The 3-day international “Hellenistic Alexandria: Celebrating 24 centuries” conference, organised by the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation, the Alexandria Center for Hellenistic Studies at Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the Acropolis Museum and the Mariolopoulos-Kanaginis Foundation for the Environmental Sciences and taking place under the auspices of His Excellency, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopios Pavlopoulos, was opened on the 13th of December 2017 in the amphitheatre of the Acropolis Museum, by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Marianna V. Vardinoyannis.

“This day is a great moment in time for our Foundation, Ms Vardinoyannis said, as we are embarking on an initiative of national significance on which we have been working for several months, culminating with this conference. Its aim is to draw the attention of researchers and the public to the Hellenistic world, particularly to Hellenistic Alexandria and its importance to global civilisation. The idea for the conference was enthusiastically received by His Excellency, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopios Pavlopoulos, from the very first time we brought it to him about two years ago. The idea is rooted in the heart of our Foundation’s mission, which incorporates the values of culture, science and education, and highlights the long friendship and historical ties that link Greece and Egypt… In the course of history, we are the generation that was fortunate to witness 27 years ago in 1990, the historical meeting that took place in Aswan, Egypt, where the Declaration for the Revival of the Ancient Library of Alexandria was signed. With UNESCO at the helm of this undertaking, the first steps were taken to implement one of the greatest achievements in the history of the modern world. In the 15 years of its operation, the Library of Alexandria – the Bibliotheca Alexandrina – has become a new beacon of knowledge for the entire planet. This constitutes a major contribution on the part of the Egyptian State to humanity and enjoys the complete support of the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. And we are truly grateful. Since joining the Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s first advisory board, the work I follow and in which I participate makes me feel truly proud, not just as a Greek, but as a citizen of the world whose visions, discoveries, explorations and expressions found refuge in this colossal undertaking. We wanted to shine the light on the golden pages of the Hellenistic period and the historical ties between these two peoples by establishing and funding the “Alexandria Centre of Hellenistic Studies” at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in 2008. Since that time, our Foundation, working through the Centre, has enabled students from all over the world to carry out undergraduate and postgraduate studies in history, literature, arts, archaeology, architecture and philosophy. At the same time, we have staged numerous events, lectures and seminars about the Library. Today’s conference is a continuation of that work, as we seek to add another page in our partnership with the Library with an event of a commemorative as well as an interdisciplinary nature…”.

 The President of the Mariolopoulos-Kanaginis Foundation for the Environmental Sciences, Academic Christos Zerefos, who coordinated the event, noted that the purpose of the Conference was “to explore all aspects of the Hellenistic Period and highlight the greatness of this illustrious period of the Hellenic-Egyptian civilisation, of which we are all so proud”, and invited Dr. Mostafa El Feki, Director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, to the floor.  Dr. El Feki warmly thanked Ms. Vardinoyannis for her support towards the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and continued by congratulating her, as well as all the organisers, on their initiative. Referring to Greece and Egypt, he underlined: “History shows and geography proves that Greece and Egypt were always very near to being one unit. Whatever we say these days about globalisation and the clash of civilizations we all should be aware of the historic links between the two nations… We can’t talk about Alexandria without referring to the Greek contribution in the establishment, the continuous glorious days it had. Now I feel that this cosmopolitan city which was very distinguished […] will never retain back its identity unless those people should come back to us… We feel always that you are welcome to retain back the glorious days we had in history in this glorious city. … and we are honoured to be invited to this occasion of the 24 century of the Hellenistic Alexandria … and I can assure you that we will do our utmost to continue cooperation… Thank you.

Next to take the floor was professor Ashraf Farrag, who addressed the Conference on behalf of the Chairman of the University of Alexandria, Dr. Essam ElKordi: “Hellenistic Alexandria, he noted among other things, emerged as a model for civilizations’ dialogue, mingling cultures, knowledge… In the 3rd century BC the dream of Alexander the Great was fulfilled: he created a cosmopolitan city, a global Polis, with a mix of universal civilisation. It was a tree that brought forth clusters of knowledge, no similar in the history of human thought…  The modern University of Alexandria is a ‘Museum of knowledge’, since it is the continuation of the ancient Library of Alexandria, and its Museum and its Ancient University of Alexandria. The Museum, or ancient University of Alexandria was the product of the knowledge revolution which broke out in Alexandria in the 3rd century BC. Thus the city became a destination for all the great and famous scientists, thinkers and artists… since it provided them with all the comforts and put in their hands all the requirements that helped them to create, invent and innovate. Soter, and then Philadelphus, the first king of the Ptolemy dynasty, devoted considerable money … to science and scientists, they allocated open budgets to the thinkers and scientists working at the Museum. Over and above, the Museum had study rooms, offices, courtyards, roads and gardens for the scientists and their students. In addition the Museum included a wonderful residence for scientists and their families… Without doubt, the Hellenistic period was an era of progress, prosperity, invention, innovations in all fields…”.

He was followed by the President of the Acropolis Museum, professor Dimitrios Pantermalis, who stressed from the conference podium that “Alexandria is every archaeologist’s dream” and that “the cultural and civilisation greatness was so enormous that when Alexandria went to a Roman emperor, he kept the city and Egypt as his personal property”. And referring to the 24-century celebration for its establishment, he said that “the video we just watched, directed by Konstantinos Arvanitakis and depicting the city’s majesty, will be shown at the Acropolis Museum over the coming period”.

It is worth noting that the video included images of Alexandria from the present and the past, showing its historical treasures, ancient monuments, Ptolemy’s maps, the sciences, musical instruments, as well as the Greek Cemetery, the famous Antoniadis Estate, the renowned Bibliotheca Alexandrina, etc., important city monuments that are evidence of its culture and history.

The President of the Mariolopoulos-Kanaginis Foundation for the Environmental Sciences, Academic Christos Zerefos, continued by referring to the choice of the Conference’s title:  “Firstly, it refers to the emotion of Greeks who hail from Egypt and second to the great revolution in Science, Art and Literature that started in Alexandria”. Further along his speech he listed the greatest achievements of Hellenistic Alexandria: “The culmination of the Hellenistic spirit, which was the seed for the Renaissance and the Enlightenment to emerge in Europe, has its roots in Alexandria. The first University was created there, where the arts, letters and sciences were worshipped, in the famous Museum, the home of the Muses… Alexandria is also the birthplace of geometry, with Euclid, as well stereometry of conic sections, with Apollonius and Theon. Alexandria is where the laws of Statics and the Mechanics of Systems were formulated by Archimedes. Alexandria is where automata were born, and where the study of the heliocentric Astronomy of Aristarchus of Samos was continued. Hellenistic Alexandria is where optics and hydrodynamics came into being as sciences, by great scientists such as Archimedes, Euclid, Ctesibius and many others. At the pinnacle of the development of Optical Science one of the seven wonders of the world, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, was built… Alexandria is where the science of Geography and coordinates were born. Alexandria is where Diophantus expressed the theory of indetermination in mathematics, and where Pappos formulated his theorems. It is where Herophilus introduced us to Physiology, the foundation of Medicine… Alexandria is where the first keyboard wind instrument, the hydraulis, was invented…”. In closing, Mr. Zerefos underlined: “The works of this Conference that celebrates the 24 centuries of Hellenistic Alexandria are based on 32 presentations of papers by the most prominent scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria covering the fields of History, Archaeology, Philosophy, Literature and Art, as well as Medicine, Technology, Culture, Law and the Environmental Sciences”.

 Next to take the floor was the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopios Pavlopoulos, who warmly congratulated the organisers of the Conference for their initiative, because such initiatives, he noted, are a display of the power of Greece and Hellenism: “I am certain that the papers to be presented in this Conference will bring to the forefront the great significance of the original ideas of the Hellenistic era, and the particular novelty that prevailed during that time, in a manner that will shed light on the effect the Hellenistic ideas had on modern philosophy, art and modern science”. Mr. Pavlopoulos went on to talk about Hellenistic Alexandria and how it remains one of the shiniest gems on the crown of the world’s cultural history, and that its glow continues to lead us towards the future, because everything achieved during that period in science and art, are the groundwork that allows us to be here today and have the opportunity to go even further. Hellenistic Alexandria, he said, was the first cosmopolitan region of humanity, a place where all the knowledge from the Ionian period, from Athens and its Golden Era, were accumulated, and spoke about an ‘explosion’ of science, knowledge and art, its fragments fertilising the future and contributing to their evolution. This is the place where people started to steer away from magical thinking and science was awakened, especially the sciences of mathematics and astronomy. Mr. Pavlopoulos made special reference to the remarks of modern mathematician, with origins from Alexandria, Dimitris Christodoulou, on the great contribution of Archimedes: “Archimedes travelled on his own along a long path of observations and experiments, empirical rules, invention of the appropriate concepts, discovery of the basic principles and foundation of theorems, development of mathematical methods for solving the problems arising from the theories and, finally, the solution of these problems, concluding with the quantitative description of the natural phenomena. The outcome is an achievement without parallel throughout the human history”. In closing his address, Mr. Pavlopoulos made the wish that this Conference will be only the first of many more events in this direction, and stated that we are lucky to be experiencing these moments during a difficult time for both our country and the entire Mediterranean region that is suffering”.

The President of the Republic was followed by his Beatitude the Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Theodoros, who gave a warm address, clearly moved: “Tonight, he said, Alexandria is telling us “come to me, discover me, love me, humbly walk on me”, and the poor Egyptians will tell you “we are eating this pie, come and share it with us”… Hellenistic Alexandria is a mystery calling us to discover it every day. And you cannot discover it if you do not love it… The Greece-Cyprus-Egypt triangle must once again serve as a beacon for the world…”. Finally, in closing his speech, his Beatitude thanked the President of the Republic and everyone honouring this Conference with their presence, and addressing himself to Ms. Vardinoyannis, said: “Lady of our Patriarchate, thank you for your contribution to the children of the world, for your contribution to arts, science and culture…”.   

The opening ceremony of the Conference closed with a musical epilogue, with internationally acclaimed composer and pianist Stefanos Korkolis on the piano and the exceptional singer, Sofia Manousaki, interpreting three poems of our great Alexandrian poet, K.P.Kafavis, set to music by Stefanos Korkolis, both receiving an enthusiastic and extended applause by the audience!

The 2nd and 3rd days of the Conference

 The Conference continued on the 14th of December 2017 and was completed on the 15th of December in the Acropolis Museum, with the participation of distinguished Greek and foreign scientists, experts on Hellenistic Alexandria who highlighted its importance and value.

The presentations of the papers of 32 distinguished Greek and foreign scientists and scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria who took part in the Conference, shed light on the original ideas and innovative discoveries of the Hellenistic era, and noted their definitive impact on modern philosophy, art and science, and in general this period’s influence on the development of both the Mediterranean and the European culture.

This is the first time, underlined academic Christos Zerefos, President of the Mariolopoulos-Kanaginis Foundation for the Environmental Sciences, that a Conference its taking place, where all sciences and expressions of humanism, many of which born in Alexandria, are presented in the same place. A conference where experts in the fields of History, Archaeology, Philosophy, Literature, Art and the Sciences of Medicine, Technology, Law and the Environment come together to present their important papers on Hellenistic Alexandria. And all these papers converge into one striking conclusion: The ancient Greek spirit was conveyed from Athens and Ionia to Alexandria. It gradually lost its radiance, to come alight again in the West during the Renaissance, with many achievements and discoveries having their roots in Hellenistic Alexandria”.

“For the first time, notes Paolo Vitti, Architect and Historian,  member of Europa Nostra who took part in the Conference, experts from all fields are meeting in an attempt to analyse the Hellenistic Era, which changed and influenced both the Mediterranean and the European culture. The discussion between archaeologists, architects, experts in art, literature, philosophy, science, the environment, weather conditions, attempted a holistic approach, which is the only way to truly understand the culture of a very dynamic period, which had a drastic effect on later periods. A period so enlightened that it has affected even our own behaviour. However, this Conference has a different dimension: It offers the opportunity of building bridges between citizens and cultures in the Mediterranean”.

 The Conference offered the opportunity to simultaneously present for the first time the technological, scientific and astronomic achievements, as well as the theatre, poetry, philosophy, thinking and scientific method of the period; all those great achievements that led to the birth of sciences like robotics, thus giving a spherical and complete picture of the research and creativity that flourished in all areas during this specific period.

Among other things, extensive reference was made:  To the great technical projects in fields such as shipping, catapults, pumps and hydraulic pumps, cranes, hydraulic clocks, odometers, precision scales, medical, surgical and orthopaedic instruments, pulsometers, as well as the innovations in agriculture, sports, instrument making, the digital telegraph, the automatic doors of temples…

Particular references were made to the basic concepts of liquids formulated by Archimedes, to the Antikythera mechanism which researchers speculate has its roots in the school of Archimedes, the discovery of Geometry based on Euclid’s laws, the discovery of physiology and to experimental anatomy and phytology. It was further mentioned that the steam engine was based on Heron and the aeolipile, and of course, extensive reference was made to the famous Alexandria Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, whose mechanism is still unexplained to this day. “A lot of work still needs to be done, to fully explain the size and operation of the construction. However, its secret lies under the surface of the sea, among the thousands of ruins”.

The same applies to many other fields, noted the speakers. A wide range of archaeological findings is in their study and decoding stage, whereas we are anticipating many and amazing things to be unearthed by the archaeologists’ trowels in the years to come. Attendants also stressed the need for the further legal protection of global monuments, and the general enforcement of the law, and not just selectively, for the protection of the global cultural heritage.

Finally, the historians who took part in the conference, when talking about Alexander the Great, noted that his actions completely changed the course of history in the Mediterranean. At a political level, this was the bridge from the democracy of Athens to the world of King Alexander. The Ptolemaic dynasty that followed also invested in culture, and not just in military action.

The wish and hope expressed by all participants, and first and foremost by its organisers, was to enable similar conferences to be organised annually, which, as the President of the Republic, Prokopios Pavlopoulos, said during the opening of the Conference “during these difficult times are needed to inspire us”. As the conference ended, a shared statement was made by all its attendants: “We felt proud to be Greek!”

The Conference was supported by the sponsors: Coca Coal 3E, the “Maria Tsakos” Public Benefit Foundation, Alpha Bank and  Ε.J.  PAPADOPOULOS S.A.




Alexandria, the City of Alexander the Great

By Jean-Yves Empereur, Director of Research, French National Research Center (CNRS)

While the ancient sources tell us that Alexander personally designed the plan of the new city and that the city walls were so long that an unusual scheme involving flour was needed to mark their line on the ground, the sources remain almost silent regarding the origins of the first inhabitants. Recent archaeological discoveries in Alexandria and surrounding region have once again raised the question of the city’s foundation. They lead us to an understanding of the meaning of a measure enacted by Cleomenes of Naucratis for the settlement of the new city and to an explanation of the process implemented at Alexandria in comparison with Antioch, another great Hellenistic city founded 30 years later. We will examine the earliest developments revealed by archaeological excavations at Alexandria, both within the city itself and in its immediate environs.

Recent Discoveries in the Chora of Alexandria

By Marie-Dominique Nenna, Director of Research, French National Research Center (CNRS), Director of Centre d’Études Alexandrines, Egypt

The overall territory of Alexandria includes the city itself within its walls and its hinterland that stretches around the shores of Lake Mariout. The Centre d’Études Alexandrines conducts its explorations by way of extensive prospections and targeted excavations. The excavations of the Marea peninsula have revealed three exceptional tower-houses dated to the Hellenistic period. Close by, on the Akademia site, the vestiges of an agricultural villa of the first two centuries AD was found. A wine press, potters’ workshops, very large kilns and hillocks of production waste testify to the importance of winemaking in this region. An impressive hydraulic installation composed of two sakiehs and aqueducts was used to irrigate the fields in the Late Roman era. In 2016, the CEAlex opened a new excavation at Kom Bahig, which has revealed habitations dating to between the 4th and 2nd century BC, and the remains of a most probably older cult building.

1998-2017: Twenty Years of Underwater Archaeological and Geophysical Surveys in Alexandria by the Greek Mission

By Harry Tzalas, Founder and President of the Hellenic Institute for Ancient and Medieval Alexandrian Studies, Athens     

Having obtained a concession from the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt for an underwater archaeological survey of the Eastern littoral of Alexandria, the Hellenic Institute of Ancient and Mediaeval Alexandrian Studies conducted since 1998 thirty campaigns. The area of the concession extends for 13.5 km from Ancient Akra Lochias to the Promontory of Lesser Tapossiris. We have divided this surface of over 13 square kilometers into 8 sub-sites.

Chatby 1 was part of the submerged Royal Quarters; a large number of ancient architectural elements were found, some were raised conserved and studied. It is probable that a red granite pylon tower and a monolithic flight of steps were part of the temple of Isis Lochias, while an oversized architrave or threshold could have pertained to the monumental door of the mausoleum of Cleopatra. Among the 400 architectural elements scattering the sea floor 8 pharaonic slabs were found and studied.

At the neighboring Chatby 2 sub-site a large complex of submerged structures has been located; there is evidence that the early Christian complex of buildings that included the assumed Martyrium of St. Mark stood there.

Ibrahimieh 3 sub-site revealed numerous mediaeval stone anchors, as well as a large composite anchor dating to Late Hellenistic or Early Roman times.

The ancient remains of a stone quarry coexisting with some burials in the shallows of  Ibrahimieh 4 have now been totally obliterated due to the widening of the Corniche.

Although a small portion of the submerged ruins at Sporting 5 has been affected by the widening of the new Corniche   the remains of imposing, unidentified structures are still visible in the shallows.

El Hasssan 6 Reef is now at some 9 meters depth off the eastern entrance of the Eastern Port. Remains of ancient shipwrecks were traced.

Sidi Bishr 7 sub-site comprises the promontory of Bir Masaaoud which formed part of a large hypogeum burial. All this area, including the island of Gezireh Gabr el Khour, were part of a large necropolis advancing in the sea for some 200 m.

Maamoura 8, the easternmost of our sub-sites will be surveyed during our future campaigns.

The Navy of Ptolemaic Alexandria

By Emad Khalil, Professor, Maritime Archaeology, Alexandria University, Egypt

Since its foundation, and for the three centuries that followed, Alexandria was the capital and naval base of the most powerful kingdom in the Hellenistic world, the Ptolemaic kingdom. Plenty of evidence suggests that the Ptolemaic fleet was one of the largest in the Mediterranean, reaching a total number of more than 300 warships of different sizes and types during the reign of Ptolemy II (282- 246 BC). The harbour system of Alexandria was big and efficient enough to accommodate and serve the warships of the Ptolemaic fleet as well as the increasing number merchantmen and freighters.

This paper aims to look at the formation and development of the Ptolemaic navy including the possible location of the military harbour of Ptolemaic Alexandria in light of historical evidence and recent archaeological surveys.

Crumbs from the Table or Archaeological Traces of Hellenistic Alexandria – A View from the Kom el-Dikka Excavations

By Grzegorz Majcherek, Head of the Polish Mission excavating Kom el Dikka

The Kom el-Dikka site, located in the very centre of ancient city is first and foremost known for its well preserved civic complex of the Late Roman age. The limited, and so far rather discounted potential for studying an earlier period of Alexandria’s history, is however, not to be ignored. Though no architectonic structures assigned to the Ptolemaic period can be pointed out, yet there is quite a broad spectrum of archaeological evidence that could be used to elucidate the Hellenistic legacy, beginning with urban layout and ending with assessing economic relations with the rest of the Mediterranean.

The author will focus on expounding the underlying continuity between Hellenistic and Roman Alexandria. That paper will offer a review of all extant material evidence of the Ptolemaic age, that would later play a fundamental role in shaping the identity of the Roman and Byzantine city. Various objects of art and everyday use: sculpture, architectural decoration elements, lamps, as well as, pottery both local and imported, found during the excavations will be discussed and evaluated.

The Presence of the Early Greek Community in Alexandria:

Boubasteion Sanctuary

By Mervat Seif El-Din, Professor, Former Director of the Graeco Roman Museum, Alexandria, Egypt

Alexandria, from the first years of its foundation and later under Ptolemy I “Soter” was an attractive place for many nations, among them the Greeks who came from everywhere from the Greek world to settle there. Soon it was famous as a” melting pot” in the Hellenistic world. The discovery of the Boubastis/Bastet sanctuary at Alexandria in 2009, which dates probably to the end of the 4th/early third century B.C., provides us with some essential information about the early Greek immigrants settled there The Egyptian cat goddess was the equivalent of the Greek goddess Artemis, responsible for birth, health and protection of children. This discovery gives the answer to many questions about the religious and social attitudes of the Greek “newcomers” towards the traditional Egyptian gods, probably influenced by their fellow countrymen who had settled in Egyptian colonies some centuries before them.

On the other hand the Boubasteion finds clearly show the close relationship of the first settler generations to their homeland. The children statutes dedicated to the goddess are directly  related to those from Attica , especially the sanctuary of Artemis of Brauron and of other deities like Asclepius..

Furthermore the archeological finds of the Boubasteion shed light on the contribution of the Ptolemaic royal family in the religious field and their activities in constructing sacred buildings at their capital under the auspice of the queens.

 The Early Greek Presence in Alexandria’s Hinterland

By Mohamed Kenawi, Acting Director, Alexandria Center for Hellenistic Studies, Bibliotheca Alexandrina

The early Greek presence in Alexandria’s Hinterland is well known at Naukratis, Sais, and very few sites where publications and research were limited time ago. The recent results of the Italian mission in the Western Nile Delta brought to light strong evidences on the early Greek presence nearby Alexandria. The fieldwork seasons focused on different excavation units as well as consolidating work on former ones. The investigation of the large mudbrick state-structure resumed with the exposure of a part of the southern enclosure wall, where several amulets of different gods, 7th century BC Greek pottery and bronze cobras statutes were recovered. On the eastern part of the site, the remains of a Hellenistic tower house were fully excavated, and the material culture recovered from there provides insight on the status and religious beliefs of its occupiers. On the site’s southern fringe, the Greek style tholos baths unit was expanded to record its drainage system and later re-usage as a necropolis. The combination of Greek and Egyptian cultural materials prove that both lived together side by side on the site. The date of foundation of the site is still unknown, but the earliest layers can be dated to the 7th century BC supported by the imported Greek pottery.

Enhancing the Old: Aphrodite Golgia in Alexandria

By Μarianne Bergmann, Former Director, Archäologisches Institut, University of Göttingen, Germany

The paper deals with two Hellenistic limestone statues in Egypt, which have attracted little attention in discussions of Ptolemaic imagery. This study demonstrates that they are products of the 3rd cent. BC, and reproduce an old and rare type of Cypriote statuary. They represent the great Cypriote goddess: Aphrodite for the Greeks and Astarte for the Phoenicians living in Cyprus. There are reasons to believe that the statues were not isolated dedications but indicative of a cult of the goddess imported from Cyprus to Alexandria. This was not at the initiative of Cypriote immigrants, who were rare in Egypt, but instigated by the royal house or a member of the surrounding Greek elite. In the wake of the new cult, the representation of the goddess was remodelled in a way that manifested differing aspects of the Cypriote goddess, Astarte, and Aphrodite and enhanced its ‘oldness’. Of the two statues, one represents the iconography that was imported to Alexandria while the other exhibits the remodelled form. The new form is a product of Alexandrian erudition on the one hand, comparable in spirit to Kallimachos’ Aitia.  But the main reason for the introduction of the cult and the reformulation of the goddess’ appearance may be a special aspect of Ptolemaic politics in Cyprus, which will be discussed in the later part of the paper.

Gigantic and Structurally Sound-Building the Lighthouse on the Island of Pharos

By Paolo Vitti, Professor, University of Roma Tre, Archaeologist and architect, Member of the Scientific Council of Europa Nostra, Italy

The visual and emotional impact of the Alexandra lighthouse can only be argued from the admiration it raised for more than sixteen centuries. The gigantic construction followed a trend of the Hellenistic leaders to invest on constructions of unprecedented magnitude, to display their power. Architects tried to obtain the favours of kings proposing challenging projects, as the one of Dinocrates for Mount Athos, and kings were, obviously, interested to use their skills and ideas.

My lecture will be focused on technical aspects, scarcely discussed by scholars, related to the construction of such a long lasting masterpiece as the Alexandria lighthouse. The aim is to highlight the knowledge which made possible the construction of this imposing building, able to become a symbol not only for the city of Alexandria, but the prototype of many later towers. The lecture will be centred on the structural scheme of the tower and on the building techniques that were used. For a better understanding of the exceptional concept I will analyse three medieval minarets (Koutoubiyya in Marrakesh-tour Hassan at Rabat-Giralda in Sivilla), built when the lighthouse was still standing.

Architecturally speaking the construction was just an immense tower, designed with three superposed volumes: on a squared parallelepiped, stood an octagonal parallelepiped, topped by a circular one. This scheme of tapering volumes was adopted in many later lighthouses. The proportions are described by Ibn-al-Sayj (Abu-l-Hayyay Yusuf al-Balawi ibn al-Sayj; Málaga, 1132- 1207) who also gave us a description of the interior of the tower. From his text we are informed about the existence of a hollow centre, quite unusual for such high constructions and typically missing in all the medieval towers emulating the lighthouse. The building technique used in the building is not recorded, but we can explore the construction through the military architecture of the period, when walls and towers were made structurally sound to resist to the siege engines.

Believing in the Beyond in Alexandria of Ptolemaic and Imperial Times

The Study of Some Funerary Paintings

By Anne-Marie Guimier-Sorbets, Professor of Greek Archaeology and Art History, University of Paris Ouest, France

Analysing some series of funerary painted images found in Alexandria (3rd c. BC – 2nd c. AD), we will study how, in this multicultural town, the Greek Classical then the Egyptian funerary iconography were adapted then combined in order to express strong believes in the Beyond and help, with « active » images, the dead to accomplish his happy destiny in the afterlife.

Recent publications :

-A.-M. Guimier-Sorbets, A. Pelle, M. Seif el-Din, Renaître avec Osiris et Perséphone. Alexandrie, les tombes peintes de Kôm el-Chougafa, (Antiquités Alexandrines,1), Alexandrie, Centre d’Etudes Alexandrines, 2015, 177 p.

-English translation : A.-M. Guimier-Sorbets, A. Pelle, M. Seif el-Din, Resurrection in Alexandria. The Painted Greco-Roman Tombs of Kom al-Shuqafa, , Cairo, American University Cairo Press, 2017.

Graeco-Egyptian Elements in the Architectural Mouldings of Hellenistic Alexandria

By Mona Haggag, Professor of Archaeology, Alexandria University, President of the Archaeological Society in Alexandria, Egypt

In spite of the fact that none of Hellenistic Alexandria’s monumental civil buildings has remained due to the various natural and human factors, some literary testimonies give us an idea of how fascinating the entire city looked like. Yet, a considerable number of architectural elements have been uncovered in different locations of the ancient districts of Alexandria. The majority of such elements has been published and opened a way for multiple studies revealing part of what can be known as the Alexandrian architectural styles. Recently an MA thesis delivered for the Alexandria Centre for Hellenistic Studies is devoted for the architectural mouldings of Hellenistic Alexandria. The thesis has categorized the mouldings into four main types, Greek, Egyptian, Graeco-Egyptian and Alexandrian. This paper introduces a re-investigation of those mouldings in view of the concept of an Alexandrian contribution to Hellenistic architecture which was and still is a subject of an endless series of discussions and disputation.

The study deals with the prominent appearance of Egyptian elements in the Alexandrian mouldings from both their aesthetic effect and functional purposes. On the other hand, one can look at the interaction between Egyptian and Greek elements as a positive reflection of the nature of the Ptolemaic society of the ancient glorious city.

Alexandrians in Ptolemaic Epigraphy

A Case Study based on the ‘Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions’ Project, Oxford University

By Dr. Kyriakos Savvopoulos, Research Fellow and Tutor, Faculty of Classics, Oxford University

The Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions project began in October 2013, with the aim of creating a Corpus of up-to-date editions of the Greek and bilingual inscriptions on stone from Ptolemaic Egypt (323-30 BCE), numbering around 650 items. It is based on material collected and annotated by the late Peter Fraser FBA (1918-2007), the leading authority of the 20th century on the history and epigraphy of Ptolemaic Egypt and author of the renowned Ptolemaic Alexandria (Oxford, 1972).

The CPI project aims not only to bring to completion the work of a great scholar but also to offer a deeper understanding of the history, culture and society of Ptolemaic Egypt. It will make available a full corpus of scholarly editions, replacing older publications and other partial collections organised by specific region or theme, and will offer for the first time a full picture of the Greek epigraphy of the Ptolemaic period.

Following the publication, during the course of the project, of several articles, including previously unpublished material, this paper deals with a group of inscriptions related to Alexandrian citizens, focusing on issues of status, identity and ideology. Other types of material evidence will also be included, when necessary and possible, thereby producing as comprehensive a view as is possible.

Royal Catasterisms: Arsinoe II and Berenice II Translated to the Heavens in Aratus and Callimachus

By Dee L. Clayman, Professor of Classics, City University of New York

Catasterism is both the transformation of a person, animal or object into a star or constellation and a narrative describing the process. The latter has a long history in Greek literature. Hesiod’s lost Astronomia (fr. 288-93 M-W) described how the Hyades became stars (fr. 291 M-W), and the 5th century the epic poet Panyassis explained how Heracles ascended to the sky as the constellation Engonasin  (Hyginus Astr. 2.6). In the 3rd century Eratosthenes of Cyrene, the Librarian at Alexandria under the 3rd Ptolemy made a definitive collection in his Catasterismoi. This prose catalog defined the genre, but it was his younger contemporaries, the poets Callimachus and Aratus, who realized its potential for both literary expression and political messaging.

This paper will focus on the way that Callimachus and Aratus used catasterism to suggest the divinity of Arsinoe II and Berenice II, the wives of the 2nd and 3rd Ptolemies. The transformation of Berenice’s lock of hair into the constellation Coma Berenices, which concludes Callimachus’ Aitia, is well known and much admired thanks to Catullus’ Latin translation (C. 66), but the catasterism of Arsinoe, though treated by Callimachus (fr. 228 Pf.) has received much less attention. I will demonstrate that the longest and best known passage of Aratus’ Phainomena, the catasterism of Virgo or Parthenos (Phaen. 96-136), can also be understood as an account of Arsinoe’s apotheosis, that it not only had a political motive, but also an historical context which suggests, in turn, that it was composed at the court of Antiochus II at the conclusion of the 2nd Syrian War. If this is the case, it was probably added to the Phainomena after its initial composition in Pella just as Callimachus added “The Lock” to his Aitia. Finally, I will show that both Virgo and the Lock were placed in same part of the firmament occupied by a giant star cluster representing Egyptian Isis, with whom they were both identified in other ways.

The Hellenistic Drama in the Framework of Alexandrian Culture

By Georgia Xanthaki-Karamanou, Professor, University of the Peloponnese

The Hellenistic tragedy and satiric drama, though significant for the new trends they introduced in the history of the theatre, have fallen into oblivion and only fragmentary texts or even only titles of their plays remained to us. Therefore, little research has been conducted on Greek drama in the Hellenistic period, contrary to the detailed exploration of classical tragedy. Nevertheless, in Hellenistic era dramatic performances continued to be very popular and, as in classical times, theatre was regarded as a universal form of both education and entertainment, but above all the cornerstone of Hellenic culture and a prime instrument for its expansion. In this cultural framework theatres were built in every important city and dramatic performances were organized in festivals.

The Ptolemaic court reality fostered tragedy in third-century Alexandria instead of the religious and the political context of Athenian drama. Many new plays were attributed to the playwrights of the period. However, under the reign of Ptolemy II, in the first half of the third century, seven dramatists were distinguished as masters of dramatic art, as “stars”, and were called the Pleiad after the Pleiades. Greek language and education provided the primary means of ”paideia” in Alexandria, and Greek drama as a literary genre contributed to the expansion and the support of public education. A remarkable number of Hellenistic poets had an important part in the establishment and development of Classical Scholarship in Alexandria. Regarding this merging of poetry and classical scholarship it should be added that the principal directors of the Alexandrian Library were also distinguished commentators of classical texts. The editions of tragic texts carried out by the scholars in the Museum have proved that the dramatic texts were the most popular books after the Homeric epics. The intellectual circle of the Museum and the Library worked both to preserve classical tradition and cultural memory in Alexandria, an area of cosmopolitanism and multicultural elements.

Despite the significant lack of texts, Hellenistic drama, either as revivals of classical fifth-century plays or with a massive production of new ones, often dealing with unique, not treated themes, and with its wide expansion with theatres in many cities, retained its political and social importance.

New forms of dramatic poetry with an osmosis of literary genres appeared, like the Alexandra of Lycophron, old forms were restored and flourished, as it happened with the satyr-play, and a completely new field of study, Classical Scholarship, was born and supported by the Hellenistic poets, such as Lycophron, Callimachus, Eratosthenes and Apollonius Rhodius. This was the origin of Humanities in our world.

In a period of cosmopolitanism and multicultural societies Hellenistic dramatic production succeeded in removing the athenocentric character of fifth-century drama. It promoted with erudition a Hellenic cultural identity, destined to exert a remarkable influence in the later periods of Roman and Byzantine Empire.

 From Macedonia to Ptolemaic Alexandria: The Cult of Dionysos Pseudanor

By Emmanuel Voutiras, Professor, School of History & Archaeology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

The local Macedonian cult of Dionysos Pseudanor is known to us from two late sources: a short story in the Statagemata of Polyainos (late 2nd cent. AD) on the origin of the cult and a small group of inscriptions of the third century AD found in Beroia and containing manumissions of slaves. The story transmitted by Polyainos provides the aition for the name Mimallones, which was given to the Macedonian maenads. It is interesting to note that, as we know from Byzantne lexica, the same story was also told by the Alexandrian scholar and poet Kallimachos in the 3rd cent. BC. It is possible that Kallimachos found this tradition in a treatise on Macedonian beliefs and customs conserved in the library of Alexandria. But his interest in the Macedonian cult of Dionysos Pseudanor was probably aroused by the fact that it was still practised by Macedonians in Alexandria during his lifetime, for we know that Macedonian Mimallones participated in the famous Dionysiac procession organized by Prolemy II Philadelphos in 270 BC, described by Kallixeions of Rhodes.

 Philosophy in Hellenistic Alexandria and its Sequence

By Pericles Vallianos, Professor of Political Science, University of Athens

The cultural legacy of Hellenistic Alexandria centers around two crucial concepts which in a variety of manifestations inform the development of western society until the present. The first is the idea of cosmopolitanism or ecumenism, i.e. the overcoming of the exclusivist bounds of the classical Polis in favor of a humanist ideal that is composed of the universally valid contributions of all civilizations. The second is the notion of a critical method, which subjects inherited texts and intellectual traditions to detailed scrutiny in order to identify the kernel of truth hidden behind the poetic or mythic form of expression through which it was bequeathed to us. Criticism begins as philology and morphs into allegoresis which projects a new sovereign ideal of the Logos. This Logos, as the guiding power of ontological truth, is crucial both for scientific intellection, i.e. knowledge of the physical and human world and its mode of operation, as well as theological speculation.

A Brief Introduction to the Hellenistic Alexandrian Technology

By Theodossiοs Tassios, Professor Emeritus, NTUA, Honorary President of the Hellenic Society of Philosophy, and President of the Society for the Study of Ancient Greek Technology

The culmination of the Ancient Greek Technology took place during the Hellenistic period in the cosmopolitan world of Alexandria. The great Alexandrian Library and the Museum (the Research Foundation of that time) are the hubs of this development.

The great Engineers of Alexandria Ctesibius (3rd c. BCE), Philon of Byzantium (3rd c. BCE), Heron (1st c. BCE to 1st c. CE) et al., with their scientific and technological achievements developed: pumps, modern catapults, hydraulic clocks, the pipe organ, gears etc. They were also able to transform natural energy resources (hydrodynamic, wind and thermal) into mechanical work and they conceived fully operational Automata. Besides, harbor Engineering, Chemistry and medical Technology were substantially developed in Alexandria. Last but not least, it seems that the prerequisites for the first Analog Computer (the 2nd Archimedian Planetarium, and the Antikythera Mechanism) were fulfilled in the Hellenistic world.

Antikythera Mechanism as Evidence for Hellenistic Technology Excellence

 By Xenophon Moussas, Professor in Space Physics, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

‘Pythagoras doctrine is that numbers have maximal power to describe and understand nature and he is always referred to numbers, as for example the periods of celestial bodies, Plutarch ‘

The Antikythera Mechanism is the oldest known computer that in fact was originally called tablet (ΠΙΝΑΚΙΔΙΟΝ, PINAKIDION in Greek which means little table, i.e. tablet, in Greek). It is a relatively accurate and realistic clockwork Cosmos, a Planetarium, most probably an astronomical clock.

It is a remarkable clockwork instrument that works with gears, probably made during the second half of the 2nd century BCE, somewhere in the Greek World. It functions with carefully designed bronze gears that perform the appropriate mathematical operations to predict astronomical phenomena. It shows the position of the Sun and the Moon in the sky, the age (phase) of the Moon, with an ingenious method that is a good approximation of Kepler’s second law using an equivalent of a two term Fourier series, it gives the perigee and apogee of the moon. It predicts solar and lunar eclipses. It probably gives the position of the planets using the same mathematical method with various combinations of gears, what we call planetary gears. We have discovered a set of gears that I interpret as planetary gear that predicts the motion and position of planet Jupiter using an equivalent of Fourier series with two terms. A very important question is whether the mechanism is actually a clock with continuous motion. The answer is based on ancient Greek texts that describe automata and locks and I will present the case that it moves with a mechanism of weight and counter weights, like to clock of Archimedes, regulated by a float the is in a prismatic container of water where the level increases with constant rate.

The Antikythera Mechanism is the epitome, i.e. the best example, of Greek Philosophy, the Natural Philosophy of the Greek philosophers mainly the natural philosophers, the Ionian philosophers, the Pythagoreans. To imagine that you can predict natural phenomena, to conceive the construction of such a machine, a computer, an automaton, which reproduces the movements of celestial bodies, predicts the phases of the Moon, the eclipses, is required for a civilization to have: a) the notion of determinism, b) that there the laws of nature, c) that the laws of nature are expressed with precision only with appropriate mathematics, d) that natural phenomena are understood and interpreted with the laws of physics, e) and sometimes predicted by the laws of nature. To construct such a mechanism a civilization has to develop what is now called modeling in science, i.e. in reality to conceive, develop and put in operation the doctrine of the Pythagorean philosophy that everything is properly described with mathematics that the laws of physics can be expressed.

The mechanism is much more advanced than any other ancient device, like astrolabes, the astronomical clocks that appeared in Western Europe for the first time around the 14th century. The mechanism is exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, where many other treasures found in an ancient shipwreck that sunk in the 1st century BCE near the little Greek island of Antikythera, between Peloponnese and Crete, in a spot that was in the sea route between Greece mainland, and Asia Minor, the Aegean Sea in general, and Italy, Rome most probably was the destination of the huge ship full of treasures.

The gears have been designed to perform appropriate mathematical operations to predict all the then known astronomical phenomena. It really is realistic clockwork Cosmos, with the Moon following Kepler’s second law. The mechanism probably was very luxurious in appearance, with ornaments like a Rococo clock, because the taste of that era was similar. The mechanism is the dream of any astronomer of that time or even of today. The study of the mechanism permits to understand much better the way humans use science in antiquity and one of our conclusions is that the level of mathematics, mechanics and astronomy is much higher than estimated so far by the global scientific community, even by specialists. The mechanism predicts solar and lunar eclipses. It predicts both solar and lunar eclipses and shows the result on two dials one spiral dial that lasts a Saros cycle of 18years, 11 days and 8 hours and an Exeligmos cycle of 54 years and a month. The phase of the moon and the month in a Greek calendar that lasts 19 years which is Meton’s cycle, calendar the we use today for Easter determination. Another surprise was the Olympiad dial and circular display lasting 4 years with indications of important Greek festivities, the Olympic Games (assumed that they have started in 776 BCE), the Pythian the Isthmian the Naan and the Isthmian games. The games included theatrical, musical, poetical and other artistic competitions and they had big political influence. A recent surprise is that in the user manual of the Mechanism that is written on copper sheets that are the covers of this double faced astronomical clock give details of the motion of all the planets including some extremely long periodicities of the planets of the order of five centuries, 462 year for Venus and 442 years for Saturn.

Filon and Heron Combined to One Automaton

 By Manolis Korres, Professor of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens

In the last quarter of the 3rd Century BC, Philon of Byzantium, the famous Greek mathematician and author of many books (on Mechanics, Engineering, Artillery, Ballistics, Fortifications, Army Communications and Automatization), who was active in Rhodos and Alexandria, created an automaton, the mobile statue of a young lady, serving wine from a jar. According to a surviving Arabic translation of the original Greek description, a set of two vessels, two valves, two tubes, and a mechanism of levers and bars, was hidden inside her body and arms. The operation was rather simple: when a cup was placed on her left hand, the mechanism inside was moving towards a new position of equilibrium, causing the valve situated on the larger vessel’s top to let air in and thus to enable wine flow out, towards the jar’s mouth through a tube hidden inside the right hand and the jar’s handle. While wine was being poured into the cup, smoothly increasing the load and the hand’s lowering likewise, the mechanism’s motion stopped the wine flow and started the water flow. When a ratio of water to wine equal to one to two was reached, the second valve was also closed. Once the cup was taken from the servant’s hand, the mechanism’s counterweight immediately returned the unloaded arm to its start position enabling the whole procedure to be repeated.

In 2016, Professor Theodosios Tassios, already well acquainted with ancient technology and its study, asked the author for his contribution in an improved remake of Philon’s automatic servant. He also stressed the importance of locomotion in the way described by Heron. Thus, the design of a wheeled base was discussed, powered from a falling weight pulling a string wrapped round the base’s drive axle, the motion’s acceleration being controlled by a special device. In the same time Spyridon Economopoulos undertook the fine mechanics of the vessels and the valves. In the following month the author studied the details of the statue, including the other mechanisms and developed a series of designs in scale 1:1. He also decided to fashion the statue in a more realistic way, including its articulated legs, and personally to carry out wood carving and construction. It took nearly 800 hours to reach a nearly finished state, while another 100 hours are still needed for the last touch. Despite its unfinished state, the automaton, with a mechanical improvement by Demetrios Korres and a nice dress by Sylvia Koutrouli is temporarily being exhibited in the Peking Museum of Technology.

Alexandrian Medicine and its Influence in the West and the East

By Georgios Chrousos, Professor, Chairman of the First Department of Pediatrics at the Athens University

The pre-socratic philosophers Pythagoras and Alcmeon, respectively, used the terms “harmony” and “isonomia” to express the dynamic balance or homeostasis of life, while the Hippocratics equated this harmony with health and disharmony with disease. This principle, plus the use of solid logical evidence and the scientific method in dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, represent the foundations of Evidence-based Medicine, i.e., Hippocratic, Hellenistic and, naturally, Western Medicine, its direct descendant. The Library and Museum of Alexandria hosted a unique, University-like environment, which supported Biomedical Research and served as a beacon of learning for the ancient world. Physicians like Herophilus and Erasistratus performed seminal medical research in the Library, while the School educated many major physicians of the ancient world. Galen himself studied at the Library and incorporated many concepts of the Alexandrian School in his published corpus.  The Library of Alexandria, through Hellenistic Medicine influenced ancient Indian Medicine, as Yunani Medicine, and through this and via the silk road had an impact on ancient Chinese Medicine. Both the Stoics and the Epicureans, philosophic schools that served many psychiatric functions, concentrated on the study of stress and its management, considered the attainment of “ataraxia”, or imperturbability of the mind to stressors, as the ultimate goal of life, while Epicurus himself spoke of “eustatheia” or “eustasis”, the serene emotional state of a harmonious mental homeostasis in a human being. The Alexandrian philosophic school, which incorporated this eustatic principle, and which included neoplatonic philosophers like Hypatia, Plotinus and Philo, as well as Clement and Origen, served as an important world hub in which the Sciences, Medicine, Philosophy and Theology met, gave rise to modern Medicine and influenced Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

“Space, Time and Motion according to John Philoponus:

A Prelude for Gallileo, DeCartes and Newton”

By Emmanuel Floratos, Professor Emeritus at Physics, University of Athens,

Member of the European Academy of Science (EURASC-Executive Committee)

In this very short contribution the claim is made about the very modern approach of John Philoponus for his theory on the foundations of Space-Time and Motion.

Most of his philosophical ideas were against the doctrines of Aristotle and they contributed to the foundations of the Neoplatonic movement. Concerning space-time and motion some of Gallileo’s, Decartes’s and Newton’s works were based on his ideas attributing to him important credit.

One of the most important physicist of the twentieth century, the late John Archibald Wheeler recognised his ideas on space-time and motion as the precursors of the principle of equivalence in Einstein’s theory of Gravitation.

Τhe Hellenistic Mathematician Archimedes and his Renaissance Admirer Kepler

By Eberhard Knobloch, Academician, Prof. Em. for the History of Science and Technology, Berlin University of Technology

Analogical thinking played a crucial role in Archimedes’s outstanding, mathematical creativity. This applies to his discovery of the fraud of the goldsmith, to his theorem about the surface of a sphere, to his integration theory etc. He transferred the structure of quantities to non-quantities or indivisibles. He revealed his ideas in his letter to Eratosthenes entitled “Ephodos“ (Approach). The „Ephodos“ was made known by Heiberg only in 1906. Yet, the renaissance admirer of Archimedes, Kepler, who could not know it, used similar techniques in order to calculate for example the volume of a mathematical apple. The two mathematicians were brothers in mind. Kepler’s critics and Archimedes’s admirers Anderson and Guldin did not know this intellectual background.

Environmental Optics in Hellenistic Alexandria and the Case of Pharos

By Xenophon Moussas, Professor in Space Physics, National & Kapodistrian University of Athens

Paolo Vitti, Archaeologist and architect, Rome, Italy 

Stylianos Zerefos, Hellenic Open University, Greece

In this study are presented ancient optical systems, lenses and mirrors and combinations of them. It is postulated that such optical devices were available to ancient Greek philosophers that enabled them to perform optical observations in the environment and in astronomy. These optical devices allowed observations of the environment on various scales from nearby to more distant objects.

The study is based on actual data with measurements of existing ancient lenses that are in Greek Archaeological Museums that allowed the study of their optical characteristics. In parallel use is made of works by ancient Greek philosophers and scientists. The oldest of the lenses that has been measured is probably 4000 years old, from Crete, Greece, while the others are of various time periods of antiquity. Several other lenses of various focal lengths belong to the 8th and 7th centuries BC, originating from Rhodes. These have several focal lengths and magnifications.

Ancient scientific texts proving the use of complex optical systems made up of more than one mirror or, possibly, lenses from the Greek philosophers and particularly the optical science that has been developed in Hellenistic Alexandria. The best example of high technology optics in the Hellenistic Period was the mechanism of Pharos, the lighthouse in Alexandria and one of the seven marvels of antiquity. Unfortunately in view of interventions to restore the old buildings of Pharos during the Islamic period (Pharos was already more than a millennium old) have destroyed along with earthquakes and tsunamis the remnants of this optical system. In the present work an effort through classical literature on optics from Heron of Alexandria, Euclid, Archimedes, Ctesibius and many others, is done towards proposing a reconstruction of  the lost optical system that was using mirrors to send light to distances reaching 48 klm from the port of Alexandria.

Extreme Geophysical Phenomena in Alexandria

By Christos Zerefos, Costas Synolakis, Academy of Athens

This work presents evidence of geophysical distracting phenomena at the port of Alexandria as described in Arab travellers and as simulated by modern coupled earthquake-tsunami models. The extensive literature provides evidence that is in agreement with the model calculations and a proposal of creeping subsidence is discussed and studied which could explain the observed submerged areas in the northern shore of the Nile Delta.

Paleoclimatic Conditions during the Hellenistic Period in the Eastern Mediterranean

By Juerg Luterbacher, Professor, Department of Geography, Climatology, Climate Dynamics and Climate Change, Justus Liebig University of Giessen, Germany

Paleoclimatology is the study of past climates, prior to the widespread availability of meteorological instrumental records. Combining information from terrestrial and marine archives (speleothems, lake and marine sediments) with evidence of past human activity obtained from paleoecological and archaeological records is of major relevance for our understanding environmental response, ecological processes and human impact. In this talk we review the availability, the potential and limitations of those palaeoclimatic information from the eastern Mediterranean for the Hellenistic period.

What do Paleo Climate Models tell us about the Hellenistic Period in the Eastern Mediterranean?

By Elena Xoplaki, Professor, Department of Geography, Climatology, Climate Dynamics and Climate Change, Justus Liebig University of Giessen, Germany

Paleoclimate models provide information about the dynamical mechanisms that could lead to hydrological and thermal periods that deviate from average climate conditions. These climate conditions may be caused by the influence of external factors, such as changes in solar and volcanic activities, or by purely internal variations in oceanic and atmospheric circulation. The model simulations generate possible climate evolutions compatible with the prescribed configurations of the external drivers. Model outputs from different generations of General Circulation Models, Earth System Models and regional simulations are analysed to describe the climatic conditions of the Eastern Mediterranean during the Hellenistic Era.

The Destruction of Libraries in the Course of History and the International Law on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict

By Artemis Papathanassiou, Legal advisor at the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, former chairperson of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of Cultural property  in the Event of Armed Conflict, Greece

As is well known, the attacks against cultural heritage and cultural diversity have increasingly evolved over the last few years into a key element of the armed conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya  -and earlier in Mali and Afghanistan-  as well as in other regions. We have witnessed an unprecedented cultural cleansing, which targets mainly archaeological sites of the greatest importance for humanity, cultural property of significant importance and value, as well as places of worship belonging to religious minorities.  It is, therefore, obvious that culture has moved over the last decades, as was the case in history, to the frontline of wars and conflicts, both as a direct target for belligerents who use the destruction of culture as a means to foster more violence, hatred and vengeance and also as a collateral damage.

The cornerstone of the international legal framework protecting cultural property in armed conflict is the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954 Hague Convention). It contains a definition of cultural property that covers both movable and immovable property, creates a specific emblem to identify protected cultural property – the blue shield – and provides for a system of both ‘general’ and ‘special protection’ for cultural property. The First Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention deals exclusively with the protection of cultural property in situations of occupation, while one of the main features of the Second Protocol of 1999 to the 1954 Hague Convention is the creation of a system of ‘enhanced protection’ for cultural heritage that is of the greatest importance for humanity, in reaction to the limited success of the system of ‘special protection’.

While international conventions and legal instruments in general establish the necessary legal basis for protecting cultural property both in peace and war time, they are not always strong enough to tackle increasingly complex situations on the ground.

It is, therefore, obvious that there is an imperative need to enlarge and rethink traditional approaches to protect heritage and to connect the dots between cultural, security and humanitarian aspects, in full respect of the mandate and prerogatives of every actor.  It is also significantly important to understand that States have a common responsibility to protect cultural heritage in times of peace and war, as it reflects the life of the community, its history and identity.  While human life is more important than objects, it is nevertheless essential to abide by rules protecting cultural property, as it constitutes the collective memory of humanity and symbolizes human life itself.

In light of the above, the issue of the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict is much more pressing than ever before.

[1]See Art. 10 of the 1999 Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention.  To benefit from enhanced protection, a piece of cultural property must, in addition to its great cultural value, also be protected by adequate domestic legal and administrative measures that recognize its exceptional cultural and historic value and ensure the highest level of protection; and it must also not be used for military purposes or to shield military sites

Is the Possession of the Parthenon Marbles Lawful According to the Contemporary English Law?

By Christos Mylonopoulos, Professor of Criminal Law, University of Athens, President of the European and International Criminal Law Institute

The possession by the British Museum of the Parthenon Marbles nowadays is not legal on the basis of UK law. Even if we accept the contention, that the permission of the ottoman authorities of Athens covered the whole amount of the Marbles and not only “some stones”, and that this permission was subsequently ratified by the Sultan of Constantinople and was allegedly in accordance with the international law valid at that time, the possession of the Marbles is today illegal for two major and concrete reasons:

(a) Because the Marbles are the product of a criminal conduct, namely corruption in the form of bribery. Bribery was at that time an offence according to British law (Westminster Act of  1275, Hastigs Case of 1800) and even supporters of the possession’s legality (e.g. Merryman) admit that at least a part of the money given to the ottoman “kaimakam”  was not in accordance with the ottoman law. Today, according to the Proceeds of Crime Act (Art. 329:  Acquisition, use and possession) “(1) a person commits [money laundering] an offence if he— (a)….b) uses criminal property; (c) has possession of criminal property”. This offence can be committed inter alia if a defendant: uses criminal property or (passively) possesses criminal property. The possessed or used property must be the benefit of criminal conduct and the defendant must have the necessary knowledge or suspicion that the property represented such a benefit from criminal conduct. Possession means having physical custody of criminal property. Moreover, it is not important if the previous offense is prescribed or not. All these prerequisites are given in our case.

(b) Because according to UK law a crime can be committed by omission, too. Omission presupposes for the defendant a legal obligation to act in the sense to prevent causation of a detrimental effect. On the other hand, according to the UNESCO Declaration of 2003, deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a criminal offense even in peacetime (e.g. destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas ). Hence, the omission of a State to restore cultural heritage destructed by a citizen of the same (i.e. to restore the integrity of the Marbles) is equivalent to a destruction committed by positive act.

From Alexandria to Venice: Remembrances of Alexandria in the Cultural Treasures of Venice

By Chryssa Maltezou, former Director, Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Postbyzantine Studies in Venice, Italy, Academy of Athens

According to legend, the holy relic of Saint Mark was stolen from Alexandria and translated to Venice by two Venetian merchants in the year 828. More specifically, the Alexandrian monks, acting as custodians of Saint Mark’s relic and fearing that it might be destroyed by the Saracens during the persecution of the Christians, allowed the Venetian merchants to steal the relic, which was subsequently housed in the basilica of Saint Mark. Thus, the two cities, Alexandria and Venice, were bound together by the legend of the Translatio. This episode is recorded in the mosaics of Saint Mark’s basilica, illustrating also the symbol of Alexandria, the famous Pharo. The legendary lighthouse, as well as the city of Alexandria and its founder Alexander the Great, are also depicted in far more cultural objects kept in Venice. The paper will explore these associations to the city of Alexandria, as preserved in the artistic treasury of Venice.

Egyptian and Aigyptiote Literature as a Bridge between Two Cultures

By Shaker Moussa, Lecturer of Modern Greek Philology & Comparative Literature, Al-Azhar University, Faculty of Languages & Translation, Cairo, Egypt

The Egyptian Greek (Egyptiote) writers followed the Arab literary production as they coexisted with their Arab colleagues on a daily basis. Despite the fact that many Egyptian intellectuals were very interested in the ancient Arabic literary production, especially the poems, the attention of the Egyptian Greeks was not exclusively focused on the ancient Arab poets but also on the modern ones. They mainly read them through translations, mostly in French.

From their side, the Arabs showed great interest in the ancient Greek civilization, from which they were influenced, also through translations. Of course, those translations were not of literary texts or poetry.

Although ancient Greek poets were known, their works were not translated in arabic. Thus, medieval Arabic poetry did not mimic ancient Greek works. It preserved its authenticity and its distinctive color that makes it stand out, as well as a different way of thinking and expression.

As far as modern Greek literature is concerned, it seems that the Arabs showed no interest in it, unlike the Egyptian Greeks. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Arab writers were merely influenced by the classic era.