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Greek archaeologists discover ancient skull hat underwent brain surgery March 14, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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Skull of patient from 3rd century found during dig in northern Greece

14-03-08_greek_brain.jpg  The patient, a young woman, is believed to have died during or shortly after the operation.

Archaeologists in northern Greece said yesterday that they had unearthed the skull of a young woman believed to have undergone head surgery nearly 1,800 years ago. The team of Greek scientists, who discovered the skeleton at an ancient cemetery in Veria, a town some 46 miles (75 kilometers) west of Thessaloníki, said the skull bore perforations that indicate emergency surgery had been performed.

Their examination of the skull concluded that it had belonged to a woman who had suffered a severe blow to the head and had died during or after the operation. Ancient writings contain frequent references to such operations but perforated skulls are rarely found in Greece, experts said.

“We think that there was a complex surgical intervention that only an experienced doctor could have performed,” said Ioannis Graikos, the head of the archaeological dig. “Medical treatment on the human body in the Roman Veria is part of a long tradition that began with Hippocrates up to Roman doctor Celsus and Galen,” he said, cited in the Ta Nea newspaper.

Hippocrates is believed to have lived in the fifth century BC, Celsus between 25 BC to 50 AD, and Galen from 131 to 201. The procedure believed to have been carried out was a trepanation, an ancient form of surgery to address head injuries or illnesses.

In 2003, Greek archaeologists discovered a man’s skull in a tomb on the Aegean island of Chios from the second century BC that had also undergone a trepanation. The patient was believed to have lived a number of years after the operation. Another trepanation was discovered in 2006 in Thrace on a young woman from the eighth century BC believed injured by a weapon.

Earlier on Monday, Greek archaeologists reported finding more than 1,000 graves, some filled with jewelery, coins and art while carrying out excavations in the metro line of Thessaloniki. Majority of the graves, which were 886 in number, were found just east of the center of Greece’s second largest city, at the site of a cemetery during Roman and Byzantine times.

Marianne Faithfull > Weathered, once torn, now back March 14, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Enjoying a career revival, veteran act Marianne Faithfull performs two shows in Greece this week

‘I never give advice because people will always go their own way. I don’t judge people, and I don’t offer advice. People have to work it out for themselves, really,’ the 61-year-old English singer, songwriter and actress, whose early pop stardom in the 60s was overshadowed by drug abuse throughout most of the following decade, told a news conference in Athens yesterday.

She took questions and offered answers with apparent pleasure and ease, regardless of the subject, be it her music, acting, or notorious personal life. But when asked for a bit of general advice, ahead of two shows in Greece this week as part of her aptly titled “Songs of Innocence and Experience” tour, the weathered, once-torn and now revived artist Marianne Faithfull courteously refused.

“I never give advice because people will always go their own way. I don’t judge people, and I don’t offer advice. People have to work it out for themselves, really,” responded the 61-year-old English singer, songwriter and actress, whose early pop stardom in the 60s was overshadowed by drug abuse for most of the following decade before she started rebuilding both her life and career, now widely regarded as successful.

The comeback was interrupted late in 2006 when Faithfull was diagnosed as being in the early stages of breast cancer. But she courageously returned to performing six months later, in March of last year.

A consistent series of critically acclaimed albums over the past decade or so – including 2002’s “Kissin’ Time”, which included songs written by contemporary greats such as Beck and Billy Corgan, and “Before the Poison”, an album released three years later with the bulk of its material penned by PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, helped reinstate Faithfull as a relevant and creative force in music today. In short, the past decade has proven to be a major departure from Faithfull’s erratic post-60s past, which produced few examples of notable work, the highlights being 1979’s “Broken English” and 1987’s “Strange Weather.”

Asked to comment on which stage of her life she considered the most interesting, Faithfull opted for the present without hesitation.

“I’d say now, I kind of miss being young. But the stage I’m now experiencing is the most productive and creative I’ve had. I’ve become very good at what I do. I shouldn’t be saying that myself, but I have,” declared Faithfull. “When I was young, I was like a pretty doll, and I just got thrown away. If I had to lose my youth and beauty to get to this stage of artistic integrity, then it’s been worth it,” she continued.

For the umpteenth time in her career, Faithfull, at yesterday’s news conference, had to face the seemingly inevitable question regarding her past association with the Rolling Stones, particularly the supergroup’s frontman Mick Jagger, an ex-boyfriend throughout the late 60s.

“Come on, I’ve had to talk about this for the last 46 years,” responded Faithfull, with politeness still intact. “I like Jagger and respect him a lot but that was a long, long time ago. I learnt a lot from Mick, Keith Richards and even Charlie Watts. He got me interested in jazz. I mostly get to see Keith these days. We’re all working artists.”

Faithfull is currently finishing off a new album, “Easy Come, Easy Go”. Produced by Hal Willner, who produced her “Strange Weather” album, the latest release, recorded in New York City, is expected this May.

“It’s been quite an adventure, what you call a real studio album. It’s turned out well. This is an album of other people’s songs, jazz, folk, blues. It’s very eclectic,” said Faithfull. “I’m not really promoting anything new on this tour, so I’m really enjoying performing, not that I mind promoting new albums.”

Backed by a trio for this tour, Faithfull said its repertory was career-spanning. Faithfull spoke enthusiastically about her respected parallel activity as a film actress, which began in the mid-60s for a decade before re-emerging in the early 90s. Most recently she starred in last year’s “Irina Palm” where she played the role of Maggie, a 60-year-old widow who becomes a sex worker to pay for the medical treatment of her ill grandson. The performance earned Faithfull a Best Actress nomination from the European Film Academy.

“To mix acting and what I call my real job, which is music, is complicated. But I love acting, if I have in front of me a good script, a good cast and crew. But I can’t go from film to film. It’s too late. If I hadn’t been discovered [in music], my life would have been very different,” said Faithfull. “My God, actors work so hard. They really have to go all over the world to promote these films; they get well paid, of course… But it’s all so celebrity-centered. I’m not movie-star material.”

Marianne Faithfull > Thursday, Pallas Theater, Athens. Friday, Vellideio Congress Centre, Thessaloniki.

Finnish director honored at the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival March 14, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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Arto Halonen was honored at the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival.

His past as a director in the domains of fiction films and cartoons, the luck he had “to be in the right place at the right time,” the passion and the intuition involved in not “planning the things I’m going to deal with but rather getting carried away by them and then pursuing them” all combined to drive Finnish artist Arto Halonen to focus on documentaries.

The multifaceted artist, director, writer, producer and founder of DocPoint, Scandinavia’s most significant documentary festival, who also runs a production company that supports independent films, is the honored guest at this year’s Thessaloniki Documentary Festival.

“This award vindicates the life of a filmmaker if we take into account the considerable number of difficulties and obstacles confronted in our line of work,” remarked Halonen after receiving the honorary award in Thessaloniki. Projects by Halonen that have been chosen for screenings at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival include documentaries focused on the wild slopes of Kyrgyzstan, Cuban myths, Tibet, Malaysia and China, as well as Turkmenistan, where he filmed his most recent documentary.

For his next project, Halonen returns to his native Finland to shoot a documentary about the life of a local artist whose music and lyrics have been a major influence in the filmmaker’s life. “It’s going to be a story for those of us who don’t realize that we become vehicles that carry messages to others, and in doing so, leave our imprint on society,” he told a news conference yesterday. “Through documentaries, we have the ability to stir emotions, raise awareness on issues and instigate action. This has been the driving force for me as well.”

Related Links > http://www.filmfestival.gr/docfestival/uk/index.htm

Privatization of Greek ports bill gets go-ahead March 13, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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The bill conceding the service sectors of the Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports to private investors was passed last night, in principle, in Parliament.

The government has shown therefore that it is determined to proceed with the major reform of ports that will boost their essential infrastructure and render them more competitive, using contracts that had been signed in 2002 and 2003 for the first time and conceding the management of ports to the Piraeus and Thessaloniki Port Authorities [OLP and OLTH, respectively].

The upgrade of their infrastructure via the agreement of private investors to undertake their service sectors is estimated to bring in up to 450 million euros.

Erotic Picasso art sparks Greek school row March 11, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
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A collection of erotic prints by Pablo Picasso has sparked a dispute in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, after parents and school headmasters called into question whether they were suitable for minors, Greek media reported.

11-03-08_picasso.jpg  Schools were initially banned from visiting the exhibition of Picasso’s ‘Suite 347’ prints at the city’s Telloglio Arts Centre this week. But the decision was rescinded when an education inspector found that the offending prints were not being shown to schoolchildren visiting the exhibition.

“The works in question have been deemed unsuitable for pupils,” local secondary education director Theodoulos Tapanidis said. “We had to examine the issue after complaints arose,” he said. “The prints in question are in a separate area and were never part of the school tour anyway,” a centre employee said.

11-03-08_picasso_poster.jpg  A series of 347 engravings on topics including the female nude, bullfighting and flamenco, ‘Suite 347’ was created by Picasso in 1968 at the age of 87.

Modern art often causes controversy in Greece where a large segment of the population is sensitive to issues involving the Greek National Anthem, the Greek flag and Orthodox Christian religion.

In 2003, a Belgian artist’s painting featuring a penis facing a cross was removed from a state-funded exhibition in Athens after the Church and conservative lawmakers complained. Last year, the director of another state-funded Athens art show was arrested on charges of obscenity and an attack on national symbols over a video display in which a woman masturbated to the Greek National Anthem. He was later acquitted in court.

Related Links > http://www.tf.auth.gr/teloglion/


Hundreds of ancient graves found in Thessaloniki, Greece March 11, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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Excavations for Thessaloniki’s metro line have revealed more than 1,000 graves, some filled with jewellery, coins and art, the Archaeological Service in Greece said.

Greek workers discovered around 1,000 graves, some filled with ancient treasures, while excavating for a subway system in the historic city of Thessaloniki, the Greek State Archaeological Authority said Monday.

Some of the graves, which dated from the first century B.C. to the 5th century A.D., contained jewelry, coins and various pieces of art, according to the Authority’s statement.

Thessaloniki was founded around 315 B.C. and flourished during the Roman and Byzantine eras, from the 2nd century BC to the 15th century AD. Today is Greece’s second largest city, with a population around 1 million.

The great majority of the graves, 886, were just east of the city’s center in what was the eastern cemetery during Roman and Byzantine times. Those graves ranged from traces of wooden coffins left in simple holes in the ground, to marble enclosures in five-room family mausoleums. A separate group of 94 graves were found near the city’s train station, in what was once part of the city’s western cemetery.

More findings were expected as digging for the Thessaloniki metro continues. Digging started in 2006 and the first 13 stations are expected to be done by the end of 2012. A 10-station extension to the west and east has been announced.

Thessaloniki Documentary Festival kicks off tonight March 7, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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The annual Thessaloniki Documentary Festival opens tonight by honoring celebrated Greek-Cypriot director Michael Cacoyannis, famous for his screen adaptations of ancient dramas. In total, 158 movies will be shown during the increasingly popular 10-day festival that will also host numerous tributes, special guests and side events.

Fact-finding films in Thessaloniki > Some 158 documentaries, tributes and special guests at annual event, as also-rans stage own show

Lydia Carras’s ‘My Life and Times: Michael Cacoyannis’ is to premiere at Thessaloniki’s Documentary Festival tonight.

The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival (TDF) kicks off today with an opening-night screening of Lydia Carras’s “My Life and Times: Michael Cacoyannis”, a profile of the Greek Cypriot Oscar-nominated director based on rare footage from rehearsals and interviews, at the Olympion Theater.

The 10-day cinematic extravaganza will showcase a rich variety of movies made by Greek and foreign filmmakers that address burning global issues, such as migration, poverty and human rights. The 158 movies included are competing for two public choice and two FIPRESCI awards, with prizes ranging from 2,000 to 4,000 euros.

A record 35,600 people last year flocked to the festival theaters, which include the central Olympion and Pavlos Zannas cinemas and the red-brick seaside complex. The festival ends next Sunday.

The 10th TDF events have been partly marred by a rift between the festival organizers and the dozens of local filmmakers who have been left out of this year’s selections. Greek directors have attacked the criteria used to judge and pick the documentaries as well as the TDF’s 30 percent quota for local productions. A parallel festival screening a number of the films that did not qualify for the official event is running at the Phillip cinema in Athens until March 12.

TDF artistic director Dimitris Eipides has rebuffed criticism that he has snubbed homemade productions, claiming there should be no favorable treatment of Greek movies to the expense of international submissions.

The TDF will host a tribute to the award-winning filmmaking team of Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, creators of the heartrending documentary “Brother’s Keeper” which was first released in 1992, drawing warm reviews. Critical acclaim continued with their 1996 “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills” and “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster” (2004), a behind-the-scenes music documentary about the inner workings of the famous heavy-metal band that follows the group all the way to the psychiatrist’s couch. Berlinger and Sinofsky are scheduled to hold a master class in Thessaloniki. As is another special guest, Arto Halonen, the Finnish director who is also the founder and first festival director of DocPoint – the Helsinki Documentary Film Festival.

A special feature on fascism and the modern-day manifestations of fascism, prompted by the 70th anniversary of the events of Kristallnacht – when the Nazis unleashed a wave of pogroms against Germany’s Jews – features 15 movies, including “Children in Exile” by Chicago filmmaker Chris Swider, “Finding Tiger Kim” by Korean director Ku Bon-Hwan, and “Under the Hood: A Voyage into the World of Torture” by Montreal-based Patricio Henriquez.