Monthly Archives: February 2016

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New Book Highlights the Rich History of Mycenae

In its efforts to promote a greater understanding of the cultural heritage of Ancient Greece, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has presented “Mycenae”, the 17th addition in a programme titled “The Museums’ Cycle”. Authored by Mrs. Alcestis Papadimitriou, an archaeologist serving as the Head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Argolida, the volume provides a comprehensive history of one of Ancient Greece’s most well-known civilisations. Spiro Latsis and other members of the foundation’s Supervisory Board support the initiative as a means to educate the people of Greece about this important part of the country’s rich history.

Greece’s Ministry of Culture has implemented a long-term program over the years which aims to protect, conserve, restore and enhance the Acropolis, as well as the monuments that surround it. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Monument in 1991, Mycenae welcomes a great number of visitors each year.

The Museums’ Cycle books are limited in copies. Written in Greek and English, the books are distributed to selected recipients, including departments such as the Ministry of Culture, libraries, universities and other educational institutions throughout Greece and abroad. E-books are accessible to the public, which can be utilised as educational tools in schools and universities.

Mycenaean is a term used to describe the thriving arts and cultural scene of Greece during the period from ca. 1600 to 1100 B.C. It was derived from Mycenae in the Peloponnese, the location of a fortified palace housing King Agamemnon, who led Greece in the Trojan War according to Greek mythology.

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Situated on a hill amongst Greece’s picturesque landscape, Mycenae covers a 30,000 square metre area about 90 kilometres (56 miles) southwest of Athens and once served as the epicentre of Greek culture. Today, it stands as an archaeological site used by researchers to uncover the history of the ancient civilization. With the Saronic Gulf visible in the distance, Mycenae remains a major point of interest for researchers and historians fascinated with Ancient Greek culture and the impact of one of Greece’s most esteemed tribes.

Mycenae once carried a great military presence that dominated much of Southern Greece during the second millennium BC. There are several possible theories surrounding the demise of the Mycenaean civilisation, though an exact conclusion is unclear to historians. Some of these include natural disaster, internal political unrest, over-population or invasion. As Mycenae declined, Argos became the region’s most powerful, bringing an end to the rule of one of Greek history’s most revered tribes.

In 1841, Greek archaeologist Kyriakos Pittakis performed the first excavations at Mycenae, unveiling and restoring the Lion Gate. More than three decades after, Heinrich Schliemann carried out an excavation without permission, then was granted permission for a complete excavation by the Archaeological Society of Athens (ASA). It was here that he uncovered ancient shaft graves and royal skeletons, as well as a host of other items.

A central palace was said to be a point of gathering for the Mycenae, often a space for political, religious and commercial events. The people of Mycenae were skilled artisans, producing items like pottery, carved gems, vases and ornaments made of glass. Mycenaean goods were traded throughout the Mediterranean.

Mycenaeans were known to excel at more than trading. Known as fierce warriors throughout history, they utilised engineering skills to design and build bridges, walls and tombs, as well as irrigation systems.

Whilst Mycenae houses a number of ancient artefacts, the “Lion Gates” are amongst the most notable. They are of the earliest known monumental sculptures on the European continent, once serving as the entrance to the interior of the Mycenaean Acropolis. They lead to a steep path through ancient pathways, toward Agamemnon’s palace. Located inside the Lion Gates is the Grave Circle A, which houses a number of royal shaft graves. A variety of Kterismata (items buried with the dead) and gold death masks were found at the famed grave site. These are now displayed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Each year, the Eurobank Banking Group and the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation join forces to publish a volume focused on archaeological findings in Greece. Intended as part of a series, these volumes contain pages of historical information aimed at promoting a greater understanding of the country’s ancient culture and its subsequent impact on life in Greece today.

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is involved with a variety of charitable causes seeking to promote Greek culture and increase awareness of the country’s rich history. Spiro Latsis and other members of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation employ a thorough selection process for grants, prioritising emergency relief for Greek citizens, infrastructural improvements, academics and research, and community development. To learn more information about the foundation and its endeavours, visit their website.

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The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation Aims High With its ‘Points of Support’ Programme

Since its establishment in 2005, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation (led by Spiro Latsis and other members of the Latsis family) has sought to offer support for a wide variety of charitable causes throughout Greece. The foundation places an emphasis on issues such as public health, social inclusion, education, science and culture, with hopes of forging positive change in a country currently facing economic crisis. In furthering these efforts, the foundation continues to award grants to various organisations hoping to provide aid to those in need. Emergency relief is another focus of the foundation, as its benefactor was known to frequently contribute to the country during times of need.

Throughout its years in operation the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has worked with a number of programmes in implementing new initiatives with the common goal of providing aid to those in Greece. A total of 17 organisations are set to receive funding through the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation’s “Points of Support” programme. This initiative, created by Henrietta, Marianna, Margarita and Spiro Latsis, TIMA Charitable Foundation and Hellenic Hope seeks to strengthen the impact of independent non-profit organisations providing aid to the people of Greece. Intended to combat illness, abuse, hunger and disabilities, these programmes are paramount to forging positive change.

An open call for the “Points of Support” programme took place during June 2015, where 133 proposals were received. The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is expected to fund 8 organisations active in social inclusion and integration, as well as health services. TIMA Charitable Foundation will fund 6 organisations focusing on elderly services whilst Hellenic Hope will award funding to a remaining 3 organisations seeking to offer support for children affected by Greece’s economic crisis.

A number of organisations were eligible to apply for funding, including non-governmental organisations, volunteer associations, and non-profit civil partnerships. In order to be considered for the grant, applicants were judged upon a variety of criteria, including originality of the idea, the project’s social impact and the effectiveness. Other features such as collaboration with third parties, sustainability, and organisation size were also taken into account when choosing the recipients.

Established to honour the late John S. Latsis, the foundation aims to bring awareness to a variety of social causes impacting the people of Greece. John S. Latsis began work at a young age to help support his large family. He later developed a knack for business, and over the course of the next seven decades worked in a variety of industries including shipping, banking, agriculture and petroleum. He married Henrietta Tsoukala in 1940 and the couple had three children, who now serve on the Supervisory Board of the foundation. Their roles are integral in ensuring the foundation stays true to the commitments held by its late benefactor.

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Aside from initiatives targeting public health and social inclusion, the foundation also aims to promote education. This includes the creation of a scholarship fund named the John S. Latsis Ileians’ Scholarships Foundation. Established during 1967, the programme has provided assistance to more than 2,000 students to date. The Pan-Hellenic scholarship programme benefits undergraduates, focusing on those attending Higher Education Institutions and Technical Educational Institutes.

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation also strives to bring awareness to environmental issues that impact the region. These efforts focus on sustainability and the reduction of waste, as well supporting the implementation of new, innovative environmental projects. The foundation seeks to provide funding for organisations that demonstrate an ability to determine and confront environmental challenges such as climate change and pollution.

In 2007, a series of devastating fires impacted much of the region, leading the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation to establish the “It is Our Duty” programme, which encouraged social solidarity during a time of need. The programme aimed to restore fire-stricken areas and bring awareness to methods of prevention.

Nearly a decade after its creation, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation continues to make great strides in various areas of public interest throughout Greece, including an appreciation of the country’s rich culture. The foundation currently works with a number of organisations to bring forth new learning opportunities to the public. From documentaries to an educational book series, the foundation continues to support initiatives benefitting the people of Greece. It is these efforts that have rendered the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation one of Greece’s most respected non-profit organisations. To learn more about the foundation and how to apply for a grant, visit their website.

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The John S. Latsis Pubic Benefit Foundation Promotes the History of Greek Food with New Documentary

Funded and supported by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, a new five-episode documentary by SKAI TV aims to educate the public about the history of food in Greece and its place in ancient and modern Greek culture. Approved by Spiro Latsis and other members of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, the documentary will shed new light on an often overlooked subject. With the help of a team of researchers consisting of historians, social anthropologists, archaeologists, nutritionists and herbalists, SKAI TV, through the aid of the foundation, delves deep into Ancient Greek history to unearth the origins of these old culinary traditions.

The documentary follows Greek food from the prehistoric era to the current day, with each episode including interviews with scientific authorities from Greece and beyond. In addition to interviews, episodes will include scenes from historical sites and famed cultural sites both in Greece and in locations such as Constantinople and Asia Minor. Archaeological findings at these sites offer a great insight into the rich culture of Ancient Greece.

Created in cooperation with the creative team of ANEMON Productions, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation scientific team utilised rare historical documents to piece together the traditions of the Ancient Greeks. There are a number of reasons why a documentary about Greek’s rich history of food would be of significance today. It is believed that the Mediterranean diet boasts many health benefits;  healthy staple foods like fish and vegetables are prevalent in Greek cuisine, as the Greeks have long utilised their natural landscape to produce food.

The Ancient Greeks made good use of the produce that grew naturally on the landscape or could be farmed effectively on the terrain. These were used to produce bread, wine and olive oil, mostly, and it was not uncommon for these to be found during every meal. Olive oil, whilst heavily used during ancient times, is used even more so today, with the Greeks known as the top consumers worldwide; it is said that they consume around 26 litres per person each year. Sugar was an unknown ingredient to the people of Ancient Greece, they instead used honey to add flavour and sweetness. Breakfast in Ancient Greece typically consisted of foods like bread dipped in wine with cheese, which was also consumed at lunch along with dried fish or cheese, figs, and olives.

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Traditional Greek cuisine differs vastly from Western diets, which are traditionally heavy on foods like beef and chicken. In ancient Greece, these sources of protein were expensive and out of reach for many, though they were sometimes available to the poorer people during events like religious festivals, where animals like pigs and cows were sacrificed, cooked and passed around amongst the public.

Wine has also long played an important role in ancient Greek culture – as well as being drunk with meals it was used both as a religious and medical tool. Several religious festivals and celebrations would be held annually to honour Dionysus, the god of wine, while doctors such as Hippocrates conducted studies into its potential as a medicinal compound.

The documentary is just one in a series of efforts to bring awareness to the Greek culture’s rich history. Throughout the years, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has contributed to a variety of causes that promote a greater understanding of Ancient Greece. In 2013, it supported a symposium focusing on the importance of competition in Greek culture. Held in Ancient Olympia, the symposium was organised by the General Secratariat for Culture. Speakers including Michel Deguy and Xavier Bordes addressed the audience to discuss religious affairs, sports and other aspects of Greek culture.

In 2012, the Berlin Branch of the Greek Foundation for Culture organized an exhibition focusing on the culture of ancient Olympia and its relevance to the Olympic Games. The exhibition took place at Berlin’s Martin Gropius Bau museum as part of the annual Berlin Festival. With the support of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, the exhibition also made its way to Qatar and Athens.

Founded in 2005, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation remains committed to providing financial assistance to those in need. In addition to its commitment to education, culture and public health, the foundation also places an emphasis on public service initiatives, scholarships and emergency relief. John S. Latsis was widely recognised for his contributions to relief efforts during a series of earthquakes that struck Greece during the ‘80s and ‘90s. The foundation’s Supervisory Board, comprised of members of the Latsis family, maintains this same dedication. Having helped thousands of Greek citizens to date, the foundation continues to implement a variety of new strategies aimed at a better Greece for all. For more information about the foundation and how to apply for a grant, visit their website.