The Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni vowed to restore the ancient burial site of Doxipara located in Evros in northeast Greece which she described as having an “indisputable archaeological and historical value.”

During her recent visit to the site, Mendoni said that a museum will be build to showcase the tomb which dates back to the 2nd century AD. Archaeologists say that four members of a rich family who died successively, were cremated and buried at the site, and the large burial tumulus of Doxipara was built in memory of them.

The excavations of the burial tumulus of Doxipara began in 2002 and brought to light four cremation pits, which contained residue of incineration from what is believed to be two middle-aged men, a young man, and a young woman.

In these pits of the burial tumulus of Doxipara a number of objects were also discovered that accompanied the dead to the other world, according to the traditions of that time; clay and bronze pottery, lamps, and lanterns, weapons and jewelry were among the findings.

What makes the Burial Tumulus of Doxipara important is the discovery of five carriages, buried together with their five horses around the tumulus. Such findings have been found in Asia and Europe, but this the first discovery specifically in Greece. Four-wheel carriages were used for the transport of the dead to incineration and burial.
Elaion is proud to announce that on the sixth and seventh of Thargelion (so today, the 29th of May and tomorrow, the 30th), we will be hosting another PAT ritual, this time for the Thargelia. The Thargelia (Θαργήλια) was, as said, held over the course of two days. It was an agricultural festival as well as a kathartic one. The purpose was to purify the city in order to please the Theoi and ensure a successful harvest come harvesting time. It also celebrates the birth of the divine twins Apollon and Artemis.

The first day, a sheep was sacrificed to Demeter Khloe on the Acropolis, and perhaps a swine to the Fates, but most telling about that first day was the following that took place:

In ancient times, two poor, ugly men (or a man and one woman) were chosen each year to be Pharmakoi.  They were fed for a while at public expense and were then paraded around Athens as scapegoats for the people, one wearing a string of black figs to represent the men, the other white figs to represent the women. At the end of the procession, they were driven out of the city by flogging and beaten them with branches and squills (sea onions), and killed. The bodies were burned and the ashes thrown into the sea or land, to fertilize.

This sacrifice became symbolic as time wore on, first with banishment, then with play acting where they were beaten with branches of figs and pelted with squills instead of beaten with branches and stoned to death. What matters was that they were driven out and with them, so was the pollution of ever man and woman in the city.

The first day focused on purification and appeasement but the second day was a lot less gruesome: a great pot of vegetables was prepared as an offering of the first fruits to Apollon. A panspermia was ritually sown into the earth. The Thargelia also featured choral contests among pairs of phratriai, and was recognized by phratriai as a day of festival and sacrifice. An eiresione (olive branch of supplication) with fillets of white wool and first fruits attached was carried in procession along with a winnowing basket full of fruit.

Sources tell us clearly that Apollon was linked to the festival as well as the sun, Helios, and the seasons, the Horai. With Apollon's birth, so came the light that grew the vegetation, that ripened the corn and barley. And in line with Apollon is Helios who journeys across the sky every day and the Horai who precede over the lengthening and shortening of the days, giving Apollon and Helios more or less time with us to ripen our crops.

At its core this festival is a festival of Apollon, but myth tells us Artemis helped bring Him into the world and thus She is honored as well. And we bring Demeter offerings because She taught us how to grow crops and once Persephone leaves for the Underworld again, She will kill them all. Add to that the Horai and Helios and you have a very involved and intricate festival that was absolutely essential to ensure a good harvest. And so we shall celebrate it as well and honor to all these Theoi in appeasement.

You can find the rituals for the events here, for both days, and the community page here.
Pelanoi were Athenian sacrifical cakes that were often used in the Lesser mysteries and in sacrifices to Zeus. As a true Athenian, local, cake, they were also staples in sacrifices to Athena.

It's described that pelanoi were made from aparche (ἀπαρχὴ), 'first-fruit'.  This was the first and most pristine portion of the harvest. The pelanoi used at the Mysteries were made from wheat flour obtained from the plain of the Rharus, a plain of Attica where corn was first sown by Triptolemos, who is a well known figure in the mythology surrounding the Mysteries.

Mythologically, the foundations of the Eleusinian mysteries can be found in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Within the hymn, Demeter travels the globe in her grief over losing Her daughter. She eventually settles at the home of Keleus (Κελεός), husband of Metaneira, father of several children, who are called Kallidice, Demo, Kleisidice, Kallithoe, Triptolemos, and Demophon, his youngest son by Metaneira. The daughters of Keleus find a disguised Demeter near a well and bring Her home.

Keleus hires Her to take care of Demophon. He treats her well, with every courtesy, and as a gift to Keleus, because of his hospitality, Demeter plans to make Demophon immortal by burning his mortal spirit away in the family hearth every night. Before she can complete Her work, Metaneira interrupts Her and pulls Demophon from the fire prematurely. This ruins any chance Demophon would have had at immortality. Demeter, after She could no longer take care of Demophon, nor save him from his own mortality, instead taught Triptolemos the secrets of agriculture--a valuable gift, because the art was unknown to mankind until then.

So how does one make a pelanos? Well, we'll never know for sure, I fear, but it seems it was--like all ancient Hellenic 'cakes'--more of a flatbread than a cake as we know it. Even more: it was most likely a cake that was not baked or otherwise subjected to heat. It was, as it is described, a mixture offered to the Gods, of meal, honey, and oil.

Jane Ellen Harrison in 'Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion' describes its as follows:

"You first sprinkle the [wheat] meal on the water, you then stir it, so far you have porridge; if you let it get thicker you must knead it and then you have oat-cake. It has of course frequently been noted that a pelanos may be either fluid or solid, and herein lies the explanation. When the pelanos is thick and subjected to fire, baked, it becomes a pemma, an ordinary cake."
How much water and how much meal was unclear, but I would say the measurements used in the recipe for general honey cakes would suffice as these become solid flat cakes very easily:

- 200 gram flour
- 100 ml water
- 3 tbsp clear honey
- 2 tbsp olive oil

During the ritual, the pelanos is supposed to be sacrificed with the left hand, like all offering to the Khthonic Gods, on an eschára (ἐσχάρα), a low-lying altar to the khthonic deities. This was thus, in general, not a sacrifical pit and it would have held a fire. Like all offerings to the Kthonic deities, the pelanos is given as a holókaustos and is thus given in its entirety. You are not supposed to eat of it. Happy sacrificing!
Passing this along, in case of interest. The Governing Body of Christ Church proposes to elect a Junior Research Fellow in Greek Mythology. The current salary is £23,754 per annum plus accommodation allowance of £10,000 per annum or single College accommodation (subject to availability and the outcome of our current accommodation policy review). The position is fixed-term for 3 years, to start from 1st July 2020, or, subject to agreement if this is not possible, from 1st October 2020.

The primary duty of the successful appointee will be to engage full-time in independent research and its dissemination into any aspect of ancient Greek mythology or in its reception (e.g. in fields such as Literature, Ancient History, Archaeology, History of Art, Music, and Philosophy). They will be expected to propose, plan and manage a high-quality programme of original research; publicise the outcomes of that research through presentation of papers and publications; and engage in the life and activities of the College. There may be an opportunity to undertake a limited amount of teaching for relevant undergraduate degree programmes.

The successful candidate will be approaching the end of doctoral research in the field of Greek Mythology or have submitted a doctorate in the field after 1 October 2018. They will have a good Honours degree (First or 2.1) and will be able to demonstrate either research expertise as evidenced by refereed journals or papers or the promise of such achievement.

Instructions about how to apply can be found here.

The closing date for receipt of applications is 12 noon on 14th May 2020.
Interviews are expected to take place during the week commencing 25th May 2020.
She was Indiana Jones in a miniskirt, a celebrity archaeologist hatched out of old New York aristocracy. Iris Love, art historian, champion dog breeder and the longtime romantic partner of the gossip columnist Liz Smith, was just as comfortable in the ancient world as in the society pages. Ms. Love died of the coronavirus on April 17 at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan, a friend, Carri Lyon, said. She was 86.

Sunburned, leggy and with a mop of cropped blonde hair, Ms. Love was catnip to the press. When, in 1971, The New York Times wrote about her for the third time, she was 38 and several years into what would become an 11-year dig at Knidos, an ancient Greek city that is now part of Turkey. There she discovered a temple to Aphrodite on the same summer day in 1969 that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

Ms. Love had already made headlines when she was a graduate student at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, for outing as forgeries a prized group of Etruscan warriors at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She made headlines again when, on a visit to the British Museum’s collection of antiquities, she identified a crumbling marble head stashed in its basement as being a remnant of Praxiteles’ lost statue of Aphrodite.

Maxwell Anderson, a past curator of the department of Greek and Roman Art at the Met said:

“She had a formidable energy and enthusiasm that separated her from the more cautious of her peers. Archaeology relies on facts, and Iris was given to informed and colorful speculation, which added coloratura to the discipline. She was a public intellectual in a way that was not typical of archaeology.”

Iris Cornelia Love was born on Aug. 1, 1933, in New York City. Her father, Cornelius Ruxton Love Jr., was a diplomat, an investment banker employed by his father-in-law, a collector and a descendant of Alexander Hamilton. Her mother, Audrey B. (Josephthal) Love, was an heiress and arts patron, the daughter of Edyth Guggenheim and Louis Josephthal, an admiral and the founder of a brokerage firm.

Her parents were remote figures, as was the custom of the time for her demographic, but luckily she had a British governess, Katie Wray, who happened to be a classicist. Iris learned Latin before first grade and would grow up to be a polylinguist. She spoke Greek, French, German, Italian and Turkish and could make her way in Mandarin, Russian and Arabic. At her death she was studying Portuguese.

She was famously loquacious in English, too. Ms. Smith used to chastise Ms. Love, as she noted in her memoir, “Natural Blonde” (2000): “Don’t begin the story back when they invented language. Get to the bottom line.”

Ms. Love attended the Brearley School in Manhattan and the Madeira School in Virginia, where classmates taunted her for being Jewish, a lineage she had not understood was hers until then.

She graduated from Smith College in 1955; Sylvia Plath was a classmate. She earned a master’s degree from N.Y.U.’s Institute of Fine Arts and had finished Ph.D. classes there, but not her thesis, because as she often said, she was too busy with Knidos, overseeing the dig each summer and fund-raising most winters, to write it. Carlos Picon, an antiquities expert who was curator of Greek and Roman art at the Met for 28 years, said in a phone interview:

“She brought archaeology and ancient art to a whole new strata of society. She popularized it and warmed it up, and it seemed like everybody knew her name. You could go to the middle of the most faraway city and they would have heard of Iris. There are enough Ph.D.s, and whether we gained another book or not doesn’t matter in the long run. More than once Iris helped me secure objects and funding for the museum.”

If you'd like to read moe about her life, pelase visit here.
On the fourth of Thargelion, in the deme of Erkhia, located approximately twenty kilometers (twelve miles) east of Athens, a series of sacrifices were held. Most likely, these were in relation to the Thargelia which was soon to follow. Preporatory rites, of a sort. Elaion will hold a PAT ritual to follow in their footsteps on 27 April at the usual 10 am EDT. Will you be joining us?

The Thargelia was one of the major festivals of Athens, and most of ancient Hellas. It celebrates the birthday of Apollon and Artemis and was held over the course of two days, one with the focus on Artemis--the first, as she was born first--and Apollon on the second day, held on the sixth and seventh day of the month of Thargelion, respectively. The thargelia was both an agricultural and a purifying festival: it was a festival intended to lift miasma from the city of Athens (and anywhere else it was celebrated) in order to ensure a good harvest. It was of vital importance and it could be that the people of Erkhia hosted these sacrifices in order to feel entitled to have Erkhia's harvest fall under the results of the katharthic rites of Athens once they would be held a few days later.

The ancient Erkhians would have held separate rituals for (almost) all of the listed deities, more often than not at different locations. It could therefore be that not all of these sacrifices are linked to the Thargelia. The sacrifices to Leto, Apollon and Zeus most likely were. Hermes, perhaps, but it is more likely that He, along with the Dioskuri was honoured due to the influence of Sparta, of whom all three were patrons. Perhaps the sacrifice to Zeus had a joined function as the father of all (Depending on the mythological account, of course).

We won't be distinguishing between the two 'branches' and have made a single rite to be performed on the 27th, at 10 am EDT. You can join the community here and find the ritual here. We hope you will join us!
Pasta is probably one of the most favourite in not only European countries but also in India, Philippines, Brazil, South Africa and many more. While it is believed that pasta was inspired by Chinese noodles brought to Europe by Venetian nobleman and merchant Marco Polo in the 13th century, food historians are set to prove it wrong.

While Marco Polo did bring a lot of Chinese culture to Europe after spending several years in China, Italian food critics believe that pasta was not brought by him. The historians say pasta culture was already flourishing in the Mediterranean region centuries before he travelled east. Giorgio Franchetti, a food historian and scholar of ancient Roman history, dismissed this theory by calling it pure nonsense.

"The noodles that Marco Polo maybe brought back with him at the end of the 1200s from China were essentially made with rice and based on a different, oriental culinary tradition that has nothing to do with ours. Between 1000BC and 800BC, the Greeks first mentioned the existence of laganon, a flat pasta sheet sliced into irregular strips that was later adopted by the ancient Romans with the plural name of laganae. It was used in soups of leek and chickpeas, a very popular Roman dish."

The food historians mentioned that the Roman strips of pasta were similar to a particular type of pasta Called maltagliati, which is still served in Italy. Talking about the difference between noodles and pasta, Anna Maria Pellegrino, a food historian and a member of the Italian Academy of Cuisine, said:

"They reflect two separate culinary cultures and identities that have developed in parallel, the only conjunction being the need for nourishment and, above all, to share around the same table feelings and everyday life events. The way they are cooked, the pots, the types of cereals used, the preparation, ingredients and toppings are completely different and specific to each civilisation. There’s no direct link between the Asian and the Italian or Mediterranean ways of mixing cereals with water to create noodles or pasta."

Talking about how the philosopher and statesman Cicero was a pasta enthusiast, Franchetti says says it remains unclear whether his stomach pains were due to eating too much laganae or to health problems.

Franchetti also pointed out that Roman poets and philosophers often wrote of their love for in laganae. Horace, in one of the pieces in his famed collection of poems, Satires, writes that he cannot wait to get home to enjoy a bowl of leeks, chickpeas and laganae. Cristina Conte, an “archaeo-chef” said:

"Back in the [ancient] Roman times, laganae was a daily meal in each household, a very democratic, simple but highly nutritious dish for the poor and the working classes, not the wealthy,” she says. “It was the main comfort food, just like pasta is today for Italians."

Another theory based on Ibn-al-Mibrad's cookbook proved the dry pasta could then be mixed with legumes, especially lentils.The birth of dry pasta has been linked to the culture and lifestyle of nomadic Arabian tribes. It is believed that to cope with water scarcity during long journeys in the desert, Arabs dried their pasta in hollow cylindrical shapes. Spaghetti, too, in particular, appears to have had Arabic influence.

"If we take dry pasta as reference and look for written sources, we need to wait for the ninth century, when we know for sure that the Arabs were the first to dry pasta. Or at least, they were the first to document it."
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

PAT rituals for Thargelion:
  • Thargelion 4 - April 27 - Sacrifice to Leto, Pythian Apollon, Zeus, Hermes & Dioskuri at Erkhia
  • Thargelion 6-7 - April 29 - 30 - Thargelia - birthday of Apollon and Artemis
  • Thargelion 16 - May 9 - Sacrifice to Zeus Epakrios at Erkhia
  • Thargelion 19 - May 12 - Bendideia - festival in honor of Thracian Goddess Bendis
  • Thargelion 19 - May 12 - Sacrifice to Menedeius at Erkhia
  • Thargelion 25n - May 17n - Kallunteria - spring cleaning of the Temple of Athena
  • Thargelion 27 - May 22 - Plynteria - festival of washing, where the statue of athena was removed from the city of Athens to be cleaned. Auspicious day.

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

    Would you like to support me? Buy me a coffee.
    The Archaeological Museum of Thebes has issued the following announcement inviting everyone interested to create short stories, poems, fairy tales, letters, or theatrical plays inspired by objects exhibited in the museum.

    "How many times have you visited a museum and stood in front of a statue or a vase more than other exhibits? How many times have you stood and dreamed of an alternative story than the one written in the caption? How many times have you wondered why a painter chose that specific representation? How many stories can be created through a fun game? Would you like to share the stories you have thought of with us?

    Our proposal, on the occasion of the upcoming four-year celebration from the inauguration of the New Archaeological Museum of Thebes on June 07, 2020, is simple: to create short stories, poems, fairy tales, letters, or theatrical plays.

    Our suggestion –invitation is addressed to everyone; those of you who want to try your penmanship; those of you who still believe in the power of the written word.

    Every object can be the trigger, the occasion for the creation of an idea, a thought, an emotion. Its interpretation, its understanding, the restoration of its image in its original environment, and the reconstruction of its story have always been fascinating, thus challenging the imagination. We archaeologists live it every day, and we thought of giving all of you the opportunity to tell the story of the objects in your own words, through your own approach and your own imagination.

    All the objects exhibited in the Archaeological Museums and Archaeological Collections of Boeotia may carry many human stories since their creator is after all the human mind.

    Do you want to test your skills as storytellers, historians, or poets, regardless of your age?

    Our action “Archaeo-writing” is addressed to pupils, students, as well as adults. A list of finds from all over Boeotia has been created for each age group. We give you a photo, a short caption with the necessary information for each find, and, only for our younger friends, keywords that they should use in their creations.

    Each participant in this action of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia can select only one find and one literary category. Your text should not exceed 2,000 words, and should not be less than 200 words.

    All creations must mention the name of the author, the number of the selected find (select only one find from the attached catalogues), the category – literary genre, and your contact details (preferably email).

    Your works must be submitted in Word format by May 29, 2020, as attachments to the email created exclusively for this action ( As a subject of the email, you should state the action title “Archaeo-writing” and your last name.

    Our action aims in learning and joyful creativity. So, texts that contain inappropriate and offensive content will be returned to the authors with relevant information. We are sure that we can all create works of any kind of art without offending anyone. As the proverb goes, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” In case a writer wishes to send a text and maintain his/her anonymity in the upcoming publication, please let us know about the use of a pseudonym.

    The archaeologists of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia invite you to a small fantasy game, a search through the centuries, one of the many ways to dream something different and magical. Imagine what it would be like if the ancient finds really spoke to us and what it would be like if we knew the secrets behind the material?

    The steps for your participation are simple:

    - Select an item from the list that fits your age.
    - Read the short caption and learn where each object derives and what material it is made of.
    - Choose a literary category.
    - “Archaeo-write” your creation.
    - Finally, fill in your first and last name, the class you go to, if you belong to our younger friends or your profession if you are an adult. Then send it to the impatient archaeologists of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia via email to

    You will receive a confirmation email for your participation in our action.

    Our younger and adult writers will be announced after May 29, 2020. Your stories will be collected and published in a digital edition of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia, which will be posted on the website of the Archaeological Museum of Thebes. Those who will send a text will receive an email with details before the final publication, of course, with your signature.

    We are waiting for your creations, and we expect you to respect the texts of other authors. We do not copy. We createusing different types of brushes and colours, the colours of our imagination, and the brushes of our dreams."

    Please find the categories list here.
    Today is a busy day so I'm doing a short one, one of the Delphic Maxims; 'do not be discontented by life' (Τω βιω μη αχθου).

    We are all told our fate soon after we are born. At night, the Moirae (Μοιραι)--better known as the Fates--enter the room where the newborn lies and they whisper their destiny into their ear. They are the only ones who can do this, as they have spun the threads that make up our fate. Mothers can invite the Moirae by leaving offerings on a table in the nursery. If they wait long enough, the Moirae will appear and, while they enjoy the offerings, will tell the faith of the child. The most well known myth surrounding this event is that of Althaea and Melaeger, who are told that Melaeger will only live as long as the log in the hearth remains unconsumed. Althaea hurries to extinguish the log but eventually kills her son by burning the log.

    Fate, although set, is not unbendable. Odysseus was destined to return home to Ithaca, and although the Gods did everything to stop him, he eventually returned home. Myth suggests that, if Zeus really wants someone's faith to change, He can make it so. Yet, overall, our fate does not change. We do what we must, die when we must, live through what we must. We can plead to the Gods to lighten our load when it's too much to bare, but this Maxim reminds us that, if we would ask for anything, it be the strength to bare what we were given, because what we were given, was given to us by the Gods.

    To be discontent with life is to question the will of the Gods. It's hubris. Because of this it's dangerous. The Maxim may seem close to 'be grateful', but it's far more severe. It's a warning, not a reminder. So, perhaps, the next time you feel like cursing the Gods or your bad luck, you will remember the Moirae and this Maxim and think twice.
    Sententiae Antique put up a lovely translation of Galen recently that I would like to share with you. Galen was a doctor and medical researcher who lived from 129 to around 216 CE. He studied medicine by dissecting apes and made some important discoveries, among them that arteries do not carry air, but blood. His work remained influential into the Middle Ages. Of course, like most ancient Hellenes who wrote things down, he was also a bit of a philosopher, including this beautiful bit on keeping the door open (but, you know, mentally and emotionally).

    “Always be on guard against the matter which is greatest in this, once you choose to honor yourself. For it is possible always to keep at hand the memory of the hideousness of the soul of those who get angry and the beauty of those who are untroubled by rage.

    For whoever, thanks to being accustomed to a mistaken behavior over time, has developed a stain of emotions which cannot be washed away,  must for as great an amount of time attend to each of those beliefs by which a man might become noble and good, should he heed them. We lose sight of a thing that falls easily from our minds because they have been previously filled by these emotions.

    Therefore this must be pursued by each of those who want to be saved as if there were no proper season for taking it easy; and all of us must turn toward accusing ourselves, and we must listen to [others] gently, not for the sake of castigating them but for shaping them in turn.

    Keep the door of your home open all the time and permit those who understand to enter at every opportune moment. If you are prepared in this way, be bold enough to be discovered as overcome by any of the major mistakes by none of those who enter. Just as it is possible to banish a bad feeling for one who is unwilling, it is easy to banish great ones for one who has made this decision.

    When your door is open all the time, as I said, then let there be plenty of time for people who understand to enter. As all the other people who enter a public space attempt to act properly, so too act in the same way in your private home. But those who are ashamed before others only because they might be caught, do not feel shame before themselves alone: but you, feel shame before yourself especially, if you follow this precept.”

    [Affections 5.25–26]
    The origins of the modern term “piracy” can be traced back to the ancient Greek word peiráomai, meaning attempt (i.e., “attempt to steal”). Gradually this term morphed into a similar sounding term in Greek meaning “brigand,” and from that to the Latin term pirata. Ancient pirates left no archaeological records. The historical evidence for what they did, why they did it, and the attempts that were made to quell them is obtained entirely from written sources. These help build a picture of the threat that pirates presented and reveal that the practice was prevalent throughout antiquity.

    Piracy in the ancient world can be linked, in part, to geography. The ruggedness of the Mediterranean region often favored maritime rather than agricultural livelihoods. During the Bronze and Early Iron Ages, occupants of coastal settlements such as Byblos, Sidon, and Tyre in Lebanon, and Athens, Aegina, and Corinth in Greece, relied on marine resources such as fish, molluscs, seaweed, and salt for their survival. Most people living in such places would have owned a boat and possessed both seafaring skills and an unsurpassed knowledge of local navigation and sailing conditions. If times were particularly hard, these skills could be easily used in piracy. (This virtually-intact Roman shipwreck was raised after 2,000 years.)

    Models and images of sailing vessels found in Greece, Egypt, and the Levant reveal that by 3000 B.C., a wide assortment of craft were regularly sailing the Mediterranean. During the early millennia of seafaring, when maritime navigation was in its infancy, ships were unable to cross long distances over open water and so kept close to the coast. Shipping was therefore restricted to a few navigable routes, such as the one that connected Egypt with the island of Crete.

    Merchant vessels laden with goods moved along these shoreline thoroughfares. The rugged coastlines of the Mediterranean were another advantage to pirates. Numerous hidden inlets allowed their ships to remain hidden from view until it was too late to escape. Merchant ships lacked speed and dexterity, and pirates were quicker and nimbler.

    Attitudes to piracy in ancient  Hellas are reflected in the Homeric epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey, composed around 750 B.C. Although pirates are often spoken of with disapproval in these works, on a few occasions their actions and activities are not only condoned but praised.

    The historian Thucydides later wrote of the different motives for coastal dwellers to practice piracy, “some to serve their own cupidity and some to support the needy.” Like Homer, Thucydides suggests that marauders could be held in esteem: “They would fall upon a town unprotected by walls and would plunder it; indeed, this came to be the main source of their livelihood, no disgrace being yet attached to such an achievement, but even some glory.”

    By the end of the sixth century B.C., Greek trade spanned the length and breadth of the Mediterranean. The marked increase in the volume and value of goods being traded meant that, for the first time, large coastal cities such as Athens, Corinth, and Aegina were almost wholly dependent on maritime trade. With piracy now posing a significant threat to their commercial interests, these cities introduced a number of measures to fight it. (Barbarossa would later become the most feared pirate in the Mediterranean.)

    According to Thucydides, the Corinthians were the first to use their navy to suppress piracy. The huge expense and impracticality of large-scale naval campaigns, however, would have precluded many other states from these kinds of efforts. Consequently, throughout the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., the Greek states tried to curtail piracy using less expensive measures, including sporadic campaigns designed to “clear the seas of pirates”; the creation of alliances and pacts with specific language outlawing maritime banditry; the construction of naval outposts in regions popular with pirates; and the use of naval escorts to protect merchant shipping.

    These measures proved fruitless in stopping the pirates. In the fourth century B.C., Alexander the Great believed attacks on his merchant shipping would threaten his planned invasion of Persia. He created the first truly international coalition against piracy to which his allies were expected to contribute. But following his death in 323 B.C., no power was strong or affluent enough to suppress piracy. In fact, Alexander’s successors found that pirates could be turned to their advantage, either to directly menace their enemies, or by being incorporated into their own navy as auxiliary units.

    Demetrius I of Macedon regularly employed pirates among his naval forces. The first-century B.C. historian Diodoros Siculus records that the spectacular array of vessels Demetrius deployed when blockading Rhodes included a number of pirates, the sight of which “brought great fear and panic to those who were watching.”

    For an in-depth look at piracy in the Egyptian and Roman world, please go here.
    Administering justice is often placed in the sphere of influence of either Athena of Nemesis, and both Goddesses do, indeed, have connections to it. There is one Theia, however, who is the personification of the phenomenon of justice. Dikē (Δικη) is the Goddess of justice placed upon mortals, fair judgements and the rights established by custom and law. According to Hesiod, She was born from a joining of Zeus and Themis, the Titan Goddess of divine law, custom and prophecy. She has five sisters, Eunomia (Ευνομια, Goddess of good order and lawful conduct) and Eirênê (Ειρηνη, Goddess of peace and spring), with whom Dikē forms the Horai (Ὡραι), the Goddesses of the seasons and the natural portions of time; and the Moirai, the Goddesses of fate. Their names are Kloto (Κλωθώ, spinner), Atropos (Ἄτροπος, unturnable), and Lakhesis (Λάχεσις, Alotter).

    Dikē was born to Zeus and Themis in a coupling before He took Hera as his wife and queen. Hellenic didactic poet Aratos (Ἄρατος) regarded Her as Astraia (Αστραια), who is either a sepatarte Theia to Dikē, or as an epithet of Her who took to the earth, where the Golden Age ruled. This age, long before the age of heroes, was a just age, and there were no wars. there was no famine. No man coveted possessions of another. Much of this was attributed to Dikē, who kept the inhabitants of this age ethically strong and morally fair. When those of the Golden Age passed, they were morally pure, and became daímōns, guarding over those of later ages. Dikē remained on earth for the Silver Age, but those of the silver age were more corruptible. She wished for the race of the Golden Age, and more and more, the silver race became diseased with lawlessness and strife. Dike gathered the beings of the silver race and told them the following:

    "Behold what manner of race the fathers of the Golden Age left behind them! Far meaner than themselves! But ye will breed a viler progeny! Verily wars and cruel bloodshed shall be unto men and grievous woe shall be laid upon them." (96)

    With that, she left earth for the stars, where she watches over the earth as the constellation Virgo. Aratos goes on to say that Dikē hated the bronze age men, 'who were the first to forge the sword of the highwayman, and the first to eat of the flesh of the ploughing-ox'. Other writers like playwright Aeschylus in his 'Papyri Oxyrhynchus', Hellenic rhetorician Demosthenes in 'Against Aristogeiton', within the Orphic Hymns, and by Hesiod himself in Works and Days place Dikē next to the throne of mighty Zeus, Her father, where she can tell Zeus of those whom break her teachings.

    Returning to Dikē's genealogy: her family tree would look as follows:

    It should be noted that Aratos' Astraia was born not to Zeus and Themis, but to Astraios (Ἀστραῖος) and Eos (Ἠώς). Eos's family line is quite clear, as She is said to have Hyperion and Euryphaessa as Her parents. Astraisos' family line is less clear, with options ranging from Krios and Eurybia to Tartaros and Gaea. As such, it is far more logical to place Her into the sky after Her departure from earth than at Zeus's feet.

    Aeschylus wrote of the fucntion and tasks of Dikē the best, I feel, although the final lines are mostly lost to us:

    "Dike: And he [Zeus] has his seat upon his father's very throne, having overcome Kronos by means of Justice (Dike); for Zeus can now boast, since his father began the quarrel, that he paid him back with Justice on his side. That is why Zeus has done me great honour, because after being attacked he paid him back, not unjustly. I sit in glory by the throne of Zeus, and he of his own will sends me to those he favours; I mean Zeus, who has sent me to this land with kind intent. And you shall see for yourselves whether my words are empty.
    Chorus: How then shall we rightly address you?
    Dike: By the name of Dike, her who is greatly revered in heaven.
    Chorus: And of what privilege are you the mistress?
    Dike: As for the just, I reward their life of justice.
    Chorus: (...) this ordinance among mortals.
    Dike: But in the reckless I implant a chastened mind.
    Chorus: By Persuasion's [Peitho] spells, or in virtue of your might?
    Dike: I write their offences on the tablet of Zeus.
    Chorus: And at what season do you unroll the list of crimes?
    Dike: When the proper time brings the fulfilment of what is theirs by right.
    Chorus: Eagerly, I think, should the host welcome you.
    Dike: Much would they gain, should they receive me kindly." (part of frag. 282)

    Dikē is regarded as a great Goddess whom no one mortal man or woman would defy openly. We all claim our actions are justified (even when they are not so in the eyes of others), and in an argument, even opposites call upon Her, because they are sure She will favor them. Both the oppressors in a war, as the oppressed will say Dikē is on their side, and even thieves and murderers are sure that what they did was just. We had to do it, in order to feed our families, protect our spouse, etc. All are right to call upon Dikē--whose Roman equivalent Iustice became Lady Justice--but it is up to Zeus to pass the final judgement. At that time, He will send Nemesis to strike down the unjust party.

    While Lady Justice is often depicted with scales, a sword, and a blindfold, Dikē was depicted solely with scales. The sword is attributed to the Roman Iustice, who combined attributes of both Dikē, and Her mother Themis. As such, Iustice administered justice to all, not just mortals. The sword may have been inherited from Nemesis. The blindfold came much later, in the fifteenth century, to indicate that justice is or should be placed upon one objectively, without fear or favour, regardless of identity, money, power, or weakness; blind justice and impartiality. In ancient times, Dikē was sometimes depicted with a cornucopia, to indicate that those who follow Her teachings are rewarded richly, something echoed in Hesiod's writing:

    "There is a noise when Dike is being dragged in the way where those who devour bribes and give sentence with crooked judgements, take her. And she, wrapped in mist, follows to the city and haunts of the people, weeping, and bringing mischief to men, even to such as have driven her forth in that they did not deal straightly with her. But they who give straight judgements to strangers and to the men of the land, and go not aside from what is just, their city flourishes, and the people prosper in it: Eirene, the nurse of children, is abroad in their land, and all-seeing Zeus never decrees cruel war against them. Neither famine nor disaster ever haunt men who do true justice; but light-heartedly they tend the fields which are all their care. The earth bears them victual in plenty, and on the mountains the oak bears acorns upon the top and bees in the midst. Their woolly sheep are laden with fleeces; their women bear children like their parents. They flourish continually with good things, and do not travel on ships, for the grain-giving earth bears them fruit." (220 - 237)

    All mortals do well to honor Dikē. She can be petitioned for guidance in times when moral and ethical questions weigh heavily upon you. Dikē can not be bribed, however, and unlike us mortals, She knows exactly when an action is just. Petition Her for counsel, but never expect Her to lie to Zeus about your actions. If you must request something as extreme as that, you can be sure Nemesis will not be on your side.
    The monkeys featured in several frescos in Minoan Greece suggests the civilisation was familiar with multiple monkey species, none of which were indigenous to the region. Researchers studying the ‘blue’ monkeys in Bronze Age frescos from Minoan Greece have found they’re incredibly accurate, to the point that researchers can even identify the genus of monkey.

    At the 3,600-year-old settlement of Akrotiri, Thera, vervet monkeys are commonly depicted. Their rounded greyish/black muzzle, white band on the forehead, long arms and legs, and extended tail are all key indicators.

    Meanwhile, at Knossos, Crete, baboons appear to be depicted. The narrow waist but thick chest, projecting face and hairless nose are a good match for the primates.

    Crucially, the behaviours of both monkeys match up to their real-life counterparts. The vervet monkeys are depicted climbing, whilst baboons are seen on the ground. This would suggest that the artists had seen, or had contact with people who had encountered these animals.

    Such contact is notable as neither species of monkey is native to the Minoan region, both being found in North-eastern Africa. There is alleged evidence of Minoan contact with the continent, but these monkeys provide some of the strongest proof to support such a theory.

    There is one contradiction, monkeys aren’t blue, however, cultural particularities and trends often influence how colours are categorised. In some cultures this results as blue being viewed as part of the grey-green spectrum.

    Perhaps this happed among the Minoans, explaining why the coloured grey/green monkeys are depicted blue. Alternatively, they could be borrowing the colouration from the Ancient Egyptians who used blue in scared contexts.

    Either way, this case of ‘archaeoprimatology’ sheds new light on Minoan frescoes and provides insight into the surprisingly interconnected world of Ancient Greece.
    Greek-born film maker Eleni Cubitt died on Friday morning, according to news reports. Cubitt was the secretary of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, an organisation initially set up by her late husband James Cubitt, to campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens.

    Her most recent film was The War That Never Ends in 1991 for which she was the executive producer. Under the name of Eleni Collard, she was executive producer for the 1968 Jean-Luc Godard film Sympathy for the Devil.

    Culture Minister Lina Mendoni on Friday sent a message of condolence to the friends and family of film-maker Eleni Cubitt, stressing her long contribution to the efforts for the return of the Parthenon Marbles as one of the founding members of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles (BCRPM).

    "The loss of Eleni Cubitt, an important person who fought passionately for many years for the repatriation of the Parthenon Sculptures is great. Both as a founding member and as general secretary of the BCRPM, she was one of the people that gave life and force to the campaign. With her husband, James Cubitt, they took the message of Greece’s righteous struggle for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures to the world. Her action had decisive importance. We will miss her forceful personality. I express my sincere condolences to her family and many friends."

    Read more about her amazing life and work here.

    Thank you for all you have done.
    The ASCSA (The American School of Classical Studies at Athens) has recently shared videocasts of presentations in Cotsen Hall to a worldwide audience thanks to the generosity of the Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Foundation, Mr. Lloyd E. Cotsen and Mrs. Margit Cotsen, and Alexander E. Zagoreos.

    The lectures were presented by the School during the academic year (October–April) and earlier. Videocasts are available to browse by category or by year (most recent first). All lectures run approximately 60 minutes unless otherwise noted.

    To watch, click 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 15th, 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!
    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 tomorrow, on April 14th at 10 am EDT.
    Brexit has reignited debate about the return of the Elgin Marbles. Their return to Greece may happen sooner than we realise, writes the Scottish National Party MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Margaret Ferrier.

    In the early 1800s, Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, gained access to the Temple of the Parthenon and other buildings which comprised the Acropolis in Athens. With a team of assistants, Thomas Bruce removed many items of significant cultural interest, including 57 slabs from the frieze of the Parthenon, transporting them to Britain between 1802 and 1812.

    To this day, the Elgin or Parthenon Marbles are one of the British Museum’s most well-known artefacts. The actions of Elgin over 200 years ago, and the status of the artefacts he removed from the Parthenon, have sparked one of the most controversial cultural debates in human history. Although the legality of what Elgin did remains hotly disputed, the Marbles have remained the property of the British Museum ever since the House of Commons voted to purchase the Marbles in 1816.

    Those who argue that the Marbles should remain in Britain cite cultural preservation as a key reason. The Universal Museum argument, put forward by the British Museum and many other major museums, effectively places immediate cultural preservation above considerations of the circumstances in which treasures and other artefacts of major cultural significance were acquired.

    I have some sympathy with the general point that many of the world’s cultural treasures would have been lost if they had not been rescued from destruction. In unstable or war-torn countries, we have all watched in horror as UNESCO World Heritage Sites have been at the wrong end of bombs and bullets. Daesh’s wanton destruction of Palmyra, the Great Mosque of Aleppo and the old city of Damascus, is to name but a few of the UNESCO World Heritage sites that have suffered in the brutal conflict in Syria.

    However, comparing what has happened in Syria with the proposed repatriation of the Elgin Marbles would be comparing apples and oranges. Both Greece and the UK can offer outstanding facilities to preserve the Marbles for generations to come, so the argument comes down to whether or not art needs to be appreciated in its full and original context. In the case of the Parthenon Marbles, placing them a few short miles from their original location in the Acropolis Museum, where they can be appreciated and admired the world over, is the right thing to do. 

    There is a new political imperative to this debate. Last week the UK Government published its much-awaited mandate for trade negotiations from the EU. Reading the UK Government’s wish list for a Canada-style trade deal confirmed my fears for the economic impact of Brexit on my constituents. But Brexit also reveals the delusions of grandeur on the part of the UK Government, as it will expose the power imbalance we face in the negotiations with the EU27. The EU is also preparing for trade negotiations, and a draft version of the agreement includes a provision for both the UK and EU to “address issues relating to the return or restitution of unlawfully removed cultural objects to their country of origin”, much to the surprise of observers but highlighting that trade negotiations don’t necessarily hinge on economic considerations.

    Given the mood music from Brussels and from the Greek Government, calls for the Elgin Marbles’ return may prove irresistible as we get into the details of our future trading arrangements with the EU27. Whether by intention or by accident, the Elgin Marbles may end up returning to Greece in circumstances that we never previously imagined.

    For a full transcript of Margaret Ferrier's Motion to British Parliament click here.
    Archaeological pottery has been used to date archaeological sites for more than a century, and from the Roman period onwards can offer quite precise dating. But further back in time, for example at the prehistoric sites of the earliest Neolithic farmers, accurate dating becomes more difficult because the kinds of pottery are often less distinctive and there are no coins or historical records to give context. This is where radiocarbon dating, also known as 14C-dating, comes to the rescue. Until now, archaeologists had to radiocarbon date bones or other organic materials buried with the pots to understand their age.

    But the best and most accurate way to date pots would be to date them directly, which the University of Bristol team has now introduced by dating the fatty acids left behind from food preparation. Professor Richard Evershed from the University of Bristol’s School of Chemistry led the team. He said:

    “Being able to directly date archaeological pots is one of the “Holy Grails” of archaeology. This new method is based on an idea I had going back more than 20 years and it is now allowing the community to better understand key archaeological sites across the world. We made several earlier attempts to get the method right, but it wasn’t until we established our own radiocarbon facility in Bristol that we cracked it. There’s a particular beauty in the way these new technologies came together to make this important work possible and now archaeological questions that are currently very difficult to resolve could be answered.”

    The trick was isolating individual fat compounds from food residues, perhaps left by cooking meat or milk, protected within the pores of prehistoric cooking pots. The team brought together the latest high resolution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry technologies to design a new way of isolating the fatty acids and checking they were pure enough for accurate dating.

    The team then had to show that the new approach gave dates as accurate as those given by materials commonly dated in archaeology, such as bones, seeds and wood. To do this the team looked at fat extracts from ancient pottery at a range of key sites in Britain, Europe and Africa with already precise dating which were up to 8,000 years old.

    From the famous Sweet Track site in Somerset and several sites in the Alsace region of France, to the World Heritage site of Çatalhöyük in central Turkey and the famous rock shelter site of Takarkori in Saharan Africa, the new method was proven to date sites incredibly accurately, even to within a human life span.

    Professor Alex Bayliss, Head of Scientific Dating at Historic England, who undertook the statistical analyses, added: “It is very difficult to overstate the importance of this advance to the archaeological community. Pottery typology is the most widely used dating technique in the discipline, and so the opportunity to place different kinds of pottery in calendar time much more securely will be of great practical significance.”

    In London, England, the new dating method has been used on a remarkable collection of pottery found in Shoreditch, thought to be the most significant group of Early Neolithic pottery ever found in the capital. The extraordinary trove, comprising 436 fragments from at least 24 separate vessels weighing nearly 6.5 kilos in total, was discovered by archaeologists from MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology).

    The site appeared to date from the time when the first farmers came to Britain but accurately dating it was difficult until the Bristol team, using their new dating method on traces of milk fats extracted from the pots, showed the pottery was 5,500 years old. The team were able to date the pottery collection to a window of just 138 years, to around 3600BC.

    The results indicate that around 5600 years ago the area around what is now Shoreditch High Street was used by established farmers who ate cow, sheep or goat dairy products as a central part of their diet. These people were likely to have been linked to the migrant groups who were the first to introduce farming to Britain from Continental Europe around 4000 BC – just 400 years earlier. Jon Cotton, a consultant prehistorian working for MOLA, said:

    “This remarkable collection helps to fill a critical gap in London’s prehistory. Archaeological evidence for the period after farming arrived in Britain rarely survives in the capital, let alone still in-situ. This is the strongest evidence yet that people in the area later occupied by the city and its immediate hinterland were living a less mobile, farming-based lifestyle during the Early Neolithic period.”

    The results from this site are a prime example of where pottery survives in circumstances that other organic materials do not, so using this revolutionary new method will unlock important information about our prehistoric past.