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Archive for the ‘Religion/Mythology’ Category

The Times Literary Supplement has an utterly fascinating essay on Minoan civilization, James Joyce’s Ulysses, Arthur Evans’ reconstruction of Knossos, and the role of ancient Crete in European modernism.

“Arthur Evans, the eccentric Englishman who led the excavations, was, if anything, even more creative in his reconstruction of the Bronze Age than Schliemann had earlier been. The fabulously ancient palace of Knossos enjoys, as Gere points out in her arresting first sentence, “the dubious distinction of being one of the first reinforced concrete buildings ever erected on the island”. The complex of buildings gawped at by thousands upon thousands of tourists every year owes less to the masons of the Minoan age than it does to the example of modernist architecture. On Crete, the archaic and the contemporary, both of them recreated in the image of the other, would end up generating a cultural Möbius Strip. “Not only did the Minoan past provide inspiration to the modern movement, it was itself a modernist structure, enfolding past and present into a closed loop of aesthetic self-referentiality.”

Read the full essay; you’re also invited to visit Knossos on our illuminating Mediterranean cruises.

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You are sailing away from Naples. You hear a voice cry out:

“Cyclops, if any mortal man ever asks you who it was that inflicted upon your eye this shameful blinding, tell him that you were blinded by Odysseus, sacker of cities!”

That voice is your own.

Or – by the gentle shores of Ithaka, a sweet voice sings out. A beautiful woman is whispering heartfelt words to her husband:

“The gods granted us misery, in jealousy over the thought that we two, always together, should enjoy our youth, and then come to the threshold of old age.”

And that is the voice of your wife.

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Travel Dynamics International is proud to present a very special departure of The Journey of Odysseus, from JULY 31 – SEPT. 11, 2009. Collaborating with Readers of Homer, a 503(c) non-profit organization, we will not only be sailing from TROY to ITHACA, retracing the ten years’ voyage of wily Odysseus from the carnage at Illium home to Penelope. Guests will be invited to orate their favorite passages from The Odyssey in an organized reading that will span the length of the cruise. messina

In a world of intellectual candy, this is the chocolate truffle. Just imagine standing upon the deck of the Corinthian II, the gold standard of expedition cruising, and beckoning to either side of the Strait of Messina (a picture is on the right) while  declaiming:

In that cave Scylla lives (because she did), whose howling is terror. She has twelve feet, and all of them wave in the air. She has six necks upon her, grown to great length, and upon each neck there is a horrible head…

From Istanbul and Troy to Delos, Pylos, Malta, Sicily, Naples, Ithaca and Athens, (more…)

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And it looked so innocent.

And it looked so innocent.

(ANSAmed) – BERLIN, AUGUST 21 – Troy was much bigger than what was believed until now, Ernst Pernicka, professor of Archeometry at the University of Tuebingen and in charge of the excavations under way in Turkey, affirms. While the scholars believed for long time that the legendary city spans on a surface of at most 27 hectares, in fact Troy was located on a surface of 35 hectares, Pernicka told the German media. The continuation of a defensive trench from the Bronze Age was recently discovered by the archaeologists and it allowed evaluating unequivocally the real expansion of Troy. (ANSAmed).

See the newly uncovered trench and affirm all your Brad Pitt-related fantasies on the Journey of Odysseus next autumn.

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Since this was announced five minutes ago, we haven’t yet made any plans to visit it — but don’t count us out.

Archaeologists in Rihab, Jordan, say they have discovered a cave that could be the world’s oldest Christian church. Dating to the period AD 33-70, the underground chapel would have served as both a place of worship and a home. It is claimed that it was originally used by a group of 70 persecuted Christians who fled from Jerusalem. These early Christians lived and practised their faith in secrecy until the Romans embraced Christianity several hundred years later. Click here for more from the BBC.

If you’re interested in visiting other important Mediterranean sites from early Christian history, join us on The Classical World and Times of St. Paul in August, or Emperors, Conquerors and Saints: Exploring Turkey’s Cappadocia and the Turquoise Coast in October ’09.

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A 2,500-year-old gold cup that has spent the past 60 years in a box under its owner’s bed is expected to fetch up to £100,000 after being rediscovered during a house move.

The cup was given to John Webber by his grandfather, a rag-and-bone man, who acquired it in the 1930s.

Because his grandfather, William Sparks, dealt in brass and copper scrap, Mr Webber assumed that it was made from those metals until he had the unusual piece valued this year.

The cup, which is 5.5in (14 cm) high, is embossed with two female faces, each wearing a crown formed from snakes. It baffled experts from the British Museum until metallurgical tests identified its likely origins as the Middle East or North Africa between three and four centuries before Christ…

Double-headed bowls and tableware depicting the two faces of Janus, the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, and endings, were common in Roman times. But in Roman mythology, Janus was usually depicted as a hirsute male, not a beautiful female.

Experts from the British Museum advised Mr Webber to have the gold tested to establish its precise make-up. He said: “I paid quite a bit of money for it to be examined by a lab the museum recommended. They found that the gold dated from the 3rd or 4th century BC.

An analysis of trace elements in a gold sample taken from the cup was carried out by Harwell Scientifics, of Didcot, Oxfordshire, and the University of Oxford. The Oxford Materials Characterisation Services, part of the university, concluded that the method of manufacture and the composition of the gold were found to be “consistent with Achaemenid gold and gold smithing”. The Achaemenid empire, the first of the Persian empires to rule over significant portions of Greater Iran, was wiped out by Alexander the Great in 330BC.

Read more from the London Times.

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One of our most exciting travel offerings this year is a late-December exploration of West Africa, beginning in legendary Casablanca, and concluding in Dakar, Senegal, on New Year’s Day 2009 — aboard the 114-guest, all-suite Corinthian II.

You can see the full itinerary here (and it’s really spectacular on its own) but we’d also like to introduce the two scholars who will be exploring this region with us, providing a lecture series en route. They are two Westerners teaching at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, and their fields of interest are especially intriguing. One thing that makes TDI voyages unique is their ability to put you in touch with cutting-edge, up-to-the-minute research about the world in which we live. “Desert Kingdoms of West Africa” is a perfect example:

(more…)

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TDI’s textual archaeologists have been digging, and they have unearthed a rare find: an epistle by the writer Mary Lee Settle on the lure of ancient cities. We think it captures the essence of where we travel, why we travel, and how we travel, and it bears quoting in full. She writes:

How many miles to Babylon
Three score and ten
Can I get there by candlelight?
Aye, and back again.

FROM THE NURSERY RHYMES THROUGH the fairy tales and into the yearning to travel that comes after – the city is there, the one that has caught the rhythms of dreams and silence. I can go. I can find it – Baghdad, Ecbatana, the Cities of the Plain, Troy and Carthage and Trebizond and Petra and Lhasa -whatever legendary city has been in my mind and sometimes in my dreams since childhood. I must unearth it, or crawl through labyrinths, or dive, or go by donkey, or simply sit and dream.

A legend is a story that no one can take away from you. It is secret. It must be as far away in place as Shangri-La, as deep in time past as the dreams of Miniver Cheevy and in time future as adolescent hopes – neither mundane here nor mundane now. It is a place to be discovered on one’s own, whether in reality, as Heinrich Schliemann did when he followed his own dream to the Troad, or in poetry. (more…)

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