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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apollon is a healing God, and the father of Asklēpiós. By extension alone, He can also be petitioned for mental health aid, and UPG-wise, it makes sense to me; as a God of Light, that tends to be exactly what is missing in my head when I trigger; light. Hope. All I can see is what happened over and over again, and I get sad, and guilty, and dark. Apollon can burn that darkness away and offer relief to an aching head and heart.

Dionysos can bring madness, and take it away as well. He is a God whose main influence is felt on the mind, and His influence can be both positive and negative. Let me tell you a story; sometimes I can feel the darkness coming on. It used to happen a lot when I was still a teen and in my early twenties, although it's been blissfully stable the last few years. Whenever I would feel that, I would dance to the loudest music I could find--uplifting music that I put on high volume on my speakers or headphones, and then I would just dance. I'd dance until I was out of breath and my feet hurt, and my back hurt, and I would pray to Dionysos to lift my burdens from me all the while. I'd dance until I collapsed, and I would always, always, feel better. That is the kind of relief Dionysos offers--the one you need to work for, the one that hurts, but also the one that is so very rewarding in the end.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

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

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

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

The ritual for the event can be found here and you can join the community here.