A Travellerspoint blog

June 2009


Crete - Greece

sunny 31 °C

Photo: West Bastion of Knossos Palace. Relief wall painting of the sacred Minoan Bull.


The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization which arose on the island of Crete. It was the first European civilization and claims to be the “cradle of Western civilization”. The Minoan culture flourished from approximately 2700 to 1450 BC; afterwards, Mycenaean Greek culture became dominant. Knossos was the capital of Minoan Crete. It is located south of the modern port town of Heraklion (Iraklio). Knossos was inhabited for several thousand years, beginning with a Neolithic settlement sometime in the seventh millennium BC, and was abandoned after its destruction in 1375 BC which marked the end of Minoan civilization. The first palace was built around 1900 BC on the ruins of previous settlements. It was destroyed for the first time at 1700 BC, probably by a large earthquake or foreign invaders. It was immediately rebuilt to an even more elaborate complex and until its abandonment was damaged several times during earthquakes, invasions, and in 1450 BC by the colossal volcanic eruption of Thera (Santorini), and the invasion of Mycenaeans who used it as their capital as they ruled the island of Crete until 1375 BC. Arthur Evans, the British Archaeologist who excavated the site in 1900 AD restored large parts of the palace in a way that it is possible today to appreciate the glory and complexity of a structure that evolved over several millennia and grew to occupy about 20,000 square meters. Walking through its complex multi-storied buildings one can comprehend why the palace of Knossos was associated with the mythological Labyrinth. According to Greek mythology, the palace was designed by famed architect Daedalus (Dedalos) with such complexity that no one placed in it could ever find its exit. King Minos who commissioned the palace then kept the architect prisoner to ensure that he would not reveal the palace plan to anyone. Daedalus, who was a great inventor, built two sets of wings so he and his son Icarus (Ikaros) could fly off the island, and so they did. On their way out, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun because the wax that held the wings together would melt. In a tragic turn of events, during their escape Icarus, young and impulsive as he was, flew higher and higher until the sun rays dismantled his wings and the young boy fell to his death in the Aegean Sea. The Labyrinth was the dwelling of the Minotaur in Greek mythology, and many associate the palace of Knossos with the legend of Theseus killing the Minotaur. Representation of the Bull at the palace of Knossos is a widespread symbol in the art and decoration of this archaeological site. The bull-leaping (taurokathapsia) was a ritual sport or performance in which human athletes literally vaulted over bulls as part of a ceremonial rite. A version of the sacred “bull games” is still extant in Iberian (Spain - Portugal) culture, the Bullfighting.

More images at: Kevrekidis Photography

©2009 Jordan Kevrekidis

Posted by Kevrekidis 02:12 Archived in Greece Tagged educational Comments (0)


Asia Minor - Turkey

sunny 31 °C

Ephesus lies beside Selcuk and Kusadasi in Asia Minor (Anatolia), Turkey.
It was an ancient Greek city in the region known as Ionia during the Classical period.


Photo: An ancient Greek inscription and the Library of Celsus.

The Library of Celsus dominates to the south of the Tetragonos Agora in Ephesus. It was built in the 2nd century AD to serve as a burial monument dedicated to Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the Roman senator and proconsul of Asia. The construction was financed by his son, Tiberius (or Gaius) Julius Aquila. Its luxurious facade forms an impressive architectural complex. The style of the library, with its ornate, balanced, well-planned facade, reflects the Greek influence on Roman architecture. The building materials, brick, concrete, and mortared rubble, signify the new materials that came into use in the Roman Empire at this time. The interior of the niches was adorned with four statues representing female abstract concepts: Sofia (Wisdom), Arete (Virtue), Ennoia (Insight) and Episteme (Knowledge). They are personifications of the virtues of Celsus but also of the virtues the life of high Roman officials should have had. This type of facade with inset frames and niches for statues is similar to that found in ancient Greek theaters (the stage building behind the orchestra, or skene) and is thus characterized as "scenographic". The inside of the building, not fully restored, was a single rectangular room with a central apse framed by a large arch at the far wall. A statue of Celsus or of Athena (Greek goddess of wisdom) stood in the apse, and Celsus’ tomb lay directly below in a vaulted chamber. Along the other three sides were rectangular recesses that held cupboards and shelves for the 12,000 scrolls.


History of Ephesus:
Traces of habitation in the area of Ephesus date from the Neolithic period and Copper Age. According to myth, Ephesus was founded by Androklos, the son of the Athenian King Kadros (Codrus), and a mixed population from Athens, Samos and Aetolia. When they went there they found a pre-existent settlement built by Lelegians and Carians or Lydians. The Greek colonists drove the natives out of the upper city but did not harm those living around the sanctuary. They identified the goddess of the natives with Artemis and founded the first fortified position. Around 550 BC, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Temple of Artemis (Greek: Artemision) was built. Androklos was able to join the twelve cities of Ionia together into the Ionian League (Dodecapolis). Later, Greek historians such as Herodotus however reassigned the city's mythological foundation to Ephos, queen of the Amazons. The Ephesians participated in the Ionian Revolt against Persian rule in the Battle of Ephesus (498 BC), an event which instigated the Greco - Persian wars. In 479 BC, the Ionians, together with Athens and Sparta, were able to oust the Persians from Anatolia. In 478 BC, the Ionian cities entered with Athens and Sparta the Delian League against the Persians. During the Peloponnesian War, Ephesus was first allied to Athens but sided in a later phase, called the Decelean War, or the Ionian War with Sparta. As a result, the rule over the kingdoms of Anatolia was ceded again to Persia. In 336 BC, when Parmenion campaigned to Asia Minor, Ephesus was convulsed by a pro - Macedonian democratic revolt that overthrew the pro - Persian oligarchy. When Alexander the Great defeated the Persian forces at the Battle of Granicus in 334 BC, the Greek cities of Asia Minor were liberated. Alexander was greeted warmly in Ephesus when he entered it in triumph. After Alexander died Ephesus came under his general Perdiccas and other successors such as Antigonus, Demetrius, and Ptolemy XII (Hellenistic period). Later, Ephesus became subject of the Roman Republic. Ephesus played an important role in the events in the province during Mithradatic War I (90-86 BC). The invasion of the king of Pontus Mithradates VI to the province of Asia fired unprecedented enthusiasm accompanied by the hatred against the Romans. The Ephesians played the leading part in anti-Roman demonstrations. Ephesus came back under Roman rule in 84 BC and was asked to pay high war indemnities. In 48 BC, Julius Caesar landed there and tried to reorganise the province. In 41 BC Marcus Antonius entered the city as a New Dionysus during a Bacchic ritual. He gathered the Greeks in the city and demanded that they pay him taxes for 2 years. Antonius returned with Cleopatra in 33 BC. When Augustus became emperor in 27 BC, he made Ephesus the capital of the Roman province of Asia. Ephesus was an important center for early Christianity. Apostle Paul stayed there for some time. According to the occult Christian literature, the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist stayed in Ephesus for a long time. Ephesus remained the most important city of the Byzantine Empire in Asia after Constantinople in the 5th and 6th centuries. The emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and erected a new public bath. In 406 John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople, ordered the destruction of the Temple of Artemis. The Seljuk Turks conquered the region in 1071-1100 and it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1390. Efes is the Turkish name for Ephesus.

Kevrekidis Photography at deviantART

©2009 Jordan Kevrekidis

Posted by Kevrekidis 22:13 Archived in Turkey Tagged educational Comments (0)

Santorini volcano

Aegean Sea - Greece

sunny 32 °C


The island group of Santorini (Thera) is the most well-known and active volcanic centre of the Hellenic (Greek) Volcanic Arc in the south Aegean Sea. It is a complex stratovolcano with a large caldera created by several large explosive eruptions. The different products of 2 million years of volcanic activity have accumulated around a small non-volcanic basement that once formed a small island similar to the other islands. Most of the volcanic layers are visible in the multi-colored sequences of the impressive steep inner walls of the caldera, striking the visitor who reaches the island by boat.

The Minoan eruption of Thera, (Santorini or Thera eruption), was a major catastrophic volcanic eruption which is estimated to have occurred in the mid second millennium BCE. It was one of the largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history. The eruption seems to have inspired certain Greek myths and may have caused turmoil in Egypt. It has also been suggested previously that the effects of this eruption led to a number of the Ten Plagues of Moses in the Holy Bible, chief among them being the so-called “rain of fire”. Additionally, it has been speculated that the destruction of the city at Akrotiri provided the basis for or otherwise inspired Plato's story of Atlantis.

Kevrekidis Photography at deviantART

© 2009 Jordan Kevrekidis

Posted by Kevrekidis 12:43 Archived in Greece Tagged educational Comments (0)

Tower of the Winds

Athens – Greece.

semi-overcast 27 °C


The Tower of the Winds on the Roman Agora
and Lycabettus Hill in the background.
Athens – Greece.

The Tower of the Winds (Aerides) or Horologion (timepiece) of Andronicos is an octagonal tower representing the eight directions of the wind. The structure is 12 m tall with a diameter of about 8 m and was topped in antiquity by a weathervane-like Triton that indicated the wind direction. It stands on a base of three steps and is built of white Pentelic marble. It has a conical roof, a cylindrical annex on the south side, and two Corinthian porches. The frieze depicts the eight wind deities: Boreas (N), Kaikias (NE), Eurus (E), Apeliotes (SE), Notus (S), Livas (SW), Zephyrus (W), and Skiron (NW). There are eight sundials on the external walls and an elaborate waterclock (clepsydra) in the interior, driven by water coming down from the Acropolis. It was supposedly built by the Greek astronomer Andronicus of Cyrrhus (Kyrrhos of Syria or Macedonia) around 50 BC, but according to other sources might have been constructed in the 2nd century BC before the rest of the forum. The monument had been half-buried by the earth accumulated over the centuries. It was excavated between 1837 and 1845 by the Greek Archaeological Society.

More images at: Kevrekidis Photography at deviantART

©2009 Jordan Kevrekidis

Posted by Kevrekidis 13:58 Archived in Greece Tagged educational Comments (1)

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