The British Museum’s hidden basement galleries are to remain closed under its new masterplan for a sweeping redisplay of its collections. The eight underground rooms were quietly shut to visitors more than a decade ago and have been widely forgotten. A museum spokeswoman tells The Art Newspaper that “there are no current plans to open up the basement galleries”.

These spaces housed two collections: Assyrian antiquities from present-day Iraq, and Greek and Roman sculptures. Built in the late 19th century, the galleries were originally double-height rooms. In the 1960s, they were cut in half to create a new floor at the main level of the museum.

In 2006, the basement was closed entirely, largely because of access problems. Without a lift, entry for disabled visitors was restricted. The museum was also concerned about evacuating visitors in an emergency. Keeping the galleries open required security warders, so their closure helped to save costs.

Six of the underground galleries were dedicated to ancient Greece and Rome, including architecture, classical inscriptions, early Ephesus material, Roman sculpture and Roman portraits. Larger Greek and Roman sculptures remain in the basement, where they can be viewed by appointment. Some objects have been moved to the main level or stored elsewhere. Others are included in the museum’s touring exhibition Rome: City and Empire, which is due to open at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra on 21 September.

The British Museum’s director, Hartwig Fischer, and its trustees are now developing a highly ambitious masterplan to reinstall most of the collection, a process that will take years and possibly decades. It is likely to be the museum’s most radical redisplay in more than 150 years.
Plans are still at an early stage, but the underground galleries will remain off-limits to the public and will probably be used for storage and handling of museum objects. Under the masterplan, the museum may decide to move some of the Assyrian reliefs from the basement up to the main floor.
I learned something new yesterday and when I learn something new, you learn something new as well. That's how this blogging thing works, after all! Greek mountain tea, or sideritis, has been used since the ancient times as medicine, a  refreshment, a memory and energy booster, and is one of Greece’s most recognizable and popular herbs.

Ancient Hellenes called it sideritis, meaning ‘that which contains iron’. They used it as medicine since it is perfect for sore throat or the common cold. Theophrastus (372-287 BC) who is considered to be the father of botany, wrote that sideritis was so named because of its property to heal wounds from iron objects.

The beneficial properties of Greek mountain tea have been known for decades by the scientific community. Recently, German scientists found that the miraculous qualities of Greek mountain tea are a powerful weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, which leads to the degeneration of brain cells.

According to the Chinese, the best tea grows in high mountains. The same applies to the Greek mountain tea. It grows almost exclusively in mountainous areas. Specifically, it grows in rocky alpine and subalpine areas in mainland Greece and Crete. There are about 17 native varieties, the most famous being those of Mount Athos, Mount Taygetos, Mount Olympus, and Mount Parnassos. Also the tea varieties from the mountains of Crete and Evia are very popular. However, the medicinal qualities of Greek mountain tea have made it very sought-after and scientists say that it is at risk of extinction because of over-exploitation. For this is reason over-harvesting of mountain tea is forbidden in Greece.

Traditionally in Greece, mountain tea is preferred for its beneficial effects on colds and upper respiratory tract infections, as well as against indigestion and gastrointestinal disorders. It is also considered anticonvulsant, analgesic, and healing. Its active ingredients are caffeine that is a stimulant of the nervous system, but there are traces of theobromine that is a diuretic and acts on the respiratory system.

Its fresh leaves are quite rich in vitamin C. The plant infusion is used as a digestive, diuretic in digestive disorders and as a stimulant of the brain and muscles. It also speeds up breathing. However, long-term and excessive use of tea can cause disorders such as  insomnia, slimming, loss of appetite and nervous system problems.
The recently restored statue of Aphrodite housed in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale (National Archaeological Museum/the Museum) in Florence, Italy, was unveiled in a public celebration on September 11, 2018.

 Funded by Friends of Florence with a donation by Michael and Sandy Collins, the cleaning and restoration process revealed a surprising development. Long thought to be a representation of the Spartan queen Leda that had been marred with dirt and grime over centuries, it was discovered to be the Aphrodite sculpted in now immaculately white marble. Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda, President of Friends of Florence:

"It is a great pleasure to present this 'Rediscovered Aphrodite'. In addition to the restoration, the project—originally a candidate in the first edition of the Friends of Florence Award Grant at the Florence Art and Restoration Fair in 2012—provided the unique opportunity to study the work in depth. The process was designed to allow the public to observe the restoration in an ‘open work site’ thanks to the kind cooperation of Mario Iozzo, director of the Museum, his staff, and restorer Daniela Manna who previously has worked on other important Friends of Florence projects. The open work site allowed us to help visitors understand what it means to restore a work of art, how delicate and precise the entire process is, and how important it is to conserve our artistic-cultural heritage. We thank all those who made this project possible, starting with our donors Michael and Sandy Collins, whose generosity enabled us to replace another tile in the great mosaic of Western art history and civilization."

New source research during the restoration led to the identification of the statue as the one purchased in 1882 by Luigi Adriano Milani, then director of the Museum. It came from Palazzo Da Cepparello, in Florence. The building originally belonged to the Portinari family (Dante’s great love, Beatrice, was a Portinari). Subsequent owners include the Salviati family (a daughter Maria married Cosimo I de’ Medici). From its origins as a stately home, it later became a bank and is now being redesigned as apartments.

The statue has been identified as a good, first century A.D. Roman copy of a Hellenistic original dating from around 300 B.C. Restorers discovered that the marble (from the island of Paros) used for the body is different from the material of the head, which they revealed is antique but not original. The arms were sculpted and added in the eighteenth century when it was customary to repair broken statues by adding ancient or specially-made parts to make them whole and “beautiful,” in keeping with the times.

Before starting the restoration, which was conducted by Daniela Manna and assistants, the statue was photographed and subjected to a series of diagnostic studies aimed at identifying any original polychrome, traces of which were indeed found on the drapery and hair (red ochre and gilding). After having analyzed the conservation condition and identified alterations and deterioration, the restoration team selected the most appropriate methods and tools for cleaning, partially removing previous restorations and repairing lacunae. The cleaning was done with a laser device that gradually removed the black incrustations. The final phases involved re-gluing an original fragment using the same types of materials as in antiquity—materials which are still valid and appropriate for a statue displayed inside a museum.

Provenance research unearthed a catalogue entry and photography from the late 1800s of the statue in the Museum’s garden loggias which corroborated the figure’s identity. The “rediscovered” Aphrodite, on her beautifully carved, early nineteenth-century wooden base, will remain where she was studied and restored, on the ground floor and visible to all who enter the Museum.
The Epidauria was a festival of Asklēpiós placed smack in the middle of the Mysteries--exactly six months after the other major festival of Asklēpiós in Athens: the one during the Greater Dionysia. The day was named after Asklēpiós' healing centre to the south at Epidauros. It was said that on this day, the cult of Asklepios and Hygeia joined the Eleusinian Mysteries rites in Athens.

What, exactly, happened during the Epidauria is unclear as discussing the rites that took place at Eleusis carried a death sentence, but I think we can safely say that the rites at Eleusis involving Asklēpiós were most likely similar to the rites to Asklēpiós that took place at other places--including Epidauros. What we do know is that the evening rites of sacrifices were held at Demeter’s Eleusinion temple in Athens to honor Asklēpiós, His daughter Hygeia, and Demeter and Persephone, who also were revered as healing deities. Special blessings were invoked for doctors and healers, and perhaps healing practices were offered at Demeter’s Eleusinion temple.

Then started the part that we have to guestimate by way of other practices involving Asklēpiós. Asklēpiós' worship almost always included a 'night watch'; a night time period of meditation and contemplation at a temple to Asklēpiós; the Asklepion. During the Mysteries, the initiates would most likely sit, contemplate, and cleanse themselves of ailments, distress, and anything that might distract them form the proceedings to follow. The temple of Asklēpiós was built near the enclosure of a sacred spring in a small cave and it included an abaton, a sleeping hall sacred to Asklēpiós where initiates could sleep while watched over by priests of Asklēpiós who prayed to Asklēpiós to visit these initiates in their sleep and give them messages intended to heal and cleanse. The following morning, initiates would tell their dream to a priest of Asklēpiós or Hygeia, called 'therapeutes'. The initiate would then be encouraged to put the advice he or she had gotten into practice.

The Epidauria took place as a preparatory intermezzo: afterwards, the initiates were cleaned and focused, ready to be drawn further into the Mysteries. As these proceedings took place late at night, a certain lack of sleep might also occur, leaving the initiates more susceptible to the coming proceedings. Whatever the case, the initiates would soon be enveloped in the hectic but highly ritualized proceedings of the Mysteries, and likely feel far more ready--and worthy--to face them.

In Athens, a separate ritual took place. The night of the 18th may have been spent by the very devout in sleeping in the Temple of Aesculapius, southwest of the Acropolis, or in the Iaccheum, also called the Temple of Demeter. It was just where the road from the Piraeus entered Athens. The early morning of that day till about 9 a.m. was devoted to ordinary business, as we find decrees issued bearing that date. After this hour the Epidauria was celebrated in the Temple of Demeter or Iacchus and in the Temple of Aesculapius.

For those who have decided to join the Eleusinian Mysteries, both a night watch and the daytime ritual are included in the rituals provided. For those not participating, a separate ritual will be held on the 18th of Boedromion, which is on 28th September this year. You can find this separate ritual here and join the community here.
Pithos burials have been discovered in the ancient city of Antandros, on the skirts of the Kaz Mountains, in the western province of Balikesir’s Edremit district, a Hurriyet Daily News report says.

Pithos are big vessels mainly made of clay used by ancients to store olive oil and other agricultural products. They were also used as graves in the particular region since the sixth century. Locals call them “cubic tombs.”

Professor Gurcan Polat, Ege University Archaeology Department academic and head of the Antandros excavations, told Hurriyet that the Antandros necropolis served from the eighth century BC to the first century AD. Pithos was among the burial types discovered in the area, he said.

"We have found two pithos burials used by the Greeks. Pithos burials are big potteries used to preserve the dead before inhumation and cremation. But none of them were made to be used as graves. They are normally used for storage. But they were used as graves from time to time."

Polat said pithos burials begun to be used in the middle of the sixth century BC.

"They were sometimes used as family burials. Two or three members of the same family were buried in these cubes. In one of these burials, we found the skeleton of a dog. I think a local of Antandros loved his dog so much and found this cube when trying to find a place for its body."
The Society of Hellenic Archaeologists has accused the country's so-called "radical-leftist" government of planning to sell several heritage monuments and museums to foreign investors. According to the archaeologists a list of monuments including the archaeological site of Knossos, the Venetian walls of Heraklion, the Byzantine walls and Rotunda of Thessaloniki, and several archaeological museums are 'hidden' in the 10,119 asset codes transferred to the Hellenic Corporation of Assets and Participations (HCAP), the so-called ‘privatisations superfund’.

They argue that the move is unprecedented in the history of managing Greece’s cultural heritage and warn that it will stir up strong reactions both domestically and abroad.

Greek opposition parties, headed by New Democracy, have called on the government to officially reveal which archaeological sites and other public properties have been transferred to the ‘superfund’. The New Democracy party said in a statement: 

"The archaeological sites and museums of our country do not belong either to Mr. Tsipras nor Mr. Tsakalotos. Greece’s heritage is not for sale."

Despite pledges to the contrary made by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made after the crucial summit on Greece in 2015, ND said, the government had signed off on the transfer of 10,119 real estate assets to HCAP on June 19, through a decision taken by Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.

"The minister’s decision refers to a second 84-page decision issued by the Council for Economic Policy, with the same date, that includes only tables with 10,119 land registry codes."

This was followed by complaints, reports and questions tabled in Parliament in September about the “secret” handover of state property throughout Greece to the superfund, including museums, court houses, local authority buildings, sports grounds and public spaces, as well as symbolic buildings linked to the history of their location.

Despite the fact that the Ministry of Culture has tried to downplay the issue by insisting that “properties of archaeological interest are not for sale", the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Finance confirmed that some monuments and archaeological sites had infact been "accidentally" included in the list of properties to be transferred to the HCAP.
As a basic viewpoint, Elaion believes that the Mysteries need not be pursued; they are not a spiritual ‘formula’ that experimentation will eventually rediscover. That said, we also acknowledge that it's a festival many have been drawn to--both then and now--and we want to give our members a chance to celebrate it in a way that is as Recon as possible once you accept that we know far too little about it to ever accurately be so. Since the proceedings of the Eleusinian Mysteries were kept secret in fear of the punishment of death, we will never be able to restore these rites. But we do know a few basics and we have formulated our celebration accordingly. Please read through all information as well as the rituals before deciding to join.

The Eleusinian Mysteries (Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) had festivals throughout the year, which were tied to agriculture through Demeter's refusal to perform her duties as an agricultural Goddess while her daughter Persephone is with Hades, and to the afterlife and Underworld through Persephone's return to the surface of the earth after Her mandatory stay with Hades has ended. Initiation ceremonies were held every year at Eleusis. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, the mysteries at Eleusis were assumed to be of great importance to a large portion of the ancient Hellenes. The cult itself likely had origins dating back to the Mycenean period of around 1600 to 1100 BC, and it is believed that the cult of Demeter Herself was established in 1500 BC.

The Eleusinian Mysteries consist mostly of two festivals, but the worship of Demeter and Persephone consist of a cycle of seven festivals: the Greater Mysteries (13-23 Boedromion), the Proerosia (6 Pyanepsion), the Stenia (9 Pyanepsion), the Thesmophoria (11-13 Pyanepsion), the Haloa (26 Poseideon), the Lesser Mysteries (20-26 Anthesterion), and the Skiraphoria (12 Skirophorion). These are placed in sequence of the Athenian year.

Mythologically, the foundations of the Eleusinian Mysteries can be found in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Within the hymn, Demeter travels the globe in her grief over losing Her daughter. She eventually settles at the home of Keleus. Demeter plans to make one of his sons immortal in return for his hospitality but She is interrupted. Instead, she tells Keleus to build Her a temple and altar so she can teach human beings the knowledge they need to have a good life.

The Mysteries were obviously celebrated to honor Demeter--Demeter Eleusinia, specifically. Through the honoring of Demeter, the ancient Hellenes prayed for a good harvest, and through the worship of Persephone--Kore--those who were initiated in the Mysteries assured they would be looked upon favorably in the Afterlife.

For those who wish to join us, the Eleusinian Mysteries will be a ten day event, starting on September 17th with a rite meant to emulate the walk to Eleusis from Athens that all initiates eventually undertook. The procession would have started from the shine of Iakkhos, and Iakkhos was invited to come along to Eleusis by those in the procession. The mystai would sacrifice at all shrines along the way. The mystai would arrive in darkness, or at least guided by torchlight, as Demeter searched for Her daughter with a torch in hand. Upon arrival, sacrifices were made to Demeter. After undertaking this rite, we encourage everyone articipating to put on a króki. Króki were pieces of string (wool), worn around the wrist. The initiates of the Mysteries recieved yellow ones on the way to Eleusis.

For the continuation of the days, you can make daily sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone, as laid out in the rituals provided. All have a different character and different steps to undertake so reading through them ahead of time is quite important. While not mandatory, we also encourage those who join to potentially limit or cut out their intake of pomegranates, apples, eggs, fowls, and fish as the ancient Hellenes would have done for the duration of the Mysteries.

Then, we have prepared a rite for the Epidauria. The Epidauria was a festival of Asklepios placed smack in the middle of the Mysteries--exactly six months after the other major festival of Asklepios in Athens: the one during the Greater Dionysia. The day was named after Asklepios healing centre to the south at Epidauros. It was said that on this day, the cult of Asklepios and Hygeia joined the Eleusinian Mysteries rites in Athens.

What, exactly, happened during the Epidauria is unclear as discussing the rites that took place at Eleusis carried a death sentence, but I think we can safely say that the rites at Eleusis involving Asklepios were most likely similar to the rites to Asklepios that took place at other places--including Epidauros. What we do know is that the rites of sacrifices were held at Demeter’s Eleusinion temple in Athens to honour Asklepios, His daughter Hygeia, and Demeter and Persephone, who also were revered as healing deities.

Asklepios' worship almost always included a 'night watch'; a night time period of meditation and contemplation at a temple to Asklepios; the Asklepion. the initiates would most likely sit, contemplate, and cleanse themselves of ailments, distress, and anything that might distract them form the proceedings to follow. The temple of Asklepios was built near the enclosure of a sacred spring in a small cave and it included an abaton, a sleeping hall sacred to Asklepios where initiates could sleep while watched over by priests of Asklepios who prayed to Asklepios to visit these initiates in their sleep and give them messages intended to heal and cleanse. The following morning, initiates would tell their dream to a priest of Asklepios or Hygeia, called 'therapeutes'. The initiate would then be encouraged to put the advice he or she had gotten into practice. We ask you to take part in this night time practice and follow it up with sacrifices to Asklepios and His daughter the day after.

The day after the epidauria was the day the initiates would have traveled to Eleusis. We moved this to the start as a way to introduce you to the Mysteries themselves, but for the ancient Hellenes, this was a walk that ended in darkness, with a torch lit procession to the shrine of Demeter and an offering that was not burned but buried. In the case of the ancient Hellenes, this was most likely a pig but we leave it to you what you want to offer to the Goddess.

We can say with a relative degree of certainty, that the day before the actual initiation was a day on which the initiates fasted in preparation of the main initiatory rite that took place in the nighttime hours of the next day. If you wish to join us for that fast, we would encourage you to stop eating at dusk on 1 October and consume nothing but water (or juice, if you need to!) until after the main rite that takes place in after dusk on 21 September, once it's completely dark out.

While the Eleusinian Mysteries were held largely out of gratitude for the agricultural knowledge provided to us by Demeter, the ancient Hellenes became initiates for an entirely different reason: to be looked more favourably upon by the Theoi in death. Through the worship of Demeter and Persephone, participants hoped that Persephone would talk to Her Husband and the Judges of the dead. It is this focus that all rituals have: the rites of being initiated into the Mysteries in order to be well taken care of after death.

After the main initiatory right, the festival winded down. It's quite possible the initiated didn't sleep throughout the night of their initiation and the attested sacrifice to Demeter and Persephone the next day, we feel, was most likely done at dusk. Feel free to hold it at the standard PAT ritual time of 10 AM EDT, though. the focus of this sacrifice was the complete tipping out of two jugs of water onto the eath by the initiated, one to Demeter and one to Persephone, most likely in gratitude of the experience and knowledge gleamed the previous night.

The following day, we are unsure of what happened, exactly, but we take it to be a resting day and have prepared a simple rite to the Theoi for it. Day nine is another, general, rite, but we encourage you--as the initiated were--to add prayers and hymns to the Theoi you feel closest to to it with the goal of reestablishing the connection with Them after being so immersed in rites with a Kthonic character.

On the final day, we have prepared a closing rite which thanks the Theoi for guiding you on this journey and has you take off the króki you tied around your wrist on the first day. This will signal the end of the Mysteries.

To make things easier, we have laid out a time table:

  • September 25 / 15 Boedromion: starting ritual 
  • September 26 / 16 Boedromion: purification rite
  • September 27 / 17 & 18 Boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone / prayers to Asklepios for prophetic dreams and healing (nighttime)
  • September 28 / 18 Boedromion: Epidauria ritual
  • September 28 / 19 Boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter (nighttime) (fasting day)
  • September 29 / 20 Boedromion: initiation rite (nighttime) 
  • September 30 / 20 Boedromion: tipping out of water jugs to Demeter and Persephone
  • October 1 / 21 Boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone 
  • October 2 / 22 Boedromion: sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone + personal sacrifices
  • October 3 / 23 Boedromion: closing rite

  • We truly hope you will join us for this event. You can share your experience with the community here and all rituals can be found here. Note, these are ALL rituals, eleven of them in total. One for every day, plus one extra. Read the explanation above and see the schedule for clarification. It is highly encouraged you read through them before the Mysteries start! We are very excited about the opportunity of offering this experience to you and we hope you will find a glimmer of what the ancient Hellenes might have experienced during the most anticipated days of the year. 
    Pottery making in ancient Hellas was a male-dominated profession, but about 3000 years ago, one woman from the island of Crete broke the mold to become the only known female master ceramicist in antiquity. The finding, based on a lengthy biomechanical analysis of her skeletal remains, sheds light on the elevated roles played by women in at least some parts of the classical world.

    The master potter, who lived to be about 45 or 50, was buried in the city of Eleutherna on the slopes of Mount Ida, the legendary birthplace of Zeus. Ornate pottery in nearby graves suggests she lived between 900 B.C.E. and 650 B.C.E., after the fall of the Minoan and Mycenean civilizations (depicted above) and toward the end of the so-called Greek Dark Ages.

    On closer examination of her bones, archaeologists noticed some intriguing details: Compared with other women at the Orthi Petra burial site, she was unusually muscular, especially on the right side of her body. She had also worn out the cartilage in her knee and hip joints, which would have made moving a painful, bone-scraping affair.

    Curious as to what repetitive, lifelong motions would have led to that kind of wear, the researchers began to analyze the biomechanics behind the different professions of ancient women, pantomiming the motions with a human skeletal model and observing which muscles were involved. They tried clothes washing, bread baking, harvesting, and loom weaving—nothing panned out. Expanding their search beyond traditional female roles, they tried throwing pottery.

    As luck would have it, the daughter of a modern-day master ceramicist—and a potter in her own right—just minutes from Eleutherna agreed to model for the scientists. Analyzing her muscles as she worked, they were convinced that her profession was a match for their ancient artisan. Constantly flexing her leg to turn the kick wheel would have worn out her joints; repeatedly leaning to one side of the spinning clay to shape and sculpt it would have developed the muscles on that side of her body, the researchers reported at a May conference on Crete.

    Her lifetime devotion to the craft likely meant she was a master, the researchers say, blazing a trail for female ceramicists that continues on the island today.
    A unique pile of more than a thousand seal impressions featuring Hellenic Gods, symbols and erotica has been found in an underground closet carved into the bedrock of the biblical town of Maresha. The seals date to the city’s final and most fruitful incarnation, the Hellenistic period, predating its final devastation. The inscription on one of the seals is from 145 B.C.E., the archaeologists believe. It’s impossible at this point to say when the earliest seal is from, but the latest has to be around 107 B.C.E. because the city was destroyed at that time, the archaeologists suggest.

    Letter writers in ancient times used seals they hoped would guarantee that nobody but the addressee read their precious papyrus. Or at least, if the seal was broken, the addressee would know that privacy had been violated. What the archaeologists found in Maresha was evidently a collection of papyri that somebody had stored in the ancient equivalent of a safe. The papyri themselves had long since decayed. It need not have been a vast library. Ian Stern of Archaeological Seminars Institute and associate of Hebrew Union College explains: 

    "A single papyrus could have up to six seals on it."

    No other explanation leaps to mind for about 1,020 seal impressions from different sources, laying on the floor of a space too small for people to stand in. Donald T. Ariel, head of the Coin Department at the Israel Antiquities Authority:

    "The space can be compared with a small safe behind my clothing closet. This was a safe room where the most valuable documents were deposited."

    The floor of this “closet” had been heavily plastered, and many of the seal impressions have plaster stuck to them. Given that all were made of unfired clay and are friable in the extreme, we may never know what they show.  Cleaning tiny unbaked clay items of the crud of centuries is a painstaking task that will take a very long time. Meanwhile we can say that most of the impressions were only about a centimeter (less than half an inch) in diameter. We can also say that they seem to be almost entirely Greek in type, say Ariel and Stern.

     The impressions feature portraits of both humans and deities: Castor and Pollux, Athena, Apollo and Aphrodite, symbols such as cornucopia, animals — and erotica, as can be seen in two of the 300 impressions studied so far. A few also sport names or letters in Greek. Future chemical analysis of the plaster and dust in this Hellenistic-era proto-safe may attest to the origin of the seals, Stern tells Haaretz:

    "They could have come from around the corner, or from many places in world."

    Cleaning the fragile impressions will take a long time, and meanwhile, the archaeologists have some speculation about who owned them. Ariel suspects that the closet-cave hewn from the soft limestone bedrock had belonged to a wealthy estate owner, who like all the elite at the time, inclined toward Hellenistic culture. Jewish tombs have been found (elsewhere) from the Hellenistic era, with inscriptions in Greek.

    "Maresha was limited during the First Temple Period. The city expanded off the tell and into a lower city — which is where the thousands of subterranean complexes were built — only during the Hellenistic period."

    The archive was not unique. About 30 such have been discovered around the Hellenistic world, Ariel said — but in Israel, it’s only the second to be found — and the first, discovered about 20 years ago in the north of the country at Tel Kedesh, was more closely connected to Phoenician culture.

    One more fun titbit: During their excavation, crawling heroically through the subterranean complex, they discovered seven untouched rooms, and did a quickie survey. They found some Roman-era lamps in there and a casserole dish, and noted that some of the walls had been broken through. It seems that during the Roman period, either people crept into the tunnels and hid there from persecutors for a time. Or they were robbing it and left their casserole dish behind, as robbers do.
    We're adding a new festival to our PAT line-up: the Demokratia. This festival celebrates the blessings of democratic government, constitutional law and freedom of speech. Because of our current political climate, we thought it was time to bring it back. We will hold the ritual on 12 Boedromion, which is 22 September, at the usual 10 am EDT.

    The festival included sacrifices to Zeus Agoraios, Athena Agoraia (literally "Zeus and Athene of the low place") and to the Goddess Themis.  Images of Zeus and Athena were paraded in the agora, the lower city below the Acropolis ("High Place"). Themis, one of the Titans, is Goddess of divine law--the primal, unwritten laws governing human conduct which were first established by the gods of heaven. She was believed to have issued these edicts to mankind through the great oracle of Delphoi over which she presided alongside the God Apollon.  Clearly, the establishment of democracy in Athens was seen as a divine gift of Themis, especially, as well as Zeus (her father) and Athena.

    Today, we use the term demokratia to mean a direct democracy, as opposed to our more familiar modern invention, representative democracy. The demokratia was first begun in Athens around 500 BCE. In such a government, citizens’ (no women or slaves) votes were counted directly. By the same token, in a true demokratia, each citizen is also directly responsible for the various duties of keeping the society running. That is, every voting citizen is expected to participate in some way, in the functioning of the necessary social services, governance, and so on.

    Will you join us in honoring the Gods who guard our democracy? You can find the ritual here and join the community page here.
    Sorry, I'm swamped again! Let me leave you with this fable by Babrius, which feels very fitting at the moment!

    Babrius (Βάβριος, Bábrios), also known as Babrias (Βαβρίας) or Gabrias (Γαβρίας), was the author of a collection of Greek fables, many of which are known today as Aesop's Fables. Practically nothing is known of him. He is supposed to have been a Hellenized Roman (Living in the second century AD), whose original name may have been Valerius. He lived in the East, probably in Syria, where the fables seem first to have gained popularity. There is no mention of Babrius in ancient writers before the beginning of the 3rd century AD. As appears from surviving papyrus fragments, his work is to be dated before c. 200 AD (and probably not much earlier, for his language and style seem to show that he belonged to that period).

    A super fat dog and a wolf once met
    Who was asking him where he was fed
    To become a dog so big and filled with grease.
    “It is a rich man” he said, “who is feeding me”.
    “But,” asked the wolf, “why is your neck so bare?”
    “there’s an iron collar which wears my skin there,
    A collar which my feeder forged and placed.”
    The wolf laughed at him and said to his face:
    “I say this kind of luxury can go to heck,
    The kind of life where iron wears down my neck.”
    [Fable 100]
    Greek archaeologists expressed their concern on Monday over the abandonment by the state of the site of the mid-5th century BC Temple of Artemis Agrotera, which they described as “one of the most historically important archaeological sites in the center of Athens.”

    In a press release titled “A monument in danger,” the Association of Greek Archaeologists says that despite numerous decisions published by the Central Archaeological Council since 1964 for the immediate expropriation of the land it stands on and the surrounding properties and the protection and promotion of the site, no action has ever been taken.

    "The political responsibilities of successive political leaderships, are obvious. This unacceptable and disgraceful situation ... that was created under pressure from private interests is not only endangering the archaeological site itself, but also violates the law."

    Archaeologists said the site forms an archaeological unity with the neighbouring Temple of Olympian Zeus and authorities must therefore initiate expropriation procedures, complete the excavations and necessary studies and return it to the public as an open archaeological site.

    The temple was converted into an Early Christian church in the mid-5th century AD. the first excavations on the site were conducted in 1897 by the Archaeological Society of Athens.
    A 2,000-year-old statue of the Aphrodite, one of a batch of antiquities stolen from a museum storeroom on the resort island of Santorini, has been recovered from traffickers in a car trunk.

    The 80-centimeter (31-inch) marble work was found Tuesday, together with two more ancient stone artefacts believed to have been illegally excavated, in a car stopped in a parking lot in the southern seaside town of Loutraki.

    Police arrested a 46-year-old Greek man in the car, who was allegedly seeking to sell the three pieces for a total €350,000 ($400,000). Another two Greek men have been identified as suspected accomplices, a police statement said, adding that the crackdown followed a tipoff.

    According to the statement by police, the director of the Santorini museum confirmed that the Aphrodite statue, which dates to the 2nd or 1st centuries BC, was stolen from the storeroom.

    Earlier this year, a watchman at the Santorini museum and another suspect were arrested for allegedly stealing antiquities from the storage area, and about 20 pottery and stone artifacts — many dating to the 17th century BC — were recovered.

    No inventory of other missing artifacts was published, and it was unclear how many were stolen.
    Police said the other two artefacts found in the car trunk were a cylindrical marble box and a 3rd century AD stone relief plaque depicting one of the labors of Herakles — the mythical hero's fight with the Hydra monster.

    Greece's rich ancient heritage frequently falls prey to antiquities smugglers, with scores of arrests recorded every year. But thefts from museums are rare.
    Police in Greece are questioning two women, both Bulgarian nationals, suspected of squirting or dabbing oil on artefacts in at least two museums in a ritual the suspects said was dictated by Bible teachings.

    The stains, which Greek media reports said had appeared on items such as icons, marble columns and inscribed tablets displayed at the Christian and Byzantine Museum in July, had befuddled authorities. Some smears also appeared at the Benaki Museum about a month later.

    But on Sunday, a clerk at the National Historical Museum at Old Parliament House in Athens alerted guards when a woman showed up with a companion with what appeared to be an oily hand.

    "I noticed that one of the ladies had a greasy hand ... I alerted the guards and drew their attention to it."

    According to Greece’s state run Athens News Agency, the suspects told police they thought the oil had healing properties and that, they said, dousing relics was dictated by the Bible. They had a bottle in their possession when they were arrested. Both told police they had no intention of causing any damage while one said she was a member of a religious group, judicial sources said on Monday.

    The women, who spent a short time in detention before being released, face misdemeanor charges under Greek law. The two museums said at the time they were investigating the incidents but have not commented publicly since then.
    An ancient Hellenic altar untypical of Hellenic colonies on the Black Sea coast has been unearthed at the site of the antique city of Phanagoria on the Taman Peninsula in Russia's southern Krasnodar Territory.

    Vladimir Kuznetsov, who leads the Phanagoria archaeological expedition, told TASS on Monday:

    "The complex is dated back to the mid-6th century B.C., or the period when Phanagoria was founded. This rarest find is one of the oldest and most unique ancient Greek sanctuaries in Russia. As far as I know, such complexes have not been found anywhere else on the Black Sea coast. Moreover, they are quite rare for the Mediterranean region in general. The layout of this altar is absolutely unparalleled - there have been found no other similar altars with so highly specific elements."

    The clay-brick building was entrenched in the natural soil layer to a depth of two meters. A stairway leading from the vault ended in a small platform in front of a rectangular altar made of bricks. An 80 cm diameter bowl was placed at the edge of the altar and a deep pit was dug near it, with the altar’s surface and the pit’s verge showing traces of fire and ash.

    "The complex requires serious study and our task is to try to understand how this structure functioned."

    Kuztensov added that archaeologists believe the building used to serve as a sanctuary dedicated to gods associated with the underworld. According to archaeologists, the altar was used to place a sacrifice on it, with the blood trickled to the bowl so that it would not be sprinkled on the altar. The pit, judging by the bone finds, was used to dispose of flesh.

    The ancient city of Phanagoria was founded on the Taman Peninsula in the mid-6th century B.C. by the Greeks. For a long time, it was one of the two capitals of the ancient Kingdom of Bosporus (beginning from the 5th century B.C.), the most ancient state in the territory of today's Russia.
    The Greeks were driven out of the Taman Peninsula by the bellicose Hun tribes in the 4th century A.D.

    Archaeological excavations at the site have been conducted since the 19th century. Currently, excavations are sponsored by Volnoye Delo Fund run by businessman Oleg Deripaska. The fund also financed the establishment of a research and culture center on the Taman Peninsula in 2012.
    You thought we were done, weren't you? Nope! But these will be the last two rituals until the Eleusinian Mysteries, which we will be organizing a sort of ten day PAT festival for. The Kharisteria ritual will be held on Monday. The Boedromia is for Tuesday. Both are at 10 AM EDT. Will you be joining us?

    The Kharisteria
    The Kharisteria takes place on the sixth of the month--a day sacred to Artemis. This festival is another commemoration of a battle, in this case, the battle of Marathon which took place in 490 BC. It was also a festival to pay off a debt to the Theoi. During the battle of Marathon, around 10,000 Hellenes stood their ground against a Persian force between 30.000 and 100.000 men. 192 Hellenes fell, opposite 6.400 Persians. That was quite a victory--especially if you consider that the Hellenes were the attacking side. The casualty numbers are known because the Hellenes set up a memorial for their fallen comrades. The Persian dead were counted for a very specific reason: the Hellenes had promised to the Theoi a sacrifice of one goat for ever Persian killed. In the end, they discovered they'd killed so many Persians that they couldn't find enough goats. A payment plan of sorts was devised, and over the course of thirteen years, roughly 500 goats per year were sacrificed, a practice that was still performed in Plutarch’s day. Plutarch also confirms that the sacrifice took place at Artemis Agrotera’s sanctuary at Agrai.

    You can join the community page for this event here and download the ritual from here. As a personal note, this would be a great day to break out your copy of 300 because that's definitely the spirit of the battle that took place! We hope you join us for the ritual on 16 September, at 10 AM EDT.

    The Boedromia
    The festival that gives its name to the month. It might have been sacred to Apollon, and was thus most likely held on His sacred day--the seventh of the month. The Boedromia might have been another war commemoration. The epithet of Apollon associated with this festival is 'Boedromios', the helper in distress. The origin of the epithet and festival are explained in different ways. According to Plutarch, the name was awarded to Him (and the festival created) because he had assisted the Athenians in the war with the Amazons, who were defeated on the seventh of Boedromion, the day on which the Boedromia were afterwards celebrated. According to others, the name was awarded after the war of Erechtheus and Ion against Eumolpus, because Apollon had advised the Athenians to rush upon the enemy with a war-shout (Boê), if they wanted to win--and they did.

    We have already commemorated many ancient wars but with this ritual, we would like to address the many wars currently taking place in our world. We want to plead the Theoi to bring them to a swift end and bring refuge to the many displaced. We ask that xenia--hospitality--prevail in a time where many would turn these refugees away.

    You can join the community page on Facebook here and the ritual can be found here. We hope you join us on 17 September, at 10 AM EDT.