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Hellenistic Gold Wreaths

Hellenistic Gold Wreaths

In Ancient Greece, wreath crowns were given as prizes to the victors of athletic and artistic competitions. The wreaths were often made from the branches of Laurel, Myrtle, Oak, and Olive Trees. These trees in Ancient Greece were symbolic of various number of concepts such as wisdom, triumph, fertility, peace, and virtue.
Gold wreaths were meant to imitate their natural counterparts.  However, due to their fragiler nature, they were only worn on very special occasions.  Many gold wreaths were dedicated as temple offerings and serves as funerary goods for royalty and the wealthy elite. The vast majority of gold wreaths date to the Hellenistic Period, after the conquests of Alexander the Great, although they have been known to have existed since the Classical era. They exemplify the exceptional skill of goldsmiths during the Hellenistic period.

Colossus of Rhodes

Ancient Greek statue destroyed 2,000 years ago by an earthquake to be REBUILT


ONE of the seven ancient wonders of the world could be rebuilt 2,000 years after it was destroyed - and is planned to be FIVE TIMES bigger.


PUBLISHED: 22:25, Thu, Dec 24, 2015 | UPDATED: 23:01, Thu, Dec 24, 2015

The Colossus of Rhodes stood astride the port of the ancient city in Greece, which is now a tourist destination for hundreds of thousands of people each year.

An earthquake brought the statue crashing down to earth 2,000 years but now plans are afoot for an even bigger version put in its place.

It was said to be the inspiration for the Statue of Liberty, but the new Colussus will be 50 per cent larger than the American version.

The recreation will face the Aegean on the island of Rhodes and be visible from the Turkish coast 35 miles away.

The £200million project is being led by architect Aris A Pallas.

Shops and a library will be included in the building while the outside of the structure will use solar panels to power its lighthouse.

Those behind the plans are looking to part-crowdfund the construction.

Mr Pallas said Greece would benefit from the statue and Rhodes would become a year-long tourist destination as a result.

He said: “We want to show that Greece can get back on its feet again; that it has the power and people to do so, and that the economy here can recover.”

The original statue was built in 280 BC and stood 30-metres high.


Underwater City

Underwater Ancient City of Corinth in Greece Unveiling Its Mysteries

Article by Harshna S.. Published on December 25 2015. Categorized under Science and Health News

A team of researchers behind the Lechaion Harbor Project (LHP) has unveiled some of the mysteries of the partly-submerged ancient ruins of Lechaion, which used to be the harbour town of Corinth, Greece. Great monuments and structures of architectural value have been documented together with a discovery deemed to be surprising.


Aerial photo of part of the site being studied by archaeologists. Photo credits: K. Xenikakis & S. Gesafidis.

The evidence gleaned from the underwater ruins points at Lechaion’s development as a harbour town whose importance was nearly as pronounced as nearby city, Corinth, says archaeologist Bjørn Lovén, from the University of Copenhagen, and one of the authors.

Lechaion used to be one of the busy ports of ancient Corinth from the 6th century BCE to the 6th century CE. Ships setting out from there would sail to ports all across the Mediterranean, and other areas. This is what has allegedly contributed to Corinth becoming a wealthy city; archaeologist Lovén explains that it was thus commonly known as “Wealthy Corinth”.

The submerged part of the harbour was excavated and studied using technologies such as a 3D parametric sub-bottom profiler to carry out a digital, geophysical analysis of the area.

The researchers were surprised to find wooden chests that were well-preserved. They explain that they might have been barges that would contain concrete cargoes to be sunk together so that a strong base would be built, thereby blocking the force of the sea from the exposed region of the coast. This type of technology has been discovered for the first time in Greece. Otherwise, it is known that Roman imperial engineers adopted a similar approach in the first century BCE.

The caissons seem to have existed at the time of the Christian church Leonidas Basilica, as per carbon dating. The church was constructed during the middle of the 5th century CE, and so, this finding challenges the common assumption that harbour facilities were put together during the Greek and Roman times which were then only repaired and maintained during the Byzantine period.

The team also found that the original location of the ancient harbour might have been further seaward, around 45 meters from the modern shore. The researchers are currently studying the geophysics of the area to shed light on the sea-level change.

Lovén says that their research will provide additional information as to the evolution of the harbour contributing to the establishment of Corinth as an important economic and military power during the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine era.

In the footsteps of Aristotle: A Greek walking tour around the stomping ground of the one of the world's greatest philosophers

•           The world famous thinker used to go to the forests Halkidiki to ponder
•           New walking trails are opening up in the area, suitable for varying abilities
•           Paths are lined with plants which inspired the Aristotle’s interest in botany

 ‘I’m waiting for an epiphany,’ says my daughter Kitty as she sits on a rock by the Varvara waterfall. If there were a place for a moment of revelation, then this is it.
In the forests of Greece’s Halkidiki region, this is where Aristotle used to come and ponder.
Kitty is studying philosophy at school. She enjoys it, albeit mostly when not in the classroom. If we go out for a walk and her younger brother hides, she’ll quote Descartes: ‘He who hid well, lived well.’ And if we pause by a river, she’ll remark: ‘You cannot step in the same river twice. That’s Heraclitus!’
The main Aristotelian Trail affords spectacular views of the Gulfs of Ierissos and the Mount Athos peninsula
Ancient Greeks also philosophised on the move. Aristotle walked so much that his brand of philosophy was known as the ‘peripatetic school’. So what better way to inspire a student than to take her to the birthplace of Aristotle and walk on the mountain that bears his name?
This area has three distinctive ‘fingers’. Aristotle’s stomping ground was on the eastern finger, where latter-day Greeks have been busy opening up several new walking routes. There are eight trails around the Mount Athos area, previously best known for its men-only monastery.
One follows the border of the monastic state, another the route of the Persian King Xerxes, and the longest – the 13-mile Aristotelian Trail – allows walkers to track the ancient philosopher’s thought process from the modern coastal village of Stagira to the ruins of Ancient Stagira, where he was born in 384 BC.
Before we begin, we visit the Aristotelian Park, an outdoor interactive circuit in Stagira, where you can test some of the great man’s scientific discoveries.
The main Aristotelian Trail winds around the densely forested hillsides of the eponymous mountain, occasionally emerging into clearings which afford spectacular views of the Gulfs of Ierissos and Strymonikos, and the Mount Athos peninsula.
The terrain is not unduly arduous, and the path is wide and lined with plants which stimulated the youthful Aristotle’s interest in botany. Pines, chestnuts, oak and juniper trees provide shade and the air is thick with the scent of thyme and oregano. Wild cistus flowers proliferate and, in late summer, mauve flowers of Erica heather give the mountain a vivid hue.
It’s a fertile area and has provided locals with sustenance for over 2,000 years: fruits, berries, mushrooms, chestnuts and herbs. And it’s not just plant life that thrives. We pass a family of goats as we walk and spot a wild pig foraging in the undergrowth.
Pork in sandwich form is on the menu, along with honey and feta filo pie, and a baked quince pudding, when we stop to picnic – all part of the service provided by staff at the Liotopi Hotel in nearby Olympiada.
Olympiada is a gem of a village, named after Alexander the Great’s mother, and a perfect base from which to explore the surrounding area. From the fishing port at the foot of Ancient Stagira, it runs along the shore past a tiny chapel and a strip of hotels and seafront tavernas. Standing on the sweep of sandy bay, you look out to Kafkanas Island.
Running off and alongside the Aristotelian Trail are several smaller paths. One takes us to the majestic chapel of Agios Nikolaos, perched on the top of the mountain. Another leads up to a clearing and a clutch of beehives, positioned to take advantage of the late-flowering heather. And the most spectacular sees us scrambling over rocks and crossing a stream to reach the Varvara waterfall.
Kitty has yet to have a philosophical epiphany but she’s getting into the spirit and quoting Nietzsche: ‘All truly great thoughts are conceived whilst walking.’ And when we pause to taste wild figs, she pipes up: ‘The roots of education are bitter but the fruit is sweet!’
That quote came straight from the mouth of the Stagirite, as Aristotle was known. Although in his adult life he studied under Plato in Athens and later tutored Alexander the Great in Macedon, he was born in Stagira. As the trail heads out of the forest and we see the stone walls of the ancient town flanking the hillside and pick our way to the Hellenic forum, I get a spine-tingling waft of the past.
This is not just a beautiful part of Greece, but the place where a man who has influenced political, philosophical and scientific thought for more than 2,000 years was raised. I get a further sense of déjà vu when we later take a fishing trip and anchor in a sheltered cove to swim before winding nets out across the bay, just as the inhabitants of Ancient Stagira would have done.
When we return to Olympiada to dine at a seafront restaurant called Akroyiali, I ask Kitty: ‘Happy?’
‘Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life,’ she says, quoting Aristotle back at me, and my 21st Century cynicism slips away.

So what if happiness is slippery and elusive a lot of the time? Here, watching the walls of Ancient Stagira glow in the dusk and the Aristotelian Mountain fade in the setting sun, it’s hard not to be.

The narcissus: a flower rooted in mythology

By Ishrat Hyatt

The narcissus is a pretty, small, creamy white -- there are yellow varieties as well -- flower on a long stem, somewhat like a miniature daffodil and it has a strong, heady scent which fills the room if you put a bunch of them in a vase. The narcissus blooms in winter, especially around Christmas time,  so now they are available in plenty and you can find them at flower shops and clutched in the hands of small boys and girls, men and women, who try and sell them at traffic lights or by the roadside, besides being available in flower shops. Come to think of it you rarely see these roaming flower sellers during daylight hours, maybe because they could be considered beggars and would be whisked away by the police, who are trying to control the menace of begging. They can be seen, though, in the evening and at night, unmindful of the cold but hoping you will buy a bunch at the inflated prices they quote – which is okay, I guess, considering not many people succumb to their pleas.
The word Narcissus is derived from the Greek word 'narke', meaning numbness or stupor. Some attribute the naming of the flower to its narcotic fragrance while others debate that it is associated with the poisonous nature of the Narcissus bulbs but according to Greek mythology, Narcissus or Narkissos was a hero of the territory of Thespiae in Boeotia who was renowned for his beauty. Several versions of his myth have survived: it is said that he was so enamoured of his looks that he kept looking into a stream until he turned into the flower known by his name!  Another story is a lesser known variant in which Narcissus had a twin sister. Both dressed similarly and hunted together. Narcissus loved her a lot and when she died, Narcissus pined after her and pretended that the reflection he saw in the water was his sister. Yet another story is that the Narcissus flower was created to entice Demeter's daughter Persephone away from her companions to enable Hades to abduct her.

There are many other myths and legends in the same vein -- mainly about his good looks and the effect they had on people and himself they make for fascinating reading if you into mythology. The term ‘narcissus complex’ has been coined from his behaviour and applies to those who think that they are the most beautiful people on earth and therefore have a superiority complex about their looks -- I’m sure you know a number of such people. I do!

Why Ancient Greek Heroes Are Still So Appealing In Today’s Culture

By Halen Allison

Heroes of antiquity still have a lot to teach us about our own virtues and flaws.
The connection service members and veterans have to those who’ve served before us runs deep. We venerate the likes of Lewis “Chesty” Puller, Audie Murphy, and John Boyd, not only for their heroism on the battlefields of yore, but for their contributions to our warfighting profession. They inspire us and set the standards by which we judge ourselves. We take the heritage they’ve given us very seriously. But the draw we have to the warriors of the past extends further back into history as we also feel a tremendous kinship with and respect for the soldiers and heroes of the classical world.
Antiquity is resplendent with heroes both real and mythical. Alexander, King Leonidas, Hannibal, and Caesar stand out as legendary military leaders and tacticians whose impact on the world can still be seen today, and we idolize the hard, rough men they led into battle. Greek mythology has given us Perseus, Theseus, Hercules, and Jason to name just a few. And any discussion about heroes of the past has to include Achilles, Ajax, Odysseus, and other figures from Homer’s “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.”
What about these heroes do we find so appealing? They were, of course, heroic. But they were more than that. They personify the martial spirit we seek to emulate. Alexander defeated a vastly larger enemy and reduced the powerful Achaemenid Persian Empire with a mere 35,000 men. He took his army from the Levant to the Baes River in modern India. Hannibal’s double envelopment and destruction of the Roman army at Cannae is viewed as the gold standard of battlefield victories. Ajax single handedly held off the Trojan army, saving the day for his Greek comrades.
The appreciation for the martial spirit of the ancients is further evidenced by the adoption of many of their symbols and sayings by military units, companies that cater to the military community, and individuals in and out of uniform. We’ve all seen the malevolent-looking Corinthian helmet, for example, with its plunging cheek guards, dark eyes, and flowing crest, adorning patches and logos.
While these legendary men sometimes seem larger than life and were idealized in many ways, they were also very real, and like us, very complex. It is clear from reading ancient sources that these heroes held dear many of the same virtues that we value: honor, loyalty, courage, perseverance, ingenuity, and adaptability. For example, Homer tells us that Ajax and Odysseus fight the Trojans by themselves to recover Achilles’ body so they can give him a proper burial. This echoes the sentiment that we leave no man behind. Odysseus, during a decade-long trip home from his deployment to Troy, exemplified ingenuity and cunning. When captured by the Cyclops Polyphemus, Odysseus tells him that his name is Nobody. After blinding Polyphemus so that he could escape, the Cyclops cried out for help saying, “Nobody has blinded me!” The other cyclopes ignored him and he went on to endure, and triumph over, more hardships. This says nothing of Odysseus’ most famous act of cunning, that of ending the ten year siege of Troy with a wooden horse. It is interesting to note that while the Greeks adored Odysseus, the Romans reviled him, thinking that such deceit and deception had no place among honorable men.
Our military, however, has a long history of using deception to achieve victory, from ever-evolving camouflage to the creation of the fictional First U.S. Army Group in Operation Fortitude. Odysseus would be proud.   
Despite their many virtues, these figures had flaws and were vulnerable. While in many ways no less powerful, and certainly blessed by the gods, they lacked utterly the aura of invincibility that many of our modern mythological figures have. This is part of the reason they are so accessible and feel so much like us even after thousands of years. One has a hard time believing that Superman or Wolverine will ever achieve such lasting appreciation among future warfighters. Significantly, it is difficult for us to think of our own war heroes as being vulnerable because they are too close to us; being known almost solely for their laudable acts of heroism in battle, they become one dimensional.
We have no such issues with those from antiquity. They are literally described as being flawed, and in some cases, their flaws, despite their virtues, actually define them. Achilles famously had his heel. He was also ruled by his rage. After killing Hector in single combat, Achilles, in his grief, hooked the Trojan’s body to his chariot and desecrated it, dragging it through the funeral games being held for his friend Patroclus.
These myths and legendary men remain relevant today despite the two millennia or more that have passed. Not only are their victories and defeats studied by military tacticians and strategists, but their stories show us that the nature of war and its impacts on the warriors who fight hasn’t changed even with all our technological advances. At the heart of these myths and the accounts of wars in antiquity are fighting men engaged in life or death struggles. They shared with their comrades the same intimate bonds and struggles that we share with ours today.
Dr. Jonathan Shay, in his books “Odysseus in America and Achilles in Vietnam,” suggests that the heroes in Homer’s works may have suffered from post-traumatic stress, or what he calls moral injuries, from their exposure to the rigors of combat. Homer’s works were not tales of adventure and glory, but tragedies describing men touched by war. And these myths are helping today’s veterans deal with their experiences. The organization Theater of War performs readings of classical plays and poems, such as Sophocles’ “Ajax” and “Philoctetes,” for veterans to help them understand that PTSD is a condition suffered by even ancient warriors. Founder Bryan Doerries recently published a book with the same name. Another organization, Voices for Veterans, uses mythology to encourage veterans to talk about their experiences among their peers.
We know that we owe a lot to those who came before us, from Patton and Petraeus to Alexander and Odysseus. It is our martial heritage, and we admire the heroes and warriors of antiquity. While we can appreciate them for their virtues and flaws, we can acknowledge that they have a lot to teach us. Not only about war, but about ourselves.

Halen Allison
Halen Allison is a former Marine intelligence analyst who currently lives in Western New York. He is an amateur historian with a keen interest in writing about current affairs, politics, and veteran issues.

Rome Just Banned Centurions

Officials stir up controversy by kicking impersonators out of the Colosseum
By Erin Blakemore

They're among Rome's most famous tourist attractions: Costumed centurion impersonators who photobomb tourists throughout the city. But soon, writes Reuters, the annoyingly assertive Roman warriors will truly be a thing of the past. In a move aimed at protecting tourists, Rome has banned centurions.
At first glance, modern-day centurions have little in common with their ancient forebears. They are most often spotted near historically significant sites throughout Rome, pulling rickshaws or posing with tourists. Today, anyone with a costume can become a Roman centurion, but it was harder to gain the title in ancient Rome. Known for their elaborate ranks and political power, ancient centurions were military officers who enforced discipline among the greater army. Discipline isn't the strong suit of contemporary centurions, however, who are known for harassing and even attacking tourists.
Officials claim that it's necessary to rid Rome of centurions to protect visitors from such aggressive sales tactics, writes Reuters. The move comes in anticipation of the Jubilee of Mercy, a year-long Catholic event that is expected to bring millions of pilgrims to Rome.
But the Eternal City's historical impersonators won't go down without a fight. Centurions, many of whom hail from poorer areas of Rome, argue that the ban will cast them into Italy's growing ranks of unemployed workers. Reuters reports that one centurion even scaled the walls of the Colosseum to protest the order—a move that also raised questions about city-wide safety. Writes Reuters, "The fact someone had evaded security at one of Italy's most-visited sites and police were powerless to intervene caused concern about whether the city is ready for the Jubilee."

Ready or not, Rome expects up to 33 million visitors for the Jubilee—a sum that dwarfs the usual average of around 13 million visitors per year. There's no telling if the decline and fall of the centurions' second wave will make its way into history books, but one thing's for sure: A Rome without centurions will be less annoying, but also potentially less fun.

Ancient Greek temple aligned to full Moon

Rossella Lorenzi

An ancient Greek temple was built to face the setting full moon near the winter solstice, according to new research that sheds new light on the orientation of sacred monuments.
 A new survey of the Valley of the Temples just outside Agrigento, Italy, reveals the 2,500-year-old temples were not deliberately aligned to the rising sun, as generally believed. A variety of factors, not all of them being astronomical, inspired the ancient architects.
"Alignment was widely determined by urban layout and morphological aspects of the terrain as well as religious connections," Giulio Magli, professor of archaeoastronomy at Milan's Polytechnic University, told Discovery News.
Magli and colleagues Robert Hannah, at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, and Andrea Orlando, at the Catania Astrophysical Observatory, conducted the research with funding from the Ente Parco della Valle dei Templi. Their findings are published on the Cornell University physics Web site, arXiv.org.
Known as the temple of Demeter and Persephone, the shrine is among a World Heritage-listed collection of temples that once stood in full glory in Akragas, later to be called Agrigento.
"One can only imagine the spectacle at the temple. The full moon near the winter solstice - the longest night of the year - culminates very high in the sky and remains in the sky the longest," Magli said.
Akragas was one of the most important Greek colonies in Sicily, and the homeland of the philosopher Empedocles (490 - 430 BC).
Empedocles was the first to divide matter into the four elements of earth, fire, water and air. He also observed that the moon shines with light reflected from the sun.
Today the Valley of the Temples consists of the remains of 10 Doric temples dedicated to Greek gods, goddesses and heroes such as Heracles, Olympic Zeus, Demeter and Persephone, Juno, Concordia, Vulcan, Aesculapius.
Their orientation, as well that of all Greek temples, has been debated for nearly two centuries. Academics wondered whether they were aligned with astronomic events like the sunrise on specific days of the year.
 Magli and colleagues measured the alignment of all the Greek temples in the valley, and showed that at least four of them are orientated in accordance with the town's grid along the cardinal directions — irrespective of the solar date to which they would match due to the horizon.
"For such temples, only a general rule imposing the facade towards the eastern horizon was applied. However, they were not orientated toward the rising sun on specific days of the year," Magli said.
One of the shrines, the temple of Juno, was aligned to the stars in the Delphinus constellation.
On the contrary, the temple of Zeus, one of the largest temples of the Greek world before earthquakes and Carthaginian raids, was orientated topographically in accordance with the street grid.
"Incredible as it may seem, we have been unable to find this simple explanation in the literature," the researchers wrote.
Now incorporated in the Medieval church of San Biagio, the temple of Demeter and Persephone is preceded by a fountain sanctuary with sacred caves where votive deposits, including a statuette representing Persephone, were found.
Persephone and her mother Demeter, the goddess of nature, were the key figures in the Eleusinian mysteries representing the myth of Persephone, who was abducted by Hades to be his wife in the underworld.
The mysteries celebrated Persephone's reunion with her mother, in a cycle with three phases, the "descent," the "search" and the "ascent."
"We know very little about the relationship between astronomy and those secret religious rites. A connection with the moon-orientated temple is possible and will be at the center of further research," Magli said.
 The attribution of the temple to Demeter and Persephone was also confirmed by the presence of two small circular altars located in a corridor formed between the rock cut to the north and the side of the temple.
One altar has a central well, known as bothros, which was found filled with broken kernoi, or ritual vessels of Demeter.
A relatively large esplanade can be found on the back of the temple. It was obtained artificially through the construction of huge retaining walls on the south side and an accurate excavation and leveling of the rock on the north side.
"We can imagine a nocturnal procession coming up from the fountain sanctuary and reaching the temple, in front of which, however, there is not enough space to house worshipers," Magli and colleagues said.
They speculate that after people ascended to the temple, people crossed the corridor between the north side of the temple and the hill, perhaps throwing offerings in the central well.

"Then they gathered in the vast esplanade on the back of the temple. From there, they would have witnessed the spectacle of the full moon high over the hill of the acropolis," Magli said.

Lost Ancient Greek Island Has Been Found

Lost Ancient Greek Island Has Been Found

By Toni Aravadinos -

Archaeologists believe they may have discovered the lost city of Kane, the site of the epic sea battle of Arginusae, which saw Athens crush Sparta in 406 BC. Archaeologists weren’t exactly sure where this island was located, until now.
An international team of archaeologists working with the German Archeological Institute think they may have found Kane in the Aegean Sea, just off the coast of Turkey. The ancient sea battle between the Athenians and Spartans is estimated to have happened towards the end of the 27-year Peloponnesian War.
It was a bittersweet win for the Athenians. Due to a storm the commanders abandoned thousands of their shipwrecked men after the war, something that was considered very dishonorable in the ancient times, as punishment six of them were executed and two were sent into exile on their return to Athens.
The Battle of Arginusae got its name due to its close proximity to the “Arginus” islands, which are now called the Garip islands. Ancient texts always cited the Arginus islands as having three land masses, though they are only two located where the Garip islands are today. What happened to the third island has been a mystery.
Researchers wondered if a nearby peninsula was perhaps the missing island, so they drilled into it and they made an interesting discovery, they found evidence that what is now a peninsula was once an island.

- See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/11/25/lost-ancient-greek-island-has-been-found/#sthash.ARN4s646.dpuf

 (NOTE: The naval Battle of Arginusae took place in 406 BC during the Peloponnesian War near the city of Canae in the Arginusae islands, east of the island of Lesbos. In the battle, an Athenian fleet commanded by eight strategoi defeated a Spartan fleet under Callicratidas. The battle was precipitated by a Spartan victory which led to the Athenian fleet under Conon being blockaded at Mytilene; to relieve Conon, the Athenians assembled a scratch force composed largely of newly constructed ships manned by inexperienced crews. This inexperienced fleet was thus tactically inferior to the Spartans, but its commanders were able to circumvent this problem by employing new and unorthodox tactics, which allowed the Athenians to secure a dramatic and unexpected victory.
The news of the victory itself was met with jubilation at Athens, and the grateful Athenian public voted to bestow citizenship on the slaves and metics who had fought in the battle. Their joy was tempered, however, by the aftermath of the battle, in which a storm prevented the ships assigned to rescue the survivors of the 25 disabled or sunken Athenian triremes from performing their duties, and a great number of sailors drowned. A fury erupted at Athens when the public learned of this, and after a bitter struggle in the assembly six of the eight generals who had commanded the fleet were tried as a group and executed.
At Sparta, meanwhile, traditionalists who had supported Callicratidas pressed for peace with Athens, knowing that a continuation of the war would lead to the re-ascendence of their opponent Lysander. This party initially prevailed, and a delegation was dispatched to Athens to make an offer of peace; the Athenians, however, rejected this offer, and Lysander departed to the Aegean to take command of the fleet for the remainder of the war, which would be decided less than a year later by his total victory at Aegospotami.)

Ruins of Ancient Greek City Found on Mount Pindos

Ruins of Ancient Greek City Found on Mount Pindos

By Toni Aravadinos -

(NOTE: The Pindus (also Pindos or Pindhos) mountain range is located in northern Greece and southern Albania. Because it runs along the border of Thessaly and Epirus, the Pindus range is often called the "spine of Greece". The mountain range stretches from near the Greek-Albanian borders in Northern Epirus, entering the Epirus region and Macedonia region in northern Greece down to the north of the Peloponnese. Geologically it constitutes an extension of the Dinaric Alps, which dominate the western region of the Balkan Peninsula. This vast complex of mountains, peaks, plateaus, valleys and gorges traverses the Greek mainland from the Northwest to the Southeast.) 

 Archaeologists were stunned to find the ruins of an unknown ancient city which dates back to the 4th century BC, at an altitude of 1,200 meters on the Greek mountain of Pindos. It is believed to be the highest archaeological excavation in Greece.
Some fragments of inscriptions which were found near the area of Kastri include the Greek letters “ΙΕΡ…” (ιερό/iero=sacred place) and have led archaeologists to believe that this might have been a very important place for the ancient Macedonians, filled with temples and places of worship. The exact name of this city is yet unknown.
“Even though the findings are many and are very important, we still are unable to find the name of this city and of the God it worshipped. However, the rest of the evidence, including its geographical location and the findings, even the heyday of its acropolis towards the end of the 4th century BC, prove the importance of this city’s historical frame in the ancient Macedonian kingdom” noted the head of this excavation Mrs Stella Drougou.
The systematic excavation in Kastri brought to light large portions of the fortified acropolis of this ancient city and as all evidence proves it had a religious character. Even though the remains of the acropolis are highly damaged, the coins, the ceramics and the vast variety of metallic equipment reveal a well organized economy which obviously leads to a well organized life. The excavation findings and the parts of architecture as well as the coins, date the city towards the end of the 4th century BC to the beginning of the 3rd, but the destruction of the acropolis (which is thought to have been very violent) is dated somewhere in the 2nd century BC. The large amount of copper arrows and fire traces prove that there was most likely some sort of warfare.
“All this data shows that our next excavation target should be at the east mountain slopes of Pindos with the certainty that in the future there can be a very interesting archaeological place in that area”  concluded Mrs Drogou.

- See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/11/25/ruins-of-ancient-greek-city-found-on-mount-pindos/#sthash.7gD10LuA.dpuf

New €20 note with improved security to enter circulation


Sandy Vega

 The European Central Bank launched the new €5 in May 2013 and the new €10 note came on stream in September 2014. Each new note includes a raised print, giving a unique feel.
New €20 notes will begin circulating across Ireland from tomorrow.
When held up to the light, a hologram of Greek mythology figure Europa can be seen.
The note has has an additional security feature known as the portrait window.
Meanwhile, when the new note is tilted, a silvery stripe reveals a portrait of Europa in a transparent window, and the emerald number will change to deep blue while moving up and down. In total, there were 18.1 billion banknotes in circulation with a face value of €1,053.8 billion.
The new notes are similar to the old ones which remain valid but will gradually be withdrawn as they become worn out. The new 50-euro bill is set to go into circulation in the second quarter of 2017, reported the Bank of France in a separate press conference.

Look to the Skies This Month for the Pleiades Star Cluster

The Seven Sisters will shine bright from dusk till dawn for the rest of November
By Danny Lewis

NOVEMBER 19, 2015
The Leonid meteor shower has come and gone, but there’s plenty going on this week to keep stargazers looking up. This Friday night, on November 20, the Pleiades star cluster will reach its highest point in the night sky before making its way back towards the horizon.
While the Pleiades are often mistaken for the Little Dipper, the star cluster is usually found by looking further south, above the bright orange star Aldebaran. One of the best ways to find the star cluster is actually to look towards Orion, Alan MacRobert reports for Sky & Telescope.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the Pleiades hangs out high above the hunter, with orange Aldebaran smack in between the two constellations. Typically, the Pleiades will start rising around 7 P.M.
The Pleiades will be visible through next April, but in the Northern Hemisphere the star cluster is closely tied to the beginning of winter, with some referring to November as “the month of the Pleiades,” according to EarthSky.org’s Bruce McClure, when the star cluster shines brightly from dusk until dawn.
The name comes from figures in Greek mythology: The Pleiades were originally the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas, but Zeus turned them into stars after they begged to be saved from Orion the hunter, astronomer Steven J. Gibson writes for the Arecibo Observatory. After Orion died, he was transformed into a constellation, chasing the Seven Sisters through the skies forever.
While the Pleiades may take their name from Greek mythology, the stars had an important place in many ancient cultures across the world. McClure writes that Halloween is partly derived from a Druidic ritual that celebrated the Pleiades rise and marked a time when the borders between the worlds of the living and dead became blurry.
On the other side of the world, the Zuni people of modern-day New Mexico called the star cluster “The Seed Stars,” as their disappearance from the sky marked the beginning of their growing season.
In a way, the Pleiades are actually sisters—not only are the stars positioned fairly close to one another, but they were born out of the same dust cloud about 100 million years ago, McClure writes. While the seven stars shine the brightest, they are just several of a star cluster that numbers in the hundreds about 430 million light years away.
Editor's Note: Pleiades was mistakenly called a "constellation" in the original version of this article. However, changes were made to show that Pleiades is not a true constellation, but rather is a star cluster in the constellation Taurus.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/month-look-skies-pleiades-constellation-and-comet-180957327/#ufCfbRjBtiTUe5k9.99


In the broad field of anthropology, researchers study ancient relics to discover the truth about humanity’s past. Either it be through ancient artifacts (archaeology), ancient fossils (paleontology), or any other study, they all strive to attain that shared goal through excavation and preservation. However, there’s been a new movement of an anthropological extent that is receiving attention among history buffs and fans. Some researchers (or maybe experts and enthusiasts) are trying to revive the past. An example of this would be the Temple Mount Faithful trying to revive the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel.
Now there is a new movement that is taking on the tantamount endeavor of reviving not just any relic of the past, but one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This movement wants to revive the Colossus of Rhodes.
According to the official website for the Colossus of Rhodes Project, the endeavor was made not out of just wanting to restore one of the Seven Wonders of the World, but to help the people who have greatly suffered in Greece’s failing economy. Collaborating with archaeological-cultural institutions and travel agencies, Rhodes architect Ari A. Palla wants to put the Colossus of Rhodes back on the map. By reviving the ancient statue honoring the ancient Greek mythological gods of victory, it would serve as a port-of-entry for three continents, attracting millions of visitors each year. With the uptick in tourism, it is expected new job opportunities and living conditions will follow.
It should also be noted the Colossus of Rhodes will be accompanied by a new museum which will house hundreds of archaeological findings left in storerooms not publicly accessible. Its construction will also contribute to the country’s economic development with a “domino effect” as more infrastructure is added to make room for newly-discovered artifacts in the future.
Needless to say, having the Colossus of Rhodes revived in modern society is exciting news among those who love history. According to Ancient Origins, the Colossus of Rhodes is the last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to be completed back in 280 B.C.E. by Chares of Lindos. The island it was built on (known as Rhodes, of course) has a history of being conquered. Back in 357 B.C.E., its first record of being conquered was by Mausolus of Halicarnassus. That reign would be short-lived as 17 years later, the Persians took over the island in 340 B.C.E. Finally, it was captured by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.E.
The one battle that would bring forth the building of the Colossus of Rhodes was back in 305 B.C.E. when Antigonus sent his son Demetrius to capture Rhodes for forming an alliance with Egypt through Ptolemy I. Demetrius arrived with 40,000 men ready to take over. However, Ptolemy sent a relief force of ships one year later which forced Antigonus’ army to abandon the siege. In the process, they also left behind most of their siege equipment as well. To celebrate, the Rhodians sold the siege equipment for money to be used to build a huge statue honoring the mythological Greek sun god Helios. The statue was made to honor him but was also meant to honor other mythological Greek gods associated with victory and triumph.
 The Colossus of Rhodes is the last of the Seven Wonders of the World to be built. It was destroyed by an earthquake back in 600 C.E. [Image via Marten van Heemskerck (1498-1574)/Wikimedia Commons – http://www.rhodos-welten.de/koloss/koloss.htm]The Colossus of Rhodes did not last the test of time as it fell after 56 years. Its destruction wasn’t by the hands of invaders, but by an earthquake that hit Rhodes in 226 B.C.E. The statue broke off at the knees and toppled over, shattering into numerous pieces. The ruins of the Colossus of Rhodes would remain untouched until 654 C.E. when Arabs invaded and supposedly melted down the remains to be used for coins, tools, and weapons.

As of now, the Colossus Rhodes Project is just a proposal. Revival of the Seventh Wonder of the Ancient World have not gone through planning, purchasing, or contracts. Until the proposal is accepted, this project will merely remain a dream for the people of Rhodes. 

Amazing discovery of 22 shipwrecks off Greece offers wondrous glimpse into ancient life

By Yanan Wang October 30 

An archaic shipwreck —one of 22 — found in the small Greek archipelago of Fourni. (Vasilis Mentogianis)
In the Fourni archipelago of the Greek Aegean region, towering underwater cliffs descend into the darkness of the deep sea. Marine archaeologists comb these murky depths for objects made by human hands — a ceramic shard encrusted with sea sponges, or an ancient vase that an eel has claimed for its home.
Through the centuries here, human handiwork has been absorbed by its natural aquatic surroundings, with rock and reef steadily growing around any remnants of life from early Western civilization.
The seeming improbability, then, of finding substantive artifacts in the patchwork makes discovery all the more exciting.
 “You’re constantly scanning in any direction,” Peter Campbell, an underwater archaeologist at the University of Southampton, told The Washington Post. “There’s this moment that you see something, a straight line that doesn’t look natural, and your eye kind of flips over. You realize it’s an ancient pot or ancient anchor, then you notice this stuff is everywhere.”
While undertaking a survey of possible wreckage around Fourni last month, Campbell and his team experienced this sense of wonder an unprecedented 22 times over.
When Campbell and the expedition’s co-director, Greek archaeologist George Koutsouflakis, arrived at the collection of thirteen islands and islets in mid-September, they had heard some rumblings of artifacts from ancient ships to be found in the area.
As luck would have it, they came across a shipwreck on their very first dive, which the team took to be “a good omen.” Over the course of less than two weeks — the duration of their survey permit — they would have been content to find three or four wrecks in total.
After the first five days, that number hit ten. Then, on a single day, they found an additional six.
At this point, overwhelmed with the unexpected fortune, they decided to stop looking for wrecks so they could focus on adequately recording information from the ones they had already encountered. But even this decision didn’t stop them from finding a few more by the expedition’s end, making the sum uncovered in just 13 days an astounding 22 shipwrecks.
 An underwater archaeologist takes notes on ancient jars found in a shipwreck. (Vasilis Mentogianis)
During this short period, Campbell and Koutsouflakis’s crew of marine archaeologists, local fishermen, sponge divers and the occasional robot (read: remotely-operated vehicle) increased the total number of known ancient shipwrecks in Greece by 12 percent.
An announcement this week revealed that the survey, a collaborative effort between the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and the Florida-based RPM Nautical Foundation, yielded shipwrecks dating from the Archaic Period (700-480 B.C.) through the Late Medieval Period (16th century), including some wrecks that are more than 2,500 years old.
The small and relatively obscure region may be “the ancient shipwreck capital of the world,” the release says.
While a comparable number of wrecks have been discovered in major harbor sites like Pisa, Copenhagen and London, Campbell said, this find is significant because there was no major settlement or port in Fourni, which was merely a popular passing-through point.
These shipwrecks, however, illustrate just how crucial a passageway the small archipelago was for seafaring merchants of the ancient times. The storms that ravaged the neighboring islands of Samos and Icaria were so fierce that sailors often took refuge in Fourni’s abundance of gentle bays. The archipelago lies along a major east-west crossing route, as well as the primary north-south path from the Aegean to the Levant.
The large number of shipwrecks found suggests not that Fourni was an uncommonly dangerous locale, but rather that it welcomed an immense volume of sea traffic over a long period of time. Campbell estimates that there was likely no more than one wreck every hundred years.
By the time scientists can reach wrecks of this kind, any organic materials — wood, clothing, bodies — have long been eaten away by their environment. A shipwreck, then, is comprised of several hundred pieces of pottery, indicating the bulk of a ship’s cargo, that fan out from a distinct area.
Campbell said all the wrecks they found were from typical merchant sailing vessels and not from any warships.
“That suits us pretty well,” he said. “These shipwrecks tell the story of the every day person, and we’re really interested in what life was like for the average sailor in 400 B.C.”
According to the archaeologist, the narrative that emerges is one of a unique marine culture, in which a global sensibility permeated not only the objects that were shipped, but also the demographic makeup of the sailing crews. These outfits were often multicultural and multilingual, and were even known to have their own “mixed” language — the singular speech of men who spent most of their lives on water.
The ships carrying the found wreckage were all following the same trade route, Campbell said. It was one that connected the North Aegean and the Black Sea region to the Levant, Cyprus, Palestine and Egypt.
While historical texts had previously given archaeologists a general idea of how merchants sailed these routes, the wreckage around Fourni allows their travels to be traced in a way that was never before possible.
“This is one of the top discoveries in terms of what it can tell us about ancient maritime trade,” Campbell said. By combining terrestrial studies with close analyses of the unearthed ceramics, it will be possible to reconstruct entire itineraries of ancient voyages.
The amphoras (tall containers with two handles and a narrow neck) created back then had designs that were distinctive to their originating nation-states, so piecing together those patterns could yield quite a comprehensive understanding of the various stops that each ship made on their voyages.
While most of the artifacts remain in the ocean to preserve the encompassing natural habitat, a few are undergoing conservation treatments to prepare them for further examination. Through residue analysis, scientists may be able to draw conclusions about what the amphoras contained. (There are already hints of this in their shapes: thin necks for wine, larger necks for fish sauce.)
Campbell and Koutsouflakis’s team are in the process of applying for a permit for next year’s survey in the same area, where they expect to continue finding shipwrecks.
This year’s excursion, however, is almost certainly an outlier.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance again to come upon 22 shipwrecks in a single season,” Campbell said. “It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime discovery.”

Grecian belief in an underworld populated by daemons, ghosts

Is the tradition of Halloween tainted by the blood of primeval human sacrifices? The origins of Halloween lie in Samhain, the Celtic New Year festival, in which the Gaelic druids might have ritually sacrificed some human victims, according to some accounts and some recent evidence. Such hypothesis is not unreasonable, as many communities in the ancient world decided to appease their enraged chthonic deities with human flesh.
But the European neighbors of the Celts, the ancient Greeks, did something even more disturbing: they brutally sacrificed the ugliest among them in order to maintain the common good.
When we think about ancient Greece, usually the first images that come to mind are philosophers wandering in their white robes, enlightened politicians arguing about the bases of democracy, or artists sculpting perfectly proportionate figures in white marble. But there is a darker aspect of Grecian society that is less widely-known—a belief in an underworld populated by daemons, ghosts, and bogeys which personified people’s most dreadful and terrifying fears. This morbid side underlies even the ancient Greeks’ greatest achievements; many classic plays, for instance, are obsessed with murder and death. And perhaps nothing can introduce us to this hidden and disturbing side of the Grecian’s psyche more vividly than the pharmakos ritual, a ceremony that's survived from Greece's darkest ages to the brightest peak of its civilization, roughly from 8th to 5th century BC. The origins and details of this ritual are as mysterious as its purposes: the sources are fragmentary and no one tells us exactly when it began, or why, or how long did it last.
But the surviving evidence points us to a frightful ceremony unknown to many of us.

A statue of Apollo. The Thargelia was one of the chief Athenian festivals in honor of the Delian Apollo and Artemis. (Photo: Ricardo André Frantz/WikiCommons CC BY-SA 3.0)
In early Greek history, during times of plague or famine, when the precarious agrarian societies started to fear for their survival, each Greek town would elect its ugliest inhabitant, known as the pharmakos. ("Ugly" in this case probably meant deformed in some way, and certainly from the fringes of society. An aristocrat with a big nose would not qualify.) For a while, this person would be fed at public expense with the most exquisite delicacies available at the time—figs, barley cakes and cheese. Afterwards, he or she (or they – some places, like Athens, would choose two lucky uggos, a man and a woman) would be driven through the town while being violently smote with leeks and wild plants by a wrathful mob. This ugly unfortunate's fate largely depended on the town’s own tradition. In some places he or she was merely cast out of the city, while in others the pharmakos would be stoned to death, burned, or thrown off a cliff.
How popular was this ritual? In some places, so popular that it became annual. In Athens, for instance, it was celebrated during the yearlyThargelia festival.
Why a society choose to sacrifice its ugliest inhabitant in such a brutal way is complicated. First of all, ancient Greek society was obsessed with purity; those who deviated from institutionalized norms were viewed as a threat. Physical imperfections were seen as corresponding to moral flaws so therefore, disabled children were exposed and abandoned outside the city walls, and the ugly and deformed were suspiciously regarded as tainted beings.
Secondly, Greek mythology frequently suggests that the sacrifice of one individual has the power to save an entire community—a primordial reflection of a pre-civilization time when a herd needed to sacrifice its weakest members to predators in order to survive. The pharmakos ritual, then, acted like a catharsis, a purification of the iniquities of the entire society through the sacrifice of one of its marginal members. The related word pharmakon, which later originated the English word "pharmacy," meant both poison and medicine. This reflects the ambiguous role of the unfortunate pharmakos: he held the guilt for all the evils that had affected society, but he was also its savior. But, at a psychological level, people could not accept their redeemer to be just any scum—therefore, for a period of time, he had to be treated as a very important person. In exceptionally difficult times, this fiction was no longer enough. According to some authors, it had to be the king himself who was sacrificed for the community’s sake.

A c.470BC depiction of Apollo and Artemis. (Photo: Public domain/WikiCommons)
The physical elimination of the pharmakos did not actually make all the town's afflictions disappear. But it relieved the social tensions that had accumulated during those precarious times, and avoided the possibility of a chaotic and uncontrolled bloodshed among the members of the society, while reinforcing the reassuring status of belonging to a group.

This practice might be unthinkable now in most cultures, but it's worth noting that the psychological underpinnings of pharmakos have not gone away. How often does our society blame someone else for its own drawbacks—the indigent, the homeless, the immigrants? How often does someone rejoice at the prospect of punishing a person who represents our darker and upsetting side? Like the Greeks, we tend to project our most terrifying aspects onto someone else. Shame is a powerful, damaging force, even when it's currently more associated with online diatribes than a literal mob.