More than 400 archaeological excavations discovered along the route dug out for the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) have been completed, while another 7 large-scale projects are ongoing in the regions traversed by the pipeline, the company said on Tuesday, following the 31st annual Conference "Archaeological Excavations in Macedonia and Thrace" in Thessaloniki, held between 8 and 10 March 2018 at the Aristotle University.

To date, specialist teams have concluded ca. 300 small- and large-scale rescue excavations and more than 100 trial trench investigations within the project's Right of Way, with more than 650 experts in archaeological research (archaeologists, topographers, conservators, etc.), as well as archaeological laborers involved in the work.

The multiple findings that have been unearthed - both movable and immovable - include burial grounds or individual tombs with some of them containing grave goods, parts of settlements and architectural remains such as walls and churches, monuments, workshops and indications of human activity, for instance kilns and wells. In addition, many movable findings have also been located (pottery, jewellery, coins, etc.), dating from the prehistoric to the post-Byzantine period.

Lead scientists-representatives of 9 Northern Greek Ephorates (from the regional units of Evros, Rodopi, Xanthi, Serres, Kilkis, Thessaloniki, Kozani, Kastoria and Florina) discussed the initial findings of their excavation research, noting that archaeological excavations in Greece would have almost completely ceased, if it weren't for the funds from public or private works. TAP's Country Manager for Greece, Katerina Papalexandri, said:

"We are collaborating closely with the Ministry of Culture and Sports, as well as the local Ephorates of Antiquities, for the protection and promotion of the rich Greek cultural heritage. We are thankful for this collaboration that guarantees the implementation of archaeological best practice and the promotion of academic work and scientific knowledge."  

Archaeological works implemented in collaboration with TAP and its contractors are monitored by the ministry of culture and the 13 local Ephorates of Antiquities (one per each regional unit traversed by the pipeline), as provided for by the relevant memoranda of understanding.
On the sixth of the month of Elaphebolion, the people of Athens and Phocis (Φωκίδα), and perhaps other cities and city-states, held a modest festival for Artemis that gave lended name to the month: the Elaphebolia (Έλαφηβόλια). Will you join us on March 24th at the usual 10 am EDT in celebrating the rite?

It appears that the festival was a major festival in honor of Artemis Elaphêbolos (Αρτεμις Ελαφηβολος) down to the time of Plutarch. It was mainly observed at Hyampolis, to commemorate a Phocian victory over the Thessalians. Afterwards, it seems to have lost its grander, most likely in the face of the Greater Dionysia which was held only a few days later, starting on the tenth of the month, and the Asklepia, held on the eighth.

Artemis Elaphêbolos is the stag-killer, the shooter of deer, the huntress who relishes the chase. She's the slayer of prey, both animal and human, and in ancient Hellas, she guarded Hyampolis and the surrounding cities from the horrors of war.

The festival was most likely quite grand right after the war, but slowly became a festival which consisted almost entirely of a single offering. In the early days, the offering was always a stag, one per family, most likely. As the years went on, however, and the expansion of cities drove the stag far into the Athenian hills, only the city's elite was able to offer a stag to the Goddess. Everyone else made due with cakes in the shape of stags. It seems these stag cakes--called 'elaphos' (ἔλαφος)--were made out of the basic dough mixture with honey, and sesame seeds.

You can find the ritual here, and we really hope you will join us on the community page here.
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

New things happening:
PAT rituals for Elaphebolion:
  • Elaphebolion 6 - March 18 - Elaphebolia - festival in honor of Artemis
  • Elaphebolion 8 - March 20 - Asklepieia - festival in honor of Asklēpiós
  • Elaphebolion 9 - March 21 - Galaxia - festival in honor of the Mother of the Gods (Rhea), Kronos, Zeus and Hera
  • Elaphebolion 10-17 - March 28 / April 4 - Greater (City) Dionysia in honor of Dionysos
  • Elaphebolion 16 - April 3 - Sacrifice to Semele and Dionysos at Erkhia
  • Elaphebolion 17 - April 4 - Pandia - festival in honor of Zeus, following the Greater Dionysia

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

Would you like to support me? Buy me a coffee.
I am neck deep in writerly things (two books in twenty days, why did I think this was a good idea?), so I'm treating you to writerly things as well! If you've ever tried to write a narrative, you know that putting a good story arc together takes some doing. The ancient Hellenic play writes often relied on a construct called the deus ex machine.

The deus ex machina; 'God from a machine' (pronounced as 'Day-oos eks MAH-kee-nah') is a calque from the Hellenic ἀπὸ μηχανῆς θεός (apò mēkhanês theós), which has roughly the same meaning. The term has evolved into a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. Depending on how it is done, it can be intended to move the story forward when the writer has stuffed up and sees no other way out, to surprise the audience, to bring the tale to a happy ending, or as a comedic device.

The term was coined in Hellenic tragedy, where a machine was (and still is) used to bring actors playing Gods onto the stage. The machine could be either a crane (mechane) used to lower actors from above or a riser that brought actors up through a trapdoor. The idea was introduced by Aeschylus and was used often to resolve the conflict and conclude the drama. Although the device is associated most with Hellenic tragedy, it also appeared in comedies.

Aristotle (Ἀριστοτέλης) was an ancient Hellenic philosopher and scientist who lived from 384 BC to 322 BC. At seventeen or eighteen years of age, he joined Plato's Academy in Athens and remained there until the age of thirty-seven. His combined works form the first comprehensive system of Western philosophy. Philosophy, to Aristotle, was not limited to ethics. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theater, music, rhetoric, linguistics, politics and government. All those together, he believed, formed what could be perceived with the senses and thus made up the world.

Aristotle wasn't a fan of the deus ex machine, so while I work toward the end of my second book in twenty days, you get to enjoy Aristotle's opinion on this tried and true theater trope. Enjoy!

“Clearly, the resolution of the plots should come from the plot itself and not, as in the Medea, from some divine contrivance or as in the Iliad during the rush to the ships (Il. 2.155). The divine device should instead be used for events that are outside the drama either for those that come before what people could know or those that come later which require prophecy and revelation—since we allow that the gods may see everything. There should be nothing illogical in the events, unless it comes from outside the tragedy itself as in Sophocles’ Oedipus.” [Aristotle, Poetics 1454a] 

“Narratives ought to prefer likely events, even if impossible, to improbable possible ones. Stories should not be made from illogical parts: in the best case, they should contain nothing illogical, unless it comes from outside the plot itself as when Oedipus is not aware how Laios died, instead of in the play itself, as when they report the events at Delphi in the Elektra or when the silent man comes from Tegea to Mysia in the Mysians. To say that otherwise the plot would be wrecked is ridiculous—it isn’t right to set up these sorts of events from the beginning. If a poet does this, and there is a more logical option available, it is strange. Even those illogical events in the Odyssey when Odysseus is put ashore [asleep by the Phaeacians] would have been manifestly intolerable if a lesser poet had created it. In the poem now, Homer softens and erases the strangeness with his other good traits.” [Aristotle, Poetics 1460a26]
High-powered X-rays have helped researchers reveal a text by ancient Greek doctor Galen hidden under 6th century writing.

An international multidisciplinary team in California has made an exciting discovery, unveiling a translation of an ancient Greek medical text that until now had been covered with religious writing.
Uncovered at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists used high-powered X-rays to analyze the text from St Catherine’s Monastery on the Sinai Peninsula. On the surface were 10th-century psalms, which were found to be covering writings by ancient Greek doctor Galen that had been translated a few hundred years after his death into the ancient Syriac language.

Galen, who lived from 129 to around 216 CE, studied medicine by dissecting apes and made some important discoveries, among them that arteries do not carry air, but blood. His work remained influential into the Middle Ages.

The Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) used to make the discovery, is a common particle accelerator. It works by accelerating electrons to nearly the speed of light and keeps them traveling around a many-sided polygon. Magnets change the electrons’ directions, producing a beam of high-energy X-rays, which successfully revealed the ink that had been scraped off on the parchment.The team at SLAC stated:

“The process we’re using is x-ray fluorescence imaging. We’re going to hit the sample with x-ray energies and it’s going to make the elements that are in the sample fluoresce. One thing people use this sort of technique for is spotting forgeries because by picking up the elements that make up the ink, which you can do from the spectral lines that you’ve got, you can identify if this is modern or ancient."

Researchers now have plans to scan the 26 pages to produce high-resolution files that will be uploaded and made available online.
So, I've been putting in a lot of work and not getting a lot of relaxation. Since I'm doing what I love, I totally don't mind, but I was looking for something to relax with and found Excavate! Greece, which is a middle school social studies game that brings the ancient civilization of Hellas to life through Archaeology.

"Piece together the daily life of ancient Greece in this immersive social studies educational game!  Use archaeological thinking to apply C3 skills of Inquiry and Evaluation of Evidence to aspects of Greek daily life not covered in textbooks. Excavate and analyze four significant locations to make connections and deduct facts about the people who lived, worked and played there.

Explore Athens and Sparta, city-states that highlight very different lifestyles and social differences. Investigate Delphi, a religious temple to the god Apollo. Examine the stadium in Olympia to gain a deeper understanding of the ancient Olympic games. Visit the sites in any order; your progress will be recorded in journals that log collected artifacts, field notes and achievements.  At each location, make meaning of how artifacts were used through a series of analysis questions and reports that help you consider the historical context of the primary source artifacts to make connections.
Finally, players see each site come alive as artifacts populate an historically accurate image of Greek life."

Featured Learning Goals (or as I like to read it, things to immerse yourself in):
- Explore the significance of Apollo’s Temple in Delphi
- Gain a new perspective on the Olympic Games
- Distinguish the roles of women and men in ancient Greek society
- Compare and contrast the lifestyles of Athens and Sparta
- Piece together daily life
- Describe the lifestyle and role of gods and goddesses in Roman society
- Explain architectural innovations that were used to build temples and stadiums

Excavate! Greece is available for HTML5 browser play at our store and for tablets at one of the app stores below.  iOS and Android tablets are supported. Price: $3.99 US  (store may vary in price).
Switzerland’s ambassador to Greece has spoken of the “intense collaboration” between the two countries when it comes to archaeology. Speaking earlier this week Hans-Rudolf Hodel noted the close cooperation between Greece and Switzerland in archaeology during a presentation of the latest finds in an excavation undertaken by the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece (ESAG) on the island of Evia.

Speaking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) on the research, Hodel said that archaeology constitutes a privileged field of intense collaboration between the two countries. The envoy said Swiss archaeologists are concentrating on the island of Evia, where they have been unearthing and restoring the remains of Ancient Eretria since 1964.

ESAG works in close collaboration with the Greek archaeological authorities, which have been granting the school the requisite survey permits year after year and is the only permanent Swiss archaeological mission overseas. The ambassador explained that what started as a simple “Greek-Swiss Archaeological Mission” was recognized by the Greek authorities in 1975 as the “Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece”. Ever since, it is considered an archaeological research institute under Greek law and has undertaken intense survey and excavation activity for decades.

Besides the actual excavation works, ESAG’s mission includes publishing the results of all research conducted, preserving and unveiling archaeological finds and presenting them to the public. What is more, every year the school welcomes a large number of researchers from Swiss universities, who thus get the opportunity to spend some time in Greece, working on research projects.

In 2016, ESAG conducted four research projects. In Eretria, a second excavation campaign focusing on the gymnasium site which brought to light the two forearms of the bronze statue of a young man found in a well, a discovery that is unique in the excavation history of Eretria to this day. The director of ESAG, Karl Reber, presented the school’s fieldwork in 2017. There have been important developments in the exploration in progress on the Paleoekklisies site, near Amarynthos, where the sanctuary of goddess Artemis Amarysia is presumed to be located.

Excavations undertaken in cooperation with the Ephorate of Antiquities of Evia have uncovered a portico and a grand new building. This discovery seems to corroborate a previously formulated assumption that this is, indeed, the portico surrounding the space that formed the heart of the sanctuary.

In parallel to these activities, ESAG is supporting two other field surveys, performed by Swiss researchers from the University of Geneva. The first one is the product of collaboration with the Ephorate of Antiquities of West Attica, Piraeus and the Islands, and its goal is to study the evolution of human occupation over time in the Mazi Plain, in the borderlands between Attica and Boeotia.
The survey stretches over a surface of more than 2,500 acres and has revealed a wealth of archaeological finds, which have been documented and recorded. The second is an underwater survey carried out in cooperation with the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in the Kiladha bay of Argolida. The goal here is to study sites and landscapes that were submerged when the sea level rose after the last glacial period.

Recently, fieldwork has focused on clearing and recording finds from an important half-submerged fortified site, dating back to the early Bronze Age.