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The Archimedes Palimpsest reveals new ancient Greek writings April 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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At first glance, the manuscript appears to be a medieval Christian prayer book. But on the same pages as the prayers, experts using a high-tech imaging system have discovered commentary likely written in the third century A.D. on a work written around 350 B.C. by the Greek philosopher Aristotle.

The discovery is the third ancient text to emerge from the layers of writing on the much reused pages. In 2002 researchers had uncovered writings by the mathematician Archimedes and the fourth-century B.C. politician Hyperides. Last year one of the pages was found to contain a famous work by Archimedes about buoyancy that had previously been known only from an incomplete Latin translation.

Project director William Noel, curator of manuscripts at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, called the latest discovery a “sensational find.” The findings were presented today at a general meeting of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The book, known as the Archimedes Palimpsest, was first analyzed in 1906, when a Danish researcher recognized that it contained works by the ancient mathematician. In the 10th century a scribe had copied the ancient Greek manuscripts from papyrus scrolls onto parchment, thin leaves of treated animal skin. Later the writing was washed out using a solvent such as orange juice and overwritten with new text, a process known as palimpsesting.

“In those days, parchment writing materials were so valuable that they were commonly reused when the book was considered out of date or if the subject was judged inappropriate or less valuable,” Roger L. Easton, of the Rochester Institute of Technology said.

By the 12th century, pages from five different earlier works had been erased, overwritten, and compiled into a Christian prayer book, the Euchologion, what is now called the Archimedes Palimpsest.

book_greek.jpg  Abigail Quandt of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, places a page of the Archimedes Palimpsest into an x-ray scanner at Stanford University’s Linear Accelerator Center on August 4, 2006. Since 2002 researchers have been using a scanning technique called multispectral imaging to reveal older texts hidden under the words of a medieval Christian prayer book. The latest scans show commentary likely written in the third century A.D. on a work by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle.

Since 2002 scientists have been using a technique known as multispectral imaging to take digital photographs of the book’s pages at different wavelengths. The images enable the researchers to pull hidden words out from behind the religious writings.

“There are seven quite large double-sided leaves of new text. We have deciphered around half of this so far,” said Robert Sharples, project team member and a classicist at University College London.

After the Archimedes and Hyperides works were found, the team fine-tuned their multispectral imaging technique. Revisiting some of the more difficult pages in the book revealed the writings on Aristotle.

“Even though I couldn’t read ancient Greek, just the fact that I could see the words gave me shivers,” Easton told BBC News.

Experts on ancient Greek texts are currently scouring the newfound work. Clues, such as a name in the margin, indicate that the writings are an early commentary on Aristotle’s Categories, one of the foundations of Western studies of logic.

“If this is the case, then it is an immensely significant find and very exciting,” said David Evans, professor of logic and metaphysics at Queens University Belfast in Ireland.

The most likely author of the new find is thought to be Alexander of Aphrodisias.

“He was a philiosopher in his own right and a very important and insightful commentator,” Evans said.

Translation of the text so far suggests that it may provide further insight into a debate on Aristotle’s theory of classification.

“We have one book that contains three texts from the ancient world that are absolutely central to our understanding of mathematics, politics, and now philosophy,” Noel, of the Walters Art Museum, told BBC News. “I am at a loss for words at what this book has turned out to be. To make these discoveries in the 21st century is frankly nutty, it is just so exciting.”


A very tasty Greek way of cooking lamb April 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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Lamb parcels > sealed inside two layers of baking paper all the flavours of the meat are locked in, cooking gently in its own juices.

This is a very tasty way of cooking pieces of lamb that is popular all over Greece and Cyprus. Sealed inside two layers of baking paper all the flavours are locked in with the meat cooked gently in its own juices. One may also find a whole leg of lamb cooked thus, albeit for much longer, when it goes under the rather fascinating name of kleftiko, literally meaning dish of thieves. Perhaps there was the need to wrap the bundle to disguise the ill-gotten gains within?

Cooking food in paper has a long history. The French term en papillote is a method often used for fish, lobster, veal or other items that require a relatively short baking time. That’s not to say that good baking paper or parchment can’t stand up to being baked for an hour or more. As long as loose pieces of paper aren’t flapping about near a naked flame the parcels will simply turn a very pale gold without burning. The great pleasure for the diner is being able to unwrap the parcel him or herself to be the exclusive recipient of the delicious aromas that waft forth.

Serve the lamb parcels with potatoes or a robust vegetable dish and a lively Greek, horiatiki, salad as a texture and flavour contrast. The juices in the parcels are well worth mopping up to the last drop so accompany with good bread or Greek pitta bread.

Ingredients >
1 medium leg of lamb, boned or 1 kg boned shoulder meat
juice of half large lemon
2 cloves garlic
half teaspoon salt
thin slices of semi-hard Greek cheese like Kefalograviera or cheddar
large pieces of baking paper – 2 for each piece of lamb
olive oil for brushing the paper
pieces of real string

Method >
Preheat oven to 160C. Cut the meat into serving sized pieces about 180g each. Place them on a large platter and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Let stand for five minutes. Chop and mash the garlic cloves with the salt until you have a paste. Rub this all over the lamb. Season generously with pepper.
Lay a piece of baking paper (which is big enough to fully enclose the lamb) on a flat surface. Brush with olive oil. Place the lamb in the centre and top with a thin slice of cheese. Fold the paper around the lamb, making double or triple folds at the top and folding the sides up well. Wrap the parcel in another piece of un-oiled paper and tie with string. Place in a baking tray (cheese to the top) and bake in a low oven for about an hour and a quarter. You can carefully unwrap one and check for doneness. Just wrap this one up again and continue cooking if it needs a little longer. Baby lamb will cook in an hour, older animals will need longer. Remove the outer piece of paper and serve the inner parcel for each diner to undo themselves. Serves 4-6.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding April 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.
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Produced by Tom Hanks, Nia Vardalos wrote and stars in this romantic comedy about a Greek girl who defies family traditions when she falls for a non-Greek man.

Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) always knew she was different. The girls at school had blonde hair and blue eyes, while Toula had a wrestler’s physique and a pair of dominating side-burns.

Now Toula is an unmarried 30-year-old who lives with her Greek parents and smells like garlic bread. When Toula locks eyes on a handsome stranger (John Corbett) at her parents’ restaurant, she realises it’s time to change her appearance and her outlook on life, or she’ll be stuck waiting tables at ‘Dancing Zorba’s’ for good.

With the help of her sassy cousin Nikki (Gia Carides), Toula revamps her tired image. Before long, she has secured a job in her aunt’s travel agency, where she encounters the handsome stranger again. In no time, the two fall in love. But how will Toula’s big fat Greek family, including her protective father (Michael Constantine) and flamboyant mother (Lainie Kazan), handle the news that a vegetarian foreigner may be joining the family?

My Big Fat Greek Wedding was adapted from Nia Vardalos’ one-woman stage show. Vardalos originally wrote and performed the show in Los Angeles in an attempt to get a better agent. The show was a hit success and drew numerous Hollywood executives, hundreds of Greeks and one Greek actress in particular, Rita Wilson. Wilson immediately sent her husband, Tom Hanks, to see the performance. Not long after, Hanks made contact with Vardalos.

“He wrote me a beautiful letter, how marrying a Greek woman, and marrying into a Greek family had changed his life,” recalls Vardalos. “I would call my mom every week or so and read her the letter and she would cry.”

Within two months, Hanks’ production company had picked up the rights for the show.  Unlike other production companies, who had wanted to develop the story into a Hispanic movie, Hanks and his producing partners were determined to give the Greek story a shot with Vardalos in the starring role.

“She did a smart thing,” says Hanks. “She said ‘this is my story and I want to play it.’  That actually brings a huge amount of integrity to the piece, because it’s Nia’s version of her own life and her own experience. I think that shows through on the screen and people recognise it.”

My Big Fat Greek Wedding, directed by Joel Zwick, went on to become one of the highest grossing indie films of all time.  The movie was also adapted into a television series, with Vardalos in the lead role.

Mayors of occupied Cyprus towns criticise UN April 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied.
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The elected Mayors of the nine Turkish occupied Municipalities of Cyprus have sent a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour in relation to the Secretary General’s Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cyprus.

In the letter, they express ”strong resentment and disappointment over the unfairness and partiality” of the above report, saying that it does not separate purely humanitarian criteria from wider political expediencies.

”It is an indisputable fact that Turkey, in the summer of 1974, invaded Cyprus, displaced by the force of arms the Greek Cypriots from their own households and properties in the northern part of Cyprus and occupies 37% of its territory since then”, they note.

They recall the many resolutions by the UN and other international organizations that condemn the illegal Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus and call for the full restoration of all human rights to the people of Cyprus, in particular the refugees.

”We have to refer as well to the relevant judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, which clearly state that Turkey exercises effective overall control over the occupied part of Cyprus and is therefore responsible for any acts, committed either by the Turkish occupied troops stationed in Cyprus, or by its subordinate local administration, by imposing restrictions and continuing violations of the freedom of settlement and the freedom of establishment of the displaced Greek-Cypriots to their occupied towns and villages”, the Mayors add.

They point out that this is the essence and the cause of the continuing massive violation of human rights in Cyprus, for almost thirty three consecutive years, a fact which is totally omitted in the report, in order to spare the image of Turkey.

”Turkey denies to safeguard, respect and restore the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Greek-Cypriots, including their right to peacefully enjoy their homes and properties situated in the occupied area of Cyprus”, the letter says.

It should be also pointed out, the Mayors say, that the religious and cultural heritage of our occupied towns and villages has been severely damaged, due to the ongoing policy of pillage, destruction and disrespect of the occupying power towards the religious and cultural monuments and sites in the northern occupied part of Cyprus.

The UN report, the Mayors stress, does not deal with the destruction of the natural and built-up environment of the occupied towns and villages due to the unprecedented construction boom in the occupied area and the massive illegal sale/purchase of Greek-Cypriot owned properties, in the part of the Republic of Cyprus which has been under Turkish military occupation since 1974.

They express hope that these omissions will be included in a Secretary General’s future report on the situation of human rights in Cyprus for the sake of representing the true facts and the restitution of the sense of justice in the Greek Cypriot people.

Greekfest activities set for next weekend April 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Greekfest 2007 will be held 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 4 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 5 at Holy Trinity and St. John the Theologian Greek Orthodox Church, 1417 W. Capitol St. in Jackson.

Pick-up meals will be served Friday. Greek music, dancing and food will be featured May 5. Entry fee on May 5 is $3 per person and $5 per family. Proceeds will benefit Stewpot Community Services and St. Stephens Camp.

For more information, call the church at (601) 355-6325.

Korean masterpieces on display in Corfu April 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Museums.
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The Museum of Asian Art is housed in the imposing Saints Michael and George Mansion.

corfu_museum.jpg  Dedicated exclusively to displaying antiquities from the Far East and India, and with 30,000 visitors, mostly tourists, annually, the Museum of Asian Art on the Ionian Island of Corfu is the only one of its kind in Greece. The Museum is located in the Saints Michael and George Mansion, a beautiful edifice located in the heart of the town of Corfu, and a monument in its own right. What’s more, everything seems to be working like clockwork in this wonderful 19th century building,

The inauguration earlier this month of its maiden temporary exhibition, “Korea Through Its Monuments,” was perfectly organized, yet not one representative from the Greek Ministry of Culture attended the event, even though the exhibition is a joint project of the Ministry’s Museums Directorate, the Korea Foundation and the Korea University Museum. The inauguration was attended by Korea Foundation Director Yim Sung-joon, Korea University Museum Director Choe Kwang-shik and Korean Ambassador to Greece Young-han Bae.

The Museum also hosts a sizable permanent collection of treasures from China, India and Japan, though this show is the first featuring prominent Korean painters. The works are invaluable. Dating from the 16th to the 18th century, they reveal the wealth of Korean culture.

Composed of 26 works, the exhibition is wonderfully set up, with lighting designed to bring out the colors and textures of the exhibits and music to set the aesthetic tone. Landscapes are dominant in this exhibition of Korean art, in which, in contrast with Western anthropocentric trends, it is nature that is exalted and depicted in awesome detail.

Also among the items on display are diaries, cylinders depicting famous landscapes, fans and screens, poems and epigraphs. The ornate fans, which are displayed as works of art, but which traditionally were also used as weapons, attracted the most interest from visitors at the opening.

Museum of Asian Art, Saint Michael and Saint George Palace, Corfu, tel 26610 30443, fax 26610 20193.

European stage greats in Greece April 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Stage & Theater.
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Thessaloniki plays host to symposia, performances and more of esteemed XI Europe Theater Prize

The city of Thessaloniki has the honor of hosting the XI Europe Theater Prize, the equivalent of a Nobel for European theater, awarded to outstanding personalities whose work has helped to strengthen cooperation between European states. The prize carries a cash purse of 60,000 euros.

The event has been organized by the National Theater of Northern Greece, a member of the Union of European Theaters, in collaboration with the Europe Theater Prize and with the support of the Greek Ministry of Culture.

Running until Sunday, the event will bring together notable playwrights from around Europe and a plethora of performances by established and up-and-coming ensembles. Last year’s installment of the 11-year-old ceremony was held in Turin, Italy, and the prize recipient was Harold Pinter.

The Europe Theater Prize was created in 1986 as a pilot program by the European Commission and it has been recognized by the European Parliament and Council as a “European cultural interest organization.” The Union of European Theaters and the European Theater Convention are associate and supporting bodies; other associate bodies are the International Association of Theater Critics, the Mediterranean Theater Institute and the International Theater Institute UNESCO.

The event also includes a 20,000 euro award titled New Theatrical Realities, which is aimed at assisting the emergence of new trends and innovations in European theater. The panel this year was made up of Lydia Koniordou as President, Sotiris Hadzakis, Demos Avdeliodis and Spyros Payiatakis, and the award was given to Biljana Srbljanovic, Serbia, and Alvis Hermanis, Latvia. For the main award, a panel already met in Turin earlier in the year and shared the prize between Robert Lepage and Peter Zadek.

The program of events began yesterday afternoon with the opening ceremony at the Vassiliko (Royal) Theater and was followed by a performance of Alvis Hermanis’s “Long Life” at the Macedonian Studies Society.

Today, the program begins with a 10 a.m. symposium at the Vassiliko Theater with Hermanis, followed by an open rehearsal of his new production, “The Sound of Silence,” which he will be presenting at the Berliner Festspiele. At 4 p.m., there will be a symposium on the work of Srbljanovic, with readings of extracts from her plays, while the day will end with a 9 p.m. staging of her “Locusts,” performed by the Yugoslav Drama Theater at the Macedonian Studies Society.

On Saturday morning, Michel Vais will coordinate a discussion on “Robert Lepage: The Visionary from Quebec” and later the Canadian director will present brief extracts of works in progress. In the evening, the Lazariston Monastery will host Hermanis’s “Fathers.”

On the final day, Zadek, the Berlin-born director who worked extensively in the UK, will be the subject of the morning symposium, which will be coordinated by Volker Canaris, in cooperation with Klaus Dermutz. The closing ceremony will take place at 7.30 p.m. at the Macedonian Studies Society, followed by a production of Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt,” directed by Zadek and performed by the Berliner Ensemble.

Tickets are on sale at the Vassiliko Theater and Macedonian Studies Society, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Lazariston Monastery 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. & 5-10 p.m.; and i-stores, tel 8011 1151617. For information, tel 2310 288000.