Thursday, January 14, 2021

World War Z


Trump is a literal gangster.

Like any gangster he has really only one way of dealing with people.


He sets up a goal and a punishment and then he tells his agent that in order to avoid the punishment he has to carry out the goal. That’s what has been happening since the election. ‘Nice Congress you got there. It would be a shame if anything b.a.a.a.d happened to it.’ This was what Trump tried to pull in his phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State. And this is what Trump tried to pull on the Sixth. All the time that the legislators were hunkered down Trump (and the oily worm Giuliani) were calling legislators trying to get them to change their votes. And, during this time, he was not calling out the National Guard to defend a Congress which he knew was in peril.  But the peril, the danger to life and limb, was the whole point.

The most concerning thing about all this is what did not quite happen. If the rioters had broken into the rooms where legislators were huddled would the republicans have given up the Democrats to the rioters? Think about that for a moment. If anything like that had happened then even after a rescue Congress would have imploded. Could you work with someone who, when the chips were down, would turn you over to thugs? Congress would turn into a cess-pit of vipers. It wouldn’t be able to meet; it would self-destruct.

Americans believe two contradictory things about their government. 1) The government is a tyrannical force that’s taking away my freedoms. And 2) the government is not doing near enough for me in providing for my wants. And I mean that most Americans hold these two contradictory beliefs at the very same time.

What struck me in watching the aftermath was a plain and ordinary respectable-looking white house-wife being interviewed by some news crew. She said that she had participated in the riot because she wouldn’t bow to ‘Oppression’.


What oppression? Is she wearing chains? Have her cities been burnt and her children sold into slavery? Has her political party been outlawed and its leaders jailed? Has her white race been cast into labor camps or extermination factories? Has her religion been stigmatized and persecuted? No. None of those things is true.

It was Krugman who pointed out the all the things that the rioters were fighting for were completely untrue. The election was NOT won by Trump. The election was NOT stolen (as Trump’s extortion call to Georgia makes perfectly clear).

The broad-casting of imaginary grievances on Twitter and other Social Media is a big part of the problem. The problem that the Internet has created is that very stupid people never realized before how powerful and numerous they are. Now they know. And now I understand better why governments constantly work to control the overall narrative

In the novel World War Z there’s a scene where an army unit squares off against the zombies. The unit is equipped with an open communications net that allows anyone to talk. The zombies are a formidable force and at one point part of the army unit is on the edge of being overwhelmed. One panicky soldier gets on the net and screams that they have to retreat.  As a result the whole line of soldiers breaks and runs for it - with predictably unfortunate results.

This dark fable reflects the Internet. The plain fact is that we cannot let just anyone have access to an open communications channel. Any mad-man, any schizophrenic, any criminal, any bad actor at all, can shout his or her hallucinations and grievances into the ether and millions, similarly damaged, will respond. 

 The internet is wolves howling to wolves.

I love the Internet and what it’s made possible but given its structural flaws (not to mention its incurable security problems) there may come a time in the near future when the Internet is closed down or severely curtailed.

I don’t think that we can achieve stability until that happens.

N.B. The incidence of schizophrenia in the United States ranges between one in 400 Americans to one in 156 Americans. That’s more than 2 million schizophrenics in a population that’s heavily armed.  

The novel World War Z was written by Max Brooks.  It was published by Del Rey in 2006.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Tithorea and Neon: A Small Town in Phocis

 Ano Tithorea (hereinafter Tithorea) is a town in Phocis which sits under the foot of the north face of Parnassos.  In the Mycenaean Atlas it is defined as C5152 and it is located at 38.583985° N, 22.668176° E.   It has always been a small town of shepherds and farmers and of no particular importance although in Pausanias' time it was the location of the most significant Isis temple in Greece.   Nor does it seem to have been of any great antiquity.  It was thought to have been founded after the Trojan war but the finds exhibited in the town don't go further back than the Archaic.[1]  In modern times it bore the name of Velitza until 1926[2].  More recently it has been eclipsed in significance by the growth of Kato Tithorea which is about 4.5 km. to the NE  on the right bank of the Cephissos River.

And yet, for all its obscurity, Tithorea was for a while the center of a knotty controversy involving another town called Neo.  The controversy was just the question of whether Neo was an earlier name for Tithorea  or whether Neo was a completely separate town located somewhere else.
The earliest mention of these names that we have is in Herodotus. [3]  He describes what happens as Xerxes’ army approaches the Cephisos valley in the summer of 480 BC. 
“When the barbarians marched out of Doris and invaded Phocis, they did not take any Phocians themselves, because a number of the Phocians had climbed to the heights of Parnassus, where there is a suitable haven for many people on an isolated peak called Tithorea, overlooking the city of Neon.  Those who climbed this peak brought their belongings along with them.”
Six hundred years later Pausanias visited the area and reported this:
“I know more than one version of the name of the city as Herodotos in his Persian Invasion say one thing, and Bakis in his prophecies another.  Bakis calls the people here Tithoreans, but Herodotos’s account is that when the barbarians came in, the people fled to the crest of the mountain, and the city was called Neon, while Tithorea was on the peak of Pamassos.  In the course of time ‘Tithorea’ seems to have crept in for the whole countryside and then, when a city arose from the villages, it came to be Tithorea, and is not now called Neon.”[4]
So the combined account of Pausanias and Herodotus suggests that there was a settlement at the location of present-day Ano Tithorea (until 1926 'Velitsa') and which was called ‘Neon’.   When Xerxes invaded in 480 BC he destroyed the towns in Phocis including Neon(?) but the inhabitants had fled into the adjoining hills and cliffs of Parnassos and so saved themselves.  Both Pausanias and Herodotus seem to support the idea that Neon was a precursor to Tithorea.  When the town was rebuilt it was named for the immediate area which was, in turn, referred to from the name of a peak of Parnassos called ‘Tithorea’.  Although I would just like to put forward the hypothesis here that Xerxes must have destroyed the town so completely that, afterwards, the old name of Neon seemed to apply to nothing and that a new name seemed natural to the inhabitants.[5]
In the nineteenth century E.D. Clarke made the identification of Velitza with Tithorea.  He described the finding of a spolia inscription in a local church which listed some citizens of ‘Tithorea’.[6]  Clarke had no difficulty accepting the idea that Tithorea was the later name of a settlement called ‘Neo’; he repeats Pausanias’ account with no additional comment.[7]
During the nineteenth century doubts arose about the identification of Neon with Tithorea.   H.N. Ulrichs finds grounds for doubting the traditional understanding in his reading of Plutarch's Sulla.   Plutarch’s account is as follows [8]
“[3] For these reasons Sulla transferred his army into Boeotia. But Hortensius was rescued by Caphis, a countryman of mine, and conducted by different routes, of which the Barbarians were ignorant, past Parnassus to a spot just below Tithora. [9]
[4] This was not so large a city then as it is now, but a fortress surrounded on all sides by steep cliffs, into which those of the Phocians who in ancient times fled before the advance of Xerxes [10] betook themselves and were saved. Having encamped here, Hortensius repulsed the enemy by day, and at night descended to Patronis by difficult paths and made a junction with Sulla, who came to meet him with his army." (emphasis is mine) [11]
So Plutarch, describing events in the first century B.C. describes Tithorea as a fortress ‘φρούριον’.  And this, combined with Herodotus’ report that people fled FROM Neon TO Tithora, suggested to Ulrichs that Tithora was NOT a peak of Parnassos but was the actual town.  Therefore Neon had to be somewhere else.[12]  And that this happened in the same way as in ancient times (‘πάλαι’) when the Phocians fled Xerxes’ advancing horde. 
Ah, problem.  There is no evidence at all that Tithora was fortified during the fifth century B.C.  At that time it was just a small town under an overhanging cliff, perched on the edge of the Cachales on the east but completely open to invasion from the west and the north.  At that time no one would have fled TO the town for refuge.[13]
Ulrichs tries to bolster his argument by suggesting that the Phocians would never have fled into the foothills of  Parnassos because Parnassos offers no safe or comfortable place of refuge.[14]
This argument, too, is difficult to accept.  The first problem is that refugees are not looking for absolutely safe or comfortable places in which to dwell.   They   are fleeing for their lives and are willing to make strenuous efforts and put up with considerable discomfort in the attempt.  We must remember that Thessalians were coming along with Xerxes and, due to the long-standing hatred between the two peoples, no Phocian would  have felt safe in their path. [15]   Nor can we judge the idea of Parnassos as a refuge from our perspective but from theirs (or as nearly as we can imagine it).    We must keep always in mind that Parnassos was not something foreign to the Phocians but part of their lived, everyday, experience.  For the Phocians Parnassos was rich in resources, and riddled with sheltering caves.  Many Phocaeans were intimately familiar with it and quite up to its physical challenges.[16]
We should remember that an important part of the Phocian economy was to take flocks up the slopes of Parnassos in the summer.  We should remember that Xerxes traversed this valley in August of 480 BC - full summer.  At that time some (indeterminate) number of Phocians would have already been on the slopes of Parnassos with their flocks.[17] 
There is a large number of places on the N side of Parnassos that would furnish temporary refuge for those fleeing an approaching hostile army.  The heights above Ano Tithorea rise in a series of small plateaus and the cliff faces that separate them are studded with caves as can be plainly seen in the following photograph from Grigory Palierakes. [18]

In this photo (taken from the church at 38.582526° N, 22.669754° E) the town of Tithorea is in the foreground. The photo faces S towards the first ramparts of Parnassos. The 4th century fortifications of the town are on the slope in the right center of the picture; more fortifications are out of sight to the right and behind the photographer. The deep ravine of the Cachales is to the left. On the hill itself (higher peaks are lost to sight in the clouds) we can make out at least three levels that could hold refugees. Level 3 is the lowest, a small flat area on the steepest part of the hill. Level 1 is a large flattened area in which the elevations vary by about 200 m. By my measurement it is just over a hectare in area. Behind the arrow marked level 2 is a larger flat area which is at least 25 hectares in area. Any of these areas would shelter people - not comfortably but in relative safety. And what we see in this photograph is just the beginning of all those areas on Parnassos which could shelter people.   Parnassos is also the location of many caves of which one can be seen in this picture. Another large cave, that of Odysseus Androutsou, is located just behind the arrow labelled ‘Level 2’ (On the M.A.P. it is F6229).  For more about these caves you can see the article by Sporn and Laufer [2019].

Ulrich’s idea that sheltering on the slopes of Parnassos would not have been practical is an argument with little basis. Shelter was to be found in many places on the slopes and as far as the forage line which is at about 1600 m.

Here we see the same area from directly above in Google Earth.  The labels label the same  phenomena.  The photograph was taken from the yellow pin indicated by the red arrow.

In this picture, taken from the Topoguide ( web site we see the modern trails leading up from Tithorea and into the slopes above the town.  I suspect that it would have been little different in antiquity.
Palaio Thiva

If Ulrichs thought that the town of Neo was separate and somewhere else then where did he think it was?  It happens that Clarke had already identified the ruins of another town which was in his time called Palaio Thiva.  Clarke actually saw these ruins about which he says: "There is nothing to be seen upon the spot, but the traces of some walls, almost indiscernible; every other vestige having been long ago erased, to make way for the plough.  It is situate on the s. s. w. side of the CEPHISSUS, at an hour's distance from Turco-Chorio,  ... "[19]

Before proceeding I should say something about Palaio Thiva's location.  Only a few stone blocks are left to mark where it was and so its location is not precisely established.  Topoguide gives a region name of 'Palafiva' which I have placed in the Mycenaean Atlas at F6217.  If Palaio Thiva was located near the confluence of the Cachales and the Cephissos then it may have been located at F6245 which is where these two streams come together.  The following photo shows the region just north of Tithorea along the Cephissos (blue).  Here we see the much-channeled and depleted Cachales (green) where it meets the Cephissos.  It is here, approximately, that Palaio-Thiva was located.

A little later Ulrichs himself saw the site and describes it this way: "At a short distance of no more than an hour and a half, 25-30 stadia, from Velitza in a northbound direction, on the flat plain on the right bank of the Cephissus, lie the remains of an extensive old city which is now called he palaia Theba, i.e. Old Thebes. The walls formed a regular square. You can see the ditch all around, and next to it the whole line of the walls is raised like an earth wall. In many places, the basic structure appears, which consists of large ashlar stones. As in Mantinea, Thespiae and many other cities, a structure of unfired adobe bricks probably rose above this, the weathering of which forms the current mound, which hides the foundation in most places. One recognizes in the remains individual, partly square, partly round towers. Inside there are many large and small cuboid structures and the floor is mixed with broken bricks. "   It is this town of Palaio-Thiva that Ulrichs suggested as the real Neon.  As he says: "Because of the close proximity of Tithora, I believe that Herodotus' Neon should be added here."[20]

Frazer had more to say about the area when he visited it in the 1890's. "Now three or four miles to the north of Velitsa, in the plain on the right bank of the Cephisus, there exist the remains of an ancient city of considerable size.  The walls formed an irregular quadrangle.  In many places the foundation or socle of large squared blocks is to be seen, and the remains of towers, some square, some round, may also be recognised.  Inside the circuit of the walls are many foundations of various sizes, and the ground is littered with potsherds."[21]

Leake describes both arguments but seems to agree that Tithorea and Neon were the same place.  He points out that the walls of Tithorea have existed only from the beginning of the Roman period and he hints that Plutarch’s description of the  place as a fortress must have been mistaken.[22]
Thirty years later J.G. Frazer gives both sides of the argument: "H. N. Ulrichs conjectured that these ruins, which are now called Palaia Pheva ('Old Thebes') by the natives, are the remains of Neon.  That Neon was distinct from Tithorea and continued to subsist even after Tithorea was built seems to be indicated by the statement of Pausanias (x. 2. 4) that a battle was fought at Neon in the Sacred War of 355-346 B.C.  Yet on the other hand it has sometimes been held, as by Pausanias himself, that Neon and Tithorea were identical, Neon being the earlier, Tithorea the later name of the town.  On this view the peak to which Herodotus gave the name of Tithorea must have been one of the higher summits of Parnassus."[23]

In this passage Pausanias does seem to be naming Neon separately from Tithorea but Frazer has left out the most important part.  Pausanias continues: " ... at the city of Neon where the Phokians were routed, and in the panic Philomelos threw himself down from a steep high rock and was killed."[24]   A steep high rock is entirely consistent with Tithorea but there is no such thing at Palaia Thiva.  I would say that Pausanias has no reason to make up this story but remember that he is interested in the topos that being hurled from a cliff is the prescribed punishment for violating the sanctuary of Delphi (something which Philomelos had actually done). 

By the twentieth century the identification of Neon with Tithorea seems to have been established as the scholarly consensus.  Tillard, in an article of 1910, firmly establishes the equivalence of Neon and Tithorea.[25]

The truth is that both arguments are correct.  People living in the location of modern Tithorea would have taken refuge in the foothills of Parnassos at the approach of a hostile army.  But so would residents of communities out on the plain and closer to the Cephissos.    But none of those communities on the plain was called 'Neon'.
[1]  Strabo ix.5.  "But Demetrius the Scepsian says, that there is no such place on Parnassus as Eleon, but Neon, which was built after the Trojan war, "
[2]  The name 'Velitsa' is encountered in the older literature.  The name change record is here.

[3]  Herodotus (viii, 32).
[4] Pausanias (x, 32), p. 491.  And see Levi’s footnote 208.
[5] And determining which peak of Parnassos was called ‘Tithorea’ would be a nice exercise.  A good candidate might be the ridge-end at  38.569158°,  22.638735° which rises about 1400 m. above the town of Ano Tithoreia.  Perhaps the ridge end lower down at  38.579536° N,   22.665737° E would also be a plausible choice.
[6]  Clarke [1805], 155.
[7] Ibid., 154-5.  Clarke has the highest confidence in Pausanias.  On page 153 we read: “Too much attention cannot be paid to his text.  In all the district of Parnassus, every word he utters is a treasure.” 
[8] Plutarch. Sulla, 15.3-4.
[9]  Plutarch.  Sulla, 15.3:  διὰ τοῦ Παρνασσοῦ κατῆγεν ὑπ᾽ αὐτὴν τὴν Τιθόραν,
[10]  Plutarch.  Sulla, 15.4: οὔπω τοσαύτην πόλιν οὖσαν ὅση νῦν ἐστιν, ἀλλὰ φρούριον ἀπορρῶγι κρημνῷ περικοπτόμενον, εἰς ὃ καὶ πάλαι ποτὲ Φωκέων οἱ Ξέρξην ἐπιόντα φεύγοντες ἀνεσκευάσαντο καὶ διεσώθησαν, ...
[11] Plutarch makes another error here.  He suggests that Tithorea (‘Tithora’) is surrounded by steep cliffs.  (‘ … ἀπορρῶγι κρημνῷ περικοπτόμενον … )  It isn’t.  It is quite open to the surrounding  plain of the Cephissos from north and west.
[12] Ulrichs [1863], II, 118.  " ..., während Tithora, wenn es nach Plutarchs Zeugniß schon damals befestigt war, sich wegen seiner vorzüglichen lage leicht vertheidigen ließ."  "While Tithora, if it was fortified according to Plutarch's testimony, was easy to defend because of its excellent location."

[13] For the date of the walls of Tithorea see Tillard [1910/1911] 54.  He dates the walls to after 338 B.C.  “… of a uniform type and date from the restoration after the battle of Chaironea in 338 B.C.” and, p. 60, “There is no reason  to believe that the enceinte of Tithorea is subsequent to the last years of the fourth century B.C.”. 
Also J.G. Frazer [1898] xxxii, p. 405: " ...; but their fine style leaves little room to doubt that they belong to the best period of Greek military architecture, namely to the fourth century B.C."  Frazer summarily dismisses Ulrich’s idea that the walls can be no earlier than the second century B.C.  Nor does he give any credence, nor should we, to the idea that they were a product of the Roman period.
[14] Ulrichs [1863], II, 118.  " ... denn die Gipfel und Bergflächen oberhalb Velitza bieten weder einen bequemen noch sicheren Zufluchtsort dar, ... "
[15] And there were other times when the Phocians sought shelter from invading armies on the slopes of Parnassos.  Herodotus tells us that at the time of the famous ‘Chalk Raid’ of 490, just ten years previously: “The Phocians had taken refuge on Mount Parnassus, and they had with them the prophet Tellias of Elis who had devised a clever stratagem for them … ”, “ἐπείτε γὰρ κατειλήθησαν ἐς τὸν Παρνησὸν  … ”. Herodotus viii, 27.3.   For more on the Chalk Raid and a discussion of where it was fought see Blome [2015] 29 ff.
[16] To remind us of this is, I believe, the purpose of this remark of Frazer's:  He is mounting the slope just behind (S of) Tithorea and inspecting the remains of the 4th century BC wall: "The antiquary who picks his way painfully among these obstacles is mortified by the contrast between his own slow progress and that of the village urchins who accompany him; for they climb and skip like goats on the top of the walls, now appearing suddenly on the highest pinnacles and then again leaping from stone to stone with wonderful confidence and agility." Frazer [1898] 404.
[17] For transhumance (or its absence) in Greece see Chandezon [2003].  Also  the review by Emily Mackil in Bryn Mawr Review, July 2004.  Also Stella Georgoudi, (1974) “Quelques problèmes de la transhumance dans la Grèce ancienne”, Revue des etudes Grecques (87) 153-185.

[18] A user-submitted photograph from Google  Earth signed ΓΡΗΓΟΡΗΣ ΠΑΛΙΕΡΑΚΗΣ.  No copyright notice visible.

[19] Clarke [1818] 285-286.

[20] Ulrichs [1863] II, 118.

[21] Frazer [1898] 32.9, pp. 406-7.  And see Dr. Karin Braun's article 'Palaio Thiva' in Lauffer [1999].

[22] The walls are not Roman but he is correct in spirit if not in fact.  Leake [1835], II, 80.

[23] Frazer [1898] 32.9, p. 407.

[25] Tillard [1910/1911], 'Tithorea', 56 ff.

Blome [2015] : Blome, David Andrew.  Defense and Strategy Among the Upland People of the Classical Greek World 490-362 BC.  Ph.D. Dissertation.  Cornell University. 2015.  It is online here.

Chandezon [2003] :  Chandezon, Christophe.  L’élevage en Grèce (fin Ve-fin Ier s. a.C.). L’apport des sources épigraphiques : fin Ve-fin Ier s. a.C. : l'apport des sources épigraphiques.  Scripta antiqua, 5. Bordeaux: Ausonius, 2003. ISBN 2910023346   It is online here.

Clarke [1805] : Clarke, E.D., The Tomb of Alexander, London, 1805.  This is online here.
Clarke [1818] :  Clarke, E.D. Travels in Various Countries of Europe Asia and Africa,  Greece Egypt and the Holy Land.  Section III, (Volume 7).  London, 1818.  Online here.

Frazer [1898]:  Frazer, J.G., Pausanias’ Description of Greece; Translated with a commentary by J.G. Frazer.  Volume 5; Commentary on Books IX., X. Addenda.  London, Macmillan.  1898.  It is online here.
Georgoudi [1974] : Georgoudi, Stella.  “Quelques problèmes de la transhumance dans la Grèce ancienne”, Revue des etudes Grecques (87) 153-185.  1974.  It is online here.

Herodotus:  The Landmark Herodotus; The Histories.  Robert B. Strassler (ed.).  Andrea L. Purvis (trans.).  Anchor Books.  2007.
Lauffer [1999] : Lauffer, Siegfried (ed.)  Griechenland; Lexikon der historischen Stätten.  Augsburg.  1999.  ISBN: 3-8289-4144-3.

Leake [1835] : Leake, William Martin.  Travels in Northern Greece, J. Rodwell, London. 1835.  It is online here.
Luraghi and Alcock [2003] : Luraghi, Nino and Susan E. Alcock (edd.), Helots and Their Masters in Laconia and Messenia: Histories, Ideologies, Structures. Hellenic Studies Series 4. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. 2003. It is online here.

Pausanias : Pausanias.   Guide to Greece I: Central Greece. Translated with an Introduction by Peter Levi. 1971.
Plutarch Sulla : Plutarch, Sulla.  Online here.  The Greek text is here.
Sporn and Laufer [2019] : Sporn, Katja and Eric Laufer.  'Tithorea, Griechenland. Topographische Untersuchungen im Stadtgebiet. Die Arbeiten der Jahre 2016 und 2017'   This is an e-publication of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut and is online here.  I am grateful to Brady Kiesling of Topostext for bringing this article to my attention.

Tillard [1910/1911] : Tillard, Laurence B., “The Fortifications of Phokis”, The Annual of the British School at Athens (17), 54-75.  1910/1911.  It is online here.
Ulrichs [1863]:  Ulrichs, Heinrich N.  Reisen und Forschungen in Griechenland.   Passow, Berlin.  1863.  Online here.

van Wees [2003] : van Wees, Hans.  'Conquerors and Serfs: Wars of Conquest and Forced Labour in Archaic Greece'. Chapt. 3 in Luraghi and Alcock [2003]. pp. 33-74.  It is online here

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Cry of the Meleagrides

"We glorify Abraham, but how?  We recite the whole story in clichés: "The great thing was that he loved God in such a way that he was willing to offer him the best."  This is very true but 'the best' is a vague term."


 In my last post I briefly mentioned a hill (C7112) in northern Leros which may or may not have been the site of a temple to Artemis.  This temple was supposed to have been the home of some Guinea hens and it had a declared connection to the story of Meleager and his sisters.  I wanted to use this post to go over the old myth again.  Before I continue I made a lage spreadsheet with the mythemes and sources for this complex tale.  My readers should download that spreadsheet before continuing.  You can get it safely from Google Drive here.  Where Google says 'Open with' just click on that dropdown and select 'Google Sheets'.  

Meleager's father was King Oeneus of Calydon in Aetolia and his mother was Althaea.  She was from a clan called the Kyretes.  Right away we have a snapshot of a patriarchal society with,  probably, exogamy requirements, and virilocal/patrilocal residence.  In other words, Althaea came from her clan, the Kyretes, to live with her husband among the Aetolians/Calydonians - her husband's clan.  Her son, Meleager, was a member of his father's clan but with maternal connections to the clan of his uncles, Althaea's brothers, among the Kyretes.  In this way the rules of exogamy and virilocality establish a connection across clans between uncles and nephew.  This can often provide a path for recruiting people for some special purpose, as we're about to see.

At Meleager's birth the three fates (the Parcae) appeared and predicted what sort of man he would be.  But the last of the fates predicted that Meleager's life would be no longer than a brand that was just then burning in the fire place.[1]  Meleager's mother, Althaea, rushed to pull the brand out of the fire and extinguish it in some water.  She then placed it in a chest and hid it.

Now one day King Oeneus was sacrificing to Bacchus and to other gods and goddesses; this was presumably during a harvest festival.  However he omitted to remember Artemis among his sacrifices.  The goddess was angered and sent a giant boar to ravage the land of Calydon.  In response Meleager organized a hunting party to kill the boar and, among the members of this party, Atalanta (the girl from Arcadia and sometime hunting companion of Artemis), his uncles, and many others.  The uncles were undoubtedly following recruitment rules and were bound to receive a prize of honor when successful.

Ultimately the boar was cornered and Atalanta was first to wound it with an arrow.  In the end, though,  Meleager killed the boar with his spear.  The head and skin of the boar was awarded to Meleager; the custom being to award the skin to the one who killed the animal.  But Meleager was in love with Atalanta and gave her the skin in turn as being the first to draw blood.  Meleager's uncles were outraged by this breach of traditional hunting rules (although various reasons are given for their ire; it's clear that even our oldest sources don't really understand what's going on).  The resentment arose either from the fact that she was not the one to kill the boar or that it was against custom to award the prize (and prize it was) to a woman.  Now, before I continue, I draw the reader's attention to the remarks of Celoria that this squabble is "a feature of systematic procedures in hunting cultures where the strictest rules are followed in dividing a slain animal." [2]

Meleager was outraged that his uncles tried to thwart his decision and so he slew them on the spot.  When his mother, Althaea, learned about the death of her brothers she took the brand from the chest where it had been preserved for so many years and threw it into the fire - in this way causing Meleager's death.  The conflicting duties that Althaea owes both to her brothers and to her children are dramatized by Ovid in one of his more baroque passages.  Her conflicting impulses would have been real enough.  Meleager's murder of his uncles immediately ignites a war between the Kyretes and the Kalydonians.  And, in an alternative version of the death of Meleager, he actually falls fighting in the war against the Kyretes when the city is burned and the brand is destroyed (if I understand that correctly).  At his death, however it occurred, his sisters (known collectively as the Meleagrides) made such a clamor that Artemis converted them into Guinea hens.  It was exactly in Leros, at Partheni, that this form of the cult was observed.

Bibliographical Essay

Now let's take a look at the original sources and see each author deals with the story elements.

The tale falls into two fundamental types.  Type 1 concentrates on the Calydonian Boar Hunt and the death of Meleager through his mother's burning of the magic brand.  Type II concentrates on the discord between the Kyretes and the Aetolians and how it arose.  This variant also ends in the death of Meleager either through his mother burning the brand, or the destruction of the city by burning, or by direct action on the part of Apollo.  

The earliest version of Tale Type I (that I find) is in Bacchylides[3] because even though Homer[4] gives a fine sketch of the Calydonian Boar Hunt and its origin he is really more interested in the inter-clan strife between the Kyretes and the Kalydonians.  The point Homer is trying to make is the baleful consequences of a great warrior withdrawing from battle.  Bacchylides, on the other hand, is more interested in the magical aspects of the story.

The great fifth-century tragedians, both of whom refer to the Type I version, are Aeschylus [5] and Euripides [6].  Type I appears in its canonical form in Hyginus' Fabulae both 171 and 174.  Hyginus has no interest in the civil strife between the Kyretes and the Kalydonians.[7]  Hyginus' version is the earliest I know of to mention the sisters of Meleager being transformed into Guinea fowl.  Ovid appears to take his cue from Hyginus with a full-blown treatment of the Type I version including the metamorphosis of the sisters into Guinea fowl along with the reason for that transformation (omitted by Hyginus), namely, their crying and shrieking for the death of their brother.[8]

Statius' Thebaid mentions the story in passing[9].  His interest is only the topos of the anger of women and its terrible consequences.  For Dio Chrysostom [10] it is also just a topos.  In this case that of the mutability of external opinion and the folly of resting one's understanding of oneself on some external factor.  Meleager's life resting on the integrity of a burning brand under the control of someone else is his example.

Both versions of the tale are laid out in Ps. Apollodorus [11].  This is the only one of our sources to do so.  He starts with the birth of Meleager and ends with the metamorphosis of the Meleagrides.

Pausanias[12] lays out a few fragments of the story mentioning the Parcae and the burning brand.  He skips the Calydonian Boar Hunt (at least in this connection) and briefly mentions Althaea's causing her son's death through the burning of the brand.  In Antoninus Liberalis the story is told in chunks[13].  The death of Meleager is overdetermined, being borrowed from both types 1 and 2.

After Pausanias, and in the wake of the collapse of traditional Greek religion, interest in the story falls off.

The Suda knows the story; at least it gives a definition of the Meleagrides [P]

Why were the Melegrides turned into Guinea Hens?  I'll look at that element of the story next time.


[1] The concept of 'the external soul'. In Thompson [1955] this is theme no. E765.1.2,  'Life bound up with burning brand (torch)'.  Also Hartland [1891] 205 for the story of Olger (Ogier) the Dane.  Theme E765.1.2 is listed on this page.

[2] Celoria [1992] 112, n. 33.  Such rules are quite common: see Flannery and Marcus [2012] 25 for meat sharing among the Netsilik and, p. 32, among the !Kung.  The list could be extended indefinitely.   Celoria also reminds us of the story of Mac da Tho's pig from The Book of Leinster.  For meat division among the Samoans see Peter Buck [1930] 119 ff.

In the scholiast on Oedipus at Colonnus (1375) we read that the sons of Oedipus, Polyneices and Eteocles, sent their father a haunch of a sacrificed animal instead of the shoulder.  It is suggested in, e.g. Graves [1960], 12 that this was an 'inferior'  part of the animal.  More likely (but this is pure supposition) the haunch was a brother's portion rather than a father's portion.   If that were true then it would have been a deadly insult; an unwelcome reminder to Oedipus of his actual relationship to Eteocles and  Polyneices.   And see Huxley [1969] 42; also Robert Buck [1979] 49.  

It is not impossible that these formalized divisions of meat underlie the earliest forms of prestation between subordinate and dominant clans.  Meleager's uncles were not outraged over nothing.  I discuss such matters in more detail here.

[3] Ode 5.  Online here.

[4] Il. ix, 527-605.  Online here.

[5] In The Libation Bearers, ll. 602-611.  Online here.

[6] Fragment 520.  I cannot find the text of this and what little I know is taken from the OCD, s.v. 'Meleager' which refers to the taking of the prize from Atalanta: " ... when, after he had given the hide of the boar to Atalanta with whom he was in love, they took it away from her (  ...; ultimately from Euripides' Meleager? ... "

[7] These Fabulae (171 and 174) are online here and here.

[8] In the Metamorphoses viii, 260-546.  Online here and here.

[9] The Thebaid II:410-481.  Online here.

[10] Discourse 67, 'On Popular Opinion'.  Online here.

[11] In the Bibliotheke 1.8.2-3 which is online here.

[12] Section 10.31.3-4.  Online here.

[13] Antoninus Liberalis, The Metamorphoses, 2, 'The Meleagrides'.  Online here.  Ant. Lib. epitomized Nicander of Colophon (OCD, s.v. 'Nicander').

[14] "Meleagri/des.", Suda On Line. Tr. David Whitehead. 9 April 2008.  Online here.


Buck [1930] : Buck, Peter H. (Te Rangi Hiroa), 'Samoan Material Culture', Bulletin of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, no. 75.  1930.  It can be read here.

Buck [1979] : Buck, Robert.  A History of Boeotia.  University of Alberta Press.  1979.

Celoria [1992] : Celoria, Francis, The Metamorphoses of Antoninus Liberalis; A Translation with Commentary.  Routledge, 1992.  ISBN: 9780415068963.  Online here.

Flannery and Marcus [2012]:   Flannery, Kent and Joyce Marcus.  The Creation of Inequality: How our prehistoric ancestors set the Stage for Monarchy, Slavery, and Empire.  Harvard University Press. 2012.  978-0674416772.

Graves [1960] : Graves, Robert.  The Greek Myths; 2.  Penguin Books.  1960.

Hartland [1891] :  Hartland, Edwin Sidney.  The Science of Fairy Tales, London, Walter Scott Pub., 1891.  Online here.

Huxley [1969]: Huxley, G.A.  Greek Epic Poetry from Eumelos to Panyassis. Cambridge, MA.  1969.

OCD: The Oxford Classical Dictionary, fourth edition.  Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth (edd.). Oxford University Press. 2012.

Thompson [1955]:  Thompson,Stith, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature: A Classification of Narrative Elements in Folk-Tales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Mediaeval Romances, Exempla, Fabliaux, Jest-Books, and Local Legends, rev. and enl. edn, 6 vols (Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger, 1955-58).   Section E, on death, is here:

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Geography of Partheni Bay on Leros


The island of Leros, in the Dodecanese, lies between Patmos and Kalymnos. 

Leros is situated between Patmos and Kalymnos

 Simpson and Dickinson tell of an early Bronze Age site discovered on the edge of Partheni Bay which is in the north of Leros as shown on the next map.  

Partheni Bay on Leros

  Simpson and Dickinson characterize the site like this:

"The easternmost of three promontories (collectively named "Ta Poundaria") on the S shore of Partheni Bay in the N of the island was an EB settlement.  The site is only 80 m. NNW-SSE by 40 m., but may have been partly eroded by the sea.  The  sherds found are from jars and pithoi of EB I type.  ... "[1]

Where exactly is this site?

Partheni Bay on Leros with ta Poundaria labelled.

On this map we see the three promontories called 'ta Poundaria'. They are the easternmost on the south coast of Partheni Bay. The one furthest E I have arbitrarily labelled "Poundaria 1". Its neighbors,Ta Poundaria 2 and 3, lie just to its W.

Let's look at Ta Poundaria 1 in closeup:

Does this satisfy the criteria set out by our authors? Here's what Simpson and Lazenby said about it earlier:

" ... a very low and very small promontory ... with the remains of an L-shaped mole at its north-west tip. The promontory, which is about 80 m. long by 40 m. wide, is the easternmost of the three (named collectively 'Ta Poundaria') in the middle of the south shore of Partheni Bay (the central promontory is even smaller, and the westernmost is the peninsula discussed by Benson where both Ross and Burchner reported tholaria)."(52)[2]

Here Simpson and Lazenby are, confusingly, giving the size of the peninsula as 40 x 80 m. when, in fact, it's the site that's 40 x 80 m.[3] The hypothesized size of the site is thus 3200 m. The actual area of this peninsula is about 29,700 sq. m.

In order to give an idea of the size of the site relative to the peninsula I have drawn a circle with an area of 3200 m. (about 32 m. radius) against a photo of Ta Poundaria 1. I show this circle in the next photo:

Ta Poundaria 1 with a circle sized to approximately the dimensions of the site.

I have identifies this site in the Mycenaean Atlas Project as C7111 and I suppose that we're no more than twenty or so meters away from wherever it was that these Early Bronze sherds were discovered.

A Second Site, C7112

Simpson and Dickinson [1979] 367 suggest the presence of another site in this area:

"Similar fragments of pithoi found on a hillock c. 1 km. to SW may  represent  a cemetery area connected with the settlement.'"[4]

Where is this 'hillock'?  

The hillock in question sits just to the SW of the Leros airport runway.  At its highest point it is 11 m. above the surrounding plain.  On its peak sit the ruins of a tower about 8m square, presumably Hellenistic, and about which there has been some debate.  Early investigators supposed it to be the site of the often-mentioned Temple to Artemis (Parthenos Iokallis).  The virgin Iokallis has been thought to be a local semi-deity whose cult was assimilated to that of Artemis.  In 1905 Dawkins and Wace established that this platform was really just a tower.[5]  Bean and Cook reaffirmed this in 1957.[6]  And even though no other location for the temple has been suggested, this remains the consensus of scholars today.  But the idea that Artemis' temple is located on this hill hasn't quite died.   (Including the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports which still has this claim on their website here. )  In fact, Benson gives reasons why the tower base may have originally been the location of a small temple.  

Here's a photo of the entire top of the hill with some superimposed drawings of what can be made of the structures currently remaining.

The green cylinders (T1, ... ) are trees: a crude if effective way of representing them.  S1 and S2 are structures whose purpose I cannot determine.  The structure labelled 'Platform' is the proposed tower base.  The orange structure labelled 'Nave' is the location of the church of H. Eirene. I marked one structure, in yellow, with a question mark.  It is not clear whether or not this is part of H. Eirene.

Following is a photograph of the same area from directly above:

At some point in the Christian era the stones of the tower platform were re-used to build a small chapel to H. Eirene (F6216). [7]   Of H. Eirene Benson says this:

"Parallel and very near the tower on its north side is a small ruined chapel , known locally as Ayia Eirene, built largely with blocks taken from the tower. The small conch - like apse is constructed of brick and concrete , which was covered with plaster on which are traces of wall painting in red, yellow and dark greenish grey paint. The total height of the apse above the present surface is 2.45 m. A clandestine excavation which had taken place recently went down below the obvious level for a floor without revealing any traces of one."[8]

I found some pictures that show what remains of the nave of this chapel.  You should be able to link to them here:

This is the same scene from the photograph looking down the 'nave' of H. Eirene facing east.   Next to it on the S (right) is what's left of the tower platform.    On the N (left) of the chapel is a low yellow structure.  Photographs indicate that the slope falls away towards the N and I could not interpret what this structure was.  Take it with a grain of salt.

As for the platform itself there is another user-contributed photo that shows it up close and looking W.  You can find that photo here:

Here is a reproduction of that photo.  Here the viewer is looking directly W along the apse end of the nave (center).  The platform is to the S (on the left) under the shade of a tree.  

The temple that was thought to be here was famous in antiquity as sacred to Artemis.  The priests kept Guinea hens here which they advertised as Meleager's sisters, the Meleagrides.

In my next post I will devote more space to the myth of Meleager.


[1] Simpson and Dickinson [1979] 367, 'Partheni: Ta Poundaria etc.'.

[2] Simpson and Lazenby [1970] 52, 'Leros; Partheni'

[3] Simpson and Dickinson [1979] ibid.

[4] Idem.

[5] Dawkins and Wace [1905] But see Benson [1963] 16,  ' ... this may be the site of the Temple of the Parthenos, if it was of modest proportions.' 

[6] Bean and Cook [1957] 134, 'Leros': " ...; and at H. Eirene, between the bay and H. Georgios, is the ruin of a square tower described and illlustrated by Dawkins and Wace."

[7] The name confirmed in Benson [1963] 17 and n. 48.

[8] Benson [1963] 17.


Bean and Cook [1957] : G.E. Bean and J.M. Cook, 'The Carian Coast III', Annual of the British School at Athens (52) 'Leros', pp. 58-146. [1957]. Especially 134 ff. It is online here.

Benson [1963]:  Benson Ancient Leros. Duke University, Durham, North Carolina and Eaton Press, Mass., U.S.A. 1963. Online here.

Dawkins and Wace [1905] : Dawkins, R.M. and Alan J.B. Wace, 'Notes from the Sporades, Astypalaea, Telos, Nisyros, Leros', Annual of the British School at Athens (12) 151-174, [1905-06]. esp. Section '4 - Leros', which starts on 172.  They include a photo of the base of the tower taken facing approx. W. It is online here:

Simpson and Dickinson [1979] : Simpson, Richard Hope and O.T.P.K. Dickinson. A Gazetteer of Aegean Civilization in the Bronze Age, Vol. I: The Mainland and the Islands. Paul Åströms Förlag, Goteborg. 1979., 'Partheni: Ta Poundaria etc.', pg. 367. Online here :

Simpson and Lazenby [1970] : Simpson, R. Hope and J.F. Lazenby. 'Notes from the Dodecanese II', The Annual of the British School at Athens (65). pp. 47-77. 1970. Online here:

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Starochorafa on Kefalonia (C588)

The island of Kephalonia lies just off the west coast of Greece and directly facing the entrance to the Gulf of Corinth as is plain from this map. 

One of the best resources for Kephalonia as well as the Ionian islands in general can be found in the books and articles of Dr. Christina Souyoudzoglou-Haywood.   I've listed some of her writings in the bibliography at the end of this post.   

In this next map we see Kefalonia in close-up as it appears in the Mycenaean Atlas Project.  The blue paddles are specific sites and the red paddles (marked 'F') are modern-day features.

The island of Kephalonia

I've been reading an  article by her, ''Interpreting the Bronze Age Landscape of Kephalonia. A (Preliminary) View from the Livatho Valley Survey' in which she mentions a site near Argostoli, called Starochorafa.[1]  Starochorafa is mentioned in Simpson [1981] 156 as 'a locality named Starochorafa, three walls of a Mycenaean house were uncovered ... '. And ' ... only a few Mycenaean sherds were found, together with coarse ware, also presumably Mycenaean.'   It turns out that Starochorafa is one of the few places in the Ionian islands where true Mycenaean finds can be found and it has a little history.  It was originally  discovered by Marinatos (published 1932, AE [1932] 14, 42 n. 2) and then 'lost' until the Livatha Valley Survey Project stumbled across it again in 2007.

So where is Starochorafa?   I actually included this site in the Mycenaean Atlas long ago as site C588, based purely on Simpson who gives few clues as to its actual whereabouts.  Originally I put it here: 38.160442° N, 20.534861° E.  But now I have been able to glean some new information and I have learned that its real location is about 800 m distant to the SW.  It's actually here:  38.158419° N, 20.526261° E.

How was this more accurate location determined?

In the article mentioned above Dr. Souyoudzoglou-Haywood presents a photograph which I never noticed before of two archaeological field workers collecting surface sherds at Starochorafa[2].  I reproduce it here:

Where is this open field?  Which way  are we facing?  What is the ridge in the background?  We are not told.  Let's see whether we can figure this out by trying to reproduce it somehow in Google Earth.  Is there even a starting point?  I used Dr. Souyoudzoglou-Haywood's map of the survey area which I reproduce here:[3]

This map shows twenty-six Bronze Age find spots discovered by the LSV survey project.  I  plotted each of these on Google Earth.  The result was this:

The points closest to my original Starochorafa were points 10-13.  I blow them up here.  [Keph_Overlay_Detail.jpg]

Could these be the 'real' Starochorafa.  I zoomed in on this area on Google Earth and almost immediately hit paydirt.  Here's what this area looks like in close-up:

I found the grassy field between points 10 and 12 a real possibility for place from which the photograph was taken.  I zoomed into that field and tried to reproduce the same view.  The result is this:

And here, again, is the original  photo of Dr. Souyoudzoglou-Haywood so that you can compare it:

When we put these two pictures together we see that they are entirely consistent with each other.  Examination of the skyline shows that the positions are very likely to be the same.  It was here that I placed the marker.  It turns out that Starochorafa is more complex and extended.  Dr. S.-H. has put four different markers, placed closely together which encompass various components of Starochorafa.  But this picture at least gets us started and it's a huge improvement on what I had before.  I'll be releasing a new database soon and it will have the corrected position on it.

As usual I want everyone to stay safe.  COVID-19 is not the flu.  It is a dangerous viral infection - but you don't need to be told that by now.  Social distance and use masks when you go out of your homes.  I need all the readers I can get.

And ... friends don't let friends use Facebook.


[1] Souyoudzoglou-Haywood [2008] 241.  "‘Starochorafa’ ... is largely a one period site of Mycenaean date (LH III, most likely LHIIIC only). It is one of the two small settlements mentioned above which were excavated by Marinatos ... The toponym fell into disuse over time, and the site was only identified anew during the 2007 fieldwork season.  Marinatos ... only excavated part of one house (6.80m x 4.20m), and reported that, having been prevented from continuing the excavation in a neighbouring field, he covered up the exposed remains of the site at the end of his brief campaign."

[2] Souyoudzoglou-Haywood [2008] 243, fig. 4.

[3] Souyoudzoglou-Haywood [2008] 240, fig. 2.


Haywood [2018]:  Haywood, Christina.  'Archaeology and the Search for Homeric Ithaca: The Case of Mycenaean Kephalonia', Acta Archaeologica [89:1] 145-158.  2018.  Abstract is online here.

Livatha Survey Project:  The homepage of the Kephalonia - Livatho Valley Survey project is here.

Morgan [2007]:   Morgan, Catherine. Archaeological Reports (54) p. 46,  'Livatho Valley Survey'.   2007-2008.  Online here.

Simpson [1981]: Simpson, Richard Hope.  Mycenaean Greece. Noyes Press, Park Ridge, New Jersey.  1981.

Simpson [2018]: Simpson, Richard Hope.  Mycenaean Greece and the Homeric Tradition.  This book may be downloaded from here.

Souyoudzoglou-Haywood, Christina.  'A Corner of the Landscape: The Kefalonia  Project 2001-02.  A Preliminary Account', on JSTOR here.

Souyoudzoglou-Haywood [2008]:   Cristina Souyoudzoglou-Haywood, 'Interpreting the Bronze Age Landscape of Kephalonia. A (Preliminary) View from the Livatho Valley Survey'. 
In: C. Gallou, Georgiadis, and Muskett (edd.), Dioskouroi: Studies Presented to W.G. Cavanagh and C.B. Mee on the Anniversary of their 30-year Joint Contribution to Aegean Archaeology (BAR IS-1889) Oxford: Archaeopress, 237-251.  The paper is online here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Metsiphi (C6878)

The area of Euboea south of Styra is a wild forested country of zig-zagging ridges.  It was not densely populated at any period in antiquity and it remains sparsely populated today.    I've been adding find sites in this area to the Mycenaean Atlas by integrating Fachard [2012] and this brought me to an habitation site called Metsiphi.

The site of Metsiphi (no. 4 on the next map) consists of a six-room building and a boundary stone marking the border between the demes of Eretria and Styra.  It may be a construction of either the Archaic or the Classical period.

Where is it?

I was able to locate two sets of directions to this site.  The map above should help you in following them.  And, in order to make better sense out of the geography I include some place name definitions (marked with an asterisk in this text, thus Kiapha Pass*) in a glossary appended to this post.

Fachard [2012] gives these directions to Metsiphi:

From the Kiapha* pass, located some 300 m north of the gate of the Venetian castle of Larmena*, you can follow an (ancient?) path towards the valley of Aghios Ioannis. About 1 km east of the pass, there is an old building and a rock monument, both discovered by N. K. Moutsopoulos.”(1)

The town of Styra, in southern Euboea, lies just to the north of a long mountainous ridge (Kliosi*) that runs north-east to south-west across the entire length of the island. There is a classical period fort (sometimes referred to as the Acropolis of Styra*, F5701) on this ridge and immediately to its east the Venetian castle of Larmena*(Armena*, F5654).   That would put the pass (col) at F5694 where there does indeed appear to be a saddle over the ridge of Haghios Nikolaos. In Google Earth I drew a circle of 1000 m. radius and centered it on this pass.  But without any specific thing to look for the chances of seeing an overgrown ruin in GE are basically zero. And, as for the toponym of 'Haghios Ioannis', it is undiscoverable on any map to which I have access.

What to do?

I found another source which gives directions to Metsiphi. In Reber [2002] we read the following:

"In antiquity, two different routes led from Styra to Karystos. One corresponded roughly to the course of today's road, the other led first from Styra to the east and then followed the gentle slope of the northern slope of the Kliosi*. Via a saddle east of the fortifications one first came into a gorge and from there via a low saddle into the wide valley of Stoupaioi. From Stoupaioi, the path led through the mountains to the south, where it merged with the first path behind the village of Vatisi."(2)

Then he remarks:

"If you follow the path to Stoupaioi, which is partly paved with ancient retaining walls, you will find the ruins of an ancient building, which was uncovered by N.K. Moutsopoulos, below the saddle at Metsiphi." (3)

Karystos itself is at the south end of Euboea (F5697).  Kliosi* is another name for the ridge on which stands the Acropolis of Styra* (F5654).  Stoupaioi is at F5695 and Vatisi is further south at F5696.  And yet we still have no definite narrowing for the location of Metsiphi.  

But as Reber does not specify the starting point these directions do not help. Are we starting from Styra again? From the col (Sattel)?  Just as Reder promised to get specific he starts referring generally to ‘the path to Stoupaioi’. This path is a long one and through wild country; it will not help us to find Metsiphi.

What to do?

Well, it turns out that Reber does provide a photograph of the Metsiphi house in question. Perhaps it’s possible to duplicate that view in Google Earth. Here’s the picture: (4)

The house at Metsiphi.  But which direction are we facing?
I looked at this for a while and I decided that if it were possible to identify the mountain in the background it might be possible to draw a line back from that mountain to the site of Metsiphi.  At this point I really had no hope of locating Metsiphi exactly.

Could this view be replicated in Google Earth?  On my first attempt I came up with this:

It was gratifying to come so close on the first attempt.  It turns out that the  background mountain in this picture is Peristeri (F5693).   But it was clear that I hadn't yet succeeded in finding Metsiphi.  In Reber's original there is a ridge in the right center which is of lighter color than its surroundings.  That ridge does not appear in my reconstruction.  I continued to rotate the image in Google Earth until I had this:

In this view 1  indicates the pale colored slope which appears also in Reber's picture.  2 is the Peristeri peak. 3 indicates the slope down from the left which is also in Reber's picture.

We're obviously very close to Metsiphi at this point.  Can we find it by searching around this point?  Not likely, but first let's see what we're looking for.  Here's the floor plan of this building as supplied by Reber:

Floor plan of Metsiphi house from Reber [2002] 46, Abb. 3.

I started to search in this area and in no time I found this:

And zooming in:

In this version I did a find-edges in Photoshop and then multiplied it against the picture layer.  To say that I was astonished when I saw that grid shape is an understatement.  This is a difficult country.  I'd been looking for an entire day with absolutely no expectation of finding the exact site but suddenly there it was.

And one last mystery to clear up:  What or where is the valley of Aghios Ioannis?

The valley of Aghios Ioannis is just the light-colored ridge which appears at the right center of Reber's original photograph.  It is just to the south and west of Metsiphi.  Here is a view of it from the air (N at the top):

Google marks a church here which it calls Haghios Ioannis (F5698).  The area to the left was probably cultivated in ancient times.  

About Metsiphi Fachard says 
'The most probable hypothesis seems to us to be that of a farm exploiting the little valley of Haghios Ioannis."(5)

Here's my final reconstruction of Reber's photo as taken from Metsiphi itself (foreground):

... with Reber's photo again for comparison:

Metsiphi is C6878 in the Mycenaean Atlas.  Its coordinates are 38.147513 N, 24.278 E

And a final map with everything labelled:

1. Styra
2. Haghios Nikolaos (Acropolis of Styra AND Fortress of Larmena/Armena)
2a. Kiapha Pass (col, Sattel)
3. Koryphi peak (682 m)
4. Metsiphi and Haghios Ioannis

The reproduction of landscape views in Google earth is a good technique that I have used successfully many times in the past and I encourage you who trying to locate sites from photographs to try it.

Glossary of Place Names at Haghios Nikolaos ridge:

I used the following geographic terms in the specific way explained here:

The term 'Haghios Nikolaos' (sometimes 'Diakofti') is reserved in this post for the small plateau at the west end of the Kliosi massif, elev. 648 m ( 38.146118° N,  24.262697° E).  It is right at the ridge-line and overlooks a small pass (called by Fachard [2012] the Kiapha Pass, F5694) just a few meters to the NE.  This plateau takes its name from a nearby chapel cut into the rock just off to the west and named for Haghios Nikolaos.  Do not confuse this chapel with the church dedicated to the Virgin (F5700, another Panaghia?), placed prominently at the center of this plateau.

In this post the name 'Armena' (also 'Larmena' and with numerous alternate names and transliterations; F5654) is reserved for the great 13th century walled stronghold located on Haghios Nikolaos.  This corresponds to Fachard [2012] 229, no. 170, 'Aghios Nikolaos: Château-Fort d'Armena'.

Just to the W of the fortress of Armena, and adjoining it, was located a classical period fortress (in Fachard [2012] 225, no. 169) of which some walls and a famous and often photographed gate are the principal remains.  There is a plan of the remains of this specific fort in Fachard Fig. 190.  Photographs of the gate are in Reber [2002], Taf. 10, nos. 2 and 3.  A very helpful map of both the classical fortress and the Armena fortress is given in Ducrey et al. [2005], 121, fig. 4.  This classical period fortress is often referred to as 'The Acropolis of Styra' (F5701) and I have used that name for convenience but Reber [2002] 44 casts doubt on the idea that it could have had such a purpose given its great distance (~ 2 km.) from that city and therefore this appellation should be used with caution.  Fachard [2012] calls this classical period fortress 'Aghios Nikolaos' (6) but I have reserved that name as the geographic designator of the entire plateau.

The term 'Koryphi' ('Korifi'), alt. 682 m. is reserved for the peak of the Kliosi mountain ridge located about 1700 m to the NW of 'Haghios Nikolaos' at 38.160292° N, 24.279566° E.  Here it is given the feature name  F5699.

The Kliosi range (often referred to as a single mountain) is a long ridge that begins at the north-east of our area and runs to the south-west for about 15 km.  One of its high-points is Koryphi at 682 m asl.  Another is Haghios Nikolaos itself at 648 m asl.


(1) Fachard [2012] 336, no. 171. “Du col de Kiapha, situé à quelque 300 m au nord de la porte du château vénitien de Larmena, on peut suivre un chemin (antique ?) en direction du vallon d’Aghios Ioannis. À environ 1 km à l’est du col, on remarque une construction ancienne et une borne rupestre, toutes deux découvertes par N. K. Moutsopoulos.”

(2) Reber [2002] 45. “Von Styra aus führten in der Antike zwei verschiedene Wege nach Karystos. Der eine entsprach ungefahr dem Verlauf der heutigen Strasse, der andere führte von Styra zuerst nach Osten und folgte danach in leichtem Anstieg dem Nordhang des Kliosi. Uber einen Sattel ostlich der Befestigungsanlage gelangte man zuerst in eine Schlucht und von dort uber einen niedrigen Sattel in das weite Tal von Stoupaioi. Von Stoupaioi führte der Weg durch das Gebirge nach Süden, wo er sich hinter dem Dorf Vatisi mit dem zuerst genannten Weg vereinigte.”

(3) Idem. “Folgt man dem streckenweise mit antiken Stützmauern befestigten Weg nach Stoupaioi, so trifft man unterhalb des Sattels bei der Stelle Metsiphi auf die Ruinen eines antiken Gebaudes, das von N. K. Moutsopoulos freigelegt worden ist.”

(4) In Reber [2002] Plate 11.1

(5) Fachard [2012] 336: "L’hypothèse d’une ferme exploitant le petit vallon d’Aghios Ioannis nous semble la plus vraisemblable." 

(6) Fachard [2012] 169, 'Aghios Nikolaos: Forteresse; 169; ... '.


Ducrey et al. [2005]:  Ducrey, Pierre and Sylvian Fachard, Thierry Theurillat, 'Les Activités de l'École Suisse d'Archéologie en Grèce 2004',  Antike Kunst (48) 112-123. 2005.   Online here.

Fachard [2012]: Fachard, Sylvian La Défense du Territoire; Étude de la Chôra Érétrienne et de ses Fortifications, École suisse d'archéologie en Grèce, InFolio Editions, CH-Gollion.  2012.  Online here.

Reber [2002]: Reber, Karl 'Die Südgrenze des Territoriums von Eretria (Euböa)' Antike Kunst (45) 40-54. 2002 Online here.