A large merchant ship that sunk around 425 BC near the island of Alonissos is the site of Greece’s first-ever underwater museum, touted by the regional governor as “the parthenon of shipwrecks.”

Located near the islet of Peristera off the island of Alonissos in the Sporades group and at a depth of 21-28 meters (around 90 feet), the underwater diving site will be open from 3 August to 3 October. Non-diving tourists will be able to take a virtual reality tour at an information center in Alonissos.

The ship was carrying thousands of amphoras, ancient storage pots that were used to transport wine, olive oil and other food and beverage products between Greek city states.

For decades, this bonanza of history beneath the waves was off-limits to everyone except archaeologists. But in 2005, Greece revised a policy designed to protect the country’s undersea treasures from would-be looters, opening a select few sites to the scuba-diving public.

Greek Culture Ministry officials have said that four other underwater locations are set to open to divers, paving the way for Greece to become an important scuba destination.

The video above shows the expansive area on the bottom of the sea that is Greece’s newest museum.
The Iliad (Ἰλιάς) is an ancient Hellenic epic poem, traditionally attributed to Homeros. It's set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Hellenic states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. Although the story covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad mentions or alludes to many of the Hellenic legends about the siege; the earlier events, such as the gathering of warriors for the siege, the cause of the war, and related concerns tend to appear near the beginning. Then the epic narrative takes up events prophesied for the future, such as Achilles' imminent death and the fall of Troy, although the narrative ends before these events take place. However, as these events are prefigured and alluded to more and more vividly, when it reaches an end the poem has told a more or less complete tale of the Trojan War. Over the course of the story, many Gods are invoked and petitioned, and I'd like to collect some of these invocations here today, for use in your own rites.

An invocation is a request for the spiritual presence and blessing of a deity during a rite. To invoke is to call upon earnestly, so an “invocation” in the context of prayer is a serious, intentional calling upon a God or Goddess. In Hellenic ritual, it's common for prayers of invocation to be offered every time a new deity is invoked, so we can be sure They will the hymns and prayers of petition offered to Them. Invocations fit into the rite like so:

- Lighting of the incense burner with frankincense
- Invocation to Demeter: Khaire Demeter, you who taught us to work the earth and provides for us so bountifully… 
- Libation of a kykeon and sacrifices
- Orphic Hymn 40 To Eleusinian Demeter
- Prayers

"O god of the silver bow, that protectest Chryse and holy Cilla, and rulest Tenedos with thy might..."
"Hear me O king from your seat, may be in the rich land of Lycia, or may be in Troy, for in all placesyou can hear the prayer of one who is in distress, as I now am..."

"Hear me, daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus, unweariable..."
"Holy Athena, protectress of [Athens], mighty goddess..."
"Hear me, daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus, you who spy out all my ways and who are with me in all my hardships; befriend me in this mine hour..."

"I call the Erinyes who dwell below and take vengeance on him who shall swear falsely..."

"Oh Sun, that seest and givest ear to all things, Earth and Rivers..."

"Zeus, most glorious, supreme, that dwellest in heaven, and ridest upon the storm-cloud..."
"Father Zeus that rulest in Ida, most glorious in power..."
"Zeus, most great and glorious, and ye other everlasting gods..."
"King Zeus, lord of Dodona, god of the Pelasgi, who dwellest afar, you who hold wintry Dodona in your sway, where your prophets the Selli dwell around you with their feet unwashed and their couches made upon the ground- if you heard me when I prayed to you aforetime, [...]vouchsafe me now the fulfilment of yet this further prayer..."
On 12 Metageitnion, two separate rites were held, one in Erkhia and one in Athens. The first was in honor of Demeter, the other in honor of Zeus Polieus, Athena Polias, and Apollon Lykeios. On 2 August, so today, at 10:00 AM EDT, we will combine both rites into a single PAT ritual.

Demeter, we all know, and she is not listed with a specific epithet. Zeus, Athena, and Apollon, however, are. Zeus Polieus and Athena Polias were protectors of the city. That is literally the translation of their epithet: 'of the city'. Apollon Lykeios means 'of the wolves'.

From the Erkhian ritual calendar, we know that the sacrifices to Apollon, Zeus, and Athena were not to be removed from the site and were thus to be eaten on the spot after part of the offering was sacrificed. In all cases, this offering was a white sheep, male for the male Gods, female for the female Gods. Demeter also got a female sheep, but her entry does not have a note to not remove the meat from the location, meaning the meat could potentially be taken away to be eaten later, or sold at shops founded especially for the purpose.

Will you be joining us in honoring these Gods on 2 August, at 10:00 AM EDT? The ritual can be found here, and you can join our community here.
Archaeological ruins are rocks artfully placed and artfully collapsed. Since the Romantics, they have been sites of imagination where we conjure the past. At the Valley of the Temples, which has occupied a ridge outside the city of Agrigento, Italy, for 2,500 years, visitors come to admire the Doric columns and see the stunning Hellenic structures that have stood through weather and war.

If you follow a path from the Temple of Concordia towards the Hellenistic-Roman urban quarter, though, you will find an orchard of almond and pistachio trees bursting white with flowers. This “Living Museum of the Almond Tree,” which stands out among the arid landscape of scrub, contains more than 300 rare Sicilian varieties. If you visit during the summer, you may see local producer Rino Frenda harvesting the nuts to make creams and nougats that he sells under the park’s own label.

The almond orchard is not the park’s only agricultural project: It is home to bees and goats and citrus trees. Often overshadowed by the looming temples, they represent a choice to make the landscape just as important as the temples, to connect the local community to the site through traditions that reach back to ancient Greece, and to conceive of and manage an archaeological site in a different way.

For a long time, conservation management prioritized ruins rather than their surrounding context. The Venice Charter, an influential 1964 document that established a framework for conservation, omitted historic landscapes and gardens, focusing on maintaining ruins as unchanged artifacts. For decades, this narrow vision of culture dominated the field.

But “culture” stems from the Latin word cultura, which means to grow or cultivate. So the professionals in these two silos—archaeology and landscape—got to talking. And according to Mauro Agnoletti, a professor at the University of Florence who teaches landscape history and rural-landscape planning, conservation slowly began to take into account not just the ruins but the surrounding environment. Still, he points out, the Valley of the Temples is a rare case. “We have places where we restore traditional rural landscapes, but not many where you also have archaeological sites.” Only recently have some archaeologists spoken to him about incorporating and restoring the landscape around such monuments.

The administration at the Valley of the Temples has successfully pioneered their unique version of this evolution, though it is a relatively recent and unfolding development. When the ruins were declared a Zone of National Interest in 1966, the focus was on the stones. Even the UNESCO World Heritage Status that was granted in 1997 centered on the Hellenic ruins, though it hazily gestures beyond. “The vast area proposed for inscription,” the evaluation reads, “may be considered to have something of the nature of a cultural landscape. The row of great temples are the only significant upstanding monuments; the remainder of the site has preserved the rural setting of fields and orchards.” The park’s slow move in this direction became official policy in 2000, when local authorities enshrined in regional law the twinned values of archaeology and landscape, with the added purpose of improving and promoting the landscape that stretches more than 3,200 acres, one of the largest archaeological sites in the world.

Much of the surrounding land had been abandoned by farmers who left the landscape damaged. In rehabilitating the area, the park has invested in the agricultural landscape to both reflect the legacy of the Greeks, in products such as olive oil, honey, wine, and almonds, but also the evolution of the landscape over the centuries, such as the citrus trees brought by the Arabs in the 10th century.

In the late 1990s, along with planting the almond orchard, landscape preservationists started to recreate the fruit orchards of the garden of Kolymbethra. An entrance beside the Temple of Castor and Pollux leads down into a small and verdant valley, into what feels like a secret. In March, the air is perfumed with the scent of orange blossoms. It’s located in what was the artificially created basin that supplied water to the ancient Greek city of Akragas and its hundreds of thousands of residents. The parched earth was brought to life by the aqueducts that collected groundwater from the hills, and it became an important agricultural site over the centuries, with the current incarnation of the garden beginning in the Middle Ages when nearby monks cultivated vegetables and fruits, using varieties and techniques brought by the Arabs. 

These various forms of traditional agriculture, which are low-intensive and sustainable, both express and support the landscape. In 2012, the park welcomed back the rare Sicilian black bee, a threatened species that was thought extinct. Researchers had found a hive in an abandoned house and bred the bees on the Aeolian Islands to avoid cross breeding. The researchers then reintroduced the bee to Sicily by recruiting beekeepers who would breed the species under specific conditions.

These are the signature projects of the park, but farmers can also apply to plant crops such as capers and grains, which puts to good public use the site’s vast land holdings. Park staff are also studying the possibility of hosting the rare Girgentana goat for milk production. A test study of a few goats can be seen in a pen near the Temple of Concordia. It’s a rare breed of Asian origins, with distinct corkscrew horns, that the Arabs likely introduced around 800. Slow Food has tried to revitalize the species in collaboration with cheese producers because they are productive and their milk is highly digestible, hypoallergenic, and has a less pronounced “goat” flavor than other breeds. Soon there could be cheese for sale.

Sciarratta hopes their example can inspire the curators of other archaeological sites. Still, this model is rare, and Professor Agnoletti struggles to name a similar project. He mentions the archaeological sites of Mides and Chebika in Tunisia, where the local government is thinking of incorporating the ruins of an old Berber village with the oases’ traditional agricultural practices. At Pompeii, the park has recreated a vineyard using Roman techniques. And the restored gardens at Monticello attest to Thomas Jefferson’s obsession with farming and heirloom varieties. Perhaps Cambodia’s rich heritage of rice farming could see paddies surround Angkor Wat. Maybe the steep terraces of Machu Picchu could once again be filled with multi-colored potatoes, maize, and other Andean cultivars like they were 500 years ago. By incorporating traditional agriculture into these sites, we can experience a kind of living past and, perhaps, see the wisdom of these techniques contrasted against our current industrial agriculture.