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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.