Ancient Origins has a new, and very lovely, article up on Apollonia. Apollonia was a city founded by Hellenic colonists from Corfu and Corinth sometime in the 6 th century BC. It was originally named after its semi-legendary founder, Gylax, but was later renamed in honor of Apollon and widely known as Apollonia of Illyria as this area was dominated by the war-like Illyrians at the time. Apollonia became a renowned center of learning and the young Augustus studied philosophy in the city. 

For a full run-down of its history and the beautiful archaeological discoveries made there, visit Ancient Origins.


Have you ever heard of the Cornus mas? It's a well-known small tree as cornelian cherry or cherry dogwood. The berries are a seeded summer fruit native to the Black Sea region of Turkey. The fruits can be eaten fresh, dried whole, pickled, or used to produce jams and drinks like kompot--and they have been used as such since the time of ancient Hellas.


In Homer time, the plant was known as "Krania" (Ilias, cited by Kavadas,1956) and states that cornelian cherry fruits were given as food for pigs. Theofrastus refers the Cornelian cherry fruit as kranion (Plant history 3, 3,1 and 4,4,5).

Cornelian cherry was an important medicinal plant in old years. The astringency of the fruits is well known since antiquity. The use of edible fruit is used against diarrhea enteritis, not completely ignored by the medicine. Bark, shoots, and roots were used against fever with relative action as Kichone Wood or bark extracts can cure dog itch. The fruit contents a great percentage of vitamin C, other vitamins, antioxidants flavonoids, anthocyanin, iron, and polyphenols. Recent research has showed that these fruits are richer in flavonoids and other nutrients than raspberries and blueberries and nearly the same vitamin C with Rosa canina.

The fine hard wood can be used to obtain different articles of turnery. As ornamental Cornelian cherry (with brilliant leaves and abundant flowers) can be employed with very interesting effect in parks and small gardens.

Fruits of the tree are sweet and sour and are usually made as juices, jams, liqueur, and aromatics.
”Skyphos,” an ancient pottery vessel won by Spyros Louis, the first winner of the Marathon in the first modern Olympic Games of Athens in 1896, was returned to Greece from Germany recently and was put on public display in Athens on Wednesday. The prize, awarded to the great Greek runner along with his gold medal, was presented in the altar room of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, where people will be able to view it until February of 2020.


The ancient vessel, awarded as a prize for winning the first marathon of the modern Olympics, had gone missing for years. An immense effort began in 2012 by the National Archaeological Museum to locate the priceless piece of ancient pottery, but the task proved too difficult at the time. The almost-perfectly-preserved vessel was eventually found in the University of Munster, Germany several years later.

The process of verifying its authenticity took a great deal of time, but it was eventually declared that the object at this German university was indeed the very bowl once awarded as a prize to Louis in 1896.

The object itself, which dates back to 540 BC, had first been unearthed from a tomb located in Boetia. The ancient vessel, and eventual Olympic prize, was secretly transported from Greece to Germany in the 1930s. A Nazi officer serving in the German Archaeological Institute of Athens at that time secretly took the object — along with other diplomatic material — out of the country back in 1934, following an official visit of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Reich’s Minister of Propaganda.
It is understood that this was accomplished without the knowledge of the German Embassy in Athens. Since that time, the object had seemingly dropped off the face of the earth.

The University of Munster, which had originally maintained that it had obtained the object lawfully, decided to return it to the country of its origin when it eventually discovered that it had been stolen from Greece. Following its repatriation from Germany, the ”skyphos” will be on permanently exhibit in the Museum of the Olympic Games in Olympia, Western Greece.

Greek Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni thanked the German university for its gesture, noting that this was ”a wonderful gift to the Greek people.”
In the new book by Geoffrey Robertson AO QC, the British Museum is accused of exhibiting 'pilfered cultural property' and urged to ‘wash its hands of blood and return Elgin’s loot’. His views appear in the book, 'Who Owns History? Elgin’s Loot and the Case for Returning Plundered Treasure.'


Along with a distinguished career as a trial lawyer, human rights advocate and United Nations judge, Robertson has appeared in many celebrated trials, defending Salman Rushdie and Julian Assange, prosecuting Hastings Banda and representing Human Rights Watch in the proceedings against General Pinochet.

In his just released book, he scores the British Museum for allowing an unofficial 'stolen goods tour', "which stops at the Elgin marbles, Hoa Hakananai’a, the Benin bronzes and other pilfered cultural property". The three items he mentioned are wanted by Greece, Easter Island and Nigeria respectively.

"The trustees of the British Museum have become the world’s largest receivers of stolen property, and the great majority of their loot is not even on public display. That these rebel itineraries are allowed is a tribute to the tolerance of this great institution, which would be even greater if it washed its hands of the blood and returned Elgin’s loot."

He accused the museum of telling 'a string of carefully-constructed lies and half- truths' about how the marbles 'were 'saved' or 'salvaged' or 'rescued' by Lord Elgin, who came into possession of them lawfully.' He criticized 'encyclopedic museums” such as the British Museum, the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan in New York that 'lock up the precious legacy of other lands, stolen from their people by wars of aggression, theft and duplicity'.

'This is a time for humility,' he observed, 'something the British, still yearning for the era when they ruled the world do not do very well. Before it releases any of its share of other people’s cultural heritage, the British Museum could mount an exhibition – ‘The Spoils of Empire’.'

Advocating the return of cultural property based on human rights law principles, Robertson observes that the French president, Emmanuel Macron has 'galvanized the debate' by declaring that 'African cultural heritage can no longer remain a prisoner of European museums'.

"Politicians may make more or less sincere apologies for the crimes of their former empires, but the only way now available to redress them is to return the spoils of the rape of Egypt and China and the destruction of African and Asian and South American societies," he writes. "We cannot right historical wrongs – but we can no longer, without shame, profit from them."
The Maimakteria is one of those festivals not a lot has survived about. We know it was in honor of Zeus Maimaktes, the Blustering, and that it was connected to the weather and protection of crops. Protecting our crops is a desire we have to this day so we will celebrate the Maimakteria, regardless. Will you join us on November 13nth, at the usual 10 am EST?


The months of late fall and early winter are relatively light on the festival agenda. This could have at least three reasons: It's getting cold and wet out and the ancient Hellenes held their rituals outdoors, most of the harvesting was done so food was assured or there was nothing that could be done to decrease the shortage, and with the fall of winter, warfare came to a halt; the seas were too rough to go on campaigns and it would soon be too cold to exist comfortably in a war camp. Seeing as these two latter two reasons were the major ones to have festivals, these months are quiet ones. In the Athenian calendar, only two festivals are attested to take place this month: the Maimakteria and the Pompaia.

Most likely, the Maimakteria was connected to the Pompaia, which took place at a later date in the month. I say 'a later date' because we are not sure of the dating. Parke (in 'Festivals of the Athenians', page 96) states that the Pompaia in honor of Zeus Meilichios was held during the last third of Maimakterion which would be on or after 20 Maimakterion. Parke cites the treatise on the Pompaia by Polemon of Ilion so we're fairly confident he is correct on the date. He also states that the Maimakteria took place 'mid-month'. The sixteenth is as viable a date as any other around this time.

The Pompaia was linked to purification. During this rite a white sheep's fleece--the 'Diòs Koidion', as it was called--was placed on the ground and the priests who took part in the rite stood on it with their left foot to be purified and blessed. We believe the Maimakteria was when this sheep was sacrificed.

If the rite followed the standard practice of Hellenic ritual, the sheep was led to the altar--most likely that of Zeus--in procession and then sacrificed. The animal was skinned and the fleece cleaned. The Diòs Koidion was said to have purifying and other magical qualities that would rub off on he who interacted with it, if he stood on it with his left foot.

The sheep skin was most likely not connected to Zeus at the start of the practice. The connection with Zeus most likely happened through assimilation: the rite fell in a month where people prepared for winter and where the weather got harsher. As such, Zeus had a major impact on the inhabitants of Athens; he controls the weather after all. The sheep from which the skin was used became sacrificed to Him as an appeasement, and then the ritually charged skin made its way through the city.

We hope you will join us for the Maimakteria on November 13. You can download the ritual here and join the community for the event here.
Important architectural remains and movable finds dating back to the period of Mycenaean civilization were recently revealed during excavations at the Acropolis of Gla in Boeotia, the Greek Ministry of Culture announced this week.
The Mycenaean Acropolis of Gla, part of a settlement dating from the 13th century BC, was built on a natural rock outcrop. After its fortification it became a fortress for the outlying population, who were engaged in cultivating the fertile plain below it. The area also served as a flood control center associated with the Mycenaean-era drainage and irrigation system, which used water from Lake Kopais.

The 50-acre area which was fortified by stout walls during Mycenaean times is seven times larger than Mycenae itself. The stone walls, which are miraculously preserved along their total length of 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) and thickness of 5.40 to 5.80 meters (up to 19 feet), are easily visible today and form an extraordinarily impressive sight.

According to the Ministry of Culture, the most recent excavations conducted as part of the 2018-19 archaeological dig uncovered six symmetrical stone blocks used in building construction.

Numerous storage vessels, including jars and amphorae, as well as cups and utensils, decorative frescoes, lead sculptures, and figurines — all of which represent a familiar, common cultural and artistic tradition of the times of Mycenaean expansion — were also unearthed.

The Mycenaean Acropolis of Gla itself was destroyed by fire and abandoned a little before 1200 B.C.
The painstakingly-constructed drainage system on the plain below was abandoned as well and the lake once again flooded the area, as it had before the years of improvement and development in the golden age of Mycenae.

Many more images here.
Mythologically speaking, Pegasos was originally only one winged horse, born from the neck of Médousa when she was beheaded by the hero Perseus. Poseidon, Tamer of Horses, is his father. Hesiod describes in his ‘Theogony’ the curious circumstances of his birth:

"…Medusa who suffered a woeful fate: she was mortal, but the two [of her Gorgon sisters] were undying and grew not old. With her lay the Dark-haired One [Poseidon] in a soft meadow amid spring flowers. And when Perseus cut off her head, there sprang forth great Chrysaor and the horse Pegasus who is so called because he was born near the springs [pegae] of Ocean [Okeanos]; and that other, because he held a golden blade [aor] in his hands. Now Pegasus flew away and left the earth, the mother of flocks, and came to the deathless gods: and he dwells in the house of Zeus and brings to wise Zeus the thunder and lightning." [ll 270-294]

Pegasos was tamed by Bellerophon, a Korinthian hero, who rode him into battle against the fire-breathing Khimaira. Pindar, in his beautiful Olympian Odes describes this cooperation wonderfully:

"Bellerophon, who once suffered greatly when beside the spring he wanted to harness Pegasus, the son of the snake-entwined Gorgon; until the maiden Pallas brought to him a bridle with golden cheek-pieces. The dream suddenly became waking reality, and she spoke: “Are you sleeping, king, son of Aeolus? Come, take this charm for the horse; and, sacrificing a white bull, show it to your ancestor, Poseidon the Horse-Tamer.” The goddess of the dark aegis seemed to say such words to him as he slumbered in the darkness, and he leapt straight up to his feet.

He seized the marvellous thing that lay beside him, and gladly went to the seer of the land,  and he told the son of Coeranus the whole story: how, at the seer’s bidding, he had gone to sleep for the night on the altar of the goddess, and how the daughter herself of Zeus whose spear is the thunderbolt had given him the spirit-subduing gold. The seer told him to obey the dream with all speed; and, when he sacrificed a strong-footed bull to the widely powerful holder of the earth, straightaway to dedicate an altar to Athena, goddess of horses.

The power of the gods accomplishes as a light achievement what is contrary to oaths and expectations. And so mighty Bellerophon eagerly stretched the gentle charmed bridle around its jaws and caught the winged horse. Mounted on its back and armored in bronze, at once he began to play with weapons. And with Pegasus, from the chilly bosom of the lonely air,7 he once attacked the Amazons, the female army of archers, [90] and he killed the fire-breathing Chimaera, and the Solymi. I shall pass over his death in silence; but Pegasus has found his shelter in the ancient stables of Zeus in Olympus." [13. 63]

Pegasos was not worshipped with ritual and sacrifices like the Theoi—the Hellenic Gods—were; only the Theoi were worshipped in that manner, and even then there were huge differences in Ouranic, Khthonic, and hero worship. He/they were featured in art, though, and was/were a beloved part of the Hellenic mythology; especially the Pegasos Bellerophon rode on, as he was featured on many coins throughout the years.
Forty-two years ago, one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the world, and the definitive proof of Macedonia’s Greek origin, was announced by Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos. On November 8, 1977, Andronikos discovered a pair of royal tombs from the fourth century BC which contained many objects of gold, silver, bronze, and iron, several wall frescoes, and two caskets of human bones, which he believed to be the remains of the parents of Alexander III, Philip II and his fourth wife, Olympias.

It was the crowning achievement of Dr. Andronikos’s career, in the village of Vergina, in northern Greece. He had been excavating there for 40 years, finding rich tombs and artifacts from ancient times along the way — but nothing he had ever uncovered could prepare him for what he unearthed that day.

Finally, at a depth of 17 feet underground, he struck the largest tomb at the site and announced the discovery of the tomb of King Philip II, who lived from 382-336 B.C., This was the very Macedonian king, who had conquered all of Greece and was the father of Alexander the Great.

Dr. Andronicos, a professor of archeology at the University of Salonika, based his stunning conclusion on ivory busts found on the tomb floor which greatly resembled known portraits of Philip and Alexander. Chemical dating placed the tomb at the right time, between 350 and 320 B.C., and in addition, it is known that other Macedonian king was buried in northern Greece during that time.

At the time the magnificent tomb was discovered, scholars said it was one of the most splendid and important archaeological finds since World War II. They generally, though cautiously, accepted the evidence that associated the tomb with Philip II. Among the treasures of the tomb were the first complete paintings from the Hellenistic period, exquisite silver and gold ornaments and weapons, as well as a marble sarcophagus containing a gold casket with bones believed to be those of Philip.
The Golden Larnax, housed at the Archaeological Museum of Vergina, contains the remains of Macedonian King Philip II.

Dr. Andronikos believed that a smaller casket might have held the remains of Olympias, the first of Philip’s seven wives and the mother of Alexander the Great. In his book, “Vergina: The Royal Tombs,” Andronicos says the discovery provided “new information about Macedonian Hellenism.”
Previous knowledge concerning Philip II had been based almost exclusively on Athenian literary sources. However, the archaeologist noted that the view from Athens was often biased, because Macedonia was a serious political rival of that city. The discovery appeared to confirm a previously disputed theory that Vergina, and not Edessa, which is farther north, was the site of Aegae, the capital of ancient Macedonia.

Andronikos was born in Bursa, in northern Turkey, in 1919 and began studying classical archaeology at the University of Salonika in the 1930’s, receiving his doctorate there in 1952. He spent two years of post-doctoral studies at Oxford University. He first excavated in Vergina in 1937 as a student assistant. But his work was interrupted by World War II and the Greek Civil War in the late 1940’s. He was a member of numerous scholarly societies, including the Archaeological Society of Athens, the German Archaeological Institute of Berlin and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies in London.

In 1982, Andronikos received the “Olympia Prize” from the Onassis Foundation. Just a few days before he died, he received Greece’s highest distinction, the Grand Cross of the Order of the Phoenix.
Andronikos died at the age of 73, on March 30, 1992 at a hospital in Thessaloniki, where he had lived. He had liver cancer and had also suffered a stroke. But his magnificent discovery of the tomb of Philip II of Macedonia will live in the annals of history for all time to come.
A touch of Roman today. Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (80–70 BC – after c. 15 BC), commonly known as Vitruvius, was a Roman author, architect, civil engineer, and military engineer during the 1st century BC, known for his multi-volume work entitled De architectura. His discussion of perfect proportion in architecture and the human body led to the famous Renaissance drawing by Leonardo da Vinci of Vitruvian Man. He was also the one who, in 40 BCE, invented the idea that all buildings should have three attributes: firmitas, utilitas, and venustas, meaning: strength, utility, and beauty. These principles were later adopted by the Romans. His only surviving work is 'De Architectura.'

De architectura (On architecture, published as Ten Books on Architecture) is a treatise on architecture, dedicated to his patron, the emperor Caesar Augustus, as a guide for building projects. As the only treatise on architecture to survive from antiquity, it has been regarded since the Renaissance as the first book on architectural theory, as well as a major source on the canon of classical architecture. It contains a variety of information on Greek and Roman buildings, as well as prescriptions for the planning and design of military camps, cities, and structures both large (aqueducts, buildings, baths, harbours) and small (machines, measuring devices, instruments). Since Vitruvius published before the development of cross vaulting, domes, concrete, and other innovations associated with Imperial Roman architecture, his ten books are not regarded as a source of information on these hallmarks of Roman building design and technology.

A few paragraphs from Book 1 today.

“The building of temples relies on symmetry and architects need to most carefully understand the reason for this. It comes from proposition, which was called “analogy” in Greek. Proportion derives from fixed segments of the parts of the building and the whole—and the balance of symmetry is achieved through this. For no building can have an order in its design without symmetry and proportion, unless it has something like the precise design of a well-figured human body.  For nature has so composed the human body that the face from the chin to the top of the brow and the roots of the hair is one tenth of the whole and the palm of the hand from the wrist to the end of the middle finger is the same.

The head from the chin to the top is one eighth and the top of the chest where it meets the neck to the hair’s roots is a sixth. From the middle of the chest to the crown is one quarter of the whole. The third part of the length of the face extends from the bottom of the chin to the base of the nostrils. The nose from the nostril base to the space between the brows is the same. From that line to hair forms the forehead, a third part. The foot comprises a sixth of the body’s height and the chest is a quarter. The other limbs all have appropriate measures too. And ancient painters earned great praise by observing all these measures.

In the same way, the limbs of temples should have proportions of their various parts responding appropriately to the general size of the whole construction. Consider that the navel is the natural center of the body. For, if a person should lie on the ground with hands and feet spread wide and a circle has the navel as the center, fingers and toes will touch the line of the circumference. In addition, a square can be traced within the figure in the same way. For, if we take the measure from the sole to the top of the head and compare to measure to the distance from one hand to another, the lengths will be found equal, just like foundations squared with a rule. For this reason, if nature designed the body so that the parts correspond in their dimension to the whole design, then ancient people seem to have decided with good reason that they should keep in their works the exact proportions of the separate components to the design of the whole. Therefore, they have handed down orders in all of their works, especially in temples to the gods, the kinds of accomplishments whose excellence and weakness persist for generations.”

Great quantities of porfyra (murex shells) and buildings of a Minoan settlement were located in excavations by the Lasithi Ephorate of Antiquities west of the islet of Chrysi where ancient carved fish ponds have survived on the coast. The numerous broken porfyra shells found in the rooms of the houses are evidence of a very early cottage industry of porfyra dye established during Crete’s first palaces. The settlement had a flourishing economy not apparent from the architectural remains but from the fine quality artefacts found in the houses.



Chrysi islet is situated in the south of Crete in the administrative Region of Lasithi and belongs to the Ierapetra Municipality. The surface survey conducted between 2008-2011 provided evidence of human activity and habitation since the Bronze Age.

In 2018 and 2019 the by now systematic excavation on Chrysi under the Lasithi Antiquities Ephorate’s Head Chrysa Sophianou, brought to light a large building with many rooms, known as B2, which was inhabited without interruptions during the Protopalatial and Neopalatial period, from the Middle Minoan IIB to the Late Minoan IB period (ca 1800-1500 BC).

The rooms had simple architectural elements, such as built in vats, stone benches, work surfaces, hearths and a staircase with stone slabs. Pottery is a typical mixture of vessels for drinking, eating, cooking and storage, while many stone tools were recovered. It was a surprise to discover no evidence in this entire building of a cottage industry for the production of porfyra, unlike the other excavated houses of the settlement.

Despite their simple architecture, two rooms contained “treasures/hoards” of metal, glass and semiprecious stones. The first treasure was found in 2018 in a room which most probably was used as a storage area. The deposit contained two parts of copper talents, a mass of slag and jewellery: a gold ring, a gold bracelet, 26 gold beads (disc shaped, round and shaped like a papyrus), one bead of silver, 5 of bronze and the band of a bronze ring. There was also a large number of different shaped glass beads (39 round and 25 papyrus-shaped), 4 of so called Egyptian blue, 20 of corneal stone, 1 of amethyst, 10 of lapis, one agate seal depicting a ship whose prow has the shape of an animal’s head and a stone amulet shaped like a monkey.

While continuing the excavation in 2019, another treasure of talents was discovered in the corner of a room in the same building, along with a large saw and three vessels, one made of copper. Their overall weight is 68 kilos and together with the parts of the other treasure they are in all over two talents. It is the largest treasure of metals found to date on Crete. Moreover, stored inside a vessel were pieces of a tin talent. The latter is considered a rare find being the second from the Late Minoan period found on Crete. The first was discovered in a settlement on the islet of Mochlos.

The above data leads to the hypothesis that the inhabitants of building B2 in the Late Minoan period (ca 1500 BC) belonged to a higher social class and played a different part in the society of Chrysi; probably one of administration. They managed production, the promotion of products, the trading of porfyra dye and the import or distribution of metals.

Many more images here.
The months of late fall and early winter are relatively light on the festival agenda--Maimakterion, the month we are in now, wasn't even on the sacrificial calendar of Erkhia, for example. This could have at least three reasons: It's getting cold and wet out and the ancient Hellenes held their rituals outdoors, most of the harvesting was done so food was assured or there was nothing that could be done to decrease the shortage, and with the fall of winter, warfare came to a halt; the seas were too rough to go on campaigns and it would soon be too cold to exist comfortably in a war camp. Seeing as these two latter two reasons were the major ones to have festivals, these months are quiet ones. Elaion will host a PAT ritual for the Pompaia November 7, at the usual 10 AM EST.


Let's start with something obvious we do not know about the Pompaia: the actual date of the festival. Parke (in 'Festivals of the Athenians', page 96) states that the Pompaia in honor of Zeus Meilichios was held during the last third of Maimakterion which would be on or after 20 Maimakterion. Parke cites the treatise on the Pompaia by Polemon of Ilion so we're fairly confident he is correct on the date.

What we do know is that the Pompaia was not originally celebrated by the people of Athens, but solely by its priests. Potentially, it was only celebrated by the priests of Zeus. It was linked to purification. It was one of the festivals that, by Classical times, had already lost much of its original meaning, but which was repeated year after year because it had always been repeated year after year--and in general these had been good years. Not having the rite on the calendar could have devastating effects, so it was performed.

The Pompaia followed the Maimakteria during which a sheep was most likely sacrificed and the fleece collected and cleaned. During the Pompaia a second procession took place with the fleece. The fleece--the 'Diòs Koidion', as it was called--was said to have purifying and other magical qualities that would rub off on he who interacted with it, if he stood on it with his left foot. In fact, a sheep skin was used in the Eleusinian Mysteries in this fashion to absolve those who had a lot of guilt to carry around--or a lot of grief. The Homeric Hymn to Demeter mentions her sitting down in a chair covered by a fleece, and there is also artwork of initiates shrouded in a fleece.

The sheep skin was most likely not connected to Zeus at the start of the practice; as we have seen, it had much stronger ties to other deities. The Pompaia rite simply called for a sheep skin. The connection with Zeus most likely happened through assimilation: the rite fell in a month where people prepared for winter and where the weather got harsher. As such, Zeus had a major impact on the inhabitants of Athens; he controls the weather after all. The sheep from which the skin was used became sacrificed to Him as an appeasement, and then the ritually charged skin made its way through the city.

In the same fashion, the kērukeion (κηρύκειον)--better known as the caduceus--the snake-entwined staff that was the symbol of Hermes, was carried through the city. Most likely Hermes was not part of the actual rite; the kērukeion, like the Diòs Koidion, was a powerful symbol which was used to offer protection and purification to the city now winter was upon them. After all, the kērukeion was said to ward off all evil--and the cold, dark, days of winter most certainly had those. Hermes was added through the procession solely by association, but it is doubtful that He also received an animal sacrifice.

The Pompaia--meaning 'to exorcise'--was not popular, and in general these minor festivals were performed by the priests, for the city, without its inhabitants taking part. A small group of priests most likely walked the city with the objects and those who came upon the group would have said their prayers, spoke their wishes, and paid their respects. Yet, they were not included in the ceremony. This rite fell to the priests, so they could ask the Gods to continue placing their blanket of protection over the city.

As we have no ancient priests of Zeus hanging around, we take this responsibility upon ourselves instead. Will you join us on November 7, at 10 AM EST? You can join the community here and download the ritual here.
Five different shipwrecks which have already revealed important findings were discovered recently off the coast of Kasos Island in Greece’s Aegean Sea. During the exploration, which was funded by the Kasos Association of New York and was supported by the municipality of the island, divers discovered a series of archaeologically important wrecks dating all the way back to classical antiquity.


More than one-third of the total area designated to be explored was covered by a total of sixty-seven team dives during the 2019 exploratory season. The initiative will continue in 2020 and 2021 to discover, study and identify findings in what is believed to have served as an important trading route and maritime crossroads area between civilizations for many centuries.

This year’s discoveries include wrecks stretching from modern times all the way back to ancient Greece.

The area of Kasos served as a maritime crossroads for centuries between the great civilizations of the eastern Mediterranean The most recent shipwreck was a boat that sank in the modern era which was carrying construction material. Another shipwreck dated back to the era of the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s. Divers also found fascinating shipwrecks from the Byzantine era, from the 8-10th century AD, and even an ancient Greek ship which is believed to have sunk in the 1st century BC.

The very oldest shipwreck to be founding the recent dives off the coast of Kasos dates back to the 4th century BC. This wreck contained four different types of ancient pottery, making its discovery particularly important archaeologically.

Among the other items uncovered during this diving season were individual amphorae and other ceramics as well as an array of other objects used during the specific eras of each of the wrecks.
Philicus, or Philikos, of Corcyra was a poet and tragedian, as well as a priest of Dionysos at Alexandria in the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 BC). Sadly, nothing survives of the 24 tragedies attributed to him. Philicus, however, did write a Hymn to Demeter in choriambic hexameters which has been partially preserved on a stone slab. Unlike Horeric and Orphic hymns, this was not a cult song. It was an exercise in poetry.

The hymn is focussed on the cult of Demeter, which was very popular at the time. It narrates some part of Demeter’s search for Persephone, and told how the earth was rendered unfruitful. It also tells the story of how bashful Iambe made the Goddess laugh and lifted her grief off of her.

As part of the Stenia ritual I reconstructed a part of the hymn into a readable whole but I would share what remains of the rest of the hymn as well. It seems that the first part of the hymn was a speech by a fellow Goddess. Whom this is, is unclear. It could be Peitho (Persuasion), who consoles Demeter, forecasts the institution of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and offers her assistance in recovering Persephone from the underworld. But more likely it's the oracular Titan Dione. She is sister of Rhea, Zeus’ mother. Her inclusion would fit the mythology and various lines. There is, however, no evidence for a close connexion of Dione with Demeter, and therefore no reason why she should intercede in this poem on Demeter’s behalf.

I am very intrigued by poetry fragments or obscure pieces like this and greatly enjoy reading them. I hope you enjoy it as well.


Philicus' hymn to Demeter

this of the daughter
mother child not
chariot of writhing [snakes
and where (she?) has gone away to
clo?hes predator
torches wood
like a tunic her wrap
.....
to him the girl
fortune nor marriage
to speak
heaven
wandering to a run
words such as these
feet; did you not see
... ...
to me ...
gaping
was thrown without order
and the hot beam was burning upon
and the goddess, beginning to speak first,
I judged in an omen of victory
listen to prayers that are from a sister from the same mother
]in the same womb I nurtured Cypris
I was desirable when I gave my milk to you, and I, of the same stock as your mother
us(?) mighty ladies a common father begat
and she gave birth to mighty-boasting violence
a destined possession; and for me to persuade
to have share in this, and not from me alone my
not failing to hearken to these words, and the goddesses will reward(?) you
for we, I alone, with the Graces, have been announced as to give honour
have been apportioned, but you should accept other honours from us
and greater ones in return for what is a small one--these I shall tell you in detail.
for to none will a friend accord more than to you, and I shall love more and more
in the season(?) to Eleusis with the mystic coursings of the Iacchoi
large [] welcoming the faster by the waves in large numbers
they will swell out for you, nurturing one, perfumed branches
a single fountain water marked out for each
by this two-throned precinct with your tears you will send up a spring
will be called the royal fountain
than these words we shall accord in honour more powerful deeds
do not prematurely take them as untrustworthy before testing
the branches of supplication they bear now
these again will pour forth
to be performed as a ritual at your festival
zealous ... overcome
taking up the sceptre bring Persephone up to where there are stars
with me leading you shall not go wrong at all.
but pick up the torches, relax your heavy brow."
She ceased, and the nymphs and Graces joined in just Persuasion,
and whole swarms of women in a circle about her caressed the ground with their foreheads
and gathered the only living growth from the cropless earth to cast as foliage upon the goddess
But Halimous dispatched the old woman, who had lost her way in the mountain haunts, but arrived at a good time
as a result of some chance: for solemn occasions can an amusing tale be unprofitable?
For she stood and uttered at once in a bold, loud voice: “Do not throw goat-fodder:
it is not this that is a remedy for a starving god, but ambrosia is the support for such a delicate stomach.
But you, divine one, should give ear to Attic Iambe's little benefit;
I am one who has poured out unschooled words, as well as might a chattering living in a distant deme: these goddesses
her [  ] for you cups and garlands and water drawn in a fresh stream;
and from the women, look!, there is grass as a gift, a timorous deer's diet.
None of these things do I have for my gift: but if you loosen up your grieving, then I shall release…”

So, some of you might have noticed, but the Elaion website had died. Sigh. It happened twice, actually. Both times, it was hacked through malware. Very annoying. I've spent quite a bit of time trying to weed the coding out of the old site, but eventually I decided that enough was enough and made a new site with mostly the same information--all updated, of course. It's still a work in progress, but it's back up and kicking at least.

You can visit it here.



Archaeologists in Greece have located a "major treasure" of Minoan origin in a Bronze Age settlement on a small island in the Libyan Sea, the culture ministry said Friday.


A team excavating on the tiny island of Chrysi south of Crete for over a decade have unearthed a 3,800-year-old Bronze Age compound containing gold jewels, glass beads and the remains of bronze talents, the common unit of value of ancient Greece.

Some of the beads are of Egyptian origin, the culture ministry said in a statement.

The archaeologists also found ancient fish tanks and large amounts of porphyry -- a prized purple pigment of the ancient world derived from sea snails, and later the colour exclusively reserved for Roman emperors.

"The amount of broken shells found...show a very early Mediterranean production of porphyry dye. The cache constitutes one of the most important (Minoan treasures) ever found in Crete until now."

The Minoan civilisation, a naval superpower of the Bronze Age era, flourished on Crete and other Aegean islands until about 1500 BCE.