new genomic study on southern Mediterranean reveals a genetic continuity across geographic and national borders. The study--coordinated by the Human Biodiversity and Population Genomics group at the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences (BiGeA) of the University of Bologna and funded by the National Geographic Society--describes the genetic fingerprints of the Mediterranean people with high-density genomic markers and a wide sample of modern populations from Sicily and Southern Italy.  Their genetic profiles were analyzed to reconstruct the combination of ancestry components and the demographic history of the region. The study is published in Scientific Reports.


As one would expect, populations inhabiting the southeastern shores of Europe are the result of a complex, multi-layered history. One of these layers corresponds to a shared genetic background, extending from Sicily to Cyprus and involving Crete, the Aegean islands and Anatolia. Stefania Sarno, researcher from the University of Bologna and lead author of the study said:

"This shared Mediterranean ancestry possibly traces back to prehistoric times, as the result of multiple migration waves, with peaks during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age."

Apparently, the ancient Greek expansions (during the Magna Graecia foundation) were only one of the last events in a long history of East-West movements, where the Mediterranean Sea served as a preferential crossroads for the circulation of genes and cultures.

One of the most intriguing layers hidden in the Mediterranean genetic landscape involves an important Bronze Age contribution from a Caucasus (or Caucasus-like) source, accompanied by the virtual absence of the typical "Pontic-Caspian" genetic component from the Asian steppe.

The latter is a very characteristic genetic signal well represented in North-Central and Eastern Europe, which previous studies associated with the introduction of Indo-European languages to the continent. Chiara Barbieri from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena adds:

"These new genomic results from the Mediterranean open a new chapter for the study of the prehistoric movements behind the diffusion of the most represented language family in Europe. The spread of these languages in the Southern regions, where Indo-European languages like Italian, Greek and Albanian are spoken nowadays, cannot be explained with the major contribution from the steppe alone."

The current genetic study also focuses on more recent historical layers that contributed to the present-day genetic makeup of the populations sampled, in particular in the cases of long-standing, non-Italian-speaking communities in Italy.

For example, mainland Greece and Albania seem to have acquired additional genetic contributions during historic times, most likely related to the Slavic migrations in the Balkans. This recent Balkan genetic ancestry is still evident in some ethno-linguistic minorities of Sicily and Southern Italy, such as the Albanian-speaking Arbereshe. The Arbreshe migrated from Albania to Italy at the end of the Middle Ages and experienced geographic and cultural isolation, which played a part in their distinctive genetic composition.

A different case study is that of Greek-speaking communities from Southern Italy. The genetic features of these groups are compatible with the antiquity of their settlement and with a high cultural permeability with neighboring populations, combined with drift and effects of geographic isolation, as in the case of Calabrian Greeks. Alessio Boattini, geneticist and anthropologist from the University of Bologna says:

"The study of linguistic and cultural isolates in Italy proved to be important to understand our history and our demography. The cases of the Albanian- and Greek-speaking communities of Southern Italy help to shed light into the formation of these cultural and linguistic identities."

Davide Pettener, professor of Anthropology from the University of Bologna adds:

"Overall, the study illustrates how both genetic and cultural viewpoints can inform our knowledge of the complex dynamics behind the formation of our Mediterranean heritage, especially in contexts of extensive -- both geographically and temporally -- admixture."

Prof. Donata Luiselli, who co-led the project, concludes:

"These results will be further developed in future studies integrating data from other disciplines, in particular linguistics, archaeology and palaeogenomics, with the study of ancient DNA from archaeological remains."
A bronze stud from the late fourth century or early fifth century B.C., part of a temporary exhibition at the Pompeii archaeological park in southern Italy, has been stolen. It was one of four surviving studs from a gate which were recovered in Torre Satriano, another archaeological site. All four were on display in the "Pompeii and the Greeks" exhibition, running until Oct. 31.


The missing stud, whose disappearance was noted late Wednesday, was insured for 300 euros ($335), the Pompeii archaeological park said in a statement. Pompeii director Massimo Osanna said:

"Even if it was not a priceless piece, [the theft] is an affront to the Pompeii site and to Italian cultural heritage, and it personally affects me since it comes from an area whose excavation I had personally led."

The room where the theft took place is monitored by custodians during the day and by security cameras at night. Police were called in to investigate, and the exhibition was closed to the public to ease their work. The rest of Pompeii remains open. Osanna said Thursday that the stud's removal from beneath an acrylic panel would have taken time to avoid detection by on-site security. Officials think it was taken during public visiting hours, and police are reviewing video surveillance. The area has been closed to visitors.

The site, long associated with neglect and building collapses, is Italy's most popular tourist site after the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, and is undergoing extensive restorations funded by the European Union.

Pompeii was a prosperous ancient Roman city destroyed by a 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which killed thousands of people. Ruins have survived to this day after being covered for centuries by thick layers of volcanic ash.

It's not exactly Greek, this news, but I am putting it up here because this pisses me off to no end. How dare you go into a museum--or anywhere!--and take something that doesn't belong to you. Something that should be available to all to see. that's history. It belongs to everyone. May Nemesis take swift and just action!
A little over a week or so ago, I posted a description of categories of minor planets and minor planets named from Hellenic mythology. I love things like that. I love knowing how far Hellenic mythology and the Gods still reach. Today, I want to present you with a new list, this time of the Hellenic influence on the names of chemical elements--either through mythology or simply through language.


Argon (Ar) From the Greek word "argos" which means idle or lazy. Argon is one of the laziest, least reactive elements of all. There are also many mythological figures named "Argos", but those are not whom the element was named after.

Bromine (Br) - From the Greek word "bromos" which means stench. Bromine has an unpleasant smell.

Chlorine (Cl) From the Greek word "chloros" which means green. Chlorine is a green gas.

Helium (He) - Named after the God Helios. In 1868, during an eclipse of the Sun, scientists observed a spectral line caused by an unknown element. They named the element Helium. Twenty seven years later, in 1895, the element was discovered on Earth.

Hydrogen (H) - From the Greek words "hydro" and "genes" which mean water and forming. When hydrogen burns in the air, it forms water.

Iodine (I) - From the Greek word "iodos" which means violet. Iodine is a grey solid at room temperature. It gives off a violet colored vapor when warmed.

Niobium (Nb) - It is a soft, grey, ductile transition metal, which is often found in the pyrochlore mineral, the main commercial source for niobium, and columbite. Its name comes from Niobe, daughter of Tantalus, the namesake of tantalum (see below). The name reflects the great similarity between the two elements in their physical and chemical properties, making them difficult to distinguish.

Oxygen (O) - From the Greek words "oxy" and "genes" meaning acid forming. Most non-metals burn in oxygen to form acids eg. sulphur.

Phosphorous (P) - From the Greek word "phosphorus" which means "light bearing". It was also the ancient name for the planet Venus, usually the brightest "star" in the night sky. Phosphorous glows in the dark and catches fire in the air to give a bright flame.

Tantalum (Ta) - Named after King Tantalos. It was discovered in 1802 and great difficulties were encountered in dissolving its oxide in acid to form salts, which is most likely how it got its name--King Tantalos was imprisoned in Tartaros for serving the son he murdered to the Gods when They came to dinner. Tantalos' punishment for his actions was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any.

Titanium (Ti) - Named after Titans, members of the second generation of divine beings, descending from the primordial deities and preceding the Olympian deities. They are giant deities of incredible strength. Titanium is an extremely strong metal which resists attack by acids.
The 25th of the month of Thargelion marks the day of the Plynteria festival. This minor festival was held solely in Athens and surrounding areas and was in honor of Athena Polias, protector of the city. It was considered an auspicious day by the ancient Athenians because on this day, they did not have the protection of Athena. Around the time of the Pynteria the Kallunteria also took place, a festival during which the temple of Athena was cleaned thoroughly and Her sacred fires relit. Elaion will organize PAT rituals for both celebrationss and invites you to join us on 22 May and 24. Note! The Plynteria is a nighttime festival and thus not at the usual 10 am EDT.


Plutarch, in his 'Life of Alkibiades' describes the Plynteria festival beautifully:

"But while Alcibiades was thus prospering brilliantly, some were nevertheless disturbed at the particular season of his return. For he had put into harbour on the very day when the Plynteria of the goddess Athene were being celebrated. The Praxiergidae celebrate these rites on the twenty-fifth day of Thargelion, in strict secrecy, removing the robes of the goddess and covering up her images. Wherefore the Athenians regard this day as the unluckiest of all days for business of any sort. The goddess, therefore, did not appear to welcome Alcibiades with kindly favour and good will, but rather to veil herself from him and repel him. However, all things fell out as he wished, and one hundred triremes were manned for service, with which he was minded to sail off again; but a great and laudable ambition took possession of him and detained him there until the Eleusinian mysteries." [34.1]

During the Plynteria, the wooden statue of Athena was disrobed of the Peplos that she received during the Panathenaia by Her priestesses, veiled, and then taken down to the sea for a wash. Veiling a Theos' image from head to toe was considered apophras, unlucky, as it removed Their presence.

The women who removed the robe and jewelry from the ancient wooden image and then veiled her, were part of an Athenian family traditionally entrusted with this task. They were called the Praxiergidai. The procession to the sea, several miles away, was a city-affair. As all other sanctuaries and temples in Athens remained closed on this day, it's likely many attended.

In front of the procession was a single woman, carrying a basket of fig pastries (known as 'hegeteria'), for the fig was believed to be the first cultivated food, and was--like the sea water--a purifier. Mounted young men, known as 'epheboi' escorted the statue deep into the water before coming back to shore. Thee, it was bathed by two girls, the bathers (loutrides). A single priestess was most likely in charge of washing the peplos of the Goddess. her title has not survived. In the evening, a torch-lid procession brought the statue back to Her temple and she was redressed by the Praxiergidai. The statue may have remained veiled for the remainder of the day.

There is another, smaller, festival connected to the Plynteria: the Kallunteria, which was celebrated somewhere in the vicinity of the Plynthria. During this festival, the temple of Athena was swept out--the name of the festival means 'sweeping out' or 'to beautify by sweeping'--and cleaned thoroughly, so that the washed statue would have a clean home to return to. The lamp of Her eternal flame was also refilled and relit by the priestesses on this day. The lamp was a golden vessel, created in the late fifth century by Kallimakhos, and was big enough to hold enough oil to burn day and night for the whole year. It's therefor logical to assume that the festival was held on a day close to the twenty-fifth, possibly the twenty-fourth or twenty-sixth. Ancient sources state that the festival must have taken place after the Bendideia. From Proklos' 'Timaeus of Plato':

"For they say, that the Bendideia were celebrated in the Piraeus on the twentieth day of [Thargelion], but that the festival sacred to Minerva followed these."

Mikalson, in his 'The sacred and civil calendar of the Athenian year', gives the 24th as the date but stresses that the 24th is merely a estimation, and we, in fact, do not know when the festival was held. He assumes it could even have taken place after the Plynteria, and places the Kallunteria between the 24th and the 28th of the month, with the exception of the 25th, as that was the date of the Plyneria. Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood in 'Athenian Myths and Festivals' sets the date as the 27th with a somewhat unshakable certaintly. We have accepted the 27th as the possible date of the Kallunteria festival for our PAT ritual although we again stress that the date of the Kallunteria is unknown.

The rituals for the event can be found here for the Plynteria and here for the Kallunteria, and you can join the community page here.
With only the barest of margins, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has become Pandora's Kharis' Thargelion 2017 cause.



NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation's leading voice on mental health. Today, they are an association of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and volunteers who work in your community to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need.

NAMI relies on gifts and contributions to support their work. They educate, advocate, listen to sufferers through the toll-free NAMI HelpLine, and lead awareness campaigns through public awareness events and activities, including Mental Illness Awareness Week and NAMIWalks, successfully fight stigma and encourage understanding. All in order to make sure America understands how important mental health is.

The deadline to donate is May 26th, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!
Archaeologists and scientists of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens are to study 1,070 skeletons found at Faliro, dating from around 2500 BC. The skeletons--that archaeologists believe belong to captives or slaves since they were found in shackles--were dug out of the ancient cemetery at Faliro, a southeastern seaside suburb of Athens. This is the largest and most extensive necropolis of the ancient world, among the most important antiquities found ever.


Archaeologists believe that by “decoding” the skeletons and their identity, they will learn important things about ancient Athenians. The skeletons are carefully preserved and guarded in the premises of the American School of Classical Studies in central Athens.

Researchers have started the study of hundreds of thousands of bones. The colossal project that will cost about one million euros is funded by American and Greek individuals. There are 1,300 crates containing bones of humans, equine and other creatures. It will take scientists and archaeologists at least six years to examine, study and preserve the 1,070 “Captives of Phaleron” as they have named them.

Many of the skeletons were found with their hands tied to their backs and with the faces in the soil. The researchers will have to find out why they were tied, how they died or how they were killed, why they were buried together, what relation they had with each other, where they come from, if they were Greeks or foreigners, if they were Athenians, if they were slaves of prisoners of war and why they were killed, answering to as many questions as possible. After answering all these questions, archaeologists will be able to draw conclusions about life in Athens in the period between the 8th and the 5th century BC.

Palaio Faliro is situated on the east coast of the Phalerum Bay, a bay of the Saronic Gulf, 6 kilometers southwest of Athens city centre. The necropolis is one of the biggest ancient burial grounds that have been found in Greece, revealing a total of 1,063 graves in an area of 2,981 square meters, including a horse burial site and sections of this mass grave, burial urns and other findings.
The ancient Hellenic calendar is a complicated affair. To make it easier to keep up with your home worship, I keep a Google calendar with the 'kata theion', the 'sacred month', and the festival days. It can be found here. Yesterday, I updated it for another half year. Since that took forever, this announcement is all the post you are going to get for today ;-)



Oh, don't forget I also have another calendar for you to follow on your phone or browser. This one is the Elaion event calendar, which will inform you of upcoming PAT rituals, as well as important dates for Pandora's Kharis. You can find it here. This one is updated as events come up.