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Travel in the Ancient Greek World

Travel in the Ancient Greek World


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Travel opportunities within the ancient Greek world largely depended on status and profession; nevertheless, a significant proportion of the population could, and did, travel across the Mediterranean to sell their wares, skills, go on religious pilgrimage, see sporting events or even travel simply for the pleasure of seeing the magnificent sights of the ancient world. Travel was not always glamorous, though, and three other significant groups who also travelled far from their homeland, usually against their will, were political envoys, slaves, and soldiers, especially mercenaries.

Celebrating Travel

Travel seems to have always been held in high regard by the Greeks, which is no surprise for a civilization famous for its curiosity and innovation. In the earliest oral traditions of Greek mythology, many of the tales, such as Jason and the Golden Fleece, celebrated the benefits to be gained from travelling whilst others, such as the myth of Charybdis, warned of the possible risks of voyaging into the unknown. In the earliest works of Greek literature in the 8th century BCE, both Homer and Hesiod describe traders, in particular, as great travellers. Works such as the Odyssey illustrated that the authors themselves had clearly travelled or at least spoken to those who had, and one might say that Odysseus' epic journey home to Ithaca was itself a celebration of the adventures inherent in travel.

Artefacts and literature indicate that at least some portion of the population was relatively mobile across the Greek world.

The idea that the Greeks did travel widely is evidenced in the archaeological record which shows such tangible and measurable indicators of contact between peoples as finds of trade goods and coinage, uniformity in artistic styles and cultural practices, and the spread of disease. Literature too, for example, scholarly works, plays, and histories, all indicate that at least some portion of the population was relatively mobile across the Greek world. In addition, trends came back the other direction and new ideas could influence the home cities and regions; one important example of this two-way exchange was the influence of eastern tastes in clothes, food, and architecture on Greek city-life.

As the following quote from Plato's Crito illustrates, travel was widely considered a useful activity, and the Athenian philosopher Socrates is here criticised for not thinking so:

You never went out from the city to a festival, or anywhere else, except on military service, and you never made any other journey, as other people do and you had no wish to know any other city or other law, but you were contented with us and our city. (52b)

Practicalities

Travel on land meant using carriages and horses for the better off or beasts of burden and plain old walking for everybody else. Greece had an extensive road network connecting even the most remote settlements; however, the easiest and most comfortable way to travel was by sea, especially as the vast majority of the more important urban centres were located either on or very near the coast. There were no ships dedicated only for travellers, though, and the would-be tourist had to persuade a sea-trader to make room amongst his cargo.

Maps, at least those covering larger areas, seem to have been the reserve of scholars rather than everyday travellers. No doubt primitive roads, natural landmarks (mountains, rivers and springs) and settlements were used to guide a visitor new to a particular area. Regarding sea travel, ship's captains commonly kept logs (periploi) describing landmarks along coastlines and sometimes even records of land distances and routes (stadiasmoi) relevant to their ports of call.

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Travel could be an expensive business, though, and if undertaken over long distances, required baggage porters and other attendants. Hospitality was usually provided by social peers for free (at least for the higher classes) but there were specific enterprises set up to provide basic food and accommodation, especially in the larger cities and great 'attractions' of the Panhellenic religious sanctuaries. At ports like the Piraeus, secondary businesses also sprang up to capture the money of the passing traveller, for example, shops, laundries, barbers and prostitutes.

The dangers of travel in the Archaic period included the legal problem of being in the territory of another state without permission whilst trying to arrive at one's destination, unreliable transport, robbery and even abduction; the latter two were a particular danger when travelling by sea, where pirates operated. By the Classical period relations between states became more regularised and systems of communication improved, but travel remained a risky business. In addition, with the ever-increasing size and complexity of urban-centres, the need for resources, skills and slaves meant that warfare could very often result in the forced movement of people and even whole populations.

Commercial Travellers

Traders (emporos), highly skilled craftsmen (especially metalworkers, gem-carvers, potters, stonemasons and glassworkers) and technical experts such as actors, writers, philosophers, and practitioners of medicine, commonly travelled around the Mediterranean offering their goods and services to those who could pay. Examples include the doctors Demokedes of Kroton and Apollonides of Kos (who both served the Persian royal court), the architect Mandrokles of Samos and the sculptor Telephanes. Many of these specialists and artisans made permanent moves and set up their workshops to spread their knowledge and artistic styles far from their original place of invention.

Traders also gathered at the busy commercial centres like the Piraeus to sell their goods which would, in turn, travel across the Mediterranean. Colonists (apoikoi) established hundreds of new cities across the Mediterranean, and these were usually developed from basic trading posts. In addition, there were centres which were exclusively set up for the purposes of trade, for example, Naucratis on the Nile Delta and Al Mina in present-day southern Turkey. Consequently, in the summer season, traders continuously criss-crossed the Mediterranean in search of goods and business, and in so doing they provided a means for non-commercial travellers to reach far-flung destinations.

The Greeks, as with any other civilization, also had their share of that most intrepid of all travellers, the explorer. Perhaps motivated more by commercial opportunities rather than pure knowledge expansion, Greeks did occasionally go beyond the confines of the Mediterranean and explore the Atlantic coasts of Europe and Northern Africa. Perhaps the most famous explorers were Herodotus of Halikarnassos and Pytheas, who travelled as far as the south-west of England and possibly even made it to Iceland and the Baltic coast around 340 BCE.

Religious Travellers

Religious pilgrimages were also a common activity, the most popular destinations being the sanctuaries of Delphi and Delos. Here the visitors could not only admire some of the greatest buildings of Greek architecture but also great works of art in the form of statues, relief sculpture and fountains. They could leave dedicatory offerings of all kinds from simple clay figures to huge bronze statues or even entire buildings, offered in honour of the gods and usually in the hope of some kind of divine intervention in ordinary lives. Those seeking medical cures could also travel to centres such as Epidaurus where Asklepius, the god of medicine, could advise them on the best course of treatment. Also in the category of religious travel could be placed those who journeyed to see sites made famous by mythology such as caves where a god was said to have been born or a temple built where a god was said to have directly intervened in human affairs.

Festivals such as the Panathenaia and City Dionysia of Athens and those festivals which included the first showings of plays by the famous playwrights attracted visitors from far and wide. Indeed cities saw the financial and public relations benefits of welcoming visitors, for as the Athenian statesman Pericles stated in his famous funeral oration:

We throw open our city to the world, and never by alien acts exclude foreigners from any opportunity of learning or observing... (Boys-Stones, 394).

Travelling For Culture

Sports fans were also great travellers, especially those who wished to see the great athletic events of the Panhellenic games at Olympia, Delphi, Isthmia and Nemea. Due to the sacred nature of these games there was even a period of truce declared across Greece to allow safe travel for those who wished to attend.

Just as people travelled from rural areas to participate in life in the city and the opportunities offered there, people also travelled for their education to famous centres such as Plato's Academy in Athens or the scientific schools in Asia Minor, a phenomenon which only increased in Hellenistic times and expanded to artistic schools of drama and sculpture, for example. Similarly, scholars and sophists travelled around to find students or people willing to pay in order to learn such skills as music, philosophy, or public speaking.

Tourists were those who travelled for no other reason than to see for themselves the cultural sights made famous by literature, theatre, story-telling, warfare and even coinage. Especially popular were the large urban centres such as Athens and Sparta and Egypt, too, with its impressive ancient monuments. As one 5th century BCE comic poet put it:

If you've never seen Athens, your brain's a morass
If you've seen it and weren't entranced, you're an ass,
If you left without regrets, your head's solid brass!
(Boys-Stones, 395)

Travel in the Greek world, then, just as today, was considered an important way to broaden the mind, learn about other, older civilizations or contemporary cultures and see for oneself the places made so famous by literature; to finally see first-hand the exciting and exotic places one has read and heard so much about since childhood.



Travel opportunities within the ancient Greek world largely depended on status and profession. Nevertheless, a significant proportion of the population could, and did, travel across the Mediterranean to sell their wares, skills, go on religious pilgrimage, see sporting events or even travel simply for the pleasure of seeing the magnificent sights of the ancient world. Travel was not always glamorous, though, and three other significant groups who also travelled far from their homeland, were political envoys, slaves, and soldiers, especially mercenaries.

Travel seems to have always been held in high regard by the Greeks. In the earliest oral traditions of Greek, many of the tales, such as Jason and the Golden Fleece, celebrated the benefits to be gained from travelling whilst others, such as the myth of Charybdis, warned of the possible risks of voyaging into the unknown.
In the earliest works of literature in the 8th century BC, both Homer and Hesiod describe traders, in particular, as great travellers.
Works such as the Odyssey illustrated that the authors themselves had clearly travelled or at least spoken to those who had, and one might say that Odysseus’ epic journey home to Ithaca was itself a celebration of the adventures inherent in travel.
The idea that the Greeks did travel widely is evidenced in the archaeological record which shows such tangible and measurable indicators of contact between peoples as finds of trade goods and coinage, uniformity in artistic styles and cultural practices, and the spread of disease.

Travel on land meant using carriages and horses for the better off or beasts of burden and plain old walking for everybody else. Greece had an extensive road network connecting even the most remote settlements however, the easiest and most comfortable way to travel was by sea, especially as the vast majority of the more important urban centres were located either on or very near the coast. There were no ships dedicated only for travellers, though, and the would-be tourist had to persuade a sea-trader to make room amongst his cargo.
Maps, at least those covering larger areas, seem to have been the reserve of scholars rather than everyday travellers. No doubt primitive roads, natural landmarks (mountains, rivers and springs) and settlements were used to guide a visitor new to a particular area. Regarding sea travel, ship’s captains commonly kept logs describing landmarks along coastlines and sometimes even records of land distances and routes relevant to their ports of call.
Travel could be an expensive business, though, and if undertaken over long distances, required baggage porters and other attendants. Hospitality was usually provided by social peers for free (at least for the higher classes) but there were specific enterprises set up to provide basic food and accommodation, especially in the larger cities. At ports like the Piraeus, secondary businesses also sprang up to capture the money of the passing traveller, for example, shops, laundries, barbers and prostitutes.
The dangers of travel in the Archaic period included the legal problem of being in the territory of another state without permission whilst trying to arrive at one’s destination, unreliable transport, robbery and even abduction the latter two were a particular danger when travelling by sea, where pirates operated. By the Classical period relations between states became more regularised and systems of communication improved, but travel remained a risky business.

Traders (emporos), highly skilled craftsmen (especially metalworkers, gem-carvers, potters, stonemasons and glassworkers) and technical experts such as actors, writers, philosophers, and practitioners of medicine, commonly travelled around the Mediterranean offering their goods and services to those who could pay.
Traders also gathered at the busy commercial centres like the Piraeus to sell their goods, which would, in turn, travel across the Mediterranean. Colonists established hundreds of new cities across the Mediterranean, and these were usually developed from basic trading posts. In addition, there were centres, which were exclusively set up for the purposes of trade. Consequently, in the summer season, traders continuously criss-crossed the Mediterranean in search of goods and business, and in so doing they provided a means for non-commercial travellers to reach far-flung destinations.
The Greeks, as with any other civilization, also had their share of that most intrepid of all travellers, the explorer. Perhaps motivated more by commercial opportunities rather than pure knowledge expansion, Greeks did occasionally go beyond the confines of the Mediterranean and explore the Atlantic coasts of Europe and Northern Africa.

Religious pilgrimages were also a common activity, the most popular destinations being the sanctuaries of Delphi and Delos. Here, the visitors could not only admire some of the greatest buildings of Greek architecture, but also great works of art in the form of statues, relief sculpture and fountains. They could leave dedicatory offerings of all kinds from simple clay figures to huge bronze statues or even entire buildings, offered in honour of the gods and usually in the hope of some kind of divine intervention in ordinary lives. Those seeking medical cures could also travel to centres such as Epidaurus where Asclepius, the god of medicine, could advise them on the best course of treatment. Also in the category of religious travel could be placed those who journeyed to see sites made famous by mythology such as caves where a god was said to have been born or a temple built where a god was said to have directly intervened in human affairs.
Festivals such as the Panathenaia and City Dionysia of Athens and those festivals, which included the first showings of plays by the famous playwrights, attracted visitors from far and wide.

Sports fans were also great travellers, especially those who wished to see the great athletic events of the PanHellenic games at Olympia, Delphi, Isthmia and Nemea.
People also travelled for their education to famous centres such as Plato’s Academy in Athens or the scientific schools in Asia Minor. Similarly, scholars and sophists travelled around to find students or people willing to pay in order to learn such skills as music, philosophy, or public speaking.
Tourists were those who travelled for no other reason than to see for themselves the cultural sights made famous by literature, theatre, storytelling, warfare and even coinage. Especially popular were the large urban centres such as Athens and Sparta.
By the 3rd century BC, literature, too, sprang up which described the great sights to be seen, with some of the earliest texts being On the Cities in Greece by Heraclides Criticus and the Epidēmiai by the poet Ion of Chios.
Travel in the Greek world, then, just as today, was considered an important way to broaden the mind, learn about other, older civilizations or contemporary cultures and see for oneself the places made so famous by literature.

Sometime around 330 BC, Pytheas, a little-known Greek merchant, embarked on an astonishing voyage. It was a voyage that would take him far beyond the known boundaries of the Mediterranean, into lands thought to exist only in myth and legend.
Pytheas was a citizen of the western Greek city of Massilia (modern-day Marseille), which became a major trading power in the western Mediterranean as a result of its favourable location along the southern coast of Gaul (France). He was known as a skilled navigator, astronomer, and mariner. His account of the voyage, called On the Ocean (Peri tou Okeanou), documented a sea journey to Britain, the North Sea, and the coastline of northeastern Europe, the mysterious northern lands that were the sources of the Mediterranean’s supply of tin, amber, and gold.
Written in Greek sometime around 325 BC, it is perhaps the earliest documented description of the British Isles and its inhabitants. Significantly, it also contains tantalizing evidence that Pytheas may have reached as far north as Iceland and the Arctic Ocean.
Unlike many of the maritime-focused writings of the time, On the Ocean is not considered a document that lists the ports and coastal landmarks. It is a first-hand account of Pytheas’s voyage and contains a multitude of astronomical, geographic, biological, oceanographic, and ethnological observations.

Based on these (and other) scattered fragments, modern scholars have attempted to piece together aspects of the voyage, though many details remain speculative. For example, the kind of vessel Pytheas may have used has never been determined with any degree of certainty.
Equally speculative is his precise route. However, it is generally accepted that Pytheas began his voyage from Massalia and sailed west through the Pillars of Hercules (the modern Straits of Gibraltar). He pushed out into the Atlantic, cruising north along the western coasts of Spain and France and possibly made landfall on Brittany. From there, he crossed the English Channel to a spot he called ‘Belerion,’ which modern scholars believe to be Cornwall. It was here he witnessed the British inhabitants mining tin for trade to Gaul and thence to the Mediterranean.
The precise location of this island is unknown but has been variously proposed as St. Michaels’ Mount in Cornwall, the Mount Batten peninsula in Devon, or the Isle of Wight.

Pytheas apparently wrote On the Ocean at some point after he returned to Massalia. It was afterward widely circulated and apparently studied, dissected, and argued about for at least the next two centuries. For a long time, On the Ocean was likely the only source of information about Britain and the northern latitudes. Over the centuries, however, On the Ocean was lost, and with it an account of one of classical antiquity’s most significant voyages of discovery.
As for Pytheas himself, scholars know next to nothing about him. Except for a very brief description in the writings of Polybius, who scornfully refers to him as a ‘private citizen’ and a ‘poor man’. Modern historians have nothing concrete with which to describe his personality, his physical appearance, or even the motivations for his voyage. Such descriptions, if they exist at all, can only be divined from the scattered fragments of his writings, or what others have written about him. What these reveal, however, is a man not only skilled in navigation and the ways of the sea but also possessed of a capacious intellectual curiosity, a curiosity that exceeded the bounds of his Mediterranean world.


How did people travel in the ancient world without immediately getting sold into slavery once they reached an unfamiliar city?

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Questions like these can appear to make sense on the surface if you make certain assumptions about the ancient world. If you believe it was a world of very small self-sufficient communities in a state of perpetual undeclared war, maybe it would make sense for each of these communities to enslave anyone they met and didn't know. But it pays to think a little harder about whether such a world could really exist. If people could expect to be captured and sold into slavery by any strangers they met, how would you build ties with other communities? How would you trade or forge marriages or make alliances? How would you conduct any business at all, whether public or private, if the world outside your own little village was a hostile anarchy?

To put it simply: people travelled without fear of being randomly enslaved because it was in everyone's interest to make sure that did not happen. The very survival of each city depended on their ability to travel and communicate safely.

Admittedly we don't have much evidence of treaties on travel safety between communities like the cities of Ancient Greece, but we know there were unspoken agreements between them that travellers, envoys and merchants were not free game. I've written previously about the divine sanctions against killing messengers, which appear to have been as common to the Persians as they were to the Greeks. Other forms of travellers - pilgrims to sanctuaries, athletes and spectators to panhellenic festivals - were similarly protected. Major festivals like the Olympic Games came with a period of ekecheiria, literally "hands-off," in which even states that were in open war against each other were not allowed to touch travellers through protected lands without incurring the wrath of gods and men. Even objects might be included in these exemptions. In 373 BC, the Athenian general Iphikrates invoked a curse on his city when he captured and sold Syracusan offerings on the way to Olympia and Delphi. The Syracusans may have been enemies, but the gifts (and the envoys carrying them) belonged to the god.

Of course, this is not to say that there are no examples of the arbitrary enslavement of people who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Border raids were a pretty timeless constant in Greek history, and the most desirable plunder was cattle and humans. Naval raiding, too, was endemic, and piracy was a scourge to merchant shipping and coastal communities. In that sense it is true that merely existing in the ancient world carried a risk of being enslaved. But - and this really shouldn't need stressing - the community that had its people stolen wasn't about to stand by and let it happen. Carrying off the inhabitants of a state to sell them into slavery was an act of war.

In 491 BC, when the Aiginetans captured a ship full of Athenians on their way to a festival at Sounion, it rekindled and ancient feud that would only end two generations later when the Athenians annihilated the last settlement of Aiginetan refugees. There were many reasons for the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC, but one popular version told at Athens was that the war started because some Athenian youth had kidnapped a Megarian girl, and the Megarians had kidnapped a pair of sex workers in retaliation, with things escalating rapidly from there. (The comedian Aristophanes joked that if a Spartan stole a puppy, the Athenians would launch 300 warships to avenge it.)

Festivals in which women travelled outside the city were moments of particular anxiety about enslaver raids, and this could have disastrous consequences. In the aftermath of the Greek defeat against the Persians at Lade in 494 BC, the surviving warriors from Chios retreated into the territory of Ephesos - but the Ephesians mistook them for an invading army out to capture their women, and slaughtered them to a man. There were no regrets or apologies about this. If there were no courts or councils to appeal to, the last resort was to defend the people with weapons in hand.

These may be extreme examples, but the point is that there were, in fact, tacit codes of conduct between states, and these were invoked to justify policy and backed up with force if necessary. You couldn't simply seize a stranger and expect to get away with it. People didn't live in splendid autarky and isolation they were part of communities that had ruling bodies and laws and armies, and these communities saw themselves as part of wider networks that had obligations toward each other to behave according to the standards that benefitted everyone. In such an environment it was generally safer to let strangers be.


Ancient Greece is fascinating to all ages we delight in either the real Spartan 300 warriors, the mythical gods and goddesses or the philosopher Socrates. Plus we learn so much about our current culture by understanding the basics, the roots, of our western civilization.

In today’s Greece you can still experience and understand ancient history by visiting thousand year old ruins while enjoying sea, sand and sun.


Travel in ancient Greece. April 22, 2004 4:58 PM Subscribe

Nowadays, if one were going to be travelling for several days in the wilderness, one might bring, among other things, a backpack. Did ancient Greeks/Macedonians/Hellenes/whatever, circa 600 BC, have backpacks, or backpack equivalents? If so, do you know the actual greek word for it, and can you describe it? (How did it close?) If not, how would Greeks lug foodstuffs around?

Also, what was the common method for carrying a sword around? Suppose one was walking from Sparta to Athens. Would one have a scabbard/sheath, or did one just wrap their weapon in rags, or what?

[Please don't flame me for my ignorance of history can you believe I've lived 26 years and didn't think to wonder about these things until now? I've been waiting weeks for a book on travel in ancient greece to show up at my local library, but the Seattle libraries have been very bad lately about fulfilling hold requests. And google was no help at all.]

is this any help? With his traveling staff in hand, Hermes dons his characteristic broad-rimmed traveling hat (petasos) and short cloak (chlamys). Hekate, dressed in an open-sided peplos, guides the way with lighted torches.
Women and men in ancient Greece wore the chiton, peplos, and himation in various configurations. With belting, girding, and different methods of draping, they were able to transform the essentially simple construction and configuration of these garments. Many of these variations became codified, and persisted as preferred styles for centuries.

I'm thinking they just rearranged/redraped/"zhoozed" what they wore to travel in, for each new day or new event. (but i bet there were servants carrying bundles of other cloaks/fabrics for the rich)
posted by amberglow at 5:10 PM on April 22, 2004

here is an 8th century BC sword from italy, with scabbard.

its only $2300. not a bad deal. less than a dollar per year of its life.
posted by th3ph17 at 5:28 PM on April 22, 2004

1300 years ago, not 2300.
posted by whoshotwho at 10:16 PM on April 22, 2004

The Greeks did have bags and packs, of course: the general terms are skeuos, meaning "baggage" or derma "skin." But I can't think of any Greek word that would be like our backpacks.

When the Greek armies marched, they went with a full camp of servants and pack animals who took care of the heavy lifting. And given the rocky terrain, most of their long-term travel was via their swift black ships over the winedark sea. In fact, you don't often hear solitary travel stories from the Greeks. And when you do they only tell you about the people they met, not about how they carried their cheese.

Most likely any kind of backpack would have been made from animal skins or possibly of fabric that has long-since deteriorated. A lot of the research that's done on the topic of the Greeks' material culture is based on evidence from their pottery. The Perseus Project is a terrific place to look. (But it's often very slow.) Otherwise the book you want seems to be Travel in the Ancient World.
posted by eatitlive at 1:46 AM on April 23, 2004

Did ancient Greeks/Macedonians/Hellenes/whatever, circa 600 BC, have backpacks, or backpack equivalents?

Yes, the backpack equivalent was called a "slave." You had to be pretty no-account to have to carry your own stuff if you did, I imagine the traditional bag-on-a-stick was used. But I would be interested to see what the book says.
posted by languagehat at 8:04 AM on April 23, 2004

"Yes, the backpack equivalent was called a 'slave.' . "

OK, so what sort of pack/container/etc did the slave use for carrying around the supplies?
posted by tdismukes at 9:40 AM on April 23, 2004

Response by poster: eatitlive, that's the book that I'm waiting on from the library.

So, OK, it would appear that, possibly fake roman sword notwithstanding, swords did indeed have scabbards at the time. Backpacks are another story. A very casual browsing of the Perseus Project linked above suggests that roman legionaries used the sack+stick approach. This suggests to me that a pack worn on the body hadn't been invented yet, which I find very hard to believe, because it's such a useful idea, and requires not much more than a sack and a leather strap or two.
posted by evinrude at 11:19 AM on April 23, 2004

mdn, heurekas! I think I remember that book. It's the one with all those great short fables, at least a third of which end with the sentence, "And then he died."

Pêra seems to be what we're looking for. LSJ gives the definition as a "leathern pouch for victuals, etc., wallet." Phaskôlos is a synonym. And kôrukos — one of those Greek words with a variety of interesting definitions — is a another.

evinrude, you might find some interesting details about these pouches in the citations of pêra or kôrukos. (Most have English translations. Couldn't find any links for phaskôlos in Perseus.) I, too, would be interested to hear about that book - if it ever comes in. Keep us posted.
posted by eatitlive at 11:57 PM on April 23, 2004


3 Smooth Sailing

Apart from the landscapes, the presence of rivers also discouraged Mesopotamians from using wheeled carts to get around. Urban centers in ancient Mesopotamia typically were situated on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. This easy access to rivers made traveling on boats a more realistic, practical and comfortable option. Travel on rivers often was fast and easy -- the polar opposite of the sluggish pace of moving around in a bumpy wheeled cart. While river travel was dependable, travel in wheeled carts was not. Traveling in boats did have its drawbacks, however. The boats were only capable of moving southward, as they traveled along with the currents in the Tigris and Euphrates, which flowed from north to south.


National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is the largest museum in Greece. Its vast collections include finds from all around the country. It exhibits five permanent collections, dating from the Prehistoric times to Late Antiquity.

You will have the chance to see ancient Greek sculptures, vases, ornaments, jewellery, tools and everyday objects, an impressive Egyptian collection and Cypriot antiquities.

Votive relief decorated on both sides. It is made of Pentelic marble. According to the inscription on the epistyle, the relief was dedicated to Hermes and the Nymphs. The inscription on the base indicates that Kephisodotos, son of Demogenes, dedicated the relief, together with an altar. Height 0,75 m., width 0,88 m. (source – National Archaeological Museum of Athens – namuseum.gr)

Nymphs abduction, Relief, Echelos and Basile, Amphiglyhpon, Museum

Upper part of a grave stele made of pentelic marble. Excavated from the Kerameikos, Athens. The stele depicts a youth holding a discus. By the sculptor known as the Rampin Master. Height: 0,35 m., width: 0,44 m.

Mycenaean art. Gold cup showing a bull hunt, 15th cent. b.C., from the tomb at Vapheio. Location: National Archaeological Museum.

Spend the remainder of the afternoon walking through the city centre enjoy the exquisite coffee served in an abundance of coffee shops and rest well for the third day is going to be a walking expedition under the Acropolis ruins.

Start your third day early to get breakfast at one of the Psiri’s cafes and continue through Monastiraki to get to the Agora (Assembly Place) of Athens. You would need over two hours to walk through the ruins, do not forget your water bottle and non-slippery shoes.


Travel in the Ancient Greek World - History

Greece is a country in southeastern Europe. The country dates back to around 800 BC. Greece has thousands of islands scattered throughout the Aegean Sea and Ioanian Sea and is home to historical landmarks, amazing landscapes, and beautiful beaches.

The capital city of Athens retains many landmarks, including the famous 5th century BC Acropolis. Throughout Greece you will find UNESCO World Heritage Sites including: the Temple of Apollo Epicurius, Mount Athos, the Medieval City of Rhodes, and Delos. Wherever you travel in Greece, you will be exposed to the history of Greece, whether it’s a village, building, monument, castle, or the ruins of a theatre.

The beaches of Greece are each unique in their own way. Santorini boasts black sand beaches due to the volcanic history of the island and some beaches at Mykonos Island are party beaches. No two beaches are alike throughout Greece, but the view will always be spectacular, no matter where you are!

Aside from the breathtaking sites, experience traditional Greek food and friendly locals. Whether you’re up for an active trip that includes lots of walking, water sports, and sight-seeing or you’re looking for a low-key vacation that includes lounging on the beach and slow strolls around the town squares sipping coffee, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Greece.

The country is home to many islands, cities, and small villages that are ready to be explored. Getting to Greece is possible from anywhere in the world. The most convenient way is by plane, but you can also take a cruise to the country depending on where you want to enter. Once in Greece, there are many ways to get around. You can fly or take a boat to the islands. Getting from city to city can be done by rental car, public transportation, or taxi.


7. Mycenae

Once a settlement, the ruins of Mycenae is a truly ancient Greek landmark.

Found in the north of the country, the lost Mycenaean civilisation ruled the landscape during the Bronze Age.

Originally a fortified town, Mycenae was strategically built here to take advantage of spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.


Travelers and Strangers: Hospitality in the Biblical World

"Southern hospitality" is deeply imbedded in the local culture of the southwestern United States where I grew up. This informal "code" of hospitality helped otherwise fiercely independent people get along with each other. There may be some similar factors in the background of the hospitality customs of the ancient Middle East. However, the biblical customs concerning how a person should treat travelers and temporary residents were much different. They were more than simply ways to be polite or friendly, and went beyond entertaining guests. Hospitality customs were a vital part of the culture of the ancient world. The people followed these customs as formal, even sacred, codes of conduct.

Hospitality customs in the biblical world related to two distinct classes of people: the traveler and the resident alien. In most translations of the Bible, there is little attempt to try to separate the two. Even in the original Hebrew and Greek, different word are sometimes used interchangeably for the two groups. Either is called a stranger, one who does not belong to a particular community or group. Other terms applied to either or both are: foreigner, alien, sojourner, wayfarer, or gentile. In Israel, the law protected the resident alien, a foreigner who had settled permanently in the land. He could not own land, but he could participate in communal activities. The traveler, however, was extremely vulnerable. Only the force of the customs of hospitality protected him.

The environment of the desert and arid land in most of the Middle East is harsh. For a traveler, access to water and food was a matter of life and death. Most settlements were built near available water or wells. The traveler needed to have access to the water. Yet, it was also important for the settled community to have protection. As a result, strict codes of conduct developed to govern such encounters. These conventions of hospitality also applied equally to the desert dwellers who lived in tents as they followed the grazing herds (today called Bedouins) They were obligated to provide for travelers that stopped at their tents, and under these customs could expect some protection from hostile actions from the "stranger."

The host was obliged to provide the traveler with food, water, and shelter. Abraham welcomed three such "strangers" (Gen 18:1-8) into his tent. He eagerly ran to meet them and lavishly welcomed them. Abraham’s words and actions, including bowing to the ground, seem exaggerated to us. However, this was typical of Oriental hospitality. He provided them with water to wash their dusty feet and a place to rest.

Often a servant washed the feet of the guest. This provided a needed and refreshing service. However, it also symbolized the acceptance of the stranger and the absence of any hostile intent by the host (cf. John 13:5-20). Abraham’s elaborate preparations for the meal indicate the importance of providing for the travelers. When they left, Abraham traveled with them a short distance "to start them on their way" (Gen 18:16, NEB).

Laban’s welcome of Abraham’s servant reflects similar customs (although shaded in the story by the fact that Laban had already seen the gold given to his sister Gen 24:28-32). Luke recounts Jesus’ visit in the home of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36-47). Simon failed to greet Jesus and provide water to wash his feet. By this omission, he violated the most basic customs of Eastern hospitality. This was a profound insult and hinted at hostility to Jesus. Jesus used Simon’s insult as an example of the failure to understand the nature of sin and forgiveness.

The traveler was expected to accept what the host offered. To refuse such hospitality was an insult that only an enemy would inflict. On the other hand, a traveler would interpret a resident’s failure to provide food and amenities as a hostile act. The men of Succoth and Penuel refused to feed Gideon and his men (Jud 8:4-17). Gideon’s response was a violent overreaction. Yet, their refusal was a serious violation of Eastern customs of hospitality. Nabal nearly started a war over his refusal to feed David and his men (1 Sam 25).

The traveler had few legal or political rights in the ancient world. He was largely at the mercy of the residents where he journeyed. By accepting the traveler, especially in providing him food and sharing that food with him, the host also took the responsibility of protecting him. The story of Lot offers graphic evidence of the importance of protection. Lot offered his virgin daughters to an angry mob rather than betray the guests "who have come under the shelter of my roof" (Gen 19:8, RSV). In another instance, an old man pleaded with the men of his town not to harm a traveling Levite because "this man has come into my house" (Judges 19:23, RSV). Likewise, the traveler, by accepting the hospitality of the host, was responsible to honor the host and refrain from any hostile actions against him or his household (note these tensions in 1 Sam 25).

The sharing of food together was a token of friendship, a form of covenantal commitment. One of the most despicable acts in the ancient world was to eat with someone and then betray them (Obadiah 7 Psa 41:9 and of course Judas, John 13:18). This entire "code" of hospitality in the Middle East was so strong that it evoked a warning: "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (Heb 13:2). It is also this dimension of mutual commitment in the sharing of food that provides the Eucharist with one of its most dynamic meanings.

See also Dennis Bratcher, s.v. "Stranger", Harper's Bible Dictionary, 1985, 1996.

-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2018 , Dennis Bratcher, All Rights Reserved
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Comments:

  1. Leal

    They were already arguing recently

  2. Brajind

    In no event

  3. Gardahn

    Steer!



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