Temple of Demeter from Russia

Interesting item from Greek Reporter:

What is considered to be a unique discovery has been made in Taman, South Russia, at the Black Sea. The ruins of an ancient Greek city, dated around the 6th century BC, came to light. Archeologists are stunned both by the number of the findings and the condition they were found in.

The excavations are proceeding with extreme caution, in order to avoid damaging the city’s ancient fortress. According to historians, it is assumed that the ruins are the temple of Dimitra, the ancient goddess of fertility and agriculture, while they were able to determine the very spot of the altar. But, the number of the findings induce them to believe that a whole city has been found.

The conditions of the excavations are being extremely difficult due to how remote the place is, the lack of running water, the very cold weather ( up to -25 C during the night ). Another difficulty is the lack of money, which for the moments is being aided with the help of volunteers who are paying 13 euros a day each to participate.

via Ancient Greek City Uncovered in Russia | Greek Reporter Europe.

This (Russian) news report accompanies the original article … it clearly shows the foundations of a temple (Demeter/Dimitra):

I can’t be positive, of course, but ancient Hermonassa seems to be a likely candidate for this one …

Writers With Bad Hair

Something called Flavorwire has a ‘top ten’  feature on writers with “unruly, manly manes” and Homer makes the, er, cut:

Though an imagined bust of the blind poet, many believe he had an alarming mass of curls framing his face. In the Iliad, Homer vividly describes soldiers offering their hair to Patroclus during his funeral (e.g., “Cutting off their hair, they strewed it, covering the dead.”) Which was a pretty big deal, considering Homer previous describes their glorious “tufts of of streaming hair” during a battle scene. The lesson here is that real men offer their luxurious locks to their fallen comrades. It’s only right.

… I’m sure Euripides would be in the top 20, at least

Greek Wine for Breakfast?

Not sure about this one … from Sky News:

Greek nationals have discovered that the doctor’s of their ancient ancestors prescribed a cup of wine for breakfast.

Reuters reports a Greek ‘symposium’ held in the outskirts of Athens provided an opportunity for guests to prepare and sample ancient Greek cuisine. The word symposium originally referred to a Greek banquet dedicated to eating and drinking.

Core ancient Greek foods such as olives, olive, oil, parsley, oregano, honey, fish and bread, have survived over the centuries and still feature in modern cooking.

Other Greek traditions have not enjoyed the same fete.

According to Andrew Dalby, a British food historian and author who has published several books on the history of food, the ancient Greeks had a thirst for wine to kick off their day.

‘It’s true! Ancient doctors recommended a small – lets say a cup of wine, rather than a glass – a small cup of wine with water for breakfast. Yes certainly! Byzantine times, too. That was what you took. Not more than that, let’s be serious about this. You’ve got to, you have got to work for the day – but yes that’s how you started’, Dalby told Reuters.

Now it wouldn’t surprise me if Greeks (and Romans) had (diluted, of course) wine for breakfast, but I can’t recall reading a ‘doctor’ recommending same (although it’s possible). But another page (in Greek) suggests this was all part of an Ancient Greek and Byzantine Gastronomy conference/symposium and a page promoting same suggests there were rather few ancient types participating (although there are a couple of Byzantinists) … besides Dalby:

The following speakers will also be participating in the Symposium: Johannes Koder, Professor of Byzantine Studies and member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Louis Grivetti, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Nutrition at UC Davis, Elias Anagnostakis, head researcher at the Institute of Byzantine Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, Alexandros Giotis, gastronomist and culinary arts critic, Dimitris Hatzinikolaou, oenologist, Albert Arouch, food critic and author, George Boskou, associate professor of food service management, Gerasimos Rigatos, doctor and author, Theofanis Karabatsakis, scientific associate of the Macedonia-Thrace Hunting Federation, Maria Leontsini, researcher at the Institute of Byzantine Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, and Panayiotis Soultanis, philologist and writer.

There’s a video news report (including Dalby saying the things quoted above) here: Ancient Greek Food Revival Workshop … not sure if I need to mention that Dalby is the guy who got quite a bit of press attention a few summers ago for suggesting that the Iliad was written by a woman (see also here … the suggestion existed before Dalby, of course, e.g. here).

In Case You’re Wondering About Rome’s Earthquake …

… the Guardian shows some rather uncommon journalistic skepticism:

Well, so much for the Eternal city. On Wednesday, Rome will be razed to the ground by an earthquake that will shatter more than 2,000 years’ worth of monumental architecture including the Colosseum, the Pantheon and St Peter’s.

That, at least, is the fear of hundreds of thousands of Romans, spooked by the reputed forecast of a self-taught seismologist who died more than 30 years ago. The daily La Repubblica reported that applications from the capital’s public employees for a day off – and, presumably, out – were 18% higher than for the same day in 2011. Education officials were said to be expecting school attendances to be down by a fifth as parents decide it is better to be on the safe side.

The panic was set off by claims that Raffaele Bendandi, the “earthquake prophet”, forecast a devastating tremor that would rip through the capital on 11 May. Bendandi, who was knighted by Mussolini, is said to have predicted several disasters, including the Friuli quake of 1976, which claimed almost 1,000 lives.

Reports of his forecast have gained credence from the awesome rumour-mongering capabilities of the internet; the fact that Rome is undeniably on the edge of a seismic region, and the lingering recollection that a non-specialist predicted the earthquake that devastated the central Italian city of L’Aquila two years ago.

But, according to the head of a foundation set up in Bendandi’s honour in his native town near Bologna, it is all an urban – indeed, very urban – legend.

“I can state with absolute certainty that in Raffaele Bendandi’s papers, there is no prediction of a earthquake in Rome on 11 May 2011,” Paola Lagorio, the president of the Osservatorio Geoficico Comunale of Faenza, said last month. “The date is not there. The place is not there.”

It would be nice if the journalistic set did that extra bit of legwork to get expert opinions of  things closer to (our) home (and the cynic in me thinks the only reason it was done here was for let’s-laugh-at-those-naive-Italians purposes) …

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem v idus maias

ante diem v idus maias

  • Lemuria (day 2) — a private and public appeasement of the dead; the Roman paterfamilias would rise at midnight to conduct a ritual involving beans and bronze
  • rites in honour of Mania — a Roman divinity who was considered the goddess of the dead; she was also the mother of the Lares
  • 14 A.D. — Augustus’ last official census comes to an end
  • 330 — Constantine renames Byzantium and makes it his capital
  • 1988 — death of E.T. Salmon (Samnium and the Samnites)