuggling after finding a Neolithic statue and a classical-era amphora during raids of their home and business.

The two objects, which were seized along with an unlicensed flair gun, were sent to experts at the Piraeus ephorates for Antiquities and Underwater Antiquities, where they ascertained that the statue depicts a fertility goddess and is dated to around 4000 BC, while the amphora originates either from the island of Samos or Thasos and dates from between 500 and 400 BC.

The statue will be handed over to the National Archaeological Museum, while the amphora will be placed in the keeping of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities.
Four female warriors buried around 2,500 years ago with weapons and finery that grave robbers failed to filch have been discovered in western Russia. Female Scythian warriors have been found before, but this is the first time multiple generations were found buried together – with a golden headdress and other grave goods that thieves missed.


For the first time, archaeologists found a magnificent headdress in situ, still wrapped around the skull of its possessor, archaeologist Valerii Guliaev and colleagues explain this week in the journal of the Akson Russian Science Communication Association. Also a first, the researchers’ study suggests that although the “Amazons” were buried together, they belonged to three different generations.

Details of calathos on the mistress's skull. Left: Graphic calathos's reconstruction. www.archaeolog.ru
Technically, the women were identified as Scythian nomads and were interred inside one of 19 barrows discovered during an archaeological survey by the village of Devitsa, in the Ostrogozhsky District of the Voronezh region a decade ago. During the last 10 years, their expedition has discovered about 11 burials of young armed women, Guliaev says. But it was only in this particular mound that the women were of a wide range of ages – from early teens to old age, in the terms of the time.

The legends about the Amazons’ origin and heroics are incoherent, with modern distortions adding onto myths going back millennia. Even the origin of their ancient Greek soubriquet “the Amazons” is steeped in fantasy, according to scholars. But after centuries of debate about the veracity of the Amazon legend, archaeologists finally began finding solid evidence beyond ancient Greek paintings and bas-reliefs that some women in eastern Asia really did fight.

Multiple burials of what look like fighting females, associated with the Scythian nomadic culture that dominated central Eurasia from about 2,700 to 1,700 years ago, have been found in the steppes, a vast region stretching from Spain to China.

Whether these “Amazons” formed armies independent of men, fought with the men, or ferociously guarded the homestead and livestock while the men sparred in far-off wars has yet to be ascertained to anybody’s satisfaction. The unarguable fact is that the remains of some women from antiquity, in magnificent physical shape with skeletal signals of musculature appropriate for serious horse-riding and war, have been found pretty much where ancient Greek legend put them.

Just this November, Armenian researchers reported in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology on the remains of a woman found in 2017, who died in her 20s about 2,500 years ago and who had been, according to analysis of her skeleton, as muscular in the torso and glutes as a man. She had an arrowhead buried in her leg and other scars indicative of battle, and was buried with jewelry – all indicative of a high-status, horse-riding combatant. She was the second female warrior burial discovered in Armenia. So, though there is absolutely no evidence that they were lopping off one of their breasts to improve their aim or for any other reason, women of the nomadic Scythian tribes really did fight in antiquity.

Historically, one reason science failed to realize that many Scythian warrior burials were female is that it’s hard to sex an ancient skeleton – partly because the human is one of few mammals with no penis bone. Also, researchers tended to assume that if a skeleton is found with war injuries and weapons, it’s a man. The advent of DNA testing outed the true gender of some ancient skeletons with injuries more typical of mortal combat rather than a life at the loom, not only among the Scythians but among the Vikings too.

One was about 12 to 13 years old: Though a minor by today’s standards, in terms of antiquity she would likely have been considered to have reached maturity and to have been capable of marriage and perhaps fighting too. Perhaps she was in training when she died.

The final body was of a woman aged 45 to 50, which the archaeologists called a “respectable age” as women at the time tended to die between ages 30 to 35. It was this woman who still wore a beautifully engraved ceremonial golden headdress called a calathos that featured engraved spiral motifs and flowers: its rims bore pendants in the shape of vases. Probably attesting to her status, the metal comprising the headdress was unusually pure by ancient Scythian standards: about 65 to 70 percent pure gold, compared with the normal alloy of about 30 percent, the archaeologists say.

Though dozens of similar headdresses had been found previously in the steppes of Scythia, this is the first time a Scythian headdress has been found in this area of Russia, the archaeologists say – and found in situ on the skull itself, no less.

This is noteworthy, Guliaev explains, because usually the first finders of an antique burial aren’t scientists but just about anybody else – from local farmers to construction workers to authorities, who tend to move the objects, not realizing the importance of archaeological context.

The four had been buried at the same time, the archaeologists postulate in their paper. The way the wooden tomb had been structured would have prevented its reuse later on.

It didn’t stop robbers, though: precious little does, or ever did. The archaeologists deduce that thieves broke into the tomb only a century or two after its burial in clay. But they missed two of the bodies, robbing only the remains of the teenager and one of the young women. They also left behind pottery, including a lecythus – a rather squat type of vase typically used for oils or potions in antiquity. The style of the pottery is typical of the fourth century B.C.E.

The women had been laid to rest on wooden beds covered by grass bedding, the archaeologists reconstruct. More chillingly, one of the young women was buried with her legs akimbo, as though she were riding a horse. The tendons of her legs had to have been severed before her positioning, the team says. They report finding a mirror made of polished bronze beneath her left shoulder, as well as two spears and a bracelet of glass beads.

And how did they deduce that? Mainly based on the bones of a 6- to 8-month-old lamb found among their remains. Lambs are typically born in the late winter and early spring, say March and April. The team further deduced by telltale green stains on the bones that the deceased juvenile ovine had been cooked in a bronze pot. But the pot was missing. It had been stolen.
A large part of my Hellenistic household worship consists of tending Hestia's flame. Back in ancient Hellas, most religious activities surrounding the household revolved around the central hearth, which was the physical manifestation of Hestia. The male head of household, the kurios, presented slaveschildren and his new wife to the heart fire so they became part of the oikos and fell under the protection of Hestia and the other household Gods.

While Hestia has little mythology to Her name, Her worship was a vital part of ancient Hellenic religion. For one, Her flame connected every single Hellenic oikos to each other and the state. All the household fires were lit with a flame from the prytaneion (Πρυτανεῖον), the structure where state officials met and where the city kept a fire for Hestia burning day and night. Every single heart fire in the city or town was linked to that central one, and that central fire was linked to the city from where the settlers of the new village, town or city came. This network of fires, which were never allowed to go out, brought all Hellens together.

Hestia is a very female-oriented Goddess. Caring for the household was a task solely intended for women and it is because of this, very few stories about Hestia were made or recorded; the male-dominated culture cared little for Her. Yet, it was also the kurios who traveled to the prytaneion for a bit of Hestia's fire when the fire within the oikos flamed out.

Personally, I keep a flame burning on my main shrine for Hestia at all times. I keep a live flame when I'm home and awake, and an electrical one when I'm out or asleep. I would love to keep a live flame at all times, but I don't exactly have a stone building to keep it in. That one's going to have to wait a few years or so. From this flame, I light the candles in my home, and the sacrificial fire I burn twice a day and on festivals.

I truly feel that tending a flame for Hestia should be a vital part of every Hellenistic's practice. A bold statement, I know, but there is so much ancient Hellenic foundation for it that it's hard to ignore. In fact, when Hellenismos gets bigger and starts forming communities, there should be a prytaneion at its center, with a fire being continuously kept.

Hestia's fire is a great way to form a community, to come together and rejoice in the Hellenic faith. When I look at mine, I envision Hestia's fire being tended to around the world, and feel just a bit closer to Her and other Hellenic practitioners. I truly hope tending Hestia's fire is something you'll consider adopting into your own practice, if you haven't done so already.
Hurriyet Daily News reports that a slab of limestone thought to have been engraved some 1,800 years ago has been unearthed at the site of Hadrianopolis in northern Turkey. She may depict Demeter.


Ersin Çelikbaş of Karabük University said the woman shown in the carving is wearing a traditional dress, a snake-shaped belt, and is holding ears of wheat. The inscription on the slab reads,

"Herakleides, son of Glaukos, presented this." 

The excavation of the ancient city has also uncovered two public baths, two churches, defensive structures, a theater, and villas. The churches feature mosaic floors with images of a bull, a lion, two peacocks, horses, elephants, griffins, and deer.
On the first day of the Lênaia (Λήναια), Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual for it. This three-day festival honours Dionysos and has a multitude of links to the Lesser Dionysia. In fact, it's been described as an urban version of the Lesser Dionysia, but without the grander of the greater Dionysia. Will you join us for a nighttime ritual on 7 January (or 10 am on 8 January)?


The Lênaia is held--roughly--at the coldest time of year in Hellas. It's dedicated to Dionysos Lênaios (Ληναιος, of the wine press), and is almost undoubtedly a fertility festival, which was celebrated to encourage the earth to thaw and soften, and become ready for sowing. It is said that the Lênaia celebrates the birth of Dionysos--or at least the version of His birth from Zeus's thigh, but this is most definitely not a supported theory by the whole of the scholastic community. This festival is tied to Dionysos' role as Year-Daímōn in which He was conceived at Agrai, located on the banks of the Ilissus River on the Hellenic peninsula near Athens. The word 'Agrai', pertains to both the place name and the rites of Dionysos held there--most commonly referred to as the 'lesser Mysteries' (20-26 Anthesterion). Another reason for the name of the festival might be the female revelers that often partook of Dionysos' worship and were named Maenads, or Lenai.

The Lênaia starts at the twelfth and ends either on the fourteenth or fifteenth of the month. At Elaion, we feel it ends at dusk on the fifteenth, as that would make up the full three days attested to (from dusk on the twelfth, to dusk on the fifteenth).

The Lênaia was an ancient, local, mostly Athenian, festival, although it was locally celebrated elswhere as well. In Athens, no one from another city could attend. This was partly an inevitability, seeing as the seas at this time were the most dangerous of the year. It's documented that the Lenaion--most likely a theatre outside of the city or a section of the Agora--was the stage for the Lênaia, and might have been the earliest shrine of Dionysos at Athens. Eventually, the Theatre of Dionysos was built, and the Greater Dionysia became the main festival for the performance of drama, but tragedies and comedies were also put on during the Lênaia. In fact, they were the main event.

At the public level this was primarily a theatrical and civic affair, and the city invoked the god Dionysos in his role as bringer of wealth and the blessings of civilization. The festival might have started with a procession from the wilds outside of Athens, into the civilization of Athens itself. During the procession, the Daidukhos (Torch-bearer) yelled, “Invoke the God!” and the celebrants responded, "Son of Semele, Iakkhos, Giver of Wealth!”. (Parke, Festivals of the Athenians, p 104–4) This procession might have played out (parts of) the early myths surrounding Dionysos, where He and his revelers came to His cousin Pentheus, but were imprisoned. Dionysos broke Himself and His revelers out, and tried to explain His worship to His cousin. Yet, Pentheus would not listen, so Dionysos left him to his anger. He took His followers--including many local women, including Pentheus' mother and sister--to the hills. When Pentheus pursued Him, He drove the women mad. To them Pentheus appeared to be a moutain lion. In a berserk rage, they attacked him, and his mother--who was first to reach him--ripped his head off, while the others tore off his limbs.

At midnight on at least one of the days, revellers took to an all-night ecstatic dance, dressed up and bearing various musical instruments (the thyrsus, castanets, tambourines and flutes, primarily). They danced in front of a representation of Dionysos, usually a simple post, dressed in a man’s tunic, with garlanded branches like upraised arms, and with a bearded mask of Dionysos. It's this bear that often discourages scholars from interpreting the Lênaia as a festival to celebrate Dionysos' birth. Wine was a large part of the dance and stood on a table in front of the idol; generally, this wine was the last of the old.

There were massive parades through the streets during the days, which were led by the Archōn Basileus and the officials who oversaw the sacred ceremonies of the Eleusinian mysteries. There were speeches by political figures, awards were given to outstanding citizens, veterans and their families, and business was discussed in the open, and with gusto. Tragedies and comedies were performed, but comedies were the main focus. While the plays were wonderful, many people looked forward to the household part of the festival more, though, as it was encouraged to get at least somewhat tipsy and ward off the cold in bed with your partner.

It's interesting to note that during the midwinter celebrations of Dionysos, a group of revelers roamed Mount Parnassos at Delphi (we mostly know this from an account where they had to be rescued off of the mountain when a blizzard struck), and it is attested that every second year, the Delphic women were joined by women from Athens. The Lênaia might have been the main Dionysian festival for these Athenian women.

You can join the community for the event here, and download the ritual here. We look forward to have you participate!
As Britain leaves the European Union, it is taking with it one of its members’ most invaluable cultural treasures. It is likely now that the issue of the repatriation of the Parthenon sculptures will take on a new dimension.


As a member of the EU, Britain remained adamant about the British Museum’s rightful ownership of the sculptures in response to Greece’s repeated requests that they be returned. The British government even argued at one point that the British Museum itself does not belong to the state; therefore there is nothing that can be done about the issue on a governmental level.

However, it seems that a tiny window may be opening for a new claim that the priceless marbles belong to Greece for cultural and ethical reasons, regardless of any and all arguments of legal ownership by the British Museum.

After Britain’s withdrawal from the Union, the country will have to sign new agreements with the EU on a range of important issues. One of these concerns the realm of culture and cultural artifacts. And without a doubt, Greece’s ancient Parthenon sculptures belong to this category, and take pride of place in it.

What Greece can push for now is the issue of the repatriation of these particular cultural artifacts to their original and rightful owners, regardless of any possible claims of legality from centuries ago expressed by the British Museum. Greece has made official appeals to repatriate the priceless historical treasures since the mid-1980s, with then-Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri rallying for this cause for years.

In 2015, the United Nations began an initiative called “The Restitution or Return of Cultural Property in the Countries of Origin,” which includes an explicit reference to the return of the Parthenon Marbles. A total of 74 countries, including many European Union member states, a significant number of Latin American countries and several Arab and African states are involved in the initiative.

Besides UNESCO, Greece has tried to find justice in international courts on the issue, but to no avail — at least until now. The British Museum went as far as to claim that Greece has no legal rights to the sculptures whatsoever and that they are better protected on its premises than they would be in Greece.

Ironically, while the museum and the British government have been firmly against the repatriation of the invaluable artifacts, the majority of UK citizens are overwhelmingly in support of the reunification of the Greek marbles.

A 2017 poll showed fully 69 percent of Britons were in favor of returning the marbles, while only a mere 13 percent were against the repatriation.

Perhaps most ironically, Britain’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also against the returning of the cultural treasures to Greece. This is especially surprising because Johnson is an outspoken philhellene, who has always admired ancient Greek civilization and its invaluable contributions to western culture.

In fact, Johnson has even been quoted as saying that the marbles “…were rescued quite rightly by Elgin.”

What Greece simply must do now is bring the issue of the repatriation of the Parthenon sculptures to the Brexit negotiation table. All negotiations on any cultural issues whatsoever must absolutely include these priceless marbles.

As a member of the European Union, Greece can at last take a hard stance and use its veto power in all future deals made between Great Britain and the EU. Greece must force the EU to demand the repatriation of the Parthenon marbles as part of the Brexit deal.

Greece has the UNESCO decision, the majority of EU member states, a total of 74 countries — and even a majority of Britons — on its side to correct a wrong that has been perpetuated for over 200 years.

Thomas Bruce, the Seventh Earl of Elgin, served as the British ambassador to Constantinople. He was a great admirer of ancient Greece and asked the Ottoman rulers of Greece at the time for the authority to replicate some of the sculptures of the Parthenon.

Elgin was somehow even given permission to chip away and remove some of the sculptures from the mighty edifice as well.

He removed portions of the frieze, along with the metopes and pedimental sculptures of the Parthenon as well as sculptured slabs from the Athenian temple of Nike Apteros, in addition to various antiquities from Attica and other areas of Greece which caught his eye.

Part of the Elgin collection was prepared for shipping to England in 1803, but his ship, the Mentor, wrecked near Cerigo with its priceless cargo of marbles. It was not until after the labors of three years, and the expenditure of large sums of money, that the marbles were successfully recovered by divers.

After acquiring this first booty of plundered antiquities, Elgin continued to make additions to his collection as late as 1812, when eighty new cases full of antiquities arrived on English shores for his delight and delectation.

The British Museum continues to claim that Lord Elgin did not “steal” the artifacts. Instead, the Museum insists that Elgin took them with the complete knowledge and permission of the Ottoman authorities. Taking into account the fact that the Ottomans had invaded Greece, and had no part in the production of these Greek antiquities, somehow has been left out of the equation.

It is estimated that Elgin looted some 247 feet of frieze sculptures from the Parthenon. Furthermore, it is believed that Elgin took around half of what was still standing of the Parthenon structure itself at that time.

After Elgin shipped all his loot to England, he sold the sculptures in 1816 for £35,000. Eventually, they were acquired by the British Museum in London.

However, even back in the early 1800s, the legitimacy of the ownership of the marbles was controversial. Only after a Parliamentary Select Committee debated the legality of Elgin’s ownership, when Elgin argued that the sculptures would be better cared for in Britain than in Greece, did the museum finally take possession of the Parthenon antiquities.