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Earliest known erotic graffiti found on an Aegean island

Earliest known erotic graffiti found on an Aegean island


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A Greek archaeologist has discovered a set of ancient erotic graffiti on a stone on the Aegean island of Astypalaia, believed to date back more than 2,500 years. Engravings of phalluses and inscriptions detailing racy sexual encounters between two men shed light on the private lives of those who inhabited ancient Greece, according to a news report in The Guardian .

Astypalaia belongs to an island group of twelve major islands in the southeastern Aegean Sea and is home to just 1,300 residents. The island is steeped in history; it has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and has seen occupation by the Carians, Minoans, Venetians, Turks, Italians, British, and Germans, until it was finally integrated in Greece in 1948.

Dr Andreas Vlachopoulos, a specialist in prehistoric archaeology, was conducting fieldwork on the island of Astypalaia when he discovered the erotic art and words chiselled into dolomite limestone on the rocky peninsula at Vathy. Dr Vlachopoulos explained that he was in no doubt as to what the images were intended to represent.

"They were what I would call triumphant inscriptions," said the Princeton-trained professor who found them while introducing students to the ancient island world of the Aegean. "They claimed their own space in large letters that not only expressed sexual desire but talked about the act of sex itself," he told the Guardian. "And that is very, very rare."

Erotic graffiti found on Astypalaia. Photograph: Helena Smith

Two penises were engraved into the limestone along with the inscription: "Nikasitimos was here mounting Timiona” (Νικασίτιμος οἶφε Τιμίονα). Dr Vlachopoulos explained that in the Greek language the use of the past continuous tense suggests that the lover’s tryst did not just occur on one occasion but that the two men were regularly meeting at that spot.

Based on the presence of other carvings, such as oared ships, daggers, waves of the sea, and spirals, which reflect the style of early Cycladic art, the archaeologist estimates that the inscriptions date to around the fifth or sixth century BC.

Dr Vlachopoulos said that the inscriptions have provided invaluable insight into the private lives of those who inhabited archaic and classical Greece.

Featured image: The Greek island of Astypalaia. Photo source .


7 Entertaining Examples of Ancient Graffiti

Graffiti from centuries and even millennia ago can reveal the grievances, passions, games, and ordinary business dealings of regular people from the long-lost past. Pompeii might be the most famous spot to find such scrawls, but it’s not the only place where bygone messages have been found. Here are seven examples of graffiti from the ancient world.

1. “I VISITED AND I DID NOT LIKE ANYTHING EXCEPT THE SARCOPHAGUS!”

A Chinese teen visiting Egypt prompted outrage when he wrote his name on the wall of the 3500-year-old Luxor Temple in 2013. But he was hardly the first traveler to commit such an offense—there’s a long tradition of leaving “I was here” graffiti while visiting Egyptian ruins. One team of researchers recently counted over 1000 inscriptions inside the tomb of pharaoh Ramesses VI in the Valley of the Kings—many of which were from Romans who visited the site 2000 years ago. Their ancient declarations include familiar complaints of disappointed tourists: “I visited and I did not like anything except the sarcophagus!” and "I cannot read the hieroglyphs!"

2.“YOU LOVE IRIS, BUT SHE DOES NOT LOVE YOU.”

Graffiti in a Pompeii pub Plaàtarte, Wikimedia // CC BY-SA 3.0

Pompeii has dominated the study of ancient graffiti, and for good reason. There are many inscriptions and painted messages that survive on the walls of this Roman city in southern Italy, which was famously buried in volcanic ash in 79 CE. And these examples often offer rich insight into the lives of the city’s residents. Behold the drama of a love triangle, apparently played out on the wall of a bar (not the one above) in taunting messages between two men named Severus and Successus:

“Successus, a weaver, loves the innkeeper’s slave girl named Iris. She, however, does not love him. Still, he begs her to have pity on him. His rival wrote this. Goodbye.”

(Reply by Successus) “Envious one, why do you get in the way. Submit to a handsomer man and one who is being treated very wrongly and good looking.”

(Reply by Severus) “I have spoken. I have written all there is to say. You love Iris, but she does not love you.”

3. “NIKASITIMOS WAS HERE MOUNTING TIMIONA."

Declarations of love and boasts of sexual conquest are not just the domain of modern bathroom-wall graffiti. Plenty of examples of such messages can be found in the ancient world. Erotic graffiti recently identified at the Greek island of Astypalaia documents a 2500-year-old tryst between two men: “Nikasitimos was here mounting Timiona." The general secretary at the Greek Epigraphic Society, Angelos Matthaiou, told The Guardian: "Whoever wrote the erotic inscription referring to Timiona was very well trained in writing. The letters have been very skillfully inscribed on the face of the rock, evidence that it was not just philosophers, scholars and historians who were trained in the art of writing but ordinary people living on islands too."

4. A MENAGERIE OF WILD ANIMALS

A winged lion graffito at the Great Enclosure of Musawwarat es-Sufra Musawwarat Graffiti Archive // CC BY-SA 4.0

Crocodiles, elephants, rhinoceroses, baboons, and dogs are among the wild animals inscribed on the blocks of a labyrinth-like complex known as the Great Enclosure of Musawwarat es-Sufra. This monument, in modern-day Sudan, was part of the Kingdom of Kush when the drawings were made more than 2000 years ago. Some of the animals also include religious iconography, such as a lion with wings and crown said to represent the deity Apedemak. Archaeologists don't know the function of many of the rooms in the complex, but some have used the graffiti to support their theories about the purposes of different sections. They've proposed interpretations ranging from animal trading stations and elephant training grounds to a holding pen for prey that could be “hunted” by royals who needed to prove their abilities.

5. THE “DRUNKS OF MENKAURE” VS. THE “FRIENDS OF KHUFU GANG.”

The tens of thousands of laborers who built the pyramids in Egypt were divided into gangs of workers—and they took credit for their efforts. Archaeologists who study the pyramids have found inscriptions such as “Drunks of Menkaure” and “Friends of Khufu Gang” (Menkaure and Khufu being pyramid-building Egyptian kings) on bricks at the monuments of Giza. On some monuments, there's graffiti from one gang on one side of the monument, and graffiti from what archeologists think is a competing gang on the other.

6. A WORD SQUARE

A Sator Square in France M Disdero, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

In 2003, archaeologists discovered a new cache of graffiti written on the plaster walls of the basement of the Roman basilica at Smyrna, an ancient Greek city in modern-day Turkey. Scribbled sometime after an earthquake in 177 CE, the inscriptions include the earliest known example of a word square in Greek, made up of five, five-letter words that can be read the same way either horizontally and vertically, like a 2D palindrome. (The meanings of the words aren't quite clear.) A better-known Latin version of this puzzle is called a Sator Square, as pictured above:

The five words can be read from the right, left, top, and bottom. While their meaning has been debated, they may relate to a farmer named Arepo who is using wheels (rotas).

7. “MY HAND WILL WEAR OUT BUT THE INSCRIPTION WILL REMAIN.”

Though the vast majority of graffiti has surely disappeared over time, some graffiti-writers hoped their markings might outlast them. Take, for example, this Ancient North Arabian piece of graffiti at Palmyra in modern-day Syria, which was written well over a thousand years ago: “This is an inscription that I wrote with my own hand. My hand will wear out but the inscription will remain.”


Astypalaia is a remote island in the Aegean. It is rocky, windswept and until recently best known for its ancient cemeteries. However, in 2010, Dr. Andreas Vlachopoulos, a specialist in prehistoric archaeology was leading students in fieldwork on the island, when he chanced upon a curious discovery. For carved on the limestone rocks overlooking the Bay of Vathy were a series of sexually explicit graffiti, thought to be around 2500 years old.

Before the erotica was inscribed onto the rocks, the inhabitants of Astypalaia confined their graffiti to motifs relating to the sea, which no doubt dominated island life. But between the fifth and sixth centuries BC, something changed. Pictures of at least four giant phalli appeared instead of the usual ships and the spirals representing waves. One from the fifth century showed two phalli with the name &ldquoDion&rdquo underneath. Under another, the author boasts: &ldquoNikasitimos was here mounting Timiona.&rdquo

The inscriptions are important on one level because they show us that it wasn&rsquot merely the elite who were literate. &ldquoWhoever wrote the erotic inscription referring to Timiona was very well trained in writing,&rdquo said Angelos Matthaiou, for more than 25 years the general secretary at the Greek Epigraphic Society in a 2014 interview with The Guardian newspaper. &ldquoThe letters have been very skillfully inscribed on the face of the rock, evidence that it was not just philosophers, scholars and historians who were trained in the art of writing but ordinary people living on islands too.&rdquo

Perhaps more importantly, the graffiti shows that same-sex relationships were also acceptable in everyday Greek society, and not just amongst elite warriors and legendary heroes. For the sexual conquests described in the graffiti of Astypalaia are between men. Experts now believe that during the fifth and sixth centuries, Astypalaia housed a military garrison- making soldiers the authors of the graffiti. These soldiers were not shy about their conquests- they were proud of them- hence the size of the phallic symbols and the boldness of their boasts.

Astypalaias&rsquo erotic graffiti is amongst the oldest in the world. Nearly as old, although nowhere near as explicit, is graffiti from the Middle East that provides the only source for a long, lost language.


World's Oldest Erotic Graffiti Discovered in Greece

Phalluses and racy messages carved in to a rock in a remote Greek location, may be the world's oldest erotic graffiti, according to archaeologists.

The inscriptions, in Astypalaia's rocky peninsula at Vathy, date to the fifth and sixth centuries BC, before the Acropolis was built in Athens.

Dr Andreas Vlachopoulos, who began fieldwork on the Aegean island four years ago said the inscriptions provided invaluable information about the private lives of Ancient Greeks.

He described them as "monumental in scale" in an interview with the Guardian.

"They were what I would call triumphant inscriptions," he said. "They claimed their own space in large letters that not only expressed sexual desire but talked about the act of sex itself. And that is very, very rare."

Carved into the limestone of the dolomite outcrop, many of the inscriptions are frank and celebrate homosexual desire.

"Nikasitimos was here mounting Timiona (Νικασίτιμος οἶφε Τιμίονα)," reads one inscription.

"We know that in ancient Greece sexual desire between men was not a taboo," said Dr Vlachopoulos.

"But this graffiti… is not just among the earliest ever discovered. By using the verb in the past continuous [tense], it clearly says that these two men were making love over a long period of time, emphasising the sexual act in a way that is highly unusual in erotic artwork."

Dr Vlachopoulos speculated that a garrison may have been stationed nearby.

"We know that Greek islands were inhabited by the third millennium BC, but what we have found is evidence that, even then, people were using a coded language of symbols and imagery that was quite sophisticated," said Dr Vlachopoulos.

The epigrapher, Angelos Matthaiou, said that the inscriptions also showed that ordinary people on the island were literate at a date earlier than archaeologists previously believed.

"Whoever wrote the erotic inscription referring to Timiona was very well trained in writing," said Matthaiou.

"The letters have been very skillfully inscribed on the face of the rock, evidence that it was not just philosophers, scholars and historians who were trained in the art of writing, but ordinary people living on islands too."


Cache of Roman and Corieltavi Iron Age coins discovered in cave

The discovery at Reynard’s Kitchen Cave is significant, not only is it unusual to find Late Iron Age gold coins, but to unearth them actually within a cave setting adds to the mystery surrounding them.

Reynard’s Kitchen Cave in Dovedale is known to have been used at various times over the last 10,000 years. An earlier excavation had revealed pre-historic flints, animal bones, pieces of pottery and other evidence of occupation.

The initial discovery of four coins was made by a member of the public, a local climber who had been sheltering in the cave during heavy rain. The climber happened to have a small pin-pointer metal detector in his climbing bag. Whilst waiting for the rain to pass he scanned the area next to where he was sitting with the detector and made the discovery of the coins. Following the discovery, the climber reported the finds to the Derbyshire Portable Antiquities Officer and then the National Trust.

Rachael Hall, an archaeologist from the National Trust reported to HeritageDaily “In total we found twenty six coins, including three Roman coins which pre-date the invasion of Britain in AD 43,”

“Twenty other gold and silver coins are Late Iron Age and attributed to the Corieltavi tribe. The tribe is more usually associated with occupying areas further east during the Late Iron Age, where the tribal centres are thought to be Leicester, Sleaford and Lincoln. So, it is interesting that this find is where it is in Derbyshire. Could this area have been a previously unknown power base of the Corieltavi tribe?

The Corieltavi tribe are known to have lived in the East Midlands, between the rivers Trent and Nene in the Late Iron Age, shortly before the Roman Conquest of AD 43. They were largely agricultural people who appear to have been a federation of small, self-governing tribal groups.

In the Iron Age, the Corieltavi tribe are only known from their coins which they began to produce in the middle of the 1 st Century BC. Early examples don’t have names on, but later examples like those at Reynard’s Kitchen Cave feature one, two or three names, suggesting they had multiple rulers. The group tended to live in villages with some larger tribal centres perhaps including Sleaford and Lincoln. However, by the Roman period, Leicester became their capital.

Rachael Hall further added “Coins hoards of this era in Britain have been found in fields and other locations but, as far as we know, not in a cave which raises some interesting questions.

“The coins would suggest a serious amount of wealth ‘power’ of the individual who owned them. Coins were used more as a symbol of power and status during the Late Iron Age, rather than for buying and selling staple foods and supplies. Was an individual simply hiding his ‘best stuff’ for safe keeping? Or, perhaps speculating, in the hope that the value would increase in the future, like a modern-day ISA?

“The situation of the cave can’t be ignored either. Could it have been a sacred place to the Late Iron Age peoples that was taboo to enter in everyday life, making it a safe place that would ensure that person’s valuables were protected?”

British Museum’s curator of Iron Age and Roman coins, Ian Leins, says: “Although this is a much smaller hoard than the similar finds made at Hallaton in 2000, this has been declared treasure and is an exciting discovery given the puzzling location in a cave and the fact that it lies beyond the main circulation area of the coinage.”

Operation Nightingale’s Sergeant Diarmaid Walshe says: “With the inherent skills of the soldier – an appreciation of landscape, topography and deposits in the ground – archaeology is a discipline that is perfect for service personnel. Through projects like the excavation at Dovedale, archaeology can help former service personnel to address their ailments and help in their recovery.”

Joanne Richardson, who spent 10 years in the military and was part of the excavation team, says: “This was the first archaeological excavation I’ve ever taken part in and it was brilliant.

“I was working at the back of the cave, in the dark, and I was the first person to find a coin – a silver coin. It was so exciting and really helped to lift spirits, after several fruitless days of hard graft. My first dig and this is what I found! The experience working alongside archaeologists and other veterans was inspiring. It has given me a new interest in life and helped me adapt to civilian environment.”

Rachael Hall adds: “The Corieltavi was made up of a number of other small tribes or clans who would come together for the common good, so it’s fantastic that we’ve joined with Operation Nightingale and other organisations and individuals to carry out the excavation and to learn more.

“We may never know why the coins were buried here but this discovery places a dot on the map for Late Iron Age Derbyshire. It adds a new layer to what we are discovering about Late Iron Age activity, especially the Corieltavi tribe. We hope to generate a lively debate and invite people to tell us their thoughts on the discovery.”

The coins have been cleaned by conservation specialists at the British Museum and University College London and will go on permanent display at Buxton Museum later this year.

One other significant find included a decorated Roman ‘Aesica’ type, circa mid-first century AD. It has a central rib and fantail foot which is decorated with incised grooves which form a ‘V’ shape. Aesica was a Roman fort in Northumberland, believed to have been completed in 128 AD and was the ninth fort on Hadrian’s Wall.

Previous Excavations:

An excavation of part of the site was carried out in 1959 by the City of Stoke Archaeological Society. This uncovered a suite of finds from Neolithic to medieval age, some of which are on display in the Buxton Museum. None of these were as significant as the discovery of the Late Iron Age and Roman coins.

The 1959 excavation only covered a small area of the cave. It is quite possible that they just missed out on discovering the coins. There are unsubstantiated reports from 1927 (Wilson, Rev. G. H., Cave and Crags of Peakland) of a coin hoard in the cave. We don’t know for sure but it’s possible they were looking for this.

Credit : National Trust – Header Image : Excavating at back of Reynards Kitchen Cave © National Trust_D Slade


World’s Oldest Erotic Graffiti Found in Greece


The world’s oldest erotic graffiti was discovered in Astypalaia, a beautiful Greek island of the Dodecanese, dated from the early 6th and late 5th century B.C.
One of the inscriptions depicts two phalluses, carved on the flat surface of a rock in the region of Vathy, and it was so clear that Dr. Andreas Vlachopoulos, a specialist in prehistoric archaeology, had no doubt of their true purpose. Also carved on the side of the same rock, archeologists found the name “DION” (ΔΙΩΝ). Speaking to the British newspaper The Guardian he noted: “They were what I would call triumphant inscriptions. They claimed their own space in large letters that not only expressed sexual desire but talked about the act of sex itself and that is very, very rare.”
There was another inscription which was found 52 meters above sea level. “Nikasitimos was here mounting Timiona” (Νικασίτιμος οἶφε Τιμίονα) noted the inscription. Even though sexual relations between men were not a taboo in ancient Greece, this specific inscription sheds some light in various other parts of the ancient Greeks’ “private lives”.
The prominent position where the two ancient Greeks expressed their erotic passion and the amount of manmade infrastructures that were found around it, point towards the possibility of a building complex in the area, a fact that would, in part, justify the lovers’ literacy level.
The discovery of inscriptions on a small island like Astypalaia indicates that not only scholars and people of the academic community were able to write. Furthermore, it shows that only a small part of Greek antiquity has been discovered.


“Nikasitimos Was Here Mounting Timiona,” World’s Oldest Erotic Graffiti Proclaims

The Agios Ioannis Castle, the medieval fortified town of Astypalea. Photo courtesy of Eva D. Chatzaki via flickr.

An archaeologist working on the remote Greek island of Astypalaia has found the world’s oldest erotic graffiti, a pair of phallus carvings dating from the 5th century BCE and a proclamation of sexual conquest from the 6th century BCE. The two carved penises, discovered etched into a limestone outcropping on the island’s rough, windswept peninsula overlooking Vathay bay, were found by Dr. Andreas Vlachopoulos, a professor, while he was giving his students a tour of the island.

“They were what I would call triumphant inscriptions,” he told the Guardian. “They claimed their own space in large letters that not only expressed sexual desire but talked about the act of sex itself…And that is very, very rare.”

Indeed, the pair of ancient appendages is accompanied by an inscription of the name Dion. They are dated to the 5th century BCE. Nearby, an equally sex-positive bit of graffiti from the middle of the 6th century BCE reads: “Nικασίτιμος οἶφε Τιμίονα,” or “Nikasitimos was here mounting Timiona.”

“We know that in ancient Greece sexual desire between men was not a taboo,” Vlachopoulos explains. “But this graffiti… is not just among the earliest ever discovered. By using the verb in the past continuous [tense], it clearly says that these two men were making love over a long period of time, emphasizing the sexual act in a way that is highly unusual in erotic artwork.”

Remarkably, the erotic rock carvings have survived despite remaining exposed all these millennia to weather and erosion from the sea. Astypalaia, a small island just north of Crete in the Aegean Sea, is rich with other, less sexually-charged carvings, including daggers and boat oars.

“We know that Greek islands were inhabited by the third millennium BC,” Vlachopoulos said, “but what we have found is evidence that, even then, people were using a coded language of symbols and imagery that was quite sophisticated.”


Looking for Atlantis? Try Thera

THERA, Greece—Atlantis! Ever since Plato described the wonders of the Lost Continent 2,300 years ago, it has been name to dream about. And now, with the exercise of some faith and imagina tion, it lies within the reach of every traveler to the Mediterranean. If, that is, the traveler will accept the theory that Thera is the Lost Paradise, the Garden of Eden, which Plato said was “swallowed up by the sea and vanished.”

The theory has collected a few sup porters recently, including A. G. Galanopoulos, the Greek seismologist, and James W. Mayor Jr. of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. But it was a Frenchman, Louis Figuier, who first suggested—back in 1872—that Atlantis was an island in the Aegean archipelago and that its center was Thera, also known as San torin, 125 miles southeast of Athens.

Atlantis has, of course, been placed elsewhere: the Atlantic Ocean, Tunisia, northwest France and even Germany's North Sea island of Helgoland. Others suspect that the whole thing was a fig ment of Plato's imagination.

Plato claimed that Atlantis had an advanced civilization: its inhabitants could read and write and obeyed written code of laws “All the exterior of the temple they coated with silver save only the pinnacles, and these they coated with gold.” He spoke of two is lands—one, the Royal City, was roughly rectangular and immense the other, the Ancient Metropolis, was round and quite small.

A Mistake in Transcription’

The Thera‐as‐Atlantis advocates say that Thera and two nearby islands, Therasia and Aspronisi, were once a single island called Stronghyle (“Round”), which exploded about 1500 B.C. The circumstances seem to fit the Atlantis picture very well. There is a problem about the dates—Plato put the explosion more than 8,000 years before the Stronghyle cataclysm. But there is good reason, I feel, to accept the notion of some scholars that there was a mistake in transcribing the dates, a sort of typographical error. In any event, as a visitor to Thera, I wanted to believe the wish was father to the thought.

I left Piraeus, the port of Athens, on brilliant spring day. The next afternoon as our ship, the Elli, glided between Thera and Therasia, I viewed a breath taking scene. Cliffs, banded in grayish white, faded black and menacingly dark red strata, rose sheer from the sea.

As the ship drew closer, I saw that the cliffs were topped by a shimmering white ribbon, which gradually evolved into the houses and churches of strag gling towns and villages. The multi colored, precipitous cliffs, exposed as pared by a cheese wire, were composed of a mixture of cinders, lava and pumice. Just then, ahead and slightly to the right, the tiny island of Aspronisi appeared.

As we sailed into the lagoon, which measures approximately 18 miles around its inner edge and is fringed by the is lands, I could imagine the huge volcano that once stood there. The enormous eruption of 1500 B.C. left a cavity of gigantic dimensions under the central part of the original island. The roof col lapsed sea water rushed in, and the lagoon was formed. The steep cliffs of present‐day Thera are the shattered re mains of the crater walls. (Crater Lake in Oregon is a similar geological phe nomenon.)

Emerald Glow

The ship tied up at a buoy a few hundred yards offshore. The water, which glowed like emerald below the ship's keel, sank down, down, down to the very bottom of the volcanic cham ber, a depth of between 1,000 and 1,500 feet—much too deep to drop anchor. Tenders buzzed around like so many mosquitoes, and soon I stood on the quayside of Thera at the foot of cliffs that rose sheer to a height of 1,200 feet.

A zigzag path of 587 steps traverses the cliffs to the town of Thera atop the crater's rim. Donkeys are available for the ascent, but take heed: Unless the saddle is heavily padded with soft mate rial, it is unwise to sit astride. The Greek donkey saddle is a tent‐shaped wooden structure, designed for riding side saddle. Hang on grimly to the pommel, get both feet on one side and slump, as if concussed, toward the center for balance. Doing this, reached the top without mishap.

The Other Side

I walked to the far end of the town and from the courtyard of a gleaming new cathedral saw the other face of the 31‐square‐mile island. Sloping east ward were green fields supporting rich crops of barley, beans and tomatoes. The fields were separated from vine yards by walls of red, black and white stones.

Granted the blessing of but a little water, volcanic soil is a potent breeder of the vine. At times, in fact, wine is easier to come by on Thera than water, much of which is shipped by lugger from the island of Poros more than 150 miles to the north.

What I saw reminded me of Plato's words in “Critias.” He says the acropolis of Atlantis was built on a small hill in the center of the island near a fertile plain, and he describes the buildings as being of red, black and white stones.

I found no signs of the rich, elegant life of Atlantis, however. Today's is landers (about 10,000) are not dressed fashionably. No slim‐waisted, jewel‐be decked Atlanteans bathe in the hot and cold springs described by Plato. No longer is a priest‐king worshiped, but in both the number and magnificence of the churches there is a hint of the former glories of Atlantis.

Nowhere in Greece have I seen so many churches. Neighboring Mykonos may boast 365, but Thera has many more, and these are not tiny private chapels but large, glistening, white edifices frequently topped by a dome of celestial blue. One has the feeling that the vast number of churches is an at tempt to placate the ever‐present, all powerful volcano.

Accommodations on Thera are sparse. There are only two hotels, and these have fewer than 100 beds between them. Yet, even in July, when I last visited the island, there were rooms available in both hotels and in many private homes.

Plumbing Capricious

The rooms in the Atlantis Hotel are pleasant, the plumbing capricious, the food indifferent. (As in many hotels in Greece, demi‐pension is obligatory.) The Panorama is an acceptable class‐C hotel, all rooms having their own facilities.

I made several excursions during my stay. The first was to the village of Akrotiri, five miles south of the town of Thera. There is a ruined Venetian castle on the spur of a hill there, but of more interest are fragmentary re mains of a Minoan city uncovered dur ing the past four years below a thick layer of pozzalana (pumice and volcanic ash). Among the findings are some enormous storage vessels painted with an abstract octopus pattern, each vessel large enough to hold a full‐grown man. They reminded me of the huge jars had seen at various Minoan sites on Crete.

Last month Prof. Spyridon Marinatos, Inspector General of Greek Archeologi cal Services, announced the discovery in Akrotiri of a multistory building con taining a wall painting in red, blue and golden ocher. The fresco is said to show two swallows exchanging a kiss in mid air over a field of red lilies, the stems gently bending to the breeze.

Clay and Bronze Vases

In the room with the fresco were found about 100 vases made of fine clay, and in another room a collection of bronze vases and pans was uncov ered.

On my return from Akrotiri, I passed a quarry where men were working the pozzalana. It yields an excellent cement, which is one of the basic wealths of Thera. In this quarry, about 20 years ago, human bones and teeth and charred pieces of pine were found, and, accord ing to radiocarbon measurements, they had been buried there about 1500 B.C.

A bus journey of about five miles to the north, along the ridge of the crater, took me to the village of Jo, where ruined homes and crumbling buildings are mute testimony to recent eruptions. In was devastated by an upheaval in 1956.

Life on Thera is not easy, and the volcano will erupt again. Man exists here, however tenaciously, on a precari ous lease. I was forced to pose the question, “Why remain?” The answer is the same heard in the villages on the slopes of Mount Etna on Sicily, in the village below Mont Pelée on Martinique and in the earthquake‐shattered villages of Kalkan and Yeronda in Turkey: “It is our home.”

Most of the houses on Thera have been built since the 1956 eruption and are simple, long, barrel‐vaulted struc tures with tiny windows. The strange architecture is no whim but the type that presents maximum resistance to tremors. The houses, all gleaming white, sit amid and atop the gray and black rubble of buildings destroyed by the volcano. Other homes are gouged out of the soft rock of the cliffs and in these the inhabitants live like troglodytes.

The islanders can never forget the tenuous hold they have on their homes. Many keep caged singing birds. Can be that, trapped by the volcano, they wish other creatures to share their fate?

Far below, in the middle of the lagoon, they see the tiny islands of Palea Ka meni and Nea Kameni, which are the present dome of the volcano and look like a gigantic black squid spreading its tendrils far into the depths.

Bubbling Crater

Just before sunset I made my way down to the port and took a boat to those islands. In about 30 minutes landed in a sheltered cove. From there, a dusty path wound through a pumice strewn valley to the summit of the bubbling crater. From time to time, puffs of vapor burst through the burn ing sulphurous crust.

Suddenly, as I realized that I was in the middle of the gigantic hole blown in the earth's surface 3,500 years ago, the calm, deep‐blue circle of water around me lost some of its reassuring quality.

Back on Thera, I made one other ex cursion: to ancient Thera, whose ruins are on the opposite side of the island from the present town. The ruins, by Atlantis standards, are quite young, go ing back only as far as 900 B.C. To reach them, I took a bus to Pyrgos and walked for three hours by way of the Monastery of Prophet Elias.

I was disappointed that the warm welcome customary at Greek monas teries was not forthcoming at Prophet Elias. Still, the day was brilliant and lingered awhile. Dimly in the distance could discern an amorphous shape: the island of Crete about 75 miles to the south. Crete—the Great Island—where archeologists have uncovered so many remains of the brilliant, luxurious Mino an civilization, which, about 1500 B.C., was wiped out overnight.

Those who believe that Thera was the center of Atlantis suggest that when the sea rushed in to fill the volcanic crater, the water violently recoiled, causing tidal waves that spread through out the eastern Mediterranean and en gulfed the cities of the Minoan Empire on Crete.

Dancers’ Graffiti

Thoughtfully, I proceeded on my tir ing trek to ancient Thera. Although the ruins there have nothing to do with the quest for Atlantis, I enjoyed seeing the temples, the theaters and the gymna sium, on the stones of which were many graffiti scratched by boys who danced at the festival of Apollo.

Later, over a bottle of fine Santorin wine, one of the best in Greece, I pon dered once again the possibility that Minos can be equated with Atlantis. It seemed inconceivable that organized agriculture, writing and the use of metals—which were not known until the third millenium B.C.—could have existed 3,000 to 7,000 years before their time, the date given by Plato. One valid anomaly might be permitted, but for Atlantis to have all three of these arts in 9600 B.C. takes some believing.

The Minoan civilization had all these things. So, were not the Minoan and Atlantean civilizations one and the same? Are not Thera and Crete Plato's Ancient Metropolis and Royal City of the Lost Continent of Atlantis? I should like to think they are.


4 Lovers&rsquo Island

The Greek island of Astypalaia offered a haven to lovers in need of privacy. The situation appeared to have been all male. Dating to 2,500 years ago, the trysts left their marks on the environment. Carefully carved into the island&rsquos dolomite limestone, erotic graffiti provided names and images.

Although big phalli appear all over the ancient world, this art is rare because the artists recorded the sexual act itself in a very straightforward way. The graffiti was created between the fifth and sixth centuries BC and showed an incredible, if not unexpected, level of literacy.

One man, referring to his lover Timiona, skillfully inscribed a pronouncement about their relationship in large letters. The writer was obviously experienced in the art of writing. This shows that ordinary island people were well trained in the craft during archaic and classical Greece and not just philosophers and scholars.


News: Dolly Parton, Electric Shock, NASA Rocket, Madonna

World's earliest erotic graffiti found on island in Aegean, and it's gay.

Students prefer electric shock to being alone with their thoughts: "Two-thirds of men pressed a button to deliver a painful jolt during a 15-minute spell of solitude. One man – an outlier – found thinking so disagreeable he opted for a shock 190 times."

Napster co-founder Sean Parker buys Ellen DeGeneres's mansion for $55 million.

Police investigate two possible hate crimes at San Francisco Pride: "In the first attack, two women on Saturday evening were ganged up on in the city's South of Market district, said San Francisco Police spokesman Albie Esparza. Five males between the ages of 16 and 20 yelled homophobic slurs at the women as they kicked, punched and knocked them to the ground, Esparza said. Later that night, a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a gay rights activist group that dresses up as nuns, and the person's husband were attacked by three men and a woman in the Castro District, the city's center of gay life, Esparza said."

What do Prince Harry and Tom Hardy talk about at Polo matches?

Laura Palmer's house for sale: "The Everett, Wash., home can be yours for $549,950. The four-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath house at 708 33rd Street was built in 1930."

Key West's Island House taken off the market: "According to Smead, Island House’s owner Jon Allen decide that since he as been unable to find 'the right buyer who loves the Island House like we do, he’d rather hold on to the hotel.'  Smead was unable to confirm at this time if the property might return to the market in the future."

NASA and Boeing sign deal for $2.8 billion massive rocket: "The rocket will be used to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station, and to help us explore the outer reaches of the solar system."

Queers for the Climate launches #SaveTheStraights campaign to raise awareness about climate change: "It’s a very tongue-in-cheek way to frame climate change. Maybe to be even more specific, and be a bomb thrower, [the problem is] mostly probably rich, straight white men – the CEOs of all the big fossil fuel companies, and the Koch brothers, and the folks that are obviously not just destroying the climate, but destroying our democracy. It’s kind of a broad-stroke, stereotypical answer, but I think that the gay community has an interesting contribution to make, because many of the people challenging LGBT equality in the U.S. have been the standard bearers of the patriarchy right."


Watch the video: Erotic Museum in Amsterdam (May 2022).