Cliffs of Freedom Movie Set During the Greek Revolution Streaming on Major Platforms

Cliffs of Freedom
A still from the Cliffs of Freedom movie. Credit: National Hellenic Society

Cliffs of Freedom, the historical drama movie set during Greece’s War of Independence, will stream on major platforms beginning on September 13, 2021, the National Hellenic Society (NHS) announced.

In a statement the NHS, which owns all rights to film, said that the release on Amazon Prime, Apple, and Google Play will “celebrate the bicentennial of Greece’s Revolutionary War.”

The story of Cliffs of Freedom is set in Valtetsi, a small village in Arcadia in Greece’s Peloponnese. It is based and inspired on a novel written by Marianne Metropoulos, Daughter of Destiny. The novel served as the springboard to the film produced by Marianne and Dean Metropoulos with Marianne serving as co-writer of the screenplay.

Watch Cliffs of Freedom on Apple TV and Amazon Prime.

Cliff sof Freedom Movie Watch Online streaming now

Marianne and Dean Metropoulos are members of the NHS, and as Drake Behrakis, NHS Board Chairman, tells Greek Reporter, NHS felt that because “there are a lot of great cultural and historical themes in the movie”, the organization decided to buy all rights.

Cliffs of Freedom showcases Greek War of Independence

“Although we do not expect to make money from the movie, we believe we can use it as an example to show the importance of the Greek War of Independence and talk about different themes in the movie that resonate with a 21st century audience” Behrakis says.

The movie is an amalgam of stories, accounts and events that transpired during Greece’s Revolutionary War. The lives, struggles, sacrifices and saga of the Greeks is brilliantly on full display, symbolic of the resiliency, resolve and grit of the Greek people determined to be free.

Their deep faith, values and love of family, culture and heritage marks the first time their story is shown on the silver screen in epic form. The film’s production values, acting, score and the caliber of cast and crew have created a motion picture that has riveted audiences.

Behrakis hopes that the movie could follow on the success of the NHS collaboration with National Geographic of the series, The Greek Guide to Greatness.

That series “was very critical” in promoting ancient Greek culture to a wider audience, Behrakis says. “It took major themes such as athletics, poetry, theatre, democracy, everything that originated in ancient Greece, and showed how they are still important in today’s society.”

Cliffs of Freedom, which centers on an ill-fated romance between a beautiful young Greek village girl set in the beginning days of Greece’s Revolutionary war, “fits with what we trying to do as an organization. To keep those messages alive and well. To keep the Greek Diaspora engaged.”

Inspirational stories

Behrakis -a second-generation Greek- tells Greek Reporter that there several stories in the movie that he found inspirational. He highlights the scene towards the end of the movie when Theodoros Kolokotronis, the Greek revolutionary leader, came with his rebels to liberate the Peloponnese. He is seen speaking to the people and inspiring them to fight for their liberty from the Ottoman Turks.

“I know who Kolokotronis was and how important he was, but this was the first time in an actual movie to see him and realize what he meant for Greece. It was an emotional experience for me. Wow, I thought, I am actually seeing this person that I have read about so much – see him live in a movie,” Behrakis said.

He adds that “the more of these movies that showcase Greece and resonate about Greek history and culture we can bring into the mainstream, the better.”

The film is also available for theatrical release. More information as to how to host a special screening at local theater, please contact the NHS.

The National Hellenic Society (NHS) is a non-profit foundation comprised of a Who’s Who of visionaries, philanthropists and leaders that celebrate, share, and pass on Hellenic heritage in America.

NHS programs include its signature Program, Heritage Greece which has reconnected and sponsored 500+ college aged students of Greek descent on a life-changing experience hosted by the American College of Greece.

Watch Cliffs of Freedom on Apple TV and Amazon Prime.

FDA Rejects Pfizer’s Booster Shot Request

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Pfizer Booster shot
The FDA has rejected Pfizer’s request for a third booster shot. Credit: Facebook/Pfizer Corporation

A Food and Drug Administration vaccine advisory panel voted against giving Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine booster shot to the majority of the population.

The FDA decided that booster shots would only be necessary for those over the age of 65 as well as high risk individuals with severe illness. The Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, or VRBPAC, called the vote during its meeting on Friday.

The committee was told to decide whether they believed vaccine booster shots would be safe, effective, and necessary for people ages 16 and up. The group of experts voted overwhelmingly that there was not yet enough evidence to show that a third shot would be necessary, especially for younger people:

“We’re being asked to approve this as a three-dose vaccine for people 16 years of age and older, without any clear evidence if the third dose for a younger person when compared to an elderly person is of value,” said voter Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

After firmly establishing that the existing doses of the vaccine were more than sufficient for healthy adults aged 16 to 65, the committee reported their decision to the FDA. The FDA is not required by law to follow the committee’s recommendations, but it is extremely uncommon for them not to.

Surgeon General Vivek Murphy said on Friday at the White House Covid task force briefing that the booster plan would follow the lead of the FDA and the CDC.

“We have always said that this initial plan would be contingent on the FDA and the CDC’s independent evaluation,” he said. “We will follow that evaluation and their recommendations, we will make sure our final plan reflects it.”

FDA rejects Pfizer’s booster shot request almost a month after granting vaccine full approval

Pfizer’s vaccine had recently received full FDA approval for individuals aged 16 and older this August.

The vaccine had been given priority review treatment by the FDA as of July 20, when it was granted the designation. This step marked the last hurdle that had to be cleared in order for the vaccine — the very first to come onto the world scene, being approved for emergency use back in December of 2020 — to be distributed and marketed like any other inoculation on the market.

Muphy told interviewers from CNN that he thought full FDA approval would have a real impact on millions of Americans who remain wary of the vaccine.

“This may tip them over toward getting vaccinated,” he stated, before adding that he expected corporations, state leaders and schools to impose mandates when the vaccines cleared the final hurdle. “We already know that there are many businesses and universities that have moved toward vaccine requirements,” he said, even before the inoculations were granted final approval.

 

 

Five Ancient Greek Discoveries that Shaped Our Modern World

ancient greeks
The theater began in ancient Athens. The first stagings were based on religious ceremonies, represented through tragedy, but over time, other genres such as comedy and satire were created. Credit: Wikipedia/Public domain.

If you are wondering exactly what were the contributions of ancient Greece to our modern world, here is just a small sample of the top inventions and discoveries of the ancient Greeks that are remarkably used till today.

The Alarm Clock of Plato

Plato, the famous ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician who founded the first institution of higher education in the Western world, the Academy of Athens, was said to be the first person who introduced the first snooze alarm into human history.

In his effort to wake people up and get them to their lectures on time — at dawn — Plato designed a mechanism which can be considered the first alarm clock.

In his mechanism, water would drip from one vessel into another via a small hole, and as the second vessel filled during the night, trapped air was forced out of a side vent, making it whistle like a tea kettle when it filled up quickly.

Theater

Ancient Greek drama was born in the city-state of Athens, one of the most significant cultural, military and political centers of ancient Greece.

Artist rendering of the ancient greek Theatre of Dionysus.
Artist’s rendering of the Theatre of Dionysus. Credit: Wikipedia/Public domain.

Around 700 BC, a part of a rite called Dionysia carried out in honor of the Greek god Dionysus was the predecessor of what we call today theater.

The three principal dramatic forms in the theater of classical Greece that flourished originally in Athens, spreading later to numerous other allied city states and colonies, were  tragedy, comedy, and satyr play (which preserves the structure and characters of tragedy while adopting a happy atmosphere and a rural background).

The principle of the Greek mathematician Archimedes

The exclamation “Eureka!” is attributed to the brilliant ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer Archimedes, who lived from 287 BC to 212 BC.

After he worked out one of the greatest experiments of all time while he was taking his bath, Archimedes uttered his famous phrase.

The brilliant polymath was the first person on Earth to realize that “the upward buoyant force that is exerted on a body immersed in a fluid, whether fully or partially submerged, is equal to the weight of the fluid that the body displaces.”

Olympic Games

The first Olympic Games can be traced back to 776 BC. The athletic competitions, which were held every four years for representatives of various city-states of ancient Greece in honor of Zeus were a celebration of the achievements of the human body. They were staged on the ancient plains of Olympia, a town in the western part of Greece’s Peloponnesian Peninsula.

ancient greek vase
Ancient Greek vase depicting a race. Credit: MatthiasKabel/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.5

Victory in the Olympic Games was one of the highest honors that could be bestowed upon a mortal, but besides a crown made of olive branches, no material reward was afforded to the winners. They were celebrated until 394 A.D. when the Games, held in honor of Zeus, were suppressed by Emperor Theodosius I in his effort to impose Christianity as the only religion of the Roman Empire.

Courts of law

The law courts in 4th and 5th centuries B.C. Athens consisted of either 200, 500, 1000 or 1500 members (+1 to avoid ties). The annual pool of jurors, which was called Heliaia, included around 6000 members.

Precinct of the ruins of Heliea, the supreme court of ancient Athens.
The ruins of Heliea, the Supreme Court of ancient Athens. Credit: Wikipedia/Public domain.

The Athenian jurors, who belonged to different social classes due to the fact that they were chosen randomly, received payment of two, and later three, obols a day. The jurors had to swear by the gods of Apollo, Zeus, and Demeter the Heliastic Oath as they were sitting on wooden benches, being separated from spectators.

Quench Your Thirst with Healthy Drinks with a Greek Twist!

Strawberry rosemary infused water recipe.
Strawberry/rosemary infused water is both beautiful to look at and very refreshing. Credit: Rawpixel Ltd/CC BY 2.0

The craze of infused water has taken the world by storm, and we have the perfect way to add a Greek twist to your infused water concoctions.

Recent studies have shown that there are many health benefits of drinking infused water such as weight loss, increased hydration and a means of detoxing.

So when you are in need of a beverage that quenches your thirst, why not choose one that is also good for you — with a Greek twist! Here are our top three picks:

1. Fresh Day Infusion

What you need: Mastiha + filtered water

Mastiha from Chios - infused water
Mastiha from Chios. Credit: Anastasios Papapostolou/Greek Reporter

One of the must-try infusions you are sure to love is infused water with mastiha from the mastic trees on Chios.

This tree resin has valuable health properties such as aiding in relieving digestive issues due to its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Mastiha resin also can help treat ulcers, help ease symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), help lower cholesterol, promote liver health, and more.

Preparation of infused water: Head to your health food store and get some mastiha resin — you can even find mastiha powder — and add some to your water and enjoy the fresh, earthy taste while reaping the health benefits.

Bonus: Add some fresh mint to your infused drink for a true Mediterranean experience!

2. Cherry Bliss Infusion

What you need: Cornelian cherries + Greek Honey + filtered water

Cornelian cherry infused water
Cornelian cherry. Credit: unsals/CC BY-SA 2.0

Another great Greek twist you can add into your infused water drink is Cornelian cherries from Drama, in northeastern Greece.

Even ancient Greeks understood that this magical fruit was a superfood and had many health benefits, as it has been farmed in Greece for over 7,000 years!

Similar to a tart cherry, Cornelian cherries have a potent astringent action and, therefore, have traditionally been used for curing diarrhea and dysentery. They are also valued in Greece for their potent tonic and restorative properties due to their elevated mineral content (such as being rich in copper, calcium, manganese, potassium and zinc content). They are also beneficial in promoting proper liver function.

Preparation of infused water: Wash them, cut them into halves, and add them to your water. If you desire to sweeten your cherry-infused water, add a teaspoon of Greek honey.

Bonus: You can also add Greek lemons to this drink for a concoction that tastes something like Cherry Coke!

3. Citrus Splash Infusion

What you need: Citron + filtered water + Peloponnese lemons + mandarins from Chios

Citron
Citron. Credit: fred_v/CC BY 2.0

Looking for citrus goodness from your infused water? Look no further than the Greek citron variety of Citrus medica which was initially cultivated throughout the Ionian Islands, particularly Naxos and Corfu, as far back as the 17th century.

What is citron? Basically, it is one of the original 4 citrus fruits (the others being: pomelo, papeda, and mandarin). This fruit is packed with health benefits and makes a great companion to your infused water drink.

Citron is valued in Greece for its abilities to prevent cancer, encourage weight loss, reduce blood pressure, lower acidity in the gut and aid in other digestive disorders, relieve pain, and strengthen the immune system — and much more.

Preparation of infused water: Just wash the fruit well with water, prick the thick skin with a knife to release the natural fruit oils, slice it, and add it to your water infusion. If you want to add extra citrus flavor, add some Greek lemons from the Peloponnese or mandarins from Chios! And, of course, you can always use some yummy Greek honey to sweeten your infused water drink.

Bonus: Add a sprig of mint or fresh thyme along with some cucumbers to this infused drink for an extra-Greek twist!

From Delphi to Google: Ancient Oracle to Modern-Day Search Engines

Oracle of Delphi
The Tholos at Delphi, Greece. Credit: Tamara Semina/CC BY-SA 3.0

In ancient Greece the people relied heavily on oracles not only to predict the future, but to reveal secret information and the answers to their deepest philosophical questions.

One of the most famous of all oracles was at Delphi, located in an enormous sacred enclosure consecrated to the god Apollo. Legend and mythology say that Delphi took its name from Delphyne, the serpent that lived there and was killed by the god Apollo. However, in other accounts, the serpent was the male serpent (drakon) called Python.

The mentally unstable Roman emperor Nero, relentlessly tried to learn the timing and circumstances of his death from the Oracle at Delphi.

The message he received was “beware of the seventy-third year,” so the emperor continued on in a false sense of security, until shortly after this omen he was killed by Galba, who happened to be 73 years old.

However, that’s certainly not the only well-known question asked of the oracle. Lead tablets reveal that the brilliant Roman orator Cicero asked the common Google search question: “How to become famous.”

Unfortunately, when Roman emperor Theodosius I ascended to power, the oracle was shut down as it was associated with pagan cults and beliefs. However, it remains a great tourist attraction until this day, as people from all over the world travel to see the ruins of Delphi and the famous Delphic oracle.

Not much has changed in human nature from the times of our ancient ancestors in many ways.

Nowadays, people also try to control the future, seek quick responses to their questions and expect that obtaining information on just about any subject should be instantaneous — like typing a question into Google’s search bar.

In reality, this is only slightly different from writing questions on lead tablets and submitting them to the Oracle of Delphi.

The modern technology that we live with today is very reminiscent of the legend of the Oracle of Delphi since it reflects the basic human need to try to control or at least anticipate the future.

The striking message that the Delphic oracle revealed in ancient days to both Croesus of Lydia and Chilon of Sparta is a message that can still speak to all humans today.

When they asked the oracle what was most important, and the best thing to know, they both received the same answer from the oracle — that you must “know thyself.” Also ascribed to Socrates, this phrase is inscribed on the stones of Delphi.

In other words, the oracle instructed people to consider what expectations and abilities they had on their own in order to best direct their own lives in the future.

Things are not always as they appear at first and people rely heavily on others to solve their problems and change their situations for them, instead of looking inward to see how they can view the world differently and play a different role in the grand scheme of things.

It seems as though the words of the wise Oracle of Delphi are as true today as they were in ancient times.

How Ancient Greeks Nurtured Healthy, Glowing Skin

healthy skin
“Discobolus,” by Myron (460-450 BC) detail. Public Domain

As admirers of beauty, ancient Greeks placed great emphasis on healthy skin and they used natural substances to keep it clean and glowing.

Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, was a prominent figure in Greek mythology, while ancient Greek statues are still admired for their perfect lines and ideal depiction of the human body.

Natural cosmetics were used widely and regularly for not only one’s physical appearance, but also for a healthy skin and body.

Precious oils, cosmetic powders, skin glosses, paints, beauty unguents, and other items were used in the Ancient Greek toilette. Ancient Greeks made their own skincare products using natural ingredients.

Homer extensively described skincare routines as part of funerary and spiritual rituals in the “Iliad.”

Must-have skincare items in ancient Greece

The three main ingredients ancient Greeks used to promote healthy, attractive complexion were olive oil, honey and yogurt. They also used fresh berries mixed with milk.

The latter was used to make face masks. The ingredients were made into a paste and then applied to the face for moisturizing and anti-aging properties.

Ancient Greeks also used olives and olive oil as exfoliants and moisturizers. On top of that, olive oil made the skin look shiny and healthy, while adding a bit of glowing color.

Honey, along with milk and yogurt was used as part of anti-aging preparations. Because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, honey also helped with certain types of acne.

Greek yogurt is also a natural moisturizer which contains probiotics, proteins, vitamins and minerals, making it great as an anti-aging mask.

Yogurt is also good for the skin, as it revitalizes dry skin and works wonders in cases of eczema.

Ancient Greek women would also use sea salt mixed with olive oil as a scrub for healthy, exfoliated skin.

The pomegranate has been a symbol of good luck, prosperity and health since ancient times. The ancient Greeks also used pomegranate juice for cleansing open pores and balancing oily skin.

Healthy skin
Strigils (left) and a kylix depicting an athlete scraping his skin with a strigil (490-480 BC). Credit: Archaeological Museum of Madrid,/VIATOR IMPERI/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

The strigil in ancient Greece and Rome

The strigil was an ancient Greek and Roman tool used to scrape oil, dirt, perspiration, and other contaminants off the skin after an athlete trained.

In Rome, gladiators would use such tools after a fight. This cleaning tool was often depicted in ancient Greek amphora and kylix paintings alongside athletes.

In ancient times, athletes would rub their entire body with olive oil before athletics or training in the gymnasium or the palestra. After their workout, they would use a strigil to scrape off the oil and dirt before entering the baths to wash.

The strigil was made of metal, mostly bronze, and was shaped like the letter J, with a looped handle at the top.

The curved end was broader and molded into a concave shape to scrape unwanted materials off the skin.

Rubbing the body with olive oil was not only used for a healthy skin but also for aesthetic reasons.

Additionally, in wrestling, athletes would throw dust over their opponents’ oily bodies, partially to increase their grip on the otherwise slippery skin.

After the competitions, these men would have to scrape these substances off their bodies using a strigil, seemingly believing that a well-scraped skin is a healthy skin.

The scraped residue was collected sometimes because fans of the athletes would be willing to buy it in the belief that if they rubbed it on their own body they would acquire the strength and bravery of the athlete.

The athlete’s or fighter’s residue was also believed to have healing properties, so it was often saved for salves.

The depictions of athletes using a strigil in amphorae and engravings were strictly of men. This particular tool was so often associated with athletes that it was sometimes also found in their tombs.

However, strigils have sometimes been found in women’s tombs as well.

 

Akrotiri, Santorini – The Bronze Age City Preserved in Volcanic Ash

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Akrotiri
The ancient settlement of Akrotiri on the Greek island of Santorini, which was frozen in time by a volcanic eruption, is still being excavated by archaeologists. Credit: Greek Reporter

Akrotiri, the 3,600-year-old city on the island of Santorini buried by ash from a gigantic volcanic eruption in 1650 BC, frozen in its Bronze Age glory, serves as an exquisite time capsule for contemporary archaeologists who learn more every day about the mysterious lives of its inhabitants.

Located on the Greek island that was at that time called Thira after the mythical ruler of the island, Theras, the ancient city was part of the Minoan civilization, which flourished there and on the nearby island of Crete.

The eruption of the island — which was originally had been called “Stronghili,” or “round” — decimated all life on the island and erased an entire city-state, which has been shown by archaeologists to have been part of the Minoan civilization.

The event was so cataclysmic that the ash cloud formed of what was left of the island of Thira circled the Earth for two years, according to ancient writers, plunging the Earth into a period of global cooling.

With its elegant three and four-story buildings edged with colored stones, resplendent public art, including frescoes, which bear witness to a highly-developed, elegant culture, this begs the question:

Was the island of Santorini the real Atlantis, the fabled city of great beauty that sank beneath the waves, the same place that Plato wrote about which was punished for its hubris, 1000 years before the Acropolis was built?

The question may never be answered to everyone’s satisfaction, but the evidence is mounting that this may just be true.

 

Shells Akrotiri
Exquisite pottery shells found in the 2020 excavations on Santorini. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

Plato, in his writings “Timaeus” and “Critias,” described the beauties of the once great and militarily powerful island, whose inhabitants became so enamored with themselves and so arrogant that the gods destroyed the city as punishment.

The brilliant Ancient Greek philosopher stated that the city once even besieged Athens itself with its naval forces, but the Athenians repelled the attack handily; the island nation was subsequently punished by the gods for its hubris, sinking under the waves of the Aegean.

A recent documentary airing on the Discovery Channel as part of its series “Blowing Up History,” says that the ancient lost city of Atlantis may indeed have been the Greek island of Santorini.

 

painted pottery Akrotiri
Finely-detailed painted potter found recently on Santorini. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

Covered by 200 feet of ash from the volcanic explosion, almost unimaginable artistic riches, showing extravagant wealth, that have been unearthed recently in Akrotiri, on the southern tip of the island, have offered up yet more tantalizing clues as to its real identity.

The city was so completely buried in volcanic ash that the remains of fine frescoes and many other artworks and objects have been well-preserved, much like what occurred later in the city of Pompeii, near Italy’s Mt. Vesuvius.

The event arresting life as it was at that moment enables us to look at the city today just as it had last been viewed by its inhabitants.

Akrotiri goat
A goat made out of gold found in 1999 at Akrotiri. Credit: Nadia Prigoda/CC BY 2.0

Much of the prehistoric city of Akrotiri had just been destroyed by an earthquake that immediately preceded the volcanic eruption.

Christos Doumas, Emeritus Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at Athens University, who has served as the director of the excavations at Akrotiri since 1975, believes that a few days passed between the earthquake and the volcanic explosion.

He says that the archaeological finds show that some people returned after the quake in order to start working on repairing their homes. Unfortunately, the temblor was just a prelude to the enormous eruption of the volcano just days afterward.

Female figure Akrotiri
A female figure uncovered at Akrotiri, Santorini may be as much as 5,000 years old. Credit: Twitter/Kaspersky

During the eruption there were strong winds from the west, scientists say; thus all the ash and fumes were transported toward the east of the island. The inhabitants most likely never had time to evacuate the whole island — and even if they had, it is doubtful that they would have survived to make it to another island over the sea in this conditions.

Significant new findings were recently revealed during ongoing excavation works at the archaeological site of Akrotiri, the Ministry of Culture of Greece announced in a statement after its 2020 excavations.

Most of the recent discoveries are related to the everyday lives of the people who lived on the island before the volcanic explosion which destroyed most of the island and may have also dealt a death blow to the Minoan civilization on Crete.

Akrotiri Excavations
The scene of the covered excavation site of Akrotiri. The Kaspersky company has funded a great deal of archaeological research at Akrotiri. Credit: Twitter/ Kaspersky

The ordinary objects used by the people of the island — even, incredibly, clothing and burned fruit — that were found in the 2020 excavations, were most likely the very last objects the people of Santorini were using in the moments before the devastating volcanic eruption.

Additionally, more than 130 vessels were found, which archaeologists believe were most likely related to a burial place.

The statement from the Ministry of Culture issued after the 2020 dig said that among the new discoveries were four vessels that were partially unearthed in earlier excavations.

Jugs Akrotiri
Earthenware jugs embedded in hardened volcanic ash were uncovered in 2018 in Akrotiri. Credit: Twitter/Kaspersky

Other findings include bronze objects, including two large double braids and miniature horn cores, as well as small fragments and beads from one or more necklaces.

Among dozens of other new findings, the Ministry of Culture noted that an inscription, consisting of Linear A syllables and an ideogram, was found written in ink on an object which is most likely related to the use of a building, also uncovered in the dig.

The Ministry of Culture concluded by saying that scientists expect many additional smaller and larger findings to be uncovered in the next phases of the works, which continue at the Akrotiri site.

Frescoes Santorini
Frescoes uncovered piece by piece at Akrotiri. Work is still ongoing at Akrotiri thanks to the Kaspersky corporation, which has funded a great deal of the research there in recent years. Credit: Twitter/Kaspersky

The island’s culture flourished 3,000 years ago before its inhabitants were so violently killed by the volcanic eruption — but researchers say its civilization had been in existence for thousands of years prior to that time.

Since its discovery in the mid-19th century, more and more paintings, objects and buildings have been uncovered, each one pointing to an extremely advanced and wealthy civilization.

The new documentary states: “Clues to this connection can be found in the incredible frescoes that decorate the walls of every home.”

The frescoes found at Akrotiri are especially important in the study of Minoan art because they are so much better preserved than those at Knossos and other sites on Crete, which have nearly all survived only in small fragments, usually fallen to the ground.

 

Civilization at Thira Flourished for Thousands of Years Before Eruption

The Discovery Channel’s new film lends new credence to the theory that the island of Santorini may indeed be the location of the fabled city.

Protected now by state-of-the-art roofing, researchers continue to unearth more treasures from the past which were buried at Akrotiri, much like at Pompeii, preserving a civilization and traces of a people that have been lost forever.

Just as Plato described, “These vibrant paintings depict a paradise full of swirling colours, flowers and exotic animals. They capture a snapshot of the locals. They are evidence of a highly sophisticated and wealthy civilization,” the Discovery channel historians say.

Although no other writers of that time — or admittedly at any other time — described Atlantis, Plato’s words have lived on in history, and thousands of historians have tried to pinpoint the exact location of the wealthy island that was seen as a paradise on earth.

Akrotiri fresco
A detail of a fresco from the “Saffron Gatherers”, located in the “Xeste 3” building at Akrotiri. It is one of many depicting saffron, all found at the Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

However, the fact that it disappeared nearly instantly after the cataclysmic eruption of the ancient volcano “leads many to believe Santorini is the lost island of Atlantis,” according to the documentary.

“In its prime,” the film states, “its narrow streets are intricately paved with stone and its town square is lined with picturesque houses which tower three and four stories high. An array of colorful stones decorate the facades.

“The ruins suggest a highly sophisticated civilization flourished here for thousands of years before its abrupt end.”

Fresco Akrotiri
Minoan fresco from Room 5 of the “West House” at Akrotiri. Credit: Dirk Herdemerten: Die Wandmalereien von Thera(santorini)/Public Domain

The film shows how the island was struck by a volcanic eruption, as described by Plato.

The gigantic eruption, which is considered to be one of the largest in the last several thousand years, created 20-mile-high cloud that rained ash on lands as far away as Egypt – 200 miles from Santorini.

“Ancient writers described how the ash cloud plunges the world into darkness, causing a global winter for two years,” the narrator says.

The blast was so enormous that it used up almost the entire mountain’s land mass, creating a huge caldera inside the “arms” of Santorini, as the remains form a giant crescent shape.

table Akrotiri
A plaster cast of an ornate wooden table used for offerings that was encased in ash from the eruption in 1650 BC, found in Akrotiri. Credit: Olaf Tausch /CC BY 3.0

The shape of the island was instantly changed forever after the fateful blast, with the entire seven-mile diameter of the caldera an active volcano even now, although it has been filled in by seawater.

More than 3,000 years afterward, the fascination about the possibility that the original island may actually be the lost Atlantis continues to intrigue archaeologists and historians today.

Akrotiri was uncovered by Greek archaeologist Spyros Marinatos in 1967. Ever since then, it has been one of the world’s largest ongoing excavation projects. Whether or not Santorini is the lost island of Atlantis, its treasures show the staggering beauty and great elegance of a now-lost civilization.

Admittedly, Plato is known to have borrowed some of his stories, allegories and metaphors from older oral traditions, and it may never be demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that Santorini is the same storied island that sank beneath the waves.

Still, it seems that there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence that this fantastically wealthy island — with its paved streets, beautifully-decorated homes and luxuries of every kind — just may be the same Atlantis that has gone down in history and folklore.

The Ancient Greek Origins of Werewolves

king Lycaon the first Werewolve
In the Greek texts, the king Lycaon is punished for misdeeds by being turned into a wolf in ancient Greece. Credit: Wikimedia/Public domain.

The oldest trace of man-to-wolf transformation dates back to 2100 BC. But the werewolf as we now know it first appeared in ancient Greece.

By Tanika Koosmen

The werewolf is a staple of supernatural fiction, whether it be film, television, or literature. You might think this snarling creature is a creation of the Medieval and Early Modern periods, a result of the superstitions surrounding magic and witchcraft.

In reality, the werewolf is far older than that. The earliest surviving example of man-to-wolf transformation is found in The Epic of Gilgamesh from around 2,100 BC. However, the werewolf as we now know it first appeared in ancient Greece and Rome, in ethnographic, poetic and philosophical texts.

The Werewolf in ancient Greece

These stories of a transformed beast are usually mythological, although some have a basis in local histories, religions and cults. In 425 BC, the ancient Greek historian Herodotus described the Neuri, a nomadic tribe of magical men who changed into wolf shapes for several days of the year. The Neuri were from Scythia, the land that is now part of Russia. Using wolf skins for warmth is not outside the realm of possibility for inhabitants of such a harsh climate: this is likely the reason Herodotus described their practice as “transformation”.

The werewolf myth became integrated with the local history of Arcadia, a region of Greece. Here, Zeus was worshipped as Lycaean Zeus (“Wolf Zeus”). In 380 BC, Greek philosopher Plato told a story in the Republic about the “protector-turned-tyrant” of the shrine of Lycaean Zeus. In this short passage, the character Socrates remarks: “The story goes that he who tastes of the one bit of human entrails minced up with those of other victims is inevitably transformed into a wolf.”

Literary evidence suggests cult members mixed human flesh into their ritual sacrifice to Zeus. Both Pliny the Elder and Pausanias discuss the participation of a young athlete, Damarchus, in the Arcadian sacrifice of an adolescent boy: when Damarchus was compelled to taste the entrails of the young boy, he was transformed into a wolf for nine years.

In a grisly turn, recent archaeological evidence suggests that human sacrifice may indeed have been practiced at this site.

Monsters and men

The most interesting aspect of Plato’s passage concerns the “protector-turned-tyrant”, also known as the mythical king, Lycaon. Expanded further in Latin texts, most notably Hyginus’ Fabulae and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Lycaon’s story contains all the elements of a modern werewolf tale: immoral behavior, murder and cannibalism.

werewolf
An ancient greek vase depicting a man in a wolf skin, circa 460 BC. Credit: Wikimedia/Public domain.

In Fabulae, the sons of Lycaon sacrificed their youngest brother to prove Zeus’ weakness. They served the corpse as a pseudo-feast and attempting to trick the god into eating it. A furious Zeus slayed the sons with a lightning bolt and transformed their father into a wolf. In Ovid’s version, Lycaon murdered and mutilated a protected hostage of Zeus, but suffered the same consequences.

Ovid’s passage is one of the only ancient sources that goes into detail on the act of transformation. His description of the metamorphosis uses haunting language that creates a correlation between Lycaon’s behaviour and the physical manipulation of his body:

…He tried to speak, but his voice broke into
an echoing howl. His ravening soul infected his jaws;
his murderous longings were turned on the cattle; he still was possessed
by bloodlust. His garments were changed to a shaggy coat and his arms
into legs. He was now transformed into a wolf.

Ovid’s Lycaon is the origin of the modern werewolf, as the physical manipulation of his body hinges on his prior immoral behavior. It is this that has contributed to the establishment of the “monstrous werewolf” trope of modern fiction.

Lycaon’s character defects are physically grafted onto his body, manipulating his human form until he becomes that which his behavior suggests. And, perhaps most importantly, Lycaon begins the idea that to transform into a werewolf you must first be a monster.

The idea that there was a link between biology (i.e. appearance) and “immoral” behavior developed fully in the late 20th century. However, minority groups were more often the target than mythical kings. Law enforcement, scientists and the medical community joined forces to find “cures” for socially deviant behaviour such as criminality, violence and even homosexuality. Science and medicine were used as a vehicle through which bigotry and fear could be maintained, as shown by the treatment of HIV-affected men throughout the 1980s.

However, werewolf stories show the idea has ancient Greek origins. For as long as authors have been changing bad men into wolves, we have been looking for the biological link between man and action.

Tanika Koosmen is a PhD Candidate, University of Newcastle. This article was published at The Conversation and is republished under a Creative Commons License.

Ozone Hole Over South Pole Has Become Larger than Antarctica

Ozone layer
A visualization of the hole in the ozone layer around the South Pole. Credit: Stuart Rankin, CC BY-NC 2.0

The hole in the ozone layer that reemerges with the changing of the seasons has now grown larger than the size of Antarctica.

Scientists from the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service announced on Thursday that the hole has grown “considerably” in the last week, and is now bigger than 75% of past years’ holes since 1979 — and is now even larger than the continent it blankets.

Every spring, the ozone depletes so much it becomes a hole over the Antarctic (the Southern Hemisphere’s spring is between August and October.) The hole is at its largest in the period between mid-September and mid-October.

Copernicus Monitoring Service says that hole in the ozone layer larger than ever

“Our forecasts show that this year’s hole has evolved into a rather larger than usual one,” said Vincent-Henri Peuch, the director of Copernicus.

The ozone layer, which floats 9 to 22 miles over the Earth, serves the purpose of protecting the planet from ultraviolet radiation. The cause of the hole has been attributed to the presence of chemicals like chlorine and bromine in the stratosphere, creating catalytic reactions during the region’s winter.

The hole is part of the Antarctic polar vortex, a sequence of cold air that passes across the planet. When temperatures in the stratosphere get warmer in the Antarctic spring, the ozone depletion begins to become apparent, and the polar vortex diminishes and breaks down. Ozone levels typically stabilize by December.

Copernicus has been watching the ozone layer with sophisticated satellite and computer modeling technology, and the monitoring service says that the area seems to be slowly recovering — but that it will not fully recover until the 2060s or 2070s.

This is due to the amount of time it takes for the elimination of chlorofluorocarbons, the chemicals that cause the hole, to have a lasting effect on the environment. The chemicals, which were initially regulated by the landmark Montreal Protocol first signed in 1987, are expected to be entirely eliminated by 2030.

The Climate Crisis has grown undeniable

The climate crisis has become increasingly undeniable, with recent extreme weather events and scientific reports pointing to the severity of the issue.

Now the world’s Christian leaders have united to warn of the “catastrophic consequences” of climate change, saying now is a “critical moment” for the planet’s future.

Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, released the joint statement ahead of November’s Cop26 climate summit.

In their first-ever joint statement, the three clerics urged people to play their part in “choosing life” for the planet and called on leaders to make decisions that will allow a transition to “just and sustainable economies.”

They also warned of the urgency of environmental sustainability and the impact climate change has on poverty, urging global co-operation on the issue.

The statement said: “We call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behaviour and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us.

“This is the first time that the three of us feel compelled to address together the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on persistent poverty, and the importance of global cooperation,” it added.

EUMED 9 Summit Tackles Climate Change, Immigration Challenges

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EUMED 9
The nine leaders of the European Mediterranean countries met together in Athens. Credit: Prime Minister GR/Twitter

Leaders from nine Mediterranean nations held a summit in Athens called the EUMED 9 on Friday afternoon to address issues such as climate change, migration, Turkey and Afghanistan, among others.

The EUMED 9 enabled representatives from Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus, Slovenia and Croatia to speak together on these pressing matters with European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen.

Greece, the host nation of the summit, experienced devastating fires just last month, when the island of Evia, along with many sites on the mainland and the Peloponnese, went up in flames, fanned by an ongoing drought and sweltering temperatures.

EUMED 9 Summit Tackles Climate Change, Immigration, Turkey, International Security

The first topic in the spotlight will be climate change and the damage it is inflicting across the European continent.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated at the time that the August fires were due to climate change. After taking responsibility for what some believe was the mismanagement of the fires, he promised to prioritize the environment in his future decisions.

Before the meeting, Mitsotakis had stated that at the end of the EUMED 9 a joint statement will have been worked out “which sets out clearly the priorities of all countries of the European Mediterranean toward climate change.”

In an address to the assembly at the beginning of the afternoon PM Mitsotakis told attendees that they would be discussing “Peace, security and stability in the Mediterranean, our European Agenda and the new agenda for the Mediterranean in the context of the southern dimension of the European Neighborhood Policy.”

Later, he said “we will have an opportunity to discuss current international affairs, highlighting Afghanistan, cyberthreats, terrorism, new alliances that have been affecting us all, and our deliberations will help us reach a common ground on issues that are of vital importance to all of us.”

He noted that Italy and Spain and Portugal heavily impacted by wildfires in the past several years.

“(The climate initiative) is absolutely the right move at the right time because we all see that climate change is heavily affecting the Mediterranean region,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who also joined the summit.

All of the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris accord–the international climate treaty global leaders must adhere to to fight greenhouse gas emissions.

With Southern Europe at the epicenter of illegal immigration since 2015, when the first waves of the most recent immigrants came ashore from Turkey, migration was another vital topic of discussion at Friday’s meeting.

Not only Greece, but Italy, Spain and Malta as well have been the destinations for people who have many times been smuggled into the European Union.

Greece is particularly vulnerable to illegal immigration, with its islands dotting the eastern Aegean lying close to the coast of Turkey.

Since the summer of 2015, more than one million people crossed over the sea, some fleeing the carnage of the Syrian war but many others taking advantage of EU policies allowing them into the bloc if they applied for asylum.

The situation came to another head in the Spring of 2020, when Greece’s Evros border with Turkey became the flashpoint for illegal immigration into the EU when busloads of people were taken to the border from inside Turkey who tried to violently force their way across the border.

“One thing is sure: We will not allow a repeat of the uncontrolled migration that we experienced in 2015,” Mitsotakis said at the talks.

Already dealing with the influx of existing immigrants, Greece took a stand recently after the Taliban took over power in Afghanistan. Making it known that it would not be accepting masses of expected Afghan immigrants asking for asylum, Immigration officials stated at the outset that the country could not receive any Afghans from this new wave.

Greece has strengthened its borders, adding technological improvements and using larger foot patrols to fend off any possible overland or oversea migrant movements.

Turkey’s part in destabilizing the eastern Mediterranean, with its repeated incursions into sea territory that belongs to Cyprus and Greece in its search for oil and gas, and its purported role in fostering large-scale illegal immigration and human smuggling, was also on the table at the EUMED 9 Summit.

Misotakis applauded a joint statement from the other nations that called on Turkey to “abstain, in a consistent and permanent manner, from provocations or unilateral actions in breach of international law” in regards to their search for oil and gas in the Mediterranean.