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Fundraising to Repay Money Spent by UK to Buy the Parthenon Marbles

The Parthenon ("Elgin") Marbles displayed in the British Museum, London.
George Osborn, the chair of the British Museum has hinted at a possible resolution to the Parthenon Marbles dispute. Credit: Txllxt TxllxT via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

A fundraising initiative for the Parthenon Marbles was launched to raise £35,000 ($43 K) to symbolically repay the UK Parliament for the money it paid Lord Elgin to buy the Marbles.

The symbolic initiative by the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles was launched on the 202nd anniversary of the Greek War of Independence on Saturday.

In a press release, the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles says that over two hundred years ago Lord Elgin wrenched a number of exquisitely carved figures and friezes from the Parthenon, wreaking severe damage to the already damaged monument.

“He shipped this portion of the Parthenon Marbles to the UK aiming to use them to decorate his ancestral house in Scotland. However, he soon became bankrupt and was obliged to sell the Marbles to the British Parliament, who at the time paid £35,000 to save them, and place them in the care of the British Museum.”

Greece has called for the return of the Parthenon Marbles

Since Greece’s declaration of independence in 1821 the Greek state has called for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, so they can be reunified with their other halves and experienced as one connected work of art, the Committee says.

The case has been further strengthened since the opening of the modern Acropolis museum, built especially in viewing distance of the building from which the Marbles were taken,it adds.

“The Marbles have done their job here in the UK and now, for the very first time, the British Museum are engaged in talks with the Greek government about an agreement regarding their future. The Museum’s Chair George Osborne, is open to finding an agreement, but for this to happen we need the support of the present Secretary of State for Culture, Lucy Frazer MP KC,” the press release notes.

“Just as the Greek authorities have committed for the past 23 years to fill the British Museum with yet more marvelous Greek antiquities should the Marbles finally be reunified, so this initiative aims to show Ms Frazer that we value the role played by the British Parliament in preserving these peerless works of art,” it adds.

“That’s why the Greek community and the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles is seeking to raise this £35,000. We want the British government to support the British Museum to do the right thing. Symbolically repaying an old debt to the British Parliament is an important step to securing this support.

“Once we’ve hit our target we will offer the sum, in cash and publicly, to the Secretary of State for Culture. Should the Secretary of State to refuse this generosity, the funds will be donated to the British Museum in the same spirit of goodwill. If by our deadline we have not reached our target, all donors will have the option of a full refund or to donate their pledge to the continuing campaign,” the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles says.

Earlier in March, UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vowed to protect the Parthenon Marbles from being sent back to Greece, saying they remain a “huge asset” to the UK.

Your Ultimate Summer Guide to Greek Island Hopping

Navagio
The Greek island of Zakynthos. Shipwreck beach, Navagio will be closed this summer, but you can get a boat to admire it from the sea. Credit: avramdeluxe/CC BY 2.0

Whether you are looking to see the ancient Greek ruins or relax on the best beaches in the world, there is a perfect Greek island for everyone.

Here is your ultimate guide to island hopping in Greece for the summer of 2022.

Crete, Greece’s largest island

Heraklion, Crete island in Greece
Heraklion, Crete. Credit: Andy Montgomery/CC BY-SA 2.0

Crete has many traditional hotels, resorts, and even family-orientated hotels with water parks.

It is also an island steeped in ancient culture for those wishing to visit pristine ancient ruins, such as Knossos, which is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site and Europe’s oldest city.

The beaches on Crete are amazing and you will even find ones with pink sand.

Really, you don’t have to look far to find something for the whole family to be entertained on this island—not to mention well-fed—since Cretan dishes are as amazing as the island and the people who reside there.

Corfu

Corfu
The Corfu Landscape. Credit: A Guy Taking Pictures/CC BY 2.0

There are both sand and pebble beaches on Corfu island, so there are options for just about anyone, depending on what one is looking for.

Interestingly, the water at Sidari Beach on the north coast is shallower and warmer, making it great for family vacations.

Checking out Kerkyra’s old town is the perfect way to get to know the island and its many charms. Why not spend the afternoon strolling the streets of this UNESCO landmark site with its pastel-colored buildings, complete with Venetian-style shutters?

Another holiday attraction for active travelers are the many hiking trails that line the island.

The Corfu Trail, which crosses from one side of the island to the other, is the best place to hike.

You can find many reasonably-priced hotels accommodations on the island, as well, making it a perfect destination for your island-hopping adventure.

Folegandros

Folegandros island, Greece
The Port of Folegandros. Credit: ¡Carlitos/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Folegandros is a small, quiet Greek island that remains virtually unknown to tourists.

Only an hour by high-speed boat from the popular island of Santorini, Folegandros is for those who are looking to experience a simpler and more memorable Greek vacation.

You can get to Folegandros via the ferry line Piraeus – Milos – Santorini or by ferries or hydrofoils from Paros, Mykonos, Ios, and Sikinos.

Known for its unspoiled landscapes, Folegandros was named after the son of King Minos.

There are only three small villages on the island. The main village, Hora, is filled with houses painted in white with multi-colored doors and windows high on the cliffs above the blue sea.

There are quaint squares and tavernas, so visitors will not run out of things to do when they are not enjoying the beautiful beaches—which are practically empty and, therefore, quiet.

The other two villages, Karavostasi (the port) and Ano Meria, are all connected by paved roads to Hora.

You can also explore walking the narrow cobblestone streets throughout the village or take the fifteen-minute walk up a zigzag pathway to the Church of the Panagia.

The church is thought to have been built on the site of an ancient temple, and although the original date of the construction of the church is unknown, it was renovated back in 1687 and again in 1821.

Lefkada

Porto Katsiki, Lefkada island, Greece
Porto Katsiki, Lefkada. Credit: massonth/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

One of the most popular Ionian islands, Lefakda is known for its beautiful beaches and outdoor sports. This island is one of Greece’s top ranking places for water sports.

If you are island hopping with your siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, or maybe even your sporty and active parents, check out the large marina at Lefkada Town, which is perfect for yachting.

You should also visit Vasiliki Bay in the south which is exposed to local thermal winds and boasts many water sports activities.

From surfing to kayaking, there is certainly something for everyone on Lefkada.

Zakynthos

Shipwreck beach, Navagio.
Shipwreck Beach, also known as Navagio Beach. Credit: avramdeluxe/CC BY 2.0

This is an island that you don’t want to miss, so be sure to include it in your Ionian island hopping itinerary.

Take a day trip to the amazing Shipwreck Beach, Navagio, where the dramatic cliffs, abandoned ship and white sand will transport you and your family to a paradise unlike any other.

You can also get the best selfie ever on Zakynthos!

Mykonos

Mykonos Greece Vacation
The port of Mykonos. Crédit: Bernard Gagnon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

When you think of Mykonos, you surely think of one of the most popular Greek party islands.

The truth of the matter is that it is also full of traditional churches and charming little chapels, which is a nice way to pass the time on a family vacation to the island.

Of course, you can always opt to choose the party route, as well, and Mykonos will not disappoint. There are tons of beach-side bars and clubs to keep you occupied all day and night.

Milos

Greece Vacation Islands
Sarakiniko Beach on Milos Island. Crédit: dronepicr – CC BY 2.0

When you want amazing selfies and unforgettable memories, travel to the Greek island of Milos.

The volcanic island has an incredible moonscape in various colors of red, brown, and white rock formations that spill into the deep turquoise sea. Its otherworldly rock formations transport you far back into geological time.

There are also traditional fishing villages and mountain villages to explore around the island. Must-see sites include the ancient theater, catacombs, and windmills in Tripiti.

You will also want to explore the island’s endless coves, which are accessible by a fishing boat tour.

Alonissos, Sporades

Alonissos island, Greece
Alonissos. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Alonissos is a charming Greek island and is the quietest of all the Sporades islands, which includes the more well-known islands of Skopelos and Skiathos.

The island has quaint villages filled with stone-roofed cottages, lush, green slopes with fragrant pine forests, and beautiful beaches.

Another great plus to going to this island, besides avoiding overcrowded tourists destinations, is that you can take a boat trip from Patitiri harbor to Greece’s first National Marine Park where you can see dolphins and seals in their natural habitat.

Within the same National Marine Park of Alonnisos, Northern Sporades, you can scuba dive and explore the “Parthenon of marine archaeology,” the shipwreck of Peristera. There is also a land-based archaeological museum devoted to the spectacular finds located at the shipwreck site.

Of course, you can always take a ferry to visit Skopelos, as well, which is a thirty minute trip from Alonissos. That island is home to the chapel where part of the film Mamma Mia! was filmed.

Delos

Delos
Delos, Wikimedia Commons, Attribution: Bernard Gagnon

You can see Delos, a UNESCO World Heritage site, from the shores of Mykonos, and the beauty of the island and its surroundings inspire all who visit. But do you know the legendary history of the sacred island?

It is one of the most important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in all of Greece.

There are extensive excavations on the island, revealing ruins that tell tales of Delos as a holy sanctuary, dating back over a millennium before Greek mythology designated it as the birthplace of the Greek gods, Apollo (the god of Light) and his twin sister Artemis (the goddess of Hunting).

Marathi

Marathi Greek Island
Marathi Shoreline. Crédit: Tanya Dedyukhina, CC BY 3.0

This is the island to visit when you want total seclusion from the rest of the world and to return to the natural beauty of unspoiled Greece.

This enchanting island is only 355 square kilometers (137 square miles) in area, and it is located east of Patmos. It has an untouched coastline of four kilometers in length.

Marathi was inhabited by the Emilianos family, who created a small hotel and restaurant for summer tourists, back in 1977.

Irakleia

Greek Island Irakleia
Irakleia. Crédit: XristinaMnp07 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Truly stunning beaches and quaint villages are what you will find on the Greek island of Irakleia.

Irakleia is an island with a population of only 141 inhabitants and is perfect for tourists wishing to explore nature and history.

The island, with an area of 17,795 square kilometers (6,871 square miles), is located between the islands of Naxos and Ios and can be reached by ferries from Athens, Naxos, and Paros.

This small island may have only just over 100 inhabitants, but it has something pretty significant —the largest caves in the Cyclades.

Besides this, the island has a rich history and has been inhabited since early antiquity.  Evidence of many mysterious rock paintings on the island date back to approximately 5,000 years ago.

Agathonisi

Agathonisi_Island
Agathonisi. Crédit: Turhan Akman, CC BY 3.0

Relax on a secluded beach and escape all the tourists this summer by visiting the Greek island of Agathonisi.

This small island is located in the northernmost point of the Dodecanese archipelago in Greece.

A 1920s census showed that the island had only eighty inhabitants at that time, most of whom were farmers and shepherds.

Nowadays, there are 185 inhabitants on the 13.5 square kilometer (5.21 square miles) island.

Many people come here for the secluded beaches, and to visit the two quaint villages on the island called Megalo Chorio, or “Big Village,” and Mikro Chorio, meaning “Small Village.”

The Municipality of Agathonisi includes an archipelago of uninhabited offshore islets including Glaros, Kouneli, Nera, and Psathonisio.

Donousa

Donousa
Donousa. Credit: Μanu/CC BY 2.0

Want to visit a small island? Check out the island of Donousa, which has only 167 inhabitants and an area of 13.75 square kilometers (5.30 square miles).

Donousa is located between Naxos and Amorgos and is one of the smallest islands in the Cyclades.

It can be reached by ferry from Piraeus or with a local boat from Naxos or Amorgos.

Donousa is a less visited island than many of the more popular destinations in the Cyclades, but with white sandy beaches like Kedros, it easily made the top eight list.

Eros and Psyche: The Greatest Love Story in Greek Mythology

Psyche revived by the kiss of Love
Psyche is revived by the kiss of Love. Louvre Museum. Credit: Wikipedia/gadgetdude/Public domain

The hauntingly beautiful myth of Psyche and Eros, a moving love story coming from the rich Greek mythology, has inspired countless artists all over the world throughout the centuries.

From Renaissance painters all the way to today’s filmmakers, Psyche and Eros (or “Cupid”) have served as great sources of inspiration, and have been featured in many great — and sometimes, lesser — works of art in a plethora of variations.

Although the story was first written down by Roman author Apuleius in the second century AD, scenes from the myth are found on many ancient Greek works of art, indicating that the story was first told in ancient Greece.

Many ancient Greek myths were later adapted and retold by Roman authors, and often the Roman sources are the only written versions of the myths that survive. Some stories may have never been written down in Greece at all, or any copies of such texts have since been lost.

According to Greek mythology, Psyche was a mortal woman of exceptional beauty and grace. Her looks became legendary, and people from all over the world came just to see her loveliness for themselves.

Yet Psyche did not marry anyone belonging to the legions of her admirers. She only wanted to marry the man she would love with all her heart. Her parents, however, wanted her married off as soon as possible, and asked for an oracle, hoping they would find a suitable husband for their beautiful daughter.

The fame of Psyche even reached Mount Olympus

Aphrodite, the goddess of Love in Greek mythology, was furious that a mortal woman was the subject of the admiration of so many men.

The jealous goddess asked her son, the young master of love, Eros, to descend to the world of mortals and poison men’s souls so that they no longer desired Psyche.

However, when Eros laid eyes on Psyche, he was so completely mesmerized by her beauty that he forgot to carry out his mother’s orders. In fact, he fell in love with Psyche himself.

Eros told Apollo to give the oracle that Psyche would marry an ugly beast whose face she would never be able to look at, and that he would wait for her at the top of Mount Olympus.

Naturally, the oracle’s words devastated Psyche’s parents. They could not believe that the gods had such a horrible fate in store for their precious daughter.

Yet they surely could not go against the gods, and they decided they had no alternative but to begin arranging the wedding of their daughter with the beast.

Psyche did marry the beast — but because of his appearance she was able to be with her husband only at night. However, her spouse’s less-than-stellar looks were counterbalanced by the genuine, tender love he showed to her.

The beast’s love and devotion made Psyche happy and she found that all her dreams about true love had actually been fulfilled. She spoke about her great happiness with her sisters, but confided in them how sad she was that she wasn’t able to see his face.

Psyche’s sisters became jealous of her happiness and convinced her that her husband was a monster who would eventually kill her, and that she should kill him first to save her life.

So one night, Psyche took a knife and an oil lamp and went to commit the horrible deed. But when she cast her light on the face of her beast-husband she saw instead the beautiful visage of the god of love, Eros.

Psyche was so shocked by this sudden revelation that she accidentally spilled the lamp’s oil on his face. Eros woke up and flew away, telling Psyche that she had betrayed him and ruined their relationship so that they would never be together again.

Psyche immediately began a desperate search for her lost love. She even went to the goddess Aphrodite herself, who had imprisoned Eros in the Palace, and begged to see him. The cunning Aphrodite then gave Psyche three impossible tasks to accomplish in order to prove her love.

But Psyche’s love was so strong that she accomplished the first two tasks easily. The first was to sort a huge quantity of different legumes, which she managed with no trouble. The second was to bring golden fleece from wild mountain sheep. Psyche accomplished that as well.

The third one, however, was by far the hardest of all, and also was a trap. She had to go to the Underworld (Hades) and bring back Persephone’s box with the elixir of beauty to Aphrodite, who also ordered her not to open the box.

However, there was no elixir of beauty actually inside the box. Aphrodite knew that inside, instead of the elixir, there was Morpheus, the god of sleep — and she also knew that Psyche would have the curiosity to open it.

Opening the box, Psyche fell asleep.

When Eros found out what happened, he ran away from the Palace, and begged Zeus to save his beloved Psyche.

Zeus was so moved by the true love and devotion of the pair that he granted Psyche the gift of immortality so that the two lovers could be together for eternity.

Over time, Psyche became known in Greek mythology as the deity of the soul. Today, the myth of Psyche and Eros still symbolizes the search for personal growth through learning — as well as true love, of course!

Greece Must Respond Positively to Turkey, Dendias Says

Greece Turkey
Greek FM Nikos Dendias during his recent meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Brussels. Credit: Twitter/Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The behavior of Turkey toward Greece has changed radically since the deadly earthquakes and Athens has an obligation to respond in a positive way, Greek foreign minister Nikos Dendias said.

Speaking to Proto Thema, Dendias noted that since his visit to south-eastern Turkey immediately after the earthquakes, “there are no violations in the Aegean, no overflights, no toxic language, no verbal aggression, no threat of violence.

“Greece has always said that it seeks dialogue under exactly these conditions. So we must, we have an obligation to, respond to such Turkish behavior,” the head of Greek diplomacy told Proto Thema.

He admitted that he does not know whether this notable de-escalation on behalf of Turkey will continue, but added: “Imagine how bad it would be if Turkey extends a hand of understanding to Greece, and Greece refuses it.”

Dendias noted Turkey’s support for the Greek candidacy for a non-permanent seat at the Security Council which he said “has enormous symbolism.”

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu signaled that Turkey will support Greece’s bid. At a meeting with Dendias, Cavusoglu confirmed that in return Greece will support Turkey’s bid to assume the presidency of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Dendias downplayed the significance of the Greek reciprocal move, saying that Athens also participates in the Board of Directors of IMO.

“I am not saying that we took more than we gave away,” Dendias stressed. But, it is symbolically important that Turkey chose to support Greece for a UN Security Council seat, he added.

Dendias also noted the Joint Declaration of Greece – Turkey after the 4th Positive Agenda Meeting, which took place in Ankara on March 22 and focused on economic and trade issues.

“This reflects a new reality. There is a window of opportunity here,” the Greek FM told Proto Thema.

“Greece has an absolute obligation to pass through the door that Turkey opened. Now whether this will have a happy ending or is just a passing phenomenon, only time can tell. However, it would be unforgivable for the Greek side not to attempt to take advantage of this change.”

Turkey congratulates Greece on the anniversary of Independence Day

On Saturday, March 25, Cavusoglu extended a letter of congratulation to his Greek counterpart on the anniversary of Greek Independence Day.

The letter of congratulation emphasized “good neighborly ties” between Greece and Turkey in what may turn out to be a period of rapprochement between Athens and Ankara. The Turkish foreign minister thanked Dendias for Greek support during the devastating earthquakes which leveled entire cities in parts of the country last month.

Many officials in both countries are hoping that the revival of so-called “earthquake diplomacy” will lead to a sustained improvement in bilateral relations between the two countries, which have experienced a period of prolonged tension in recent years.

Greece responded to the earthquakes which shook parts of southern Turkey and northern Syria by quickly dispatching aid, most notably provided by EMAK, a specialist disaster relief unit that is part of the Hellenic Fire Service.

The natural disaster also prompted Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to engage in a direct conversation for the first time since March last year.

Justin Trudeau Joins Montreal’s Greek Independence Parade

Trudeau Greek Independence Parade
“There’s nowhere I’d rather celebrate Greek Independence Day than Montreal,” Trudeau said. Credit: Twitter/Justin Trudeau

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walked in Montreal’s Greek Independence parade on Sunday afternoon.

A sea of white and blue flags dominated the parade in the Parc-Extension neighborhood.

The parade, whose grand marshal was Quebec’s minister responsible for the fight against racism, Christopher Skeete, has been a tradition in Montreal for over 40 years.

“There’s nowhere I’d rather celebrate Greek Independence Day than Montreal. I’ve been coming here for years to mark this day – and it’s always a pleasure. Zito Hellas!” Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and mayor Valerie Plante were happy to participate and waved to the hundreds of spectators lined up on Jean Talon Street.

The parade lasted about 45 minutes with Greek schools, organizations, dancers and dignitaries. Liberal MP for St Laurent, Emmanuela Lambropolous said it’s important to celebrate her roots.

“Its’ always nice to come back and commemorate and honor the heroes of 1821,” she said.

“I think all Greeks feel that we owe our freedom to them because they’re our ancestors and they fought courageously,” added Lambropolous.

Greek Independence Parade organized by the HCGM

The parade is organized by the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal (HCGM) every year.

“It’s a fantastic event celebrating 202 years of Greek independence,” said HCOM VP Michael Tsoukas.

“As a Hellenic Montrealer it’s my big pleasure to be here participating,” he added.

The HCGM also held a series of commemorative events leading up to the parade. On Friday, March 24th, it hosted an official dinner at the “Salle Québec” of the Hellenic Community Centre Adrian Maris, where it presented the “Hellene of the Year” award to a Greek nominee in recognition of their social contribution, scientific or business successes.

On Saturday, March 25th, Greek Canadians of Montreal gathered for the laying of the wreath ceremony in front of the Cenotaph of the City of Laval.

The following morning, Sunday, March 26th, the celebrations continued with a Doxology at the Greek Orthodox Church Evangelismos tis Theotokou, located at 777 St-Roch in the Parc-Extension borough.

The HCGM has been serving the Greek population of the greater Montreal area (Montreal, Laval and South Shore regions) since 1906. For over 100 years, the HCGM has continuously been representing Quebec citizens of Hellenic Origin who have settled, and continue to settle, in the greater Montreal area.

The HCGM provides the population of Greek origin with a variety of services, including education, church services, social services and cultural events.

Earlier in March, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias paid a visit to the Hellenic Community Centre of Greater Montreal and thanked the Canadian diaspora for preserving Greek culture and language.

“I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of the Greek government, for preserving one of the things that bind us all together, and that is our language,” Dendias said.

“Because our language is this essence that carries a 3,000-year-old tradition with it,” he added.

First Citizens Bank to Buy Silicon Valley Bank Deposits and Loans

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Silicon Valley Bank
The headquarters of Silicon Valley Bank. Credit: CoolcaesarCC BY-SA 4.0/Wikipedia

First Citizens Bank & Trust Co will buy Silicon Valley Bank’s deposits and loans, the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said Monday, potentially calming markets after the biggest U.S. banking collapse since Lehman Brothers.

The deal includes purchasing approximately $72 billion of SVB assets at a discount of $16.5 billion. Around $90 billion in securities and other assets will remain “in receivership for disposition by the FDIC.”

“In addition, the FDIC received equity appreciation rights in First Citizens BancShares, Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina, a common stock with a potential value of up to $500 million,” the FDIC said in the release.

The regulator transferred all SVB deposits and assets into a new “bridge bank” earlier this month in an effort to protect depositors of the failed lender.

“The 17 former branches of Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, National Association, will open as First–Citizens Bank & Trust Company on Monday, March 27, 2023,” the statement said Monday.

“Customers of Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, National Association, should continue to use their current branch until they receive notice from First–Citizens Bank & Trust Company that systems conversions have been completed to allow full–service banking at all of its other branch locations.”

First Citizens has around $109 billion in assets and total deposits of $89.4 billion.

Earlier in March the US government said that people and businesses who have money deposited with failed US bank Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) will be able to access all their cash.

A statement from the US Treasury, the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) said depositors would be fully protected. The statement said taxpayers would not bear any losses from the move.

SVB was shut down by regulators who seized its assets. It was the largest failure of a US bank since the financial crisis in 2008.

Fed raises interest rates despite banking crisis

Despite the banking crisis, the US central bank has raised its key interest rate by 0.25 percentage points last week.

Wednesday’s rate rise is the ninth in a row by the Fed. It lifts its key interest rate to 4.75 percent-5 percent, up from near zero a year ago, the highest level since 2007.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the Fed remained focused on its inflation fight. The year-on-year overall rate of inflation has slowed to 6 percent, but it’s still above the Fed’s preferred rate of 2 percent.

The sharp increase in interest rates since last year has led to strains in the banking system. Two US banks – Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank – collapsed this month, buckling in part due to problems caused by higher interest rates.

There are concerns about the value of bonds held by banks as rising interest rates may make those bonds less valuable.

Banks tend to hold large portfolios of bonds and as a result, are sitting on significant potential losses. Falls in the value of bonds held by banks are not necessarily a problem unless they are forced to sell them.

 

Thousands of Mummified Rams’ Heads Discovered in Egypt

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mummified rams' heads
Mummified rams’ heads, discovered in Egypt. Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Archaeologists discovered more than 2,000 mummified rams’ heads in Egypt dating back to the Ptolemaic period, and a large ancient building from the Sixth Dynasty, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced over the weekend.

The discoveries were made in the ancient city of Abydos, one of Egypt’s oldest settlements, around the site of the Temple of Rameses II.

Researchers believe that the mummified rams’ heads were probably left as votive offerings, alongside the remains of a number of other mummified animals. Meanwhile, the large building which was discovered around the same time was noted for its exceptional size, particularly in regard to the thickness of its walls.

Discovery of mummified rams’ heads in Egypt

Scientists from the American archaeological mission affiliated with New York University were responsible for the discoveries, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities noted in a recent Facebook post.

Dr. Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, lauded the discoveries as an important contribution to the understanding of the history of the Temple of King Ramesses II in Abydos.

The temple’s history spans for more than 2,000 years, between the time of Sixth Dynasty and the Ptolemaic era, when Egypt was ruled by the successors of Alexander the Great.

mummified ram's head
A mummified ram’s head discovered at Abydos, Egypt. Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

In addition to the substantial number of rams’ heads discovered at the site, the archaeologists also uncovered the remains of other mummified animals, including a collection of ewes, dogs, wild goats, cows, deer and mongooses, all in a storage space that was recently found in the northern section of the temple.

Dr. Sameh Iskandar, who leads the mission, commented that the mummified animals may have been dedicated as votive offerings during religious ceremonies during the Ptolemaic period. The rams may have been objects of worship themselves.

recent discoveries
Recent discoveries at Abydos, Egypt. Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Discovery of a large ancient building

The massive structure that was uncovered, belonging to the Sixth Dynasty period,  possesses a distinctive and exceptional architectural layout.

It stands out due to its enormous walls, which are approximately five meters thick. Egyptologists hope that this building’s discovery will significantly aid in re-evaluating the Old Kingdom’s activities and architecture in Abydos, as well as the location’s character and shape, and the events that were conducted there before the establishment of Rameses II’s temple and its adjoining structures.

ruins
Remains of a large building discovered in Abydos, Egypt. Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Professor Mohamed Abdel-Badi, who leads the Central Department of Upper Egypt Antiquities at the Supreme Council of Antiquities, mentioned that the team also uncovered sections of the northern wall encircling the temple and its surrounding structures.

This finding challenges the previously established understanding of the design of King Ramases II’s temple, circulated among researchers for over 150 years.

Additionally, the mission discovered fragments of statues, papyrus and ancient tree remains, as well as clothing and leather shoes. The team intends to complete their excavation efforts at the site to uncover more information about its history.

Greek-Australian Singer VASSY Wins EDMA ICON Award

VASSY EDMA
VASSY pictured receiving the EDMA Icon award. Credit: VASSY / EDMA

On Friday, Greek-Australian singer Vassy Karagiorgos, better known by her stage name VASSY, won the Electronic Dance Music Awards (EDMA) in the “Icon” category. She is the first woman ever to have won the accolade.

The award win comes shortly after the artist topped the US dance charts with her song “Pieces”, which became the Most Added Dance Track and the most played song on dance radio in January, this year.

VASSY wins EDMA Icon award

“It’s such an honour to receive the EDMA ICON Award,” VASSY told Greek Reporter. “To be recognized for my art and contribution to the Dance Community by my industry and the fans in the dance space is such a rewarding moment and monumental career highlight”

The EDMAs returned to Miami Beach on March 24, where the winners were announced during a “luxurious VIP pool party” held at Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel.

“I thank everyone at Dance Radio across the US who has supported my music for years. I came to this country from a small town in Australia called Darwin, from a humble, hard working Greek family, with a dream to pursue my passion,” the artist continued.

“I worked hard with integrity, it was not easy as it is a DJ driven boys club genre, but I stayed true to myself, and the dance community at Radio really embraced me and gave me the platform to be myself and share my art with the world. I’m beyond grateful and proud to say that being authentically myself throughout my career paid off. Ladies, WOMEN too can be ICONS in Dance.”

VASSY EDMA
VASSY during an interview at EDMA. Credit: VASSY / EDMA

Career and accolades

The EDMA Icon award is emblematic of yet another exciting milestone in VASSY’s music career.

About a decade ago, VASSY relocated to Los Angeles to pursue her passion for music. She was born and raised in Darwin, the daughter of two Greek immigrants to Australia.

The decision to leave home paid off and VASSY can now point to several number-one hits and accolades over the course of her career, having become an international dance music icon.

She was initially discovered by Australian Radio Station Triple J after she won song of the year. Her single “We Are Young” reached the number-one spot on the US Billboard Dance Chart, making her the first australian artist to achieve a number-one hit with her solo single debut release.

In 2020, the artist joined music’s “1,000,000,000 List,” which honors musicians who have surpassed a billion streams for their work. She received the honor for the song “Bad”, on which she collaborated with David Guetta and Showtek.

 

Then, in 2022, VASSY surpassed her previous record for streams when “Bad” was viewed over two billion times across all streaming platforms.

This year, her song “Pieces”, featuring Bingo Players and Disco Fries, was also a massive hit and reached the top of the US dance charts.

VASSY EDMA
VASSY with the EDMA Icon award. Credit: VASSY / EDMA

How Alexander the Great Halted Mutiny with a Powerful Speech

Alexander the Great
Statue of Alexander the Great in Thessaloniki. Credit: Alexander Gale / Greek Reporter

In August 324 BC, Alexander the Great faced a mutiny by his troops. By this time, Alexander had already conquered the Persian Empire and was master of much of the known world.

Nevertheless, Alexander now faced a serious challenge to his authority posed by the very men who had loyally followed him into battle for over a decade. The mutiny stemmed from growing sentiments held by his troops that Alexander no longer behaved in the proper fashion for a Macedonian monarch, but had instead been seduced by the customs of the peoples he had subjugated in conquest.

Ultimately, through the power of his words and some cunning politicking, Alexander was able to reconcile with his army and introduced measures to harmonize relations between the Greeks and Persians under his rule.

What caused Alexander’s men to mutiny at Opis

Our main source on how Alexander confronted the mutiny at Opis, an ancient Babylonian city near the Tigris river, is the Greco-Roman historian Arrian. Although Arrian wrote The Anabasis of Alexander hundreds of years after the legendary Macedonian king’s death, his account of Alexander’s life is regarded by historians as one of the most reliable accounts.

According to Arrian’s account of the mutiny, it was sparked by Alexander’s announcement to his men that he would be sending home the Macedonians who had sustained injuries or were too old for continued service.

Alexander meant for this to please his men. Indeed, he planned to send home these men who were no longer fit for service with great gifts. However, the Macedonians perceived his announcement as an insult and took offence.

In truth, tensions had been simmering in Alexander’s army for some time. His growing adoption of Persian customs, such as a preference for more ostentatious garments than any ancient Greek would typically wear, was beginning to agitate his men.

Moreover, the introduction of “barbarian” (non-Greek) men into units of his army, particularly the elite Companion cavalry, caused resentment. That foreigners had been trained to wield the sarissa in the phalanx formation, in the Macedonian style of warfare, had the same affect.

Alexander's empire map
A map of Alexander the Great’s empire at its largest extent c.323 BCE including details of key roads, location, and battles. Credit: Generic Mapping Tools / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

The mutiny

For the Macedonians, this latest announcement was the last straw, and Alexander had a mutiny on his hands. The men who were to be sent away refused to leave, and some of the most vociferous mutineers openly mocked Alexander.

According to Arrian, the mutineers shouted to Alexander that he should discharge them all and continue the campaign with his father, in this case referring to the god Zeus-Ammon, not Alexander’s earthly father, Philip II.

Alexander initially responded to the mutiny by imposing severe consequences on its ringleaders. He ordered the Hypaspists, an elite infantry unit, to arrest thirteen of “the most conspicuous troublemakers” and execute them.

The army were stunned into silence by this action, which gave Alexander a chance to exercise his rhetorical talents and attempt to rally his men with a rousing speech.

cavalry
A Companion or Thessalian cavalry soldier depicted on the “Alexander Sarcophagus”. Credit: Marsyas / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0

The Speech

According to Arrian, Alexander’s speech was as follows:

“Macedonians, my speech will not be aimed at stopping your urge to return home; as far as I am concerned you may go where you like. But I want you to realize on departing what I have done for you, and what you have done for me.

Let me begin, as is right, with my father Philip. He found you wandering about without resources, many of you clothed in sheepskins and pasturing small flocks in the mountains, defending them with difficulty against the Illyrians, Triballians and neighboring Thracians. He gave you cloaks to wear instead of sheepskins, brought you down from the mountains to the plains, and made you a match in war for the neighboring barbarians, owing your safety to your own bravery and no longer to reliance on your mountain strongholds. He made you city dwellers and civilized you with good laws and customs.

Those barbarians who used to harrass you and plunder your property, he made you their leaders instead of their slaves and subjects. He annexed much of Thrace to Macedonia, seized the most favorable coastal towns and opened up the country to commerce, and enabled you to exploit your mines undisturbed.

He made you governors of the Thessalians, before whom you used to die of fright, humbled the Phocians and so opened a broad and easy path into Greece in place of a narrow and difficult one. The Athenians and Thebans, who were permanently poised to attack Macedonia, he so humbled (and I was now helping him in this task) that instead of you paying tribute to the Athenians and being under the sway of the Thebans, they now in turn had to seek their safety from us.

He marched into the Peloponnese and settled matters there too. He was appointed commander-in-chief of all Greece for the campaign against the Persians, but preferred to assign the credit to all the Macedonians rather than just to himself.

Such were the achievements of my father on your behalf; as you can see for yourselves, they are great, and yet small in comparison with my own. I inherited from my father a few gold and silver cups, and less than 60 talents in the treasury; Philip had debts amounting to 500 talents, and I raised a loan of a further 800. I started from a country that could barely sustain you and immediately opened up the Hellespont for you, although the Persians then held the mastery of the sea.

I defeated the satraps of Darius in a cavalry engagement, and annexed to your rule the whole of Ionia and Aeolis, both Phrygias and Lydia, and took Miletus by storm.

All the rest came over to our side spontaneously, and I made them yours for you to enjoy.

All the wealth of Egypt and Cyrene, which I won without a fight, is now yours, Coele Syria, Palestine and Mesopotamia are your possession, Babylonia and Bactria and Elam belong to you, you own the wealth of Lydia, the treasures of Persia, the riches of India, and the outer ocean. You are satraps, you are generals, you are captains. As for me, what do I have left from all these labors? Merely this purple cloak and a diadem.”

Reconciliation

After the speech, Alexander retired to his tent for two days and refused to see anyone. On the third day, he invited the most senior Persian members of his retinue to his quarters and granted them command over each unit in the army.

This was a risky ploy, since it risked turning the Macedonians, who formed the elite core of his army, entirely against him. However, it worked and the Macedonians, who were alarmed by the sudden rise of the Persians above them, came to Alexander and promised to deliver the ringleaders of the mutiny to him.

According to Arrian, one of Companion cavalry commanders came before Alexander and said, “Sire, what grieves the Macedonians is that you have already made some Persians your ‘kinsmen’, and the Persians are called ‘kinsmen’ of Alexander and are allowed to kiss you, while not one of the Macedonians has been granted this honor.”

Alexander replied to the officer, saying, “I make you all my ‘kinsmen’ and henceforward that shall be your title.”

Alexander marked this reconciliation with his men by sacrificing to the gods. He then held a great banquet, which 9,000 guests are said to have attended. The Greeks and Persians were encouraged to feast and drink together to cement their new bonds within Alexander’s empire.

To further bind the Persians and Greeks, Alexander staged a mass marriage between his Macedonian officers and Persian noblewomen. He intended for the offspring of these unions to be the children of both the Greek and Persian civilizations, in effect acting as the glue which would hold his new empire together in the generations to come.

Ultimately, this strategy failed and the Macedonian officers divorced their Persian brides after the death of Alexander. The empire itself also fell apart and was split between the successor kingdoms led by his generals, most notably the Seleucid, Ptolemaic, and Antigonid kingdoms.

Nevertheless, Hellenistic civilization continued to interact and evolve alongside the other cultures Alexander had incorporated into his empire. In the Ptolemaic Kingdom for instance, the syncretic relationship between Greek and Egyptian gods endured and evolved. Similarly, within the Kingdom of Pontus, the Greek, Persian, and Anatolian cultures fused together in unexpected and interesting ways.

Russia to Station Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Belarus

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Putin and Lukashenko
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his counterpart from Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. Credit: President of the Russian Federation / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 4.0

Russia is planning to deploy some of its tactical nuclear weapons to neighboring Belarus, announced Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

According to the Russian President, storage units for the nuclear weapons will be completed by July 1. Putin compared the decision to move the warheads to the US’s deployments in Europe.

Vladimir Putin’s decision comes just days after Moscow and Beijing signed a joint statement urging nuclear powers to withdraw weapons deployed beyond their national borders. Meanwhile, some analysts fear that Russia might use tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine, particularly if the Russian armed forces are not able to prevail with conventional means.

Russia to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus

According to Putin, the decision to deploy some of Russia’s nuclear weapons in Belarus was in response to a request made by the latter country’s leader, Alexander Lukashenko.

Putin and Lukashenko are close allies. Indeed, Russian forces have continued to amass in Belarus throughout the conflict in Ukraine and although Belarussian troops are not fighting themselves, the country has become an important logistics hub and staging ground for Russian forces.

Speaking yesterday, Putin was keen to stress the legitimacy and legality of his decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons outside of Russian borders.

“There is nothing unusual here: first of all, the US has been doing this for decades,” said the Russian President. “They placed their tactical nuclear weapons in six different allied NATO countries in Europe. [ . . . ] we have agreed to do the same thing, without, I stress, violating our international non-proliferation obligations.”

“They have [tactical nuclear weapons] in certain countries, prepare the delivery systems, and train the crews. We’re planning to do the same thing,” he added.

Strategic implications

Tactical nuclear weapons are designed to be used in a military context to deliver an advantage on the battlefield.

They are less powerful than strategic nuclear weapons, which are generally intended to be used against heavily populated cities in order to deliver a knockout blow to the enemy. Due to the presumed consequences of mutually assured destruction, strategic nuclear weapons are often thought of as “world-ending” weapons.

There has been some speculation amongst security analysts that Russia might use tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine to break a military stalemate and force Kyiv to concede.

As nuclear security experts like J. Andrés Gannon have pointed out, tactical nuclear devices are not necessarily “wonder weapons” which could decide the fate of the war. If for example, Russia used a tactical nuclear strike to halt a Ukrainian counteroffensive, Ukrainian forces could still advance on another axis.

Similarly, if Russia wanted to knock out Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, conventional bombing might be a better option, given the greater accuracy of most conventional missiles over their nuclear counterparts.

In any case, it is unlikely that the decision to deploy these weapons to Belarus would precipitate a nuclear attack against Ukraine. It is more probable that Putin intends for the weapons to signal a warning to Ukraine and its supporters that Russia has the means and ways to end the war on its own terms.