We are all aware of the challenging times Greece is presently facing. That is why we developed the Ideas4Greece campaign. We believe this is the best way to initiate a global discussion and bring awareness to the issues of a country we all cherish so much. We call you and all members of the Greek diaspora from all corners of the world to share your idea on how to help Greece by answering this question: “if you had the power to change something in the country what would it be?”. Upload your video (up to 2 minutes) stating your idea (please feel free to post a youtube response to our Ideas4Greece video), via twitter, Facebook or by leaving a comment on this page. Greece needs us so lets be there for her. Show your support and share you thoughts on how Greece can thrive again. Let your voice be heard and inspire others to speak up for a good cause.
Until now we have had the participation of many prominent Greeks:
The idea for this campaign was born while attending the NIC 2010 conference in Chicago. The campaign is presented by renowned Greek actor Alexis Georgoulis who is depicted as a man tied up with his mouth taped while he sits watching the Ideas4Greece. Meanwhile he is tormented by his good and bad self and becomes more and more anxious. Finally he succumbs to the urge to break free and have a voice and he escapes from the ropes and tears of the tape from his mouth. He wants to be heard too. What are you waiting for?
Fans of “Maestro in Blue”, the acclaimed Greek television series, have even more content to look forward to, as the series’ creator, Christoforos Papakaliatis, all but confirmed that season two will be coming to Netflix
When the series was first picked up by Netflix earlier this month, it became the first-ever exclusive worldwide distribution deal for a Greek scripted television series on the streaming platform.
“Maestro in Blue” was originally created for Mega TV by Papakaliatis, who also stars in the series.
Christoforos Papakaliatis hints at Season Two of “Maestro in Blue”
“Getting ready!!! Production meeting for Maestro in Blue season 2,” posted the series creator and star on his Instagram profile. The Instagram post was accompanied by a video that showed the production team at work in the studio, as well as various shots of the season two script.
Although Netflix has not yet officially confirmed that it would be renewing “Maestro in Blue” for season two, Papakaliatis’ social media post is sending a very strong signal to fans that they can indeed look forward to a second season of the popular show.
Papakaliatis has hinted at season two’s release before. In a recent interview with Alpha TV, he stated that the filming of the second series of Maestro will begin on April 1 at the latest and will take place in Athens and Paxos.
He also revealed that there will be some new faces in the cast. He said that the second series will be the last, and that it will be screened first on Greek TV and later on Netflix.
The first season debuted on Netflix just a few weeks ago on Friday, March 17th, 2023. The television series has had a very strong reception with audiences and holds a 97% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.4 rating on IMDB.
At the time of season one’s release, Papakaliatis said ”I hold Maestro very close to my heart and I feel deeply honored and happy that this story will travel around the world through Netflix. I’m looking forward to this journey.”
Story and production
“Maestro in Blue” is produced by MEGA TV, created by Christoforos Papakaliatis, and stars: Christoforos Papakaliatis, Haris Alexiou, Maria Kavoyianni, Fanis Mouratidis, Marisa Triantafyllidou, Giannis Tsortekis, Antinoos Albanis, Stefania Goulioti, Klelia Andriolatou, Orestis Halkias and Giorgos Benos.
The television series is set in Greece on the island of Paxos. The island actually has an interesting history, which includes naval battles, pirates, and a succession of foreign rulers. Even though it is smaller than, and not as well-known as, Corfu and Lefkada, which are also in the Ionian Sea, Paxos is very beautiful.
It follows a musician named Orestis, played by Papakaliatis, who travels to the small Greek island during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to set up a music festival from scratch.
Confronted with the small society of the island, he finds himself involved in a passionate love story that acts as a catalyst for the manifestation of all the social problems that plague an entire group of people. The characters, being connected to one another, are therefore complicit in the developments.
Speaking about the series in September 2022, Papakaliatis said, “I am very proud of this project because I think that artistically it is a unique moment, not only for me, but for everyone who was involved.”
“I am extremely lucky, because thanks to these actors, the story of ‘Maestro’ acquired meaning and substance. To me that matters. To be able to tell your story in the best possible way and for it to make sense,” Papakaliatis further added.
“The photography, the music, the editing, the cameras and all the collaborators, have all given their best in order to make a project in our language, which will also be able to stand worldwide,” he said.
The coronation of a new titular king, descendant of Porus the Provincial Governor (Satrap) of Alexander the Great, will take place at India’s Kangra fort.
Alexander the Great and king Porus are two important names in the history of Ancient India. Porus was defeated by Alexander and made a Satrap of the huge Macedonian Empire. When Alexander left India, neither his Greek Satraps nor Porus and his descendants could withstand the rise of growing Mauryan power and were soon either decimated or made subservient to the Mauryan emperor.
The descendants of Porus carved a kingdom for themselves in the Himalayas, in a region that is now the state of Himachal Pradesh in India, a kingdom which came to be called the princely state of Kangra. Greek geographer Ptolemy mentioned Kangra in his works as Kalindarine. Kangra Fort was Porus’ capital city, also known as Raja Parmanand Chandra of the Katoch royal family.
On Thursday March 29, 2023, after almost 400 years, Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra fort will witness the coronation ceremony of the 489th titular king of the erstwhile royal family of the region. Aishwarya Chandra Katoch, who is being crowned, is the descendant of Porus, the Satrap of Alexander.
Alexander in India
Alexander the Great, after winning the battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum) in 326 BC, asked the defeated king Porus “How would you like to be treated?” Porus said “Treat me as a King would treat another King!” So Alexander not only restored his territory to Porus but also added the neighbouring region beyond the Chenab river, that belonged to the ‘Glausians’, and as far as the Ravi river, where the younger Porus had risen in revolt when his uncle had been honoured by Alexander. The total area of the new territory given to Porus was almost 85 thousand square miles.
As per Brig Arvind Dhananjayan (Retd) of the Indian Army, Alexander made Porus his Satrap (Greek for Governor). There were many other independent tribes between the Ravi and the Hyphasis (Beas) rivers. Porus accompanied Alexander on his campaigns and helped him with the elephants; his troops also helped Alexander crush the Kathaioi. After a great siege, Sangala, stronghold of the Cathaeans, was captured and razed to the ground.
Alexander advanced as far as the Hyphasis, but this was the farthest extent of his conquests in India. The conquest of areas beyond that was done by Indo-Greeks like Demetrius and Menander. But the conquest of this region of India by Alexander had its effects.Alexander founded two cities: Nicaea (Greek for Victory) and Alexandria Bucephalus, to honor his favorite horse, which still exist in what is now Pakistan. As per Brig D. S. Sarao of Tibri, a military cantonment of the Indian Army, there is a connection between ‘Tibri’ and the Greek word ‘Tibor’. He surmises that the Greek army had camped somewhere near present day Tibri and the name ‘Tibri’ is courtesy of the Greeks.
Alexander Became a Relative of Katoch Family?
It is also believed that Alexander was married to one of the daughters of Porus, and that the son of Porus took a cousin of Alexander’s in marriage. A temple built for the Greek queen still stands at the point from which Alexander retreated – Indora, Himachal Pradesh.
As per another legend, Alexander’s wife had heard of the Rakhi festival (in which festival, celebrated by Hindus, sisters tie a thread called Rakhi on the wrist of their brothers and ask for their protection), so she approached King Porus, who accepted her as his sister. Accordingly, when the opportunity to kill Alexander came during the war, he spared him. And so Raksha Bandhan helped retain Puru as a Macedonian satrap, and might just have saved Alexander’s life.
The Katoch Family
In the Mahabharata,one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India in Hinduism, we find mention of the family Porus belonged to: they are referred to as Trigarta and Raja (King) Susarma Chandra, and fought against Arjuna, the brave warrior and friend of Krishna.
Maharaja Jai Chandra of this dynasty is credited with the formation of the Dogra Regiment, currently a part of the Indian Army. During the First World War, Maharaja Sir Jai Chandra supplied 1000 recruits and contributed generously to the war loan and the Red Cross. Rani Chandresh Kumari of this dynasty is a politician who has been associated with India’s Congress party. Rani Chandresh Kumari’s son Mr. Aishwarya Chandra Katoch, descendant of Porus, Satrap of Alexander the Great, will be proclaimed the 489th titular king of the erstwhile royal family Katoch of Kangra.
Using an amateur metal detector, an Australian man discovered a large gold nugget in Victoria’s goldfields. The nugget is nearly 250,000 AUD ($160,000) in value and weighs 4.6kg.The discovery was made in the “golden triangle” area between Bendigo, Ballarat, and St. Arnaud.
After finding the nugget, the man took it to a prospecting store in Geelong. He asked the store owner if he thought it was worth 10,000 AUD ($6,675). However, when the owner held the nugget, he immediately knew it was worth much more.
He estimated it to be worth around 100,000 AUD. The prospector then revealed that he had only brought half of the nugget with him and that the other half was at his residence.
Gold nugget named “Lucky Strike.”
The prospecting store owner valued the complete gold nugget at 240,000 AUD due to the current high gold prices. The nugget contains 83 ounces of gold, making it a very rare find in today’s terms.
The prospector was “incredibly” lucky, given that he used a low-cost detector worth only 1,200 AUD ($800). The store owner said that if the nugget had been any deeper than 12 inches underground, only a more expensive machine would have detected it.
He then purchased the nugget from the prospector and named it “Lucky Strike.” He also confirmed that the gold was interconnected throughout the rock with a multimeter test.
Amateur gold digger strikes it rich in Australia's "Golden Triangle," finding a massive 4.6kg gold nugget worth $160k – CNN
Undiscovered gold weighing up to 75 million ounces could be hiding across central and north-central Victorian goldfields, according to the Geological Survey of Victoria. This is compared to the 80 million ounces that have been mined from the area since the gold rush days.
The president of the Bendigo branch of the Prospectors and Miners Association of Victoria, Lynnie Hindle, noted that discovering a big nugget often sparks a new gold rush.
She added that gold prospecting has gained popularity, with 50,000 people currently holding a miner’s right in Victoria. Without this license, any gold found belongs to the crown, so it’s essential to obtain one. The license costs 25.50 AUD and is valid for ten years.
Ian Holland, who has 40 years of experience in professional gold mining and is the president of the Ballarat branch of the association, said that not much gold is being found, but more people are searching for it than ever before.
He added that he used to see one car per week when driving around looking for gold in crown land, but now he sees five cars a day. The increase in gold prospectors has been significant.
Lucky Strike is not the largest nugget ever found in the country. The title belongs to “the Welcome Stranger,” which was discovered in 1869 near Moliagul, Victoria. The nugget yielded 2,300 ounces of gold.
If you happen to travel to Greece during the period leading up to Easter, you will see menus and food posters that are slightly different than usual. This is the period of the Great Lent, which is very important for the Orthodox Church. In Greece it is called “sarakosti”, meaning “of forty days”.
Exactly forty days before Easter, no animal products or derivatives of them can be consumed by those who practice the fast properly.
That is why on the streets all over Greece you will find signs of taverns and restaurants displaying their “νηστισιμο” (nistìsimo) menu, which means suitable for the dietary restrictions of Lent.
The rule is quite simple
No animals containing blood can be eaten, in fact, the only animal protein sources are derived from shellfish and crustaceans, which do not contain blood. In addition, eggs, milk and cheese are prohibited.
Oil is also disallowed, on Wednesdays and Fridays, although this is a rule followed only by the most faithful. Still, the most faithful and traditionalists also follow these restrictions throughout the year, on Wednesdays and Fridays, while Easter Lent is followed by many more people.
Why oil is forbidden during the Great Lent, but olives are not
Behind this detail also lies the entire explanation of nistìa (lent).
According to the explanations of the Orthodox church fathers, oil is not banned because of its essence, its objective nature. Rather, it is a rule that is imposed to make our meals during Lent simpler, poorer. The use of oil provides for our meals to be richer, more articulate, and characterized by culinary preparations.
In the Greek language, the term “λαδερά” (laderà: oily), denotes cooked foods, rich in flavors released through cooking.
In fact, the essence of the food prohibitions in the 40 days leading up to Easter is to make man as simple as possible, and his habits poorer.
Moreover, not everyone knows that the word “νηστεια” comes from two words “νη” + “εστια”: that is, “no” (νη) + “cooking” (εστια). This means that in addition to abstaining from what contains blood and animal by-products, the goal of Lent is to deprive ourselves of those little sins of gluttony found on tables every day.
As a private chef and consultant who also works with the Greek market, I have to be prepared and creative during Lent as well. The preparation and production of dishes for nistia is a very rewarding challenge for everyone in the business.
So today I bring you one of my recipes, perfect for this period of limitations, but not backing down in terms of material quality and final flavors.
Sautéed octopus and savoy cabbage roulade with seasoned creamed potatoes and beer sauce
A simple and tasty recipe that may seem difficult but is very easy to create. A dish that also leaves a lot of room for your own interpretations on seasonings and accompaniments.
Let’s start with cooking the octopus. I prefer the frozen one, because the process of blasting the matter makes it softer after cooking, without that unpleasant “rubbery” effect.
Fill a pot with cold water and set to heat on the stove.
In the water add:
the white onion cut in half
2 bay leaves
a small sprig of rosemary
1 tablespoon of coarse table salt
2 tablespoons vinegar/ or lemon juice
Let the liquid come to a boil, then add in octopus, close the lid and let it cook for 45 minutes per pound of octopus (or 35 ounces), on low heat.
When the time is up I recommend letting the octopus cool in its water; although it will take longer, it will tend to stay softer.
Meanwhile, let’s prepare the rolls
Flake the savoy cabbage and rinse the leaves under cold running water to wash them properly. Once washed and dried, cook them in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. We don’t want them soft and overcooked; we want to feel the texture of the vegetable. Once blanched, drain and dry them well.
Separately, boil the potatoes, peeled and diced, in plenty of salted water until soft. Drain them well and put them in a container where we are going to prepare the filling for the rolls.
Mash the potatoes until you create a puree, and add:
the roughly chopped olives
2 teaspoons fine salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
chopped thyme, rosemary and sage
1 tablespoon of octopus cooking water
Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.
Once we have the stuffing, let’s go create rolls with the blanched cabbage. Use the burrito method (I’ll explain it now). Spread the stuffing in the center of the leaf, fold the right and left sides in and squish the stuffing in. Finally roll up starting from the bottom, making sure to keep everything compact. Then set aside to rest.
Finally, we prepare an accompanying sauce
This will accentuate the sea flavor in the dish. We will use octopus water, which is rich in flavor and natural collagen, as a base.
Place in a small saucepan:
3 cups of octopus cooking water
½ cup of beer
1 teaspoon of tomato paste
Let it reduce over a very low flame until half the initial amount is left. You can also reduce the liquid more, resulting in a thicker sauce, be careful with the intensity of the flavor though!!! Now we will have an octopus reduction with a very intense flavor.
Adjust salt, pepper and add chili pepper to suit your taste. This step will have to be done at the end of cooking to avoid the flavors becoming too accentuated during the liquid reduction.
My advice is to let the sauce cool completely and let it rest overnight in the refrigerator. In fact you can cook it all the day before at leisure, and serve this delicious dish the next day.
Serving the dish
Sauté the octopus in a pan with a drizzle of oil so that the outer skin becomes crispy, creating a better texture.
Do the same process with the rolls. This time, however, I recommend that you apply a tiny bit of pressure so that the cabbage seals well and keeps the inside warm and creamy for a long time.
Finally, heat the sauce in a saucepan or microwave and serve it to your diners
During the meeting, the latest developments regarding the country’s ongoing armament program were also discussed, it added.
Israeli missiles can reach 32 kilometers
Spike NLOS is a multi-purpose, electro-optical/infrared missile system. Its advanced rocket motor provides the capability to reach ranges up to 32 kilometers.
Operators can integrate Spike NLOS with ground, aviation or maritime platforms – while leveraging its stand-off capability to strike distant or geographically concealed targets without line-of-sight.
The weapon’s seeker and wireless datalink provide operators with real-time video imagery and man-in-the-loop control throughout the missile’s flight. This provides operators with the opportunity to alter or abort the mission while en route to the target.
The missiles are produced by Israeli defense manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Rafael develops and produces weapons, military, and defense technologies for the Israel Defense Forces and for export abroad. All current projects are classified.
Rafael has teamed with Lockheed Martin to offer the weapon system to U.S. customers. Today, this combat-proven, long-range precision strike system is in service with U.S. forces and six international countries.
Greece boosts defense with Israeli missiles
Greece recently signed multiple big-ticket arms agreements, including a deal for drones from Israel, Rafale jets from France, and upgrades to its F-16 fleet from the US.
Athens also approached Washington for the potential purchase of at least 20 F-35 stealth aircraft, and Berlin for the update of its Leopard 2 tank fleet and purchases of Lynx armored vehicles.
A recent report by NATO showed that Greece has the highest defense spending as a percentage of GDP among all allies, including the US.
According to NATO’s Annual Report for 2022 presented in Brussels by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Greece is estimated to have spent 7.44 billion euros on defense last year ($8.01 billion).
This represents 3.54 percent of GDP. The US is in second place with a defense expenditure of 3.46 percent of GDP. Lithuania, Poland, the United Kingdom, Estonia, and Latvia follow. Greece and the above 6 countries have achieved the NATO guideline of 2 percent of GDP on defense. Turkey has only spent 1.37 percent of its GDP on defense.
Greece has seen a spectacular rise in its defense expenditure since 2019 when the conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis assumed power and vowed to modernize its armed forces to improve the balance of power in the Aegean.
Previously, years of austerity had kept defense expenditure in Greece low.
Defense expenditure in 2019 was 4,483 billion euros, in 2020 4,812 billion, and gradually increased to 6,764 billion in 2021 and 7,445 billion in 2022.
Travel in 2070 will be so much different than today, a report from Europe’s leading futurists and experts from the worlds of aerospace, innovation and engineering says.
easyJet 2070: The Future Travel Report makes predictions about how travel might look in fifty years’ time, from choosing and booking your holiday to how the airport and flight experience may be transformed, and also looking at the accommodation people might stay in and the activities they could enjoy from travel in the 2070s.
Biomimetic sensory plane seats, optoelectronic inflight entertainment beamed directly to passengers’ eyes and digital personal holiday concierges will be the norm by then.
As the experts who compiled this report show, the rapid advancement of new technology will be the driver for the next generation of travel over the coming half-century.
easyJet 2070: The Future Travel Report highlights:
Among the highlights of the report are:
Heartbeat and biometric passports will replace the traditional passport, for passengers to breeze through the airport. Much like fingerprints and the retina, every person’s cardiac signature is unique. Passengers’ heartbeat signatures and biometric details will be logged on a global system in the same way fingerprint scanning technology works today.
Ergonomic and biomimetic sensory plane seats will become the norm, with smart materials adapting to passengers’ body shape, height, weight, and temperature, providing the ultimate tailored comfort flying experience.
Inflight entertainment will be beamed directly in front of passenger’s eyes, via optoelectronic devices, replacing the need for onboard screens or downloading movies before you fly.
e-VTOL air taxis will do away with the airport car park shuttle – the journey to the airport will be quicker and more convenient than ever before with 85% of passengers arriving by e-VTOLs from their homes to the terminal.
As technology advances, we will see significant advances in the accommodation experience abroad:
3D printed hotel buffet food will allow holidaymakers to 3D print whatever they want to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner while reducing food waste.
Subterranean hotels, super energy efficient and at one with the environment, will be built into the fabric of the earth.
All hotel rooms will be smart rooms with beds already pre-made to exactly desired firmness and ambient temperature, and favourite music playing based upon preferences you select in advance of booking the holiday.
A holographic personal holiday concierge will accompany holidaymakers to provide up-to-date destination information and assistance throughout their stay.
3D printed, recyclable holiday clothes on arrival at the hotel will remove the need for suitcases and fast holiday fashion, as travellers can print the clothes required in their hotel rooms, tailored to their perfect fit and style, and recycle the materials for the next guest to enjoy.
Human-powered hotels will harvest energy from their guests’ footsteps in order to generate power
Innovations in destination will be on offer to travellers:
‘Time-travelling’ holiday experiences – tomorrow’s travellers will be able to holiday in the past by wearing haptic suits at historical sites that enable them to immerse themselves in live historical surroundings, marvelling at wonders of the ancient world like the Colossus of Rhodes during a stroll in Rhodes Town, or cheering among the crowds of the original Olympic Games in Ancient Greece.
Try before you buy – bionic and Meta holiday previews ahead of going on holiday that allow you to experience locations before booking your holiday
Underwater ‘sea-faris’ – aquatic adventures on board submarines for tourists deep beneath the sea discovering marine life in underwater marine parks
Local language in-ear devices will be available to take on holiday to translate the local language in real-time and enable us to speak the local lingo
E-foiling, cable skiing and flyboarding will become the norm on offer for rent on the beach front, truly taking water sports to another level.
The truth is that we do not know exactly what Leonidas told his troops. None survived the last day to tell the tale—other than a messenger who was sent back to Sparta and, of course, the traitor who gave away Leonidas’ position to the enemy.
The Spartans were facing annihilation at the hands of hundreds of thousands of Persians at Thermopylae. The morning before the final Persian assault, Leonidas gathered all the standing comrades in arms and tried to raise their morale.
By fighting to the bitter end, he hoped that he would delay the advance of the Persians into the rest of Greece; his great sacrifice succeeded in the end with the eventual defeat of the Persians at Salamis.
Sparta will be remembered for what we do here, today
“A thousand, two thousand, three thousand years from now,” Leonidas may have declared, “men a hundred generations yet unborn may for their private purposes make journey to our country [of Sparta].”
“They will come, scholars perhaps, or travelers from beyond the sea, prompted by curiosity regarding the past or appetite for knowledge of the ancients,” he said, and “they will peer out across our plain and probe among the stone and rubble of our nation. What will they learn of us?”
The epic novel of the battle of Thermopylae, first published in 1999, has been featured on the reading list of the Commandant of the US Marine Corps.
It is taught at West Point, the United States Naval Academy, and at the Marine Corps’ Basic Training School. The novel stresses the literary themes of fate and irony as well as the military themes of honor, duty, stoicism, and esprit de corps.
Shortly after the release of the novel, George Clooney’s production company, Maysville Pictures, acquired the rights for the film. David Self was brought on to write the screenplay, and Michael Mann was set to direct.
The film suffered a troubled production, however. Mann left the project, citing creative differences, and it was later put on hold due to lukewarm critical reception for historical fiction films such as Troy, Alexander, and King Arthur.
After the release and success of 300, a film also based on the Battle of Thermopylae, plans for the Gates of Fire adaptation were completely scrapped.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a rescue took place when nine miners were saved from a collapsed mound of earth by a rescuer who used only his bare hands. The incident was caught on video and has since gone viral.
The footage shows the rescuer removing soil from the unstable mound, revealing one by one the muddied miners who emerged from a hole in the ground. Throughout the rescue, the rescuer was clearly anxious, as parts of the mound crumbled during his efforts.
However, all the miners were successfully pulled out alive, according to authorities. The incident occurred in South Kivu province on Saturday after heavy rainfall caused the collapse.
Mining in the DRC has a reputation for being dangerous, particularly with regard to copper and cobalt. These “artisanal” mines are often unregulated and can collapse without warning. Many of them are also illegal, encroaching on established mines operated by multinational companies, said The National News.
Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights (GCBHR) Report
An unbiased report released in February suggested that companies using cobalt in products such as electric cars and smartphones should focus on enhancing the conditions at artisanal mines rather than eliminating artisanal cobalt from their supply chains.
The report’s author, Dorothee Baumann Pauly, who serves as the director of the Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights, stated that manufacturers of electric vehicles and electronics companies should take a proactive approach in this regard.
Ms. Pauly added that these companies could not completely eliminate the use of artisanal cobalt, particularly when it is being transported to smelters and refiners in China and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Hence, it would be more sensible for these companies to invest in the improvement of the working conditions at artisanal mines rather than attempting to exclude them from their supply chains entirely.
Past incidents of mine-digging casualties
In 2019, there was an accident at the Kamoto Copper Company mine operated by Glencore, where at least 43 miners who were working without proper permission died.
The miners had dug tunnels that were not safe on the vast site. The following year, a similar disaster occurred in Kamituga, killing 50 miners, according to The National News.
The DRC has an estimated 12 million artisanal miners, and they are known locally as ‘creuseurs’.
The video that was widely shared on social media has been verified by Reuters.
Last year, in June, there was a collapse near the city of Tshikapa, and at least six miners died. The authorities suspended mining activities in the area as a result.
The heroes of Greek history and mythology are inseparable from the impressive suits of armor they wore into battle. It is impossible to imagine Achilles without the armor that was crafted for him by Hephaestus, or the military saints that grace the icons of so many churches across Greece without their protective Byzantine raiments.
The Greek metal artist, Dimitrios Katsikis, is the modern-day Hephaestus, breathing life into the past by bringing suits of historically authentic armor into the present with his artistry.
The Athens-based metal artist has crafted iconic armor from the Mycenaean, ancient Greek, and Medieval Byzantine periods of Greece’s history. Each piece of armor is a testament both to the skill of the artist and the innovative craftsmanship of the Greek people over the centuries.
The magnificent work of Katsikis can presently be viewed at an exhibition held at the Kostas Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology, located at Pindarou 6, Academias St. in Athens.
Visitors can see 43 of the metalsmith’s visually stunning and historically authentic Greek armor sets on display at the “Panoplies: the Art of Armoring in Ancient Greece” exhibition between 9:00 and 17:00 on weekdays and weekends. Tickets cost just €5.
Learning to craft pieces of armor that were created with techniques not in use for centuries was not an easy process, Katsikis explained to Greek Reporter. Learning any new skill presents the student with challenges, but this is especially true when there is no one to learn from.
“The pioneer’s path is always lonely and full of obstacles,” Katsikis said. “The truth is that I had no idea of metalwork of this kind, my studies had to do with Biotechnology and generally, my background had nothing to do with art.”
“I knew that I had to discover the traditional ways in which ancient craftsmen managed to create armor without the use of modern technological methods. I realized that there was only one way to achieve this: the hard way.”
The decision to revive the craft with authentic methods added another level of complexity, and it took about four years of “constant experimentation” with different techniques for the armorer to reach a base level of confidence.
“I would describe it as an orchestra written for hammers and anvils,” Katsikis said of his early experiences. “There was no teacher or similar school, I had to discover everything from zero.”
“There was nothing easy about this undertaking, especially when this took place in a country entering a very turbulent period, as Greece did after the 2010 crisis, especially if you feel that every moment you are being watched and judged by the eyes of the ancient craftsmen. The psychological and physical burden was enormous, it threatens to crush you.”
Before the metalworking itself can begin, Katsikis must conduct meticulous research to ensure that the armor he produces is historically authentic.
“I exhaust all the available academic literature on the specific object and analyze the available photos,” said Katsikis. “Whenever there is an opportunity, I visit the museum that hosts it to get a first-hand experience in order to understand its actual physical dimensions. Then, I can proceed to the practical part of the construction.”
This, in many ways, is what sets the work of Katsikis apart; there are many modern blacksmiths producing fantasy suits of armor for film and television, or indeed some armorers producing accurate suits of Northern/Western European Medieval armors, but there are virtually no metalworkers producing sets of Greek armor from across the ages with the same degree of quality and attention to detail as Katsikis.
“In general, historical accuracy in this very artistic field has to do with two basic parameters,” the metal artist explained. “Firstly, how to achieve the desired shape/volume/appearance in order to be very close to the original artifact. Secondly, it has to do with the selected methods and raw materials of artistry.”
Katsikis eschews modern methodology and instead opts to recreate the armor of the Greek past with the methods that would have been used by the ancient and Medieval armorers themselves.
“If you desire high historical accuracy then you will have to reject the use of today’s technology and follow the strict and difficult rules of traditional metalworking.”
The process of making armor
“The exclusive method to make genuine armor is that of hot forging and raising, this means thousands of repeated hammer blows on incandescent copper alloys with the assistance of many different specialized small anvils,” Katsikis told Greek Reporter.
“This work is very hard, it requires strong nerves, perseverance, discipline, mental and physical endurance. It is a kind of championship, every time you have to prove your worth. The historical accuracy and authenticity of the artefacts presuppose the above conditions. It cannot be done otherwise.”
When asked which type of armor was the hardest to create, Katsikis identified the muscle cuirasses of the Classical Greek civilization. Those familiar with ancient Greek history will recognize them as the iconic thorax armors worn by hoplites from around the 5th century BC onwards.
“They must be constructed in such a way as to give the impression of a man’s fit torso (naturalism), in essence, this is high-level sculpting. Α great deal of experience and artistic discipline is required to make them correctly,” he said.
Form and function
The Spartan hoplite clad in bronze armor is a striking image, as is Achilles who faced Hector beneath the walls of Troy in a set of armor said to have been crafted by the god Hephaestus himself.
The armors these warriors wore into battle, real or mythological, transcended their practical function as protective garments and were beautiful works of art in their own right. The balance between form and function is another aspect of bringing the historical art of metalworking to life that Katsikis achieves in his craft.
“Τhe balance between practicality and aesthetics depends on each historical timeline. During the Mycenaean era practicality prevails, the armor follows a largely articulated development, sufficiently covers all parts of the body, and its form is monstrous,” explained Katsikis.
“In the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods (8th-1th century BC), the intense anthropomorphism of Greek art prevails. Muscle cuirasses mimic the bodies of their Gods and Statues but lose in practicality (mobility).”
“Mixed ‘balance’ is observed during the Μiddle Byzantine period due to pluralism of typologies under usage.”
Those with an interest in Greek history will be familiar with the archaeological remnants of ancient and medieval armors, as well as modern illustrated reconstructions. However, historically accurate physical reproductions are exceptionally rare.
“Seeing an archaeological piece of armor in a Museum display case is quite different from wearing one yourself.” said Katsikis. “By creating a suit of armor you become familiar with the materials and construction methods, you understand the need for ergonomics (mobility) and of course you become aware of its weight.”
“The armorer must take into consideration many factors in order to successfully create a workable set of armor ready for battle. On the other hand, it is the very typology of the armor that partly determines the tactics of warfare and how the hoplites acting during the battle. All these parameters can only be understood if there is a material recreation of the defensive gear under study.”
“A suit of armor works like a time machine, opens a rift in time, transports you to heroic times and connects you with the protagonists of history. It’s a high value tool for comprehending past historical conflicts.”
The cultural importance of Greek armor
The Athens-based armorer expressed how these historical items of protection also have a long-lasting cultural connection with Greece.
“Over time I realized that the armors had not so much to do with metalwork itself but are closely connected with the cultural identity of the Greeks in their various historical periods, from the Mycenaean to the Byzantine historical period. Armor played a key role in how they wanted to present their most dynamic selves to their neighbors and future civilizations.”
“It is very difficult to imagine both the mythical and historical personages of Greek Mythology and History without wearing their armor. These kind of devices had become an integral part of their Super-Ego, they were depicted in every artistic expression (paintings, sculpture etc) and largely defined their cultural identity”
Katsikis further explained how “this body of traditional techniques that were used continuously for 30 centuries in the manufacture of armor constitutes a huge cultural wealth of the Greek artistic production and also a solid paradigm of the Greek visual perspective and aesthetics.”
Greeks and an international audience alike have welcomed the armorer’s work with enthusiasm. As Katsikis noted, this is the first time in about six centuries that these armors have been manufactured in Greece.
“My works have been already used either as is or have inspired illustrators of military history, miniature makers, video games etc. Even the Australian actor Eric Bana, tweeted that when a future movie of “Troy” will be released the armor of the Protagonists should be like mine.”
“Τhere is a huge thirst among the international public to know what the Ancient Greeks looked like, and my work offers them actual solid answers to their curiosity and searching. After 12 years of continuous artistic production I have the sense that the acceptance of my work is widespread.”
Present and future work
Katsikis is currently working on the production of a complete set of 10th century Medieval Byzantine armor. To ensure that the finished set is historically accurate, he has drawn from a wide variety of sources, including Byzantine Hagiographies, ivory decorative carvings, and murals, as well as archaeological finds, together with the academic research of Dr Raffaele D’Amato, Timothy G Dawson, and others.
“With this project I aspire to give a realistic picture of the Medieval heavy infantry of the time of the Eastern Roman Empire, because such images are very lacking,” explained Katsikis. “I named it after the Byzantine Emperor “John I Tzimiskes” (Reign 969 -976) and at the moment it is the most realistic depiction of a Byzantine Vasileus.”
As previously mentioned, many of the armorer’s works are currently on display at the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology in Athens. The exhibition was made possible by the museum’s founder, Kostas Kotsanas.
President Biden will host the traditional Greek Independence Day reception at the White House on Wednesday.
Archbishop Elpidophoros of America will represent the Greek-American community along with hundreds of Greeks and Greek Americans who will attend the event to honor the men and women who fought for Greece’s independence against the Ottomans, as well as celebrating the bond between the U.S. and Greece.
The annual reception for Greek Independence Day this year returns to the White House in its traditional form, having been postponed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and held virtually in 2021.
In 2022, the event was rescheduled for May to coincide with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ official visit to the US capital.
Prior to the joint statements, Elpidophoros will have a private meeting with US President Joe Biden, during which he is expected to seek support for a range of critical issues including the Aegean, Cyprus, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Biden honors Greek Revolution
Elpidophoros told the Athens-Macedononia News Agency: “I will thank [President Biden] for the honor that the American administration is doing once again, honoring the Greek Revolution and the Greek nation and culture, but also our church, the Holy Archdiocese of America.
“And I will ask him to continue the American policy of always being on the side of not only the Greek issues in Greece, the Aegean, Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean but also to support our Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
As part of the celebration of the Greek Revolution, the State Department’s chief of protocol hosted a dinner Tuesday night in honor of America’s Archbishop at the White House presidential guest house (Blair House).
The dinner was attended by American legislators, the ambassador of Greece to the USA, Alexandra Papadopoulou, the Cypriot ambassador, Marios Lysiotis, the ambassador of the United States to Greece, George Tsunis, as well as prominent members of the Greek-American community.
“It is an honor to be here at the presidential guest house for a dinner in honor of the 202nd anniversary of Greek Independence,” Ambassador Tsunis said.
“The United States was founded on the principles and ideals established in Greece, democracy being the most important of them. Our two countries share a sacred responsibility to protect democracy. The relationship between the US and Greece has never been better and contributes to peace and stability in the region.
“Greece is clearly an indispensable ally of the United States and (the two countries) always act with principle and are always on the right side of history,” Ambassador Tsunis added.
White House reception on Greek Independence started in 1986
The White House celebration of Greek Independence was first started by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 with the help of Father Alex Karloutsos, Tom Korologos and Andy Manatos and has become a White House tradition ever since.
The proclamation, announced by the White House, celebrated the historical ties between Greece and the US. In particular, the proclamation stressed the strong influences of ancient Athenian democracy on the formation of the newly independent American state in the 18th century.