Archaeologists’ discovery of a 2,200-year-old gold earring in excavations near Jerusalem’s Old City has offered a rare glimpse of life in the holy city during the early Hellenistic period, an era of the city about which very little is known. The spectacular gold earring, shaped like a horned animal, dates back to the second or third century BCE.


The earring was discovered during archaeological digs by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and Tel Aviv University at the Givati Parking Lot in the City of David National Park encircling the Old City‘s walls. Experts assess that the earring, which bears the head of a horned animal — possibly an antelope or deer — was crafted using a technique known as filigree, in which threads and tiny metal beads are used to create delicate and complex patterns, a style which first appeared in Greece during the early Hellenistic period. Similar earrings have been found across the Mediterranean, but are extremely rare in Israel. Professor Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University and Dr. Yiftah Shalev of the Antiquities Authority:

“The jewelry was found inside a building that was unearthed during the excavation, dating to the early Hellenistic period—a fascinating era about which we know very little when it comes to Jerusalem. During the course of over a century of archaeological digs in the city, many small discoveries have been made from this period—mainly consisting of pottery fragments and a few coins—but hardly any remains of buildings that could be accurately dated to this period.” 

Nearby, excavators also found a gold bead with intricately embroidered ornamentation resembling a thin rope pattern, dividing the beads into two parts with six spirals on each side.
Today I got the sense I should write about Poseidon. Poseidon is the God of the Mediterranean seas, who can strike down His trident and create fresh water springs, or disastrous earthquakes. He is also the Lord of horses, presumably because of the foamy waves rising up like a herd of horses before crashing on the shore. He has made His home underwater, with his wife Amphitrite and other water creatures, many of which immortal. He's a powerful God, one of three brothers who rule the sky, the sea, and the underworld.

Claudius Aelianus (Κλαύδιος Αἰλιανός), commonly called Aelian, was born at Praeneste around 175 AD. He was a Roman author and teacher of rhetoric who spoke Greek so perfectly that he was called "honey-tongued" (meliglossos). He preferred Greek authors, and wrote in a slightly archaizing Greek himself. "On the Nature of Animals" (Περὶ Ζῴων Ἰδιότητος) is a collection of seventeen books. All contain brief stories of natural history, sometimes selected with an eye to conveying allegorical moral lessons, sometimes because they are just so astonishing. He also quotes other authors and in the collection, he quotes a hymn to Poseidon I'd like to share with you today. It was originally written by Arion, son of Cycleus, it seems. He wrote the poem in thanks to Poseidon for saving his life. He focusses on dolphins. It goes as follows and probably stems from the fifth century BC:


"Highest of the Gods, Lord of the sea, Poseidon of the golden trident, earth-shaker in the swelling brine, around thee the finny monsters in a ring swim and dance, with nimble flingings of their feet leaping lightly, snub-nosed hounds with bristling neck, swift runners, music-loving dolphins, sea-nurslings of the Nereid maids divine, whom Amphitrite bore, even they that carried me, a wanderer on the Sicilian mean, to the headland of Taenarum in Pelops' land, mounting meupon their humped backs as they clove the furrow of Nereus' plain, a path untrodden, when deceitful men had cast me from their sea-faring hollow ship into the purple swell of ocean."
A team of researchers led by Karl Reber of the Swiss Archaeological School in Greece and Amalia Karappaschalidou of the Evia Ephorate of Antiquities has uncovered a variety of artifacts at the sanctuary of Artemis near Amarynthos, according to The Greek Reporter.


The Artemis sanctuary was discovered in 2017 in an excavation carried out by the Swiss Archaeological School in Greece in cooperation with the Evia Ephorate of Antiquities and started 10 years ago. The new findings include embossed tiles with the inscription “Artemis” and three statue bases dating from the Hellenistic era with inscriptions dedicated to the goddess, her brother Apollon and their mother Leto. A copper and quartz object that may have been part of a larger statue was also found .The findings helped identify the buildings that were excavated over the last 10 years at the sacred site. According to ancient writings it was one of the most important sanctuaries in Evia. The previously excavated buildings are two galleries that define the temple from the east and north, as well as a sacred fountain.

The 2018 excavations started at the end of June and lasted through early August, led by Professor Karl Reber of the University of Lausanne, Director of the Swiss Archaeological School in Greece, and Amalia Karappaschalidou, Honorary Ephor of Antiquities of Evia.

The research was focused on the central site of the sanctuary to reveal the ancient temple and the altar. Significant finds in 2018, such as a copper quartz figurine, part of a statue of Artemis and a new sculpture base bearing the names of Artemis, Apollo and Leto, as well as another base, strengthen the view that the temple is in this area and is expected to be identified in the coming years.

The Swiss and Greek archaeologists also investigated the remains of earlier building phases dating from the 10th to the 7th century BC, such as an elongated building over 20 meters in length, dating back to the Early Archaic period, and resting on an arched building.

The site was the end point of an annual procession from the ancient city of Eretria. Scholars suggest the temple, which is thought to have been destroyed by a natural disaster in the first century B.C., and rebuilt in the second century A.D., helped to strengthen Eretria’s border. The excavation team also found evidence of earlier buildings at the site, dating back to the tenth century B.C.
Two clay burial containers called Larnakes, estimated from the Late Minoan era were accidentally discovered at Kentri in Ierapetra in South Crete. The coffins, estimated to be from the post-Minoan era were discovered when a farmer tried to park his vehicle in an olive grove and the land underneath collapsed.


According to sources, the clay coffins are decorated with embossed ornamentation and are in excellent condition. They contain two skeletons and about 24 vases with coloured reliefs and depictions.

Larnakes (singular Larnax) are small closed coffin, box or “ash-chest” often used as a container for human remains in Minoan culture and Greek antiquity, either a body (bent on itself) or cremated ashes.

The first larnakes appeared in Minoan times during the Aegean Bronze Age, when they took the form of ceramic coffers designed to imitate wooden chests, perhaps on the pattern of Egyptian linen chests. They were richly decorated with abstract patterns, octopuses, and scenes of hunting and cult rituals. Argyris Pantazis, deputy mayor of Local Communities, Agrarian and Tourism of Ierapetra, told cretapost:

“The positive thing is that they were not emptied by thieves and this will help archaeologists get as much information as possible. This is a great day for Ierapetra. When you see that in a 4-metre hole there are such important antiquities you feel awe."

The archaeological find came to light when a local farmer tried to park his vehicle under an olive tree. The soil was soft because of watering the olive trees and because a water pipe was broken.

"We are particularly pleased with this great archaeological discovery as it is expected to further enhance our culture and history. Indeed, this is also a response to all those who doubt that there were Minoans in Ierapetra."

Some more images and source here.
The Santorini eruption provides a fixed point for aligning the chronology of the Bronze Age in the Mediterranean, yet its exact date has been difficult to determine. Recently, an olive branch found buried under rock fragments at Santorini was used to date the eruption to between 1627 and 1600 BCE, more than a century earlier than the 1500 BCE date suggested by archaeologists. The dating was based on the assumption that the outermost ring of wood was formed just before the branch was buried alive by the eruption.


To assess whether an olive tree’s outermost ring is produced just prior to the tree’s death and can thus be used for reliable dating, Elizabetta Boaretto and colleagues analyzed the radiocarbon concentrations in 20 samples taken from a modern olive tree trunk and 11 samples taken from a living branch cut in 2013.

They found that in both cases individual samples, all of which were taken from the layer of wood nearest the bark, could vary in date by as much as 40 to 50 years. The findings suggest that olive trees do not systematically produce visible growth rings and that growth cessation of individual sections of the same tree well before its death is a common phenomenon.

The findings challenge the interpretation of the results obtained from dating the olive branch found at Santorini, which may be significant not only for the archaeological history of the Aegean, Egypt and the Levant but also for any future studies based on archaeologically preserved olive wood.
On the day of the Hene kai Nea (or sometimes, like this month, the day after), 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.

Statistics:
PAT rituals for Metageitnion:
  • Metageitnion 2 - August 14 - Herakleia - in honor of Herakles at Kunosarges gymnaisium outside Athens
  • Metageitnion 12 - August 24 - Sacrifice to Zeus Polieus, Athena Polias, and Apollon Lykeios in Athens
  • Metageitnion 15-18 - Eleusinia - August 27-30 - games held on forth year of every Olympiad, and on a lesser scale on the second year.
  • Metageitnion 16 - August 28 - Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Hekate & Artemis at Erkhia
  • Metageitnion 19 - August 31 - Sacrifice to The Heroines at Erkhia
  • Metageitnion 20 - September 2 - Sacrifice to Hera Telkhinia at Erkhia
  • Metageitnion 25 - September 6 - Sacrifice to Zeus Epoptes 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.




Very few heroes in ancient Hellas had quite the impact of Herakles. Both mythologically speaking and as a practical part of the religion, Herakles has a special place and he is honored during the Herakleia. Will you honor him with us on August 14th at the usual 10 am EDT?


Herakles was conceived by Zeus upon Alkmene, as He disguised Himself as her husband, returning early from war. Alkmene accepted Him in her bed gladly, as she was happy to see her husband again. When the real Amphitryon did return later that night, Alkmene realized what had happened, and told her husband. Amphitryon accepted her in his bed, regardless, and so she became pregnant with twins, one fathered by Zeus, and one by her mortal husband.

Hera, hearing of the affair, took an instant disliking to the unborn child. When it became time for Alkmene to give birth, Hera made Zeus swear a vow that a child born in the line of Perseus on this day would become King. Zeus agreed, and Hera hurried off to delay the birth of Herakles and Iphikles, and hurry along the birth of Eurystheus (Εὐρυσθεύς), grandson of Perseus. The two had unknowingly become part of a contest of wills between Zeus and Hera, to decide who would be the hero to drive off the last of the great monsters and pave the way for the Olympians.

Eventually, Hera was tricked into allowing the children born, as She would have postponed their delivery indefinitely. Alkmene, aware of the divine spark in one of her sons, took her distance from him, but the young Herakles was taken up by Athena and taken to Hera, who did no recognize the newborn nemesis of Her candidate, and took pity on him. She fed him from Her breast, but when he suckled so hard that he caused Her pain, She realized who he was, and cast him off. Athena rescued the infant and took him back to his mortal parents. Alkmene took him back and raised him with her husband.

Herakles was a strong child, so strong, in fact, that he inadvertently killed his music teacher Linos (Λῖνος) with a lyre, for which he was tried and found not guilty. He was still made to leave the city, however. Herakles set out to perform feats of strength, starting by defeating the lion of Kithairon, which had been a bane to his stepfather for far too long. Thespios, King of Thespiae, housed Herakles for fifty days as he hunted for the lion, and every night Thespios placed one of his fifty daughters in his bed, although Herakles thought he was only sleeping with one. Herakles eventually vanquished the lion. He dressed himself in the skin, and wore the scalp as a helmet. The Gods lavished him with gifts: a sword from Hermes, bow and arrows from Apollon, a golden breastplate from Hephaistos, and a robe from Athena. His famous club he made himself at Nemea.

Next, Herakles was drawn into a war between the Thebans and the Minyans. He happened upon heralds from King Klymenos, who had won a previous battle with Thebes and now demanded tribute from them. Herakles, who had been living in Thebes, cut the ears, noses and hands off of all but one of the heralds and told the last remaining one to take them back to his king as tribute. In the battle that followed, Herakles fought bravely with the king's army, and his side eventually won, earning him his wife Megara, eldest daughter of King Kreon of Thebes.

Due to Hera's jealousy, he was stricken mad and killed the five sons he had by his wife. When he was released from his madness by a hellebore potion--provided by Antikyreus--and realized what he had done, he cried out in anguish, and went on a long journey to cleanse himself of the miasma caused by these killings. First, he visited the oracle at Delphi, who, unbeknownst to him, was whispered to by Hera. The Oracle told Herakles to serve the king of Tiryns, Eurystheus, for ten years and do everything Eurystheus told him to do. Eurystheus gladly provided Herakles with these labors--ten of them, one for each year--and eventually ended up adding two more, resulting in the Twelve Labors of Herakles.

The Herakleia (Ἡράκλεια ἐν Κυνοσάργει, Herakleia en Kynosargei) were ancient festivals commemorating the death of Herakles. In Athens, the celebration was held just outside the city walls, in a sanctuary dedicated to Herakles. His priests were drawn from the list of boys who were not full Athenian citizens (nothoi, illegitimate children, like him) and were named 'parasitoi'. The Attic cults of Herakles were often closely connected with youth: at several of his cult sites there was a gymnasion attached, and there was a mythological tradition (perhaps originating in Boeotia) that after Herakles died he was taken up to Olympus, where he married Hebe, the personification of youth. Because of this, Herakles is sometimes worshipped as a God and sometimes as a dead hero.

In Thebes, the center of the cult of Herakles, the festivities lasted a number of days and consisted of various athletic and musical contests (agones), as well as sacrifices. They were celebrated in the gymnasium of Iolaus, the nephew and eromenos of Herakles, and were known as the Iolaeia. The winners were awarded brass tripods.

Will you join us in honoring Herakles on this day? You can join the community here and find the ritual here.