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On the occasion of Greece’s National Day on March 25 March 23, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology, Greece News, Greek Diaspora, Special Features.
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Message of Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece, Theodoros P. Kassimis, to all Greeks residing abroad >

Dear Compatriots,

It is with great pleasure and emotion that I am communicating with you on this historical day [25 March 1821] of National rebirth that brings to our minds so many memories and which is full of meaningful messages to Greeks, all over the world.

187 years ago, our ancestors, deprived of any substantial material means and falling short in number, motivated by the dream of a free homeland, fought against not only a powerful enemy but also against the prevailing status quo, which was dominant in Europe of the 19th century. It was an unequal fight, and seemingly destined to fail; however they won. They won because they believed in what nobody could even conceive, sacrificing their lives in the battlegrounds, unwilling to compromise themselves with the idea of defeat, which would have resulted in the loss of the dream of freedom. They won giving to us a free Greece, which with many efforts, sacrifices and hard work has earned the respect and the appreciation of its partners amongst the Nations.

187 years after, the challenges that our country is facing are different but not less important, consisting in the preservation of its territorial integrity, the protection of its cultural legacy and the defense of its rights. The battles are fought on a daily basis, not on battlegrounds, but in various fora, and as Greeks we are expected to prove that we are worthy of the legacy that our ancestors left us. We should never forget that what they achieved was the result of unity and resolve in the final cause. Let us then proceed as of this day, guided by the very same elements, proving once more to the rest of the world that the greatness of nations is not computed and measured by digits, numbers and material means, but by the heart, the courage and the grit shown whenever circumstances are challenging and demanding. We owe this to our ancestors, and furthermore to our children and ourselves.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all health and prosperity, and I avail myself of this opportunity to extend to you my warmest patriotic greetings.

Theodoros P. Kassimis.

Sparta Journal > Discovering Ancient Spartan and Greek History March 23, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology.
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Sparta Volume 3 No 2. Discovering Ancient Spartan and Greek History > The second issue of the Sparta Journal, magazine’s third volume, continues to be a unique journey to ancient Spartan history.

Markoulakis Publications have produced the second issue of the third volume (volume 3 no. 2) of the printed and online educational periodical entitled Sparta. The periodical is accessible for review purposes for all visitors to the following website > www.sparta.markoulakispublications.org.uk.

Read about the decision-making of Sparta and answer the question: what was the theory that propelled Sparta into war? Read the answer written by Nikolaos Markoulakis.

Did the Kings of Persia seek to win hearts and minds as they extended their empire? Cyrus, in 546BC, defeated Croesus, King of Lydia, and swiftly overran the Greek cities of Ionia. Four years of bitter fighting ensued (498-494 B.C.) before King Darius was finally
victorious. Travelling with Xerxes on his march to Greece was ex-king Demaratus of Sparta. Should that king be Leotychides, or the much more respected Leonidas? Was there any hope of stopping Xerxes? Read the answers written by Robert Montgomerie.

In the Odyssey, Telemachus, searching for news of his father’s return from the Trojan war, visits King Menelaus and Queen Helen at Sparta. Explore the King Menelaus’ palace complex with the assistance of Robert Montgomerie.

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as “Doric Philosophy”. The Doric Greeks of Crete and Laconia did practice philosophy and may be the founders of Greek philosophy. First, this article is about doing forensics; rediscovering Doric philosophy. It is about restoring some things that have been lost or obscured. Second, this is a “general overview” article. This article doesn’t go into detail but covers rapidly many points and ties them together into a coherent whole. This article is about generating interest and further research and speculation. By W. Lindsay Wheeler.

Focusing on an unusual 6th century monument discovered in Sparta, this article seeks to identify the two couples depicted on its broad sides and the function of the standing snakes on its flanks. The aim of the article is not only to resurrect discussion of this highly unusual monument after a period of neglect, but to bring to the readers’ attention, with both text and images, some aspects of Spartan visual culture in the 6th century with which they may not be familiar. Written and illustrated by Jane E. A. Anderson.

The periodical is available for subscribers in both print and electronic versions. To view the subscription rates and prices, visitors should go to the Sparta website and follow the Subscribe & Order link. This will direct them to the subscribers’ choices and prices. The website electronic payments use Paypal.

Sparta (ISSN 1751-0007) is an incorporated title with the Journal of Laconian Studies (ISSN: 1749 5814) and the former Sparta’s Journal (ISSN 1747-0005). The free electronic version of Sparta’s Journal is available on the Sparta website under the Volume’s Archive link. The website also offers a great number of free monthly articles, news and announcements that focus on Spartan and ancient Greek history.

Sparta also introduced a series of supplements, which will cover concisely important issues of the ancient Spartan society by original academic research material -more information at > http://www.sparta.markoulakispublications.org.uk/?s=supplement

For further information > www.markoulakispublications.org.uk

World’s momentum growing for Parthenon Marbles’ return March 20, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums, Vote For Return Greek Marbles.
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World’s momentum is growing for the return of the prized Parthenon marbles, taken from the Athens Acropolis some 200 years ago by Britain’s Lord Elgin, as major Museums handed back more ancient objects.

Museums around the world have in recent years started returning ancient artefacts to their countries of origin and have tightened checks on acquisitions to avoid buying objects that were illegally excavated or smuggled abroad.

20-03-08_acropolis_new_museum.jpg  “More and more Museums are adopting tighter ethics codes and governments promote bilateral and international cooperation (for the return of ancient objects),” Greek Culture Minister Michalis Liapis told an international conference at the new Acropolis Museum. “So an ideal momentum is being created … for clear solutions on this issue,” he said.

The trend towards returning artefacts was strengthened by the high-profile affair involving former J. Paul Getty Museum curator Marion True and smuggled artefacts that were acquired by the Museum. Italy dropped a legal case against the Getty Museum last year after the institution agreed to return 40 items Rome believed had been stolen and smuggled out of the country, and the Getty has returned several such items to Greece. Both Italy and Greece have charged True with offences linked to trafficking in antiquities. She denies any wrongdoing. New York’s Metropolitan Museum has returned a prized 2,500-year-old vase to Italy, which recently displayed nearly 400 looted ancient objects that have been recovered in the past three years.

20-03-08_parthenon_marbles.jpg  The Parthenon marble friezes and sculptures were removed [stolen] from the Acropolis above Athens by British diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, with permission from the Ottoman Empire officials then in power. Lord Elgin acquired his collection between 1801 and 1810. It was bought by the British Museum in 1816. The Museum refuses to return them to Greece on the ground that its statutes do not allow it to do so.

Liapis told the conference “This museum is ready to embrace all important artefacts taken from the sacred rock of the Acropolis and I hope the same goes for the foreign-based Parthenon marbles… so the unity of the sculptures can be restored.”

Britain said for many years that the marbles were better preserved in London than in Athens’ polluted air. Greece has said this argument is now obsolete given the completion of the new Acropolis state-of-the-art Museum, where an empty gallery awaits the Parthenon marbles.

Ancient Mycenaean harbour town discovered in Greece March 20, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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Archaeologists recently announced what they call a ‘remarkable find”, the discovery of a relatively intact Mycenaean settlement, dating from 3,500 years ago, in the southern part of Greece.

The site, called Korphos-Kalamianos, is partly underwater and lies along an isolated and rocky shoreline in the Saronic Gulf in the western Aegean Sea, about 100 kilometres southwest of Athens and about 40 miles (65 km) east of Mycenae, one of the major Mycenaean capitals when Korphos-Kalamianos was active. Considered by archaeologists to have been a military outpost, the entire town’s plan is preserved and consists of more than 900 walls, as well as building remains and alleyways and streets.

The discovery is remarkable because it is so well-preserved and over the ground. Usually, Mycenaean sites, built in the Late Bronze Age, are covered underneath soil and archaeologists have to dig underground to discover them. The Mycenaean civilization thrived in Greece between 1600 and 1100 BC. It was the historical setting of Homer’s epics and many ancient Greek myths.

Though the settlement was built 3,500 years ago, hundreds of walls are still standing. The site is unique because the remains of most Mycenaean towns are completely buried by now under a few millennia’s worth of dirt and detritus. This one stands above ground, with many walls incredibly intact.

Although historians debate whether or not the Trojan War was a real event (many think the stories of Helen of Troy and the Trojan horse are likely myths), if it did occur, it would have been shortly after Korphos-Kalamianos was built. Though Korphos-Kalamianos did not seem to have a palace, many of the structures were built in palace-style architecture, leading the scientists to think that nobles or representatives of the King would have stayed there.

A Meeting at the Athens Ancient Agora March 20, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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The Foundation of the Hellenic World presents its new exhibition “Meeting at the Ancient Agora” and which focuses on the values that were born in the Ancient Agora of Athens and shaped contemporary political thought: freedom, justice, education, isonomy, freedom of speech, sociability and participation to common affairs.

With natural exhibits and interactive applications of advanced technology, the exhibition brings to life the social, political and intellectual reality of the city of Athens in the period in which the Agora was constructed.

Related Links > http://meeting.athens-agora.gr/index_en.html

http://www.fhw.gr/fhw/index.php?lg=2#

Athens conference told of artifacts looted March 19, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums, Shows & Conferences.
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Antiquities smuggling is helping to finance terror > Athens conference told of artifacts looted in war-torn regions

19-03-08_entrance_new_acropolis_museum.jpg  The entrance of the new Acropolis Museum, which this week hosted a UNESCO-organized conference on the return of antiquities to their country of origin. The fate of antiquities looted from Iraq was in the spotlight yesterday at a UNESCO-sponsored conference in Athens on the return of cultural property.

When Baghdad fell to the US-led coalition that toppled Saddam Hussein, the world watched in horror as looters ransacked the museum that housed some of the nation’s most prized treasures. Today, trafficking of stolen Iraqi antiquities is helping to finance al-Qaida in Iraq and Shiite militias, according to the US investigator who led the probe into the looting of the National Museum.

United States Marine Reserve Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, a New York assistant district attorney called up to duty shortly after 9/11, said that while kidnappings and extortion remain insurgents’ main source of funds, the link between terrorism and antiquities smuggling has become “undeniable.”

“The Taliban are using opium to finance their activities in Afghanistan,” Bogdanos told The Associated Press in an interview on the sidelines of the conference. “Well, they don’t have opium in Iraq. What they have is an almost limitless supply of antiquities. And so they’re using antiquities.”

The murky world of antiquities trafficking extends across the globe and is immensely lucrative, private collectors can pay tens of millions of dollars for the most valuable artifacts. It’s almost impossible to put an authoritative monetary value on Iraqi antiquities. But as an indication, the colonel said one piece looted from the National Museum – an 8th-century-BC Assyrian ivory carving of a lioness attacking a Nubian boy, overlaid with gold and inlaid with lapis lazuli – could sell for $100 million.

Bogdanos, 51, an amateur boxer with a master’s degree in classics who won the Bronze Star fighting in Afghanistan, said it was not until late 2004 “that we saw the use of antiquities in funding initially the Sunnis and al-Qaida in Iraq, and now the Shiite militias.”

Although security has improved dramatically in Iraq since mid-2007, the country is still violence-ridden, and it is all but impossible for Iraq’s 1,500 archaeological guards to protect the country’s more than 12,000 archaeological sites.

“Unauthorized excavations are proliferating throughout the world, especially in conflict zones,” Francoise Riviere, the assistant director-general of UNESCO’s cultural branch, said at the conference. She said UNESCO was deeply concerned about the “decimation” of Iraq’s cultural heritage. “The damage inflicted on the National Museum in Baghdad, the increasingly precarious state and the systematic pillage of sites are alarming facts which are a great challenge to the international community,” Riviere said.

Bahaa Mayah, an adviser to Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, told the conference that looters sometimes use heavy machinery to dig up artifacts – destroying the site while they loot. He decried a lack of cooperation among some European countries, which he refused to name, in returning trafficked goods seized from smugglers. “We are facing now, especially in Europe, tremendous difficulties in recovering our objects that are seized,” he said.

Bogdanos said smuggling networks did not appear with or after the war. “It’s a pre-existing infrastructure; looting’s been going on forever.”

But it was in the days after the fall of Baghdad in March 2003 that the National Museum was looted. The United States came under intense criticism for not protecting the museum, a treasure trove of antiquities. Bogdanos said that according to the latest inventories, a total of about 15,000 artifacts were stolen. Of those, about 4,000 have been returned to the museum, and a total of about 6,000 have been recovered.

Much of the museum’s looting was carried out by insiders and senior government officials of the time, said Bogdanos, who co-authored a book about the investigation, “Thieves of Baghdad” with William Patrick. Royalties from the book are donated to the museum. Bogdanos said not enough is being done by organizations such as UNESCO to protect Iraq’s heritage. “There’s no other way to say it. There’s a vacuum at the top,” he said.

Piraeus Archaeological Museum reopens March 18, 2008

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The Archaeological Museum of Piraeus has reopened to the public following extensive refurbishment work and installation of an air-conditioning system, the Culture Ministry said yesterday.

18-03-08_archaeological_museum_piraeus.jpg  The Museum is open from 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily except Monday.

Archaeological Museum of Piraeus, 31 Harilaou Trikoupi Street, Piraeus, tel 210 4521598.