Naukratis (Ναύκρατις, meaning 'naval victory) was a city of Ancient Egypt, on the Canopic branch of the Nile river, 45 mi (72 km) South East of the open sea and the later capital of Ptolemaic Egypt, Alexandria. It was the first and, for much of its early history, the only permanent Hellenic colony in Egypt; acting as a symbiotic nexus for the interchange of Hellenic and Egyptian art and culture.

The modern site of the city has become an archaeological find of the highest significance and the source of not only many beautiful objects of art now gracing the museums of the world but also an important source of some of the earliest Hellenic writing in existence, provided by the inscriptions on its pottery.
According to the Classical historian Herodotos, in the mid-sixth century BC the Egyptian Pharaoh Amasis gave the town of Naukratis to Hellenes from twelve different cities to live in, including land where non-resident traders could erect sanctuaries. However, archaeology attests the site’s existence already under Pharaoh Psammetichus (Psamtek) I, from at least 620/610 BC. Furthermore, Naukratis was not just a Hellenic but also an Egyptian town, in which Hellenes and Egyptians lived side by side for centuries. To Egyptians, the site was known as Nokradj (the Hellenic name ‘Naukratis’ deriving from this Egyptian name), or as Per-Meryt, the-House-of-the-Harbour. The city had close connections to the Egyptian royal city Sais, located on the neighbouring branch of the Nile.

Naukratis was frequented by traders from many Hellenic cities as well as by Phoenicians and Cypriots; it became famous for its elaborate symposia (dining parties) and beautiful hetairai (courtesans). Naukratis functioned as the main trading port in the Western Nile Delta until the foundation of Alexandria, and continued to be significant also throughout the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Officers (prostatai) appointed by the nine founding cities of the Hellenion administered the emporion (Hellenic trading post) at least from the time of Amasis. Imports into Egypt included wine, oil, and silver, and exports from Egypt grain, flax, natron, papyrus, perfume and other semi-luxuries.

During the Hellenistic period Naukratis was one of three Hellenic poleis (city-states) in Egypt and remained an important town and regional hub. Alexander the Great’s finance minister, Kleomenes, was born here. In the late fourth century BC Naukratis briefly issued its own bronze coinage.

Artefacts dating from the late first century BC to the seventh century AD show that Naukratis continued to be occupied well into the Roman period and beyond. The settlement had shrunk into a town by the second century AD, though it retained some status. Games, featuring poetry competitions, apparently continued to be performed there into the third century AD, and the site was home to the famous culinary writer Athenaeus. Byzantine period (AD 330 to 641) artefacts, sometimes displaying Christian symbols, are rare, and it seems that by the seventh century AD Naukratis had fallen into obscurity.

For more information about the city and images of many of the artifacts found, visit the website of the British Museum.
Michael D. Konaris recently posted a history of modern scholarship on the ancient Hellenic religion that I would like to share with you today. Konaris studied Classics and Ancient and Modern History at Oxford and Cambridge and has held postdoctoral research positions at FU, Berlin, Princeton, and EHESS. The Greek Gods in Modern Scholarship: Interpretation and Belief in Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Germany and Britain is based on his doctoral dissertation at Balliol College, Oxford under the supervision of Prof. Robert Parker.

"The nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are a key period in the history of modern scholarship on ancient Greek religion. It was in nineteenth-century Germany that the foundations for the modern academic study of Greek religion were laid and the theories formulated by German scholars as well as by their British colleagues in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century exercised a profound influence on the field which would resonate until much later times.

Throughout this period fierce debates were conducted over the interpretation of Greek religion: what were the origins of the Greek gods and what light did they shed on their conception in historical times? Was there a monotheistic strand in Greek polytheism and if so, how was it to be explained? In terms of an innate human tendency, or diffusion from abroad? And if the latter, where from? How similar or different was Greek religion to the religions of other Indo-European peoples, to the non-Indo-European religions of the ancient Near East, or to the modern polytheistic religions of Africa and Asia? At a time of growing scientification and professionalization in the discipline, classical scholars in Germany and Britain drew on developments in philology, archaeology, comparative mythology, anthropology, and later sociology to propose strikingly different answers to these questions.

Consider the issue of origins, for example. According to a very influential tradition of comparative interpretation in the nineteenth century, the Greek gods, like the gods of other ancient religions, derived from the personification of natural elements and domains—Zeus of the sky, Poseidon of the sea, and so forth. Because of the variety of natural forces and phenomena, Ludwig Preller (1809-1861), one of the most eminent representatives of this approach, described polytheism as an inherent weakness of Greek religion.

In the course of the second half of the nineteenth century, this view was strongly opposed by scholars such as Heinrich Dietrich Müller (1819-1893) and Ernst Curtius (1814-1896), who rejected the idea that Greek religion was inherently polytheistic and to whom the worship of natural powers was redolent of irrationality and mysticism. In their eyes, it was typical of Asian religions, but could not have provided the basis of the religion of the Greeks. Far from being personifications of different elements of the natural world, they suggested that Zeus, Poseidon, and the other Olympians were originally universal, omnipotent gods—like the God of Judaism and Christianity. Ascribing a form of monotheism to the Greeks they argued that initially each Greek community had worshipped a single, all-powerful god. Greek polytheism was a late outcome of historical contingencies as the separate gods of the different communities were gradually brought together and their once universal powers started to contract.

This theory was, in turn, challenged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by British anthropology and evolutionism. The concept of gods endowed with universal powers was now seen as belonging to late stages of religious development rather than its beginnings. Jane Ellen Harrison (1850-1928), one of the first to apply sociological theory to the study of Greek religion, in fact envisaged an early stage of Totemism in ancient Greece where no gods at all had existed. In her view, what was primary in Totemism was “the idea of the unity of a group.” Gods were a “by-product” that emerged gradually out of pre-existing rituals which expressed group cohesion.

These issues were far from being of mere antiquarian interest. The interpretation of Greek religion during the nineteenth and early twentieth century was heavily affected by, and closely implicated in, contemporary discussions of crucial questions concerning the origins and nature of religion, the roots of Western culture and its relation to the “Orient,” or humankind’s attitudes to nature. Clashes between devout Christian scholars and proponents of “scientific atheism,” confessional rivalries between Catholics and Protestants and national rivalries between the Germans and the British were some of the factors that informed the study of Greek religion and made it highly relevant to present concerns.

The modern assumptions and agendas of past interpretations of Greek religion highlight the intersection of the history of the discipline with contemporary intellectual, cultural, and religious history. They not only shed light on why the field evolved in the way it has, but also invite us to reflect on the interrelations between current views of Greek religion and their context."

I, too, have noticed, lately, how modern scholarly works focus more on the intersection between disciplines to provide information and interpretation based on archaeological finds and previously drawn conclusions. New and old discoveries are being interpreted through psychological, sociological, economical, and any of another number of disciplines to provide a larger whole that fosters understanding of the ancient religion and society instead of just informing about it. Personally, I am a huge fan of this trend and I hope it continues. It makes scholarly work more easily accessible and also provides much more information that just the bare basics of previous eras
A.L. Eleutherios over at Under Two Trees recently posted a very thought provoking article on absolute anti-theism. This opinion piece argues that many celebrated atheists thoughts, sayings, and actions are actually anti-theist, and that this anti-theist movement is hurtful to followers of minority religions, as they are conflated with the oft-meant majority religious groups that fueled aforementioned thoughts, sayings, and actions.

The major example given was the 'God graveyard' (part two) stunt that took place in 2013 by the Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin. The group had created a graveyard filled with (paper) tombstones with names, images, year of birth, year of death, and a short description of many popular Pagan and Non-Pagan Gods. The group never released their reason for putting up this specific display, but did comment on Facebook to criticism saying:

"Our sign said "Once worshipped by entire civilizations, now only myths." Perhaps we should have said "now considered myths". The fact is that every god that we included was once worshipped by an entire civilization, but those civilizations have since died, and their gods are now no longer worshipped at all, or by nowhere near as many people as before. 

As atheists, we believe ALL gods are myths, but we chose to only include the gods that are now considered myths by the majority of human beings. The Judeo-Christian, Hindu, Islamic, etc gods are undoubtedly at the height of their worship, and thus can be considered "the gods of today". We then posed a simple question: looking at all these gods that were once worshiped widely, but have since ceased being worshiped altogether or at least lost a significant amount of followers, how much longer will the current gods 'live' or remain in the mainstream?"

Eleutherios recounts these events and puts them into another --much darker--light:

"It’s not that it bothers me what these kids believe about the old gods. It’s because the graveyard, essentially, is an endorsement of cultural genocide, no different from building a monument to Christopher Columbus. Basically, how this sounds like is, “These cultures are dead and you’re next”. But since these cultures didn’t die of “natural causes” or “old age”, this isn’t a reminder of mortality — it’s a threat. We know from history that most of those religions “died” and their gods “forgotten” because of coercion, not for simply falling out of favour.

Now, I understand how they want to “help” monotheists see how ridiculous it is to question other religions but not theirs. I think that’s important. However, this graveyard stunt (and others like it) comes off as historically and culturally uninformed. There are countless accounts of pagan peoples fighting for their right to exist in an increasingly pagan-hostile society, ultimately losing because the enemy had more money for a bigger army. In some places, it still happens."

These types of actions, and condoning them, is not atheism, it's anti-theism, and it paints--in Eleutherios' words 'religious people [as] a monolith; a cohesive group of delusional, backward bigots holding the world back from science, reason, and progress'.

Now, I do not condone the stunt pulled, nor do I support or appreciate anyone speaking highly of it. But as I said then, I do not feel personally offended. This was a thought exercise--or threat, if that is how you want to view it--not to the Pagan and/or ancient religions (as a conglomerated whole), but to those religions currently in major practice. Does this equate cultural genocide? I don't know. I doubt that was the goal of the graveyard, and few atheists I know are actively looking forward to, or working towards, a day where all religions have disappeared (with or without its previous believers).

Now, 'anti-theism', as described in the blog post is very real. To a very, very, very small group of people, all people who believe in some form of divinity are pretty much basket cases. Some people in the world extend their hate towards believers of a particular faith to all people of faith. And a larger group of people with receive information about being a follower of a minority religion with skepticism or ridicule. Yes, this is all true. I do think, however, that the distinction between theism and anti-theism is a lot more nuanced than proclaimed in the blog and that the graveyard is a form of atheism (as badly thought out as it was), not anti-theism. You will recognize anti-theism instantly, I feel: if you doubt it’s anti-theistic, it probably is not.

For me, anti-theism is the Chapel Hill shooting, or the 2015 Oregon shooting. It's outright violence and/or the spreading of hatein the name of atheism. It's getting others to share your views in a way that is clearly meant to incite, not provoke objective thought. Anti-theism is the radicalized version of atheism, and radicalization no matter the form is scary, deadly, and very hard to root out. But just like Muslims cannot and should not be judged by the actions of a very small few who kill in the name of their religion, we cannot judge atheists in the same way. Some people simply do not believe. Some people talk about not believing like I talk about believing. And there is enough room in the world for both. There is not, however, room in the world for extremism of any kind and while atheist thought, in my opinion, falls under freedom of speech, true anti-theism never, ever does.
Underwater excavations of Lechaion, ancient Corinth’s partially submerged harbour town, have revealed the infrastructure of more than a thousand years of flourishing maritime trade. Researchers from the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports and the University of Copenhagen are using cutting-edge methods to uncover the configuration and scale of the harbour, thus reports the Archaeological News Network.

Corinth ranked among the most economically and militarily powerful, and enduring, cities of the Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods. The city had an exceptional geographical advantage in the North East corner of the Peloponnese and controlled the Isthmus that facilitated land travel between Northern and Southern Hellas, and travel by sea between the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.

Corinth, which lay some three kilometres from the sea, built on this natural advantage by constructing two harbour towns--the main harbour Lechaion on the Corinthian Gulf to the West, and Kenchreai on the Saronic Gulf to the East. According to ancient sources, most of the city's wealth derived from the maritime trade that passed through her two harbours, eventually earning her the nickname ‘Wealthy Corinth’.

The moles and warehouses of Lechaion saw vibrant maritime activity for over a thousand years, from the 6th century BC to the 6th century AD. Ships and fleets departed from here laden with cargoes, colonists and marines destined for ports all over the Mediterranean and beyond.

Lechaion’s extensive underwater ruins lie nearly untouched, but that picture is changing. The Lechaion Harbour Project (LHP), a collaboration between the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in Greece, the University of Copenhagen, and the Danish Institute at Athens, has undertaken an exploration of the submerged main harbour of ancient Corinth.

The research team has initiated full-scale excavations and a digital and geophysical survey of the seaward side of the harbour using various innovative technologies, including a newly-developed 3D parametric sub-bottom profiler. To date they have uncovered two monumental moles constructed of ashlar blocks, along with a smaller mole, two areas of wooden caissons, a breakwater, and an entrance canal that leads into Lechaion’s three inner harbour basins.

The 2015 excavations focused on two areas. The first is a unique, early Byzantine mole constructed of six well-preserved wooden caissons together stretching 57 meters in length. The second is the stone-lined entrance canal to the little-explored Inner Harbour of Lechaion. According to archeaologist Bjørn Lovén from the University of Copenhagen and co-director of the Lechaion Harbour Project (LHP):

“We have found and documented several monumental architectural structures, built at great expense, showing that Lechaion was developed as a grand harbour to match the importance of her powerful metropolis, Corinth."

The discovery of well-preserved wooden caissons, however, caught everyone off guard. The wooden caissons acted as single-mission barges, built for the express purpose of being sunk together with their concrete cargoes, all of which were designed to form a solid foundation to hold back the force of the sea along this highly exposed stretch of coast. Roman imperial engineers employed a similar technology on a large scale at Caesarea Maritima in Israel in the late first century BC, but these are the first of their kind ever discovered in Greece with their wooden elements still preserved.

A preliminary C-14 carbon date places the caissons in the time frame of the Leonidas Basilica, the largest Christian church of its time. Construction of the basilica began in the middle of the 5th century AD. It was 180 meters long – about the same size as the first building phase of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Scholars generally assume that harbour facilities in the Mediterranean were built in the Greek and Roman period, then simply repaired and maintained during the Byzantine period. The discovery of the mole constructed of wooden caissons challenges this picture.

The mole is a rare example of major harbour construction in this later era, but it may be indicative of a larger pattern of more ambitious harbour construction in this period, such as the Theodosian harbour (modern Yenikapi) at Constantinople which has recently been excavated. Sadly, Lechaion and its basilica were destroyed by a massive earthquake in the late 6th or early 7th century AD.

Vestiges of the ancient entrance canal have been exposed on the modern beach for years, so there has been little doubt of its location. The scale, however, was surprising. So far, the team has uncovered some 55 meters of its sides, which protected ships coming into and exiting the three inner harbours of the town. And the team has also found evidence that the ancient harbour was likely located much farther to seaward, perhaps as far as 45 meters from the modern shore. A geophysical study is underway to understand how the site has evolved over time as a result of sea-level change and possible coastal subsidence.

According to Bjørn Lovén, the Lechaion Harbour Project is endeavouring to advance our understanding of how this bustling harbour evolved over time and enabled the development of Corinth as a major economic and military power during the Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods.

Go to The Archaeological News Network for more images and the project's Facebook page for more information.
The deme of Erkhia has many sacrifices, and Elaion has pretty much adpted them all. One of these sacrifices--or actually two of them--are on Poseideon 16. Both are to Zeus. The first to Zeus without epithet, the other to Zeus Horios, 'of the boundary stones'. Will you join us for this combined sacrifice on December 28, at 10 am, EST?

Zeus Horios is responsible for the preservation of boundary stones. In order to mark their territories (especially between public and private), the ancient Hellenes relied on boundary markers, called 'horoi'. A horos (χορός) was usually a stele of marble or limestone, no larger than a meter high, rectangular and roughly hewn except for the upper front face, which was dressed smooth for inscribed letters. It was usually inscribed, sometimes with just the word 'horos', or sometimes specifying the territory (e.g., 'horos of the sanctuary'), or even the name of a deity. Some horoi were inscribed in the first person; a famous horos stone found by the ancient Athenia agora reads 'I am the horos of the Agora'. Specificity and clarity were crucial; passersby needed to know what sort of land they were entering because a boundary marker's message was enforced with a legal enforceable meaning.

The Arkhian calendar describes the sacrifices as such:

"[...] on the sixteenth [of Poseideon], for Zeus, on the rock or rocky place at Erchia, a sheep, no taking away. For Zeus Horios, at Erchia, a piglet, no taking away."

'No taking away' in this case means to consume the sacrifice on the spot. No part of it can be carried away from the site. So the skins and bones, as well as some of the meat are to be burned and the rest of the meat eaten, not sold or stored. Some scientists and archaeologists have come to call this type of sacrifice 'Ou phora', after Scott Scullion's definition.

In Sullivan's definition of 'Olympian' and 'Chthonian', 'Chthonian' was extended to include not only sacrifices in which the victim was destroyed, but also all sacrifices from which the meat could not be carried away and had to be consumed on the spot. He connects ou phora sacrifices to Chthonian deities or heroes, but this theory has been widely debated because it simply does not seem to resonate with other knowledge we have of these divinities and Their cults.

While boundary stones are not that important anymore in current times, we still want trespassers to stay off our property (burglars, anyone?), and we want our personal, emotional, boundaries to be observed as well by the people we meet. So will you join us in honouring Zeus Horios come Monday 28 december at 10 am? The community for the event can be found here and the ritual here.
Every once in a while, I take it upon myself to introduce Gods and Goddesses my readers might not be familiar with. Today, this is the Goddess Enyo.

Enyo (Ενυο) is the Goddess of war. She is the female counterpart and close companion of the Ares Enyalios and sometimes described as His lover. She was closely identified with Eris, the Goddess of strife. Hómēros, for example, does not appear to distinguish between the two Goddesses but other ancient writers do--more often as the centuries pass. Her parents are Zeus and Hera, and with Ares, she may be the parents of Enyalios (Ἐνυάλιος).

       Khaos ------------ Gaea
           |         |
Ouranos --- |
                 Kronos --- Rhea
                      Zeus --- Hera
                     Enyo --- Ares
As Goddess of war, Enyo is responsible for orchestrating the destruction of cities, often accompanying Ares into battle, and depicted as supreme in war. During the fall of Troy, Enyo inflicted terror and bloodshed in the war, along with Eris (Strife), Phobos (Fear) and Deimos (Dread), the two sons of Ares. She, Eris, and the two sons of Ares are depicted on Achilles’s shield.
Quintus Smyrnaeus (Kointos Smyrnaios, Κόϊντος Σμυρναῖος) was a Hellenic epic poet whose 'Posthomerica', following 'after Hómēros' continues the narration of the Trojan War. The dates of Smyrnaeus's life are controversial, but they are traditionally placed in the latter part of the 4th century AD. From Smyrnaeus, 'Fall of Troy' comes the following description of Her:
"Stalked through the midst [of the battle] deadly Enyo, her shoulders and her hands blood-splashed, while fearful sweat streamed from her limbs. Revelling in equal fight, she aided none, lest Thetis' or Ares' wrath be stirred." [8.286]
At Thebes and Orchomenos, a festival called Homolôïa, which was celebrated in honour of Zeus, Demeter, Athena and Enyo, was said to have received the surname of Homoloïus from Homoloïs, a priestess of Enyo. A statue of Enyo, made by the sons of Praxiteles, stood in the temple of Ares at Athens. In poetry, she is almost always described as being covered in blood, and either laughing madly, or smiling coldly as She beholds the battle.
I'm not much of a Christas gal (but happy Christmas!), and never have been. The level of consumerism and forced family cheer always makes me a little uneasy, but enough fo that soapbox! I'm here to help you view christmas in a bit of a Hellenic light--because that's bound to raise anyone's cheer!

Now, inherently, Christmas is Roman, not Hellenic. Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25. During this period courts were closed, and no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring people.

The festival began when Roman authorities chose 'an enemy of the Roman people' to represent the 'Lord of Misrule'. Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week.  At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman.

The ancient Hellenic writer poet and historian Lucian (in his dialogue entitled Saturnalia) describes the festival’s observance in his time:  human sacrifice, intoxication, going from house to house while singing naked, rape and other sexual license, and consuming human-shaped biscuits.

In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it. Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians. The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.

Christians had little success, however, refining the practices of Saturnalia. The earliest Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets (a precursor of modern caroling), etc.

The Saturnalia has its roots in the Rural Dionysia, and overall in the worship of Dionysos. The Rural, or lesser, Dionysia was a vintage festival. It was celebrated in the various demes of Attica in the month of Poseideon. It was celebrated with a large procession in which men carried a phallus and cakes. Revelers and singers were also a part of the procession. A representation of the God was included to represent His coming (not birth!). The festival also included stage comedies and the playing of lighthearted games. Generally, it was a joyful festival, shared by all, even the slaves.

Some other 'modern' Christmas customes: carol singing. The tradition of door-to-door carol-singing also dates back to ancient Hellas, when children would go from house to house holding effigies made of olive or laurel branches that symbolized health. They sang carols only in the homes of the rich. In return they received food. They would then go home and hang their effigies on their front door to bring their families prosperity.

The Christmas tree appeared for the first time in Germany at the end of the 16th century. It became globally known in the 19th century. In Christianity, the Christmas tree symbolizes the rejoicing of the birth of Jesus Christ. The tree was adorned first with fruits and later with clothes and other household objects. Ancient Greeks used to decorate the ancient temples with trees, symbolizing the divine gift offering. In fact, due to it's destinct shape, tree worship was widespread in ancient Hellas as part of the cult of Dionysos.

Santa Claus, who travels around the world on Christmas Eve delivering gifts in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, may have Dionysian roots as well. Dionysus drove around on a flying charriot pulled by exotic animals. He may not have given out gifts, but it was part of the celebration of the return of the light--perhaps the greatest gift of all.

Now, did you know that a little before the clock strikes twelve it is customary for family members to step out of the house and re-enter using their right foot. The person who enters immediately after the first footer smashes the pomegranate with force onto the door. The number of seeds that get scattered are proportional to amount of good luck the family will be blessed with over the coming year. Since ancient times, pomegranates are considered to be symbols of fertility and rebirth, after all. Now this is a custom I would love to rivive!

Modern day Christas is a conglomoration of ancient Hellenic, Roman and Norse customs, adapted by Christianity and then marketing to get where we are now. At it's roots, it was always a time of cheer and good omens, a time to spend with family, to give gifts, and to get a little tipsy. So enjoy the festivities and raise a glass to Dionysos!
The goddess of love, the Minoan Astarte, is the key figure that unlocks the mystery of the Phaistos Disk, according to linguist, archaeologist and coordinator of the program Erasmus of Crete Technological Institute; Gareth Owens.

The Phaistos Disc is a disk of fired clay currently on display at the archaeological museum of Heraklion. It was found in the Minoan palace of Phaistos on the Greek island of Krete, possibly dating to the middle or late Minoan Bronze Age (2nd millennium BC). It is about 15 cm (5.9 in) in diameter and covered on both sides with a spiral of stamped symbols. Its purpose and meaning, and even its original geographical place of manufacture, remain disputed, making it one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology.

The disc was discovered in 1908 by the Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier in the Minoan palace-site of Phaistos, and features 241 tokens, comprising 45 unique signs, which were apparently made by pressing hieroglyphic 'seals' into a disc of soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiralling toward the disc's centre. Many of these 45 signs represent easily identifiable every-day things, but the general meaning has remained unclear.

Last year around this time, the Archaeological News Network reported that we might be one step closer to figuring this mystery out. Gareth Owens, Erasmus coordinator at the Technological Educational Institute (TEI) of Krete described the disk as 'the first Minoan CD-ROM’ featuring a prayer to a mother. While speaking at the TEI of Western Macedonia he said there is one complex of signs found in three parts of one side of the disk spelling I-QE-KU-RJA, with I-QE meaning 'great lady of importance' while a key word appears to be AKKA, or 'pregnant mother', according to the researcher. One side is devoted to a pregnant woman and the other to a woman giving birth.

Now Owens is back. Speaking to the ANA – MPA news agency, Owens said that after new data found in his research, his theory has changed slightly compared to the position he had expressed about a year ago. The focus is no longer the 'pregnant mother', as originally estimated, but a 'pregnant Goddess' that takes shape in the face of Astarte, the Goddess of love.

"There is no doubt that we are talking about a religious text. This is clear from a comparison made with other religious words from other inscriptions from the holy mountains of Crete. We have words that are exactly the same. I suspect that the Phaistos Disc is a hymn before Astarte, the goddess of love. Words such as those mentioned on the disk have been found on Minoan offerings and as with today’s offerings, people pray when they are troubled, because of health problems or personal reasons. Man doesn’t change, after all."

The archaeologist said he believes, moreover, that one side of the Phaistos Disk is dedicated to the pregnant mother Goddess and the other to Minoan Goddess Astarte. On the importance of the figure, Owens noted that Minoan Astarte was the Goddess of love, war and the mountains and her origin lies in the east.

Astarte or Ashtoreth (Ἀστάρτη, Astártē) is the Hellenized form of the Middle Eastern Goddess Ishtar, worshipped from the Bronze Age through classical antiquity. The name is particularly associated with Her worship in the ancient Levant among the Canaanites and Phoenicians. She was also celebrated in Egypt following the importation of Levantine cults there. The name Astarte is sometimes also applied to her cults in Mesopotamian cultures like Assyria and Babylonia.
It was an easy choice this month for Pandora's Kharis members: the only pitch was for The Donkey Sanctuary, and rightfully so as it had been pitched three times already!

The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1969 by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE and supports projects in 27 countries worldwide. It reaches out to those in greatest need through the provision of permanent refuge and veterinary services to alleviate their suffering. Over 50 million donkeys and mules exist in the world. Many need care and protection from a life of suffering and neglect, whilst others have a vital role to play in human survival and happiness; they are at the heart of everything they do at The Donkey Sanctuary.

£3 will cover the cost of looking after one rescued donkey at the sanctuary in Sidmouth for half a day. £5 will keep their rescue vehicles on the road for an hour – saving donkeys from terrible conditions. £20 will pay for one visit from the farrier to trim long and painful hooves and treat uncomfortable foot conditions. £30 will help fund a visit from the equine dentist to rasp teeth and remove any uncomfortable sharp edges. £50 will stock their medical supplies for one day to treat sick and injured donkeys overseas. How much do you think we can give them by the end of the month?
The deadline to donate is January 9, 2016. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the website or by donating directly to Thank you in advance!
The Διονύσια κατ᾽ ἀγρούς, or μικρά, the rural or lesser Dionysia, a vintage festival, was celebrated in the various demes of Attica in the month of Poseideon. It was celebrated with a large procession in which men carried a phallus and cakes. Revelers and singers were also a part of the procession. A representation of the God was included to represent His coming. The festival also included stage comedies and the playing of lighthearted games. Generally, it was a joyful festival, shared by all, even the slaves. Will you join us for it tomorrow at 10 am EST?

The Dionysia was originally a rural festival in Eleutherae, Attica, probably celebrating the cultivation of vines. It was probably a very ancient festival, perhaps not originally associated with Dionysus. This 'rural Dionysia' was held during the winter, in the month of Poseideon. The central event was the pompe (πομπή), the procession, in which phalloi (φαλλοί) were carried by phallophoroi (φαλλοφόροι). Also participating in the pompe were kanephoroi (κανηφόροι – young girls carrying baskets), obeliaphoroi (ὀβελιαφόροι – who carried long loaves of bread), skaphephoroi (σκαφηφόροι – who carried other offerings), hydriaphoroi (ὑδριαφόροι – who carried jars of water), and askophoroi (ἀσκοφόροι – who carried jars of wine).

After the pompe procession was completed, there were contests of dancing and singing, and choruses (led by a choregos) would perform dithyrambs. Some festivals may have included dramatic performances, possibly of the tragedies and comedies that had been produced at the City Dionysia the previous year. This was more common in the larger towns, such as Piraeus and Eleusis.

Because the various towns in Attica held their festivals on different days, it was possible for spectators to visit more than one festival per season. It was also an opportunity for Athenian citizens to travel outside the city if they did not have the opportunity to do so during the rest of the year. This also allowed travelling companies of actors to perform in more than one town during the period of the festival.

The community for the event can be found here and the ritual here.
With the Gregorian year drawing to a close, I figured we'd have a look at the most important or simply stunning achaeological discoveries in 2015, in sequence.

Scientists read Herculaneum papyri for the very first time (January)
The Herculaneum papyri are more than 1,800 scrolls found in the ancient Italian village Herculaneum in the 18th century, carbonized by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. After various attempts of manipulation, a method was found so that scientists were able to read them.

Ancient coin collection resurfaces at University Buffalo after 80 years (March)
University Buffalo faculty member Philip Kiernan heard a rumour from a UB alumnus in 2010 that the UB Libraries housed a collection of rare coins. Three years later, Kiernan, an assistant professor of classics, channelled his inner Indiana Jones and journeyed to the depths of the UB archives to find them. The collection, he was shocked to learn, was real: 40 silver Greek coins, three gold Greek coins and a dozen gold Roman coins.

2,000-year-old mask of Pan found in Israel (April)
A team of researchers from the University of Haifa’s Zinman Institute of Archaeology in northern Israel discovered the mask during a one-day dig at the Hippos-Sussita excavation site, just over a mile east of northern Israel’s Sea of Galilee and near what was once the ancient city of Paneas.

Skeletal remains confirmed to belong to Philip II (July)
Analysis confirms that a skeleton found forty years ago in the royal tombs of Vergina belongs to Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. The tombs became internationally famous in 1977, when the Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos unearthed the burial site of the kings of Macedon.

Marble statue (probably) of Silenus unearthed at Pella (August)
A marble statue of Silenus, dating to the Hellenistic era, has been unearthed in the Agora of Ancient Pella. The statue was found in the North Portico of the Agora, in an area which appears to have been reserved for cult purposes.

Important finds reported at two excavations in Laconia (August)
A new Mycenaean palace has been found on the Sparta plain during the archaeological surveys which have been going on since 2009 at the Aghios Vassilios Hill near the village of Xirokambi in Laconia. Among the finds were Linear B tablets, a very valuable discovery considering the fact that they come from a Protohistoric period of the Helladic area where written sources are scarce.

Ancient well identified as Apollon divination site in Athens (September)
Keramikos (Greek: Κεραμεικός), formerly known by its Latinized form Ceramicus, is an area of Athens, Greece, located to the northwest of the Acropolis, which includes an extensive area both within and outside the ancient city walls, on both sides of the Dipylon (Δίπυλον) Gate and by the banks of the Eridanos River.

22 shipwrecks located near Fourni (November)
During the very first dive of the expedition at Fourni, a Greek archipelago close to Turkey in the eastern Aegean Sea, the team found the remains of a late Roman-period wreck strewn with sea grass in shallow water. By day 5, the researchers had discovered evidence of nine more sunken ships. The next day, they found another six. By the time the 13-day survey was finished, the divers had located 22 shipwrecks--some more than 2,500 years old--that had never been scientifically documented before.

Ancient Hellenic fortress found in Jerusalem parking lot (November)
The remnants of the Acra, a fortress built by the Hellenic King Antiochus IV more than 2,000 years ago and sought for over 100 years, has emerged from a parking lot in Jerusalem. Mentioned in Jewish biblical sources and by historians like Josephus Flavius, the fortress was unearthed after 10 years of excavations under the parking lot.The discovery solved one of Jerusalem’s greatest archaeological mysteries.

Ruins of ancient Hellenic city found on Mount Pindos (November)
Archaeologists were stunned to find the ruins of an unknown ancient city which dates back to the 4th century BC, at an altitude of 1,200 meters on the Hellenic mountain of Pindos. It is believed to be the highest archaeological excavation in Greece.

Here is to hoping for another succesful year of archeological discoveries in 2016!
Today's post is not a 'post'-post. Today I need to make a public service announcement. For the last two weeks, I have been getting a lot of questions about the ancient Roman religion and Roman society as a whole. Now, let me make clear I love your questions and I love answering them. And I answer all I can--it might take a while before I get to yours (note that Tumblr sometimes eats them so re-send after a month or so if I haven't answered them)--but I always try to answer them as soon as I can. I, however, know absolutely nothing about the Romans.

As a rule of thumb, I would say I am fairly knowledgeable about the Mediterranean from about 800 BC to about 100 AD. If it falls beyond that timeframe, chances are I know about as much about that as I know about marine biology, which is to say, I can probably tell you a fish (or a Roman) was a fish (or Roman), and where they lived and migrated to, but that's about it. I don't know how much the Romans took from the Hellenes in terms of society and religious practice, I don't even know for sure what the Roman names of many of the adopted Gods were. I just know that the Romans had wildly different religious views than the ancient Hellenes, but how different...? Do clue.

So please, continue to ask your questions about Hellenismos, the ancient Hellenes, Hellenic mythology or anything related to it... but if your question is related to the Romans... well... I am going to be a disappointment for you, okay? Sorry!
On December 20, Elaion will organise a PAT ritual for the Poseidea. During this festival, Poseidon as savior of ships, protector of those who voyage in ships, and God of the lapping waters both salt and fresh important for agriculture, is thanked for the many gifts that came from faraway places that were likely given at that time. Will you join us at 10 am EST?

The most complete account of the festival is Noel Robertson's article Poseidon's Festival at the Winter Solstice, The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 34, No. 1. (1984), pp. 1-16:

"The record shows that Poseidon was once worshipped in every part of greece as a god of deneral importance to the community. [...] The festival falls near the winter solstice, and the ritual business marked by jollity and license, belongs to the general type of solstice festival known the world over.  At Poseidon’s festival, however, the sportive conduct has a definite purpose; this purpose arises from the fundamental agrarian background if Mediterranean society, and may bring us close to the origin of solstice festivals.
It has scarcely been noticed that festivals of Poseidon, more than those of any other Greek deity, fall at just this time of year; yet the evidence is extensive. [...] The festival Poseidea and some of the rites in question are often claimed for Poseidon the sea-god, but at this season sailing is furthest from one’s mind, and fishing on the shore is by no means an overriding concern.  Such details as we have point elsewhere, to Poseidon as the god of fresh water who fructifies Demeter’s fields."

One of Poseidon’s epithets is prosklystios, 'of the lapping water'. He is also invoked as Poseidon phytalmios which implies natural fertility and human procreation. There are also implications in the legends that imply bonfires at the winter solstice.

Noel Robertson concludes:

"…the celebrants feast to satiety, then turn to lascivious teasing. What is the ritual purpose of such conduct?  It obviously suits Poseidon’s mythical reputation as the most lustful of gods, who far surpasses Apollo and Zeus in the number of his liaisons and his offspring. Poseidon the seducer is the god of springs and rivers; his women typically succumb while bathing or drawing water; the type of the river god is a rampant bull. But the ritual likewise treats Poseidon as a procreant force; witness the epithets phytalmios, genesios, pater, etc. as interpreted above. The myths and the ritual reflect the same belief. The rushing waters are a proponent male power, just as the fields which they fertilize are a prolific female.  Both water and the fields, both Poseidon and Demeter, can be made to operate by sympathetic magic.  The rites of our winter festival rouse Poseidon and bring the rushing waters."

It is interesting that that Theophrastus tells us the the silver fir was important in ship building, especially for masts. The ‘tannenbaum’ is a silver fir. It is also interesting to compare with the Roman Saturnalia which may very well have borrowed from the Poseidea.

Celebrating Poseidon's Festival seems to be lost in modern practice. It likely entailed bonfires, feasting, cutting of trees (probably decorated), and very likely gift giving. As God of begetting, that aspect was not forgotten. We'll bring at least the ritual for Poseidon back on Sunday, December 20, at 10 am EST. You can find the community here and the ritual here.
So, it's only been a few days since I wrote about Australia's plight to get the Parthenon Marbles returned from Great Britain to their original homeland. Since then, however, a fair bit more news on the marbles has been released so it's time for an update.

On December 9 came the news that Culture Minister Aristides Baltas had decided that Athens will no longer claim the return of the Parthenon sculptures from the British Museum in fear that Greece might lose the legal battle. The committee was, however, working on a draft bill for the return of cultural artifacts that have been illegally removed from Greek soil.

Former culture minister Costas Tasoulas called the handling of the issue 'unacceptable'. Tasoulas had made an effort to pursue the return of the Parthenon sculptures using the legal advice of a British law firm. The British law firm gave the document of their counsel to the Greek Embassy in London which was forwarded to the ministry of culture. The ministry of culture ignored the counsel and refused to accept it. It should be noted that the total cost of the legal advice came to 200,000 English pounds, an amount that was paid by a Greek living in London who preferred to remain anonymous.

This seemed to be the end of the issue for Greece. On December 12,  however, the United Nations adopted a resolution in favor of the Decision for '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.

This is an initiative to facilitate the return of cultural property to countries of origin and the efforts to protect cultural heritage. These are two dimensions that are highly relevant and critical today, as both the Middle East suffers daily from destruction of works of art, archaeological artifacts and monuments of cultural heritage. At the same time, smuggling of cultural property is used as a means of financing terrorism.

The original press release by the UN can be found here. The relevant bits is:

"[...] CATHERINE BOURA (Greece), introducing the draft resolution “Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin” (document A/70/L.28), expressed hope that it would be adopted by consensus as in previous years. She said the report by the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the action taken by that body on the return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (document A/70/365) outlined relevant developments over the past three years, and was timely due to international activities such as cross-border movement of cultural objects, money laundering and the sale of cultural artefacts.  The looting of monuments in Iraq and Syria showed that multi-confessional communities were threatened by terrorism, she said, noting that the draft resolution expressed deep concern about theft of cultural objects in areas of armed conflict and condemned the looting and destruction of cultural heritages sites. There was a link between the destruction of cultural artefacts and the financing of terrorism, she said, emphasizing the importance of raising awareness and capacity-building in that regard.  The international community had a responsibility to protect cultural heritage in times of peace and war, she added.
[...] The Assembly then adopted, by consensus, the draft resolution on the return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin (A/70/L.28)."

And so, it seems, that this issue has not been ended after all. While the focus of the bill was on protecting national treasures ffrom IS, the bill does leave an opening for Greece's claim, if they are willing to pursue. It is, however, the same type of opening as they have had for years now, so not much may change in practice.
A reader of the blog contacted me about something awesome yesterday, pretty sure I would want to blog about it and he was very right! So ladies and men with amazing fashion sense listen up! Ancient Hellenic pottery nailart. For the holidays. Or for whenever, because it's ancient Hellenic vase paintings on your nails!

This awesome set only requires a little DIY to do it yourself, like Michelle explains on her blog:

"Over a base of orange, brown and yellow applied with cling film, I have stamped in black using Moyou London plate 18 from the explorer collection. I also filled in some areas with black acrylic paint."

I know absolutely zero about nails and nail polish, so I had to Google 'Moyou London plate 18 from the explorer collection'. It's a nail plate set, provided by the company 'Moyou'. you can find it here for about five pounds. And they ship all over the world!

MoYou-London Explorer 18 includes 18 different designs each measuring 1.2 x 1.5cm. The stainless steel plate measures 6.5 x 12.5cm and have a vinyl backing for increased ease of use.  Each plate comes in its own branded protective sleeve. The designs are engraved on to the image plate and covered with a protective film which needs to be removed before use. To use a MoYou-London image plate you need to apply nail varnish to the image, scrape the excess off and pick up the image with a stamp before applying it to the nail.
The Adelaide Festival Centre will be 'home' for fourteen replica Greek marble pieces thanks to the Foundation for Hellenic Studies, thus reports The Greek Reporter.

The Parthenon Marbles, also known as Elgin Marbles are a collection of Classical Greek marble sculptures, created by Greek sculptor Phidias, inscriptions and architectural pieces that were originally part of the temple of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin claimed to obtain in 1801 a controversial permit from the Sublime Porte, which then ruled Greece.

From 1801 to 1812, Elgin’s agents removed about half of the surviving sculptures of the Parthenon, as well as sculptures from the Propylaea and Erechtheum. The Marbles were transported by sea to Britain. Nowadays, they are displayed at the British Museum, while a debate has started over the last years, after Greece requested the return of the marbles to their rightful place,

Hellenic Studies Foundation in Australia became involved in the decades-long debate regarding the return of the ancient Greek Parthenon Marbles to Greece from the British Museum over a year ago. The Foundation created a social media campaign with the hashtag #ReturnTheMarbles, receiving great support and over 70,000 supporters on Facebook. Now, they will bring replicas of the Marbles to Adelaide. Harry Patsouris, one of the foundations’ directors:

“After collaborating with the Greek government in late October 2015 we managed to secure fourteen replica pieces – including one ‘Karyatis’ – to be displayed for 100 days during the Festival of Arts 2016 hosted by the Adelaide Festival Centre, which is South Australia’s principal performing arts venue.”

The Festival of Arts takes place from 26 February to 14 March. For ticket information, go here.
It's been a while, hasn't it, since we last held a PAT ritual? Maimakterion wasn't exactly full of festival days, but Poseideon definitely is. So, we'll start on Thursday, december 17th with the Plerosia. Will you be joining us at 10 AM--if you are a woman. It seems the Plerosia was a women-only festival.

The Plerosia is a non-Athenian festival. As such, the details of the celebration are somewhat vague. So we extrapolate from the placement of the festival and the little information we have. what we know for sure is that Zeus was worshipped, and that it's often linked to the Proerosia. As such, we can assume Demeter was also honoured, and that it was a harvest festival of sorts. This is where the assumptions begin, but we get an extra quite of the intended purpose of the festival because of Zeus' inclusion and the name of the festival.

Poseideon marks the end of the harvesting season, as well as the trading season. The majority of the work is done. Now it's time to return home, take stock, and stay warm. It's a time to thank the Theoi for all that has been recieved and all that will get us through the winter. The word ‘plerosis’ means fulfillment, satiated, filled, and implies banqueting and celebration of the bounty of the season that is ending. This is also the spirit we have tried to capture in the ritual.

As a separate--and very important--note: the Plerosia seems to have been a women-only festival, like the Skira(phoria) and the Thesmophoria. We're not sure this is correct, but we'll go with it anyway. Once reason I could think of is that now the winter is upon us, we turn to the domain of the women: the house(hold). As such, it is her prerogative to thank the Gods for the food she can feed her family with.

The ritual for this sacrifice can be found here, and you can join our community page here. We hope you will join us in celebrating this joyous event.
We all know of Greece's government's attempts to get the Parthenon Marbles returned from Great Britain to their original homeland. The Gods know I blog about it enough, after all. Now, the Turkish government is endeavoring to do the same with their national treasures, the artifacts belonging to the ancient Hellenic city of Knidos in the southern Turkish province of Muğla's Datça Municipality.

Knidos (Κνίδος) is an ancient settlement located in south-western Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey. It was an ancient Hellenic city of Caria, part of the Dorian Hexapolis. It was built partly on the mainland and partly on the Island of Triopion or Cape Krio. Knidos was a city of high antiquity. According to Herodotus's 'Histories' (I.174), the Knidans were Lacedaemonian colonists. Diodorus Siculus ('Bibliotheca Historica' 5.53) claimed that Knidos was founded by both Lacedaemonians and Argives. Along with Halicarnassus (present day Bodrum, Turkey) and Kos, and the Rhodian cities of Lindos, Kamiros and Ialyssos it formed the Dorian Hexapolis, which held its confederate assemblies on the Triopian headland, and there celebrated games in honour of Apollo, Poseidon and the nymphs. During the hellenistic age, Knidos boasted a medical school.

The first Western knowledge of the site was due to the mission of the Dilettante Society in 1812, and the excavations executed by C. T. Newton in 1857–1858. In a temple enclosure Newton discovered the fine seated statue of Demeter of Knidos, which he sent back to the British Museum, and about three miles south-east of the city he came upon the ruins of a splendid tomb, and a colossal figure of a lion carved out of one block of Pentelic marble, ten feet in length and six in height, which has been supposed to commemorate the great naval victory, the Battle of Knidos in which Conon defeated the Lacedaemonians in 394 BC. The Knidos Lion is now displayed under the roof of the Great Court in the British Museum.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Datça Municipality Mayor Gürsel Uçar said they are determined to regain the artifacts and they will apply to the Culture and Tourism Ministry for assistance. He said the artifacts unearthed in Knidos, in present-day Datça, are stored at the Marmaris Museum and Bodrum Museum as well as in storage at Middle East Technical University and Selçuk University. He added that the artifacts should be displayed and stored where they are excavated.
Datça has two protected areas called Reşadiye and the Old Datça Neighborhood. The latter draws thousands of tours every year thanks to Knidos. However, the municipality also wants to make Reşadiye a tourist attraction with a museum where they can display the artifacts from Knidos. The municipality previously contacted the ministry, and they were assured that the small museums in the region will be closed and a new museum in Datça will be built. However, Uçar stressed that there has been no development since. Tourist guide and an official of Datça Municipality's Department of Culture, Osman Akın, told AA that thousands of artifacts have been unearthed in Knidos, and a huge part of these artifacts are displayed in museums in the UK. He said the 'Lion of Knidos' and 'Demeter of Knidos' sculptures are still showcased in the British Museum in London.

"The worst thing is that the other artifacts unearthed in the ancient city are not displayed in Datça either. We had to make replicas of the sculptures in order to remind people that these artifacts were excavated from Knidos. We are determined to display the artifacts unearthed in Datça at their original site. We decided on a 20 hectare area in Reşadiye for the museum building. Although Reşadiye was taken under protection, the region does not have the necessary historical atmosphere. We want to develop Reşadiye and build a museum in the region."
We are very proud do announce that the members of Pandora's Kharis have contributed $57,- for Animal Defenders International this month. Animal Defenders International (ADI) is a major international campaigning group, with offices in London, Los Angeles and Bogota, who lobby to protect animals on issues such as animals in entertainment and their use in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; factory farming; pollution and conservation.

The organization has been involved with several international animal rescues, funding both the relocation and rehoming of circus lions, tigers, chimpanzees and other animals and has become a major force for animal protection, succeeding through its undercover investigations in securing legal protection for animals.

From this moment on, pitches are open on the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page. You can vote for your desired cause until December 21, 2015. Thank you in advance!
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

Changes to the blog:
  • Last month, I overhauled the blog. As per your request, I have fixed the tags and added the dates back onto the posts (no idea where those had gone in the first place...). If you still see something amiss or missing, let me know!
  • The Hellenic Festival Year page has been updated
PAT rituals for Poseideon:
  • 17/12 - Poseideon 5 - Plerosia - festival at Attic deme of Myrrhinus
  • 20/12 - Poseideon 8 - Poseidea - festival in honor of Poseidon
  • 22/12 - Poseideon 10 - Rustic or Lesser Dionysia in honor of Dionysus
  • 28/12 - Poseideon 16 - Sacrifice to Zeus Horios at Erchia
  • 07/01 - Poseideon 26 - Haloa - fertility festival in honor of Dionysus and Demeter.

Anything else?
This month's Pandora's Kharis charity is Animal Defenders International. Animal Defenders International (ADI) is a major international campaigning group, with offices in London, Los Angeles and Bogota, who lobby to protect animals on issues such as animals in entertainment and their use in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; factory farming; pollution and conservation. The deadline to donate is December 12, 2015. You can do so by using the 'PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to Thank you in advance! Join us on Facebook if you would like to pitch a cause for next month!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today is one of those posts.

"This is a rather personal question but does your girlfriend participate in your festivals ans libations?"

My girlfriend doesn't believe in the existence of any Gods. She supports my worship but she does not understand it, nor does she join in. If I ask her to do something simple like touch something to cleanse her of miasma, she will, but that is about where her involvement ends :)


"Is it appropriate to do nighttime daily rituals standing up next to the main household altar? Or have they got a more chthonic character?"

'Khthonic', when it comes to ritual and worship in general, has to do with the Gods being worshipped, not the time of day. Yes, the Khthonic Gods frequently received nighttime worship but not all nighttime worship is khthonic. As such, what you should look at are the Gods. Are they ouranic? Then the ritual should be ouranic in nature as well. Khthonic? Then a Khthonic rite. Khthonic rites should not take place on or even near the household altar, but household worship for ouranic deities performed at night is perfectly suited for the household altar.

I always do my nighttime rites to Selene, Hypnos, Morpheus, etc. before I go to bed, so at night, at my household altar. It is an ouranic rite. I invoke Hestia.


"In this time of the year, when I generally come home after sunset, I can still hold the daily ritual to the Ouranic Gods, which I do at daytime in other months?"

Well, sort of. The ancient Hellenes started the new day at dusk--so once it started getting dark. My nighttime rituals are my first rituals of the day, followed by my morning rituals. Technically, your nighttime rituals 'count' for the day after. If you would like to transition to this system now you come home after dark, do them twice on a day you are off, once in the daylight hours for that day and then once in the nighttime hours for the day after. Then you're caught up :)
"Hello I was wondering if Dionysus and Persephone count as Kthonic Theoí? If so in their festivals and libations should one worship and honour them in a kthonik way or a uranic way? Thank you."
Both Dionysos and Persephone are Ouranic deities with Kthonic epithets. An epithet is an attachment to the name of a God or Goddess, used to indicate either a specific domain of the Deity, a specific origin myth or region from which the Deity came, or an entirely different entity, through either domain or origin. Their worship, on the whole, is Ouranic, but in very, very speciffic cases, it can be Kthonic. Overall, you can safely assume that any God that has access to Mount Olypos in mythology is Ouranic and should be worshipped that way, unless the rite involves the underworld or the dead.
"Hello! Do you have any elaborate ritual to Athena and/or Apollo? :)"
I have a couple!
For all currently avaialble rituals by Elaion, go here.
"Is it possible to be a hellenic polytheist and worship norse gods as well!? I've been going back and again between the two for almost 5 years and i feel a strong conection with the Theoi and hellenic way of life as well as with Yggdrasil and the norse gods. Is there any historical evidence of greeks adopting northern gods or vice versa? Thank you!"
Yes, it is. Pure Recon on either might be troublesome, but it's possible to worship two pantheons and perform their worship in a traditional manner.  As for adoption of either by other side, I have not found any. The problem seems to be in the timeline. The Germanic people who were tied to the ancient Norse Gods rose to greatness about 200 BC, a lot later than the Hellenic age. Ceasar reached that territory during his (Roman age) campaign but I don't have any evidence at hand that the ancient Hellenes made contact with the Germanic people at all.
I am very happy to share with you Labrys' ritual for the Maimakteria. The Labrys Religious Community aims to preserve, promote and practice the Hellenic polytheistic religious tradition through public rituals, lectures, publications, theatrical and musical events, and other forms of action. Their vision is to restore the Hellenic religious tradition and by extension the Hellenic Kosmotheasis and lifestyle to its rightful place, as a respected, acknowledged and fully functional spiritual path.

They have a large variety of rituals and festivals documented, including their 2015 Maimakteria festival in honour of Zeus Maimaktes ('Blustering') to be gentle come winter. Enjoy!

I really need to get a laptop to game on again. Like really. Or this game needs to be released for the PS3 (and not just PS4!) so I can enjoy it in my natural habitat. Apotheon is a 2D platform action-RPG set on the rich stage of ancient Hellenic mythology and visually made to resemble the art on ancient aphorae. Apotheon started as 'space Greek mythology' before the studio dropped the 'space' part and realized classical mythology alone is a great source for stories that translates well to video games. It takes the gameplay of classic side-scrollers like 'Legend of Zelda II' and 'Castlevania' and applies it to the side of an Athenian amphora, bringing the art of ancient Hellas to vivid life--and I need to play this game!

Okay, so it isn't exactly on point with its mythology. In 'Apotheon', you play Nikandreos, a soldier on a quest to defeat Zeus when Hera calls on him to bring down the corrupt pantheon of Hellenic Gods. As Fastcodesign describes so gloriously:

"That's pretty much the same plot as Sony's bloody, boob-heavy 'God of War' franchise, but where the latter might task you with, say, ripping the skull and spinal column out of Hermes, Mortal Kombat-style, and then using it as a flail to beat Aphrodite to death, Apotheon is a more lyrical affair, as elegant as the art that inspired it."

The game's biggest design innovation is its art style, which matches the ruddy silhouetted look of black-figure and red-figure art that took over Greek pottery between the late sixth century and early fourth century BC. Alientrap artist and co-designer Jesse McGibney talked to Gamasutra about the choice of style:

"The Black Figure pottery art style seemed like a no-brainer. It's simple to animate, bold and easy to read, transitions great into a 2D platformer perspective, and perfectly meshes with the narrative and theme. We were honestly surprised that hardly any games have used this style before.

"Pretty early on in concepting we realized that a totally literal adaptation of Black Figure art wouldn't work very well. Obviously, a big part of an open world game is the environments, so we had to expand the style to show buildings, caves, forests, and many other locations that are totally absent in the source material. We're trying to create a unified language through the use of patterns and geometric shapes that are common throughout all the elements."

Something else the team had to contend with is that the art on ancient Greek pottery tended to be very flat, with no backgrounds or overlapping elements, which doesn't make for visually exciting or readable environments in a video game.

"In order to make it work in the game world, things in the background are faded out and there are parallax layers further back. If we didn't do these things, the game world would be extremely sparse and boring. The background of Black Figure pottery is just... red. Player communication is also very important, and it's really hard to do that with only one color. If all the characters were black, all the items were black, all the environmental elements were black, it would be very difficult to tell what was important and what wasn't.

"We added splashes of color to draw the player's eye and let them know what they're seeing at a glance. Enemies all have red in them, the player is green, health items are bright red, money is yellow, etc. The Black Figure style is a great starting point, but we're trying to be flexible with it where the gameplay experience is concerned."

Apotheon is AlienTrap’s second commercial game. It was released in February, 2015 for Steam and PS4. The regular price is $15,00 but it's currently on sale on Steam with a 75% discount and can be purchased from here.
Thousands of artefacts from the British Museum's priceless collections have gone online in a partnership with Google that will allow web-users to take a virtual stroll through its galleries. The deal with the Google Cultural Institute, which has 800 partners from over 60 countries, also allows objects to be scrutinised by researchers around the world thanks to high-definition Gigapixel technology.

From the basement to the fifth floor, the British Museum has opened its doors to Google's Cultural Institute to create a Street View version of the museum. More than 4,500 items from the museum's collection have been photographed and are available to be seen on a virtual walkthrough of the historic corridors. Descriptions of many of the items including the dates they were created have been included alongside the collection.

The Department of Greece and Rome at the British Museum has one of the most comprehensive collections of antiquities from the Classical world, with over 100,000 objects. These mostly range in date from the beginning of the Greek Bronze Age (about 3200 BC) to the reign of the Roman emperor Constantine in the fourth century AD, with some pagan survivals.
The Cycladic, Minoan and Mycenaean cultures are represented, and the Greek collection includes important sculpture from the Parthenon in Athens, as well as elements of two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos and the Temple of Artemis at Ephesos.
The department also houses one of the widest-ranging collections of Italic and Etruscan antiquities and extensive groups of material from Cyprus. The collections of ancient jewellery and bronzes, Greek vases and Roman glass and silver are particularly important.

You can find the ancient Hellenic (and Roman) artifacts divided throughout the museum, although (sadly) not everything is currently available for viewing. In the hopes they eventually come online, this is the overview:

Ground Floor
Greece: Cycladic Islands (Room 11)
Greece: Minoans and Mycenaeans (Room 12)  The Arthur I Fleishman Gallery
Greece (1050-520 BC (Room 13)
Greek vases (Room 14)
Athens and Lycia (Room 15)
Greece : Bassae Sculptures (Room 16)
Greece: Parthenon (Room 18)
Greece: Athens (Room 19)
Mausoleum of Halikarnassos (Room 21)
The world of Alexander (Room 22) 
Greek and Roman sculpture (Room 23)

Upper Floor
Greek and Roman life (Room 69)
Roman Empire (Room 70)
The Wolfson Gallery
Etruscan world (Room 71)
Ancient Cyprus (Room 72) 
The A G Leventis Gallery
Greeks in Italy (Room 73)

Lower Floor
Greek and Roman architecture (Room 77)
Classical inscriptions (Room 78)

The collection can be accessed here through street view and the map here for refference,