Idols, clay lamps and amphorae, drinking cups, perfume vases, jewelry and other utilitarian and decorative objects make up the 300,000 or so finds unearthed during excavation work for the Thessaloniki metro. Most striking among them, however, are the pieces related to Aphrodite, testifying to the northern port city’s enduring bond with the Goddess.

The most interesting of these are a marble sculpture and a mosaic depicting the goddess that were found during digging for the Aghia Sofia station. Dating to different periods, they are indicative of the fact that the goddess was worshipped in the what is now downtown Thessaloniki as recently as early Christian times.

Aphrodite is represented by a plethora of statues and idols in a variety of different ways, and this was particularly the case in Roman times, explained Polyxeni Adam-Veleni, an archaeologist and head of the Culture Ministry’s General Directorate of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage. Adam-Veleni said at a recent conference on the finds discovered during metro excavations in Athens, Thessaloniki and Piraeus:

"A large number of statues depicting Aphrodite have been found in the city center, while several more came to light in the area around the Church of the Acheiropoietos. They are mostly related to the worship of Thermaia Aphrodite, who was associated with the element of water." 

The 20-centimetre statue that was found among the remains of a 3rd century structure at the Aghia Sofia station is a variation of Aphrodite emerging from the sea that was so prevalent in Hellenistic years, the archaeologist said.

The mosaic is thought to date to the 4th century AD and was discovered in the ruins of what was obviously a large bath house. It depicts Aphrodite in a relaxed manner, reclining on a couch whose arm is decorated with an image of Medusa. Eros is seen behind her, depicted as a boy with short, curly dark hair.

The existence of such depictions in the 4th century AD indicates that “Thessaloniki served as a powerful bastion of the old religions until late antiquity,” said Adam-Veleni.

She added that the construction of a large Christian church like that of Acheiropoietos on top of a site where the ancient gods were worshipped – and one dedicated to the Virgin Mary at that – points to efforts to “purify” the location.

A selection of finds from the metro excavations are on display at the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum.
An oldie but a goodie today! "Dr. Richard Carrier is an expert in ancient science. Since earning his PhD at Columbia University, he has written numerous books on modern philosophy and ancient history. In this lively, illustrated talk, Dr. Carrier will compare modern science (from the Scientific Revolution to today) with science in the ancient Greco-Roman world, where science as we know it began. We will understand what the Greeks and Romans achieved — and how close they got to their own scientific revolution."

How cool is this? Three years of hard work by professor Gul Rahim of University of Peshawar and his team has resulted in the discovery of a 2,200 year old Hellenic blacksmith’s workshop, which has been considered as the oldest of all workshops of the Hellenic civilization discovered in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Pakistan) so far. The artefacts discovered include utensils, tools, and industrial items. The remains were traced back to the Sateen tribe, which dates back to the 2nd century BC.

"We had found ancient Greek coins at first. Then we decided to dig deeper at the site. After finding artefacts, we were of the view that we were on to an archaeological discovery. We had discovered coins, knives, smelting instruments of various metals, furnace, while we have also found relics of the Sikh, Mughal and Buddest eras items at the site, but we confirmed that it would be traced back to the Greek civilization."

Prof Gul Rahim stated that archaeologists working on the project proud to have discovered various relics of various eras. He said that archaeologists in the province gave prominence to the country by their work on unearthing the Gandahara and other civilisations.

Prof Gul Rahim lauded the services of the founding member of the department of archaeology Ahmed Hassan Dani, Farzand Ali Durrani and Fidaullah Serai who were considered the stars of the department.

"We look forward to discovering the remaining site and hope that international donor will collaborate with us in archaeological excavation."
I'm low on time today, but I stumbled upon a beautiful translation of a piece of a piece of the Greek Anthology yesterday that I would like to share. The Greek Anthology (Anthologia Graeca) is a collection of poems, mostly epigrams, that span the classical and Byzantine periods of Greek literature. Most of the material of the Greek Anthology comes from two manuscripts, the Palatine Anthology of the 10th century and the Anthology of Planudes (or Planudean Anthology) of the 14th century. Needless to say, they are not ancient Hellenic, but use themes from its mythology and I enjoy sampling them.

Now, the Greek Anthology has been translated many times and I am not a fan of most. Take this translation, for example, of the part I'd like to share today:

"Even like unto a storm in springtime, Diodorus, 
is my love, determined by the moods of an uncertain sea. 
At one time you display heavy rain-clouds, 
at another again the sky is clear 
and your eyes melt in a soft smile. 

And I, like a shipwrecked man in the surge, 
count the blind waves as I am whirled 
hither and thither at the mercy of the mighty storm. 

But show me a landmark either of love or of hate, 
that I may know in which sea I swim."

Perfectly fine, but it doesn't flow for me. Here is today's offering, and I love it! From Sententiae Antiquae:

"Just like a spring storm, Diodoros,
My love is decided by an uncertain sea.
Sometimes you show pouring rain, but at others
You are clear, and you pour a soft smile from your eyes.

So I, like the shipwrecked on the swell,
Measure out the blind waves as I spin,
Drawn here and there by the great storm.

But you, shine me a beacon of love or even hate
So I can know by which wave we should swim."

A statue of Alexander the Great which was installed in Athens on Wednesday. The statue, sculpted by Yiannis Pappas, was acquired by the Ministry of Culture in 1993 and donated to the Municipality of Athens. However, it had been withdrawn from the public space in the Greek capital. The statue, which shows the Macedonian King on horseback, was installed opposite the statue of Lord Byron, on the special base that had already been placed at the site. Deputy mayor of Athens, Giorgos Apostolopoulos attended the installation ceremony.

Alexander III of Macedon (356 BC – 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great was a king of the ancient Hellenic kingdom of Macedon and a member of the Argead dynasty. He spent most of his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa, and by the age of thirty he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to northwestern India. Alexander's settlement of Hellenic colonists and the resulting spread of Hellenic culture in the east resulted in a new Hellenistic civilization, aspects of which were still evident in the traditions of the Byzantine Empire in the mid-15th century AD and the presence of Greek speakers in central and far eastern Anatolia until the 1920s. Alexander became legendary as a classical hero in the mold of Achilles, and he features prominently in the history and mythic traditions of both Greek and non-Greek cultures. He became the measure against which military leaders compared themselves, and military academies throughout the world still teach his tactics. He is often ranked among the most influential people in history.

For more images, go here.
On the 21th of Mounukhion, the sacrificial calendar of Erkhia dictates a sacrifice to the Tritopatores (Τριτοπατορες). We'll host a PAT ritual for the event on April 27th, at 10 a.m. EDT.

Suidas describes the Tritopatores as follows:

"Tritopatores : Demon in the Atthis says that the Tritopatores are winds (anemoi), Philochoros [Greek poet C4th B.C.] that the Tritopatores were born first of all. For the men of that time, he says, understood as their parents the earth (gê) and the sun (hêlios), whom then they called Apollon. Phanodemos [C4th B.C.] in [book] 6 maintains that only [the] Athenians both sacrifice to them and pray to them, when they are about to marry, for the conception of children. In the Physikos of Orpheus the Tritopatores are named Amalkeides and Protokles and Protokleon, being doorkeepers and guardians of the winds (anemoi). But the author of Explanation claims that they are [the offspring] of Ouranos (Heaven) and (Earth), and that their names are Kottos, Briareos and Gyges."

Which version(s) of the Tritopateres were worshipped at Erkhia is unclear. The latter in Suidas are often seen as the Hekatonkheires: Kottos (Κοττος, 'Grudge', 'Rancour'), Gyês (Γυης, 'Of the Land'), Briareôs (Βριαρεως, 'Strong', 'Stout'), Obriareôs (Οβριαρεως, 'Strong', 'Stout'), and Aigaiôn (Αιγαιων, 'Goatish', or 'Stormy'). As the Anemoi, the Tritopateres are: Amalkeidês (Αμαλκειδης, 'Bound to That Place'), Prôtoklês (Πρωτοκλης, 'First Locked Away), and Prôtokleôn (Πρωτοκλεων, 'First Confined').
Which version(s) of the Tritopateres were worshipped at Erkhia is unclear, but we find favour with the theory that they are connected to the wind-Gods. According to the Greater Demarkhia, the sacrifice to the Tritopatores was a ram, along with a 'libation not of wine'. In modern times, a libation of milk, honey, and/or water will most certainly do.

The ritual for the Tritopatores may seem rather strange (at least different) but it is based on elaborate and specific instructions from the inscription from the Selinus tablet and we think it is in the spirit of ancient sacrifice. The arrangement and sequence is crucial. Robert will conduct the sacrifice for the foul Tritopatores as that had to be done by a specific priestly group and as the senior member of Elaion, and with the facilities to conduct this sacred rite, he should be the one to do this. We have marked in the ritual which parts of the rite you should perform and which you should not.

You can find the ritual for the PAT ritual for the sacrifice to Tritopatores here and join the community page here. We hope you will join us!
On the island of Thasos, which lies close to the north shore of the Aegean Sea, archaeologists recovered dozens of burials dating to the Hellenistic period, or 4th to 1st centuries BC. One particular older male caught their attention because he was likely executed with a precise wound to his breastbone.

A. Agelarakis / Adelphi University

Since at least the 7th century BC, the island of Thasos was an important part of the Hellenistic world, as recorded by ancient authors Herodotus and Thucydides and as revealed through numerous excavations over the past several decades by archaeologists affiliated with the Hellenic Antiquities Authority. Residents of ancient Thasos built settlements and strongholds on the island and the nearby mainland, and through their control of regional sea routes, they became rich and powerful.
Excavation at an ancient cemetery on Thasos revealed clusters of Hellenistic and Roman period family graves that contained the skeletons of males and females of all ages. One specific skeleton, however, intrigued archaeologist Anagnostis Agelarakis of Adelphi University so much that he studied it in painstaking detail; his results are forthcoming in Access Archaeology.

Agelarakis discovered that the skeleton was male and that, based on the degenerative wear on his joints and teeth, he was likely more than 50 years old when he died. Further, his robust skeleton suggested that he had been involved in physically demanding tasks and activities. None of this was surprising to Agelarakis, as ancient Hellenic men were known to have engaged in much physical labor over their lifetimes. Once the bones were cleaned in the laboratories of the Archaeological Museum of Thasos Island, however, Agelarakis noticed something odd: a hole in the lower part of the man's sternum or breastbone.

The human body can have numerous variants, often extraneous holes or bones whose presence (or absence) is passed down in families. These variations are selectively neutral, so they don't get eliminated from the human species, but they are useful for bioarchaeologists interested in tracking genetic relationships without doing destructive analysis like DNA work. One of these common variants is a hole in the lower part of the breastbone, called the sternal foramen, which occurs in roughly 5% of the population.

"It became immediately apparent," Agelarakis notes, "that this case did not pertain to a developmental anomaly of sternal foramen, but to a multilevel mechanically caused orifice, one that had been sustained by a through-and-through gladiolar [lower breastbone] injury." A seven-sided entry wound could be seen, clearly suggesting a type of penetrating trauma, and there was no evidence of healing. The man had been stabbed.

To shed some light on the mechanics of the injury, I asked Patrick Randolph-Quinney, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Central Lancashire, to weigh in. "In my considered opinion, Agelarakis has a case," he says. "Penetrating peri-mortem trauma is consistent with some of the skeletal defects displayed." While he is not fully convinced of the seven-sided entry wound, Randolph-Quinney notes that the exit wound, or the back side of the sternum, is of particular interest.

This exit wound has sharp bone edges, which rules out both post-mortem damage and a sternal foramen. Flat bones like the sternum react differently to trauma compared to bones like the skull and long bones of the arms and legs. "In cases of arrow or crossbow wounds," Randolph-Quinney says, "it's my experience that they 'punch' their way through flat bone, leaving sharp margins on both entrance and exit surfaces, similar to the photos in Agelarakis' article. I think he's right about the injury -- but maybe for the wrong reasons."

Not content to simply diagnose this ancient Thasian man with a stab wound, Agelarakis set out to figure out what kind of weapon made the odd, seven-sided mark on the bone. To do this, he and his colleagues extrapolated the shape of the weapon from the injury, created a 3D model reconstruction in wax, and then generated mold from that in order to cast the weapon in bronze. Once this process was completed, Agelarakis was able to suggest that the weapon was a styrax, or the spike at the lower end of a spear-shaft. He and his colleagues then used their reconstructed weapon on a ballistic model of a human in order to approximate force and direction of the fatal blow.

Given the identification of the weapon, Agelarakis hypothesizes that this was a close-encounter sharp force injury, in which the man was immobilized, perhaps with his hands tied behind his back, "in order to receive a contact thrusting of an accurately anatomically calculated, precisely positioned, and well-delivered striking into the inferior mediastinum region of the thorax." Essentially, the deadly aim of the person wielding the spear caused a fatal wound to the Thasian man's chest, which put him into cardiac arrest as he bled out. Agelarakis suggests that this was almost certainly "a prepared execution event."

This older Thacian man was buried in an individual grave among clusters of family graves, without any indication that he was treated differently than others in death. Because of his simple burial, Agelarakis thinks that he was not condemned to capital punishment because he was a traitor or conspirator. Rather, "it may be postulated that his untimely and violent death could have been the result of a political-military turmoil or reprisals, possibly during forceful regime changes" that occurred during the Hellenistic era. Although this man was stabbed to death, he was likely of high standing and, as Agelarakis concludes, "would have been recognized as a worthy opponent."
The Attikos deme Erkhia was located near the modern Spata, approximately twenty kilometers (twelve miles) east of Athens, with the deme center located at Magoula. The deme of Erkhia is unique as we have recovered an elaborate sacrificial calendar--the Greater Demarkhia--listing sacrifices, costs and rules for the festivals held under the supervision of the demarch. The calendar prescribes 59 annual sacrifices to 46 separate divinities, including heroes, nymphs and Gods, and some of them seem unique to the deme.

The Gods most frequently honored at Erkhia were Zeus, Apollon, Kourotrophos ('She who raises the young') and Athena. A few times a year, the men traveled to Athens to sacrifice to Zeus an Athena 'of the city', to Apollon Lykeios, and to Demeter of Eleusis. For worship at the deme, Erkhia had its own Akropolis, where the same Theoi were worshipped as on the Akropolis at Athens, as well as more obscure Gods, like Zeus Epopetes, the Heroines, the Herakleidai, the nymphs, and the Tritopateres, as well as local heroes like Leukaspis ('he of the white shield') and Epops.

Two of these sacrifices are upcoming: the one to the Leukaspis on the 20th of Mounikhion and the sacrifice to the Tritopatores on the 21th of Mounikhion. This is an announcement for the PAT ritual for the sacrifice to Leukaspis.

Leukaspis is the name of a good few heroes in Hellenic mythology. The most famous is the one depicted here on a drachma from Syracuse--designed around 405-400 BC by Eukleidas. Leukaspis, 'He of the White Shield' was a famed warrior and hero and tied to the myth of Herakles:

“While Heracles was making the circuit of Sicily at this time he came to the city which is now Syracuse, and on learning what the myth relates about the Abduction of Kore, he offered sacrifices to the Goddesses on a magnificent scale, and after dedicating to Her the fairest bull of his herd and casting it in the spring Cyanê, he commanded the natives to sacrifice each year to Kore and to conduct at Cyanê a festive gathering and a sacrifice in splendid fashion. He then passed with his cattle through the interior of the island, and when the native Sicani opposed him in great force, he overcame them in a notable battle and slew many of their number, among whom, certain writers of myths relate, were also some distinguished generals who receive the honours accorded to Heroes even to this day, such as Leucaspis, Pediacrates, Buphonas, Glychatas, Bytaeas, and Crytidas.” (Diod. Sic. IV 23)

As he was a Sican of Sicily, and apparently non-Hellenic, it's quite unlikely he was the one worshipped at the deme of Erkhia. It was most likely another Leukaspis that was a local hero. What, exactly, the source of this Leukaspis' renown was has been lost to us.

Alternatively, Noel Robertson in 'Religion and Reconciliation in Greek Cities', page 173, notes:
“When we meet Leupaspis at Erchia, we should not imagine that a Sican hero was brought to Attica.  Instead, the same name has been given to similar powers in the two places.”

Leukaspis appears not to be so much a war hero in Erkhia but a, what Robertson describes as a 'functional hero'. In Hellenic warfare a hoplite presses on the enemy with his shield, so that a buffering wind may well be likened to a shield-bearing warrior. As such, Leukaspis might have been a power associated with winds and tied to the begetting of a good harvest. So we wrote the ritual in that sense and used the two Orphic Hymns that best fit, To Zephyros and To Notos.

According to the Greater Demarkhia, the sacrifice to Leukaspis was a ram, along with a 'libation not of wine'. In modern times, a libation of milk, honey, and/or water will most certainly do.

You can find the ritual for the PAT ritual to Leukaspis here and join the community page here. The sacrifice to Leukaspis will take place on April 26th at 10 am EDT.
On April 25th, Elaion will host a PAT ritual for the Olympieia, in honor of Olympian Zeus. Will you join us at the usual 10 a.m. EDT?


Most worship of Olympian Zeus took place around or during the Olympic games in Olympia. In 550 BC, however, the tyrant Peisistratos (Πεισίστρατος) decided to build a temple to Olympian Zeus in Athens. The temple, which became known as the Naos tou Olympiou Dios (Ναὸς τοῦ Ὀλυμπίου Διός), was demolished by his sons, Hippias (Ἱππίας) and Hipparchos (Ἵππαρχος), after Peisistratos' death, but replaced by the foundations of a grander structure. Hippias was expelled in 510 BC, and the project abandoned for three hundred years. The project--which was epic in scale--was seen as hubristic and bad form. Aristotle wrote about it in his Politics:

"Another art of the tyrant is to sow quarrels among the citizens; friends should be embroiled with friends, the people with the notables, and the rich with one another. Also he should impoverish his subjects; he thus provides against the maintenance of a guard by the citizen and the people, having to keep hard at work, are prevented from conspiring. The Pyramids of Egypt afford an example of this policy; also the offerings of the family of Cypselus, and the building of the temple of Olympian Zeus by the Peisistratidae, and the great Polycratean monuments at Samos; all these works were alike intended to occupy the people and keep them poor." (Part XI)

The temple project was revived from 174 BC to 164 BC, when King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who presented himself as the earthly embodiment of Zeus, changed the design and put builders to work. The project halted again after his death. What followed was a period of disarray with looting, some minor attempts at restoration, and lots of neglect, until the project was finally completed in the second century AD, by Roman emperor Hadrian.

In 267, the temple was badly damaged during the Herulian sack of the city, and very few--if any--attempt was made to restore it. By 425, the worship of the Hellenic and Roman Gods was banned by Christian emperor Theodosius II, and the temple was slowly dismantled for building materials.

Even in its half finished state, Peisistratus and those who came after him, held a festival at the structure: the Olympieia, celebrated on the 19th of Mounikhion. For how long the festival was celebrated is unclear, but it died out somewhere during the reign of Hellas--most likely after the death of the Peisistratidae--before being brought back in the second century BC, as the temple was completed. The festival was a military one and featured a procession and contests by the Athenian cavalry. Also attested are large scale sacrifices of bulls to Olympian Zeus.

You will find the ritual for the event here and you can join the community page here.
I recently wrote how I visited the Acropolis in Athens when I was tiny. Someone messaged me asking how tiny and why I was there. I was there on vacation and I was TINY! I visited the country in 1995 and 1998, when I was ten and thirteen, respectively. Here are some family snap shots of that trip for your enjoyment!

Mini-me in front of the Parthenon (Athens, 1995)

Beautiful Athens, with its temples and statue of Athena (1995)

Mini-me with a member of the presidential guard (who is not allowed to move and of whom everyone who has ever visited Athens has a picture like this) (1995)

A wonderful and kind Orthodox priest who watched over a tiny temple way on top of a hill on the island of Crete. I remember this place--and him--vividly. I was very impressed by the way we were made to wear the robes you see hanging on hooks by the door before we were allowed to enter, and the sober sanctuary itself. We stayed for hours, although we were originally headed somewhere else. He had a donkey that I fed and he also tended to a field of olive trees. It was so hot that even the priest wished he could wear shorts. (Crete, 1995)

I don't remember, exactly, where this was, but it must have been somewhere around Thessaloniki. I remember this village having a square with a very old, very big, tree that you could stand in, because it was somewhat hollowed out. (1998)

A tiny fishing village around Thessaloniki. Watching a chef kill and clean a freshly caught squid in the warm afternoon sun. (1998)

A beach on that same vacation, driving my mother nuts by jumping the rocks. (1998)

I want to go back so badly. I was too small to really appreciate what I saw and experienced. I have incredibly fond memories of it all, and I saw so very much--most of which I still remember--but I would have such a different perspective these days. I would go for such different reasons and with so much more knowledge. It's impossible not to long for another chance to connect with the Theoi. So, one day, I will go back and visit the country properly, as a Hellenist, visiting the country of my Gods. May Zeus grant clear skies as I fly. 
A team of divers from Sidon has discovered the remains of what appears to be 11 ancient Hellenic ships thought to date from the third century B.C., a statement released by the group Tuesday said.
The team was led by Mohammad al-Sarji, head of the Lebanese Union of Professional Divers and director of the Sidon Diving Academy.

The ships were "probably involved in the campaign of Alexander the Great, who tried to enter and occupy the city of Tyre in 322 B.C. by building a road extending from the beach to the city walls of the island," Sarji said, according to the Sidon Diving Academy statement.

Professor of archaeology at the Lebanese University Jaafar Fadlallah, who has been conducting research on the site, told The Daily Star how remains from the over 2,000-year-old boats could tell academics more about the circumstances of their destruction.

"The spread of broken pottery on the seafloor suggests that the goods were aboard a group of Greek ships on their way to the city of Tyre ... when a storm destroyed the boats and scattered their contents across the ocean floor. We know that the Greek ships traveled in groups of 11, and the quantity of pottery suggests this was a full group of ships."

The main center of Tyre had been a heavily fortified island, forcing Alexander the Great to build a causeway allowing him to breach the fortifications after laying siege to the city for seven months.
Sarji expressed belief that the ships would have transported the stones required to create the road. The ships may have sunk due to the weight of the load combined with high waves and strong winds, he said.

"It is known that Alexander the Great besieged the island for several months, trying to storm it in many ways but without merit. In the end, he built a road from the mainland to the island which arrived on the [city’s] southeast side. He broke down the walls, entered and destroyed the city completely and took its inhabitants captive."

Fadlallah said exploration work had been underway on the site for three months but the excavation and documentation of items would take much longer.

"On land you can work whenever you want. But underwater, you can only work for periods of two hours at a time, so this work will take a long time."

Sarji called on the Directorate General of Antiquities to begin work excavating the site and documenting the finds.
I don't frequent Patheos, so I'm always grateful when someone points me to an article on there that is a must-read. Angelo Nasios recently wrote about "The heart of Hellenism," and it's a beautiful piece that reflects everything Elaion is about. I'll post the introduction here. Go read the rest over at Patheos, please.

"Are you waiting for an invitation to worship a God? If so, please stop – go worship! I say this because I have noticed that many pagans have a tendency to wait for the “call” to worship or, as many say, to “work with a God.” Some avoid certain Gods out of a notion that there is no connection between them and a particular God. I read one time how someone said they could not pray to Athena since they were ‘dedicated’ to another God. All of this is deeply problematic and within Hellenism could be understood as un-Hellenic behavior."
Hera, Athena, and Iris in the Trojan War, attributed to Jacques Reattu. Image via Wikimedia.

The Mounikhia (Μουνιχιας), the festival after which the month was named, is celebrated on the sixteenth of Mounichion. On this day of the full moon, Artemis Mounikhia (Αρτεμις Μουνυχια) was honored at the hill of Munikhia, for granting the Hellenes victory in the Battle of Salamis (Ναυμαχία τῆς Σαλαμῖνος).

During the festival, young girls walked in procession to the temple on top of the hill carrying green boughs, while the rest of the celebrants followed, carrying special cakes called 'amphiphontes' ('shining all round’). These round white cakes were adorned with dadia (little torches)--lit candle--and were supposed to represent the full moon. A she-goat is also attested as a sacrifice.

During this festival, an amphiphon was sacrificed to Artemis. It was a cheese pie on which candles were lit. Most likely, the amphiphon was a type of popanon; this is a large, round, flat cake with one or more, upright, protruding, knobs made from flour and cheese. The flat version of the cake, the popanon kathemenon was offered to Artemis, amongst others, as well as one with twelve knobs. We've seen this before for the Delphinia.

If you want to learn more about the festival and its history, please read this blog post.

To honour Artemis on this day, Elaion is organizing a PAT ritual. Will you be celebrating the Mounikhia with us? There will be two times: just after your dusk on April 20th, or at our regular 10 a.m. EDT on April 21st. As always, we hope you will join us at your oikos to honour Artemis, our eternal protector. You can join the community page here and find the ritual here.

Parthenon Sculptured news. Yay, my favorite! Drawing on data gleaned from 19th century Ottoman archives, Acropolis Museum director Dimitrios Pandermalis has challenged claims by the British Museum that Lord Elgin had obtained permission from the sultan when Greece was under Turkish rule to transfer the Parthenon Marbles from Athens to London.

In an address Monday to an international workshop titled "Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures" co-organized by the Greek Presidency, the Culture Ministry, the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures and the Acropolis Museum, Pandermalis said that an examination of the Ottoman archives between 1800 and 1830 by two Turkish experts revealed that Elgin was only granted permission to dig around the Acropolis.
"There was no firman – meaning a sultan’s decree – for the removal and transfer of the sculptures by Lord Elgin. The document that has been saved and called a firman, and which was cited by Lord Elgin, briefly an ambassador for his country to the High Porte, is, in reality, not an order by Sultan Selim III."

It was rather, he said, “an administrative letter” sent to Ottoman authorities in Athens which granted permission to dig into the earth mounds that were created around the Acropolis after it was bombed by cannon fire in 1687 by Venetian general Francesco Morosini. There was no permit for excavation or for a removal of the Parthenon Marbles].

The British Museum has long claimed that it acquired the Parthenon Marbles legally and that Lord Elgin had received permission from the Ottoman authorities which ruled Greece at the time to take them to Britain.

Meanwhile, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who also addressed the workshop in the auditorium of the Acropolis Museum, likened the British Museum to a "murky prison" that has detained the Parthenon Marbles "as spoils of the theft" orchestrated by Lord Elgin. He said that since opening 10 years ago, the Acropolis Museum has undone the argument put forth by the British Museum that Greece did have not a proper place to display the marbles.

"Let the British Museum come here and make the comparison between this (Acropolis) museum of light and the murky, if I may say, prison of the British Museum where the Parthenon Marbles are held as trophies."

There was no immediate response from the British Museum.
You can't have missed that the Notre Dame in Paris burned yesterday. It raged. Its outer walls still stand, but it's hollow and so much has been lost. I've cried bitter tears. So, today, I want to remind everyone affected, everyone in Paris, of the Parthenon in Athens.

The Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Athens is perhaps the most famous of ancient Hellenic monuments. It was the focal point of Athena's worship and is a major tourist attraction to this day. Because of its cultural significance--back then as well as now--it's part of the official seven wonders of the ancient world.

The building that has survived to this day was not the first temple to Athena to grace the mountain. There was an older temple, but it was leveled by the Persians in 480 BC. After that, steps were undertaken to bring about an even more impressive temple for the patron Goddess of Athens. Despite a huge statue and a small altar, the Parthenon never housed the cult of Athena's worship. It was a status symbol for the city, and a show of devotion. Any religious rites concerning Athena--like the Panathenaia--were executed in or around another, smaller, building on the northern side of the Acropolis.

Like so many Hellenic monuments, fire, war, and conquest wreaked havoc on the temple. The treasures that were housed within it were robbed, mostly by the Romans, and the temple fell into disrepair. The stone that remains now is mostly the outer shell of the building, but as someone who has seen it with her own eyes, I can tell you it's breathtaking. I would have loved to see it in all its grander. It may not have been a major religious hub, but it was--and is--one of the best know structures dedicated to a Deity. For that alone, it is rightfully called a wonder.

The Notre Dame is more than a building. It lives--restored or not--in the heart of its people. No fire can take that away. The Notre Dame is as eternal as the Parthenon, and it shall live forever.
This is not so much news about ancient Hellas,  but more about the fact that we can't boast anymore that the oldest shipwreck found was ancient Hellenic. A team of Turkish underwater researchers last week have discovered what they believe is the world’s oldest shipwreck from 1600 B.C (3600 years ago).

According to the Provincial Governor’s Office, the 3,600-year-old Bronze Age shipwreck was found off the shores of the Antalya province in southern Turkey. Members of the Antalya University’s Underwater Research Department discovered the 14-meter-long (or 46 feet) merchant ship with 1.5 tons of copper bullion inside.

The researchers took three-dimensional scans of the bullion on the ship by using sonar surveys, photo-scans, and photographic mosaic. They were able to determine that the bullion were taken from mines in Cyprus, and then molded in the 15th or 16th centuries B.C. before being put on the ship to transport them either to the Aegean region or the island of Crete. The ship didn’t make its destination as it sank from what they believe was a storm.

Last year, the remains of a Greek merchant ship was discovered off of Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. The shipwreck was from over 2,400 years ago and was said to be the world’s oldest known intact shipwreck…until now.
It's been many years since I visited Athens and I miss it. I hope to go back soon and take in the splendor with the eyes of an adult, not a child. I was feeling nostalgic this morning and wondered if anyone had recorded their walk around the area. They did, and I've spent twenty minutes taking it all in. Even with the weather being what it was, I so enjoyed the video. Turn the sound off, though, very windy! I will definitely have to visit Athens again soon.

All right, this has absolutely nothing to do with anything ancient Hellenic, but I laughed so hard at this, I had to share. Residents of the village of Atena Lucana, in the province of Salerno, south of Naples were left scratching their heads as three tourists asked for directions to the Acropolis recently.

The Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported on the hilarious (to them, anyway) adventure of three Colombian tourists who planned to visit the Parthenon and the archaeological sites of the Greek capital. Instead, they found themselves wandering the streets of the sleepy village which has approximately 3,000 residents.

"Initially we thought that these three, who spoke only Spanish, had come to the village because he had organized an evening with Latin music. When they start asking directions to the Hotel “Museum” at Bouboulina Street and the Acropolis, we thought they were in the wrong place. Their mistake was confirmed when they (took out) a map of Athens."

The comedy of errors began as a thirty-year-old Colombian named Michel, his girlfriend and another friend, arrived at Naples Airport. But instead of waiting for their connecting flight to Athens, they went out for a walk in the city. During their exploration of Naples, they spotted a bus which listed, among its various destinations, the city of “Atena.” The paper says that the group had no internet connection on their cell phones to confirm their destination.

When they realized their mistake, “they froze in embarrassment,” a local resident said. “We offered them food and refreshments but they refused. They were so angry with themselves.” Eventually the wayward travelers were taken to the local bus stop to take a bus back to Rome to try to find another flight to Athens. “They had such a look on their faces that we did not even think of asking them for a selfie to remember the hilarious incident,'” said a local resident.
Standing at just under 60 centimeters in height, two 4th century BC marble vessels – a funerary lekythos and a loutrophoros – that the Greek state is in negotiations to repatriate from Switzerland have traveled across four countries, changing hands dozens of times between mediators, merchants, art collectors and even police authorities. They were photographed, sold, confiscated and sold again, leaving a trail – however faint – of shady dealings.

The repatriation drive started in October 2017 when a student of forensic archaeologist Christos Tsirogiannis at Cambridge University – who is known for his work hunting down antiquities smuggling rackets – was attending the Galleries at Frieze Masters exhibition in London and spotted the two Attic vessels at the stall of Swiss art dealer Jean-David Cahn, a specialist in Greek and Roman antiquities.

The student photographed the pieces and sent the images to Tsirogiannis, knowing he would be interested. Tsirogiannis started comparing the photographs with images in an album of antiquities suspected of having been stolen while also studying collection histories in order to ascertain their provenance. The evidence he uncovered pointed to some shady dealings in their past.

Tsirogiannis told Kathimerini recently that he found Polaroid shots of both vessels from the seized archives of notorious Italian antiquities smuggler Gianfranco Becchina. The lekythos depicts the deceased and his family, and bears an inscription with their names, details that had been noted by the smugglers in red marker on the Polaroid to underscore the piece’s authenticity. As soon as he identified the vessels, the Greek investigator informed Interpol of his discovery. The objects were seized from the Swiss art collector, paving the way for the battle for their return to Greece.

The case was assigned to Ilias Bissias, a lawyer based in Athens and Zurich who has successfully represented the Greek state in similar claims. He declined to comment as the case is ongoing, but did note that it is a crucial juncture. The preliminary investigation by the Greek judicial authorities into the two vessels’ provenance is also under way. What is already known, however, is that two people who have fallen foul of Greek justice in the past are involved in the case of the two vessels. Becchina was convicted in Greece in 2017 and 2018 to a respective 11 and seven years in prison for accepting four Early Christian murals that were stolen from a church on the island of Euboea (Evia) and for embezzlement. Cahn, meanwhile, has twice reached a settlement with the Greek state for the return of ancient objects that were illegally smuggled out of the country – in both these repatriations the Greek state was represented by Bissias.

The objects in question are a 1st century AD headless statue of Apollo Lyceus that was stolen along with another nine artifacts from Gortyn on Crete. It is a replica of an original statue that has been attributed to Praxiteles or his school and had been tracked to Switzerland 16 years after being stolen from Greece. Cahn had sold it to a private buyer but had not yet delivered it when he was approached by authorities and negotiated a deal to return it in 2007. Then, in 2008, he returned a 4th century BC marble lekythos that he had put up for auction at an international art fair in Maastricht before it was identified as the object of antiquities smuggling.

In the current case of the two marble vessels, Cahn is acting as the mediator representing the Swiss canton of Basel. That story dates back to 2002 and a police raid on Becchina’s gallery in Basel, where authorities seized and photographed more than 5,800 objects of suspect provenance, most of which were repatriated in the years that followed to Italy. In 2006, the Culture Ministry in Athens received five CDs with photographs of objects that were suspected of having come from Greece from the Becchina archive, which to this day serves as an important means of identifying items that may have been trafficked.

In 2011, the Italian authorities returned 19 objects that had been sent for repatriation there back to the Swiss. These included the two Greek marble vessels, which were handed to Cahn by Swiss authorities so he could sell them in order to settle a part of Becchina’s debts to the state.

What is odd about this particular case is that the two vessels were passed between the Italian and Swiss authorities, without the Greek authorities being informed earlier, even though Becchina was involved.

For his part, Cahn issued a statement on his website saying he had received assurances that the two objects had been acquired legally. He claims the Swiss authorities had been given the green light to sell the vessels by a legal expert at the University of Geneva, though he did not provide a name. Cahn also claimed he checked that the two vessels did not appear on the Art Loss Register database of stolen art and found no mention of them.

Apart from whatever legal questions may arise from the matter, the case also has a diplomatic aspect, as Greece and Switzerland signed an agreement for the repatriation of cultural goods in 2007.