LLR Books

Ancient Greeks Fixed Matches 1,700 Years Ago



by Konstantinos Menzel

British historians at the King’s College in London have recently deciphered a delicate Greek papyrus that was discovered more than a century ago, which shows that the outcome of a wrestling match between two teenagers was predetermined.
The ancient Greek contract, which was discovered in the Egyptian city of Oxyrynchus, home to a large Greek-speaking population in antiquity and the source of most of these papyri, is dating from 267 AD and was made between the father of a wrestler called Nicantinous and the trainers of his rival, Demetrius. The two men were set to wrestle in the final of the 138th “Great Antinoeia,” which were a series of games held during a religious festival in ancient Egypt.
The contract says that Demetrius’ wrestler must “when competing in the competition, fall three times and yield” and in turn he would be rewarded with “three thousand eight hundred drachmas of old silver coinage.”
The ancient bribe also contained a clause that Demetrius would still get his money if the judges picked up on the fact the match was fixed and refused to grant Nicantinous victory, while Nicantinous’ father also arranged that if Demetrius would back out of the deal and win, his trainers would have to pay a larger sum to his son.
“If you were confident you would win, normally you would go for it. If you were not sure however, maybe you were cutting your risk by saying, ‘At least I get the bribe’,” professor Dominic Rathbone, who translated the ancient papyrus, told Live Science, and added, “Ancient people made such bribes to reduce their losses as the training of athletes was expensive and there were no prizes for runner-ups.”
In a fair match, ancient wrestlers fought to throw each other to the ground three times, using a number of holds and throws, some of which reportedly resembled body slams seen in modern professional wrestling
- See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2014/04/24/ancient-greeks-fixed-matches-1700-years-ago/#sthash.dJAIYVEB.dpuf




Hippocrates' Legendary Tree 'Fingerprinted'


by Amanda Onion

Some 2,400 years ago, Hippocrates, an ancient Greek scholar of medicine, sat down with his young pupils under the shade of a plane tree in Kos, Greece -- or so legend has it. Today, DNA researchers say they have identified the genetic fingerprint of that tree that served as one of medicine's earliest classrooms.
The original tree died hundreds of years ago, but in its place is a tree planted in 1776 that is thought to be a descendant of the original tree. Cuttings from this descendant have been presented as gifts to libraries, colleges and medical institutions around the world.
One of these cuttings was planted at the National Library of Medicine near Washington, D.C. and it's this specimen that was used by researchers at the Smithsonian's Laboratories of Analytical Biology to identify the famous tree's genetic fingerprint, or DNA barcode.
Ancient Giant Trees Found Petrified in Thailand
The effort was part of the Barcode of Life Project, which has banked the genetic blueprints of more than 200,000 species toward its goal of logging DNA barcodes from every species on Earth.
"I'm sure that Hippocrates would have been fascinated by the DNA Barcode Project and I think he would have been very excited about how DNA comparison and other modern methods are being used to better understand and ultimately treat human disease," Dr. David Lipman, director of the National Library of Medicine's National Center for Biotechnology Information, told BBC News.
Hippocrates was an ancient Greek physician and is considered the father of western medicine. He is credited with being the first to believe that diseases were caused naturally, not because of superstition and gods.
Vacation Tree House: A Hotel Built on Treetops
Hippocrates may now be best known for the oath named after him, which is still commonly recited today by physicians and other health care workers as a pledge to practice medicine honestly.
There's no way to guarantee that the DNA barcode created by the Smithsonian researchers is a true match to the very tree that Hippocrates taught under -- or that the famous Greek physician even taught medicine under a plane tree in Kos. But if the legends are true, then science now has the genetic code to seal the tree's place 

Ancient Rome's tap water heavily contaminated with lead, researchers say



Supply became contaminated as it passed through giant network of lead pipes that distributed water around city, scientists believe
Tap water in ancient Rome, provided by its famous aqueducts, was contaminated with up to 100 times more lead than local spring water, researchers say.
Huge volumes of fresh water flowed along aqueducts to the heart of the Roman empire but the supply was contaminated as it passed through the giant network of lead pipes that distributed water around the city.
Researchers in France said levels of lead in Roman drinking water were a concern, but were probably insufficient to cause widespread mental problems, or potentially drive up crime rates, through lead poisoning.
"It's marginal. You would start being worried about drinking that water all your life," said Francis Albarède, who led the study at Claude Bernard University in Lyon. "Even though they probably did not get degenerate, as some people say, or even get more violent, lead pollution might have been something to be concerned about."
The scientists inferred lead pollution levels by analysing sediment cores taken from the Trajanic harbour basin at Portus, a major port of imperial Rome, and a canal that connected the port to the Tiber river.
The Trajanic harbour, a hexagonal inland basin, was built in the early years of the second century AD to give safe mooring to merchant ships as the population of Rome expanded.
Albarède's team studied lead isotopes in a nine-metre-deep core drilled from the harbour and a 13-metre core taken from the canal, which carried a record of contaminants from the Tiber. Sediments trap contaminants as they form, so studies of sediment cores drilled from ocean floors and river beds can reveal levels of environmental pollution dating back hundreds or thousands of years.
The tests on the Tiber sediments were striking. They showed that two kinds of water mixed in the river. The first was natural river water, which carried lead isotopes originally from the Apennines and volcanic rock in the Alban hills south-east of Rome.
The second type was much cleaner drinking water, that had drained into the river, and was contaminated with isotopes of lead not found in Italy. The researchers believe the lead was mined elsewhere, perhaps in Eifel in Germany, or even the English Pennines, and then brought back in ingots to make lead piping.
Further tests on the sediments showed that levels of lead in the Roman tap water varied over time from 14 to 105 times higher than those found in natural spring water. The findings are reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Though Rome's complex plumbing system gave officials control over the distribution of water around the city, it was not unknown for locals to punch holes in the pipes to draw water off, increasing the number of people exposed to the lead. Even so, Albarède believes that any health problems caused by lead piping could not have brought the civilisation to its knees.
"Can you really poison an entire civilisation with lead? I think it would take more than lead piping in Rome to do that," he said.






Rome 'ages' 200 years as archaeologists discover new remains

It's already known as one of the world's oldest cities – but ancient Rome just got a little older.
Excavations inside the Roman Forum have found the remains of a wall dating back to 900 BC – suggesting that the Eternal City was settled two centuries earlier than previously believed.
Using the latest technology, archeologists in Italy uncovered pieces of the wall made from tufa – a type of limestone – along with fragments of ceramics and grains, during excavation of the Lapis Niger, a black stone shrine that preceded the Roman Empire by several centuries.
According to local legend Rome was founded by twin brothers Romulus and Remus in 753 BC. But this discovery has convinced leading Italian archeologists the city may have been founded 200 centuries before that.
"Examination of the recovered ceramic material has enabled us to chronologically date the wall structure to between the 9th century BC and the beginning of the 8th century BC," said Dr Patrizia Fortuni, an archeologist from Rome's cultural superintendency, who heads the research team. "So it precedes what is traditionally considered the foundation of Rome."
The Lapis Niger site lies next to the Arch of Severus Septimius, a marble monument built in the heart of the Forum centuries later in 203AD.
Experts have been working on the dig since 2009, using historic photos, images and other research left by archeologists including Giacomo Boni who led the excavation of the Roman Forum from 1899 until his death in 1925.
From Boni's images, Dr Fortuni and her team created 3D images of the location and used laser scanners and high-definition photography to pinpoint the precise location of the buried wall, which she described as the "first structure" in the sacred site.
Previous excavation at the site uncovered a block of stone known as the "lex sacra" which has the oldest known ancient Latin inscription in Rome, dating back to 565 BC. 

Ancient Rome 'larger than first thought'



British scientists have found proof that the ancient city of Rome was much larger than previously estimated.

The scientists discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the river port of ancient Rome. Source: PA

They say the new discovery proves that the city was much larger than first thought.

Researchers from the universities of Southampton and Cambridge uncovered the extra section of the wall at Ostia while conducting a survey of an area between the port and another Roman port called
Portus - both of which are about 30 miles from the Italian capital.

Scholars had thought the Tiber formed the northern edge of Ostia, but this new research, using geophysical survey techniques to examine the site, has shown that Ostia's city wall continued on the other side of the river.

The researchers have shown this newly discovered area enclosed three huge, previously unknown warehouses - the largest of which was the size of a football pitch.

Professor Simon Keay, director of the Portus Project, said: "Our research not only increases the known area of the ancient city, but it also shows that the Tiber bisected Ostia, rather than defining its northern side.

"The presence of the warehouses along the northern bank of the river provides us with further evidence for the commercial activities that took place there in the first two centuries."

The researchers have been using an established technique known as magnetometry, which involves systematically and rapidly scanning the landscape with small handheld instruments in order to identify localised magnetic anomalies relating to buried ancient structures. These are then mapped out with specialised computer software, providing images similar to aerial photographs, which can be interpreted by archaeologists.

In antiquity, the landscape in this recent study was known as the Isola Sacra and was surrounded by a major canal to the north, the river Tiber to the east and south, and the Tyrrhenian sea to the west.

At the southernmost side of the Isola Sacra, the geophysical survey revealed very clear evidence for the town wall of Roman Ostia, interspersed by large towers several metres thick, and running east to west for about half a kilometre. In an area close by, known to archaeologists as the Trastevere Ostiense, the team also found very clear evidence for at least four major buildings.

Prof Keay said: "Three of these buildings were probably warehouses that are similar in layout to those that have been previously excavated at Ostia itself, however the newly discovered buildings seem to be much larger. In addition, there is a massive 142 metre by 110 metre fourth building - composed of rows of columns running from north to south, but whose function is unknown.

"Our results are of major importance for our understanding of Roman Ostia and the discoveries will lead to a major rethink of the topography of one of the iconic Roman cities in the Mediterranean."

The work has been undertaken as part of the Southampton-led Portus Project, in collaboration with the British School at Rome and the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma. For more information visit www.portusproject.org.

10 things that propelled Ancient Rome to greatness that can help your business




What can today’s small to medium-sized businesses learn from the great armies of Ancient Rome? More than you might think.

The results achieved by this civilization and its army speak for themselves. Powered by its army, Rome grew from a few nomadic clans around northern Italy in the 8th century BC to the greatest military and economic empire in world history in current-dollar terms.

And similar to SMBs journey, the Roman army regularly ran up against armies much larger and better resourced than theirs, often by large multiples. So what specifically can businesses take from the ancient Roman army?

Here are 10 guiding principles that served the armies well and can help your business:

1. Supreme confidence The armies took in information voraciously, but took no input on their core mission and beliefs.
As a small business owner, if your confidence can be shaken with respect to what you are trying to accomplish, you have probably already lost.

2. Losing is literally not an option The armies of Rome had no conception of accepting a loss in battle — they just hadn’t won yet. At the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC, the Romans lost roughly 10% of their male population in a matter of hours — one of the gravest battle losses in history — but persevered under new generalship to turn the tide against Hannibal and win the war against the Carthaginians.
Business owners need to accept and embrace that victory is neither easy, nor a foregone conclusion.

3. Smarter than everyone else, and still outworked them by orders of magnitude The Romans were tireless and ruthless trainers, planners and organizers. The word “decimation” comes from the Roman practice of eliminating (a euphemism) randomly one in 10 men of an underperforming or undisciplined army.
A bit extreme, but the notion of unsqueamishly demanding top performance from your team is the modern lesson.

4. Discipline, focus and discretion Roman leaders were often respected, but always feared. Romans never tried to win popularity contests, nor did they crave the attention, admiration or support of others.
This is a lesson for new paradigm CEOs who risk getting distracted and losing focus — or worse, confusing their brand or even mission — in being too open or social.  Too much openness and collaboration in executing your business strategy can leave you without a sustainable competitive advantage.

5. Aggressively adaptive The Romans were keen observers of  others’ battlefield innovations. They quickly adopted key elements, but made their versions even better than those they copied. Rome became a naval power by copying Greek/Carthaginian ship designs, then adding the corvus, their innovation that allowed them to deploy land battle tactics on the high seas.
Business owners must drop the not invented here mentality, as many have, and find ways to shorten their path to market by using tools and technology already out there. The absolute focus should be on the end result — the customer’s experience — rather than the product.

6. Continuously adaptive The armies never stopped the process or sat on a lead, even a big one.
This is particularly important for SMBs, as technology continually shortens product lifecycles, and indeed what it means to have a lead.

7. Fearless in the face of an unexpected challenge The bigger the hurdle, the harder the Romans jumped. As an army commander, Caesar built the largest bridge in history in days from materials at hand so his army could cross the Rhine River to take the fight to the Gauls in the Gallic Wars. Anyone else would have turned back and tried something easier or more conventional.
For businesses, the message is “so what if it has never been done before?” Sometimes audacity is rewarded, and is the only path to success despite the risks.

8. Committed to innovation, even when painful The Romans committed great resources to the process of innovation — in strategy, logistical supply chain and infrastructure, and troop development and armaments. Even when they didn’t actually have the resources, they found a way.
Similarly, companies need to dig and cut to support their top priorities, sometimes brutally, when cash is not plentiful.

9. Internally competitive The biggest motivator to a Roman general was the glory and rewards it brought — better than your rivals and predecessors. Often the biggest threat was other Roman commanders. Far from distracting or disabling the Romans, it empowered them.
The same holds true for great companies. Despite the cheery atmosphere and the office toys, truly innovative companies will foster the competition of ideas and the efforts to marshal the resources to execute them.

10. Positive feedback loop Each of the above principles supported and strengthened the others. There were few unproductive contradictions in Roman thought and action.
As a business owner, this applies to everything from determining your mission, to deciding on the breadth and depth of products and services you offer. Inconsistencies will impede your progress in building value, and needlessly consume resources.


The ancient Roman army was likely the most effective organization in human history. So, if you are going to model your business after anything, it would be a great choice in any market conditions and business space.

Conference at Bates explores women’s ritual activities in ancient times

While men may have dominated public life in ancient Greece and Rome, women nevertheless played active roles in religious rituals.
In ancient times, says Bates classicist Lisa Maurizio, “women were significant actors in funerary practices. We know women composed and chanted songs for those rites. Many scholars argue that through their laments they influenced the tradition of epic poetry,” such as the works of Homer.
Women’s lament is one of the topics that international scholars will take up at Bates next week as the college hosts the conference Women’s Ritual Competence in the Ancient Mediterranean April 25–27.
The conference looks at a variety of women’s ritual activities, such as lamentation, prophecy, magical incantation, prayer, weaving and sacrifice.
“Competence” in the conference title, she adds, refers to the fact that the women in question were “participants in and constructors of the divine — how the divine was understood, imagined and worshipped.”
The conference will bring together classicists in a variety of disciplines: archaeology; art history; philology, the study of literary language; and epigraphy, the study of ancient inscriptions, especially on stone.
Maurizio’s co-organizers are Esther Eidinow, a historian of ancient Greece at the University of Nottingham in England, and Matthew Dillon, a professor of the humanities at the University of New England — not the UNE in Maine, but the school in Armidale, Australia, northwest of Sydney.
Bates presenters at the conference are:
Rhetoric professor Stephanie Kelley-Romano, with “Symbolic Ritualization of Reproduction/Reproductive Anxieties in Alien Abduction Narratives”; Maurizio herself, whose talk is titled “Delphic Oracles: Occasional Verse and Ritual Competence”; and a colleague in classical and medieval studies, Laurie O’Higgins, who will discuss the ritual and symbolic dimensions of Penelope’s “web” — the robe Odysseus’ wife wove by day and unraveled at night .
Presenters at the Bates event include experts in ancient textiles, writings on stone and statuettes from Italy.

Mauritzio9086
Lisa Maurizio.

“We’re interested in a range of types of ancient evidence, not just literary texts,” Maurizio says. “We look at how these objects were used in the social world — how they indicated status, how they moved from person to person.
“For example, women in antiquity often gave soft gifts, like textiles, and dedicated them to gods and goddesses. Men often exchanged hard objects, such as metal weaponry.
“If you begin to look at these items beyond their immediate use, they give you insight into much broader social processes and structures.”
For more information about the conference, please contact Lisa Maurizio at lmaurizi@bates.edu. The conference is made possible by support from The Costas and Mary Maliotis Charitable Foundation.

Romania keeps ancient tradition of bee medicine alive



Bee venom to combat multiple sclerosis, pollen for indigestion, honey to heal wounds -- the humble bee has been a key source of alternative medicines since ancient times, and Romania is working to keep the tradition of "apitherapy" alive.
The tradition goes back to ancient Greece when Hippocrates applied honey to treat wounds, and the Romans saw pollen as "life-giving".
In the past of India, China and Egypt, a resinous substance collected by bees from the buds of certain trees, known as "propolis", was popular as an antiseptic.
"The hive is the oldest and healthiest natural pharmacy," said Cristina Mateescu, director general of the Institute for Apicultural Research and Development in Bucharest.
Today in the wilderness of Romania's Carpathian mountains, honey bee products are still a familiar part of traditional medicine.
"In my village, my great-grandmother was a healer and used products from beehives. She inspired me," Dr Mariana Stan told AFP.
Having spent years as a conventional doctor, Stan now practises in Bucharest as a "apitherapist" -- using bee products "which give slower but longer lasting and more profound results".
In a country still infused with folk culture, several families continue to use propolis against sore throats, as well as honey and pollen to boost the immune system.

- Apitherapy pioneer -

Every town in Romania has its "plafar" -- natural pharmacies selling products made from plants, honey, beeswax and propolis.
"Romania is a pioneer of apitherapy, which it recognised very early as a component of scientific medicine," said US professor Theodor Charbuliez, head of the Apimondia Commission of Apitherapy, a group that brings together thousands of practitioners from around the world.
Modules on apitherapy have started to work their way into more conventional medical classes and extracts from propolis developed by the Apicultural institute into recognised medicines.
Founded in 1974, the institute employs 105 people who look after local bee colonies and sell around 30 approved products.
A new range even seeks to treat cats and dogs with bee-related products. Bucharest also boasts an Apitherapy medical centre, the world's first, which opened in 1984.
Scepticism remains among the regular medical community in the absence of scientific studies about the effects of bee venom, but many users are full of praise and welcome the cheap costs and environmentally friendly approach.
Doina Postolachi comes twice a week to the medical centre to receive injections of bee venom, or "apitoxin".
The 34-year-old poet says the injections have allowed her to "rediscover hope" in her fight against multiple sclerosis.
"For a year, I could no longer walk or get into my bath. My feet were stuck to the ground. But today, the venom treatment has given me back strength in my legs. I walk, I can take baths," she said.
She said she has never wanted any regular pharmaceutical treatments "which come with numerous side effects".

- Bees do wonders -
There has been mounting interest across the world in apitherapy.
In 2013, Washington University in the US city of St Louis published a study on the efficacy of milittine, a toxin contained in bee venom, in countering the AIDS virus.
In France, thousands of patients have benefited from bandages treated with honey at the abdominal surgery department of Limoges hospital.
Bee products are also infiltrating the cosmetics industry, used in skin-toning and anti-wrinkle creams.
Part of the appeal rests with the natural and organic image of bee products.
"In Romania, we have the chance to maintain an unspoiled nature," said Cornelia Dostetan, a member of the National Apitherapy Society.
Under Communism, poverty meant that pesticides were rarely used and the country has never shifted to large-scale monoculture forms of agriculture. The result is that Romania retains a great diversity of flora, said Dostetan.
Certified organic, the Romanian brand Apiland, a specialist in raw pollen, has launched its products in France and Italy.
According to the last agricultural census in 2010, Romania counted 42,000 beekeepers and more than 1.3 million colonies of bees.
Postolachi says she looks on the bees with "immense gratitude". "These miniscule beings do wonders."





Ancient temple of the goddess Athena



ATHENS, GREECE (Catholic Online) - Built in 438 BC, it is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered to be the culmination of the development of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art.
The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy and one of the world's greatest cultural monuments. The Greek Ministry of Culture is currently carrying out a program of selective restoration and reconstruction to ensure the stability of the partially ruined structure.
In the 5th century AD, the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. After the Ottoman Turk conquest, it was turned into a mosque in the early 1460s, and it had a minaret built in it.
In 1687, during the Ottoman-Venetian wars, a Turkish ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by Venetian bombardment. The resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures.
Several sculptures were recovered in 1806 and sold to the British Museum in London in 1816 where they are now displayed. The Greek government is committed to the return of the sculptures to Greece, so far with no success.


Ancient Greek Hot Springs: A Medicinal Resource Used for Centuries



(THERMOPYLAE, Greece-AFP) - Hercules used them to regain his strength after his legendary labours, Hippocrates lauded their beneficial properties and even a famous Roman general, Sulla, said he owed his health to them.
Their praise was for hot springs, a medicinal resource known and appreciated in Greece since antiquity -- though regrettably less so nowadays.
"Greece invented the therapeutic use of hot springs thousands of years before the birth of Jesus Christ," says Zisis Aggelidis, a professor of hydrogeology at Thessaloniki's Aristotelio University.
In ancient Greece, healing temples known as Asclepieia -- named after the god of medicine Asclepius -- were popular with pilgrims.
Greece today has some 700 hot springs known to have curative properties, but just over 100 are accessible and even fewer are commercially exploited.
Many are still free of charge to the public, out in nature with minimal facilities, even on popular tourist islands such as Santorini, Milos and Kos.
Evangelos Kyriazis, a barrel-chested man in his sixties, says he has not been to a doctor in years thanks to his local spa.
Kyriazis' magic potion bubbles forth from a mountain in central Greece, near the town of Thermopylae.
His self-styled treatment is to take 300 baths a year for half an hour in the sulphurous water, which has a temperature of between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius (86-104 Fahrenheit).
"It detoxifies and oxygenates the body, regulates pressure, dilates the blood vessels, relaxes the muscles, clears the lungs, strengthens the bones and relaxes the nervous system," says Kyriazis.
"It even whitens the teeth."
- 'Hot gates' -
Thermopylae, literally "hot gates" in Greek, has become synonymous with the ferocious battle in which 300 Spartans sacrificed themselves against overwhelming Persian odds in 480 BC.
Few today, however, associate Thermopylae with the hot springs Hercules frequented in Greek mythology, except a few locals and a small number of connoisseurs.
"These springs cured my aching knees and shoulder. The waters here are more natural than in Germany," says pensioner Alfred Weigel, who makes an annual pilgrimage from his native Bavaria for a dip here.
To the uninitiated, the site appears inauspicious, close to an abandoned petrol station and a derelict hotel. Bathers change in their car, and step over a wobbly wooden pallet to reach the springs.
"We have an exceptional product but it is poorly used," sighs Markos Danas, secretary general of the union of Greek spa towns.
He notes that across the country less than a dozen sites offer acceptable tourism infrastructure.
"Hot springs are mostly run by local communities, and this has limited the scope of development," he adds.
Three of Greece's best-known spa towns are Loutraki in the Peloponnese, Kamena Vourla in central Greece and Edipsos, on the island of Evia.
The latter is known to posterity through the Greek biographer Plutarch as the site that cured Rome's Sulla.
For years much of the clientele were Greek pensioners on state-funded curative tours.
However, in the wake of the economic crisis gripping the country for the past five years, demand has fallen dramatically.
The union of spa towns reports a 50-percent drop in paying customers since 2009.
The spa towns are now hoping an EU directive that authorises reimbursing citizens taking hot baths in other member states will revive interest.
Greece's state privatisation agency last year also offered four hot springs in central Greece, including Thermopylae, for sale to private developers.
 But there were no takers -- meaning more free visits for Evangelos and his fellow bathers in the foreseeable future.



Horace

Not the owner of many possessions will you be right to call happy: he more rightly deserves the name of happy who knows how to use the Gods' gifts wisely and to put up with rough poverty, and who fears dishonor more than death. -- Horace (65-8 BC) Roman Poet


Eating Became Dining in Ancient Greece


By Susan Hallett

In Greece, eating in Homeric times (before 700 B.C.) often began with oxen roasted outdoors on a spit. It culminated in the perversities of Nero’s banquets in Roman times, but in between the art of eating went from simple sustenance to decadence and eventually elegance.
In Homer’s time, simple dishes such as “a mess of porridge” or grated cheese with white barley and wine were served, but red meat was preferred. And when Odysseus was within a short sail of Ithaca, the story goes that he stated: “There is no greater fulfilment of delight than when joy possesses a whole people, and banqueters in the halls listen to a minstrel as they sit in order due, and by them tables are laden with bread and meat, and the cup-bearer draws wine from the bowl and bears it round and pours it into cups.”
The Greek recipes that follow are from Ontario-based chefs Christine Cushing, host of the Food Network’s daily flagship series “Christine Cushing Live,” and the 3 Greek Sisters, Betty, Eleni, and Samantha Bakopoulos. Cushing was born in Greece and came to Canada with her parents when she was a child. The 3 Greek Sisters’ first cookbook, “Three Sisters Around the Greek Table,” received several awards and is a national bestseller.
The recipes were demonstrated Apr. 5 & 6 at Ottawa’s Vacation & Travel Show.
Barley and Fennel Pilaf

(Courtesy of Christine Cushing)

This recipe pairs barley with the delicate anise flavour of fennel and a slight sweet note from the currants. It’s a great side dish for fish, chicken, or pork.
Makes 6 servings
25 ml (2 tbsp) Greek extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 head fennel, cored, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
250 ml (1 cup) pearl barley rinsed and drained
50 ml (1/4 cup) dry black currants
3 whole sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 bay leaf
750 ml (3 cups) chicken broth
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Several sprigs flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a medium pot on medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and fennel and sauté until softened and golden, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and barley. Cook for 1 minute, just to toast.

Add the currants, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, and broth, and season with pepper. Bring to a boil and stir. Cover and simmer on low heat for 35 minutes until tender. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped parsley.

Potato and White Bean Salad
(Courtesy of 3 Greek Sisters)
This salad is very hearty and filling. It goes well with barbequed meat and fish.
Preparation 20 minutes
Cooking 20 minutes
Serves 4
Bake 425°F (220°C)
Ingredients
500 g (1 lb) fingerling potatoes
25 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
500 ml (2 cups) white beans, cooked
25 ml (2 tbsp) capers
10 Kalamata olives, pits removed
6 scallions chopped, both white & green
125 ml (1/2 cup) each fresh parsley & basil, chopped
25 ml (2 tbsp) fresh dill, chopped
50 ml (1/4 cup) feta cheese, crumbled
Dressing
75 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
15 ml (1 tbsp) Dijon mustard
50 ml (1/4 cup) yogurt, Greek or Balkan style
1 preserved anchovy fillet, rinsed & chopped
Pepper, as desired

Place the potatoes in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Roast for 20 minutes in a preheated oven, or until the potatoes are fork tender. When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces, place in a salad bowl, and add the beans, capers, olives, scallions, fresh herbs, and feta cheese.
Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Toss the salad with the dressing.

Let the salad sit for at least one hour before serving.



Susan Hallett is an award-winning writer and editor who has written for The Beaver, The Globe & Mail, Wine Tidings, and Doctor’s Review, among others. She is currently the European editor of Taste & Travel International. Email: hallett_susan@hotmail.com



Beloved in antiquity, Greece's hot springs left untapped

 Sophie Makris, Agence France-Presse

                                               

FOR HEALTH. A man enjoys a bath at the hot springs of the famous Thermopylae ('the hot gates') in central Greece on March 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI
THERMOPYLAE, Greece – Hercules used them to regain his strength after his legendary labours, Hippocrates lauded their beneficial properties and even a famous Roman general, Sulla, said he owed his health to them.
Their praise was for hot springs, a medicinal resource known and appreciated in Greece since antiquity – though regrettably less so nowadays.
"Greece invented the therapeutic use of hot springs thousands of years before the birth of Jesus Christ," says Zisis Aggelidis, a professor of hydrogeology at Thessaloniki's Aristotelio University.
In ancient Greece, healing temples known as Asclepieia – named after the god of medicine Asclepius – were popular with pilgrims.
Greece today has some 700 hot springs known to have curative properties, but just over 100 are accessible and even fewer are commercially exploited.
Many are still free of charge to the public, out in nature with minimal facilities, even on popular tourist islands such as Santorini, Milos and Kos.
Evangelos Kyriazis, a barrel-chested man in his sixties, says he has not been to a doctor in years thanks to his local spa.
Kyriazis' magic potion bubbles forth from a mountain in central Greece, near the town of Thermopylae.
His self-styled treatment is to take 300 baths a year for half an hour in the sulphurous water, which has a temperature of between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius (86-104 Fahrenheit).
"It detoxifies and oxygenates the body, regulates pressure, dilates the blood vessels, relaxes the muscles, clears the lungs, strengthens the bones and relaxes the nervous system," says Kyriazis.
"It even whitens the teeth."
'Hot gates'
Thermopylae, literally "hot gates" in Greek, has become synonymous with the ferocious battle in which 300 Spartans sacrificed themselves against overwhelming Persian odds in 480 BC.
Few today, however, associate Thermopylae with the hot springs Hercules frequented in Greek mythology, except a few locals and a small number of connoisseurs.
"These springs cured my aching knees and shoulder. The waters here are more natural than in Germany," says pensioner Alfred Weigel, who makes an annual pilgrimage from his native Bavaria for a dip here.
To the uninitiated, the site appears inauspicious, close to an abandoned petrol station and a derelict hotel. Bathers change in their car, and step over a wobbly wooden pallet to reach the springs.
"We have an exceptional product but it is poorly used," sighs Markos Danas, secretary general of the union of Greek spa towns.
He notes that across the country less than a dozen sites offer acceptable tourism infrastructure.
"Hot springs are mostly run by local communities, and this has limited the scope of development," he adds.
Three of Greece's best-known spa towns are Loutraki in the Peloponnese, Kamena Vourla in central Greece and Edipsos, on the island of Evia.
The latter is known to posterity through the Greek biographer Plutarch as the site that cured Rome's Sulla.
For years much of the clientele were Greek pensioners on state-funded curative tours.
However, in the wake of the economic crisis gripping the country for the past five years, demand has fallen dramatically.
The union of spa towns reports a 50-percent drop in paying customers since 2009.
The spa towns are now hoping an EU directive that authorises reimbursing citizens taking hot baths in other member states will revive interest.
Greece's state privatisation agency last year also offered four hot springs in central Greece, including Thermopylae, for sale to private developers.
But there were no takers – meaning more free visits for Evangelos and his fellow bathers in the foreseeable future. – Rappler.com


Factoids







In Mexican jungle, garden evokes ruins of ancient Greece



by TERESA DE MIGUEL ESCRIBANO
XILITLA, Mexico — At the end of a long, dirt road in Mexico’s northeast jungle, two spiral staircases appear, leading nowhere amid an ornate concrete structure. Giant concrete fleur-de-lis flank a path, and tall bamboo-shaped columns surround a house with no walls. Oversize plaster orchids are in permanent bloom, while a natural waterfall ceaselessly flows down a mountain.
This is Las Pozas, a dreamy, little-known garden of surreal art, where sculptures evoke the ruins of ancient Greece but are overrun by exotic jungle plants. It was created by the late Edward James, a British multimillionaire and arts patron who favored surrealists like Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali.
“Mr. Edward wanted to bewilder,” said Carlos Barbosa, a park guide. He thought of the park “as a joke to a future civilization.”
And visitors are bewildered by Las Pozas, located on a 100-acre hillside where the Sierra Madre mountains and coastal plains of the northeast state of San Luis Potosi meet.
“I had seen videos and documents but I didn’t expect it to be so impressive,” said Vida Arellano, a tourist from the northern state of Chihuahua. “Once you are here, you are enveloped by nature, the sculptures, the architecture ... it transports you to a different mental state.”
Las Pozas means the pools.
The ferocity of the jungle in these hills of the Sierra Madre, a seven-hour drive from Mexico City, has destroyed many structures in the garden. But that didn’t bother James, who liked to think that future archaeologists would discover his lost city and wonder what kind of civilization had built it, Barbosa said.
James inherited a fortune from his father and used the money to support the work of great surrealists, including Dali, Magritte, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo. Fascinated with Mexico, he arrived in San Luis Potosi in the mid-1940s, bought land through a Mexican friend and spent the next 20 years of his life building his garden.
The park was half-built by the time its creator died 30 years ago, but it remains an impressive work of art, with an air of mystery added by the rust and deterioration brought on by nature.
The original project, interestingly, had nothing to do with the garden’s ultimate design.
For years, James cultivated thousands of orchids on his land, but in 1962 a cold snap destroyed them, said Zaira Linan, the park’s assistant director. James then ordered workers to build cement flowers that weather couldn’t destroy, Linan said.
The son of British aristocrats and grandson of a Canadian timber baron, James first came to Mexico in 1944 at the invitation of psychiatrist Erich Fromm. He joined a salon of intellectuals and artists at Cuernavaca, the resort city just southeast of Mexico City.
It was in Cuernavaca that he met Plutarco Gastelum, a Mexican friend who helped oversee the garden’s progress as workers built wooden molds from James’ drawings and filled them with cement to create the sculptures.
James’ imagination didn’t stop with the flowers. He began to design increasingly complex sculptures, often inspired by artistic philosophies he encountered in his travels. He would sketch his sculptures on postcards and mail them to Gastelum.
Barbosa remembered with amusement James’ many eccentricities, including the time he asked a cook to make a banquet for a menagerie of exotic animals he kept and loved like his children.
James “used to walk naked through the park and even though he was a millionaire, he often slept in a sleeping bag among the weeds,” Barbosa said.
Walking through the labyrinthine paths overrun by the jungle is an adventure. And just when it seems that there is nothing more to see, a small, stone pre-Columbian house opens the way to a stunning square where a giant concrete sculpture of a blooming flower sits.
With park guides’ help, visitors can access the most remote corners of the park, including a concrete bed shaped like a tree leaf where James used to meditate and prepare for death.
But James didn’t die in his precious park. He died in 1984 in San Remo, Italy, when a stroke put an end to his delirious project.
Since he didn’t leave any sketches for future sculptures, construction halted and the jungle began to take over, Linan said.
In 1990, Gastelum’s son, who is also named Plutarco, opened the park to the public. He remembers James as a “tender” character whom he called “Uncle Eduardo,” and says he is often surprised by the curious anecdotes he reads about James, including one that claims he may be an unacknowledged descendant of Britain’s King Edward VII.
“It wasn’t until I was much older that I thought, ‘How come I have an English uncle?’” Gastelum said laughing.
In 2007, Gastelum turned the garden over to a foundation so more resources could be devoted to preserving its 36 sculptures. Today it draws 75,000 visitors annually.
If You Go...
LAS POZAS: www.xilitla.org/. Xilitla, Mexico, is the closest town, about two miles from the garden. Mexico City is a seven-hour drive and Tampico is the nearest major airport, about four hours away. Entrance to the park is about $4. Lodging can be found in Xilitla or at the Posada James Hotel near the park.


Getty Museum returns ancient manuscript to Greece



LOS ANGELES (AP) — The J. Paul Getty Museum will return a 12th century New Testament manuscript to a monastery in Greece after museum officials said they only recently learned it was stolen decades before the museum acquired it in 1983.
Getty officials said Monday that although the Byzantine illuminated New Testament was acquired as part of a larger, well documented collection, recently uncovered records from 1960 indicate it was removed from the monastery illegally.
It will remain at the Getty Center until June 22 as part of an exhibition called "Heaven and Earth: Byzantine Illumination at the Cultural Crossroads" before returning to Greece, along with numerous other objects on loan for the show.
The announcement of its return was made a day ahead of Tuesday's scheduled press preview of the exhibition that is to be attended by Greek Minister of Culture Panos Panagiotopoulos.
"We applaud the Getty for their responsiveness to this matter," Panagiotopoulos said in a statement. "Their decision to return this precious Byzantine manuscript honors the spirit of our 2011 Framework for Cultural Cooperation."
In recent years, the museum has returned several artifacts to Greece, Turkey and Italy that the nations complained were taken from their countries illegally.
Museum officials say they have never knowingly acquired any artifacts whose provenance was in dispute.
In the case of the New Testament, officials said its disappearance was never reported to authorities and thus was never listed on any database of stolen art.
"Over the past six weeks, the Getty Museum has worked cooperatively with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports to understand the recent history of this manuscript and to resolve the matter of its rightful ownership in a timely fashion," Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, said in a statement. "Based on new information that came to light through this process, the museum decided that the right course of action was to return the manuscript to the Holy Monastery of Dionysiou from which it disappeared over 50 years ago."
Panagiotopoulos said the manuscript was copied in 1133 by the scribe Theoktistos and is considered a masterpiece of Middle Byzantine art.


Saudi royal family could pay for restoration of Roman monuments


Deal brokered by mayor of Rome could see Saudi Arabia provide millions of euros to restore neglected sites in exchange for loans of priceless artworks

The government in Riyadh have shown a particular interest in in the Emperor Augustus's mausoleum, a giant, circular structure located near the Tiber River Photo: Alamy

By Nick Squires,
A training barracks used by Roman gladiators and the 2,000-year-old mausoleum of the Emperor Augustus could be restored with money from the Saudi royal family, in the latest effort by Italy to secure funding for its crumbling cultural heritage.
In a deal brokered by Ignazio Marino, the mayor of Rome, the Saudi royals are to provide millions of euros to pay for the restoration of some of the capital's neglected monuments.
The government in Riyadh has been presented with a dossier of nine historic sites to choose from, with greatest interest said to be in the Emperor Augustus's mausoleum, a giant, circular structure near the Tiber River that has been virtually abandoned for decades.
Rome had hoped to have the huge brick monument restored and opened to the public this year to coincide with the 2000th anniversary of the emperor's death.
At least €4 million (£3.3m) is needed for the job: half has been pledged by Italy's ministry of cultural heritage and now there are hopes that the Saudis will chip in the rest.
Other sites in desperate need of attention include the remains of the Ludus Magnus, a gladiatorial training school in ancient Rome that was connected to the Colosseum by an underground passageway.
Gladiators would walk through the torch-lit tunnel and emerge on the sand-covered floor of the amphitheatre, an experience portrayed in Ridley Scott's epic film Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe.
Under the deal negotiated with Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, a Saudi prince and the country's tourism minister, Rome is also seeking €6 million to restore to their former glory the Seven Halls, an ancient Roman cistern that once supplied a bath complex built under the Emperor Trajan.
In return for Saudi largesse, the mayor has agreed to loan to Riyadh priceless art works from Rome's Capitoline Museums.
"We have many works and we are not able to put them all on display because there is not enough space," Mr Marino said.
The Saudis are reported to be particularly keen to borrow The Dying Gaul, a marble sculpture of a naked Celtic warrior slumped on his fallen shield with a sword wound to his chest.
Described as one of antiquity's most renowned works, it is an ancient Roman copy of a Greek work from the third century BC and was viewed by 750,000 people when it recently went on display for three months at the National Gallery of Washington.
With sites like Pompeii deteriorating alarmingly as walls and even entire villas collapse, and with a public debt of €2 trillion, Italy is looking to private companies and foreign benefactors to come to the rescue of its cultural heritage.
Last week the fashion company Bulgari announced that it would provide €1.5 million to pay for the sprucing up of the Spanish Steps in Rome, the shoe makers Tod's is paying for the cleaning of the Colosseum and Fendi has agreed to fund repairs to the Trevi Fountain.