Ancient World Now:Theories of Mycenaean Collapse

Click here for direct link to audio podcast Episode #38.

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Migration and movements of peoples has been a constant ever since Australopithecus set up camp in a more advantageous spot one day four million years ago. This photo by Christian Sinibaldi, posted on the Guardian U.K. website, shows the boat graveyard on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where North African migrants abandon their vessels on their flight to more advantageous spots in Europe. In my constant quest to see the ancient world in our everyday modern lives, I encourage you to consider the current explosive uprisings throughout North Africa & the Middle East as an overlay onto your understanding of the events that precipitated the Greek Dark Ages.

Award ceremony and podcast and taxes, oh my! An overwhelming number of factors contributed to my missing our last podcast. Hope you can forgive me! To make up for it, in today’s podcast I am trotting out a new theory on the destruction of Mycenaean civilization. Michael Shanks and Gary Devore, archaeology professors at Stanford University, discussed their own theory in last week’s Archaeology of Greece class.

For many years now I have been on the children’s book committee for the Northern California Book Awards. Each year for the past 30 years, committees have gathered together from October to April to review the year’s published books from Northern California’s authors. There are dozens and dozens of books to read for each category: fiction, general non-fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, children’s literature, and translation for poetry & fiction. In the spring I do NCBA work and in the fall I do work for Litquake, the annual literary festival in San Francisco. I am honored to be a part of these organizations and my volunteer work is one of the many ways I contribute my creative energy to the Bay Area writer’s community. As I was writing this, we had a little earthquake! Felt like a truck hit the building. It disturbed the cats (including Achilles, my tuxedo warrior) and we all fled to different parts of the house! And today is the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake! Yet another ancient world connection: ancient earthquakes. Think Crete, Delphi, Sicily, and Alexandria, to name a few.

Ancient World Now:The Greek Dark Ages

Click here for direct link to audio podcast Episode #37.

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How can writing disappear from a culture? Incredible! But that’s just what happened to the Greek world in their very own “Dark Age”. After doing some research, it made perfect sense. The only use for written language at that time was royal record-keeping by the Mycenaean rulers. So, when the palaces were destroyed across the Aegean world, the skill vanished.

The same goes for the potter’s skill. The whimsical octopus vase above is Minoan, while the representational drawing of a string of warriors is an example of Mycenaean pottery. Contrast those two vases, so full of character and charm, with this Dark Age’s Proto-geometric Style vase.

For a time, Greece was plunged into poverty and despair, and images to delight were not to reappear until a new structure for civilization emerged. Check out today’s podcast…

Ancient World Now:Mycenaean World

Click here for direct link to audio podcast Episode #36.

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Once upon a time, Heinrich Schliemann married a girl named Sophia. For the rest of their lives they searched for Homer’s Troy and Agamemnon’s Mycenae. News that they had discovered both stunned the world. And they lived happily ever after! This image of Sophia draped in “Helen’s gold” set off a firestorm of excitement for ancient-style jewelry. Enrich your life by reading about Schliemann’s heroic search. And enjoy today’s podcast on the basic facts about the Mycenaean world.

Ancient World Now:Minoan Crete

Click here for direct link to audio Episode #35.

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Some tech difficulties after an “upgrade” made us miss last week! With this temporary fix we are back on track, and as promised, here is Minoan Crete.

Upon her discovery, this lovely lady was nicknamed “La Parisienne”, and she is a major icon of Minoan civilization.

Who were these amazingly artistic people? The jury is still out. Their civilization flourished between 2200 BC and 1450 BC, long before the Golden Age of Athens. In fact, that’s 1,000-2,000 years before Pericles and his fabulously enduring monument, the Parthenon. Consider the events and world changes that have happened within the past 2,000 years! The Knossos palace finds of Sir Arthur Evans in 1899 AD shook the archaeological world! This ancient Bronze Age civilization existed only in the dim distant memory of legends. They are referenced in Homer and the stories of the ancient heroes, but until Evans’ excavations between 1899 AD and 1935 AD, the magnitude of their power and prestige was unknown. This is the land of King Minos and the Labyrinth of Daedalus. Of Theseus, Ariadne, and the Minotaur. This is the land of the bull dancers and the snake goddesses. And their story is still unclear!

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford houses the Sir Arthur Evans finds. I was there in 2006 and remarked to myself how antiquated it looked for such an important collection. Lo & behold, the museum was renovated in 2009. I will definitely visit in the future.

Enjoy the podcast! Next week, the Mycenaeans. Bring it on, Clytemnestra!

Ancient World Now:Daughter of Son of Bride of Odysseus in the Underworld

Click here for link to audio Episode #27.

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The towering figure of Clytemnestra dwarfs all other infamous gals from the ancient world. Here she is standing over Agamemnon’s body. What was her beef? She got steamed when Agamemnon sacrificed their daughter so the guys could get a fair wind for Troy all those years ago. Clytemnestra’s skills with the battle-axe were also the death of the prophetess slave and princess of Troy, Cassandra, as shown below on this piece of pottery.

Go back to the ancient tragedians to see the full-on misery of the house of Atreus unfold, or check out the powerful trilogy of films by Michael Cacoyannis, starring the spellbinding Irene Pappas as Electra.  Electra (1962) by Michael Cacoyannis. Not to spoil the story or anything, but Electra finally gets hers when she convinces her long-lost brother Orestes to assist her in the plot to avenge their father’s death and murder Agamemnon’s killers!

Clytemnestra tries to defend Aegisthus from Orestes, while on the right of this vase Electra’s happy arms welcome the act! In desperation, Clytemnestra even bares her breast to her son, hoping to dissuade him from killing his own mother. Alas! Puts our modern tabloids to shame.

Ancient World Now….one day…hey, wait—i counted wrong! Inaugural Podcast

Podcast launch date: Today…
Next podcast: The Iliad-Part II, in one week

Here it is…….Click here for direct link to audio Episode #1

Click here for up-to-date list of all podcasts.

I can’t do math to save my life! It is no surprise that I counted wrong! But who’s counting?!!!

And for those of you who were paying attention the other day, here is the follow up
to the Heinrich Schliemann saga……One morning, so the story goes, Sophia & Heinrich went to the site where their workers were digging. They had laid bets that in this one particular spot on the Greek mainland, Agamemnon’s Mycenaean kingdom had stood and prospered. As they were approaching the work site, Sophia caught a glint of  gold. Thinking fast, she declared, by George, that it was Heinrich’s birthday, (how could they have forgotten) and all the workers had the day off! When the workers cleared off, the couple dug up one of the most important archaeological treasures ever to be recorded. Sophia donned the gorgeous gold jewelry, they took pictures and notified the press, and a firestorm of renewed interest in the ancient world (picking up where eighteenth century discoveries of Herculaneum and Pompeii left off) immediately swept the globe. This photograph inspired designers to fashion jewelry in the old, old styles, and nineteenth century ladies fell all over themselves trying to keep up with the new trend.

Okay, now to the podcast…drumroll, please…..I am crossing my fingers that this works properly, but as with all things tech, there’s bound to be a glitch. Let me know what you think! And contact me ASAP if something is amiss. From here on out, podcasts will be available every Monday. Thanks to everyone for your help and support. Let’s roll!

Ancient World Now….five days…..

Podcast launch date: Monday, June 14, 2010.

First episode: The Iliad 20-30 minute podcast.

Leading the Greek forces against Troy is Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae. The goddess Artemis demands that he sacrifice his daughter. This Roman fresco shows the Sacrifice of Iphigenia. This act sets off a chain of events chronicled in some of the most wrenching stories ever told….

…..but I get ahead of myself! Find out why the doomed king had to do such a dirty deed in the maiden podcast of Ancient World Now!

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