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Extended visiting hours for museums and archaeological sites

Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Yeroulanos announced new extended visiting hoursof a number of museums and archeological sites in Greece on May 18.
The ministry said that the list will be further enriched in the future weeks, depending on the availability of staff.
The list includes some of the most popular sites and museums in Greece such as the Acropolis of Athens – Archaeological Site, which will be open from 8.00-19.00, all year round; the Thessaloniki Museum of Byzantine Culture; the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki; the Archaeological Site of Philippi; the Archeological Museum and site of Mycenae; the Archeological Museum and site of Epidaurus; the Archaeological site of Mystras; the Archeological site and Museum of Afaia, Aegina; the Archeological Museum of Messenia; the Archeological site of Ancient Messene; the Catacombs on Milos island; the Herakleion Archeological Museum; the Archeological site of Knossos and the Spinalonga island on Crete.
The list also includes the Archaeological Museum of Drama; the Church of Panagia Kosmosoteira (Our Lady, Saviour of the World), in Ferres; the Grevena Archaeological Collection; the Museum of Asian Art, Corfu; the Archaeological Collection of Arta; the Byzantine Museum of Ioannina; the Ioannina Treasury; the Fortress of Ioannina; the Igoumenitsa Archaeological Museum; the Nekromanteion of Acheron; the Athanasakeion Archaeological Museum in Volos; the Archeological site of Nea Aghialos, Magnesia; the Byzantine Museum of Fthiotida at Ypati; the Monastery of Osios Loukas; the Corinth Archeological Museum.
Ministry of Culture & Tourism:  Brief Guides to Archaeological Museums in Greece Part I & Part II; YouTube: Culture in Greece [VIDEO] [Photo 3: The Nekromanteion of Acheron – Oracle of the Dead]
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

“Lady in Gold” unearthed on Crete

Archaeologists made an important discovery when they unearthed an ancient female skeleton covered with gold foil in a grave in the ancient city of Eleutherna on the northern foothills of Mount Ida near Rethymno, Crete. The finding dates back to the early Archaic Period.
The findings were inside a 2,700-year-old twin tomb, the only one in ancient Eleutherna, located very close to a necropolis of fallen warriors. The woman, of high social or religious status, was interred with a second skeleton in a large jar placed behind a false wall, to ward off body snatchers.
The tiny gold ornaments, ranging from 1 to 4cm long, in different forms (square, triangle, and diamond-shaped) were found next to the remains of the woman, discovered a few weeks ago by a team led by archaeology professor Nicholas Stampolidis of the University of Crete – head of the Eleutherna excavation.
A unique jewelry piece depicting a bee as a goddess was also found amongst the thousands of gold plaques. Excavators also unearthed perfume bottles, hundreds of amber, rock crystal and faience beads and a gold pendant in the form of a bee goddess.
The findings are so extraordinary that they justify the decision made recently by the Archaeological Institute of America to include the excavations at ancient Eleutherna among the best worldwide.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Antiparos:Caves, History and Cycladic Charm

Paros has for years been a household name even to those who have never visited the Greek islands.
But Antiparos – just 30 minutes by boat from Parikia, the capital of Paros, or a mere six minutes by ferry from Paros’ popular Pounta Beach – has yet to be discovered by more than those who have already been initiated in its hidden treasures:
One of the oldest and loveliest stalactite and stalagmite caves in the world; the remains of a Venetian Castle built in 1440 to protect inhabitants from pirate raids; innumerable white churches with blue domes scattered all over the island; secluded emerald beaches.
On Faneromeni beach, at the small church of Panagia Faneromeni, the September 7 annual Festival will once again treat lucky visitors with grilled octopus, tsikoudia – and warm hospitality.

To the south-west of Antiparos lies uninhabited Despotiko islet, the archaeological findings of which are turning it into an Archaeological Park.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Lighting the way to 2010 Youth Olympic Games

The official ceremony for the Lighting of the Olympic flame that will burn at the inaugural Youth Olympics Games in Singapore will take place today (July 23) at Ancient Olympia.
In the presence of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge and Minister of Culture Pavlos Yeroulanos, the priestess will stand in front of the 2,600 year-old Temple of Hera and by using a concave mirror will light a silver torch with the sun’s rays.
As soon as the flame is lit, the Journey of the Youth Olympic Flame will begin travelling in five cities across the globe: Berlin, Dakar, Mexico City, Auckland and Seoul.
Yesterday, a successful rehearsal was conducted and hundreds of tourists, visiting the site where the Ancient Olympics were held from 776 BC to 393 AD, witnessed the event. The first ever Youth Olympic Games will be held from August 14 to 26 in Singapore.
Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism: The Archaeological site of Olympia
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Greece: Prehistoric Theopetra Cave opens to public on Friday

Theopetra(ANA) Prehistoric Theopetra Cave opens to public on Friday The opening to the public of the prehistoric Theopetra Cave in Trikala prefecture, will be marked with a concert on Friday. Theopetra Cave is a famous archaeological site, and the first excavated cave in Thessaly, with excavations starting in 1987 and continuing to the present. Its deposits begin in the Middle Paleolithic period and continue without gaps until the end of the Neolithic period (3000 BC). Its uniqueness is that in contains, within a single site, the records of two greatly significant cultural transitions: The replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans, and the later transition from hunter-gathering to farming after the end of the last Ice Age. The cave, situated just three kilometers from Meteora, consists of an immense 500 square meter rectangular chamber at the foot of a limestone hill, which rises to the northeast above the village of Theopetra, with a very big entrance 17m wide by three metres high. It lies at the foot of the Chasia mountain range, which forms the natural boundary between Thessaly and Epirus prefectures, while the Lithaios River, a tributary of the Pineios River, flows in front of the cave. Excavations, which have been systematically carried out, have unearthed light geological deposits dating to the Pleistocene and Holocene periods as well as anthropogenic deposits, indicating that the cave had been continuously inhabited during the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic, the Mesolithic and the Neolithic periods. Specimens found, such as coal and human bones, prove that the cave was occupied from about 50,000 BC to 4000 BC, and that temporary use continued during the Bronze Age and historic times up to 1955. Even after that the cave was used occasionally to by shepherds to shelter their herds right up until the excavations began. It is the first time that cave dwelling was recorded in Thessaly during the Palaeolithic period. Continue reading

Greece: Patras Museum Inaugurated

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Greece’s second largest archaeological museum and one of Europe’s most modern was inaugurated on Friday (June 24) in the city of Patras, in the Peloponnese.  Finds from the Mycenaean period, as well as the extraordinary mosaics that date back to Roman times, all of which highlight the city’s legacy, are two of the most important areas of interest in the New Patras Archaeological Museum.  The museum’s architectural design was meant to match the city’s landscape and the 500 square metre outdoor pool at the entrance emphasizes the city’s ties with its port and water. The exhibits reconstruct Patras’s long history dating back to prehistoric times.   Gifted by nature, Patras is nowadays a commercial hub and Greece’s third most important city. Culture Minister Antonis Samaras noted that the “museum highlights the rich yet unknown cultural heritage of the broader area of Achaia.”   Secretariat General of Information: About Greece-Culture, Museums, Antiquities ; Ministry of Culture: Odysseus-Greek archeological monuments; City of Patra: www.patras.gr

An Exhibition “Made of Electrum”

Electrum(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki hosts an exhibition titled “The magic of electrum: Charms and Jewelry from Magna Grecia and Macedonia.”   Numerous masterpieces made of electrum dating back to the Mycenaean and Roman Era as well as other objects made of metals and bones coming from the Basilicata tombs in southern Italy and other burial-grounds in Macedonia will be on display in this exhibition, which will run until February 15, 2010.  The exhibition is organized by the Archaeological Museums of Thessaloniki and Potenza in collaboration with the Italian Education Institute of Thessaloniki.

Mediterranean Research Centre

ruins1(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Greek researcher, Dr Evangelos Kyriakidis, lecturer in Classical and Archaeological Studies at the University of Kent in the UK has received €300,000 of a potential €4.2 million from the Los Angeles-based Cotsen Corporation to establish a Mediterranean conservation, research and education centre in Greece. Through the centre, Dr Kyriakidis aims to set up a visiting scholars’ programme, workshops and lectures on archaeological site management and planning in the Mediterranean region, as well as developing collaborations with relevant institutions in this field worldwide. T he €300,000 grant will be used to fund the pilot phase of the project which, if successful, will be eligible to receive a total of €4.2 million over the next eight years.

Antiquities Returned to Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   A special event was held on Tuesday (19.5) at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens to mark the return of hundreds of ancient artifacts to Greece by Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. The majority of the returned antiquities date from the 5th to the 2nd centuries BC, apart from a section of a Byzantine-era carved window sill dating from the 11th-12th century AD, possibly from the Plaka area in Athens, that was presented to the Greek Embassy in London by a private citizen. Addressing the event, Culture Minister Antonis Samaras said that the return of artifacts, either through private initiative or by state intervention, reflects a change in attitudes as people increasingly realise that cultural artifacts are not just pieces of art, but precious links to a people’s historical identity. Reuters (19.5): Antiquities returned to Greece

Archaeological Park in Athens

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Culture Minister Antonis Samaras recently announced  the creation of a unique archaeological park – approximately 3.4 hectares – in downtown Athens. The park will unify the famed Lyceum established by the philosopher Aristotle with the Byzantine and Christian Museum. According to Culture Minister, a translucent protective roof is to be erected over the antiquities of the Lyceum’s area. Work on the project, which will cost €4.5 million, is to begin soon and to be completed by 2011 and it will be funded by the partly state-owned company OPAP. Aristotle opened the Lyceum- also known as “the Peripatetic School” – in 335 BC upon his return to Athens following a period during which he taught Alexander the Great. Foundation of the Hellenic World: Aristotle & Education; (Photo:Plato and Aristotle in Raphael’s masterpiece “The School of Athens”)

Athens 2009: Something Old, Something New

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) NBC’s Rick Steve reports on Athens’ dramatic change. “The city of about 4 million has made a concerted effort to curb pollution, clean up and pedestrianise the streets, spiff up the museums, build a new airport, and invest in one of Europe’s better public-transit systems.  Athens still has its “big three” sights: the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora and the remarkable National Archaeological Museum. In June the fourth big sight of the city is opening – the New Acropolis Museum. It is a world-class space, custom-built to showcase the Parthenon sculptures, a state-of-the-art building worth a look itself. City of Athens: www.cityofathens.gr/en; Breathtaking Athens: www.breathtakingathens.com

Greece: Ancient Macedonian Coins on Display

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   An exhibition featuring 270 silver and golden ancient Macedonian coins dating from the 6th to the 1st century BC will be inaugurated on February 26, 2009, at the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum. Ancient Macedonia is considered to be one of the first places in the ancient world to adopt a currency and its numismatic tradition was transposed to and imitated later in other parts of the world, from the Celts in Western and Central Europe to the Arabian Peninsula. The coins of this exhibition are part of 4,000 Macedonian coins collection of Alpha Bank, which includes more than 10,000 ancient coins. The exhibition “Macedonia’s currency” will run until June 8.

Archaeological Findings Repatriated to Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The repatriation of 100 archaeological finds currently stored at Ghent University’s Archeological School in Belgium was decided following a meeting of Greece’s Minister of Culture with the Belgian ambassador and the director of the Belgian Archaeological School in Athens. The Belgian delegation informed Minister Antonis Samaras that the finds come from the School’s excavations at the archaeological site of Thoricos at Lavrio (see picture), southeast Attica. The School’s project of Thoricos was first launched in 1963, and four major areas have been investigated to date: the acropolis, the necropolis, the theatre and the industrial area. The acropolis has yielded the most important finds, while the theatre, probably the earliest in Greece, is of unique archaeological interest. The modern-day name of Thoricos, Lavrio, derives from the word “lavra” which means narrow passage and it is mostly known for its ancient and modern mining galleries. Mine extraction at Thorikos dates back to around 3000 B.C. Silver mining, once one of the chief source of revenue of the Athenian state, reached its peak during the years of Pericles. After a long pause, activities were resumed during the 19th century, contributing to the newly established Greek state’s technological progress for more than a century’s time. Nowadays, the area boasts the Lavrion Technological and Cultural Park, where the rich local legacy comes to the fore. Ministry of Culture: www.culture.gr; Hellenic Culture Organisation: Odysseus portal 

Athens: Revamped Monastiraki Square

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Athens residents as well as tourists can finally enjoy in full the newly refurbished Monastiraki square, at the heart of classical Athens. The square – at the foothill of the Acropolis, an intersection between the capital’s ancient heritage and its modern shopping centre which is always extremely popular with tourists – has undergone a thorough facelift that allows visitors to view, among other things, the bed of the ancient Eridanos (or Iridanos) River, while walking over a glass cover. Attiko Metro: Archaeological Excavations per Station

Chinese President visited the island of Crete

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Concluding his visit to Greece, Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday visited the island of Crete where he paid visits to the archaeological site of Knossos (see picture) and the Museum of Heraklion, capital city of the region. Accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Tourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos, the Chinese President joined the olive harvesting process and stated that “Cretan olive oil has already started entering the Chinese market.”  Kathimerini daily: Cretan olive oil heading east to China; Greek News Agenda: Greece and China Shake Hands  Secretariat General of Information: About Brand Greece- Export Goods: a new-found emphasis on quality & Agricultural Produce, Greek food, Olive oil

The Antikythera Mechanism Reveals its Secrets

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)      The Ionic Centre is hosting the first exhibition showcasing the renowned Antikythera Mechanism, a display which is jointly organised with the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project and the National Archaeological Museum. The exhibition which is placed under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture, is taking place from October 22 to December 14. The Mechanism of Antikythera – an ancient mechanical object which has begun to be “decoded” scientifically only in the past few years – has attracted world-wide interest and re-writes the history of science and culture, not only for Greece but for the entire world. The history of this extraordinary object begins in the mid 1st century BC, when a ship loaded with artefacts and precious objects, possible heading towards Rome, sinks near Antikythera. About two thousands years later, in the spring of 1900, two fishing boats with sponge divers discover one of the most important treasures of antiquity. Filled with signs and cog wheels, it was characterized early as belonging to the family of astronomy instruments – sometimes as an astrolabe, a planetarium, an instrument used for sailing or a combination of instruments. When the first results of the Mechanism Research Project, comprising of top Greek and foreign specialists, were announced in Athens in the end of 2006, they brought about international interest – an interest which continues today. At the Ionic Centre, visitors will have the opportunity to see the mechanism as scientists see it, using the latest technology, to experiment with the calculation models that were developed and to use the software developed for making the erased engravings on its surface appear.  GoCulture.gr: The Antikythera Mechanism reveals its secrets; Nature science journal (31.7.2008): Streaming video: Antikythera

Greece: Exceptional Find Unearthed

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Archaeologists apparently uncovered one of most fascinating finds to date at the archaeological site of Vergina, northern Greece, earlier this week, namely, an immense cylindrical copper vessel inside of which was a slightly smaller, similar vessel. The exquisite artefact contained an oak wreath crafted in gold, lying atop human bones and immersed in water amid roots. The find is considered exceptional, as the wreath is almost equal in quality and dimensions to those found at the Royal Tombs at Vergina (Modern name of the city Aigai, the ancient first capital of the kingdom of Macedonia). The city of Aigai was discovered during the 19th century and is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The most important remains are the monumental palace, lavishly decorated with mosaics and painted stuccoes, and the burial ground with more than 300 tumuli, some of which date from the 11th century B.C. One of the royal tombs in the Great Tumulus (photo) is identified as that of Philip II, who conquered all the Greek cities, paving the way for his son Alexander and the expansion of the Hellenistic world.  It remains a mystery for the archaeologists of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki who run the excavations why such a complete find was found outside the limits of the extensive cemetery of the royal necropolis. Athens News Agency: Exceptional find in Vergina; Ministry of Culture: Building for the protection of the royal tombs of Vergina; UNESCO: Archaeological site of Aigai

Greece @ China’s Cultural Year

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Greece relishes international attention by being the honoured country for this year’s Cultural Year in China (www.greece-china.com). Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis on Sunday inaugurated the International Olympic Truce Centre exhibition at Beijing’s Hellenic House (“From ancient Olympia to Beijing 2008 – forty Greek and forty Chinese artists discuss the Olympic Truce” ) in the presence of former International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch. The “Agon” exhibition by the National Archaeological Museum, initially held in Athens during the 2004 Olympic Games, presents themes from the athletic events of the ancient Olympic Games, along with the whole context of poetry, theatre and artistic competitions held from time to time at the major temples throughout the Greek world (Beijing’s Capital Museum). Dimitris Papaioannou, director of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games opening ceremony, brought his adapted version of ancient Greek tragedy Medea to Beijing (Grand National Theatre in Beijing on August 1 and 2). Greece will be the country of honour at the 15th International Beijing Book Fair to be held early September 2008. Greece is the fourth country after France, Russia and Germany to be receiving such an honourary invitation. Within the same framework, China will be the country of honour at the Thessaloniki International Book Fair in 2010.

Greek Islands: Samos

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Samos – an island with something for everyone: crystal clear waters, steep cliffs, wild canyons, waterfalls, gentle slopes with pastures, vineyards and wild orchids, villages with marvellous traditional houses, a rich fauna and flora, a unique atmosphere on one of the few islands that can lay claim to the hearts of those who love mountains as much as the beach. When on the island, one must visit Pythagorio, and archaeological hotspot: built on the ruins of the ancient city of Samos during the time of Polycrates, it condenses more than twenty-six centuries of history. Another place to visit is the Archaeological Museum, where exhibits are housed in two buildings.

Archaeology & Hellenism

Damaskos, Dimitris, Dimitris Plantzos: A Singular Antiquity, Benaki Museum 2008.  This volume includes a large part of the proceedings of the conference entitled “Archaeology, Antiquity and Hellenicity in twentieth century Greece”, that took place in the Benaki Museum Piraios Street Annexe in January 2007. Archaeology was a backbone of the national strategy in modern Greece:  the book examines the manner in which positions were formulated and the epistemological programme of archaeological studies in Greece; its interaction with other sciences; and finally its involvement in the intellectual and political life of the land.