Category Archives: GREECE

Piece of a skull found in Greece ‘is the oldest human fossil outside Africa’

700,000 years old Skull discovered in Greek cave, completely shatters the Out of Africa theory

The “Petralona man”, or “Archanthropus of Petralona”, is a 700,000-year-old human skull discovered in 1959. Since then, scientists have been trying to trace this skull’s origin, a process that has caused considerable controversy.

The skull, indicating the oldest human “europeoid” (presenting European traits), was embedded in a cave’s wall in Petralona, near Chalkidiki in Northern Greece.

The cave, rich in stalactites and stalagmites, was accidentally located by a shepherd. Dr. Aris Poulianos, an expert anthropologist, member of UNESCO’s International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences and founder of the Anthropological Association of Greece, was assigned research on the cave and skull.

Before that, Dr. Poulianos was already known for his thesis on “The origin of the Greeks”. His thesis was based on craniological and anthropometrical studies of Modern Greek populations, which proved that modern Greeks are related to ancient Greeks and that they are not the descendants of Slavic nations.

After the extensive study on the 700,000-year-old skull, he concluded that the “Petralona man” was not connected to the species that came out of Africa. His arguments were mainly based on the skull’s almost perfect orthography, the shape of its dental arch, and the occipital bone construction.

According to the “Out of Africa” theory, “anatomically modern humans” known as “Homo sapiens” originated in Africa between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago before spreading to the rest of the world. This theory was related to the fact that most prehistoric fossils were found in Africa.

In 1964, two German researchers, anthropologist E. Breitinger and paleontologist O. Sickenberg, who was invited to Greece, suggested that the skull was actually 50,000 years old, thus rejecting Dr. Poulianos’ theory.

Moreover, Breitinger claimed that the skull belonged to the “first African out of Africa”. A few years later, in 1971, US Archaeology magazine confirmed Poulianos’ statement.

According to the scientific magazine, the existence of a cave dating back more than 700,000 years and human presence in almost every geological layer were ascertained.

Additionally, the magazine affirmed that human presence became evident from the discovery of Paleolithic tools of the same age and the most ancient traces of fire that was ever lit by human hand.

The research continued from 1975 to 1983, when the excavation stopped and findings remained inaccessible to study until 1997.

Today, 50 years after the discovery of the “Petralona man”, modern methods of absolute chronology confirm Dr. Poulianos’ theory.

Most academics believe that the skull belongs to an archaic hominid with strong European traits and characteristics of Homo erectus, Neanderthals and sapiens, but they distinguish it from all these species. This incredible discovery raises new questions on human evolution and certainly challenges the “Out of Africa” theory.

Ancient ‘curse tablets’ discovered down a 2,500-year-old well in Athens

Ancient ‘curse tablets’ discovered down a 2,500-year-old well in Athens


Records of curse tablets have been found in 2500-year-old water well in Athens. The 30 small lead tablets were found engraved with ancient curses and hexes at the bottom of a 2,500-year-old well in the area of Kerameikos, in the ancient Athens main burial ground.

On behalf of the German Archaeological Institute in Athens, Dr. Jutta Stroszeck, head of the Kerameikos digging, said that the ritual text “invoking the underworld gods”  but the person that ordered the curse is never mentioned by name, “only the recipient”.

Previously discovered curses from tombs dating to the Classical period (480-323 BC) had been related to people that had died in an untimely manner and through what appeared to be plain old bad luck.

These folks were deemed as being most suitable for carrying spells to the underworld. According to an article in Haaretz, Dr. Stroszeck said there was good reason for the transition of “ill-will from graves to wells” in ancient Athens.

Since 1913 the excavations conducted by the German Archaeological Institute in the Kerameikos area have unearthed about 6,500 burials from ornate tombs and graves marked with stelai, reliefs, marble vases, and sculpted animals which were deemed important on the journey to the realm of the dead.

Graves in the classical section of the Kerameikos necropolis.

In 2016 Dr. Stroszeck’s team excavated the 33 foot (10 meters) deep well in which the curses were found during an archaeological project investigating the water supply to a 1st century BC bathhouse near the city-gate on the road to the academy.

Inside the well, according to the Haaretz report, items that were discovered included, “drinking vessels (skyphoi), wine mixing vessels (krater), clay lamps, cooking pots, special broad-mouthed clay pots used to draw water (kadoi), wooden artifacts including a trinket box, a scraper used by potters, a wooden pulley, part of the drawing mechanism of the well, a number of bronze coins, as well as organic remains such as peach pits. And the curses”.

Model sarcophagus and figurine made of lead, found at the bottom of the Kerameikos well, 5th century BC.

The 30 ancient tablets have been scientifically documented using “reflectance transformation imaging”, which is a new digital visualizing technique enabling the researchers to study even the smallest inscriptions scraped onto the faces of the lead tablets. And reaching for answers as to why the curses might have been created we have to look back to the time of Cicero (De Legibus II 66), Demetrios of Phaleron, who ruled Athens in 317-307 BC.

The curse against the newlywed Glykera, focusing on her vulva, by someone jealous of her marriage.

Cicero enacted new legislation governing the management of tombs and created a new magistrate ’s office to oversee adherence to the law:   et huic procurationi certum magistratum praefecerat regarding what was called the ‘Black Arts ’.

One of the new laws forbade the placement of ‘ hexes’ in tombs and the public responded to the new decree by tossing their curses into wells.

Perhaps this happened because rivers and wells were not only thought of as having been protected “by nymphs” but it was also widely believed they provided “direct access” to the underworld and, as Dr. Stroszeck said, throwing the curse into a well would “activate it”.

The origins of such curses in ancient Athens, according to Dr. Stroszeck, might be found back in the mid 5th century BC during the dedication of the Parthenon atop the Acropolis.

At this time opposition was shown against the spending of federal (union) finds for municipal purposes in Athens. Pericles famously argued that as long as Athens was fulfilling its defense obligations, it owed “no accounting” to its allies regarding its spending of the tribute money.

However, during the famous speech of Thucydides, son of Melesias, against the vast construction program, his jaw suddenly broke and to the people, it looked like Thucydides had been cursed.

This single incident could explain the sudden increase of curse tablets in the Kerameikos during the 5th century BC. And the team of archaeologists hopes that their 3D imaging technology will help them learn the name of the actual nymph and the nature of curses in Athens during the late 4th century BC.

Leucocarpa, the Dazzling White Olive From Magna Graecia

The Unique Ancient Tree that Produces Pearly-White Olives

A unique variety of olive trees is known as leucolea, found mostly in southern Italy. It is found in the area known historically as “Magna Graecia” or Greater Greece.

The name of the leukocarpa or leukolea olive is primarily derived from the Greek words for white (Leucos), olive (elaea) and seed (carpos), though developing in its small form. But its fruit is delicate in ivory or pearly-white during the process of maturation.

Experts claim that this particular seed was most probably first introduced to the south of Italy during the years of the Greek colonization of the Italian peninsula and Sicily.

This unique white olive tree is part of the broader family of olives, known to the scientific world as ”Olea Europea”, which means European olive.

The south of Italy is not the only place where this ancient olive is produced, but this region is the main area of production for Leucocarpa olives in modern times.

The Greek colonies of Southern Italy and their dialects

Similar white olives are found in Greece today but they are quite rare. They can also be spotted in some areas along the Mediterranean coasts of northern Africa and all the way west to the Atlantic shores of Portugal.

However, the Leucocarpa olive is mostly known by different local names, and its products are not exported in an organized and systematic way.

The Leucocarpa was traditionally used in past centuries by the communities of the Mediterranean, mainly for religious purposes, since its white color became synonymous with purity.

There is evidence that even the Christian churches of the region were known to use the special olive oil produced from this variety to anoint emperors and kings, for example.

Unfortunately, for unknown reasons, the Leucocarpa was propagated less and less over the years, and its olives and oils are now rare products, but its delicate beauty is truly quite arresting.

Anyone who is interested in seeing how this ancient olive or olive oil tastes will have to be extremely persistent since it is not very easy to find them in regular supermarkets!

Greek Farmer Finds Ancient Cemetery Full of Naked Statues

Greek Farmer Finds Ancient Cemetery Full of Naked Statues

A farmer in Atalanti, Central Greece, wanted to plant olive trees but found an ancient statue of a Kouros instead.

While the farmer was preparing the soil in his plot, his tools hit something that looked like a statue.

He informed authorities that started a broader excavation and the result was: four Kouros statues and a part of an Ancient Greek cemetery that suggests it belonged to the ancient city of Opus.

A Kouros is a name given to free-standing ancient Greek sculptures that first appear in the Archaic period in Greece and represent nude male youths. In Ancient Greek kouros means “youth, boy, especially of noble rank”.

Although Kouroi have been found in many ancient Greek territories, they were especially prominent in Attica and Boiotia.

The discovery of the first Kouros statue took place in the middle of October, the Greek Culture Ministry said in a statement, adding that the excavation the followed discovered more amazing findings.

Archaeologists unearthed four limestone statues of natural size and a part of a base for a statue.

After the first statue was discovered, the head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Fthiotida and Evritania instructed archaeologist Maria Papageorgiou to conduct field trials.

Two more statues were unearthed.

The archaic statues were not intact and the parts that were found had a height of 0.86m to 1.22m.

The excavation was conducted in a small part of the field only. In earth layers deeper than where the sculptures were found, an organized cemetery with so far seven graves has been discovered.

The graves seemed to have been used from the 5th century BC until the 2nd century BC. The existence of the ancient cemetery in proximity to the modern city of Atalanti suggests that part of the organized cemetery of the ancient Opus has been probably identified.

Opus is the ancient name of Atalanti, believed to be one of the most ancient towns in Greece.

Pindar’s ninth Olympian ode concerns Opus. It was said to have been founded by Opus, a son of Locrus and Protogeneia; and in its neighborhood Deucalion and Pyrrha were reported to have resided.

It was the native city of Patroclus and it is mentioned in the Homeric Catalogue of Ships as one of the Locrian towns whose troops were led by Ajax the Lesser, son of Oileus the king of Locris, in the Iliad.

Vandals destroy 3,000-year-old rock carvings in Northern Greece

Vandals destroy 3,000-year-old rock carvings in Northern Greece

Three outrageous acts of vandalism in the first week of January the stupid vandals are accused of lacking education knowledge of history on ancient monuments in Greece England and Wales.

The Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA) notes on Greece’s High Definition, telling how archaeologists and historians in Greece are assessing the level of destruction caused on several 3,000-year-old rock carvings on the Pangaion Hills near Kavala in northern Greece.

In 1966 the ancient art was discovered by Nikolaos Moutsopoulos, a professor at Aristotle University, the ancient art was not yet listed for preservation, and therefore they were vulnerable, if not to vandalism, to the elements, but unfortunately the former got there first.

The rock carvings at Pangaion Hills before the vandalism.

Some of the ancient rock carvings are thought to have been executed in the prehistoric era by the Hedones, a Thracian tribe that lived in the region in ancient times, and the site was added to until the Middle Ages.

The gang of yet unknown vandals defaced several carvings, including human figures doing day-to-day things, animals and plants, using a wire brush. While the archaeologists have not specified how many individual carvings were destroyed, or how many remain intact, they are calling for the immediate protection of the surviving works of ancient art.

Theodoros Lymberakis, a local lawyer and historian, told the ANA-MPA that the rock carvings are a part of “our rich and significant cultural heritage” and inform us about how people lived 3,000 years ago. Angered, the historian added: “culture is not just the Acropolis and other famous monuments, it is also these drawings,” and he insists they need to be safeguarded now.

Another shot of the vandalism to the ancient rock carvings at Pangaion Hills.

Attempting to draw a criminal profile of the criminals, Mr. Lymberakismay thinks the artworks might have been destroyed by gold prospectors trying to confuse their competition, as many people believe ancient settlers made the carvings to identify gold deposits on what he calls ore-rich hills.

According to the lawyer, it is sad that these petroglyphs are being destroyed by “unscrupulous and ignorant people at the altar of what is usually non-existent treasure” and that the perpetrators lack “education, knowledge, and understanding of history.”

Also, this week another person or group suffering from lowered levels of education, knowledge, and understanding of history painted “aliens” on the ancient stones at Mulfra Quoit, a megalithic tomb, near the town of Penzance in southwest England.

A Coast to Coast article says that the Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network posted a photo of the vandalism on their  Facebook group writing “one wonders at the mentality of people who will disrespect an ancient site in this way!”

The vandalism caused the ancient Mulfra Quoit tomb shown with alien graffiti.

It is believed that the stereotypically alien figures painted on the rock at Mulfra Quoit were inspired by the fringe theory that the ancient structures were built by extraterrestrials, or by humans honoring visiting aliens in prehistory.

Because indigenous people couldn’t have done it themselves? Right? And while the gray painted “aliens” can be removed with little effort, because it is a protected location cleaning work will have to be done by government-approved professionals, which takes time and costs money.

The Greek treasure hunters and the ancient alienists in England come in second and third this week, for the trophy of ‘Biggest Prat 2020, So far…’ must go to the vandals reported by the BBC after they caused “appalling damage” to a Bronze Age burial mound dating back 3,000-4,000 years, sometime between Christmas Day and 6 January.

Wentwood represents the largest section of ancient woodland in Wales and several Bronze Age burial mounds encrust its ridges, and the Gwent Police Rural Crime Team said the destruction was caused by off-road vehicles repeatedly driving over the ancient mound.

The vandalism of the Bronze Age burial mound, which was churned up with tire tracks shown in Wales, UK.

Site manager Rob Davies said this type of vandalism has been “an ongoing problem with damage to this and similar features within Wentwood” and the police tweeted: “investigating appalling damage caused to a Bronze Age burial mound by off-road vehicles. Immediate intervention measures being introduced to prevent further damage.”

Greek Sponge Divers find the Worlds Oldest Analog Computer

Greek Sponge Divers find the Worlds Oldest Analog Computer

When you ask someone who invented the computer they might say, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. They would, of course, be wrong. Perhaps they might mention Alan Turing (who proposed a “Universal Computing Museum”) or the US Navy’s WWII era Torpedo Data Computer. But computers, which were initially conceived of as calculating devices, are much older than that and older than the modern world.

An analog computer, an old Greek device designed for the calculation of astronomical position, is the oldest Antikythera mechanism computer in the world. And now media outlets are reporting that a lost piece, which somehow survived looters, has been discovered on the Aegean Seabed.

The Antikythera Mechanism was lost over 2,200 years ago when the cargo ship carrying it was shipwrecked off the coast of the small Greek island of Antikythera (which is located between Kythera and Crete).

The rear face of the Antikythera mechanism.
The rear face of the Antikythera mechanism.

The Mechanism was initially discovered in 1901 when Greek sponge divers found an encrusted greenish lump. They brought the mechanism, which they believed to be a rock, to archaeologist Valerios Stais at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Over the ensuing decades the site was looted, trampled on by explorers, and, in 1976, the famous French explorer Jean-Jacques Cousteau inadvertently destroyed much of what remained of the ship’s hull.

Initially, no one knew to want the lump was. Two millennia had eaten away at the ship and its cargo. Stais’ cousin, Spyridon Stais, a former mathematician, was the first to identify the gears in the mechanism.

It was only with the development of advanced x-ray technology and the collaboration of numerous individuals (from Cousteau to modern historians of science like Alexander Jones) that the heavily corroded rock was revealed to be a technologically advanced calculator.

How advanced? The second century BCE Mechanism could do basic math, calculate the movements of the sun and moon, track the movements of the constellations and planets, and predict eclipses and equinoxes.

It contains over thirty hand-worked cogs, dozens more than the average luxury Swiss watch. It may not have the faculties of an iPhone but it is more than a simple calculator.

In 2012, almost 50 years after Cousteau’s excavations, a new team of underwater archaeologists returned to re-examine the site.

They discovered hundreds of previously unnoted artifacts, including bronze and marble statues, furniture, coins, and a sarcophagus lid. But last year, on the seabed, they discovered something else: an encrusted corroded disk about 8cm in diameter.

X-ray analysis has revealed that the disk bears an engraving of the zodiac sign Taurus, the bull.

The discovery of a piece of the world’s oldest analog computer would be a huge and remarkable discovery on its own terms. But it has additional significance in what it can tell us about the development of the field of archaeology itself.

As Sarah Bond, an associate professor of Classics at the University of Iowa, told The Daily Beast “The Antikythera Mechanism is an important object in the historical record of ancient technology, but is also a prism for tracking the development of archaeology as a professional field … It reveals the advanced astrological instruments created and used by ancient engineers, but the protracted nature of the undersea dig reveals archaeological advances in scanning, 3D modeling, and many other sophisticated approaches in reconstructing and analyzing ‘the computer’.” Elsewhere Bond has written about the unseen labor of the divers who engaged in the risky work that discovered the original Mechanism.

Other scholars have exhibited concern that the discovery of the new disk is being sensationalized. On social media, David Meadows and Michael Press have rightly pointed out that the year-old discovery is only making news because of the sensational claim that it belongs to the Antikythera Mechanism.

It is difficult to say precisely what this new piece is; it might be part of the original Antikythera Mechanism or part of a second similar device.

The presence of the bull engraving suggests that it may have predicted the position of the constellation of Taurus but it is difficult to say.

While scientific study continues,  the discovery has drawn attention to both the existence of this ancient ‘calculator’ and its amazing history

Lost ‘Atlantean Treasures’ Unearthed in Crete

Lost ‘Atlantean Treasures’ Unearthed in Crete

In excavations on the west of the islet of Chrysi by Lasithi Ephorate, large numbers of porfyra and houses of Minoan settlements survived the ancient carved fish ponds across the coast.

The several broken porfyra shells found in the rooms of the houses are evidence of a very early cottage industry of porfyra dye established during Crete’s first palaces.

The settlement had a flourishing economy not apparent from the architectural remains but from the fine quality artifacts found in the houses.

Chrysi islet is situated in the south of Crete in the administrative Region of Lasithi and belongs to the Ierapetra Municipality. The surface survey conducted between 2008-2011 provided evidence of human activity and habitation since the Bronze Age.

In 2018 and 2019 the by now systematic excavation on Chrysi under the Lasithi Antiquities Ephorate’s Head Chrysa Sophianou, brought to light a large building with many rooms, known as B2, which was inhabited without interruptions during the Protopalatial and Neopalatial period, from the Middle Minoan IIB to the Late Minoan IB period (ca 1800-1500 BC).

The rooms had simple architectural elements, such as built-in vats, stone benches, work surfaces, hearths and a staircase with stone slabs. Pottery is a typical mixture of vessels for drinking, eating, cooking, and storage, while many stone tools were recovered.

It was a surprise to discover no evidence in this entire building of a cottage industry for the production of porfyra, unlike the other excavated houses of the settlement.

Despite their simple architecture, two rooms contained “treasures/hoards” of metal, glass and semiprecious stones. The first treasure was found in 2018 in a room that most probably was used as a storage area.

The deposit contained two parts of copper talents, a mass of slag and jewellery: a gold ring, a gold bracelet, 26 gold beads (disc-shaped, round and shaped like a papyrus), one bead of silver, 5 of bronze and the band of a bronze ring.

A collection of gold beads found at the site.
Beads found during excavations on the western part of the islet Chryssi.

There was also a large number of different shaped glass beads (39 round and 25 papyrus-shaped), 4 of so-called Egyptian blue, 20 of corneal stone, 1 of amethyst, 10 of lapis, one agate seal depicting a ship whose prow has the shape of an animal’s head and a stone amulet shaped like a monkey.

While continuing the excavation in 2019, another treasure of talents was discovered in the corner of a room in the same building, along with a large saw and three vessels, one made of copper.

A copper vase found at the site.

Their overall weight is 68 kilos and together with the parts of the other treasure, they are in all over two talents. It is the largest treasure of metals found to date on Crete.  Moreover, stored inside a vessel were pieces of a tin talent.

The latter is considered a rare find being the second from the Late Minoan period found on Crete. The first was discovered in a settlement on the islet of Mochlos.

The above data leads to the hypothesis that the inhabitants of building B2 in the Late Minoan period (ca 1500 BC) belonged to a higher social class and played a different part in the society of Chrysi; probably one of administration. They managed production, the promotion of products, the trading of porfyra dye and the import or distribution of metals.

Archaeologists uncover two Bronze Age ‘royal’ tombs lined with GOLD that promise to unlock secrets about life in ancient Greece 3,500 years ago

Archaeologists uncover two Bronze Age ‘royal’ tombs lined with GOLD that promise to unlock secrets about life in ancient Greece 3,500 years ago

Historians from the classic department of the American University of Cincinnati are readdressing what is known of early Greek history based on their once-in-a-lifetime discovery of two treasure-filled tombs that were once lined with gold leaf.

The two beehive-like graves were uncovered by a team of archeologists in last year and they announced in last Tuesday in Pylos while they were investigating the tomb of the renowned Greek military leader Griffin Warrior, who had been identified with the remarkable collection of weapons armors and jewelry in 2015

The scientist Jack Davis and Sharon Stocker from the UC Classics department reported in an article on the UC Web Site that they spent 18 months excavating both graves and similarly to the Griffin Warrior’s tomb, they were called ‘princely.’

The burials were discovered overlooking the Mediterranean Sea close to the palace of Nestor, a ruler mentioned in Homer’s famous works the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Davis and Stocker´s team are excavating in Greece in the wake of the late Carl Blegen who was head of UC’s Classics Department and was responsible for having discovered the Palace of Nestor in 1939 with Greek archaeologists Konstantinos Kourouniotis.

Stone lines the entrance to a grave called Tholos IV near the former Palace of Nestor, both discovered by the late UC Classics archaeologist Carl Blegen in 1939.

Within the two tombs, a wealth of cultural artifacts were recovered, including delicate jewelry. As an added mark of the extreme opulence of the family, the researchers found, “The tombs were littered with flakes of gold leaf that once papered the walls.”

When interpreted alongside the artifacts recovered from the tomb of the Griffin Warrior, historians expect to use these burials to gain a deeper understanding of early Greek civilization and Pylos’ links with ancient Egypt.

Pylos is a town in the Bay of Navarino and a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. It has an exceptionally long history – having been inhabited since the Neolithic era. In Classical times the site was uninhabited yet hosted the Battle of Pylos in 425 BC, during the Peloponnesian War.

Pylos was one of the last places which held out against the Spartans in the Second Messenian War and it sank out of history until the seventh year of the Peloponnesian War, during which according to the Greek historian Thucydides in his  History of the Peloponnesian War, the area was together with most of the country and “round, unpopulated.”

An aerial view of the site shows the Tholos IV tomb, far left, found by UC archaeologist Carl Blegen in 1939 in relation to the two family tombs called Tholos VI and Tholos VII, uncovered last year by UC archaeologists Jack Davis and Sharon Stocker.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the identity of the ‘Griffin Warrior’ is an assumption based on the types of armor, weapons, and jewelry found in his tomb – which all suggest he had military and religious authority. It is thought that he may have been the king known in later Mycenaean times as a ‘Wanax.’

The name ‘Griffin Warrior’ was chosen after the mythological creature, the Griffin, which is composed of parts from eagles and lions, a depiction of which was found engraved on an ivory plaque in the warrior’s tomb alongside his armor, weaponry, and gold jewelry.

The new artifacts discovered in the two princely tombs include a gold ring with two bulls within sheaves of barley, and an incredibly detailed carnelian seal depicting an image of two ‘genii,’ which like the Griffin are lionlike mythological creatures. The depictions of the genii are shown below a 16-pointed star and they hold serving vessels and an incense burner over an altar.

According to Dr. Stocker, “16-pointed stars are rare” to find in Mycenaean iconography and he sees the discovery of two objects depicting 16-pointed stars, in both agate and gold, as “noteworthy.”

In one of the two family tombs, UC archaeologists found a carnelian seal stone featuring two mythological creatures called genii with serving vessels and incense over an altar.

A National Geographic article says the two tombs were found holding “lots of gold” but also Baltic amber, Egyptian amethysts, and imported carnelian – which the archaeologists think belonged to “very sophisticated” people at a time when very few luxury items were being imported into Pylos – which was later a central location on the Bronze Age trade routes, said the archaeologists.

Dr. Davis said the discovery of a gold pendant displaying what might be a depiction of the Egyptian goddess Hathor is “particularly interesting considering the role she played in Egypt as protectress of the dead.” And if this is the Egyptian goddess Hathor than new evidence has been discovered suggesting early trade links between Pylos, Greece, and Egypt.

UC archaeologists found several gold pieces, including this double argonaut (octopus type of creature).