Monday, September 1, 2014

Goddesses in the Dust: Hadrian and the Headless Nike

An archaeologist unearths the divine feminine, one archetype at a time...

The comedian Jim Carrey is credited for changing the phrase: "Behind every great man is a great woman," to: "Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes."

In Athens I came upon a case where - behind a great man - was a woman who lost her head.

Hadrian's Library, a massive building constructed by the famous Roman emperor in 132 A.D., sits in the middle of the Roman agora of ancient Athens. But hidden somewhere within its towering, fluted Corinthian columns...

lies another treasure I stumbled upon quite by accident. Roaming the remains of this magnificent structure, which once housed thousands of papyrus scrolls stored in niches, surrounded by reading rooms and outdoor discussion areas around reflecting pools, I happened upon a small, nondescript building. Inside I saw this glorious sculpture. Carved of a single block of Pentelic marble, this Nike figure - whose name means victory - is shown at the moment when her foot touches the earth, personified by a globe.

I was awestruck to by the delicate carving of her fingers, not to mention the fact of her ignominious discovery in the bottom of an Ottoman well, from which she was excavated in 1988. 

As most Nike statues, her erection was probably in honor of a man's battle. But the true victory is her survival, being moved over millennia from place to place, then dumped, headless, wingless and armless, into a well to be forgotten for centuries. A true victory of feminine strength, she lives up to her name, surviving battles that have been fought, won and lost around her, buildings that have been erected and felled, and civilizations that have reached their zenith and crumbled within her sight. 

So take my advice and don't pass by this small nondescript building in the midst of these hot and dusty ruins in central Athens. You will not be disappointed....

for Victory will be yours. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Seen in Athens - Fish Pedicure?

Things that make you go hmmm...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Goddesses in the Dust: Asleep in an Ancient Greek Graveyard

Seen in the museum courtyard of the Kerameikos, the ancient cemetery of Athens, exhausted tourists resting on the surface of Persephone's lair...

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Most Interesting Man In The World is Dancing in Greece


You know that guy from the Dos Equis beer commercial — "The Most Interesting Man in the World"? 

Well I found him, dancing at a village festival on the legendary island of Ithaka, and when he noticed me filming, he showed off even more...

ahhhh the Greeks and their kefi

(kefi = joy, desire, passion....)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Like Odysseus, I'm Returning to Ithaka

I am heading to Greece to attend a writers' retreat on my beloved island of Ithaka, and to do research for an exciting new project, a book entitled 100 Places in Greece Every Woman Should Go, to be published by Travelers' Tales in 2015.

This won't be your average guidebook to Greece - more like having a best friend along on the journey who will steer you towards a personally curated collection of cool, sometimes unusual and always exciting places you shouldn't miss when traveling in this ancient land - all from a women's perspective, wish a healthy dash of enlightening archaeological facts in the mix. And since I'm all about archetypes and the divine feminine, count on many of the 100 places to be oozing with tales of heroines, saints and goddesses of mythology and the cinema.

I'll be returning to do research in the fall and again in the spring to track down new places and in some cases revisit old ones. As an archaeologist who has lived and worked in Greece for many years, I've had a chance to travel widely in the country. I'll offer up unusual and sometimes mysterious destinations  - a mountain village on the island of Kefalonia where snakes and the Virgin Mary are thought to cure both mental and physical illnesses, a kayak trip down the real River Styx - as well as offer a fresh take on the standards, including the ancient architectural jewels of Athens and the inside scoop on that building with the women holding up the weight of the world!
Photo by Matthew Muth

It won't be easy to narrow down the selection to 100 places - I've already got 251 on my bucket list! So, like Artemis, the Goddess of the Hunt, I set out on my quest...