I recently came across this video of a 3D reconstruction of an ancient Hellenic home. It's a house is a reconstruction of one in Olynthus was an ancient city of Chalcidice, built mostly on two flat-topped hills 30–40m in height, in a fertile plain at the head of the Gulf of Torone, near the neck of the peninsula of Pallene. Olynthus was abruptly destroyed in 348 BC by Phillip of Macedon after allying with Athens. The houses are relatively undisturbed and provide a relatively unique look at the life of Ancient Hellas before Hellenism swept through and marked the very end of the Classical age. This model is the House of the Tiled Prothyon, a broadly higher class or oikos of Olynthus.


Ancient Hellenic homes were simple structures, made from clay, wood, and stone. The roofs were covered with tiles, or reeds, and the houses had one or two stories. Most houses were small, just a few rooms, with a walled garden or yard in the middle. Others, like the house in the video, were much larger. They were not solely homes, but often doubled as offices, shops, entertainment areas, and as a place of worship. In many cases, a large wall with a single door connected the house to the street, while insuring maximum privacy tot he occupants of the house. Rooms at the front of the house often served as store rooms or work shops. Other rooms in the house served as bedrooms, as a kitchen, bathroom, and smaller store rooms. Symposia were held in special rooms, reserved only for men. The only women who entered the male-only rooms were serfs. These rooms were called 'andron' (ανδρών). Female-only rooms were called 'gynaikon' (γυναικῶν).

The courtyard of the home often held a bômos, a free standing, raised, altar where the majority of household worship took place. Some houses also had a wall niche, an indoor worship area, either in a room especially designated for worship, or in the main family room. These altars were used to worship the Ephestioi (Εφεστιοι), the most personal of the household Theoi. These almost always included: Hestia, Zeus Ephestios (Overseer of the Hearth), Zeus Kthesios, and Agathós Daímōn. Worship of these deities was highly personal, and many other Theoi could be added to this worship list.

Hestia was represented by the hearth fire that was always kept burning. If it went out, the male head of household would go to the prytaneion (Πρυτανεῖον), the structure where state officials met and where the city kept a fire for Hestia burning day and night, for a new flame. All fires in the house were lit from this one fire, so Hestia would watch over everything and everyone inside the house. Zeus Ephestios was and is a more active defender of the home. He shields the actual structure of the house. Where Hestia watches over the occupants, Zeus Ephestios guards the very walls, the roof, the floor, and any possessions inside the structure. He was worshipped at the main altar.

Zeus Kthesios guards the pantry, and was honoured there as well, where he had his own shrine, often adorned with a kathiskos. Agathós Daímōn and the ancestors were also worshipped at the main altar, although they may have had small shrines to themselves, especially in the case of wall niches.

In the courtyard of the house, the Herkeioi (Ἑρκειοι) were honoured: those of the herkos or front court. Most notably, this was Zeus Herkeios (Ἑρκειος), protector of the enclosure of the house. And just outside the house, and especially near the gate to the street, small shrines and altars were placed in honor of the less personal protectors: Apollon (sometimes in his epithet of 'Aguieus' (Ἀγυιεύς), protector of the streets, public places, and the entrances to homes), Hermes Propylaios, Hekate, and especially in Sparta, the Dioskouroi. Hēraklēs sometimes took the place of Apollon.

Zeus Herkeios' altar stood in the courtyard and He, from the inside of the house, protected against anyone wanting to harm the house or the family living in it. These altars were most often pillars, on or around which the offerings could be placed. Hermes, Apollon, and Hekate were represented by a pointy four-sided post. The top was reserved for Apollon, the bottom often held a niche where Deipnon offerings could be placed to Hekate, and Hermes' face (and sometimes his genitalia) was sometimes carved into the post. Hermes sometimes got his own post, called a 'herm', which was a rectangular post, with His face carved on top, and his genitalia carved out on the front.

Not all of these things can be seen in the video, but some are. The (small) altar, for example.
Papyri Graecae Magicae, also known as the "Greek Magical Papyri," are a body of papyri from Graeco-Roman Egypt, which each contain a number of magical spells, formulae, hymns and rituals. The materials in the papyri date from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD. The manuscripts came to light through the antiquities trade, from the 18th century onwards. As part of the papyri, spells for a variety of things were recorded. One is a prayer to Eros as part of a love spell. I'd like to share that today.


Prayer to Eros
"I call upon you, author of all creation, who spread your own wings over the whole world, you, the unapproachable and unmeasurable who breathe into every soul life-giving reasoning, who fitted all things together by your power, firstborn, founder of the universe, golden-winged, whose light is darkness, who shroud reasonable thoughts and breathe forth dark frenzy, clandestine one who secretly inhabit every soul.

You engender an unseen fire as you carry off every living thing without growing weary of torturing it, rather having with pleasure delighted in pain from the time when the world came into being. You also come and bring pain, who are sometimes reasonable, sometimes irrational, because of whom men dare beyond what is fitting and take refuge in your light which is darkness.

Most headstrong, lawless, implacable, inexorable, invisible, bodiless, generator of frenzy, archer, torch-carrier, master of all living sensation and of everything clandestine, dispenser of forgetfulness, creator of silence, through whom the light and to whom the light travels, infantile when you have been engendered within the heart, wisest when you have succeeded; I call upon you, unmoved by prayer, by your great name

[F]irst-shining, night-shining, night rejoicing, night-engendering, witness, you in the depth, you in the sea, clandestine and wisest. Turn the ‘soul’ of her to me, so that she may love me, so that she may feel passion for me, so that she may give me what is in her power. Let her say to me what is in her soul because I have called upon your great name.”
Thousands of years ago, the Greek physician Hippokrates, widely considered to be the father of modern medicine, wrote about diseases he and his students observed and treated, including intestinal parasites. Modern scholars suspected that parasitic worms described in the medical text "Hippokratic Corpus" were actually roundworms, pinworms and tapeworms, but there was no physical evidence to back that up.  However, archaeologists recently discovered remnants of ancient poo that bolster historians' theory about Hippokrates' diagnostic prowess.


The poop — by now decomposed into soil — was found adhering to pelvic bones from a burial site on the Greek island of Kea, which holds remains dating from about 4,000 B.C. in the Neolithic period to A.D. 330. The researchers found that the fecal remnants contained eggs from two types of intestinal parasites — whipworm and roundworm — giving a modern name to Hippocrates' ancient diagnoses from 2,500 years ago and providing the earliest evidence of parasitic worms in the people of ancient Greece, the study authors reported. Study co-author Evilena Anastasiou, a biological anthropologist at the University of Cambridge in England, said in a statement.

"Finding the eggs of intestinal parasites as early as the Neolithic period in Greece is a key advance in our field."

In ancient Greek medical texts, three terms were typically used to describe parasitic worms: Helmins strongyle described "a large round worm," Helmins plateia referred to "a flat worm," and Ascaris was "a small round worm." Scholars suspected these names referred to parasites currently known as roundworms (Ascaris lumbricoides), tapeworms in the Taenia genus and pinworms (Enterobius vermicularis), the researchers wrote in the study:

To investigate that interpretation, the scientists analyzed 25 burials spanning 4,000 years, removing sediment that contained traces of decomposed human excrement. They found evidence of roundworm or whipworm eggs in four individuals, confirming that Hippokrates was probably talking about roundworms in his 2,500-year-old medical texts. The study's lead author Piers Mitchell, a lecturer in biological anthropology at the University of Cambridge, said in a statement:

"The Helmins strongyle worm in the ancient Greek texts is likely to have referred to roundworm, as found at Kea. However, Hippocrates may have conflated two common parasites in his texts. The Ascaris worm described in the ancient medical texts may well have referred to two parasites, pinworm and whipworm, with the latter being found at Kea."

One possible explanation for why only whipworm and roundworm eggs survived the test of time could lie in their robust outer membranes, which shielded the eggs from destruction. Meanwhile, the more delicate eggs of other intestinal parasites, such as hookworms and pinworms, were broken down, the researchers reported.

Previous research suggested that whipworms and roundworms have parasitized people throughout human evolution, and when the first settlers arrived on the Greek island of Kea, those intestinal parasites likely arrived with them, the scientists explained in the new study. In addition to confirming Hippokrates' description of roundworms, their findings also suggested that whipworms were present as parasites in the region thousands of years ago, the study authors reported. According to Mitchell:

"Until now we only had estimates from historians as to what kinds of parasites were described in the ancient Greek medical texts. Our research confirms some aspects of what the historians thought, but also adds new information that the historians did not expect, such as that whipworm was present. This research shows how we can bring together archaeology and history to help us better understand the discoveries of key early medical practitioners and scientists."

The findings were published online in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.
Archaeological teams working with Egyptian archaeologists in the Aswan area have unearthed four intact burials of children in Gebel El-Silsila, a cemetery dating to the First Intermediate Period at Kom Ombo, and a statue thought to depict Artemis in the old town of Aswan.


Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that Maria Nilsson and Swedish researchers discovered the children’s tombs, which yielded a mummy in linen wrappings, traces of wooden coffins, and funerary furniture, including amulets and pottery.

The tombs date to the 18th Dynasty, between 1550 and 1292 B.C. In Kom Ombo, Austrian researchers uncovered mudbrick tombs, pottery, and other grave goods in a cemetery dating to between 2181 and 2055 B.C. The cemetery had been built on top of an older one, as well as an Old Kingdom town.

Abdel Moneim Saeed, general director of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities, added that a mission headed by Swiss Egyptologist Wolfgang Muller found a statue missing its head, feet, and right hand. The figure’s dress resembles that worn by Artemis, who had been combined with the Egyptian Goddesses Isis and Bastet.
So far, researchers have managed to learn a lot about ancient Hellenic culture by interpreting the surviving fragments of age-old pot decorations, mosaics, paintings, and statues. From these discoveries we’ve been able to learn that music played an integral part in the lifestyle of ancient Hellas.


Artwork dating from around 750 to 400 BC often details scenes of music being played at social occasions, such as parties and funerals. The ancient instruments are known to cover three instrumental families—stings, wind, and percussion—with the most common instruments being the lyre (a string instrument that looks like a small harp) and the guitar-like zither. However, more than 2,000 years later, we’ve only just recently been able to learn exactly how they would have sounded. Thanks to newly discovered ancient documents, a group of scholars have figured out how to recreate precise renditions of ancient Greek music. Armand D'Angour, a musician and classics tutor at Oxford University, explains:

“The [ancient Greek] instruments are known from descriptions, paintings and archaeological remains, which allow us to establish the timbres and range of pitches they produced. And now, new revelations about ancient Greek music have emerged from a few dozen ancient documents inscribed with a vocal notation devised around 450 BC, consisting of alphabetic letters and signs placed above the vowels of the Greek words.”

After some decoding, David Creese, one of D'Angour's colleagues from the University of Newcastle, was able to play and record the oldest surviving complete musical composition—titled Seikilos—an epitaph that was inscribed on an ancient, 2,000-year-old marble column. Listen as Creese sings and plays the notes on his handmade zither-like instrument—an “eight-string canon.”
The Washington Post published a very interesting article about Mary Beard yesterday. For those of you unfamiliar with Beard or her impressive body of work, she is an English scholar and classicist. Beard is Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, a fellow of Newnham College, and Royal Academy of Arts Professor of Ancient Literature. She is also the Classics editor of The Times Literary Supplement. In short: she knows her stuff. As the post reports: a new book by Beard links Hellenic mythology to modern (Twitter) trolls, arguing both have a problem with women who speak up.

(Alastair Grant/Associated Press)

The Cambridge University classics professor had been pondering the influence of the ancient world on modern political and public life when she came across mugs and T-shirts bearing an image from Greek mythology: the hero Perseus holding the bloody head of the snake-haired monster Medusa. In this version, Perseus had Donald Trump’s face and the monster bore Clinton’s.

Beard was shocked both by the brutality of the image and “the domesticity of it. ... The idea that you’d be sitting at your breakfast table and you’d have a mug with Hillary Clinton being beheaded on it.”

Beard asks how that ancient image ended up in a modern political campaign in “Women and Power ,” a short but punchy book published Tuesday in the U.S. by Liveright. The book explores the way images and ideas from ancient Greece and Rome have burrowed the way into the Western collective consciousness — and how many of them are about keeping women in their place.

“When it comes to silencing women, Western culture has had thousands of years of practice”

The book begins with one of the first works of Western literature, citing a scene in Homer’s 3,000-year-old “Odyssey,” in which Telemachus tells his mother Penelope to get back to her weaving because “speech will be the business of men.”

Beard argues that modern ideas about public speaking are still shaped by its definition as a male thing. In the book’s second half she explores how power, more widely, came to be defined as something wielded by men.

As well as Clinton, female politicians including Angela Merkel and Theresa May have been caricatured as the serpent-haired Gorgon. Beard argues that such images draw little criticism. In contrast, when comedian Kathy Griffin posed with a fake severed Trump head, it prompted an outcry that saw her fired by CNN. In an echo of the ancient image, online abuse aimed at prominent women often includes threats to rip out tongues or cut off heads.

“(It’s) the idea of cutting off, not just the brain and the beauty but the speaking organ of a woman.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

I think she has a point. As a feminist and a woman, of course I think she has a point. I have experienced it, I have seen it happen to others. Ancient Hellas was a patriarchal society, and we live in a patriarchal society to this day. There has been a shift toward more equality, and we continue to shift toward more equality, but we're not there yet.  I'll be getting Beard's book as a first step toward that future.
The Department of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus, has announced the completion of the 2017 season of archaeological excavations at the Bronze Age settlement of Kisonerga-Skalia near Paphos, conducted by a University of Manchester mission, under the direction of Dr Lindy Crewe (Director, Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute). The site exhibits a long Bronze Age sequence, and earlier Late Chalcolithic occupation, beginning before 2,500 BC until abandonment around 1600 BC.


The aims of the season were to continue to expose the latest phases of occupation preserved at the site. In the north of the area under excavation, the preserved occupation dates to the Chalcolithic period. Here an interesting area of Chalcolithic pit graves was revealed.

Although there were no grave goods to securely date the four burials excavated, sherds within the deposits indicate a likely Middle Chalcolithic date. This is important as it was previously thought that the burials at the neighbouring settlement of Kisonerga-Mosphilia were all associated with houses.
Further southwards, a building complex dating to Middle Cypriote III–Late Cypriote IA1 was revealed. There is no later occupation indicated during the Bronze Age. This final phase at the site is characterised by the construction of a large complex of over 1200m2 devoted to industrial activities, including beer production and large-scale cooking or firing.

Other activities undertaken include spinning fibres and grinding grain. This complex was built over the ruins of earlier Bronze Age houses and appears to indicate a community-wide effort of construction. This unusually large open space may have been used for gatherings or another unknown function.

In Area P/B2 an area of 55m2 was exposed. Two parallel long walls, seen on upper and lower part of Figure 1, appear to form a contained space. On the interior faces of both walls we have investigated wall tumble and superstructure collapse, suggesting that this area may have been roofed. A sounding dug between the walls revealed an underlying area of destroyed building material and extensive ashy deposits. The sequence of events suggests a deliberate destruction of an earlier Bronze Age built feature.

Further areas of stone wall tumble were associated with the wall seen upper left in fig. 1. The wall tumble was removed to reveal a series of two floor deposits. Lying beneath wall collapse and above the upper surface, the upper portion of a terracotta figurine was retrieved (fig. 2). This figurine is unusual but it is probably of Middle Cypriot date. Very few figurines of this period are known and all have variable characteristics. Its decoration is of local Kissonerga style, comprising impressed circles with a central dot and lines framing a row of dots. The figurine has a very elaborate hat and triple pierced ears.

There are still areas of the final phase complex to be revealed at Kisonerga-Skalia. It is hoped that in future seasons evidence for the nature of the occupation and the activities being undertaken at the site will be revealed. Outstanding questions remain: why was such a large complex constructed and only occupied for maybe one or two generations? What was the function of the large open area and why were so many large-scale heating/burning installations constructed?