Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Dendra cuirass moves to Corinth

The famous Mycenaean cuirass from Dendra is to be moved to the Archaeological Museum of Corinth.

The armour has been recently chemically re-analysed in order to establish the best restoration procedure.

The armour, which weights 15kg will be exhibited along with other artifacts recovered from the chamber tomb that it was found in 1960.

For more information on the cuirass (and the remains of the boar-tusk helmet found with it) take a look at:

Taracha, Piotr. 1999. Reconstructing the Dendra Panoply. ArchaeologiaWar 50. p. 7-12.

Wardle, Diana E.H. 1988. Does Reconstruction Help? A Mycenaean Dress and the Dendra Suit of Armour. French, E.B. and K.A. Wardle, eds. Problems in Greek Prehistory. Papers Presented at the Centenary Conference of the British School of Archaeology at Athens, Manchester, April 1986. Bristol Classical Press, Bristol. p. 469-476.

?str?m, Paul. 1983. The Cuirass Tomb and Other Finds at Dendra, Part 2: Excavations in the Cemeteries, the Lower Town, and the Citadel.. SIMA 4.Paul ?str?ms F?rlag, G?teborg.

Greenhalgh, Peter. 1980. The Dendra Charioteer. Antiquity 54:212. p. 201-205.

?str?m, Paul. 1977. The Cuirass Tomb and Other Finds at Dendra: Part 1, the Chamber Tombs. SIMA 4, Part 1.Paul ?str?ms F?rlag, G?teborg.

Protonotariou-De?laki, E. 1970. Mikina?kon kranos ek Dendron (Casque myc?nien de Dendra). AAA 3:1. p. 106-108.

Once upon a time in the bithplace of Democracy

Greek blogger arrest infuriates world

Source: The Register

By Kieren McCarthy in Athens
Published Monday 30th October 2006 06:46 GMT

The arrest of a blogger by Greek police just days before Athens hosts the inaugural meeting of the Internet Governance Forum has left the blogosphere in uproar and the authorities with egg on their face.

Antonis Tsipropoulos was arrested at home on Tuesday by the Greek police following a complaint from a controversial Greek televangelist that Mr Tsipropoulos's blog aggregation site, blogme.gr, linked to slanderous material.

The content in question is hosted at the FunEL blog, and mocks the colourful Dimosthenis Liakopoulos for producing trash TV and being anti-Semitic. However, since the blog is hosted in the US, the Greek authorities swooped on the popular blogme.gr site, arresting its owner, ordering him to appear in court in a few days to face charges and shutting down the service.

Mr Tsipropoulos originally posted a concise account of his arrest, complaining that he was not in any way able to control the content he had linked to, but later removed it, reportedly following legal advice.

The response from the blogging community worldwide has been swift and furious, with many Greek bloggers planning to organise a protest outside at the IGF meeting today when their prime minister formally opens the event at 10am at the Divani Apollon hotel south of Athens.

The arrest couldn't come at a worse time, following a high-profile campaign launched earlier this week by Amnesty International drawing attention to the bloggers worldwide who have been detained for posting information online. Many Greeks will be surprised to learn they appear to have joined the ranks of Iran, China and Vietnam.

What makes the matter all the more timely is that the arrest highlights an endemic misunderstanding of internet technology and policy, where authorities try to enforce laws over the net by charging whoever they can in their own country, who are nearest to the problem.

The main aim of the IGF meeting is for governments, business, international organisations and civil society to meet up and discuss the best methods of working with the internet and one another. If only the Greeks had been approached by Liakopoulos next week, the incident would most likely never have happened.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Team helps save Egypt tomb mural

Source: The Japan Times Online

OSAKA (Kyodo) A Japanese research team has successfully removed a mural in an ancient Egyptian tomb at the World Heritage site of Saqqara, using a technique used on Japanese murals, so that preservation work can be done on it, team members said Friday.

News photo
A Japanese researcher prepares to remove part of a mural from the underground tomb of Princess Idut at the World Heritage site of Saqqara, Egypt. KYODO PHOTO

The Kansai University team removed the plaster mural from the underground tomb of Princess Idut, which dates back to around 2360 B.C. The mural depicts birds, food and beer in color and has hieroglyphs engraved in it.

In the rare removal of a fragile plaster mural, the team glued rayon paper with resin over parts of the mural to be removed, using a type of seaweed paste to protect them, and carefully separated the plaster from the rock wall with knives.

The technique was used in removing a mural at the Kitora tomb in Asuka, Nara Prefecture, which dates from the late seventh century to the early eighth century, but the Idut mural is the first case of such removal abroad, according to experts.

"There are many murals waiting to be restored, and we want to apply (the technique) to others," said Hiroshi Suita, professor of Egyptology at the university in Osaka Prefecture.

The team will report its accomplishments at a conference of the Society for Near Eastern Studies in Japan at Waseda University in Tokyo.

Mural preservation in Egypt is usually done by applying synthetic resin to strengthen them, but the Saqqara mural has suffered great damage, requiring different steps for restoration.

Restoration teams had tried to use techniques used in Europe, but as the procedure required the use of an organic solvent that produces hazardous gas, it was unsuited for underground use. Egyptian authorities then chose to use the Japanese restoration technique for the first time.

There are still some parts of the mural that cannot be removed as they are solidly stuck on the clay layer of the wall, but the team said they will remove them, possibly this winter, by softening the wall with water.

All the pieces of the mural will be cleaned and the back of the pieces strengthened with mortar.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Erotic frescoes put Pompeii brothel on the tourist map

Source: Times Online

From Richard Owen in Rome

A LUXURIOUS brothel that once entertained wealthy clients in Pompeii has been opened as a visitor attraction after painstaking restoration.

The two-storey structure, which features erotic frescoes that leave little to the imagination, is expected to become one of the ancient city’s top draws. Officials who unveiled it yesterday emphasised that the year-long restoration had been carried out in the interests of archaeology — and to save the frescoes — rather than prurience. The brothel was named the Lupanare — from lupa (she-wolf), the colloquial Latin term for a prostitute. Prices were posted outside the building, which had three entrances, and the frescoes depict the sexual services on offer.

The Lupanare boasted ten rooms, five on each floor, with the upper floor (which had a balcony) reserved for more important and wealthier clients. Sexual activity took place on stone beds, which would have been covered by mattresses.

Like other parts of pleasure-loving Pompeii, the brothel was overwhelmed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which buried the city in a 6m (19½ft) layer of volcanish ash in AD79. The ash preserved the city as a time capsule until the 18th century, when the first excavations began to bring to light well- preserved houses, shops, frescoes and skeletons of people caught as they tried to flee.

Scholars say that Pompeii had many brothels, but most consisted only of a single room, often above a shop or wine bar. The prostitutes were slaves and were usually of Greek or Oriental origin. Pietro Giovanni Guzzo, superintendent of Pompeii, said that ancient Roman attitudes to sex and obscenity were more relaxed than those of later civilisations.

Erotic objects found during the 18th and 19th-century excavations were considered so salacious they were kept in a “secret cabinet” at the National Archeological Museum in Naples, to which only those deemed to be of “mature age and respected morals” were admitted. The objects include a statuette of the god Pan copulating with a goat, and numerous phallic symbols, considered by the Romans to be good luck or fertility charms.

The stone beds were placed in discreet alcoves. Scholars said that one prostitute, named Myrtis, had a sign outside her room explaining that her speciality was oral sex. Other girls working at the brothel — according to Roman-era graffiti on the walls — were Callidrome, Cressa, Drauca, Fabia, Faustilla, Felicia, Fortunata, Helpis, Mula, Nica, Restituta, Rusatia and Ianuaria.

Luciana Iacobelli, lecturer in Pompeiian antiquities at Bicocca University in Milan, said that not all the prostitutes were slaves. There was even some evidence that Roman women frequented brothels for sex with male prostitutes.

“Sex, like death, is always of consuming human interest and has been over the centuries,” she said.

Two Hellenistic-era mausoleums unearthed in western Turkey

Source: Xinhua through the People's Daily Online

Archeologists have unearthed two mausoleums dating as far back as the Hellenistic-era at the ancient city of Antandros in Turkey's Aegean province of Balikesir, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported on Thursday.

During the excavations carried out in the necropolis near Altinoluk village of Balikesir, traces signing that the area was used as a residential place in the late Roman period were found, assistant professor Gurcan Polat, head of the excavation team, was quoted as saying.

"The mausoleums were built with rubble and plastered by lime having a facet of marble in the ancient period," said Polat.

Indicating that a private bath was unearthed in the Roman villa, the second working field of excavations, Polat said they also revealed approximately 100 unfunctional miniature cans (hydrias), which were the signs of a holy place in a layer dating back to the third century B.C.

The ancient city of Antandros, known for its historical riches, is qualified as the "Ephesus of the Future" with its mural paintings.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Out of town

From October 24 to October 27 I'll be at Knossos, Crete for research....which means no posts. See ya all on Friday!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Delphic Oracle mystery

New research traces presence of gases beneath Apollo’s temple

The site of the Delphic Oracle is likely to have been chosen by the ancients because of the geological fault lying underneath it. The Oracle of Delphi was the most important in the ancient world. Its prophecies have gone down in history and mythology.

By Yiannis Elafros - Kathimerini

The Pythia, the priestess of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi during antiquity, is said to have delivered her oracles in a trance-like state, the possible causes of which have been the subject of much speculation over the centuries and, more lately, of scientific research. The latest work in this direction has been an investigation of the hypothesis that gases emanating from beneath the Adyton, a chamber beneath the temple where the priestess gave her prophecies, could have been largely responsible for her altered state.

«A close relationship has been found between the Oracle and the geological formation of the site,» said Giorgos Papatheodorou, an associate professor of geology at Patras University.

The Oracle of Delphi was the most important in the ancient world. Its prophecies, which have gone down in history and mythology, were based on the utterings of the Pythia as interpreted by the oracle priests, who reshaped her utterances into verse.

Ancient texts relate that the Pythia, sitting on a three-legged stool, chewed laurel leaves while inhaling the vapors that rose from burning herbs.

According to modern research, the Pythia's state was affected by gases rising through the fissures in the ground of the tiny subterranean Adyton.

«We have traced methane, ethylene and carbon dioxide in the area where the Adyton is thought to have been situated. The presence of these gases reduces the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, causing a slight hypnotic state that could result in a frenzied or ecstatic state,» said Papatheodorou.

The research was carried out by an Italian-Greek team of of scientists over the summers of 2004 and 2005 and included Giuseppe Etiope and Paolo Favali of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, as well as Papatheodorou and his colleagues at Patras University. The results were published in Geology magazine and reproduced on many science websites.

Debate over the link between the Pythia's state and the emission of gases was given fresh impetus in 2000 when a distinguished American geologist, Jelle Zeilinga De Boer, put forward the view that the temple was built over the intersection of two fault lines from which ethylene gases emanated. Ethylene, a sweet-smelling gas, has a toxic effect on the body's nervous system and could have caused the Pythia's altered state. Plutarch himself (who served as a priest at the temple in Delphi), referred to a sweet smell pervading the site during the prophecies.

«Our research did not confirm the ethylene hypothesis. We found no trace of ethylene in our measurements around the Temple of Apollo. Moreover, ethylene is mainly produced from bacteria, which is unlikely to have emanated from the limestone layers underneath the oracle site,» he said.

But as geological changes could have occurred since antiquity, Papatheodorou said that nothing could be ruled out.

«We made a scientific hypothesis that is a satisfactory scenario and should be judged as such. What is important is that the site of the oracle, particularly the Adyton, were chosen due to their geological substructure. The Oracle of Delphi is situated above a geological fault from which the gases could have emanated. The next step is to test for the presence of aromatic hydrocarbons which could account for the sweet smell referred to by Plutarch,» he added. It appears that the most famous oracle in the world still has a few hidden secrets.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Derveni Papyrus finally published

Invaluable papyrus published at last
The first official edition of the Derveni text, with an extensive commentary, is launched in Thessaloniki following 26 years of research

Photo: The Derveni Papyrus, the oldest Greek papyrus, dates to around 340 BC and was probably written quite some time earlier, perhaps in the late fifth, or early fourth century. It is of tremendous importance for the study of both papyrology and archaeology. Scholars who have studied it describe it as ‘the most significant new evidence about ancient Greek philosophy and religion since the Renaissance.’

By Iota Myrtsioti - Kathimerini

Scholars turned out in force on Thursday night for the launch of the first full edition of the Derveni Papyrus at the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.

The oldest book in Europe, the Derveni Papyrus is an Orphic, eschatological text that discusses the fate of the soul and the role of the Furies. A mystic, often allegorical text, it was written in the last quarter of the fourth century BC. Scholars who have studied it describe it as «the most significant new evidence about ancient Greek philosophy and religion since the Renaissance.»

The book was found in 1962 in a grave at Derveni, in Thessaloniki. Some scholars object to the fact that the book has not been made accessible to other researchers. The Institute of Philosophical Research, directed by Apostolos Pierris, decried what it called «a major scandal in scientific chronicles.» It also accuses the team of scholars, professors Kyriakos Tsantsanoglou, Theokritos Kouremenos and Georgios Prasaoglou of Thessaloniki University, of hiding the papyrus for decades, delaying its scholarly and critical publication and thereby depriving «the international community of scholars of any access to such a significant text.»

Why was there no scholarly Greek publication for 26 years, despite the fact that, by 1982, the researchers had read 80 percent of the text?

«Because we had to complete it, which included interpreting all of the legible surviving text on 26 scrolls,» Tsantsanoglou told Kathimerini. «It was a difficult task, since we had to assemble that gigantic puzzle which would lead to its integrated form. The first, unauthorized publication in 1982, in a foreign scholarly journal, set us back, as it formed the basis of numerous studies on the Derveni Papyrus.»

As time passed, the papyrus became common property: «In Europe and America,» said the professor, «there were 100 papers and three publications on it. But we went ahead with our research. In 1993 we added another seven columns, which were presented at an international conference.» The Greek researchers followed up with more publications, but there was no official publication.

Besides, the religious and philosophical interpretation was not easy. «Gaps made the task difficult to understand what was allegorical and what was literal in the approach used by the author of the text,» he added.

The dispute flared up in June, when the Greek Culture Ministry announced that the Patras Institute of Philosophical Research and Oxford University were to collaborate on a new study of the papyrus.

At a press conference in the presence of Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Petros Doukas, Pierris and lecturer Dirk Obbink of Oxford announced that they had begun taking photographs for the philosophical analysis of the text, describing those who had studied it so far as «not equal to the stature of the find.»

Following approval by the Central Archaeological Council, the new research team undertook to decipher the text by electronic means. More than 200 charred chunks of papyrus went under the microscope again for a new deciphering and reading, this time with the use of micro-phase photography.

Meanwhile, the researchers at Thessaloniki University completed the first full edition of the papyrus. «The Derveni Papyrus» is in English with a Greek translation and commentary by Tsantsanoglou, Kouremenos - who is professor of papyrology - and Georgios Prasaoglou, who is associate professor of classics.

Other speakers at the presentation were professors Richard Hunter of Cambridge University, Franco Montanari of Genoa University and Gregory Nagy of the Harvard Center of Greek Studies.

Further Reading

Invaluable papyrus published at last

Discoveries that have led to the reexamination of received ideas

Five reasons why the papyrus is unique

Fate of the soul, role of Furies

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hercules Sanctuary at Thebes: Part II

From today's ekathimerini

Among the many archaeological objects found on the plot of land in Thebes was a statue of the mythical hero Hercules and a lion.


Two years ago exciting finds related to the cult of Hercules came to light on a plot of land in Thebes, sparking international interest and prompting the Greek Culture Ministry to plan an archaeological site in downtown Thebes.

On Tuesday, the Central Archaeological Council decided to appropriate a 343.76-square-meter plot at 13 Polyneiki Street, in order to protect and showcase the archaeological remains related to the cult.

That site held a wealth of finds (including more than 300 groups of ceramics) that will help researchers further examine the area's history.

Among the finds were architectural remains from the Bronze Age, sections of flooring (some of them from the Christian era), Mycenean potsherds, finds which indicate the existence of a temple, and inscriptions that refer to the cult of Hercules and one that is dedicated to Megara.

Also found was a sculpture of Hercules with the lion, a bronze tripod, a pit of votive objects, sacrificial knives and colored potsherds depicting the feats of the mythical hero, Dedalic statues, a 7th century AD kore, and other 5th century BC sculptures.

All the objects found on Polyneiki Street indicate that the site was in use from the late 8th century BC to 480 BC.

The site to be expropriated is on the southwest side of the Acropolis of Cadmeia, about 200 meters south of the gates of Electra. The Thebes tax authority valued the land at 62,000 euros.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hercules Sanctuary at Thebes

Source: Eleutherotypia (in Greek)

Last year, archaeologists unearthed parts of a sanctuary dedicated to Hercules in a small plot at Polynikous Street at Thebes.

The Central Archaeological Council (KAS) has recently decided to declare the area as an organised archaeological site, open to the public.

According to the Ephor of Antiquities, Dr. V. Aravantinos, towards the end of the Geometric period (8th century BC) an heroon was established at an area where Mycenaean remains where still visible (including buildings and graves). The heroon was furnished with an altar where large quantities of ashes and burnt animal bones were found. Nearby this altar, a temple was erected in the 6th century BC. Amongst the finds were hundreds of vases (some of them bearing inscriptions), fragments of daedalic statues and a bronze statue depicting Hercules fighting a lion.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Zea Harbour Project

The Zea Harbour Project combines land and underwater archaeology in order to obtain a full picture of the ancient Zea Harbour in Piraeus. The ancient naval installation at Zea is among the largest Classical building complexes and accommodated the ship of the line in the Classical period - the trireme.

Messene's archaeological charms

The so-called city of statues continues to yield rich finds almost twodecades after professor Petros Themelis took up excavation and restorationwork on the site


MUCH less publicised than the touristy destinations of Delphi and Olympia, Ancient Messene is by no means a poor relative. An important Hellenistic centre - often referred to as "the city of statues" for having yielded a rich crop of marble sculptures - the Peloponnesian city, founded in 369BC when Epaminondas restored Messenians to their country, has turned out to be an inexhaustible treasury that continues to reveal its secrets.

The ancient city is situated at the foot of mount Ithome, where an 8th-7th century BC settlement had already existed prior to Messene's founding. The mountain's summit is crowned by the Monastery of Voulkano, a 16th-century convent which was built over the strategically placed sanctuary of Zeus Ithomatas, Messina's patron god. Nestled between the mountain and the ancient site is the well-watered village of Mavromatti, the base since 1987 of an archaeological team that, under the auspices of the Archaeological Society of Athens and the supervision of Crete University professor Petros Themelis, has been conducting excavation and restoration works on the site.

In Pausanias' footsteps

"Pausanias is our main source," Themelis told the Athens News. The traveller and geographer who set foot in Messene in the middle of the 2nd century AD is known for his precise and detailed descriptions of the ancient cities of the Peloponnese, Attica and Boeotia. Nevertheless, there are a few inconsistencies which Themelis believes can be put down to the traveller's processing of his draft notes into a fully-fledged account of his impressions following the end of his wanderings. "Until recently we have been led to believe that the sanctuary of Messene [one of the principal deities of the city together with Zeus Ithomatas] was in the wider area of Asklepieion," said Themelis, "but now we have identified it in the Agora."

Archaeologists find huge stash of Bronze Age anchors

By Joe Lewis - Cyprus Mail

CYPRUS’ reputation as an archeological gold mine has been given another boost, with an important underwater Bronze Age discovery.

A team of maritime archeologists from the UK has uncovered 120 stone anchors off the coast of Paphos. The anchors, some of which date back to the Bronze Age (2500-1125BC), are the second largest collection in the eastern Mediterranean.

The fact that so many anchors have been found at the same site suggests that the area may have once been an important port, serving the maritime traders on the busy trade routes to and from the east. There have also been suggestions that the port may have been used to transport pilgrims to and from Palaipaphos and the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, from all around the Mediterranean world.

The peaceful conditions that prevailed during the late Bronze Age allowed trade in the eastern Mediterranean to flourish, and Cyprus, with its ideal geographical location, became a trade hub, linking east and west.

The exact chronology of the anchors has not yet been determined, but the archaeologists are fairly sure that some date back to the Bronze Age.

The team has been working to survey the area with the aim of creating the first digital archive of an underwater site in Cyprus. The information from the survey is currently being processed at Cambridge University, and will soon be available for analysis.

There are plans to conduct further investigation of the site next year, when the team hopes to throw more light on this fascinating part of Cyprus’s rich history.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Aegean from Bronze Age to Iron Age

Finally, Oliver Dickinson's new book is out! I've been waiting for it since my PhD years!! :-)

This textbook is an up-to-date synthesis of the period between the collapse of the Bronze Age civilization in the thirteenth and twelfth centuries BC, right up to the rise of the Greek civilization in the eight century BC.

Table of Contents

1. Terminology and Chronology
2. The Collapse of the Bronze Age Civilization
3. The Postpalatial Period
4. The Structure and Economy of Communities
5. Crafts
6. Burial Customs
7. Trade, Exchange, and Foreign Contacts
8. Religion
9. Conclusions

Oxford Journal of Archaeology 25.4 (2006): 317-433

The November issue of the OJA has just appeared.







Odyssey in the Caribbean

Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ transports poet to Caribbean waters
Derek Walcott on ‘Omeros’ and poetic parallels

Poet, playwright and 1992 Nobel laureate in literature Derek Walcott met journalists during a news conference in Athens yesterday. Walcott will deliver a lecture tonight at the Athens Concert Hall and receive an honorary doctorate tomorrow from Athens University. (Photo: PhotoView)

By Vivienne Nilan - Kathimerini English Edition

“At some point while I was reading ‘The Odyssey,’ where Odysseus has been shipwrecked and washed up on the rocks and is trying to save himself, I realized that this could be a Caribbean story,” poet Derek Walcott told the press at a luncheon yesterday in Athens.

The poet, playwright and 1992 Nobel laureate in literature is in town to deliver a lecture tonight for the Megaron Plus series at the Athens Concert Hall (see What’s On) and receive an honorary doctorate from Athens University tomorrow.

He was explaining, no doubt for the umpteenth time, what led him to write his epic poem “Omeros.”

“When I began to write ‘Omeros,’ I said don’t do this, because it will lead to these sorts of questions,” he joked.

But the close parallels he observed between the civilizations of the Aegean and the Caribbean, with their stories of ships and fishermen, is a powerful theme threading through his work.

He loved the “freshness, gustiness, wind, sea, light, waves and action” that he found in Homer. “The one image that Homer has given to the world is that of a sail, a ship leaving and coming back,” he said.

Walcott’s own work is steeped in images of the sea and of the lives and dreams that grow on it and around it. Some poems hark back overtly to Homer, as in “Archipelagoes,” from “Map of the New World”:

At the end of this sentence, rain will begin. / At the rain’s edge, a sail. // Slowly the sail will lose sight of the islands; / into a mist will go the belief in harbors / of an entire race. // The ten-years war is finished. Helen’s hair a gray cloud. / Troy, a white ashpit / by the drizzling sea. // The drizzle tightens like the strings of a harp. / A man with clouded eyes picks up the rain / and plucks the first line of the Odyssey./

Elsewhere, as in this excerpt “Adios, Carenage” from “The Schooner Flight,” the tale is still timeless but the scene and the language are redolent of the Caribbean:

In idle August, while the sea soft, / and leaves of brown islands stick to the rim / of this Caribbean, I blow out the light / by the dreamless face of Maria Concepcion / to ship as a seaman on the schooner ‘Flight,’ / Out in the yard turning gray in the dawn. / I stood like a stone and nothing else move / but the cold sea rippling like galvanize / and the nail holes of stars in the sky roof // till a wind start to interfere with the trees.

Walcott’s artful incorporation of the vernacular among the multiple registers in his verse was a challenge for his Greek translators. Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke and Stefanos Papadopoulos, who have done a marvelous job of translating his poems into Greek for Kastaniotis publishers. Anghelaki-Rooke and Papadopoulos worked on Walcott’s poems together for three months. They chose not to employ an equivalent for the Caribbean element, said Anghelaki-Rooke, because it would have been impossible to convey the flavor by means of some Greek dialect.

Choosing which poems to translate was a tough task, she said, with a strict limit on the size of the book. But one of the criteria, wisely, was to select poems that would work in Greek.

One hopes that the next edition of the volume will get some more meticulous proofreading to weed out solecisms like dual spellings of the author’s and one translator’s names.

Asked about the burden of the poetic past, Walcott sympathized with Greek writers: “It must be tough to be a Greek poet, having to deal with the weight of all that stuff,” he said. “Any young Greek poet who lifts a pen is lifting a column.”

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sites to get electronic ticket system

Source: ekathimerini

Photo: KAS wants to keep out ticket dodgers.

Electronic ticket machines at the nation’s archaeological sites are on their way in.

Following the approval of the Central Archaeological Council (KAS), the machines will be installed at 17 archaeological sites and 12 museums across the country.

Many other works must be completed before the system can be comprehensively implemented. For instance, booths must be constructed to house the machines and staff must be trained, among other things.

So for now, the system will be applied on an experimental basis as of next summer in Lindos, the National Archaeological Museum and at Delphi. The museums and sites selected (based on the number of visitors) are the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the Roman Forum, Hadrian’s Library, the Kerameikos Cemetery, Ancient Olympia, the National Archaeological and the Byzantine museums in Athens, the ancient cities of Knossos and Phaestos on Crete, as well as the museums of Iraklion and Hania, Mycenae, Epidaurus and Delphi, Thessaloniki’s Museum of Byzantine Culture and Archaeological Museum, Lindos and the Great Magician’s Palace in Rhodes, the Asclepeion in Kos and Santorini’s Akrotiri and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera.

KAS leaders said the machines are also intended to keep out those visitors who want to enter without purchasing tickets.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

More cool excavation websites

Argilos: an Archaeological Site of Northern Greece

The Azoria Project

The Kenchreai Cemetery Project

The Kouphovouno Project

Mitrou Archaeological Project

Sikyon Survey Project

Saturn's Moons May Be Creating New Rings

Nothing to do with archaeology but I just couldn't help it! I found the following image very beautiful...

NASA Finds Saturn's Moons May Be Creating New Rings
October 11, 2006
(Source: NASA/JPL)

In Saturn's Shadow (Color-exagerated view)
Imaging scientists have noticed color variations across the diffuse rings that imply active processes sort the particles in the ring according to their sizes.

See the labeled version and the original version.
Cassini scientists are on the trail of the missing moons of Saturn. A recent observation by the spacecraft leads them to believe that they will find the moons near newly discovered rings around the planet.

During an unprecedented opportunity, with the sun poised behind Saturn, Cassini scientists discovered two new rings and confirmed the presence of two others. The new rings are associated with one or more small moons and share their orbits with the moons, while scientists suspect a moon is lurking near a third ring.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Athens during the Roman Period

International Archaeological Symposium
"Athens during the Roman Period: Recent Discoveries, New Evidence"

Athens, Benaki Museum – Pireos Street Annexe
19/10/2006 - 21/10/2006

The conference will explore the private and public life in Roman Athens through the presentation of unpublished material and recent excavations by specialists from Greece and abroad.

Its objective is to give a comprehensive description of the art and architecture, the everyday life and the inner city culture of the period between the 1st century B.C. and the 4th century A.D. The changes in the urban structure of Roman Athens, as well as the progress in sculpture, pottery and miniature art reveal how the Greek “legacy” is visually reconstructed under Roman rule, and to what extent this has been influenced by Roman notions.

The three-day colloquium introduces the most important finds of the Roman period that have been excavated in Athens in recent years. It offers classical archaeologists and students a unique opportunity to learn about the latest major discoveries, and to meet and converse with the excavators.

Organisational Committee: Dr. Alkistis Choremi, Prof. Angelos Delivorrias, Nicoletta Divari-Valakou, Dr. Paraskevi Vasilopoulou, Dr. Stavros Vlizos.

Scientific Committee: Prof. John Mck. Camp, Dr. Alkistis Choremi, Prof. Angelos Delivorrias, Nicoletta Divari-Valakou, Prof. Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier, Dr. Stavros Vlizos.

Conference Programme

Dr. Stavros Vlizos, Benaki Museum, St. Koumbari 1, GR-10674 Athens, Greece, Tel. +30.210.3671091, Fax. +30.210.3671063, Email vlizos@benaki.gr

Benaki Museum, 1st Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, 3rd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, American School of Classical Studies at Athens – Agora Excavations, German Archaeological Institute at Athens

Friday, October 13, 2006

More on Ithaca quest

Drill hole begins Homeric quest

By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter, BBC News

A UK-led team is challenging cherished ideas on Greek mythology by proposing an alternative site for Ithaca.

The island was said to be the home of Odysseus, whose 10-year journey back from the Trojan War is chronicled in Homer's epic poem the Odyssey.

Most people think the modern-day Ionian island of Ithaki is the location.

But geologists are this week sinking a borehole on nearby Kefalonia in an attempt to test whether its western peninsula of Paliki is the real site.

The scientists hope to find evidence that the peninsula once stood proud, separated from Kefalonia by a narrow, navigable marine channel. It is only in the last 2,500-3,000 years - and after Homer's time - that the channel has been filled in, the team contends.

"We can't prove the story of the Odyssey is true, but we can test whether Homer got his geography right," said Edinburgh University geologist Professor John Underhill, who is supervising the drilling operation. READ FULL STORY

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Free archaeology journal issues: Part III

Mediterranean Historical Review 20.2 (2005)

Stanford Journal of Archaeology I (2002)

Stanford Journal of Archaeology II (2003)

Studia Humaniora Tartuensia (all issues)

Web Journal on Cultural Patrimony 1 (2006)

Ancient Roman Technology

Ancient Roman Technology is an electronic handbook of ancient Roman technology. It was created by, and is maintained by, students and faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Its goal is to provide a comprehensive guide to Roman technology, with various levels of information.

Clearly a must-see for those interested in ancient technology!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Human figures, wild animal reliefs unearthed in 11,000-year-old Gobeklitepe tumulus

Source:Turkish Daily News

A team of archaeologists working at the Gobeklitepe tumulus in the southeastern city of Sanl?urfa came across human figures without heads as well as reliefs of scorpions, snakes and wild birds on obelisks belonging to the Neolithic period, the head of the team announced on Monday.

Speaking at a press conference at the ancient city, excavation team leader Klaus Schmidt of the German Archeological Institute in Berlin stated that Gobeklitepe was an 11,000-year-old site of worship established by the hunter-gatherer people of the time.

"During this year's excavations we came across human figures without heads, and we discovered a human figure for the first time since we started working here 12 years ago. This is a remarkable development. Remains give us important clues regarding the future of the excavations," Schmidt said.

He said excavations in Gobeklitepe brought to light the monumental architecture and the advanced symbolic world of the hunter groups that existed prior to the period of transition to production.

Schmidt said they also discovered the remains of nearly 20 round or elliptical structures 30 meters in diameter in the area.

According to Schmidt, the animal figures on the obelisks unearthed this year in Gobeklitepe have different characteristics. "Animal figures drawn by the people of the Neolithic era may represent the 'watchman' of the period," said Schmidt, adding that similar human figures were previously encountered in the ancient tumulus of Catalhoyuk, which is 2,000 years younger than Gobeklitepe.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Greek police seize some 450 antiquities, arrest Athens man

Source: The Associated Press via International Herald Tribune

ATHENS, Greece Police in Athens have arrested a Greek man suspected of illegally possessing some 450 ancient and late mediaeval artifacts, authorities said on Tuesday.

The suspect, identified as an 81-year-old former mine owner, was arrested during a raid on his Athens home on Monday, police said.

Officers confiscated the collection, which dated from as early as prehistoric times and was the most important seized in Greece in recent months.

Police said the artifacts included two marble heads — of a youth and a young woman — 147 silver and copper coins, jewelry, metal and pottery figurines, some 50 vases, bronze arrowheads and axes, a bronze dagger and spearhead, as well as 21 religious icons.

Police did not provide precise dating for the seized artifacts.

Under Greece's strict protection laws, it is illegal to own, buy, sell or excavate antiquities without a special permit. Any items found accidentally must be handed over to authorities.

Burnt City Broke the Record in Archeological Findings

Source: Cultural Heritage News Agency

Having discovered and documented 130 archeological sites, archeologists of the Cultural Heritage Center of Burnt City have broken a historic record.

Tehran, 10 October 2006 (CHN Foreign Desk) -- With discovering and documenting some 130 historical sites including satellite villages in the archeological site of Burnt City within only 6 months, archeologists of the Cultural Heritage Center of Burnt City have surpassed all the previous records in identifying and registering archeological sites in Iran.

“Discovery and registration of 130 historical sites within 6 months of archeological excavations in Burnt City indicates that almost every day one discovery has been made and announced to be registered in the list of Iran’s National Heritage, something which is absolutely unprecedented in the history of archeological excavations in Iran and should be registered as a successful record for Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO),” said Alireza Khosravi, head of Cultural Heritage Center of Burnt City.

Khosravi also announced that experts are currently working on preparing a map on which distribution of archeological sites in Sistan Plain is pinned down as well as a digital map from the area.

According to Khosravi, this project aims to highlight the tourism potentials of the region through identifying and documenting the historical sites that exist in the area. It also intends to introduce the unique archeological features of the Sistan Plain and the rich civilization and cultural values of Burnt City, southeast Iran, and to reveal some unknown aspects of this historical site.

Prior to this, some 137 historical hills had been identified by this Center in the vicinity of Burnt City historical site. Archeologists believed that most probably these hills were settled by the Burnt City inhabitants during the ancient times. The discovered historical sites are located 6-8 kilometers from the Burnt City and some cultural evidence such as broken clays similar to those discovered in Burnt City have been unearthed in these hills.

Located 57 kilometers from the city of Zabol in Sistan va Baluchestan province, southeast Iran, the Burnt City covers an area of 150 hectares and was one of the world’s largest cities at the dawn of the urban era. It was built around 3200 BC and was destroyed some time around 2100 BC. The city had four stages of civilization and was burnt down three times, which is why it is called Burnt City (Shahr-e Sukhteh in Persian).

Toward the end of the second millennium BC, Burnt City came to a cultural standstill; and archeological evidence shows that this ancient civilization of the eastern plateau of Iran somehow vanished from the face of the earth at the beginning of the first millennium BC.

According to Khosravi, archeologists are determined to trace the settlement area of human beings during the latest periods of settlement in Burnt City which coincided with the dawn of civilization in eastern half of the Iranian Plateau. Comparing and studying the discovered cultural evidence such as earthenware remains scattered in the region in different areas from the basin of Hirmand River to the satellite villages as well as identifying the location of the settlement areas in other parts of Sistan Plain where life existed at a time Burnt City was still alive and discovering the process of development of the art of pottery-making in Sistan Plain and finding the trend of civilization in the region are the other objectives behind this year’s archeological excavations in the vicinity of Burnt City.

Although 9 seasons of archeological excavations have been carried out on the Burnt City so far, there are still many questions remained unanswered about the ethnicity and language of its inhabitants. Moreover, archeologists have not yet figured out what happened to the people of the region and where they migrated to after they abandoned their city.

Excavation on the Burnt City was initiated in 1967 when Professor Maurizzio Tosi, Italian archeologists and his colleagues joined Iranian archeologists. Later, in 1988-89, excavations were resumed by Dr. Sajjadi under the auspices of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization. The outcome of the research has been published in 170 books and papers so far in Persian, English, Italian, Japanese, German, and Spanish languages.

According to excavations and researches, the Burnt City has come to be known as one of the most important proofs for the independence of the eastern part of Iran from Mesopotamia. Based on the discovered historical relics such as rope, basket, cloth, wooden objects, fingernail and hair, weaving equipment such as hooks, shoe lace, human and animal statuettes seldom unearthed in other archeological sites so far, archeologists have concluded that Burnt City was the most significant center of settlement and in fact the whole region’s social, economic, political and cultural center during the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC.

One of the prominent ancient relics found in the Burnt City is a skull that anthropologists believe might have been the first evidence of brain surgeries in prehistoric Iran. The skull was found in a mass grave in 1978 during excavations by the Italian team, lead by Maurizzio Tosi.

Results of 10 years of excavations in the historical site of Burnt City are to be published in a book in which major archeological findings in this historical site will be documented.

Soudabeh Sadigh

Ancient Giant Camels

Source: The Associated Press

Bones of ancient giant camel found

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- The bones of a giant camel dating back 100,000 years have been unearthed in the Syrian desert, a government newspaper reported over the weekend.

The bones were discovered by a joint Syrian-Swiss archaeological team at the site of al-Hemel in the Palmyra region about 155 miles northeast of Damascus, the state-run Tishrin daily reported Saturday.

The discovery revealed that the Syrian desert "is the first origin of the camel," Bassam Jammous, director general of the Antiquities and Museum Department in Syria, told the newspaper.

He said the animal would have been some 13 feet tall - double the size of the modern-day camel - and "poses a revolution in the world of archaeological discoveries."

Officials with the Swiss archaeology team could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday.

The discovery of the bones was first reported in 2005.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Star Trek and Mythology

Star Trek tests technological frontier

Judy Skatssoon
ABC Science Online

Star Trek heralded real developments in science and drew on the great classical myths, an Australian researcher says.

Dr Djoymi Baker, a self-confessed Trekkie from the University of Melbourne, watched more than 700 episodes of the cult TV series as part of her PhD.

Baker, an expert in media and popular culture, says scientists often dismiss science fiction for getting it wrong.

But she says it can foreshadow or even influence developments in science, adding that more members of the public watch science fiction than "science factual".

"Because it's gone on for so many decades [Star Trek has] had a big impact on what people think about space and what might be possible in the future," she says.

"A lot of NASA astronauts cite it as their inspiration; scientists have cited it as their inspiration for new technology."

For example, NASA's first shuttle of 1977 was named Enterprise after a campaign by Star Trek fans.

The Star Trek influence can also be seen in new 'spray on' drug delivery technologies, the computer chip and even the flip-top mobile phone and automatic doors, she says.

And after the catchphrase "beam me up Scotty", scientists have started to experiment with dematerialising and rematerialising helium, and 'cloning' laser beams.

"They can't beam you up yet but they're starting to do experiments along those lines," Baker says.

While Star Trek described life in the future, it also had what is now regarded as a quaint pre-Copernican tendency to place humans at the centre of the universe, she says.

Back to the future

Baker says Star Trek still holds a huge fascination even as space authorities like NASA fight for funds, recognition and good publicity.

"Scientists often don't like science fiction because it can get it wrong, but on the other hand it can be very inspirational," she says.

"NASA might be struggling [but] on the other hand we have science fiction which says we can achieve great things in space, not only in terms of exploration but in terms of what sort of race we want to be, and that's quite a powerful message."

Baker says Star Trek not only looks forward to the technological future, but harks back to the heroic past of ancient myths like Homer's Odyssey.

Not only do mythical figures like the Amazons, the god Apollo or the sirens of Homeric lore appear in space, but Star Trek contains the sweeping themes of intrepid adventure and bold exploration that lie at the heart of classical mythology.

"Mythology is a bit of a recurring theme in science fiction television shows," Baker says.

"Just as you might have met strange creatures in an ancient myth, instead you find strange creatures in outer space."

Shows like Star Trek were also an indirect offshoot from the great cinematic "sword and sandal" epics of the 1950s and 60s, she says.

"Mostly TV was constrained by much tighter budgets so it just couldn't do those types of spectacles," she says.

"So myth goes into other genres and one of the genres ... is science fiction.

"Instead of going into the ancient past, you fast forward into the future."

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Getty talks

Source: ekathimerini

Greece has begun a new round of talks in Athens with representatives of Los Angeles’s J. Paul Getty Museum about the possibility of returning two ancient Greek treasures, the Culture Ministry said late on Tuesday.

Greece says the gold wreath from 400 BC and a 6th century BC marble statue were illegally excavated and smuggled out of the country. Getty officials are examining the documentation, which Greece believes supports this claim. Two other antiquities from the Getty Museum were returned to Greece last month.

Oldest profession helps boost Greek national output by 25 per cent

The right-wing Greek government managed once again to make Greece the laughing stock of the world. On September 29, the Financial Times published an article entitled "Oldest profession helps boost Greek national output by 25 per cent" referring to the inclusion of black-economy (including prostitution) money to the Gross Domestic Product.

Although the actual amount related to illegal activities accounts only for 0.7% of the 25% upward revision of the GDP, it's quite obvious that there is something seriously wrong with the "big brains" of the Greek Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Talking about prostitution, I would like to say a thing about its role in ancient Athens where the legendary lawmaker Solon is credited with legalising prostitution by having created state brothels with regulated prices. However, what Solon really did (mainly in order to curb abuses of the Drakonian adultery laws), was to introduce a law which stated that if a man is caught with a woman who practices some form of prostitution, either organized or free-lance, he cannot be accused of adultery (Dem. 59.67). As Kapparis (2003, 3) states "by doing so Solon perhaps unintentionally legalized and defined prostitution."

Reference: K. Kapparis, “Women and Family in Athenian Law,” in Adriaan Lanni, ed., “Athenian Law in its Democratic Context” (Center for Hellenic Studies On-line Discussion Series). Republished in C.W. Blackwell, ed., D?mos: Classical Athenian Democracy (A. Mahoney and R. Scaife, edd., The Stoa: a consortium for electronic publication in the humanities [www.stoa.org]) edition of March 22, 2003.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Bathed in controversy

The world's oldest known thermal spa is at the centre of a conflict between Turkey's drive for modernity and the protection of its heritage, writes Helena Smith

Helena Smith in Allianoi, Turkey
Wednesday October 4, 2006

The Guardian

The floodwaters have not arrived yet but the Yortanli dam is ready. As his team of tireless diggers ignores the sizzling Anatolian heat to uncover the secrets of Allianoi, Dr Ahmet Yaras had the look of a condemned commander about him.

It would, he said, be death by drowning for the world's oldest known thermal spa. "And still," he exclaimed, his eyes scouring the wooded hillocks of the ancient settlement, "there is so much to find."

Days after Turkey's government gave its blessing to the construction of the controversial Ilisu dam in the south-east of the country, archaeologists in western Allianoi have accelerated efforts to salvage a 1,800-year-old health centre that is arguably the most impressive and best preserved on the continent of Europe.

Not since excavations began in 1998 has the quest to unearth the mysteries of the complex been so fraught with the knowledge that time is running out. The Yortanli project was completed last November and only pressure from both inside and outside Turkey has kept the floodgates closed.

Laying the foundation stone for the Ilisu plant - a project that campaigners claim will wreak "cultural mass destruction" on the historic site of Hasankeyf while displacing thousands of Kurds - the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, summed up the dilemma thus: "On the one hand, you have the increasing demand for energy and a bright future for Turkey; on the other history, culture and an inheritance that belongs to all humanity. We have to find a solution. We have to make peace between the two sides."

Archaeologists find 11-millennium-old building in Syria

Source: Yahoo! News

DAMASCUS (AFP) - Archaeologists said they have discovered an 11-millennium-old building with on the banks of the Euphrates River in northern

"A remarkable discovery has just been uncovered of a large circular building dating back to 8,800 BC near (the locality of) Ja'de," the head of the French archaeologal team that made the find told AFP.

The building, much larger than normal houses, "had a collective use, probably for all of the village or a group," Eric Coqueugniot said.

"A part of this community building takes the shape of the head of a bull and retains painted decorations, the oldest known in the Middle East," he said.

"The multi-coloured geometrical paintings" that decorate the building would be displayed at the museum of Aleppo, in northern Syria, he added.

"Many hunting weapons, domestic tools ... were discovered at this level. The majority of these tools are made of flint and very few are of obsidian (volcanic stone)," he said.

Coqueugniot heads the team of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), France's largest scientific establishment, which has led the excavation work at the site for the past 15 years.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Free issues of archaeology journals: Part II

Journal of Archaeological Science 33.1 (2006)

Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry (all issues)

Oxford Journal of Archaeology 25.1 (2006)

World Archaeology 37.4 (2005)

Battle of Salamis Monument

Source: Eleutherotypia

A monument to commemorate the fallen soldiers of the Battle of Salamis was erected in the area of the original burial mound last Friday.

The bronze sculpture was made by the Greek sculptor Achilles Basileiou and it was officially presented to the public on the anniversary of the famous naval battle on September 29.