The Ministry of Culture and Sports has presented a comprehensive plan for the protection and enhancement of the archaeological site of Delos that is being applied on multiple levels simultaneously.
[Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports]

[Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports]

Delos, a UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site, has been continuously excavated since the 19th century. The archaeological site which is spread out and surrounded by the untouched Cycladic landscape, faces long term problems that are related to the extreme weather conditions the monuments are subjected to and primarily the difficulties encountered during operations on a remote uninhabited island such as this.

During the last three years, The Ministry of Culture and Sports through the Cyclades Ephorate of Antiquities has devised and is realizing a comprehensive plan for the protection and enhancement of the archaeological site that is being applied on multiple levels simultaneously.

The Ephorate planned the Overall Framework of Principles and Guidelines as well as studies for the conservation and restoration of key monuments of Delos (Temple of Apollo, House of Dionysus, architectural application study of the Philippos Stoa), studies for the mosaics, wall coatings and masonry which include: a) archival research of all 19th century operations, b) mapping of the preservation status of mosaics and wall coatings, c) physicochemical analyses and d) a geophysical survey of the mosaics.

The announcement mentioned that a proposal was submitted to the ‟Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation” Operational Programme for the funding of the ‟Delos-Open Museum” project, with a €4.520.000 budget to be activated during the summer. At the same time, long-term works have been designed to turn Delos into an exemplary open museum, where the monuments will stand restored in a landscape that has remained unspoiled since antiquity. The programme includes extensive restoration works.

The restoration of the Philippos Stoa is under way, and that of the Menodoros Monument was successfully completed. In the coming months, construction sites are being set up for the rebuilding of the emblematic temple of Apollo of the Delians and the impressive Granites Palaestra.

Restoration works are scheduled for 2020 to begin on the House of Dionysus, the richest private house of Delos, and also on the ancient theatre. Some of the restored spaces will act as museum spots, abolishing the separation between the museum and its natural surroundings so the two can form a single open museum.

The Ministry of Culture is proceeding with the restoring and stabilizing of monuments by implementing a programme for their permanent conservation, in which dilapidated buildings and walls will be preserved and stabilized on an annual basis. Over the last three years rescue and stabilizing operations have been conducted on hundreds of cubic meters of masonry.

Rescue operations were also carried out on frescoes and wall coatings (House E, House of Hermes, House of Limni, the NE of the XIIb islet, House B in the North Quarter) and on a great number of mosaic floors (Delians’ Agora, Italians’ Agora, Formion, Dolphins, Tritonis, near the Isis Temple and the Theatre, the house of Limni etc.)

At the same time, aiming to upgrade the cultural product offered to visitors, the closed wing of the museum has opened with the archaeological exhibition “Cycladic snapshots of the monuments and their people: Delos,” while the SIGHT installation by internationally acclaimed sculptor Anthony Gormley is being exhibited in the same space. High quality cultural events are also taking place there which include themes focusing on the refugees.

The announcement points out that to realize a project on isolated Delos, a necessary prerequisite is to ensure humane working conditions and incentives for the employees. In this context, a special Delos bonus of €300 has been passed through legislation, as an addition to the frontier allowance, so as to motivate the staff accepting to live in an uninhabited place without public social structures and having difficult access to the closest urban center of Mykonos due to extreme weather phenomena, while ensuring the regular communication of staff with the outside world by chartering special itineraries.

Aiming to maximize the time spent  by the scientific and technical staff on conserving the site, the Ministry of Culture increased the days from 60 applying to the mainland to 100 when spent on island Greece away from base.

To realize a project on isolated Delos, a necessary condition was improving the infrastructure. In particular, more modern security systems (CCTV) have been installed and maintenance work is being done on the museum and visitor reception buildings.

At the same time, new underground water and sewerage networks have been constructed, two desalination units and a new water reservoir rebuilt, a biological waste treatment plant  constructed, new electrical installations set up and public lavatories operated in the port for the first time.

Maintenance work has been done on the guest houses and their equipment, while a low-cost telecommunications station with free broadband services was installed. At the same time, the fleet of construction site vehicles was modernized and an emergency vessel was purchased for transport to and from Mykonos.

Finally, in order to increase the preservation and restoration work conducted on the monuments, new, temporary construction site infrastructure is being installed that includes bridge cranes, warehouses, work platforms, the doubling of dormitories for the workers  etc.

Numbers of visitors have steadily increased in recent years despite the cost of both tickets and boat fares having gone up. As part of the upgrading of services provided to the visitors, the dilapidated canteen was sealed and will be replaced by a new one, while the shop of the Archaeological Resources Fund acquired a wider range of merchandise.

The announcement concludes as follows: In Delos, complex and multilevel synergies are being developed for the first time in all fields: research, conservation and funding with the French Archaeological School, the Parco Archeologico di Pompei, the Municipality of Mykonos, the P.&A Kanellopoulos Foundation, the NEON Organization , COSMOTE, the “Demokritos” National Centre for Scientific Research, the Institute for Technology and Research of the Institute of Mediterranean Studies  and the Department of Conservation of Antiquities of the University of West Attica.
These nine muses were born from Zeus and his aunt and fifth wife, Mnemosyne, who was the personification of memory. The Muses, back then, were simply Deities, in charge of Their own aspects of mortal life. Euterpe was the 'Giver of light', for example. Their function and status as Muses was a later, Roman, addition.

Although most sources say there are nine Muses, the archaic poet Sappho of Lesbos was called the tenth by Plato, a great compliment. It's Sappho's status as 'the tenth Muse' that paved the way to the conventional compliment paid to female poets and those who inspire.

I refer to the muses often; when I'm trying to write but can't find the inspiration, or when I'm trying to sleep but can't because my mind is full of words that want to come out are the most common occurrences. I also thank Them for the inspiration I have gotten to write blog posts or articles.

The muses are well represented in both mythology as Hellenic art. Not only does nearly every hero, poet and even some of the Theoi call out for Them when They're in a bind, but there is even a tragic story in which nine young women get turned into birds for their hubris. In this myth, King Pierus, king of Macedon named his nine beautiful and talented daughters after the muses and went on to boast that the Pierides--his daughters--were equal or even better in their arts than the Muses ever were. Needless to say, neither the Muses, nor the Gods took to this kindly. As punishment for his hubris, Pierus had to watch as his beautiful daughters were transformed into Magpies.

Apollon Mousagetēs, an epithet of Apollon, is said to lead the Muses. His name means 'Apollon Muse-leader'. As such, he can be seen depicted on vases and murals with the Muses.

Here is Apollon to the left, followed by the Muses. If I tell you Calliope carries a writing tablet, Clio carries a scroll and books, Erato is often seen with a lyre and/or a crown of roses, Euterpe carries a flute, Melpomene is often seen with a tragic mask, Polyhymnia is often seen with a pensive expression, Terpsichore is often seen dancing and carrying a lyre, Thaleia is often seen with a comic mask and Urania carries a pair of compasses and the celestial globe, how many can you pick out?

Within Hellenismos, worship, libations and offerings to the Muses is an individual choice. If you feel a need to do so--and poets, musicians, writers and other artists might definitely feel that need--do so. I know I do. As did the ancient writers; there is both an Homeric and an Orphic Hymn to the Muses one can use to honor Them:

Homeric Hymn to the Muses:

I will begin with the Muses and Apollon and Zeus. For it is through the Muses and Apollon that there are singers upon the earth and players upon the lyre; but kings are from Zeus. Happy is he whom the Muses love: sweet flows speech from his lips. Hail, children of Zeus! Give honour to my song! And now I will remember you and another song also.

Orphic Hymn to the Muses:

Daughters of Jove, dire-sounding and divine,
Renown'd Pierian, sweetly speaking Nine;
To those whose breasts your sacred furies fire
Much-form'd, the objects of supreme desire:

Sources of blameless virtue to mankind,
Who form to excellence the youthful mind;
Who nurse the soul, and give her to descry
The paths of right with Reason's steady eye.

Commanding queens who lead to sacred light
The intellect refin'd from Error's night;
And to mankind each holy rite disclose,
For mystic knowledge from your nature flows.

Clio, and Erato, who charms the sight,
With thee Euterpe minist'ring delight:
Thalia flourishing, Polymina fam'd,
Melpomene from skill in music nam'd:

Terpischore, Urania heav'nly bright,
With thee who gav'st me to behold the light.
Come, venerable, various, pow'rs divine,
With fav'ring aspect on your mystics shine;
Bring glorious, ardent, lovely, fam'd desire,
And warm my bosom with your sacred fire.

Yet, I strongly feel one honors the Muses best when being creative and inspired. Write, make art, sing, make music, do whatever you can that invites the inspiration of the Muses. Be aware of your inspiration, allow it to flow freely, and if you feel the need, give honor to the Deities who granted it.
Greek archaeologist Georgios Papathanasopoulos, one of the founders of the Hellenic Institute of Maritime Archaeology and a pioneer in the field, has died, the Culture Ministry said in an announcement on Monday. He was 95.

A graduate of the Athens School of Philosophy and a resistance fighter in World War II, Papathanasopoulos worked closely with Carl Blegen on the American archaeologist’s seminal excavations of the Palace of Nestor in the southwestern Peloponnese, as well as on important digs at ancient Elis and Messinia.

He was responsible for spearheading systematic excavations of the Diros Caves, a Neolithic settlement, in 1969 and the restoration of Kalamata’s historic monuments after the southern Peloponnese town was struck by a devastating earthquake in 1986.

He served in almost every high-ranking post in Greece related to archaeology, including as director of the Acropolis Museum, and on the board of the Central Archaeological Council from 1975 to 1990.

Thank you for all your contributions.
The 25th of the month of Thargelion marks the day of the Plynteria festival. This minor festival was held solely in Athens and surrounding areas and was in honor of Athena Polias, protector of the city. It was considered an auspicious day by the ancient Athenians because on this day, they did not have the protection of Athena. Around the time of the Pynteria the Kallunteria also took place, a festival during which the temple of Athena was cleaned thoroughly and Her sacred fires relit. Elaion will organize PAT rituals for both celebrations and invites you to join us on 29 May and 1 June. Note! The Plynteria is a nighttime festival and thus not at the usual 10 am EDT.

Plutarch, in his 'Life of Alkibiades' describes the Plynteria festival beautifully:

"But while Alcibiades was thus prospering brilliantly, some were nevertheless disturbed at the particular season of his return. For he had put into harbour on the very day when the Plynteria of the goddess Athene were being celebrated. The Praxiergidae celebrate these rites on the twenty-fifth day of Thargelion, in strict secrecy, removing the robes of the goddess and covering up her images. Wherefore the Athenians regard this day as the unluckiest of all days for business of any sort. The goddess, therefore, did not appear to welcome Alcibiades with kindly favour and good will, but rather to veil herself from him and repel him. However, all things fell out as he wished, and one hundred triremes were manned for service, with which he was minded to sail off again; but a great and laudable ambition took possession of him and detained him there until the Eleusinian mysteries." [34.1]

During the Plynteria, the wooden statue of Athena was disrobed of the Peplos that she received during the Panathenaia by Her priestesses, veiled, and then taken down to the sea for a wash. Veiling a Theos' image from head to toe was considered apophras, unlucky, as it removed Their presence.

The women who removed the robe and jewelry from the ancient wooden image and then veiled her, were part of an Athenian family traditionally entrusted with this task. They were called the Praxiergidai. The procession to the sea, several miles away, was a city-affair. As all other sanctuaries and temples in Athens remained closed on this day, it's likely many attended.

In front of the procession was a single woman, carrying a basket of fig pastries (known as 'hegeteria'), for the fig was believed to be the first cultivated food, and was--like the sea water--a purifier. Mounted young men, known as 'epheboi' escorted the statue deep into the water before coming back to shore. Thee, it was bathed by two girls, the bathers (loutrides). A single priestess was most likely in charge of washing the peplos of the Goddess. her title has not survived. In the evening, a torch-lid procession brought the statue back to Her temple and she was redressed by the Praxiergidai. The statue may have remained veiled for the remainder of the day.

There is another, smaller, festival connected to the Plynteria: the Kallunteria, which was celebrated somewhere in the vicinity of the Plynthria. During this festival, the temple of Athena was swept out--the name of the festival means 'sweeping out' or 'to beautify by sweeping'--and cleaned thoroughly, so that the washed statue would have a clean home to return to. The lamp of Her eternal flame was also refilled and relit by the priestesses on this day. The lamp was a golden vessel, created in the late fifth century by Kallimakhos, and was big enough to hold enough oil to burn day and night for the whole year. It's therefor logical to assume that the festival was held on a day close to the twenty-fifth, possibly the twenty-fourth or twenty-sixth. Ancient sources state that the festival must have taken place after the Bendideia. From Proklos' 'Timaeus of Plato':

"For they say, that the Bendideia were celebrated in the Piraeus on the twentieth day of [Thargelion], but that the festival sacred to Minerva followed these."

Mikalson, in his 'The sacred and civil calendar of the Athenian year', gives the 24th as the date but stresses that the 24th is merely a estimation, and we, in fact, do not know when the festival was held. He assumes it could even have taken place after the Plynteria, and places the Kallunteria between the 24th and the 28th of the month, with the exception of the 25th, as that was the date of the Plyneria. Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood in 'Athenian Myths and Festivals' sets the date as the 27th with a somewhat unshakable certainty. We have accepted the 27th as the possible date of the Kallunteria festival for our PAT ritual although we again stress that the date of the Kallunteria is unknown.

The rituals for the event can be found here for the Plynteria and here for the Kallunteria, and you can join the community page for the Plynteria here, and that of the Kallunteria here.

The Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Basilicata, Francesco Canestrini, and the Archbishop of Matera- Irsina, Antonio Giuseppe Caiazzo, have announced the discovery of an ancient Greek burial behind the Cathedral Maria SS. Bruna di Matera, in the area of the former seminary.

"The burial dates back to the fourth century BC and contains a complete set of grave goods, consisting of a series of symposium vases of probable Apulian workmanship."

The scientific direction of the excavation of the tomb and the archaeological investigation of the entire context of the discovery was undertaken by the Superintendence of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Basilicata, alongside two specialized archaeologists appointed by the Archdiocese.

"It is an exceptional discovery that adds another fundamental piece to the knowledge of the history of the ancient population of this urban sector, for which there are already well known discoveries made in the last century, traceable to the same chronological horizon."

Italy's Culture Minister asks Getty for four works 

The Italian culture ministry has asked the Getty Museum in LA to return another four stolen works besides the famed Lysippus statue, sources told ANSA Wednesday.

They are: a canvas by 19th century painter Camillo Miola, The Oracle at Delphi, stolen from the Istituto San Lorenzo in Aversa near Naples between 1943 and '46; two Roman era marble lions that were in Palazzo Spaventa at Preturo near Aquila; and a mosaic of Medusa stolen from the Museo Nazionale Romano. The ministry has asked the Getty to review the provenance of the works, which Italy thinks have either been stolen, or exported without permission.

The supreme Court of Cassation said in January that the Getty Museum showed "unjustifiable carelessness" in buying the ancient Greek Statue of a Victorious Youth by famed sculptor Lysippus (or Lysippos) that Italy is determined to recover.

The court chided the LA museum for relying on opinions on its purportedly legal provenance from consultants appointed by the seller, despite the "perplexity" shown by the "most authoritative partner" that flanked the Getty in the talks, the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

On December 4 the high court said the priceless bronze statue, long a centrepiece of the Malibu museum, belonged to Italy and must be returned. The top court rejected an appeal by the US museum against a Pesaro judge's order to confiscate the fourth-century BC work.

Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli told ANSA "now we hope the US authorities will act as soon as possible to favour the restitution of the Lysippos to Italy". He said he was happy that "this judicial process has finally ended and the right to recover an extremely important testimony of our heritage has been recognised. "Let's hope the statue can soon return to be admired in our museums".

But the Getty said in a statement that "we will continue to defend our right to the Lysippos.
"The law and the facts do not justify the restitution to the Italian government of a sculpture that has been exhibited to the public in Los Angeles for almost half a century".

In June the Pesaro prosecutors announced that the order issued to seize the statue for years disputed by Italy and the Getty Museum in Malibu was "immediately executive". "The Lysippos statue must return to Italy," prosecutors told ANSA, accompanied by Tristano Tonnini, the lawyer for the association "Cento Citta'", which has been fighting the legal battle for 11 years. "We expect politicians to play their part," they said.

The Italian judge rejected an appeal by the Getty Museum, ruling that the fourth-century BC Greek statue - known as Lysippos or Lysippus after its creator and fished out of the sea off Pesaro in 1964 - must be seized wherever in the world it is.

Commonly referred to as the Getty Bronze and formally named Statue of a Victorious Youth, the statue is one of the best-known works in the Los Angeles-based museum. The Lysippos has been contested ever since the Getty bought it for almost four million dollars in 1977 from German art dealer Herman Heinz Herzer, paying nearly 800 times the $5,600 that Italian dealers paid the fishermen for it in 1964. Italy has long claimed the statue was smuggled out of the country and has demanded that the Getty hand it back.

Lawyer Tonnini said he was satisfied by the judge's ruling, but said he is also convinced that "the California museum always knew that it was buying a smuggled and illegally exported artifact".
Pesaro prosecutor Cristina Tedeschini said she expected a favourable ruling from the Court of Cassation.

"But the fact is that three different judges have reaffirmed that the statue belongs to the Italian state and that it must be given back," Tedeschini said.

In November 2007, a court in Fano, near Pesaro, cleared the Getty Museum of wrongdoing in the case. But prosecutor Silvia Cecchi said the judge "affirmed that the statue was taken in Italian national waters and therefore belongs to Italy," which has been the sustained argument since 2007 to get the statue back.

"It must be very clear that the order is immediately executive and we will apply this principle by notifying the American authorities."

The Getty said it would lodge an appeal at the Cassation Court to "defend our rights".
Running around like a headless chicken today, so please, have a Youtube video on a day in the life in ancient Hellas. This video was presented in Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens. More tomorrow.

Prefacing this with "This is a one-sided story on the internet."

A group of German tourists wearing ancient Hellenic clothing are alleging that they were recently banned from entering the Athens’ Acropolis because they were not “suitably attired.” 

Security guards justified their decision to ban the female tourists, claiming they needed a special permit as their escorting photographer was a professional, a charge the women deny. Professional photography in the area must be approved by Greece’s Archaeological Service and the Central Archaeological Council.

"The lady at the entrance told us that we were not dressed properly, that we were too naked. Many visitors were wearing fewer clothes than us… There were many signs in the area: Do not eat ice cream, do not bring dogs, etc. There was no sign for a dress code anywhere."

Asked why they decided to visit the Acropolis dressed in Ancient Hellenic attire, the German tourist said,

"We wanted to show how beautiful your country’s history is and to express our respect. We did not intend to do anything wrong, we just had fun. None of us was rude or drunk, which I would understand as a reason for refusing entry."

The group of women also allege that they were refused a refund for the tickets that they had booked online.

All right, so, I have opinions about these. And questions. It's a one-sided account and I guess heading over to the Acropolis in an "outfit" with a guy with a big camera would definitely ring bells of a professional photo shoot, even without lighting set-up. Professional photography at cultural heritage sites has to be pre-approved. Period. My question is: would the women have been sent away for selfies? Or if the photographer had only carried a mobile phone to take pictures with?

Greece has a history of denying Hellenists access to the ancient sites, so it would not have surprised me if, had the women shown up in another type of "costume," they would have been allowed access. One will never know, of course, but this bit of news does not make me happy.
The ancient Bazira is also known as the city of Alexander. The discovery occurred during the recent excavations in Barikot-Swat.

Dr Luca Maria Olivieri, head of the Italian Archaeological Mission: 

"Luckily we have found that missing gap. After the abandonment of the lower city in the third century, a smaller but complex urban settlement was rebuilt at the foot of Barikot Ghwandai."

He said that archaeologists found not only the Hindu Shahi structure but also the traces of a small urban settlement and a citadel, which had been inhabited since the fourth century till the Ghaznavid time.

"The lower city, abandoned after a massive earthquake in the third century, was known as Bazira or Beira. The newly discovered city, according to an inscription found on the top of the Ghwandai, was called Vajirasthana. It means the fortified place of Bazira."

He said that the most important and evident remains of the citadel were a fire temple, a Hindu Shahi fortress or palace, both coeval to a Hindu Shahi temple discovered in 1988 on the top of the Ghwandai.

The archaeologists found the scattered evidence of the Ghaznavid period and also the evidence of Medieval Dardic village (dated to 12th to 15th century AD) that was ultimately occupied by the Yousafzai tribe.

According to oral histories reported both from Barikot-Swat and Barikot-Dir, by a British officer in 1912, the original inhabitants of the area fled to Dir with their own chief Barya Khan and founded a new Barikot there.

Local and foreign tourists also started visiting the newly discovered site and term it an amazing addition to the realm of Gandhara civilisation.

Nattapach, a tourist, who visited the site with a group of other Thai tourists, said that he was excited to see such amazing archaeological sites. “It was a big city having a rich history." Headding that Pakistan was the home of early Buddhism and it was important for Buddhists around the world.

Kampira, another Thai tourist, said that she learnt that the early Buddhists living in Gandhara region were the first to have introduced the image of Buddha that’s why she always wanted to visit Gandhara.

"Luckily I got the opportunity to visit Gandhara in Pakistan this time. I am happy and content to visit so many ancient Buddhist sites including ancient stupas, monasteries and statues."
On the 19th of Thargelion, an Athenian festival for the Thrakian Goddess Bendis (Βενδις) was held. This festival, which went on into the night of the 20th of the month, was designed especially for Bendis, who was introduced to Attika by Thrakian métoikoi who took the opportunity to introduce their Goddess into the Athenian pantheon after the Oracle of Dodona decreed that Thrakian worshippers should be granted the right for ground to build a sanctuary on. Their shrine to Her was built on the hill Mounykhia, near to the temple of Artemis Mounikhia, with whom She was identified. The temenos was completed somewhere before 429 BC, and at least one Thrakian festival to the Goddess was held before the Athenians got involved. Would you like to involve yourself with Her worship as well? Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual for Her, Artemis and Hekate on May 24th at the usual 10 am EDT.

The Goddess Bendis originated in Thrake, to the north of Hellas. Her cult was imported into Athens around 432 BC, at the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Athens had always had close ties with Thrake, but besides the oracle's decree, it seems that the acceptance of the foreign cult into the city at this time was probably connected with Athens' military alliance with the Odrysian Thrakians, who supplied mercenaries throughout the war.

The Bendideia (Βενδίδεια) itself was celebrated in the port town of Peiraeeus. At first, only the Thrakians honored Her, but within a few years, the Athenians held their own procession alongside the Thrakians, theirs winding down from the Prataneion (Πρυτανεῖον)--the seat of government in ancient Hellas--in the morning  to the sanctuary of the Goddess in the Peiraios, while the Thrakian procession was entirely within the port town. The six-mile procession of the Athenians was so unusual, that a decree called for basins, water and sponges to bathe after it, and garlands. It seems obvious to place a meal here in the timeframe, followed by a period of rest until it became dark enough to perform the most telling of cult worship to the Goddess: an evening torch race on horseback; a true novelty. Plato, in his 'Republic' tells us a little it about this race:

"Polemarchus said to me: I perceive, Socrates, that you and our companion are already on your way to the city.
You are not far wrong, I said.
But do you see, he rejoined, how many we are?
Of course.
And are you stronger than all these? for if not, you will have to remain where you are.
May there not be the alternative, I said, that we may persuade you to let us go?
But can you persuade us, if we refuse to listen to you? he said.
Certainly not, replied Glaucon.
Then we are not going to listen; of that you may be assured.
Adeimantus added: Has no one told you of the torch-race on horseback in honour of the goddess which will take place in the evening?
With horses! I replied: That is a novelty. Will horsemen carry torches and pass them one to another during the race?
Yes, said Polemarchus, and not only so, but a festival will he celebrated at night, which you certainly ought to see. Let us rise soon after supper and see this festival; there will be a gathering of young men, and we will have a good talk. Stay then, and do not be perverse.
Glaucon said: I suppose, since you insist, that we must.
Very good, I replied."

What, exactly, Bendis presided over to either the Thrakians or the Athenians is unclear. She was identified mostly with Artemis, but not equated with Her, as She received a temple of Her own. Due to a connection with grain and the growth cycle of plants, she was identified with Demeter, and sometimes Persephone and/or Hekate. She was thus also associated with Selene.  Mostly, however, she was equated with Artemis Mounikhia.

In the Classical literature and in later traditions, Artemis was portrayed as a huntress; a savage and wild deity of nature, and a virgin maiden. Artemis Mounikhia, however, differed from this Classical image. The characteristics of this particular epithet of Artemis were in fact more similar to the cult of the moon Goddess Hekate. In Classical tradition, the holy day of Artemis was on the 6th day of the month, but the Mounikhia festival was instead held on the 16th day of Mounikhion, under the full moon, an element of the cult of Hekate. During the Mounikhia procession, round cakes with little torches were offered to the Goddess, corresponding directly to the torch races of the neighboring cult of Bendis.

It appears that Artemis Mounikhia was seen as a deity of protection, one connecting women with the moon cycle, and one which represents marriage, fertility and the protection of human life and nature. The physical proximity of the Bendis temple to that of Artemis Mounikhia, and the similarity of festival activities (such as the torch use in relation to the moon cycle) suggests their cults were similar and perhaps even linked. And through Artemis, Bendis is also linked to Hekate.

The worship of Bendis outside of Thrake and Athens never caught on; she was revered almost solely at these places. Yet, the Athenians seemed to have held Her in high regard for a Goddess not of their pantheon.

Will you be honoring Bendis with us on May 24th, at 10 am EDT? You can find the ritual here and the community page here.
In case you don't have your vacation plans solidified yet. The “Olympias” trireme, the only working model in the world of an ancient trireme, classical Athens’ iconic ship that led to its dominance at sea, will open again this summer to visitors who want to either visit or try their hand at rowing out to the Saronic Gulf. It is the fourth year in a row that the trireme opens to visitors and volunteer rowers.

The Hellenic Navy said actual rowers will have to be at least 15 years old, and trips will begin on June 23.

For those wishing to participate interactively, sitting at a rower’s position and rowing in place, tours will begin on June 19. Information will include the history of the trireme and travelling on one in ancient Greece.

For both kinds of visits, the Navy recommends sport attire, including sport shoes, comfortable clothing and hat, and no food, coffee or refreshments on board. In both cases, reservations are necessary at 6940471218 (09:00-13:00 to July 19, except for June 17; and same hours, from September 2 to 11).

Rowers will additionally need to register online; outgoing trips will not take non-rowing passengers.

Tickets for both kinds of visits are 3 euros each, with no discounts. Tickets can be purchased at the “Averof” battle cruiser/museum stationed in Paleo Faliro, where the trireme will also be stationed.
For specific days and times of tours, please consult the site at (in Greek). The tours take place on Wednesdays (17:00-19:00, June 19, 26, July 3, 17, September 11). The rowing tours will take place on Sundays (10:00-12:00, June 23, 30, July 14, 21, September 8).
Very low on time today, so I am going to share a fun podcast about monsters in ancient Hellenic mythology. Enjoy and see you tomorrow!

"No one did monsters better than the Greeks. A black-figure krater in the Carlos Collection of Ancient Art depicting the hero Odysseus escaping from the cave of the cyclops Polyphemus begins this lively discussion of monsters in the Greek world with Emory faculty members Bonna Wescoat, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Art History; Louise Pratt, professor of Classics; and Marshall Duke, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology."
The Toledo Museum of Art and the Italian Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities announced that they have reached an agreement for the repatriation of an object in the Museum’s collection. The Attic red-figured skyphos, an earthenware drinking vessel decorated with the story of the return of Hephaistos to Olympos, is attributed to the Kleophon Painter of Athens, Greece, and dates to approximately 420 B.C.E. Per the agreement, the vessel will remain on view at TMA for four years, after which the Museum may ask to renew the loan or request another significant object from the Italian government as part of a continuing and rotating cultural exchange.

The Toledo Museum of Art purchased the skyphos in 1982 for $90,000 with funds gifted from Edward Drummond Libbey. The provenance of the object was called into question in 2017 by Christos Tsirogiannis, a forensic archaeologist, after which the Museum began an internal investigation and contacted the Italian authorities.

The vessel has been on display as part of the Museum’s permanent collection since its acquisition and was included in the 1996-97 special exhibition The Fire of Hephaistos: Large Classical Bronzes from North American Collections, which originated at TMA and subsequently traveled to the Tampa Museum of Art in Florida.

It depicts Hephaistos, the metalsmith for the gods, who was thrown out of Olympos by his mother, the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus. Hephaistos sought revenge by making a trap for Hera in the form of a magnificent throne. When she sat in it, she was stuck and none of the gods could free her. Dionysos, god of wine and theater, made Hephaistos drunk and he eventually freed Hera and was reconciled with his divine family.

The skyphos was used at men’s drinking parties and is one of the largest such cups known. As a result, it would have been almost impossible to drink from and may have been used instead as a mixing bowl (krater).

TMA is committed to the protection of cultural patrimony and to the responsible acquisition of archaeological materials and ancient art. Its collections management policy adheres to the strictest ethical guidelines, institutional transparency and professional best practices. TMA rigorously investigates the provenance of all new acquisitions and continues to research objects already in its collections that may have questionable provenances. The Museum has been proactive in resolving all ownership claims and welcomes new information on objects in our collections.

In similar news, the US Homeland Security Department repatriated ten Hellenic coins to the government of Greece on Tuesday, during a reception held at the Greek Consulate in San Francisco. The ten coins were allegedly smuggled out of various Aegean islands including the Island of Samos.

San Francisco Consul General of Greece in San Francisco, Antonios Sgouropoulos, welcomed the US officials. He thanked “our good friends from Homeland Security Investigations of San Francisco, who closely worked with their counterparts in Athens for the last two years, to make possible the repatriation of ten ancient Greek coins.”

“Homeland Security Investigations is the investigative arm for the Department of Homeland Security, and we work closely with our international law enforcement partners to combat the illegal trafficking of cultural artifacts,” explained Templet.

“HSI Special Agent David Keller of San Francisco and Hellenic Police Sgt. Orfeas Sotiriou of Athens, Greece, collaborated these past two-plus years to intercept and authenticate these artifacts,” Templet said. “Their hard work resulted in this repatriation. I am happy to be a part of such a great event,” he added.