In celebration of another book written and the one before going up for pre-sale, I'm taking the day to catch up and plot out book number three in the series. In the spirit of writing, I'd like to share some words by Euripides about (what else?) writing! Well, about the invention of writing and the practice of putting words together and creating emotion.

“Alone once I set out drugs of forgetfulness,
Voiceless, yet speaking—when I made the syllabus
I discovered as letters for men to see
So one who was not present over the wide sea
Knows well everything happening in his home,
And as someone dies he speaks for those writing the measure of his wealth
For his children and for the one who accepts it to know.
And the evils that cause people to fall into strife,
A record dissolves–it does not permit the speaking of lies.”
[Palamedes (fr. 578)]

On 4 April, at the usual 10 am EDT, Elaion wil host a PAT ritual for the Pandia. This is an ancient state festival attested as having been held annually at Athens as early as the time of Demosthenes--namely the 4th century BC. Very little is known about it, but seeing as we know it was wedged in between a meeting to evaluate the misconduct during the Dionysia on the eitheenth of Elaphebolion and the Dionysia itself, we can at least say with relative accuracy that it was held on the 17th of the month, although the 14th is also mentioned for its connection to the full moon (see below).

What the Pandia celebrate or commemorated is unclear; it's origin story is lost to us and the only records we have of the festival taking place date from much later than its foundation. To the ancient Hellenes who attested to the festival, it was merely a fossilized event that had remained from times past, and they celebrated it in the same way every year--a way obviously not interesting enough to write down. It seems that even they weren't exactly sure about what the festival celebrated.

Pandia (πάνδια) was said to have been a Goddess of the moon, either as an epithet of Selene or as a Goddess onto herself--the daughter of Zeus and Selene. As such, there may have been a connection to the moon for the festival, and either to Pandia, Selene, or Zeus. Another explination would be that the festival is derived from the Attic king Pandion I (Πανδίων Α'), who was said to have lived from 1437 - 1397 BC. Like his father Erichthonius, Pandion married a naiad, Zeuxippe, and they had five children, Erechtheus, Butes, Procne, Philomela, and Cecrops II. According to Pseudo-Apollodorus' Bibliotheca, it was during Pandion I's reign that Demeter and Dionysos came to the city-state of Athens. Before his death, he gave the rule of Athens to Erechtheus, but the priesthoods of Poseidon and Athena to Butes.

A third possibility is that the festival is connected to the Attic tribe Dias, so that the Pandia would have been in the same relation to this tribe as the Panathenaea to Athens. A fourth is that the name of the festival is linked to the tribe, but also the name of Zeus--Dias, Διός--which would make it a festival of Zeus Himself.

The most accepted theory comes from Friedrich Gottlieb Welcker, a German classical philologist and archaeologist, who concluded that the festival was most likely a festival of Zeus celebrated by all the Attic tribes, analogous to the Panathenaea. It was a much smaller festival, however.

If you intend to look up Pandia, you are helped greatly by knowing the name which she was better known as in ancient Hellas: Pandeia (Πανδεια). The Homeric Hymn to Selene mentions Zeus, Selene and Pandia so we have added that hymn to the ritual:

"And next, sweet voiced Muses, daughters of Zeus, well-skilled in song, tell of the long-winged Moon. From her immortal head a radiance is shown from heaven and embraces earth; and great is the beauty that ariseth from her shining light. The air, unlit before, glows with the light of her golden crown, and her rays beam clear, whensoever bright Selene having bathed her lovely body in the waters of Ocean, and donned her far-gleaming, shining team, drives on her long-maned horses at full speed, at eventime in the mid-month: then her great orbit is full and then her beams shine brightest as she increases. So she is a sure token and a sign to mortal men. Once the Son of Cronos was joined with her in love; and she conceived and bare a daughter Pandia, exceeding lovely amongst the deathless gods. Hail, white-armed goddess, bright Selene, mild, bright-tressed queen! And now I will leave you and sing the glories of men half-divine, whose deeds minstrels, the servants of the Muses, celebrate with lovely lips." [XXXII]

The ritual for the event can be found here and the community page on Facebook can be found here.
Greek police have recovered a 2,500-year-old marble statue of Hygeia, the ancient Goddess of health, after arresting three antiquity smugglers in southern Greece.

The three men are all Greek but have not been named. The authorities said that they were employed as car mechanics in the Peloponnese city of Sparta, about 230km south of Athens. They were arrested trying to sell the ancient marble statue to prospective antiquities dealers for about €500,000.

All three have been charged with antiquities theft, which is a criminal offence in Greece. Police were investigating whether other members were involved in the suspected trafficking ring.

In a statement, the culture ministry said that the rare, headless statue, which was only 55cm long, depicted the goddess in a flowing gown with a snake slithering down her torso. It dates back to the 1st-3rd century BC.

Greek police as well as public order ministry and culture ministry officials stressed that the recovery of the antiquities is a great success in Greece’s battle against antiquities smuggling rings.
The Municipality of Dion-Olympus decided to set up a thematic park on Mount Olympus for the promotion of Ancient Hellenic mythology and the destination.

Dion-Olympus is one of the most popular destinations of the prefecture and Greece in general.
After 1976 the Litochoro, Leptokarya and Platamonos communities have been designated as "tourist sites" while Dion had already been designated as an archaeological site back in 1963.

Ever since, the rapid growth of tourism and cultural activities within the municipality has become the basis for further development and diversification of the tourist product, which, beyond the economic benefits, supports the improvement of both material and intangible infrastructure.

Consequently, the added value of the site is constantly on the rise as it follows the latest trends in order to remain competitive, modern, constantly enriched and extrovert.

Moreover, given the need for a centralized strategy which will effectively promote and visibility of the destination, grant it access to new markets, and showcase its specific features and comparative advantages, it was decided to place further emphasis on the communication policy of the municipality through the establishment of cooperation networks with relevant public and private sector bodies.

I haven't been able to find more information about the location, the timeframe, or the exact nature of the park. As such, I can't pass judgement on the decision. That said...I can't say it sounds like a great idea. All I can picture is Disneyland with Zeus. I suppose we'll see what happens...
Anthesterion is Dionysos' month. Many--if not all-- sacrifices and festivals feature Him in some form or another. The Erkhian calendar holds a sacrifice to Dionysos and His mother Semele on the 16th of the ancient Hellenic month. Will you join us for it on 3 April, at the usual 10 am EDT?

There are many versions of Dionysos' birth. In one--perhaps the most famous--Dionysos is born from Semele and Zeus, and while Semele is pregnant with Him, Hera plants seeds of doubt in her mind about the father of the child truly being Zeus. Semele asks Zeus to reveal Himself to her in His true form, and when He is left with no other option, He does so, killing her in the process. Zeus takes pity on His child, and takes Him into either His thigh or testicle, where He is eventually born from. When Dionysos grows up, He raises Semele to Olympos and grants her eternal life. He also places a wreath into the sky to honor her, the Corona Australis. The wreath would be made of myrtle leaves, for Dionysos left a gift of myrtle in the Underworld in return for His mother, and the followers of Dionysos wore crowns of myrtle.

Although the Erkhians left no explanations of the reason of their sacrifices, I am inclined to believe this sacrifice was a local sacrifice in line with the Anthesteria that took place in Athens two days earlier. Most likely, many Erkhians travelled to Athens for the Anthesteria, then back home to sacrifice to Dionysos and His mother in their own hometown as well.

If you are celebrating the Greater Dionysia with us, you could perform this sacrifice instead of the basic ritual we've provided for that day in the rituals for the Dionysia.

Will you join us and honor Dionysos and His mother in your hometown on 3 April, at 10 am EST? You can find the ritual here and join the community here.
A new tomb type with distinctive features, containing the remains of about 20 people, three of them children, was recently revealed in the Mycenaean settlement of Dimini. The finds were announced by Mrs. Stamatia Alexandrou, the archaeologist of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Magnesia who is responsible for the archaeological site in Dimini, during the proceedings of the Sixth Archaeological Conference of Thessaly and Central Greece.

In the framework of the NSRF Project for the protection and promotion of Megara A and B of the Mycenaean settlement with the installation of metal shelters, it was necessary to construct a rainwater catchment tank. During the excavation, a section of a stone enclosure was uncovered and which was found to be part of a large tomb. The enclosure, of which only a small part has been investigated, is ellipsoidal in shape and has a diametre of about 7m. It consists of a stone circle, 0,50m wide and 1,70m tall, and on its outer face are mounted monolithic vertical slabs 1.30m in height. The investigation of the enclosure is continuing and archaeologists expect to find new elements which will help complete the picture of this impressive and unique structure.

A large L-type chamber tomb was found in the centre of the enclosure. Its external dimensions were 3.80m x 3.30m (max) -2.70m (min). Inside, the long sides are lined with vertical elongated slabs, similar to those of the enclosure, with a height of 1,00m to 1,10m, width 0,40m to 0,64m and a thickness of 0.008m. The narrow sides are covered with monolithic slabs at the bottom, while on top there are worked stones placed horizontally. At the end of the NE side is a narrow opening, sealed with a vertical slab, and a stone threshold broken into two sections.

On the NW side, there are remains of older burials, heaped in a pile on one side without special attention, and on the NE side an adult skeleton was found in a contracted position with the skull resting on a tall stone. A preliminary examination of the osteological material revealed that a total of 17 adults and 3-4 children were buried in the tomb. 16 vessels, including drinking cups, storage vases and cooking pots, were collected from among the remains. Other finds include 5 clay spindle whorls, one bronze needle and 3 bronze pins (two with rock crystal heads), gold and silver clasps, bronze rings, as well as beads made from amethyst and sardonyx.

The tomb was constructed between 1750/1720 and 1680 BC and was used from 1700/1665 to 1635/1600 BC making it the earliest example of a built chamber tomb in Thessaly. It therefore forms a connecting link between the earlier burial mounds and the later vaulted or beehive tombs, and belongs to a pre-Mycenaean cultural tradition that appeared in areas close to the eastern and southern shores which had contacts with the Aegean Islands via Dimini, which controlled the port of the Pagasitic Gulf and was thus a gateway to the Aegean.

The architecture, the rich funeral gifts and the fact that it was used for multiple burials suggests that the tomb is not a simple burial site, but belongs to a privileged 'elite' class that developed through complex processes taking place from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age, particularly in the Peloponnese and Athens, but also in Thessaly, as shown by recent investigations. The evidence from the settlement in Dimini clearly shows that by the end of the Middle Bronze Age a new wealthier class had emerged from the local population who clearly wanted to differentiate their position from other social groups by adopting a more complex funerary type, while the offerings indicate some wealth and access to resources, perhaps through the development maritime trade.
A 2,200-year-old theater located in the ancient Greek city of Laodicea will be restored with the support of the Denizli Metropolitan Municipality in Turkey. Laodicea was an ancient Greek city that was built upon the river Lycus, in the region comprising Caria and Lydia, in present-day southwestern Turkey, near the city of Denizli.

By the 2nd century BC, Laodicea was a rich city belonging to the Kingdom of Pergamon, which later passed into Roman control. The city had two theaters and today archaeologists are looking to structurally restore the older theater, which is of Hellenistic origin, built 2,200 years ago with a capacity of 15,000 spectators.

The theater collapsed after being hit by earthquakes over the centuries. It will be restored with a budget of 6 million Turkish liras ($1.5 million), with the purpose of staging cultural performances, as it did 1,600 years ago. It is estimated to open in two years.

A team headed by Pamukkale University Professor Celal Simsek has been carrying out excavations in the ancient city of Laodicea, aiming to add the ancient city on the UNESCO World Heritage List, currently being in the tentative list.
The Dionysia ta en Astei (Διονύσια τὰ ἐν Ἄστει), Dionysia ta Megala (Διονύσια τὰ Μεγάλα), Great(er) Dionysia, or City Dionysia, was and is a true theatric festival of Dionysos. The City Dionysia is held on the 10th to 17th days of Elaphebolion and Elaion will host an eight day festival for it, from 28 - 4 April, at the usual 10 am EDT.

The City Dionysia is thought to have been founded, or at least revived, by the tyrant Pisistratus (around 530 BC), and was held in Athens, when the city was once again full of visitors after the winter. The festival honors Dionysos Eleuthereus (Διονυσος Ελευθερευς), who was said to have been introduced into Athens from the village of Eleuterae (Ελευθέραι). The festival focuses on the performance of tragedies, but has included the performing of comedies since 487 BC. It was the second-most important festival after the Panathenaia.

According to myth, the festival was established after Eleutherae, a border-town between Attica and Boeotia, chose to become part of Attica. The Eleuthereans had an established festival of Dionysos--which then became the rural Dionysia--and celebrated to occasion by bringing a statue of Dionysos to Athens. The Athenians, by then not big on the worship of Dionysos, initially rejected the statue, but Dionysos punished the Athenians with a plague affecting the male genitalia. The Athenians, rightfully spooked, accepted the statue and honor of Dionysos, and the plague was cured. These events were recalled each year by two processions, the first, carrying the statue of Dionysos from His temple outside of the city of Athens into the city, and the second where various groups proceeded through the city to the theater, arrayed in groups distinguishable by color or other articles of dress.

Dionysos was a métoikos in a city of Athens, a resident alien, and on the first two days of the festival, the métoikoi of the city got to wear brightly colored festival clothes--mostly purple--and carried trays of offerings in the processions, something métoikoi never got to do otherwise. The Athenian citizens, on the other hand, wore their day-to-day clothes and carried wine and bread with them, or herded the bulls which would be sacrificed. At the end of the processions, the statue of Dionysos was placed in His temple in the theater district, and sacrifices were made to Him. Flute players and poets held contests, and were eager to outdo each other. After all of this, the festival most likely became very Dionysian, indeed.

Singing and dancing had always been a big part of the City Dionysia, but after a while, the structure of the eight day festival became more apparent. Instead of random singing and dancing, from the third day onward, everyone flocked to the theaters to view the plays, whose names and creators had been announced the day prior. The next three days of the festival were devoted to the tragic plays. The three chosen playwrights performed three tragedies and one satyr play each, one set of plays per day. Famous playwrights include Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles. They were judged by judges (agonothetai) chosen on the second day.

On the seventh day of the festival, five comedies by famous playwrights like Philemon, Chionides, and Aristophanes were performed. Comedies were of secondary importance at the Dionysia--the Lenaia was far more important for those--but winning the comedic prize at the Dionysia was still regarded a great honor. It seems that, from the fifth century BC onwards, plays could be recycled, and the audience seemed to have appreciated it. These plays were fan favorites, and were not rushed to completion.

Another procession and celebration was held on the final day and the winners of the competitions were declared. The winning playwrights won a wreath of ivy or a goat, and when old plays were performed, the producer was awarded the prize rather than the long-dead playwright.

For the city Dionysia, we will be reading 'The Bacchae', a play by Euripides. We did it last year as well and we wanted to keep it a tradition. The play premiered posthumously at the Theatre of Dionysus in 405 BC as part of a tetralogy that also included 'Iphigeneia at Aulis' and 'Alcmaeon in Corinth', and which Euripides' son or nephew probably directed. It won first prize in the City Dionysia festival competition.

The Dionysus in Euripides' tale is a young God, angry that his mortal family, the royal house of Cadmus, has denied him a place of honor as a deity. His mortal mother, Semele, was a mistress of Zeus; while pregnant she was killed, through trickery, by Hera, who was jealous of her husband's affair. When Semele died, her sisters said it was Zeus' will and accused her of lying; they also accused their father, Cadmus, of using Zeus as a cover-up. Most of Semele's family refuse to believe Dionysus is the son of Zeus, and the young God is spurned in his home. He has traveled throughout Asia and other foreign lands, gathering a cult of female worshipers (Maenads or Bacchantes).

At the play's start he has returned, disguised as a stranger, to take revenge on the house of Cadmus. He has also driven the women of Thebes, including his aunts, into an ecstatic frenzy, sending them dancing and hunting on Mount Cithaeron, much to the horror of their families. Complicating matters, his cousin, the young king Pentheus, has declared a ban on the worship of Dionysus throughout Thebes. The Bacchae is considered to be not only Euripides' greatest tragedy, but one of the greatest ever written, modern or ancient. You can find links to several versions of the play in the rituals document.

You can find the rituals for the event here and join the community here. The first and last days have larger rituals and we've made a small ritual for the days in-between. The idea is that you read part of the play every day and finish it on the day of the last ritual. We hope you will join us in honoring Dionysos in his many, many forms.
The construction industry is one of the most wasteful industries in the U.S. Five hundred and thirty million tons of building debris are shipped each year to American landfills. Brandon Clifford researches ancient methods of construction and translate them into a modern context–something he’s previously done by floating a 2,000 pound stone on water and replicating the physics used to create the Easter Island stone sculptures. Cyclopean masonry is his latest focus. The technique is named for the cyclops, mythological one-eyed giants that many ancient peoples claimed were responsible for building their massive stone buildings.

[Photo: courtesy Matter Design Studio]

The construction industry wasn’t always wasteful.  Many civilizations throughout human history, from the Incas to the Mycenaeans, used pieces of old buildings to construct new ones–a process that MIT architecture professor and Matter Design Studio founder Brandon Clifford calls “cannibalization.” Clifford thinks the contemporary building industry should steal this idea. In his project Cyclopean Cannibalism, Clifford updates an ancient building technique, in which laborers would build walls using misshapen stones and rubble taken from demolished buildings–without any mortar to hold them together. Many ancient walls, which appear in various forms all over the world from Greece to Peru, look cobbled together haphazardly–not a building technique seemingly fit for the modern world.

“If a building fell down, they’d look at the rubble and figure out how to reconstitute it to make a new construction. That’s a reason why [the walls] appear so cryptic. They seem random and illogical. But that randomness is a byproduct of a very intelligent way of recycling their previous buildings.”

Clifford has a modern twist to this method: he and his students have built algorithms that can measure the sizes of stones or rubble one might have and then suggest a type of cyclopean wall design that would be able to transform any mound of debris into a wall. Clifford measured the exact geometries of cyclopean walls around the world then modeled how the stones fit together.

Of course, not everything has a perfect pattern: in some cases, Clifford and his students would find anomalies in a design that would frustrate their algorithm. He points to one wall in Peru as an example, where three stones fit together in an illogical pattern–a reminder that humans built these walls, not computers. But there might be a historical reason for the anomaly. Clifford explains that the Inca paid taxes in tribute labor. People would show up and build a wall as their way of contributing to society–and may have added unique markers to the wall so they’d be able to prove they’d paid their taxes.

Clifford’s algorithms provide something akin to recipes, with prescriptive techniques and methods that show builders how to turn a pile of rubble into a wall. And to illustrate exactly how it all works, Clifford has released a single edition book called The Cannibal’s Cookbook with MIT graduate students Daniel Marshall, James Addison, and Mackenzie Muhonen. Designed by Johanna Lobdell, it contains both his argument for why cyclopean masonry deserves a contemporary comeback, his methodology for creating the algorithms, and eight different “recipes” that present techniques for building for any interested parties who want to put Clifford’s theories into action.

To demonstrate the concept, Clifford worked with the Madison, Wisconsin-based architectural stone company Quarra Stone to build a prototype for the Seoul Architecture Biennale in fall of 2017. The company selected rocks from its pile of cast-offs and leftovers, as well as some rubble from a local demolition site, and then scanned them all using Clifford’s algorithm. Then, they chose one of the recipes–cheekily called “Divinity in the Details” in the book–and built the wall. Clifford says it was completed in less than a week, a fast turnaround time given the company’s limited time and the difficulty of working with stone.

So far, The Cannibal’s Cookbook has attracted attention from the archaeology community, but Clifford is hoping to get it into the hands of the construction industry–the people who might be able to try out cyclopean masonry in a real-world context. Cyclopean cannibalism also contributes to a larger conversation about sustainability in the way we build. Others have proposed transforming demolition debris into new building material using mushrooms, and Clifford’s idea has a serious limitation: it only works with stone and concrete. But there’s certainly enough concrete debris to go around–and why not look to the builders of the ancient world for answers?
On Monday, 27 March, at 10 AM EDT, Elaion hosts a PAT ritual for the Galaxia. This rather obscure festival was held in many places in ancient Hellas, but most notably at Olympia. The Galaxia was closely linked to the vernal equinox, which was used to date it and was (amongst others) in honor of Kronos and Rhea.

The Galaxia is a festival held in honor of the Mother (of the Gods), who in Hellenic mythology is Rhea, although the title is also strongly associated with Gaia and Kybele, who have similar functions. She was worshipped as the mother of Zeus and the Galaxia celebrated His birth just as much as Her giving birth to him. Kronos--as Her consort and His father--was most likely also sacrificed to, along with Hera, who as Zeus' wife deserved honor alongside Him. In our ritual, we have included Helios and the Horai as well, as the Galaxia was associated so closely with the Spring Equinox.

The Galaxia had a special beverage attached to it--well, a special food item: a milk and barley porridge that may have been sacrificed to the Mother, but which was at least consumed at the festival. Pliny the Elder names the porridge a 'puls', which seems to have been a more general term which included pastes made from lentils and beans as well as from grain. On barley-based porridge, he has the following to say in his 'Natural History':

"There are several ways of making barley porridge: the Greeks soak some barley in water and then leave it for a night to dry, and next day dry it by the fire and then grind it in a mill. Some after roasting it more thoroughly sprinkle it again with a small amount of water and dry it before milling; others however shake the young barley out of the ears while green, clean it and while it is wet pound it in a mortar, and wash it of husk in baskets and then dry it in the sun and again pound it, clean it and grind it. But whatever kind of barley is used, when it has been got ready, in the mill they mix in three pounds of flax seed, half a pound of coriander seed, and an eighth of a pint of salt, previously roasting them all. Those who want to keep it for some time in store put it away in new earthenware jars with fine flour and its own bran. Italians bake it without steeping it in water and grind it into fine meal, with the addition of the same ingredients and millet as well." [XVIII-XIV]

Sources which mention the festival speak only of a milk and barley beverage that can be poured. Fundamentally, porridge is made by mixing oats with a fluid (normally water and or milk) and then heating it. Combine barley, water, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring continuously. Turn the heat to low and steam until grains are soft and all the liquid is absorbed. Add the milk once the water level drops below the level of the barley. Cooking time depends on the form of barley used. Use one cup dry barley on three cups of water.

- Hulled barley is unprocessed and takes the longest to boil, about an hour and 15 minutes before it's soft.
- Pearl Barley or Pearled Barley is the most common form of barley available and is sold in most supermarkets. Because the outer hulls including the bran have been removed, the grains have a pearly white color. Cooking time: 50-60 minutes.
- Quick Barley, or instant barley is pearl barley that is pre-steamed then dried, shortening the cooking time considerably, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Barley Grits are processed similar to bulghur wheat. The grain is cracked, and toasted or parboiled, then dried, making it a quick-cooking product--about 2-3 minutes. As such, add a little less water or milk.
- Barley Flakes, Pressed Barley, or Rolled Barley have the appearance of rolled oats and are often included in muesli-type cereals. The cooking time is about 30 minutes.
- Barley Flour is hulled barley that is finely ground and has a lightness and delicate sweetness. It can be stirred into milk until the right consistency is reached.
To get a consistency where the puls can be poured, add milk or water to thin the porridge. If you want to sweeten the porridge a little, add warmed honey to the mixture.

We hope you will join us next week, on March 27 at the usual 10 AM. The ritual can be found here and you can join the community here.
'Ellada' or 'Hellas', the name of a woman who was probably of Athenian origin, lived, died and was buried in Thessaloniki. Time went by and when Langadas street was being opened in 1929, the sargophagus of Attic origin, which had 'housed her remains' for 1,600 years, was found. Inside her impressive marble sarcophagus depicting Amazons in battle, a gold signet ring was found with the carved bust of Athena on its bezel and the name of its owner engraved round it in the 'dedicatory' dative case (ΕΛΛΑΔΙ).

The massive, heavy sarcophagus was moved to the old Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki and then, 33 years later in 1962, to today’s Archaeological Museum. The handful of grave goods were also quickly gathered and recorded, only to be locked away in its storerooms. Some 300 marble sarcophagi recovered during the various excavations of the ancient cemeteries of Thessaloniki were likewise shut away in the museum's storerooms.

The only exception was a couch-shaped sarcophagus discovered unplundered in 1837 near the Kalamaria Gate wherein were found the bones of a couple, a wooden box with gold jewellery and a magic text inscribed on gold sheet and which had been "acquired" by the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna.

Another 90 years went by until the storerooms were opened again for the Ministry of Culture’s programme for the digitalization of archaeological material and which provided an opportunity for the finds to be restudied.

The findings were presented at the 31st conference on the Archaeological Work carried out over the past year in Macedonia and Thrace (31st AWMT) by P. Adam-Veleni and A.Touloumtzidou in their monograph, Gold grave goods in sarcophagi of Thessaloniki: Historical and Social Contexts. According to the researchers of the sarcophagus and its contents

"…the name Hellas is encountered five times in Athens, while only twice in Macedonia. Combined with the Attic origin of the sarcophagus and the similarities of its representation with copper engravings from Athens could perhaps suggest that Hellas originated from Athens."

For the most part, the owners of the sarcophagi (both inscribed or plain) were high ranking Roman citizens of the time (1st to 3rd centuries AD). Grave goods included gold rings, pendants depicting Tyche/Fortuna at the helm with the horn of Amalthea, a pendant shaped like an oil lamp, and jewellery with the figure of the god Asklepios.

Of particular interest is a double gold danake with the head of Alexander the Great on one side and a nude Alexander seated on a rock and Bucephalus on the other. The inscription ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ is on its perimeter.There is also a gold ring with a sardonyx stone depicting the embossed hands of a man and woman joined in a hand shake, and inscribed ΟΜΟΝΟΙΑ.

"In general, the right hand handshake in the Roman world symbolizes mutual faith in the closing of an agreement or contract. Rings with similar depictions often accompanied by the inscription ΟΜΟΝΟΙΑ, were however wedding rings given by the future husband to his wife to be worn on the middle figure of the left hand, since the vein starting from that finger was believed to end up in the heart."

At the same time,

"...the small number of gold coins in the unplundered sarcophagi do not suggest the poverty of their owners but very likely is related to the bequeathal of property to the relatives, leaving the deceased the luxury of strictly personal objects such as signet rings. In the difficult economic conditions prevailing in Macedonia during the 3rd century AD, under the shadow of raids by the barbarians, Charon’s obol is replaced less often by gold coins and more frequently by the danakes. The latter, especially those that depict Alexander the Great, clearly reflect the myth sought after by the ruling class when recollecting its glorious past."
On the eighth day of Elaphebolion, the Asklepieia (Ἀσκληπίεια) was held in honor of Asklēpiós, who was honored monthly on the eighth. The Asklepieia is linked to the Epidausia, celebrated six months later, as both were special days where those in the medical profession--as well as those seeking medical counsel--made sacrifices to Asklēpiós. Will you join us on the 26th of March, at 10 am EDT?

In 242 BC, during the Mercenary War, the sanctuary at Epidaurus was granted immunity from war, and the Asklepieia Megala was established as a festival of athletic and musical competitions, held every four years, for a nine day period. Theater performances were also a huge part of the festival, and the famous theater of Epidaurus still stands today, one of the seven wonders of ancient Hellas.

The first of the festival days was spent preparing for the actual festival. The second day, religious exercises were undertaken. All temples and shrines were richly decorated and sacrifices were made to Apollon, Asklēpiós, Artemis, and Leto. Perhaps and the children of Asklēpiós--Hygieia (health, cleanliness, and sanitation), Iaso (recuperation from illness), Aceso (the healing process), Aglaea (beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment), and Panakea (universal remedy)--also received sacrifice. Apollon received the first offering along with Asklēpiós: a cock, the fowl associated with Asklēpiós. They also received barley meal, wheat, and wine. Asklēpiós was then gifted a bull, a second bull was sacrificed to His male associates, and a cow to His female associates.

On the eve of the third day, a statue of Asklēpiós was driven through the precinct, and followed by torch-bearers and priests, who sung hymns to Him. The priests sang and spoke the praise of the Theos. There were vigils throughout the night, and during the daylight hours of the third day, there were feasts. The succeeding days were given up to athletic contests in the stadium, races, wrestling contests, singing contests and theater performances.

The Asklepieia Megala was only held at Epidaurus; all other asklepieia--as well as at Epidausus the other three years--held only a small ceremony for the Theos. The festival did not include athletic games outside of the Asklepieia Megala, but there might have been a focus on singing, and there might have been large banquets, held after sacrifices were made to the Theos.

You can find the ritual here, and we really hope you will join us on the Elaion Facebook page for this one, too!
More than 400 archaeological excavations discovered along the route dug out for the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) have been completed, while another 7 large-scale projects are ongoing in the regions traversed by the pipeline, the company said on Tuesday, following the 31st annual Conference "Archaeological Excavations in Macedonia and Thrace" in Thessaloniki, held between 8 and 10 March 2018 at the Aristotle University.

To date, specialist teams have concluded ca. 300 small- and large-scale rescue excavations and more than 100 trial trench investigations within the project's Right of Way, with more than 650 experts in archaeological research (archaeologists, topographers, conservators, etc.), as well as archaeological laborers involved in the work.

The multiple findings that have been unearthed - both movable and immovable - include burial grounds or individual tombs with some of them containing grave goods, parts of settlements and architectural remains such as walls and churches, monuments, workshops and indications of human activity, for instance kilns and wells. In addition, many movable findings have also been located (pottery, jewellery, coins, etc.), dating from the prehistoric to the post-Byzantine period.

Lead scientists-representatives of 9 Northern Greek Ephorates (from the regional units of Evros, Rodopi, Xanthi, Serres, Kilkis, Thessaloniki, Kozani, Kastoria and Florina) discussed the initial findings of their excavation research, noting that archaeological excavations in Greece would have almost completely ceased, if it weren't for the funds from public or private works. TAP's Country Manager for Greece, Katerina Papalexandri, said:

"We are collaborating closely with the Ministry of Culture and Sports, as well as the local Ephorates of Antiquities, for the protection and promotion of the rich Greek cultural heritage. We are thankful for this collaboration that guarantees the implementation of archaeological best practice and the promotion of academic work and scientific knowledge."  

Archaeological works implemented in collaboration with TAP and its contractors are monitored by the ministry of culture and the 13 local Ephorates of Antiquities (one per each regional unit traversed by the pipeline), as provided for by the relevant memoranda of understanding.
On the sixth of the month of Elaphebolion, the people of Athens and Phocis (Φωκίδα), and perhaps other cities and city-states, held a modest festival for Artemis that gave lended name to the month: the Elaphebolia (Έλαφηβόλια). Will you join us on March 24th at the usual 10 am EDT in celebrating the rite?

It appears that the festival was a major festival in honor of Artemis Elaphêbolos (Αρτεμις Ελαφηβολος) down to the time of Plutarch. It was mainly observed at Hyampolis, to commemorate a Phocian victory over the Thessalians. Afterwards, it seems to have lost its grander, most likely in the face of the Greater Dionysia which was held only a few days later, starting on the tenth of the month, and the Asklepia, held on the eighth.

Artemis Elaphêbolos is the stag-killer, the shooter of deer, the huntress who relishes the chase. She's the slayer of prey, both animal and human, and in ancient Hellas, she guarded Hyampolis and the surrounding cities from the horrors of war.

The festival was most likely quite grand right after the war, but slowly became a festival which consisted almost entirely of a single offering. In the early days, the offering was always a stag, one per family, most likely. As the years went on, however, and the expansion of cities drove the stag far into the Athenian hills, only the city's elite was able to offer a stag to the Goddess. Everyone else made due with cakes in the shape of stags. It seems these stag cakes--called 'elaphos' (ἔλαφος)--were made out of the basic dough mixture with honey, and sesame seeds.

You can find the ritual here, and we really hope you will join us on the community page here.
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.

New things happening:
PAT rituals for Elaphebolion:
  • Elaphebolion 6 - March 18 - Elaphebolia - festival in honor of Artemis
  • Elaphebolion 8 - March 20 - Asklepieia - festival in honor of Asklēpiós
  • Elaphebolion 9 - March 21 - Galaxia - festival in honor of the Mother of the Gods (Rhea), Kronos, Zeus and Hera
  • Elaphebolion 10-17 - March 28 / April 4 - Greater (City) Dionysia in honor of Dionysos
  • Elaphebolion 16 - April 3 - Sacrifice to Semele and Dionysos at Erkhia
  • Elaphebolion 17 - April 4 - Pandia - festival in honor of Zeus, following the Greater Dionysia

Anything else?
Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.

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