Interesting

Etruscans Transported Bees by Boat to Reach the Best Flowers!

Etruscans Transported Bees by Boat to Reach the Best Flowers!

The discovery of an ancient Etruscan honey harvesting workshop at Focello in Italy, and the analysis of charred remains unearthed at the site, has let archaeologists to propose a remarkable hypothesis. Of all the Etruscan techniques, skills, and social norms discovered to date, Etruscan bee boats are a unique beekeeping and honey manufacturing system and a testament to humanity’s obsession with honey.

In many ways, the mysterious ancient Etruscans (900 BC to 200 BC) can be considered the proto-Romans of their time. Though the Etruscans were absorbed as Rome expanded, their cultural influences were hard felt through ancient roman art, gladiatorial games, engineering, design, and religious rituals.

Uncovering Evidence of Etruscan Bee Boats

An archaeology team lead by Dr. Lorenzo Castellano from the University of Milan and the Laboratory of Palynology of the Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes at the National Research Council of Italy (CNR-IDPA), discovered the ruins of a workshop floor at an ancient Etruscan trade center at the Forcello site, located within Manatua Province near the vicinity of Bagnolo San Vito. The workshop was designed for the harvesting and production of honey. Its artifacts revealed that the site burned down sometime between 510 BC and 495 BC. Among the remains they discovered melted honeycombs, burned honey, and charred honeybee husks. Thanks to chemical and palynological (pollen) analysis, scientists were able to identify the unique ingredients that went into Etruscan honey and the distinct plants collected by their bees.

Castellano’s results revealed that the plants that ancient Etruscan bees were harvesting were primarily aquatic plants such as water lilies and wild grapevines' flowers only found along shorelines. Since the unique selection of aquatic plants is not native anywhere near the Forcello site, Castellano and his team derived the Etruscans may have made use of boats to store and transport their beehives to the desired locations. Once the honeybees harvested the pollen from lilies and flowers, Etruscan boat beekeepers sailed back to their workshops on Etruscan bee boats to harvest the golden sap bounty from their bees.

In 2017, scientists discovered the charred remains of honeycombs, honeybees and honeybee products in an ancient Etruscan workshop designed for the harvesting and production of honey. Their subsequent analysis led to their belief that this unique culture used Etruscan bee boats in their production of honey. ( Lorenzo Castellano / Live Science)

Due to the unique nature of transporting beehive boats to aquatic vegetation, the type of honey that was produced tasted like nothing that currently exists. The 2,500-year-old enigmatic Etruscan creation of grapevine honey gave rise to an alternate method for manufacturing beeswax, honey, and other various products.

Although the Etruscan discovery is revolutionary, the desire for honey reflects humanity’s obsession with its properties. Revealing the Etruscans' practical method has given rise to the significance and trade of the sugary nectar. So to understand its importance, it is best to comprehend its significance to humanity throughout history.

Human History and its Love of Honey

Humanity has been captivated with honey for the last 9,000 years of civilization. In the beginning, the harvesting of honey resulted in the destruction of bee colonies, as honeycombs would be pulled from the hive and then broken, torn, and smashed by humans who hungered for its nectar. The process was clumsy, unhygienic, and extremely destructive. In the millennia to come, humanity honed their honey collecting skills to develop smoke techniques which served to stun the bees without killing them during harvesting, which resulted in creating artificial homes for the hives and sleeves for the combs. In essence, as humanity pioneered agriculture and domestication, their newly acquired skills resulted in the taming and control of beehives themselves.

The traces for their adoration of the golden nectar is evident in the remnants of beeswax found in pottery, ancient beekeeping workshops, and art across ancient Central Europe, Greece, Romania, Serbia Turkey, the Near East, and North Africa. As mentioned by scholars of antiquity, such as Greece’s Aristotle, Rome’s Virgil, Gaius Julius Hyginus, Varro, and Columella, beekeeping was a prominent industry that held great esteem and was honored as a highly valued commodity. One of the most desirable traits of honey is that, because of its antibacterial composition, honey can last almost indefinitely without rotting or going bad. In several archaeological excavations in Egypt, archaeologists have discovered ceremonial jars of honey not only intact, but with leftover honey!

Beekeeping as depicted in the Tacuinum Sanitatis, an Arab medical text by Ibn Butlan of Baghdad, describing the benefits and harmful effects of different foods and plants.

Honey has even been associated with ancient medicines responsible for healing liver issues, gastrointestinal irritation, and cardiovascular concerns. Ancient beeswax may have also been used as an early adhesive for fusing arrow points to spears and making waterproof sealing for tools and boats. Honey not only acted as a food, but it was also used as an antiseptic for wounds, candle making, in religious spells, and even in preventing miscarriages.

Pharaonic honey was used in the embalming process and found in jars among the tombs of the royal, wealthy, and privileged. In Egypt’s history, it was written that Ramses III offered 21,000 jars of honey to the God of the Nile, Hapi. In ancient China, beekeeping was discussed in great detail by Fan Li when describing its collection techniques, its scrutiny for quality, and the appropriate seasons for its processing and harvesting.

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Even on the other side of the world, there has been evidence of ancient Mayans caring and conserving bees' hives for their golden nectar. Although there is no end of iconography, myths and legends, and art dedicated to the importance of honey, a dearth of archaeological information exists as to how ancient people housed and collected bee honey.

What is clear is that at some point in human’s 9,000-year obsession with honey, a brave few attempted to gather wild bees to create artificial hives from pottery vessels, baskets, carved tree logs, and wooden crates to house and utilize them and collect the sappy droplets of their labor. Any archaeological evidence found regarding the evolution of beekeeping is crucial. This is why Dr. Castellano’s discovery of an Etruscan beekeeping workshop is extremely important.

The ancient Etruscans made use of wild grapes to create the earliest form of wine. Researchers believe that they used the pollen of wild grapevines in their honey cultivation.

The Etruscan Bee Boat Hypothesis

In the ancient world, wild grapes grew rampant throughout the shorelines of the Mediterranean. The Etruscans made use of them by cultivating them for creating the earliest forms of wine. Currently, researchers have revealed that wild grapes and their vines were also used for their pollen in the process of making honey. Because of the prominence of grapevine cultivation and honey, trade routes depended on the production of both goods throughout Central Europe, the Near East, the Middle East, and Greece.

The pollen samples studied by Castellano’s team reveal that the pollen was extracted from grapevines and water lilies that were not native to the Forcello region. Because of the lengthy distance and the evidence revealing honeycombs with the remains of bees, Castello’s team surmised that the hives had to have been moved to the location by boat.

As Castellano’s finding discusses, the beekeeping process during the early Iron Age of Northern Italy revealed great insights into the beekeeping division of labor. In Castellano’s Forcello site, among the ruins of a workshop floor he found thousands of charred remains of honeycombs, honey bees' fossils, and interestingly enough, preserved honey bee products that have survived the unforgiving tests of time. The ancient Etruscan site's excavation revealed that the workshop fell victim to a fire and brought it to ruins. The remaining plot was then covered over with a thick layer of clay so that other buildings would be built on top of the burned foundation. Fortunately for the artifacts, the thick clay aided in their preservation process.

Further analysis of the charred and melted honeycombs was beneficial to Castellano’s team since they could isolate specific pollen content. The pollen proved to be collected from aquatic vegetation of wild shoreline grapevines and water lilies. This has confirmed ancient literature from the ancient Roman scholar Pliny the elder, who claimed that:

“The ostiglia villagers simply placed the hives on boats and carried them 5 miles upstream at night” (Lorenzi, 2017).

In Dr. Castellano’s study of Pliny’s work, he mentioned that if the Etruscans indeed used bee boats, they would have set the boats out at dawn and paddled them close to the desired locations of lilies and grapevines. Once placed, the ancient boatmen may have taken a separate raft back to shore and the bees would have been left to harvest for an entire day.

Once the hive was filled with honey, the newly added weight would change the buoyancy of the boat. This would indicate to the beekeepers that the boat was fully loaded with honey and that the was ready to return to the workshop for honey extraction. Pliny’s literature provided a vivid depiction as to how bee boats may have been utilized. With Dr. Castellano’s newfound data and analysis of aquatic plant pollen, Pliny’s historic account of Etruscan bee boats currently carries more weight in the world of archaeology.

The researchers argue that beekeepers placed the hives on boats so the bees could harvest pollen from aquatic vegetation such as wild shoreline grapevines and water lilies. ( Lars Johansson / Adobe Stock)

The Modern Flavors Made by Dying Bees

As Dr. Castellano has mentioned in several interviews, “grapevine honey has nothing to do with bee-produced honey, but rather it is a kind of syrup produced by boiling grape juice” (Lorenzi, 2017). The names and meanings may have changed over the eons since the Etruscans existed, but the desire to create unique-tasting honey has returned into fashion.

But questions remain as to why wild lilies and grapevines were used in Etruscan honey production. Was this because the honey was specifically used for the creation of honey wine or what would today be known as mead? Or were there medical properties that were tied to using grapevine honey? After all, grapevines and wine were already used for multiple purposes, ranging from casual alcoholic drinks to the disinfecting of soldier wounds.

Though the exact taste may be lost due to the extinction of wild preindustrial grapevines and lilies, perhaps comparing with contemporary counterparts may give answers to the ancient ways. In contemporary times, many beekeepers make sure to keep ponds and freshwater sources close to a hive. A good source of clean water leads to a strong hive and richer honey production. What effectively helps in the foraging of clean water are using lily pads for platforms. Perhaps the Etruscans knew this and purposely planted their bee boats near water sources rich in lily pads, not for the sake of its pollen but to aid bees in landing and harvesting water for the colony to hydrate.

As for the taste of wild grapevine honey, it may be that the Etruscans understood the benefits of exclusively placing the hive in areas growing particular flowers and plants. Given the strong connection between wild grapevines in the ancient world and wine, there may be an association for wine pairings and flavorings from the grapevine honey the Etruscans created. If this is the case, then it is indeed a technique that has gone underappreciated for several thousand years.

These days, due to the massive amounts of pesticides used in industrial agriculture, bees have been dying in droves, and many fear for the future of bees and beekeeping. (Hamed Saber / CC BY 2.0 )

In the current era, most store-bought honey is mixed from several hives across the country. There has been a growing desire to attain the tastes of various plants. Modern beekeeper enthusiasts have made it a novelty for seasonal honey’s made from different kinds of flowers, fruits, and berries. This particular brand is known as univarietal honey, which is dominated by only one kind of pollen to give it a unique taste.

Currently, many univarietal honey flavors exist. These flavors range from pollen and sap harvested from blueberry, buckwheat, lavender, sunflowers, and rose. Each particular pollen adds a unique color, flavor, and texture to the honey that is produced. With this in mind, perhaps the ancient Etruscans understood plant properties influencing the taste and composure of honey, which is why they used boats to move beehives close to wild grapevines and water lilies. One could only imagine what that concoction would taste like as either a wine or a sweetener.

However, with the current state of bee populations due to climate change, pesticides, and parasites, there is a growing fear among many scientists and beekeeping enthusiasts that honeybees may go extinct. Since 2006, there has been a bizarre occurrence known as Colony Collapse Disorder, which results in the complete demise of both drones and queens, and the severe weakening of larvae that survive. Due to the massive amounts of pesticides used in industrial agriculture, bees have been dying in droves, resulting in certain areas in China having to rely on human hand-pollination techniques to replace the massive loss of bees in their regions.

Several beekeeping movements have started to practice the technique called “natural beekeeping,” which uses compartments allowing for movable combs without the use of frames or foundations. This particular method allows for healthier bees that are not exposed to the ravages of pesticides that may spray over their hives. Additionally, this method has made the spotting of parasites easier when examining the bee combs. Nevertheless, the fate of bees remains uncertain. Hopefully, they can continue producing the golden nectar that has driven human civilization for the last 9,000 years.


Fish processing

The term fish processing refers to the processes associated with fish and fish products between the time fish are caught or harvested, and the time the final product is delivered to the customer. Although the term refers specifically to fish, in practice it is extended to cover any aquatic organisms harvested for commercial purposes, whether caught in wild fisheries or harvested from aquaculture or fish farming.

Larger fish processing companies often operate their own fishing fleets or farming operations. The products of the fish industry are usually sold to grocery chains or to intermediaries. Fish are highly perishable. A central concern of fish processing is to prevent fish from deteriorating, and this remains an underlying concern during other processing operations.

Fish processing can be subdivided into fish handling, which is the preliminary processing of raw fish, and the manufacture of fish products. Another natural subdivision is into primary processing involved in the filleting and freezing of fresh fish for onward distribution to fresh fish retail and catering outlets, and the secondary processing that produces chilled, frozen and canned products for the retail and catering trades. [1]

There is evidence humans have been processing fish since the early Holocene. [2] These days, fish processing is undertaken by artisan fishermen, on board fishing or fish processing vessels, and at fish processing plants.


Swarms

Ahhh. Spring is finally here. No longer are we dealing with grey, dreary days, cold freezing rain, drying wind chills, ice coated windshields, scratchy wool clothing, high electric bills, shattering teeth and low esteem. No more and what a welcome change.

Spring – the season between Winter and Summer. The season of rebirth, birds chirping, warm days and cool nights. The season in which dormant seeds, bulbs, and buds respond to the surrounding sun-soaked soils and burst forth, exposing daffodils and tulips, red buds and azaleas, violas and more. The season in which frogs and toads, crickets and katydids awaken and fill the air with an orchestra of mating calls. The season the bees are finally able to fly, forage and find food! The season that beekeepers, gardeners, hikers, bikers, runners, writers, painters, and lovers love! The season that . . . bees SWARM! Tulips and Pansies and Swarms. Oh My!

To some, (the bees) swarms are not so bad, but to others (the beekeeper) it sucks. To bees, swarms are a way of life – actually a way to continue the life of the species. In a nutshell, a honey bee swarm is the process where around half of the bees (on average), along with the old queen, split from an existing colony to form a new one. Once the bees leave the original colony, numerous things can occur. The queen – with all the bees in tow – will fly a certain distance from the hive and land on a branch, wall, post, leaf, car, stick, bush, another hive, rock, or boat. Once she has landed, the swarm of bees will surround her, forming a moving mass of bees. They will remain at this location until a) a new home is located or b) a better branch, wall, post, leaf, car, stick, bush, another hive, rock, or boat is found. While in limbo between homes, scout bees will be combing the landscape for another suitable dwelling. Once this is accomplished, the scout bees will fly back to the swarm and through the dance language, explain to the rest of the bees and queen where their new home is located. And then, off they will fly to begin again.

Hopefully, their new residence will have available space for expansion, along with providing insulation and protection from the environment. Plus – hopefully – there will be an adequate nectar flow so they will be able to store enough food to survive the upcoming winter dearth. Unfortunately, less than 25% of swarms survive their first year. It’s sad to think that so many bees die each year, not only from mites and starvation, insecticides and environmental toxins, but also due to swarming.

It is important to recall, though, that swarms are necessary for the survival of the species. If swarming didn’t occur, then the first-ever colony of bees, once it died off, would have also been the last colony of bees. But, because there is not only internal reproduction (the queen laying eggs) but also external reproduction (swarming), the species survives.

So, how does swarming figure into the equation for the beekeeper? Swarms are usually something we don’t want since more than half of the bees and the queen leave the hive. And beekeepers especially don’t like swarms if they are planning on harvesting honey that season. In the perfect world – and what’s best for the bees – the honey crop should be large enough as to not only sustain the bees through months of minimal forage and frigid winter days, but also there should be enough so that the beekeeper can harvest and extract some for friends, family, customers and/or themselves.

Now, sometimes we are lucky and can “hive the swarm” if the queen lands in a convenient and easy to reach location (not on a branch 200 feet in the air).

But what really sucks about swarms, especially for queen breeders, is when their prized queen, (the one they’ve been collecting data on for the past few years the one they are about to graft from to produce more queens), flies away – or as we seasoned beekeepers like to say, she “hits the trees.”

One of the largest swarms I ever saw was in the top of an old pine tree. It broke my heart because in the middle of that massive, unreachable swarm was one of my favorite queens that I was only days away from grafting from. If only I had a bucket truck, she would have been back inside a comfy hive. Instead, she flew away several days later – never to be seen again.

Over the years, our bee lab receives numerous calls during the Spring months about swarms – from frustrated beekeepers to nervous public folk who are afraid to go outside due to the massive ball of bees that has just formed on the post of their front porch. If we have time, which we rarely do during Spring, we will make an effort to go and collect the swarm (if it’s close and attainable). If not, we get them in contact with a beekeeper that has the time and energy. Some of the more memorable swarm calls have been the ones in cars – especially the brand new convertible Mercedes at a dealership, the ones near a school or playground that were going to “kill the children,” the one at the post office which delayed the mail from being delivered, and – my personal favorite – the one at the Harley Davidson dealership.

I have to tell you about the swarm at the Harley dealership. I got a call – I was told there’s a swarm in a small tree about six feet from the ground, just outside the door of the dealership. The gentleman on the phone seemed calm, but did ask if someone could come immediately because the bees were scaring away customers. Quickly, I grabbed my veil, smoker, brush, bucket, lid, step ladder, complete hive and a spray bottle full of sugar water and headed out. When I arrived, I immediately noticed the swarm. It was in the perfect location: hanging off of a thin branch. I thought to myself, ‘This should be no problem at all.’ As I began to gather my supplies from the truck, a very large – very intimidating – man walks up to me and says, “Excuse me little lady, are you here to deal with those bees?” I responded, “Yes sir, I am.” He looked disappointed, shook his head and then said, “Oh, I see. Why would they send a woman?” Honestly, I didn’t know what to say, so I just laughed and said, “No, they sent a beekeeper – and I’m all you got.”

As I began to head toward the swarm, he followed me. I placed the ladder into position, and stepped up to lightly spritz the bees with sugar water, when I suddenly noticed that there was a crowd of about 20 folks who had gathered outside the dealership. I also noticed the ‘intimidating guy’ was behind me, just feet away, watching my every move. I explained to him that he might want to step back that swarms are usually very calm but sometimes they can be unpredictable – especially when they get shaken off a branch. They may just fly and sting the first thing they come into contact with, possibly even his face. He said loud enough for the entire crowd to hear, “I ain’t afraid of no bees. Plus, they sent a woman to do a man’s job.” With a wave of his hand and an exasperated puff of air expelled from his lips (as if to imply that I was annoying him), it was obvious he wasn’t concerned about the bees and wanted me to continue so I did just that.

I know I shouldn’t have, but something deep down from my inner core made me.

As I continued to position myself and the bucket I said “There is one more thing you should know: these bees could be ‘Killer Bees,’ which means this entire cluster, all of these thousands of bees, could take off and sting you and me, and those people by the door. Maybe you should join them, just in case the bees get too aggressive, and head inside if I give the word.” Meanwhile, a few foragers had returned and were starting to fly around his uncapped head. He nervously responded, “How can you tell if they are… ‘Killer Bees’?” I replied, “I won’t know for sure until I shake them into this bucket.” Just then, that’s what I did. I shook the branch and all the bees fell into the bucket, and I yelled, “KILLER BEES!”

I’ve never seen someone take off so quickly. I even heard a high shrill come from him as he ran into the door while trying to open it. Once he was inside, the crowd that had gathered burst into laughter. I quickly put a lid on the bucket and headed back towards the truck. Meanwhile, the manager of the store approached me. He shook my hand and thanked me for retrieving the bees, and also for helping to teach his employee to be more of a gentleman. We laughed and I informed him that I was going to leave a small hive (with a frame of old comb and a queen lure) in the tree where the swarm had been. This will hopefully attract any stragglers or foragers that I was unable to collect in the bucket. Then, I would be back at sunset to collect the hive and – hopefully – the remainder of the bees. Leaving bees behind sometimes can cause an issue I wanted to make sure there wasn’t going to be, since this was ‘a man’s job.’

So, how can we prevent swarms? Well, that’s the million dollar question with a two dollar answer: we can’t really.

Bees are going to swarm. It’s in their nature as much as it’s in our nature to eat, drink, and breathe. So, preventing swarms really isn’t what we want to attempt instead, how about we try to reduce swarming? Below are some methods that we have used at the UGA Bee Lab, and in my own personal bee operation, over the years.

Here in the southeast, we begin preparing for swarms as early as December or January, even though, on average, we usually don’t witness the first swarms until March. However, depending on whether the winter weather is above or below average, this may shift that date to February or April. Being prepared is the key to being a good beekeeper.

Several things can occur which trigger bees to swarm. One is the increasing day length. Once the days start getting longer, the queen usually begins to lay eggs, and since she is laying eggs, populations begin to rise, thereby crowding the bees. Also, as the queen continues to lay more eggs, eventually there is a lack of available laying space. Plus, as the bees become more and more crowded the queen pheromone is inadvertently diluted. Next, add a nectar flow and BAM! You have the perfect storm for a swarm. All of these things, whether occurring individually or collectively, can trigger the mass exodus of bees from the parental colony, so, again, we need to be prepared.

As I mentioned, we actually begin our first swarm preparations in December or January. It’s called hive reversals. As the bees are going through winter, they are slowly moving up through the honey stores (which is why it is imperative to put honey stores above the cluster of bees and not below). As they move into the honey supers, they may vacate the boxes below. And, as the population of the colony continues to grow, they begin to bump their heads on the underside of the inner cover or lid, feeling even more cramped. Reversing hive bodies is a simple – yet very effective – method of taking empty boxes from the bottom and reversing them to the top just above where the bees are clustered. But, only do this if there is NO BROOD in the lower box. Otherwise, you will separate (split) the brood into two different locations, and the bee population may not be strong enough to cluster over both areas. Hence, unprotected brood will die (see Figure 1).

After hive reversals, winter progresses into spring and bee populations are reaching a maximum, so all of the hive boxes may be full. Another way to reduce or postpone swarming is by adding more boxes, or supers (supering). This is especially important to do once the nectar flow begins. Another common practice, especially with commercial operations, is to re-queen. As the queen ages her QMP (Queen Mandibular Pheromone) production slows down or is limited. The reduction of QMP in the colony can cause workers to begin to raise queen cells either for supercedure or swarming. By replacing the old queen with a newer one, it may help to reduce or prevent swarming.

Another method, one we do with our research colonies which can’t be allowed to swarm (otherwise we lose data), is to cut queen cells. This method is extremely time consuming when you have more than a few colonies, and it may not always work. The idea here is to cut cells every seven days, since the bees are rearing new queens in preparation for swarming. Remember, the old queen leaves with the swarm usually just prior to the queen cells being capped. Usually – but not always (there are very little absolutes when it comes to bees and beekeeping). If you decide to cut queen cells, you must be on time (every seven days) and inspect every frame, along with every nook and cranny, because if you leave just one cell, they will swarm. Over the years, we have cut thousands of cells, keeping hundreds of swarms from happening. It’s important to remember, though, that if the colony is already in swarm mode, it is going to swarm no matter what you do.

The last method – my favorite, and, in my opinion, the most effective swarm reducing method – is creating an artificial swarm by splitting the colony yourself. This method needs to take place in the early spring months, just prior to swarming (construction of queen cups). To do this, the old queen and several frames of bees, brood, honey and pollen are removed and placed into a separate nuc box and then transported to a different apiary. The remaining parent colony is given empty drawn or undrawn frames to fill the space, a queen cell, a new queen, or is allowed to rear its own. The new colony is still susceptible to swarming, so give them plenty of space by placing them into a 10-frame box and adding a super. Depending on the quality of the old queen, she may be replaced as well.

I hope one of these methods works for you. I’ve tried so many, and have yet to find one that is foolproof.

Spring is an exciting time of year – not only for the beekeeper, but also for the bees. Even though I am losing bees and queens, I love to watch swarms. There’s something magical about the energy of so many bees hitting the air at once it’s hard to describe. Imagine what it must be like for the bees. What do they feel, leaving the comforts of their home? Launching off and branching out without any security or guarantee that they will find a new home, or a solid patch of flowers, or enough nectar to supply the energy to build comb, raise brood, produce honey, and survive until the next spring. Maybe the comfort of having all their sisters and mom swirling around them, knowing they are helping the species to survive and the excitement of the unknown is enough to keep them going. But, who knows. I guess only the bees do!
Be good to you and your bees!

Jennifer Berry is the Research Director and Chief Beekeeper at the UGA Honey Bee Lab.


Day trips from Rome to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast

Both these sites can be a day trip from Rome, but I discourage you to visit them on the same day. To really enjoy the Amalfi Coast properly, you should treat it as a cup with the sweetest of juices and sip it as slowly as you can. These are not destinations to be covered in a hurry, therefore they’d be better enjoyed as a weekend trip from Rome.

Rome to Pompeii and Herculaneum Archeological Parks

The Herculaneum and Pompeii archeological parks are both UNESCO Heritage Sites on the coast close to Naples. Even if they were inhabited for centuries prior to becoming part of the Roman Empire, they are interesting nowadays because the archeological remains of the two Roman cities have been incredibly preserved beneath the lava from the eruption of Vesuvio in 79 A.D. The excavations in Pompeii are more spectacular and extended, and it will take you 5 to 6 hours to visit, so you may not want to spend the entire day there. The Herculaneum ones are doable in 3 hours. You will need to walk for kilometers through the remains of all the temples, theaters, and villas, and if you visit during summer, know that the sun of that region is implacable. Therefore, in order to organize your day trip from Rome efficiently, skip the lines at the entrance of the archeological areas by getting the Pompeii official tickets and the Herculaneum tickets online.

From Rome to Herculaneum and Pompeii by train

The most convenient solution is to travel from Roma Termini to Napoli with Italotreno, and then change to a Trenitalia train to Portici-Ercolano (one every 30 mins, €1.60). When you have visited Herculaneum, take a train from the Portici-Ercolano station to Pompei Scavi (one train every hour, €3.30).

Rome to the Amalfi Coast

If the weather is nice and you want to spend an unforgettable day by the sea on the Amalfi Coast, you could arrange a day trip from Rome to Amalfi. Besides rejoicing in the spectacular views of Amalfi Bay, possibly eating a pizza and sipping Limoncello liquor from a rooftop restaurant, you could explore the attractions in the historical center and stroll around the small stores along the shopping alleys. This quaint small town boasts a record in economic power over the Mediterranean Sea during part of the Middle Ages, when it used to cover the main marine commercial route between Italy, North Africa, and Istanbul.

From Rome to Amalfi by public transport

Take a train to Salerno and then a ferry to Amalfi (€8, every 50 mins). Booking online in advance is necessary if you are traveling during the high season. It would also be possible to take a bus from Salerno to Amalfi, but consider that the road has plenty of bends, even though it is panoramic.

Ancient Ostia archaeological site and beach town

Ostia corresponds to the place where, according to the Roman poet Virgil, the mythical Prince of Troy, Aeneas, went ashore after the defeat at the hands of the Greeks. Aeneas was destined to be the founder of Rome, following the legend. Whether this is true or not, it remains a mystery. What is clear under the sky, or it may be better to say “under the earth”: it’s the archeological site of ancient Ostia, which, together with Pompei, results in the most extended archeological site on the planet. Excavations are still a work in progress. An entrance ticket is €10. Besides the archeological area that the locals call “Ancient Ostia,” you can explore the town of Ostia with its pedestrian street and lovely seaside. Ostia is still the favorite beach for a big part of Rome’s citizens. Spending the day at a beach resort and having lunch or dinner at a seafood restaurant is an idea for a relaxing day tour from Rome. However, Ostia has only some of the best beaches near Rome. Ostia Antica and Ostia Lido should be at the top of your list of day trips from Rome by train if you don’t really want to go too far from the city.

Tivoli: thermal baths and majestic villas

The ancient “Tibur” might be even older than Rome itself! After the Romans conquered the territory of Tivoli, noble Roman families started to build their holiday villas there. The presence of three majestic mansions from different eras open to visitors in this quaint town 30 km east of Rome in the Tiburtini Mountains makes this town perfect for a day trip. Villa Adriana (a UNESCO Heritage Site), was realized by Emperor Adriano in the 2nd century, and is preserved better than any other mansion of this kind in Rome. The Renaissance Villa d’Este employs the waters from the Aniene River to feed a complex of fountains, while Villa Gregoriana is a natural park accessible from Tivoli’s historical center. The most ancient part of the town has a priceless view of the green plain and of Rome in the distance. If this wasn’t enough to make you want to visit, consider the Tivoli natural therapeutic thermal baths. The oldest thermal center in town is called Terme di Roma . To get there, take a 30-minute train ride from the Termini station to Tivoli.

Train from Rome to Tivoli

Take a Trenitalia train from Rome Termini at Roma Tiburtina Station and get off at Bagni di Tivoli (30 mins, €2.10) to go to the thermal baths, or at Tivoli (1 hour, €3) to visit the villas and the old town.

Strolling around on the dock of Lake Bolsena


Etruscans Transported Bees by Boat to Reach the Best Flowers! - History

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Capraia is an island uncontaminated, surrounded by the wilderness, and its village is a true paradise outside the boundaries of time. The island of Capraia, which has been part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park since 1996, is the ideal destination for a romantic getaway or for anyone who loves the sea: there are countless opportunities to enjoy diving, snorkelling, boat trips and jaunts to delightful coves or enchanting beaches.

The island was named Aegylon by the Greeks in around 1000 BC, translated as the "place of goats". The name Capraia, from the Latin Capraria, derives from the Etruscan word capra which, contrary to what one might think, actually means “rock”. Although the similarity between the words suggests a different meaning, its etymology alludes to the island’s volcanic origin and its harsh and rocky landscape.

The volcanic soil, which was once covered by thick woodland, is now full of typical Mediterranean scrubland. Once on the island, the smell of myrtle and the colourful strawberry tree fruits will immediately entice you. The vegetation consists mostly of pines, holm oaks, wild oleander and a few cork trees.

Having been ransacked several times over the years, signs of such attacks can be seen in the island’s fortifications (such as Fort San Giorgio and the tower of Il Bagno), which were built at the time of the Genoese domination.

The Roman road of San Leonardo was used during those times as a secret path to connect the port with the town, thus escaping pirate raids. Today it is perfect for an invigorating walk immersed in the scent of the Mediterranean scrubland while admiring the breathtaking panoramic views.

The church of San Nicola is found in the village’s main square, and still displays a wooden statue dedicated to the Saint, which has been recovered from the sea. Away from the small port of Marina di Capraia, you can immerse yourself in the fields and land, which is cultivated by local farms that produce jams, preserves, grappas, cheese, honey and wine.

There is also a huge variety of trekking itineraries that lead you through breathtaking landscapes, historical relics (such as the former Criminal Farm Colony, which has been out of use since 1986) and secret bays. Cala Rossa, for example, which is on the Zenobito promontory, is known for its clear, clean waters and is also reachable by boat.

Capraia’s environmental characteristics are often similar to those of the other Tuscan Archipelago Park islands. Elba, Pianosa, Giglio, Montecristo, Giannutri and Gorgona are the preferred habitat for birds of prey, such as kestrels, buzzards and peregrine falcons. L’Isola d’Elba, the largest in Tuscany, is perfect not just for birdwatching but for all kinds of holidays. If you’re interested in the island’s mining history, we recommend a jeep visit to the Rio Marina Park, characterized by silvery craters and old quartz and marble factories.

The coastal inlets of Marina di Campo and the offshore seabed near Portoferraio are ideal for watersports: you can try diving into the ocean, exploring the coast by kayak, or even sailing and windsurfing for the more adventurous.

Totano Festival is undoubtedly the most famous event in Capraia, and is held every year in November. The event is divided into two main parts: a squid fishing competition and the festival itself, with many food and wine stalls.

The Tuscan Archipelago Palio marinaro is part of a historical tradition that also involves Capraia. Between August and September, crews from the various Tuscan islands compete in a rowing competition.

In spring and autumn, Capriaia is home to the Walking Festival, in which there are gatherings and excursions led by specialist guides that set out to discover the beauty of the island by foot.

The island of Capraia is well-known for the quality and excellence of its fresh and mature goats cheese. In fact, the Romans called the island Capraia precisely because it was (and still is) inhabited by goats. Another typical local product is the Capraia nectar: a mixed flower honey with an aromatic, slightly floral scent. Stuffed squid and seafood dishes are the locals’ preferred recipes, although there are also delicacies based on sammola, a bulbous plant that plays a similar role in cooking to garlic.


The ebb and flow of running a canal boat business

The Floating Salon was a crazy idea I thought up to combine my love of the water and my love of hair styling. It’s a haven away from the high street.

Wherever I move the boat, it’s an advert in itself. I styled Prunella Scales’ hair for the Canal Journeys TV programme and that resulted in many calls over the months that followed.

I have to be organised and plan ahead: the boat runs completely off-grid with solar panels for lighting and the fridge and a small generator to power my hairdryer. There’s also a large water tank which has to be regularly filled from taps along the canal. A helpful by-product of running the engine when I move the boat between locations is hot water and I harvest this for washing hair. In winter it’s essential to keep well stocked with wood and coal as the boat is heated by a multi-fuel stove that keeps it warm and cosy.

My customers are a great mix of fellow boaters, local residents, tourists, dog walkers, cyclists and anyone who happens to use the towpath and walks by.

The Herb Boat travels nationwide and is run by Sue Cotton

Sue Cotton sells herb plants on the roof of her boat. Photograph: PR

I’ve always been interested in plants, especially herbs. I wanted a nomadic lifestyle and needed an income so selling herbs and spices, both culinary and botanical, seemed like a way of bringing everything I love together. Once I’d decided to live on a boat, I realised I needed a business I could run while on the water and on the move herbs and spices are quite light and compact and it was achievable within the very limited storage facilities available. That has actually become a positive, in that my stock base is small and regularly replaced so supplies are always fresh. I also sell herb plants, which live quite happily on my roof and always attract a lot of attention from passersby and bees.

Rain is a problem for all market traders, but the sun is more of a problem for me as it causes rapid deterioration of my stock. Deliveries can be a challenge, but I am lucky to have a wide network of land-based friends who let me use their addresses, and local pubs and boatyards are always very accommodating. I post where I’m trading on my website and Facebook pages and will sometimes put up posters in a town when I moor up.

Cafe on the Cut, based at Gloucester Docks, is owned by Vanessa Radwell

All food is served fresh on Cafe on the Cut. Photograph: PR

My sister planted the seed of the idea to set up a narrowboat cafe. Never one to dodge a challenge, I sold my small boat – I’ve lived on the water for 14 years – and got a 50-footer to live and work on. My family gutted her: the main challenge was that the mooring I’d been granted had no electricity, so four solar panels were fitted to run the lights, pumps and fridge. Not having much electric narrows down what appliances I can use, and our menu had to be designed to suit. There’s no freezer or microwave so the food is all made fresh and when we run out, it’s gone.

The main issue is kitchen space which means I have to shop daily, and me and the team are now a whizz at avoiding one another when cooking, serving and making drinks. It can be hard work getting rid of the rubbish and recycling and I have to be sure that the water tank is full enough for the washing up, because we have no mains water supply.

We serve cakes and lunches and, because I’m moored mostly in one location, people have got to know where we are. The first time I left the mooring a few people worried that I had disappeared for good, so now I put out a notice to say when I’ll be back or a “gone cruising” sign. I love that its so cosy inside and that people always end up chatting to one another.

Antiques Afloat is located nationwide and was set up by by Ali and Tim Smith

The founders of Antiques Afloat sell on the canals from Easter to autumn. Photograph: Antiques Afloat

We’re up north at the moment on the river Weaver, heading to an event in Chester. From around Easter to autumn we get out on the waterways and make for a wide range of festivals and floating markets around the country. We had an established antiques business before trying out trading from our boat once afloat, we discovered that a lot of people involved with canals are fascinated by history and want to buy objects that come from traditional old working boats, so we source and sell a lot of that.

Travelling around means we can also reach people using the towpaths for leisure who might not have thought they liked antiques, but find they love the jewellery and kitchenalia we stock that isn’t that expensive.

The weather can be tricky – very hot summers can stop you dead in your tracks if the canals are short of water – but there’s no doubt that selling off the boat has become the major strand of our business.

The Book Barge travels across the UK and France and is run by Sarah Henshaw

With limited space, the Book Barge is selective with the items it sells. Photograph: PR

When I set up in 2009, lots of indie bookshops were closing so having a quirky premises seemed a good USP. Small retailers can flourish if they offer a different shopping experience and the opportunity to hop aboard a boat certainly does that. Running costs are arguably cheaper than a traditional high street premises – just a trading licence from the Canal & River Trust and, if you’re static rather than continuously cruising, a marina or mooring fee. There’s a certain flexibility that comes with retail on the waterways – the ‘if business is bad, move on’ logic.

Boat businesses like mine rely, to an extent, on the novelty factor to lure curious passersby, so stay in a place too long and that can disappear. The flipside is that moving between towns at 4mph takes time and fuel and days when you’re not taking any money at all.

Space limitations mean I’ll never be able to compete with the sheer range of stock available in other good bookshops, which means being incredibly selective, and adding value elsewhere, whether that be free cups of tea or a programme of events.

If you’re a live-aboard boater as I am, accommodating business and home in what’s effectively a 60ft corridor is tricky. Tidiness is key - as well as seeing the funny side when customers mistakenly believe personal effects are for sale, from your house plants to – once, very weirdly – a wrapped Christmas present under the tree.

Crafts Afloat, moored at Hebden Bridge, is run by Melanie Louise

Crafts Afloat uses social media to attract customers. Photograph: PR

I love the lifestyle of living on a boat. In 2013 when I was keen to leave my job – I’d been teaching art in challenging schools and was pretty burned out – I started thinking about renovating a narrowboat as a small studio. The idea of doing art classes that helped people escape from their day-to-day stresses was appealing, and I felt that doing it on a narrowboat would increase the therapeutic nature of the experience.

I still teach part-time which takes the pressure off the business – it’s set up as a social enterprise – from having to provide me with a full income. My partner and I built the inside of the boat ourselves so it has been designed exactly how I wanted it. It runs fully off-grid, from solar panels, and I can power LED lighting, music and up to four sewing machines.

The main challenge is that the Canal & River Trust rules and regulations make life quite difficult for trading boaters. In Hebden Bridge, where I’m based, there are limited trading places, and many of these moorings have 24hr or 48hr limits on how long you can stay. I publicise my business through social media, mostly Facebook, I have quite a large following now and I find lots of people with stressful jobs come to do classes and unwind.

The Record Deck, located nationwide, is owned by Luke Guilford

The Record Deck owner Luke Guilford likes the sense of community of working on the canal Photograph: PR

I’d owned my boat for 16 years and had been thinking about setting up the business for a while when I took the plunge in 2014. I’d been a vinyl collector since the age of 12 so it was about combining two passions: boats and music.

I’m able to operate with lower running costs than a regular shop, though boat newbies beware, that does depend on your DIY skills and available spare time, as fixing old boats needs care. There are lots of events, markets and festivals on the rivers and canals to attend and people say I definitely stand out from other record shops. I get to travel the country meeting fellow traders and travellers and there’s a fantastic sense of community that is rarely found elsewhere.

The British weather can make things tricky: if the weather is poor, folks aren’t out walking by the canals and, as I sell off the boat from hatches and shelves, I can’t set up if the weather is too bad. I’m a big user of social media to share where I’m going and tell people when I’ve arrived, using Facebook events, Twitter, Instagram and Wordpress. The internet has really helped make this type of business more viable. It’s the old meeting the new.

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Contents

Rivers Edit

There are six main rivers that are visible both in the living world and the underworld. Their names were meant to reflect the emotions associated with death. [5]

  • The Styx is generally considered to be one of the most prominent and central rivers of the underworld and is also the most widely known out of all the rivers. It's known as the river of hatred and is named after the goddess Styx. This river circles the underworld seven times. [6]
  • The Acheron is the river of pain. It's the one that Charon, also known as the Ferryman, rows the dead over according to many mythological accounts, though sometimes it is the river Styx or both. [7]
  • The Lethe is the river of forgetfulness. It is associated with the goddess Lethe, the goddess of forgetfulness and oblivion. In later accounts, a poplar branch dripping with water of the Lethe became the symbol of Hypnos, the god of sleep. [8]
  • The Phlegethon is the river of fire. According to Plato, this river leads to the depths of Tartarus.
  • The Cocytus is the river of wailing. is the river that encircles the world, [9] and it marks the east edge of the underworld, [10] as Erebos is west of the mortal world.

Entrance of the underworld Edit

In front of the entrance to the underworld live Grief (Penthos), Anxiety (Curae), Diseases (Nosoi), Old Age (Geras), Fear (Phobos), Hunger (Limos), Need (Aporia), Death (Thanatos), Agony (Algea), and Sleep (Hypnos), together with Guilty Joys (Gaudia). On the opposite threshold is War (Polemos), the Erinyes, and Discord (Eris). Close to the doors are many beasts, including Centaurs, Scylla, Briareus, Gorgons, the Lernaean Hydra, Geryon, the Chimera, and Harpies. In the midst of all this, an Elm can be seen where false Dreams (Oneiroi) cling under every leaf. [11]

The souls that enter the underworld carry a coin under their tongue to pay Charon to take them across the river. Charon may make exceptions or allowances for those visitors carrying a Golden Bough. Charon is said to be appallingly filthy, with eyes like jets of fire, a bush of unkempt beard upon his chin, and a dirty cloak hanging from his shoulders. [ citation needed ] Although Charon ferries across most souls, he turns away a few. These are the unburied which can't be taken across from bank to bank until they receive a proper burial.

Across the river, guarding the gates of the underworld is Cerberus. Beyond Cerberus is where the Judges of the underworld decide where to send the souls of the dead — to the Isles of the Blessed (Elysium), or otherwise to Tartarus. [12]

Tartarus Edit

While Tartarus is not considered to be directly a part of the underworld, it is described as being as far beneath the underworld as the earth is beneath the sky. [13] It is so dark that the "night is poured around it in three rows like a collar round the neck, while above it grows the roots of the earth and of the unharvested sea." [14] Zeus cast the Titans along with his father Cronus into Tartarus after defeating them. [15] Homer wrote that Cronus then became the king of Tartarus. [16] While Odysseus does not see the Titans himself, he mentions some of the people within the underworld who are experiencing punishment for their sins.

Asphodel Meadows Edit

The Asphodel Meadows was a place for ordinary or indifferent souls who did not commit any significant crimes, but who also did not achieve any greatness or recognition that would warrant them being admitted to the Elysian Fields. It was where mortals who did not belong anywhere else in the underworld were sent. [17]

Mourning Fields Edit

In the Aeneid, the Mourning Fields (Lugentes Campi) was a section of the underworld reserved for souls who wasted their lives on unrequited love. Those mentioned as residents of this place are Dido, Phaedra, Procris, Eriphyle, Pasiphaë, Evadne, Laodamia, and Caeneus. [18] [19]

Elysium Edit

Elysium was a place for the especially distinguished. It was ruled over by Rhadamanthus, and the souls that dwelled there had an easy afterlife and had no labors. [20] Usually, those who had proximity to the gods were granted admission, rather than those who were especially righteous or had ethical merit, however, later on, those who were pure and righteous were considered to reside in Elysium. Most accepted to Elysium were demigods or heroes. [13] Heroes such as Cadmus, Peleus, and Achilles also were transported here after their deaths. Normal people who lived righteous and virtuous lives could also gain entrance such as Socrates who proved his worth sufficiently through philosophy. [13]

Hades Edit

Hades (Aides, Aidoneus, or Haidês), the eldest son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea brother of Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia, is the Greek god of the underworld. [21] When the three brothers divided the world between themselves, Zeus received the heavens, Poseidon the sea, and Hades the underworld the earth itself was divided between the three. Therefore, while Hades' responsibility was in the underworld, he was allowed to have power on earth as well. [22] However, Hades himself is rarely seen outside his domain, and to those on earth his intentions and personality are a mystery. [23] In art and literature Hades is depicted as stern and dignified, but not as a fierce torturer or devil-like. [22] However, Hades was considered the enemy to all life and was hated by both the gods and men sacrifices and prayers did not appease him so mortals rarely tried. [24] He was also not a tormenter of the dead, and sometimes considered the "Zeus of the dead" because he was hospitable to them. [25] Due to his role as lord of the underworld and ruler of the dead, he was also known as Zeus Khthonios ("the infernal Zeus" or "Zeus of the lower world"). Those who received punishment in Tartarus were assigned by the other gods seeking vengeance. In Greek society, many viewed Hades as the least liked god and many gods even had an aversion towards him, and when people would sacrifice to Hades, it would be if they wanted revenge on an enemy or something terrible to happen to them. [26]

Hades was sometimes referred to as Pluton and was represented in a lighter way – here, he was considered the giver of wealth, since the crops and the blessing of the harvest come from below the earth. [27]

Persephone Edit

Persephone (also known as Kore) was the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, and Zeus. Persephone was abducted by Hades, who desired a wife. When Persephone was gathering flowers, she was entranced by a narcissus flower planted by Gaia (to lure her to the underworld as a favor to Hades), and when she picked it the earth suddenly opened up. [28] Hades, appearing in a golden chariot, seduced and carried Persephone into the underworld. When Demeter found out that Zeus had given Hades permission to abduct Persephone and take her as a wife, Demeter became enraged at Zeus and stopped growing harvests for the earth. To soothe her, Zeus sent Hermes to the underworld to return Persephone to her mother. However, she had eaten six pomegranate seeds in the underworld and was thus eternally tied to the underworld, since the pomegranate seed was sacred there. [29]

Persephone could then only leave the underworld when the earth was blooming, or every season except the winter. The Homeric Hymns describes the abduction of Persephone by Hades:

I sing now of the great Demeter
Of the beautiful hair,
And of her daughter Persephone
Of the lovely feet,
Whom Zeus let Hades tear away
From her mother's harvests
And friends and flowers—
Especially the Narcissus,
Grown by Gaia to entice the girl
As a favor to Hades, the gloomy one.
This was the flower that
Left all amazed,
Whose hundred buds made
The sky itself smile.
When the maiden reached out
To pluck such beauty,
The earth opened up
And out burst Hades .
The son of Kronos,
Who took her by force
On his chariot of gold,
To the place where so many
Long not to go.
Persephone screamed,
She called to her father,
All-powerful and high, .
But Zeus had allowed this.
He sat in a temple
Hearing nothing at all,
Receiving the sacrifices of
Supplicating men. [30]

Persephone herself is considered a fitting other half to Hades because of the meaning of her name which bears the Greek root for "killing" and the -phone in her name means "putting to death". [22]

Hecate Edit

Hecate was variously associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, dogs, light, the Moon, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, necromancy, and sorcery. [31] [32]

The Erinyes Edit

The Erinyes (also known as the Furies) were the three goddesses associated with the souls of the dead and the avenged crimes against the natural order of the world. They consist of Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone.

They were particularly concerned with crimes done by children against their parents such as matricide, patricide, and unfilial conduct. They would inflict madness upon the living murderer, or if a nation was harboring such a criminal, the Erinyes would cause starvation and disease to the nation. [33] The Erinyes were dreaded by the living since they embodied the vengeance of the person who was wronged against the wrongdoer. [34] Often the Greeks made "soothing libations" to the Erinyes to appease them so as to not invoke their wrath, and overall the Erinyes received many more libations and sacrifices than other gods of the underworld. [35] The Erinyes were depicted as ugly and winged women with their bodies intertwined with serpents. [36]

Hermes Edit

While Hermes did not primarily reside in the underworld and is not usually associated with the underworld, he was the one who led the souls of the dead to the underworld. In this sense, he was known as Hermes Psychopompos and with his fair golden wand he was able to lead the dead to their new home. He was also called upon by the dying to assist in their passing – some called upon him to have painless deaths or be able to die when and where they believed they were meant to die. [37]

Judges of the underworld Edit

Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Aeacus are the judges of the dead. They judged the deeds of the deceased and created the laws that governed the underworld. However, none of the laws provided true justice to the souls of the dead, and the dead did not receive rewards for following them or punishment for wicked actions. [38]

Aeacus was the guardian of the Keys of the underworld and the judge of the men of Europe. Rhadamanthus was Lord of Elysium and judge of the men of Asia. Minos was the judge of the final vote.

Charon Edit

Charon is the ferryman who, after receiving a soul from Hermes, would guide them across the rivers Styx and/or Acheron to the underworld. At funerals, the deceased traditionally had an obol placed over their eye or under their tongue, so they could pay Charon to take them across. If not, they were said to fly at the shores for one hundred years, until they were allowed to cross the river. [39] To the Etruscans, Charon was considered a fearsome being – he wielded a hammer and was hook-nosed, bearded, and had animalistic ears with teeth. [13] In other early Greek depictions, Charon was considered merely an ugly bearded man with a conical hat and tunic. [40] Later on, in more modern Greek folklore, he was considered more angelic, like the Archangel Michael. Nevertheless, Charon was considered a terrifying being since his duty was to bring these souls to the underworld and no one would persuade him to do otherwise.

Cerberus Edit

Cerberus (Kerberos), or the "Hell-Hound", is Hades' massive multi-headed (usually three-headed) [41] [42] [43] dog with some descriptions stating that it also has a snake-headed tail and snake heads on its back and as its mane. Born from Echidna and Typhon, Cerberus guards the gate that serves as the entrance of the underworld. [22] Cerberus' duty is to prevent dead people from leaving the underworld.

Heracles once borrowed Cerberus as the final part of the Labours of Heracles. Orpheus once soothed it to sleep with his music.

According to the Suda, the ancient Greeks placed a honeycake (μελιτοῦττα) with the dead in order (for the dead) to give it to Cerberus. [44]

Thanatos Edit

Thanatos is the personification of death. Specifically, he represented non-violent death as contrasted with his sisters the Keres, the spirits of diseases and slaughter.

Melinoë Edit

Melinoe is a chthonic nymph, daughter of Persephone, invoked in one of the Orphic Hymns and propitiated as a bringer of nightmares and madness. [45] She may also be the figure named in a few inscriptions from Anatolia, [46] and she appears on a bronze tablet in association with Persephone. [47] The hymns, of uncertain date but probably composed in the 2nd or 3rd century AD, are liturgical texts for the mystery religion known as Orphism. In the hymn, Melinoë has characteristics that seem similar to Hecate and the Erinyes, [48] and the name is sometimes thought to be an epithet of Hecate. [49] The terms in which Melinoë is described are typical of moon goddesses in Greek poetry.

Nyx Edit

Nyx is the goddess of the Night.

Tartarus Edit

A deep abyss used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as the prison for the Titans, [50] Tartarus was also considered to be a primordial deity.

Achlys Edit

Achlys is the personification of misery and sadness, sometimes represented as a daughter of Nyx.

Styx Edit

Styx is the goddess of the river with the same name. Not much is known about her, but she is an ally of Zeus and lives in the underworld.

Eurynomos Edit

Eurynomos is one of the daemons of the underworld, who eats off all the flesh of the corpses, leaving only their bones.

In the Greek underworld, the souls of the dead still existed, but they are insubstantial, and flitted around the underworld with no sense of purpose. [51] The dead within the Homeric underworld lack menos, or strength, and therefore they cannot influence those on earth. They also lack phrenes, or wit, and are heedless of what goes on around them and on the earth above them. [52] Their lives in the underworld were very neutral, so all social statuses and political positions were eliminated and no one was able to use their previous lives to their advantage in the underworld. [38]

The idea of progress did not exist in the Greek underworld – at the moment of death, the psyche was frozen, in experience and appearance. The souls in the underworld did not age or really change in any sense. They did not lead any sort of active life in the underworld – they were exactly the same as they were in life. [53] Therefore, those who had died in battle were eternally blood-spattered in the underworld and those who had died peacefully were able to remain that way. [54]

Overall, the Greek dead were considered to be irritable and unpleasant, but not dangerous or malevolent. They grew angry if they felt a hostile presence near their graves and drink offerings were given in order to appease them so as not to anger the dead. [55] Mostly, blood offerings were given, because they needed the essence of life to become communicative and conscious again. [38] This is shown in Homer's Odyssey, where Odysseus had to give blood in order for the souls to interact with him. While in the underworld, the dead passed the time through simple pastimes such as playing games, as shown from objects found in tombs such as dice and game-boards. [56] Grave gifts such as clothing, jewelry, and food were left by the living for use in the underworld as well, since many viewed these gifts to carry over into the underworld. [53] There was not a general consensus as to whether the dead were able to consume food or not. Homer depicted the dead as unable to eat or drink unless they had been summoned however, some reliefs portray the underworld as having many elaborate feasts. [56] While not completely clear, it is implied that the dead could still have sexual intimacy with another, although no children were produced. The Greeks also showed belief in the possibility of marriage in the underworld, which in a sense describes the Greek underworld having no difference than from their current life. [57]

Lucian described the people of the underworld as simple skeletons. They are indistinguishable from each other, and it is impossible to tell who was wealthy or important in the living world. [58] However, this view of the underworld was not universal – Homer depicts the dead keeping their familiar faces.

Hades itself was free from the concept of time. The dead are aware of both the past and the future, and in poems describing Greek heroes, the dead helped move the plot of the story by prophesying and telling truths unknown to the hero. [53] The only way for humans to communicate with the dead was to suspend time and their normal life to reach Hades, the place beyond immediate perception and human time. [53]

The Greeks had a definite belief that there was a journey to the afterlife or another world. They believed that death was not a complete end to life or human existence. [59] The Greeks accepted the existence of the soul after death, but saw this afterlife as meaningless. [60] In the underworld, the identity of a dead person still existed, but it had no strength or true influence. Rather, the continuation of the existence of the soul in the underworld was considered a remembrance of the fact that the dead person had existed, yet while the soul still existed, it was inactive. [61] However, the price of death was considered a great one. Homer believed that the best possible existence for humans was to never be born at all, or die soon after birth, because the greatness of life could never balance the price of death. [62] The Greek gods only rewarded heroes who were still living heroes that died were ignored in the afterlife. However, it was considered very important to the Greeks to honor the dead and was seen as a type of piety. Those who did not respect the dead opened themselves to the punishment of the gods – for example, Odysseus ensured Ajax's burial, or the gods would be angered. [63]

Orpheus Edit

Orpheus, a poet and musician that had almost supernatural abilities to move anyone to his music, descended to the underworld as a living mortal to retrieve his dead wife Eurydice after she was bitten by a poisonous snake on their wedding day. With his lyre-playing skills, he was able to put a spell on the guardians of the underworld and move them with his music. [64] With his beautiful voice he was able to convince Hades and Persephone to allow him and his wife to return to the living. The rulers of the underworld agreed, but under one condition – Eurydice would have to follow behind Orpheus and he could not turn around to look at her. Once Orpheus reached the entrance, he turned around, longing to look at his beautiful wife, only to watch as his wife faded back into the underworld. He was forbidden to return to the underworld a second time and he spent his life playing his music to the birds and the mountains. [65]


Bee Space – The New Beekeeping

In the mid-1800´s, Lorenzo Langstroth, a descendant of Yorkshire immigrants, created a rectangular bee box with removable wooden frames so beekeepers could inspect, and even remove, honey from the honeycomb. This type of box kept beekeepers from disturbing and destroying the hives when it came time to collect the honey. Langstroth´s discovery of “Bee Space” (leaving enough space between the wooden frames), mimics the natural space in the shallow chambers of a hive. In leaving just the right amount of space, the bees refrain from covering this area with wax. The wooden frames containing honeycomb could then easily be lifted out from above the hive. This new knowledge of bee space revolutionized the business of beekeeping and Langstroth´s method of removable frames continues to this day. North America gained not only an increase in honey production but a way for farmers to pollinate large crops.

Wooden frame from a Langstroth hive (see behind)


Meet a Living Dinosaur: The Giant Cassowary

Have you noticed how impossible it is to skip the steps in the evolution of everything?

We like to think we make huge leaps, but really, it’s a series of steps. Sometimes two steps forward, one step back. Meet a step, somewhere between dinosaurs and hummingbirds: the cassowary.

Cassowaries are close relatives of the ostriches, emus, and kiwis, and like their kin, they are flightless. In fact, cassowary dinosaurs have tiny vestigial wings that are barely recognizable as wings, ending in long sharp claw-like spikes.

Their brightly colored heads, more skin than feathers, add to the other-worldliness of these rare creatures.

Are Cassowaries Living Dinosaurs?

To my mind, they are reminiscent of the predatory Velociraptors from the 1993 movie Jurassic Park. This enormous bird, 6 feet tall (two meters) seems more like a missing link than something we might find pecking away in a barnyard.

Cassowaries can weigh 125-pounds and they have dangerous claws on their feet just as the dinosaurs in the family called Dromaeosaurids. And like their ancestors, cassowaries will sometimes jump at an attacker feet-first, slashing through the air with their muscular legs.

Here’s a great scale chart to help us imagine the connections between dinosaurs from 65 million years ago, and the creature we are celebrating today as a wonder of nature:

When you look at that chart, it seems like cassowaries would be a likely outcome of a trajectory from that line of dinosaurs.

But unlike their dinosaur cousins, cassowaries mainly eat fruit and mushrooms and only rarely pick at a dead animal they might come across in the forests where they live in Northeastern Australia, New Guinea, and some small islands.

So now let’s get to know this modern cassowary bird with the phenomenal channel we recently discovered, Brave Wilderness. Check them out for more awesome wilderness content!

Remarkably fun science there, huh?

If you’d like to follow this line of thinking a bit more, we have two great articles that will extend your knowledge in several directions from here.

Turning Birds Into Dinosaurs

Is turning birds into dinosaurs possible? Creating the dino-chicken isn't just a scientific dream. The science behind the project is already a reality!

Decoding Dino Feathers

Can we ever really know what dinosaurs looked like? Well-preserved fossils of feathered dinosaurs are allowing us to reveal what colors dinosaurs really were! The science behind it might not be as complicated as you think!

So there is our excursion into a little-known corner of the animal world! If you just can’t get enough of this sort of thing, check out our animal category by clicking the button below!

Meanwhile, stay open, curious and hopeful!

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Take the Glacier Express and Bernina Express

All Swiss train rides can be highlights, but a couple of lines are attractions in and of themselves. The Glacier Express and Bernina Express are scenic day rides, the former with fully catered meals, that offer wide-open panoramic windows for maximum viewing of an Alpine paradise.

The epic Glacier Express, begun in 1930, is slow for an “express,” taking nearly eight hours between St. Moritz and Zermatt via outrageous switchbacks, the Rhône River Valley and Furka Pass. But the marvels are constant: The train crosses over 291 bridges that curl before you, tiny steepled churches and quaint villages in sight far below. After dipping into one of 91 tunnels, it emerges to reveal a quick panorama of great pines clinging to steep mountains before popping into another tunnel. It feels like a carousel ride at times.

All the while, a recording peppers you with details of the sites you pass in a matter-of-fact British accent. “Be prepared,” the announcer warns as you approach the Landwasser viaduct, “because you will be amazed.”

Perhaps even wilder and more amazingly pastoral are the views from the narrow-gauge Bernina Express, which overlaps most of the Glacier Express’s ride southeast of Chur (just four hours one-way). It passes nearby St. Moritz, then continues southeast, up grades of 7 percent, past glaciers and into neighboring Italy via the Bernina Pass.

Travel tip: On the Bernina Pass, you can avoid backtracking by taking the Bernina Express bus from Tirano to Lugano, in the Italian part of Switzerland.


Watch the video: Ορτανσία: 9 μυστικά για τη φροντίδα της - Τα Μυστικά του Κήπου (January 2022).