Tag Archives | Ancient Greece

Haunting Voices of the Past: Ancient Greek Music Reconstructed

Delphi: ApollEver wonder what Greek music sounded like circa 450 BC? Well, a bunch of smart people came together and figured out vocal notation on Greek pottery. Voila. The ghosts of the ancient world sing again.

via Open Culture via BBC:

[Ancient Greek] instruments are known from descriptions, paintings and archaeological remains, which allow us to establish the timbres and range of pitches they produced.

And now, new revelations about ancient Greek music have emerged from a few dozen ancient documents inscribed with a vocal notation devised around 450 BC, consisting of alphabetic letters and signs placed above the vowels of the Greek words.

The Greeks had worked out the mathematical ratios of musical intervals – an octave is 2:1, a fifth 3:2, a fourth 4:3, and so on.

The notation gives an accurate indication of relative pitch.

David Cleese, a classicist from the University of Newcastle, brings this notation to life through this recording. Listen here: What Ancient Greek Music Sounded Like

If you like this sort of thing, be sure to check out Hear the Epic of Gilgamesh Read in the Original Akkadian, where the sounds of ancient Mesopotamia reach out from the past, and speak to us again.… Read the rest

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Ancient ‘Gateway To Hell’ Unearthed In Turkey

Ancient oracles approached the ancient portal and received hallucinations and visions from the noxious fumes belching forth, reports Discovery News:

A “gate to hell” has emerged from ruins in southwestern Turkey, Italian archaeologists have announced. Known as Pluto’s Gate — Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin — the cave was celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology and tradition.

Historic sources located the site in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now called Pamukkale, and described the opening as filled with lethal mephitic vapors. “This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death,” the Greek geographer Strabo (born 64/63 BC) wrote.

The site revealed a vast array of broken ruins once it was excavated. The archaeologists found Ionic semi columns and, on top of them, an inscription with a dedication to the deities of the underworld — Pluto and Kore.

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Researchers Believe Greek Myth Of Hades Is Based On Real-Life Ancient Underground River-Cave Community Where Corpses Were Sent

Do not go here alone after dark. Live Science writes:

A giant cave that might have helped serve as the inspiration for the mythic ancient Greek underworld Hades once housed hundreds of people, potentially making it one of the oldest and most important prehistoric villages in Europe before it collapsed about 5,000 years ago and killed everyone inside, researchers say. Cave dwellers apparently used the cavern not only as a shelter, but also as a cemetery and place of ritual.

The complex settlement seen in this cave suggests, along with other sites from about the same time, that early prehistoric Europe may have been more complex than previously thought. The cave, located in southern Greece and discovered in 1958, is called Alepotrypa.

People apparently performed burials in the cave while conducting rituals that involved burning huge amounts of dung and depositing large amounts of colored and finely painted pottery. “The burial sites and rituals that took place really do give the cave an underworld feel.

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Ancient Greeks Help Explain The Rioting Of Modern Britons

riotsDr. Mark A. Wolfgram writes a fascinating letter to the Financial Times:

Sir, The August 17 commentaries by Richard Florida (“The inchoate rage beneath our global cities”) and John Kay (“Why the rioters should be reading Rousseau”), as well as the excellent Financial Times series on “The Squeezed Middle”, are all making important observations about a similar social, economic and political factor — inequality. Inequality is a fact of human societies built on hierarchies. We come to accommodate ourselves to different levels of inequality, as long as we feel that our society, overall, is at some level just.

In a recent academic work, “A Cultural Theory of International Relations”, Richard Ned Lebow goes back to ancient Greek thought on human motivations and argues that we need to reintegrate their notion of spirit into our understanding of human behaviour. The Greeks argued that humans are motivated by both appetite (the pursuit of material goods), as well as spirit (self-esteem, respect).

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