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Százhalombatta: Largest Bronze Age Tell in Europe is Home to Countless Archaeological Treasures

Százhalombatta: Largest Bronze Age Tell in Europe is Home to Countless Archaeological Treasures

While the plains of Hungary have been settled by many fascinating societies throughout history, the area of Százhalombatta is particularly rich in archaeological finds and monuments. One of the most significant locations is the Bronze Age Tell. The area is not only an active archaeological site, it is also a very valuable training hub for young archaeologists from all over Europe.

The Earliest History of Human Habitation Can Be Dated Back to 3000 BC

This region has been inhabited since the Neolithic period and was densely populated in the Bronze and Iron Ages . The name of the town and the surrounding district means ‘’the one hundred tumuli" in Hungarian. A tumulus is a prehistoric burial mound and they are a feature of the Eurasian Steppes and common in Hungary to Siberia. Százhalombatta is particularly associated with the Urnfield culture from the late Bronze Age and also the later Hallstatt culture.

An example of a pottery urn of the Urnfield culture (Willow/ CC BY 2.5 )

The district is located on a plateau along the river Danube and it was no doubt selected by the Bronze Age people because, while the land here is fertile and ideal for both agriculture and pastoral farming, it could easily be defended.

The Tell at Százhalombatta

On this plateau set in the Hungarian plains, there developed a unique Danube Valley Civilization . The Bronze Age inhabitants of the district began to build earthworks, probably to protect themselves and their herds. There were initially small-scale works, but over time they were expanded and a large fortification was built that defended the western part of the district. It was well protected to the north and east by the river and by a chasm to the south. The earthworks made the area very secure and it allowed a distinct culture to flourish for many centuries. Based on Bronze Age and later pottery found, it seems that the site was inhabited for approximately 800 years. Over the years, the Bronze Age people deposited more and more material onto the earthworks until it was at a depth of 19 feet (six meters). This artificial mound is known to archaeologists as a Tell, which are very common in the Middle East. The Tell was once home to a large settled population who probably dominated the area for centuries. It is known as Százhalombatta-Földvar and is one of the largest Tells in Europe. The area has provided many important archaeological finds since the first systematic investigation in the early 1960s.

  • Is the Danube Valley Civilization script the oldest writing in the world?
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Prehistorical pit-house Archaeological Park of Százhalombatta ( Public Domain )

Among the finds are burnt Bronze Age buildings, stone tools, amber, antler objects, metal work and Bronze Age pottery. To the south of the Tell are a series of Iron Age tumuli, they probably come from the culture that succeed the Bronze Age people. The tumuli are extensive and they cover around seven hectares of the plains and many have been excavated. They have yielded finds from the Hallstatt culture. In total, 120 have been mapped. An aerial survey has identified 103 ring ditches that may have been Iron Age burials in and around the burial mounds.

The Interactive Archaeological Park of Százhalombatta

This park was the first of its kind designed to provide visitors with an interactive experience of the prehistoric monuments in Hungary and was opened in 1998 by the Hungarian Prime Minister. The Archaeological Park contains the Tell and some of the tumuli in the area and offers visitors craft workshops and a chance to experience life in the prehistoric past by using the ancient tools and implements.

There are many reconstructions of Bronze Age buildings and ovens, as well as the reconstruction of an Iron Age burial, based on one that was unearthed from a tumulus in the 1960s.

Matricia Museum, Százhalombatta ( Danube Tourism )

Százhalombatta is still being investigated by teams of archaeologists who do fieldwork at the site of the Tell and in an effort to foster international cooperation students from all over Europe work in the same trenches. The excavation and research is funded by the European Union.

The Location of Százhalombatta

The Archaeological Park is located near the modern town of Százhalombatta and it is approximately 18 miles (30 kilometers) from Budapest. There is plenty of accommodation near Százhalombatta. Because of the geography of the location it can only be accessed from the town, but public transport is easy to find.


References

  1. ^ See Bernard Fenik, Iliad x and the Rhesus: The Myth (Brussels: Latomus) 1964, who makes a case for pre-Homeric epic materials concerning Rhesus.
  2. ^Rhesus Rhesus is chiefly remembered because he came from Thrace to defend Troy with great pomp and circumstance, but died on the night of his arrival, without ever engaging in battle.
  3. ^Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica: Rhesus Glacier.

 Odysseus and Diomedes stealing the horses of Rhesus. Side A of the “Rhesos krater”Apulian red-figure krater, ca. 340 BC. Darius Painter. Altes Museum, Berlin, Germany

 King Rhesus of Thrace being murdered in sleep. Minerva put courage into the heart of Diomed, and he smote them right and left.

(detail: Odysseus and the horses).

Another unique sanctuary was discovered near the village of Tatul , again in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains. It is a rock massif, again deified during the Chalcolithic Age, whose tip was processed with chisels during the Late Bronze Age and was transformed into a prominent megalithic monument. A deep stone sarcophagus is hewn in the highest place. A hypothesis is expressed that this was the real or symbolic grave of the legendary singer and principal Thracian hero Orpheus Hope Floats ipod The Sum of All Fears movie download . It is substantiated by preserved historical evidence about a unique burial custom of the kings in the Rhodope Mountains that differed radically from the tumular tombs of the dynasts in the plains. They were placed in the caves or on the top of cliffs so as to serve as mediators between the gods and the people. In addition to Orpheus, this is how King Rhesos, who perished in the Trojan War by the hand of Odysseus, was also buried.

The megalithic monument near the village of Tatul proved to be the centre if a heroon – a sanctuary of a deceased and deified Thracian King. Over the centuries, it grew and functioned until the end of the pagan period. A magnificent temple was built next to the megalithic monuments in the 4th – 3rd century BC, which would have made any ancient Greek city proud. And this is already another historical period that Thracian society embarked upon.

Thrace had a heritage which matched their south-westerly neighbours, the Mycenaeans, being allied to Troy during the Trojan War. Homeric Thrace was vaguely defined, and stretched from the River Axios in the west to the Hellespont and Black Sea in the east. In addition to the tribe that Homer called Thracians, ancient Thrace was home to numerous other Indo-European tribes, all non-Greek speakers, such as the Edones, Bisaltes, Cicones, and Bistones, and all of them managed to remain rural peoples, usually living in fortified hilltops.

There is little specific order for the kings mentioned here, except by reference to outside events, such as the Trojan War. Thracian unification was not achieved until the fifth century and records are very sparse until that time.
 
 Thrax  Mythical son of the war-god Ares.
 
c.1220 BC
  
 Agenor?   Phineas  Son. Rescued from harpies by Jason of Iolkos.
 
 Cisseus Father-in-law to the Trojan elder Antenor
 
 Acamas  From Aenus in Thrace. Killed by Ajax.
 
c.1193 - 1183 BC

 Acamas leads a contingent of Thracian warriors to the Trojan War on the side of Troy. He is joined by his comrade Peiros, son of Imbrasus. Asius, Euphemus son of King Troezenus son of Ceas, and Rhesus also join the war with their own contingents, representing some of the various tribes in Thrace.
 
 Rhesus Later joined the Trojan War.
 
 Asius  From city of Sestus, on Thracian (northern) side of Hellespont.
 
 Euphemus of the Cicones  From the city of Ismara, Ismarus, on southern Thracian coast.
 
 Lycurgus of the Edones  From between Rivers Nestus and Strymon in southern Thrace.
   

Homeric/Bronze Age Thracians
 
From the literary evidence, we find that Rhesos and his bodyguard wore golden armour "fit only for the gods". Rhesos rode a chariot pulled by white horses. The Thracian sword was long and particularly nasty. The kings (at least) wore helmets.

From other evidence, we find that there are large numbers of bronze age weapons (including some well preserved rapiers) in Bulgarian tombs, that are exactly the same as Mycenaean weapons Thracian fortresses had cyclopean walls exactly like Mycenean walls Thracian kings were buried in tombs just like Mycenean tombs and Thracian society remained "Homeric" long after the Greeks had developed into other forms. From all of this, I would say that the bronze age Thracians probably looked little different from their classical counterparts – just change the armour and weapons to those of the Bronze age.

Helenus then struck Deipyrus with a great Thracian sword, hitting him on the temple in close combat and tearing the helmet from his head the helmet fell to the ground, and one of those who were fighting on the Achaean side took charge of it as it rolled at his feet, but the eyes of Deipyrus were closed in the darkness of death.

Whoso of the twain shall first reach the other’s fair flesh, and touch the inward parts through armour and dark blood, to him will I give this silver-studded sword—a goodly Thracian sword which I took from Asteropaeus and these arms let the twain bear away to hold in common.

Homer, Iliad
Acamas and the warrior Peirous commanded the Thracians and those that came from beyond the mighty stream of the Hellespont.

First, Ajax son of Telamon, tower of strength to the Achaeans, broke a phalanx of the Trojans, and came to the assistance of his comrades by killing Acamas son of Eussorus, the best man among the Thracians, being both brave and of great stature. The spear struck the projecting peak of his helmet: its bronze point then went through his forehead into the brain, and darkness veiled his eyes.

[300] And when I had heard all I wished to learn, I stood still and I see Rhesus mounted like a god upon his Thracian chariot. Of gold was the yoke that linked the necks of his horses brighter than the snow [305] and on his shoulders flashed his shield with figures welded in gold while a gorgon of bronze like that on the aegis of the goddess was bound upon the front of his horses, ringing out its note of fear with many a bell. The number of his army you could not reckon [310] to an exact sum, for it was beyond one’s comprehension many knights, many ranks of targeteers, many archers, a great crowd of light-armed troops, arrayed in Thracian garb, to bear them company. Such the man who comes to Troy’s assistance, [315] whom the son of Peleus will never escape, either if he tries to escape or if he meets him spear to spear.

If you want to find your way into the host of the Trojans, there are the Thracians, who have lately come here and lie apart from the others at the far end of the camp and they have Rhesus son of Eioneus for their king. His horses are the finest and strongest that I have ever seen, they are whiter than snow and fleeter than any wind that blows. His chariot is bedecked with silver and gold, and he has brought his marvellous golden armour, of the rarest workmanship- too splendid for any mortal man to carry, and meet only for the gods. Now, therefore, take me to the ships or bind me securely here, until you come back and have proved my words whether they be false or true.
Diomed looked sternly at him and answered, "Think not, Dolon, for all the good information you have given us, that you shall escape now you are in our hands, for if we ransom you or let you go, you will come some second time to the ships of the Achaeans either as a spy or as an open enemy, but if I kill you and an end of you, you will give no more trouble."
On this Dolon would have caught him by the beard to beseech him further, but Diomed struck him in the middle of his neck with his sword and cut through both sinews so that his head fell rolling in the dust while he was yet speaking. They took the ferret-skin cap from his head, and also the wolf-skin, the bow, and his long spear. Ulysses hung them up aloft in honour of Minerva the goddess of plunder, and prayed saying, "Accept these, goddess, for we give them to you in preference to all the gods in Olympus: therefore speed us still further towards the horses and sleeping-ground of the Thracians."
With these words he took the spoils and set them upon a tamarisk tree, and they marked the place by pulling up reeds and gathering boughs of tamarisk that they might not miss it as they came back through the flying hours of darkness. The two then went onwards amid the fallen armour and the blood, and came presently to the company of Thracian soldiers, who were sleeping, tired out with their day's toil their goodly armour was lying on the ground beside them all orderly in three rows, and each man had his yoke of horses beside him. Rhesus was sleeping in the middle, and hard by him his horses were made fast to the topmost rim of his chariot. Ulysses from some way off saw him and said, "This, Diomed, is the man, and these are the horses about which Dolon whom we killed told us. Do your very utmost dally not about your armour, but loose the horses at once- or else kill the men yourself, while I see to the horses."
Thereon Minerva put courage into the heart of Diomed, and he smote them right and left. They made a hideous groaning as they were being hacked about, and the earth was red with their blood. As a lion springs furiously upon a flock of sheep or goats when he finds without their shepherd, so did the son of Tydeus set upon the Thracian soldiers till he had killed twelve. As he killed them Ulysses came and drew them aside by their feet one by one, that the horses might go forward freely without being frightened as they passed over the dead bodies, for they were not yet used to them. When the son of Tydeus came to the king, he killed him too (which made thirteen), as he was breathing hard, for by the counsel of Minerva an evil dream, the seed of Oeneus, hovered that night over his head. Meanwhile Ulysses untied the horses, made them fast one to another and drove them off, striking them with his bow, for he had forgotten to take the whip from the chariot. Then he whistled as a sign to Diomed. But Diomed stayed where he was, thinking what other daring deed he might accomplish. He was doubting whether to take the chariot in which the king's armour was lying, and draw it out by the pole, or to lift the armour out and carry it off or whether again, he should not kill some more Thracians. While he was thus hesitating Minerva came up to him and said, "Get back, Diomed, to the ships or you may be driven thither, should some other god rouse the Trojans."
Diomed knew that it was the goddess, and at once sprang upon the horses. Ulysses beat them with his bow and they flew onward to the ships of the Achaeans. But Apollo kept no blind look-out when he saw Minerva with the son of Tydeus. He was angry with her, and coming to the host of the Trojans he roused Hippocoon, a counsellor of the Thracians and a noble kinsman of Rhesus. He started up out of his sleep and saw that the horses were no longer in their place, and that the men were gasping in their death-agony on this he groaned aloud, and called upon his friend by name. Then the whole Trojan camp was in an uproar as the people kept hurrying together, and they marvelled at the deeds of the heroes who had now got away towards the ships.
When they reached the place where they had killed Hector's scout, Ulysses stayed his horses, and the son of Tydeus, leaping to the ground, placed the blood-stained spoils in the hands of Ulysses and remounted: then he lashed the horses onwards, and they flew forward nothing loth towards the ships as though of their own free will. Nestor was first to hear the tramp of their feet. "My friends," said he, "princes and counsellors of the Argives, shall I guess right or wrong?- but I must say what I think: there is a sound in my ears as of the tramp of horses. I hope it may Diomed and Ulysses driving in horses from the Trojans, but I much fear that the bravest of the Argives may have come to some harm at their hands."
He had hardly done speaking when the two men came in and dismounted, whereon the others shook hands right gladly with them and congratulated them. Nestor knight of Gerene was first to question them. "Tell me," said he, "renowned Ulysses, how did you two come by these horses? Did you steal in among the Trojan forces, or did some god meet you and give them to you? They are like sunbeams. I am well conversant with the Trojans, for old warrior though I am I never hold back by the ships, but I never yet saw or heard of such horses as these are. Surely some god must have met you and given them to you, for you are both of dear to Jove, and to Jove's daughter Minerva."
And Ulysses answered, "Nestor son of Neleus, honour to the Achaean name, heaven, if it so will, can give us even better horses than these, for the gods are far mightier than we are. These horses, however, about which you ask me, are freshly come from Thrace. Diomed killed their king with the twelve bravest of his companions. Hard by the ships we took a thirteenth man- a scout whom Hector and the other Trojans had sent as a spy upon our ships."

[460] and these things did goodly Odysseus hold aloft in his hand to Athene, the driver of the spoil, and he made prayer, and spake, saying: "Rejoice, goddess, in these, for on thee, first of all the immortals in Olympus, will we call but send thou us on against the horses and the sleeping-places of the Thracian warriors."

Now Zeus, when he had brought the Trojans and Hector to the ships, left the combatants there to have toil and woe unceasingly, but himself turned away his bright eyes, and looked afar, upon the land of the Thracian horsemen.

Venus now went back into the house of Jove, while Juno darted down from the summits of Olympus. She passed over Pieria and fair Emathia, and went on and on till she came to the snowy ranges of the Thracian horsemen, over whose topmost crests she sped without ever setting foot to ground. 

Tabula Iliaca: relief with illustrations drawn from the Homeric poems and the Epic Cycle–here from the Ilioupersis, the Iliad, the Little Iliad and the Æthiopis. Limestone, Roman artwork, 1st century BC.H. 25 cm (9 ¾ in.), W. 28 cm (11 in.)

Capitoline Museums, Rome, Italy,Palazzo Nuovo, first floor, Hall of the Doves


Itinerary

Day One: Wednesday, January 06 &ndash Departures

Day Two: Thursday, January 07 - Flights Arrive in London, UK / Program Orientatio.

Accommodation: Millennium Gloucester Hotel

Arrive To: Flights arrive in London. Transfer to the program hotel.

Afternoon: Check in at your hotel and take the afternoon to unpack and relax. In the early evening you will meet with your Group Leader for introductions, a review of the program itinerary and site orientation.

Day Three: Friday, January 08 - London Overview / Embark MS Rotterdam

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Overview of London: Depart the hotel by coach for a panoramic overview of London's monuments and most famous sights. Your local expert will give an overview of the city's history, as well as its architecture throughout the ages. Continue by coach to the Port of Southampton.

Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant in Southampton.

Afternoon: After lunch, transfer to embark the MS Rotterdam.

Day Four: Saturday, January 09 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship. Visit www.hollandamerica.com for more information.

Day Five: Sunday, January 10 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Six: Monday, January 11 - Lisbon, Portugal

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Depart the ship for a guided panoramic drive of Lisbon. Stsop in the Belem area at the Tower of Belem and the Monument to the Discoveries, from where the navigators of the 15th century departed for their voyages to Africa, India and Brazil. Continue by coach to the Royal Palace of Ajuda and the Cathedral of Lisbon, built in the 12th-century and the site of Saint Anthony's baptism.

Afternoon: Enjoy some free time after lunch before transferring back to the ship.

Day Seven: Tuesday, January 12 - At Sea / Gibraltar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Morning at leisure on board the ship as you sail towards Gibraltar.

Afternoon: Continue sailing towards the British Territory of Gibraltar. Upon disembarkation you will be led by a local guide discover this strategic link between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean ruled by the Spanish, British and Moors. Itt is said that as long as the Barbary Apes remain, the British will rule Gibraltar this has held for 350 years. (Please note: The ship is scheduled to arrive in Gibraltar at 4:00 pm. Unfortunately, the timing will not allow for the group to take the cable car to the top of the rock)

Day Eight: Wednesday, January 13 - Malaga, Spain / Alhambra

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Depart by coach for a day excursion of Granada. Ringed by the imposing mountainous barrier of the Sierra Nevada, Granada, famous for its lively atmosphere, is built on three hills: the Albaicin, the Sacromonte and the Alhambra. This grandiose and verdant site also owes its prestige to its Moorish monuments, especially the Alhambra. You will discover the Alhambra, a palace straight out of the thousand and one nights, the Generalife, the kings' summer residence and much more.

Afternoon: After lunch, transfer back to the ship by coach.

Day Nine: Thursday, January 14 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Ten: Friday, January 15 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Eleven: Saturday, January 16 - Valletta, Malta

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Noted for its hushed quality of quiet dignity, Mdina is a living museum with families descended from 16th century nobility still occupying its ancestral mansions, lining narrow curved streets. A walking presentation in Malta's ancient capital will include bastions, city gates and the Cathedral.

Afternoon: The prehistoric temples of Malta and the sister island of Gozo are acknowledged to be the oldest buildings still standing on earth. Architecture in its purest and most original form is demonstrated in the 5,000 years-old Hagar Qim structure. A new visitor center explains in more detail the mysterious ancient culture that created these monuments more than a thousand years ahead of the pyramids.

Day Twelve: Sunday, January 17 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Thirteen: Monday, January 18 - Piraeus (Athens), Greece / The Acropolis

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Enjoy a morning of discoveries, starting with a visit to the Acropolis, the famous architectural masterpiece of the 5th century B.C. Continue with an overview of the city, passing by: the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Royal Palace, the Panathenian Stadium, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Modern Market, Constitution Square, the House of Parliament, the Academy, the University, the National Library and Omonia Square. An emphasis will be given to the various architectural styles and influences existing in the city.

Afternoon: New Acropolis Museum: Opened to the public in 2009, the New Acropolis Museum represents one of the highest-profiled cultural projects undertaken in Europe in the past decade. The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on its feet, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. It also lies on the archaeological site of Makrygianni and the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens.

Day Fourteen: Tuesday, January 19 - Heraklion (Crete), Greece

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: The site of Knossos is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and is considered by many to be Europe's oldest city. The Greek myth "Theseus and the Minotaur" is said to have taken place in the labyrinth-like palace built by King Mino. Discover the site of Knossos, and learn more about the myth and it's history from a local expert. On your way back to the pier, pass by several of the city's highlights, including Koules Venetian Fortress, Lion Fountain, and the Church of Agios Titos.

Afternoon: Free time in the afternoon to explore independently.

Day Fifteen: Wednesday, January 20 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Sixteen: Thursday, January 21 - Transit the Suez Canal

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Completed in 1869, the Suez Canal is an artificial waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea allowing ships to transit from Europe to Asia without making the 4,300 mile journey around Africa. You will enter the canal near the city of Port Said at 6:00 am and exit at Port Tewflik in the city of Suez at approximately 6:00 pm. The canal is a single lane, and passes by sites such as the "Ballah By-Pass", the Great Bitter Lake and the city of Ismailia.

Afternoon: Continue to transit the Suez Canal.

Day Seventeen: Friday, January 22 - Safaga, Egypt

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Depart the port in Safaga, and transfer to the city of Luxor (approximately 3.5 hours). Led by a local Egyptologist you will explore the Karnak and the Valley of the Kings. The Karnak Temple Complex is a vast open air museum and the second largest ancient religious site in the world after Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Afternoon: In the afternoon travel across the Nile to the Valley of the Kings. Here you will explore this ancient complex where Pharoahs and other notable Egyptians were buried from the 16th to 11th Centuries BC.

Day Eighteen: Saturday, January 23 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Nineteen: Sunday, January 24 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Twenty: Monday, January 25 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Twenty One: Tuesday, January 26 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Twenty Two: Wednesday, January 27 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Twenty Three: Thursday, January 28 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Twenty Four: Friday, January 29 - Muscat, Oman

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: The city of Muscat is the largest city and the capital of Oman. Over the years, Muscat has been ruled by indigenous tribes, as well as foreign powers, including the Portuguese, Persians and the Ottoman Empre. Muscat offers a unique opportunity to witness a modern commercial center exisiting in harmony with its traditional culture. Disembark the ship this morning and transfer to the Bait Al Zubair Museum, where you will get an introduction to Oman's history and development. Drive along the waterfront Corniche, and visit the traditional fish market and colorful Muttrah Souq. Stop for a photo at the magnificent Al Alam Palace, the official palace of Sultan Qaboos, flanked by the 16th century Portuguese forts Mirani and Jalali.

Afternoon: In the afternoon, visit the Bait Adam Museum. Have the chance to see a unique collection of currency, paintings, photographs, and weapon. After exploring the museum enjoy a small cooking demonstration featuring local delicacies.

Day Twenty Five: Saturday, January 30 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Twenty Six: Sunday, January 31 - Dubai, United Arab Emirates / Modern Dubai

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: With an international architect explore some of the most amazing modern architectural landmarks of Dubai. Visit Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It is named after UAE President Khalifa Bin Zayed and it broke many world records. This tower has the highest outdoor observation deck in the world. The group will have a chance to enjoy a unique view of Dubai from this deck (124th floor). In the evening, watch the awesome Dubai fountains. This is a record-setting choreographed fountain system set on the 30-acre manmade Burj Khalifa Lake at the centre of the Downtown Dubai. Illuminated by 6,600 lights and 25 colored projectors, it is 902 ft long and shoots water 490 ft into the air (equivalent to a 50-story building), accompanied by a range of classical to contemporary Arabic and world music

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure

Day Twenty Seven: Monday, February 01 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Twenty Eight: Tuesday, February 02 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Twenty Nine: Wednesday, February 03 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Thirty: Thursday, February 04 - Mangalore, India

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Mengalore, named after the Goddess Mangaladevi, has been an important trading port dating back to the 14th century. With its strategic location it has been occupied by a number of dnasties and colonial rulers, namely the Portuguese in the 16th century. In the 18th century, its control was contested by Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan on one hand and the British on the other. Under the Mysroe Sultans in 1763 it became a strategic ship building base, which was ceded to the British in 1799 after numerous seiges. Today, with its narrow winding streets fringed with coconut palms, quaint houses with terracotta-tiled roofs, beautiful beaches, temples and churches, and the aroma of spicy coconut curries, it has preserved its old world charm. Disembark the ship for a full day discovery of Mangalore. Your first stop is the Kadri Temple, the oldest shiva temple in the region (1068AD), perched upon the Kadri hills. A flight of steps leads up to an elaborate entrance arch supported by multiple carved pillars and crowned by a gopuram covered in gleaming brass work. Visit Gokarnatha Temple, another Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva. Built in 1912 it is one of the newer temples in and around the Mangalore area. Stop at St. Aloysius Chapel. Built by an Italian Jesuit in 1884, this Christian chapel located in the heart of Mangalore is an architectural marvel on par with the chapels of Rome.

Afternoon: After lunch, visit the Sultan Battery watch tower, known for the watch tower constructed in the era of emperor Tipu Sultan. The watch tower was constructed 15 years before his death in 1784 A.D. The place was previously known as Sultan's Battery, the word Battery meaning the firing of canons. It was constructed from stones of churches destroyed by Sultan during his 15-year imprisonment of the Mangalorean Catholics and other Christians.

Day Thirty One: Friday, February 05 - Cochin, India

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Cochin (also known as Kochi), is a place with a fascinating history, where you will find synagogues, mosques, churches and temples coexisting side-by-side. It is a vibrant city situated on the southwest corner of the Indian peninsula in the breathtakingly scenic and prosperous state of Kerala. Heralded as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Kochi was an important spice trading center on the Arabian Sea from the 14th century.

Lunch: Cooking demonstration followed by lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Return to the ship. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure.

Day Thirty Two: Saturday, February 06 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Thirty Three: Sunday, February 07 - Hambantota, Sri Lanka / The Sacred City of Katarg.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Hambantota, Sri Lanka / The Sacred City of Katargama and Yala National Park

Morning: Kataragama, located in Southern Sri Lanka, is a pilgrimage town sacred to Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and the indigenous Vedda people of Sri Lanka. The main shrine at Kataragama is devoted to the Hindu god Skanda, who is depicted as a god with 6 faces and 12 hands. Wihtin the temple complex you will also find shrines dedicated to the Hindu godes Vishnu and Ganesha, an Islamic Mosque and Kiri Vehera Dagoba, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Although Kataragama was a small village in medieval times, today it is a fast developing township surrounded by jungle in the southeastern region of Sri Lanka. Since the 1950s, the city has undergone many inprovements will successive governments investing in public transportation, medical facilities, business development and hotel services.

Afternoon: After lunch, transfer to Yala National Park. Yala N.P. is the most frequently visted national park in Sri Lanka, and the second largest at 979 square kilometers. The park is best known for it's variety of wild animals, including 215 bird species and 44 species mammals including the Sri Lankan elephant and one of the highest leopard densities in the world.

Day Thirty Four: Monday, February 08 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Thirty Five: Tuesday, February 09 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Thirty Six: Wednesday, February 10 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Thirty Seven: Thursday, February 11 - Thilawa (Yangon), Myanmar / Fly to Bagan

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Bagan Thande Hotel

Note: You will disembark the ship for 2 nights, please remember to pack a carry-on bag. You may leave your remaining belongings in your cabin on board while you are away on the extended shore excursion.

Morning: Transfer to the airport in Yangon and fly to the ancient city of Bagan, located in the Mandalay region of Burma. The city once served as the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, which would later unify the regions that would eventually become modern Myanmar. During the height of the kingdom between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 4,000 Buddhist temples, monasteries, and pagodas were built on the Bagan plains on the banks of the Irawaddy River. Today over 2,200 temples and pagodas still dot the landscape. Upon arrival in Bagan, transfer to the hotel to check-in for 2 nights.

Afternoon: Myingaba Village and Gubyaukgi Temple: After lunch, depart by coach to Myingaba Village to the Gubyaukgyi Temple, with its well preserved colored paintings inside that date back to its construction in 1113. The temple is typical of the Mon style in that the interior is dimly lit by perforated rather than open windows.

Day Thirty Eight: Friday, February 12 - Bagan, Myanmar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Bagan Thande Hotel

Morning: Join a local expert for a lecture at the hotel on the current issues affecting the Burmese culture today, and how they are moving forward into the future. After the lecture, transfer to the Ananda Temple, one of the most revered temples in Bagan, and one of 4 temples left still standing. You will also see the Htilominlo Temple, and Shwezigon Pagoda. Next, learn about Lacquerware and the work involved in creating masterpieces. Meet the owner of this 4th generation lacquerware factory, who shows you the difference between the various quality levels and the complete process involved.

Afternoon: In the afternoon sail along the Irawaddy River to watch the sunset.

Day Thirty Nine: Saturday, February 13 - Bagan / Return to Yangon

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for flights returning to Yangon. Upon arrival in Yangon, transfer to Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Pagoda for the Burmese people. Next, visit Old Rangoon by foot to see the colonial buildings and Yangon's ethnic diversity. Finish up at a local market for a taste of every day life.

Afternoon: After lunch, transfer to re-embark MS Rotterdam.

Day Forty: Sunday, February 14 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Forty One: Monday, February 15 - Phuket, Thailand

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Note: Today is a free day to explore Phuket independently, or join one of the ship's organized shore excursions

Morning: Morning at leisure. Today is a free day to enjoy the beachside resort town of Phutket independently. Or you may choose to join one of the ship's organized shore excursions (not included in the program cost)

Day Forty Two: Tuesday, February 16 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Day Forty Three: Wednesday, February 17 - Singapore

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Day Forty Four: Thursday, February 18 - Singapore

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Day Forty Five: Friday, February 19 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Forty Six: Saturday, February 20 - Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Disembark in Tanjung Priok, the main port serving the city of Jakarta on the island of Java. Get a feel for modern Jakarta (the second largest city in the world) as you pass by iconic sites such as the National Monument and the Istiqlal Mosque. Next, delve into the past at the National Museum, which offers historical, prehistoric, archeological and ethonographic aspects of Indonesia through its extensive collection of artifacts and relics. It is one of the most complete collections in the country of bronzes and ceremics dating back to the Han, Tang and Ming Dynasties. The museum's collection of cultural instruments, household utensils, arts, and crafts provide a good introduction to the life of Indonesia's various ethnic groups.

Afternoon: After lunch, return to the harbor to rejoin the ship.

Day Forty Seven: Sunday, February 21 - Semarang, Java, Indonesia

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Today you will travel to one of the most spectacular sites in Asia, and the world's largest Buddhist complex - Borobudur. Built in 800 A.D. during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty, this shrine to Buddha was quickly abandonded following the decline of Buddhism and Hindu Kingdoms and the rise of Islam in Indonesia. For centuries the complex laid forgotten under layers of volcanic ash until knowledge of its existence was sparked by Sir Thomas Samford Raffles in 1814. The site underwent a major restoration from 1975 to 1982, after which it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Afternoon: After lunch, continue to Borobudur. At the site, you will climb to the top of the pyramid. Learn about the history and meaning of the site and take in the view of the Menoreh Mountains. Enough time will be given at the site to stroll around the complex and take in it's beauty.

Day Forty Eight: Monday, February 22 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Forty Nine: Tuesday, February 23 - Probolinggo, Indonesia

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Mount Bromo is an active volcano and part of the Tengger Massif, in East Java, Indonesia. At 7,641 feet, Bromo is not the highest peak in the range, but it is the best known of them all making it one of the most-visited attractions in East Java. The volcano belongs to Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Mount Bromo sites in the middle of a vast plain called the Sea of Sand - a protected nature reserve established in 1919. Today, you will visit Mount Bromo the way the locals do. Transfer by coach to the nearby mountain village of Cemoro Lawang, where you will then continue on to Mount Bromo by 4-wheel drive vehicle. Walk (or take a pony ride) the remainder of the way tao the crater. Mount Bromo stands in a sea of ashen, volcanic sand, surrounded by the towering cliff of the crater's edge. The immense size of the crater and supernatural beauty of the surrounding scenery are really very special indeed. Reboard the 4x4 vehicle for the drive back to Cemoro Lawang where an Indonesian buffet lunch awaits.

Afternoon: After lunch, coach back to the ship in Probolinggo.

Day Fifty: Wednesday, February 24 - Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Komaneka Monkey Forest Hotel (or similar)

Morning: Disembark the ship and head to Mas village where you will witness age old wood carving techniques, and then to Celek to discover the exquisite silver. Then continue to the temple of Tirta Empul. Locals believe that by bathing in the waters of this holy spring, they will purify one's self from bad influences in life.

Afternoon: After lunch drive to Penglipuran, a traditional Balinese village 700 meters above sea level and surrounded by bamboo forests and coffee plantations. It is a unique village in Bali because its inhabitants still live according to strict centuries old- rules and regulations (the Adat) just like their ancestors before them. Continue on to Ubud where you will check into your hotel for one night.

Day Fifty One: Thursday, February 25 - Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Check out of the hotel and spend your day exploring Ubud and the western part of Bali. Ubud is well known for its fine art, and is home to a score of local and foreign artists. One of them is the Agung Rai Museum of Art, which has an extensive collection of paintings by Balinese, Indonesian and foreign artists in classic Balinese and contemporary styles. Afterwards, see Ubud Palace and test your bargaining skils at the Ubud market.

Afternoon: Continue to Pura Taman Ayun, a temple founded by the King of Mengwi in the 17th century. It has three descending levels of spacious courtyards containing rows of shrines and pavilions and surrounded by a wide moat. The last stop will be at Tanah Lot Temple - one of the holiest temples in Bali, built atop a hute rock and surrounded by the sea. Enjoy the wonderful sunset at the temple, then return to the harbor to reboard the ship.

Day Fifty Two: Friday, February 26 - Lembar, Lombok, Indonesia

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Just east of Bali, lies the island of Lombok. With its beautiful beaches, lush forests, enchanting waterfalls, and relatively few tourists, Lombok is often referred to as an "unspoilt Bali". With few exceptions the natural landscape and traditional culture has remained unchanged for hundreds of years. Leaving the pier, your first stop will be at the arts market of Sayang-Sayang. Next, visit the unique Temple Lingsar - the only Hindu temple in the world where Muslims and Buddhists, alongside Hindus, worship together in the same place. This temple, built in 1714 and rebuilt in 1878 symbolizes the harmony of life in Lombok for centuries. The next stop will be at Narmada Palace, built in 1727 by King Anuk Agung Gede Ngurah Karang Asem as the royal garden and place of worship. It's spring water is said to grant eternal youth to its visitors.

Afternoon: After lunch visit Sakarara Village, reknowned for its traditional hand weaving of brightly patterened songket, ikat and sarong coloth. End your day back at the ship in Lembar, the principal port city of Lombok.

Day Fifty Three: Saturday, February 27 - Komodo National Park, Komodo Island, Indonesia

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Growing up to 10 feet in length and 150 pounds, the Komodo Dragon (also known as the Komodo Monitor) is the largest species of lizard living on earth today. Komodo Dragons are found only on the Indonesian Islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang and Padar which form Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the "New 7 Wonders of Nature". Today the ship will anchor off the coast of Komodo Island, and a local guide will take you around the island in search of these legendary creatures.

Day Fifty Four: Sunday, February 28 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Fifty Five: Monday, February 29 - Surabaya, Java, Indonesia

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: The capital city of East Java and the island's second-largest city after Jakarta, Surayabaya is your gateway to the historical intrigue of old Java. Step inside the earliest Dutch government building in Surabaya for a warm Javanese welcome by the Mayor of Surabaya, watch a traditional dance with refreshments and enjoy a brief tour of this heritage building. At the Submarine Monument see a Russian submarine used in 1952 by the Indonesian Navy, a reminder of the fragile alliances forged throughout Asia in the post-war era.

Afternoon: After lunch visit the Kayoon Flower Garden market, located on the west bank of the Kayoon River, where vendors offer a variety of fresh and dried flowers, artificial gardens, beautiful orchids and tropical decorative blossoms. Next visit the house of Sampoerna - a clove cigarette factory, and now museum, built in the Dutch Colonial style that dates back to 1858. Behind the museum is the modern factory where you'll see the process of clove cigarettes (a major export of Indonesia) being made.

Day Fifty Six: Tuesday, March 01 - Surabaya, Java, Indonesia

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Ninety minutes from Surabaya in the Trowulan area, are the 13th to 16th-century archeological sites of the Majapahit Hindu Kingdom. Start at the Trowulan Archeological Museum, which houses superb examples of Majapahit sculpture and pottery from East Java. From there continue to Segaran Pool - the largest ancient pool used as a place of recreation for the Majapahit family. The most interesting ruins here include the entrance to the Bajang Ratu Temple, with its strikingly sculpted Kala Heads and the Tikus Temple used for ritual bathing and cleansing.

Afternoon: After lunch enjoy a brief visit to the nearby Toga Garden, before returning to the ship.

Day Fifty Seven: Wednesday, March 02 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Fifty Eight: Thursday, March 03 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Fifty Nine: Friday, March 04 - Singapore

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Day Sixty: Saturday, March 05 - Port Klang, Malaysia

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Disembark the ship and transfer to Kuala Lumpur. Visit the National Mosque, which is the most distinguished mosque in KL. Another must see is the Tugu Negara or War Memorial where we honor those who perished in the war. You will also pass the Moorish-styled Federal Court, the old Railway station which is a striking piece of Mohammedan architecture, the Tudor-styled Cricket Club and the King&rsquos Palace. Visit the Thean Hou Temple situated in Robson Heights, which is the home to patron Goddess Thean Hou of the Hainanese community. This striking six-tiered temple is regarded as one of the biggest Chinese temples in South East Asia.

Day Sixty One: Sunday, March 06 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Sixty Two: Monday, March 07 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Sixty Three: Tuesday, March 08 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Sixty Four: Wednesday, March 09 - Colombo, Sri Lanka

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage provides visitors with the best chance of seeing a large number of elephants at close quarters. The orphanage was established in 1975 with seven orphaned elephants. Today some of these orphans enjoy the fortune of seeing their grandchildren born in the same location. Assisted by local and foreign elephant experts, Pinnawala commenced a successful captive breeding program and the first baby elephant was born in 1984. It is most interesting to visit at feeding time to see the baby elephants being bottle fed and the entire herd taken for a bath thereafter to the river near by.

Afternoon: In the afternoon, proceed to the picturesque city of Kandy. Along the way you will pass many colorful sights including little villages, paddy fields, coconut estates, and rubber plantations. Kandy itself is nestled in the foothills of the Hill Country on the banks of a beautiful tree-lined lake. Upon arrival to this naturally fortified town, continue on to the Royal Palace complex for a visit to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a Buddhist temple which houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is beliefed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country.

Day Sixty Five: Thursday, March 10 - Colombo, Sri Lanka

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Depart the ship this morning for a unique, full day field trip to learn more about agriculture and small industry in Sri Lanka. From the pier, you drive to Uyanwatte Reservoir, in Bandaragama. Here your local guide will give you a brief introduction to of the irrigation system in Sri Lanka, and you will see the Kithsirimewean Buddhist Temple, which dates back over 1700 years. After visiting the temple, delve more into the local culture with a guided walk through Millaniya Village - see a rice paddy field, learn how pineapples, cinnamon, tea and rubber is grown, and processed.

Afternoon: After lunch, you will learn more about some of the small scale industries that help drive the Sri Lankan economy. Visit a traditional iron workshop and learn how clay pottery and weaving are made on a small scale.

Day Sixty Six: Friday, March 11 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Sixty Seven: Saturday, March 12 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Sixty Eight: Sunday, March 13 - Mumbai, India

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: India's largest port, commercial and industrial center, fashion capital and heart of Bollywood (India's thriving movie industry), Mumbai is an endlessly fascinating hive of activity. Mumbai is a jumble of captivating contradictions: grand colonial architecture rubs shoulders with chaotic bazaars. Trendy restaurants, exclusive boutiques, slums and shanty towns, all interspersed with tropical palm trees. A melting pot of cultures from every cornor of the country, Mumbai embodies India's diverse traditions. After breakfast, disembark and coach to the Gateway of India. Mumbai's most famous monument is the starting point for visitors who want to explore the city. It was built as a triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. Ironically, when the Raj ended in 1947, this colonial symbol also became sort of an epitaph: the last of the British ships that set sail for England left from the Gateway. Next you will embark a boat to sail towards the Elephanta Caves (approx. 1 hour boat ride). The Elephanta Caves, which are declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, date back to the 6th century AD. It was a Portuguese who named the caves after the statue of an elephant which is seen close to the area.

Afternoon: After lunch, on a panoramic drive through the city, witness Mumbai's colonial heritage through sites such as the Victorian Gothic Revival, Rajabhai Clock Tower, Mumbai University, High Court and Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. Stop at a Dhobi Ghat, or a public laundry, to see the sight of many men collectively washing, rinsing and drying clothes in the open air. Finally visit the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum). Founded in the early years of the 20th century, the museum houses approximately 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history as well as objects from foreign lands. See artifacts from the Indus Valley Civilization as well as other relics from ancient India.

Day Sixty Nine: Monday, March 14 - Mumbai, India

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

From the port of Mumbai, coach along Marine Drive and Malabar Hill to the Hanging Garden. Perched at the top of Malabar Hill these terraced gardens are also known as the Ferozeshah Mehta Gardens. Next visit the Mani Bhawan. Located on leafy Laburnum Road, Mani Bhawan is the old Mumbai residence of Mahatma Gandhi. It's a two-storied structure that now houses a reference library with over 2000 books, a photo exhibition of Gandhi's life, and well preserved memorabilia including an old charkha, or spinning wheel, that Gandhi used to use. Today, its only exhibit that lies unused, but many old Gandhians still visit the place to pay homage to their hero and demonstrate the noble art of spinning your own yarn. Next, you will have the chance to explore the Crawford Market before returning to the ship.

Day Seventy: Tuesday, March 15 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Seventy One: Wednesday, March 16 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Seventy Two: Thursday, March 17 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Seventy Three: Friday, March 18 - Salalah, Oman

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Depart the ship for the fishing village of Taqa, an old town with an interesting castle surrounded by watchtowers and taqa stone houses. Next travel to Khor Rori creek, the site of the ruined city of Samhuram and the capital of Arabia's Frankencense trade. Excavation has produced evidence of an ancient city with trade links by sea to far eastern destinations, as far off as Greece. Mirbat, the ancient capital of Dhofar, was an important town as early as the 9th century for its trade in Frankincense, horses and slaves. Your final stop will be at Dhofar's best known historic site- Bin Ali's Tomb. This twin-domed tomb of Mohamed Bin Ali which dates back to 1135 AD is a fine example of medieval architecture in the middle east.

Day Seventy Four: Saturday, March 19 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Seventy Five: Sunday, March 20 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Seventy Six: Monday, March 21 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.

Day Seventy Seven: Tuesday, March 22 - At Sea

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: MS Rotterdam

Morning: Join your study leader for an onboard educational presentation.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the amenities and activities on board the ship.


We create fully personalised trips from start to finish, working with you to pick locations, accommodation and guides that suit you.

Each time you travel with us, you preserve an acre of precious rainforest through our partnerships.

From in-depth private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your journey.

We create fully personalised trips from start to finish, working with you to pick locations, accommodation and guides that suit you.

Each time you travel with us, you preserve an acre of precious rainforest through our partnerships.

From in-depth private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your journey.

Greece is a wonderful destination for families and we’ve handpicked our favourite experiences that will surprise and delight everyone from kids to grandparents. Your ten-day adventure starts in Athens, where you’ll delve into the country’s ancient history, learning about myths and legends as you explore the Acropolis, the temple of Olympian Zeus and the Ancient Agora.

A short flight will bring you to Crete, your island home for the next three nights. En route to your hotel, you’ll stop at Knossos, the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on the island. It was once the seat of the legendary King Minos and its palaces are really something to behold. You’ll be based at the beautiful Blue Palace hotel near the village of Plaka, and it has everything you need for a few days of relaxation.

As well as having time to yourselves, you’ll have the opportunity to get out and explore with a cruise around the Elounda Gulf aboard your own private catamaran.

Your final stop will be the beautiful island of Paros. It has many of the same charms as other islands – low-lying white houses and blue domed churches – but it is much quieter than some of its neighbours. As well as exploring the island itself, you’ll head out to discover the ‘Small Cyclades’, a collection of five virtually uninhabited islands. They are all beautiful in their own right and offer a chance to see a side of Greece not many get to explore.

  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Private transfers and internal flights
  • Private tours and experiences perfect for families
  • Full support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip
  • Our help with restaurant recommendations and reservations
  • Expert guides in each destination

There are few places where the past comes to life in quite the same way as in Athens. Often referred to as the cradle of Western civilisation, it’s a city bursting at the seams with culture, intrigue, and beauty. It’s not just a place for history buffs, however, it’s also one of the liveliest European capitals. The thriving culture means that there's plenty to keep everyone amused between all the sightseeing. Learn about some of the greatest myths and legends in the world, in the place they came from.

Dive into the marvellous world of ancient Athens with a full-day experience at the world-famous sights the city has to offer.Children under 12 will receive an interactive archaeological pack to help uncover stories from Greek mythology as you explore the magical Acropolis and other landmarks. You'll explore the private and public lives of ancient Athenians by decoding the hidden messages within the artifacts they left behind. You'll also visit the majestic temple of Olympian Zeus, the Ancient Agora and the Acropolis Museum. The museum tour is ingeniously designed to explain the true importance of the objects on exhibit through fun and interactive activities. Together with your private guide, you will make this journey through Greek mythology, including the actual historical events behind the myths, the social and political setting that gave these stories their meaning and the relevance they bear today.

During this experience, you'll head to a farm located 45 minutes’ drive from Athens, in a rural area full of vines and growing fields, showcasing the best of the surrounding natural landscapes. Your day will start with live cooking in the on-site open kitchen, as you enjoy a delicious BBQ. There are a number of activities you can partake in here at the farm, ranging from guided walks and animal encounters, to cocktail-making lessons and olive oil tasting.

A short distance south of the modern port town of Heraklion, Knossos was the capital of Minoan Crete. It is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and, with the first settlement dating back to 7000 BC, contender for Europe's oldest city. The 4000-year-old palaces are grander, more complex, and more flamboyant than any of their contemporaries. Seat of the legendary king Minos, it is the birthplace of thrilling stories, such as the myths of the Labyrinth with its Minotaur and of Daedalus and Icarus. Continue with a visit to The Heraklion Archaeological Museum which houses the most important collection of Minoan antiquities in the world.

The village of Plaka is located in Mirabello Bay, opposite the island of Spinalonga on Crete's north east coast. A number of restaurants have sprung up over the last few years making it a lovely place to come and enjoy great food and the relaxed atmosphere of a Cretan fishing village.

The island of Spinalonga is located in the Gulf of Elounda next to the town of Plaka. Originally, Spinalonga was not an island but a peninsula of Crete, but during Venetian occupation in the 16th century the island was carved out of the coast for defence purposes and a fort was built there.

Spinalonga remained in Venetian hands even after the rest of Crete fell to the Ottomans and many Christians fled here to escape persecution. Over a century later it once again became a refuge, this time for Ottomans fearing Christian reprisal after the Cretan revolt. The island was used as a leper colony until as late as 1957 and today it is uninhabited yet remains a popular tourist attraction and has appeared in numerous novels, television series, and a short film.

Enjoy a day out in the Cretan sea onboard your catamaran sailing yacht. It features all the modern navigation equipment and amenities, four cabins and two WC with shower. Relax on the deck, enjoy the sea breeze and scenery as you explore the coast of Agios Nikolaos, Elounda and Plaka, sailing by the islet of Spinalonga, Kolokytha beach and some beautiful hidden coves. The exact route is decided by your skipper depending on weather conditions. You will be in good hands to relax in a world of your own, soak in the sun, snorkel and swim in crystal waters.

Enjoy some time on the beautiful island of Paros, where clusters of white cubic houses are surrounded by sparkling turquoise waters. This is the perfect place to kick back and relax, exploring the glistening waters and idyllic coves and beaches.

Your experience will start at Parikia town, the capital and main port of Paros where the majority of the island’s historical monuments and museums are located. The archaeological museum will be the first stop, home to the amazing statue of Medussa, a mythic creature of ancient Greece. Continue on to the impressive Orthodox Ekatontapiliani church devoted to the Virgin Mary, dating from the post-Byzantine era and the Byzantine museum which is housed inside the church itself. Enjoy a stroll through the narrow streets of Paroikia where you'll feel like you've travelled to another era. Pass beautiful neoclassical houses and a fortification wall (the so-called Frankish castle) dating from the Venetian era. After your historical and cultural exploration of Parikia town you will resume your island tour by visiting the mountain of Stroumblas and 400m from the level of the sea, Lefkes village, the most traditional and picturesque village of the island. As you walk, your guide will narrate the history of the village. There, at a small traditional café, you will be able to taste Greek coffee and homemade traditional 'spoon sweet'.

Today you get to admire spectacular coastal landscapes, explore awe-inspiring rock formations and cliffs and swim at idyllic beaches on a ride that will take you around the Bay of Kolymbithres to Agios Ioannis Detis peninsula. You'll also get to spend some time climbing Koukounaries Hill where you'll discover the remains of a prehistoric Mycenean Acropolis and panoramic bay views.

After that, you'll visit and swim at golden-sanded beaches with sculpted granite outcrops, and then reach a small 17th-century monastery by the sea. And finally, take a walk to the 19th-century lighthouse at the rugged, northernmost Cape Korakas from where the best sunsets can be seen on the island.

This circular trip can be customised to also include a short Naousa town and harbour tour. It includes between 15 and 19km of cycling, around 8km of walking and takes up to five and a half hours.

Escorted by an English speaking guide you will discover the rich and ancient history of the island, starting from the 4th millennium B.C. You will begging by Paroikia, capital of the island. Visit of Ekatontapyliani church. The biggest early Christian sanctuary of the Cyclades and also the third biggest of Greece. Then on to the archeological museum (closed on Tuesday) which exhibits the findings made during the various archeological excavations undertaken on Paros, but also on the neighboring island of Antiparos and Despotiko. Walk in the market street of Parikia until the Kastro (Venetian fort).

Then you will head to Naousa, the cosmopolitan village of the island. You will get to explore and have some free time for lunch. After you will discover Lefkes, ancient capital of the island, located in the verdant and peaceful mountains of Paros. At the end of the tour route back to the hotel.

At the beach of Seven and board your luxury rib boat. You'll set sail to explore one of the most sought after places in the Cyclades: the small island complex of Koufonisia, also know as the 'Small Cyclades', home to breathtaking bays and sparkling waters. To the south and east of Naxos, five tiny virtually uninhabited islands make up the Small Cyclades. These are Iraklia, Schinoussa, Ano (upper) and Kato (lower) Koufonissi (together known as Koufonissia) and Donoussa. Everyone has their favourite: Iraklia is known for it laid-back vibes, Schinoussa is virtually untouched, Koufonissia is known for its beaches and Donoussa for its scenic walks.


The Collapse of Bronze Age Societies in the Eastern Mediterranean: Sea Peoples in Cyprus?

The causes for and circumstances of the decline of the Late Bronze Age in the Eastern Mediterranean are the main research aim of this project. The focus lies on Cyprus, the centre of international trade in this region and the main supplier of copper.

The aim of the project is to investigate the causes of disruption in international trade and eventually of the total collapse of the sophisticated Bronze Age civilisations in the Eastern Mediterranean around 1200 BC. Hypotheses explaining this severe cultural crisis involve the appearance of invading peoples, the >Sea Peoples<, and a worsening climate. The >Sea Peoples< may have started their south-eastward migration in Italy, continued over the sea and the Balkans to Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean islands and eventually landed in the Levant and Egypt. Their migration may have been caused by climate change and famine. They are mentioned in Egyptian and Syrian written sources from around 1200 BC but proof of their physical presence is largely non-existent.

The nucleus of the project is the study of the economic, political and climatological situation in Cyprus, the centre of international trade in the Eastern Mediterranean. Bronze Age trade with Cypriote copper from its rich ores – the most coveted product at that time – involved not only the entire Mediterranean but also the remainder of Europe. The study of a changed situation in Cyprus and finds which relate to the Sea Peoples, e.g. objects which originate in central Europe/Italy/the Balkans, will lead to a greater understanding of the general crisis which has been recorded everywhere during this period.

Methods

The material obtained from five seasons of Swedish excavation at Hala Sultan Tekke, which has not yet been sufficiently studied, will be examined. Hala Sultan Tekke, one of the largest Bronze Age cities, was destroyed and abandoned in the 12 th century BC. Traces of immigrating/invading Sea Peoples will be recorded by studying non-local/non-traded finds, e.g. simple foreign household pottery, textile production tools and weapons. The methods involve provenance studies of pottery and metal objects with cutting-edge physical and chemical methods, and radiocarbon dating assisted by advanced (Bayesian) statistics for greater precision. Strontium isotope analyses of human skeletal remains from burials from around 1200 BC will be carried out in order to distinguish between local people and immigrants.

The project also includes climatological studies, which will be carried out by drilling cores in the Salt Lake nearby the ancient, silted-up, harbour of Hala Sultan Tekke. Pilot studies show the Salt Lake as ideal for the extraction of pollen. The project-specific period (around 1200 BC) will be identified by radiocarbon dating of organic remains in the cores. The pollen analyses will give information about the vegetation and climate, and the new data will be combined with those already obtained from coastal Syria and elsewhere.

In addition, material from six excavated major Cypriote sites from around 1200 BC (Sinda, Enkomi, Pyla, Kition, Maa-Palaeokastro, Kouklia-Palaepaphos) will be studied in five museums, four in Cyprus and one in Sweden (Medelhavsmuseet). If a similar find pattern which mirrors foreign influences all over Cyprus from this period can be confirmed, it will be possible – for the first time – to demonstrate an indisputable influx of foreign peoples and explain the rationale behind destructions and a changed cultural and political situation.


An auction you can sink your gold and hippo ivory teeth into

A set of early 19th century dentures made of gold and hippo ivory that was discovered by a metal detector hobbyist is going up for auction this month. The dentures were unearthed by bricklayer Peter Cross, an avid metal detectorist for the past 40 years, in Waterstock, Oxfordshire.

The ingenious false teeth were carved by hand from a single piece of ivory, the natural curvature of the tusk used to match the curvature of the jaw. Once carved, the ivory tooth arch was mounted to a gold base plate with pins. While parts of the gold plate have bent away from the ivory over the years, it would originally have been formed by hand on a swage block to fit a plaster model of the wearer’s jaw.

/>The front six teeth are carved in naturalistic shape and size and the original enamel has been preserved keeping them white in color. The enamel was carved away from the “gum” area exposing an inner layer that is a brownish shade resembling real gums. The teeth in the back are more crudely carved as they didn’t have to put on so much of a show. Still, the craftsman bothered to incise lines to suggest individual teeth and cross-hatching on top of the teeth creating a textured surface.

On the side is a surviving spring connected to a rivet. This is how the top and bottom parts of the dentures were connected to each other. Only the upper section has been found. Cross returned to the field several times in the hope of discovering the bottom half of the set, to no avail.

Mr Cross, who made the find in March this year, said: “I know this sounds crazy but when I first pulled them up out of the ground, I thought they were sheep’s teeth. When I began to clean off the mud and clay, I could see there was a gold plate – and that they were human false teeth.

“They would have belonged to a very wealthy person. They date back to between 1800 and 1850 and would have cost a fortune at the time. A dentist friend said the owner would have paid between £200 to £300 in the 1800s and that would have bought half the houses in Brill back then – a very affluent village.

/>“I’ve shown the teeth to many people and consulted the British Dental Association and the British Museum. Everyone’s amazed – and everyone wants to take a photo of them. They’re unique.

“I’m only aware of one other slightly similar set of false teeth and they belonged to American president George Washington and date back to the late 1700s. They’re on display in the States.”

There are quite a few gold and silver plates from historic dentures in the Portable Antiquities Scheme database, but only two of them still have teeth attached, and only a single tooth apiece. In both of those examples the teeth are porcelain. The Wellcome Collection has all kinds of historic dentures in its vaults and on display, including several carved entirely out of hippo ivory, plate and teeth together, and this striking example of an ivory upper with human front teeth.

George Washington’s surviving set of false teeth is much more elaborate than the recently-discovered set. We know from his diaries and correspondence that despite his overall excellent health and attention to dental hygiene, Washington’s teeth and gums were a mess from when he was a young man. By the time he was inaugurated the first President of the United States in 1789, he only had one of his original teeth left. He had many dentures over the years, none of them with the wood teeth of lore some were carved out of animal ivory or actual animal teeth (horses, cows, donkeys), some used human teeth extracted Fantine-style from poor or enslaved people who were paid per tooth. The sole complete set of Washington’s dentures extant today is on display at Mount Vernon.

The antique chompers will go under the hammer at Hansons on November 25th. The presale estimate is £3,000 – £5,000 ($3,900 – $6,400). The sale price will be divided 50/25/25 between landowner, Mr. Cross and Diana Wild, his metal detecting buddy on the day of the find.


Off the beaten path in Greece

The Palace of Knossos in Heraklion has been called the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on the island and has frescos and baths dating back thousands of years to the Minoan civilization. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

ATVs are a popular, scenic and refreshing way to get around the island of Mykonos. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

Marco Polo Greek Tavern in Mykonos serves its moussaka – a traditional dish consisting of slices of aubergine and potato with mixed meat sauce and local herbs, topped with béchamel – baked in a clay pot. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

The Little Venice part of Mykonos town has colorful 18th century fishing houses with balconies along the Aegean Sea turned food and drink establishments. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

The Little Venice part of Mykonos town has colorful 18th century fishing houses with balconies along the Aegean Sea turned food and drink establishments. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

Mykonos’ easy-to-walk cobblestone streets of large dark stones with bright white outlines are bustling with foot traffic late into the night. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

Souvlaki, a Greek fast food, consists of a skewer of small pieces of grilled meat and thick fries inside a pita wrap. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

The Agios Titos church of Byzantine origins in Heraklion is one of the most important monuments in the center of Crete’s capital. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

Phyllo Sophies in Heraklion serves bougatsa, a dish created in 1922 of crunchy handmade phyllo pastry combined with the Cretian soft cheese mizithra, often served with ice cream. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

The summer sunset in Mykonos as seen from an outlook point close to its 16th century windmills. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

The coastal town of Malia is known for its stretch of beaches and water turquoise inviting water sports from jet skiing to parasailing. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

There’s no place quite like Europe in the summer. Last summer, I picked Greece.

I had six days there and wanted to make the most of it. Two destinations were obvious – Athens, the history rich capital and most economic city to fly into internationally, and Santorini, the postcard honeymoon island.

There were many more islands to choose from. One way I narrowed it down was proximity. I wanted to ferry between cities as much as possible, to avoid wasting time at airports and have a more scenic ride.

Mykonos seemed highly recommended and appeared equidistant from Athens and Santorini. It was hard not to notice Crete, Greece’s biggest island, south of Santorini, and I figured an island of its size would have plenty to offer. That included multiple one-hour flights from Crete’s largest city, Heraklion, back to Athens.

After a day and a half in the intense metropolis that is Athens in the summer heat, I gladly boarded a comfortable early morning four-hour ferry to the first island on my itinerary. As we left the mainland behind, I didn’t have an image in my head of Mykonos like I did of the blue and white buildings on the famous caldera of Santorini.

My friend and I dropped off our bags at a hostel and took a local bus to the Little Venice area. A small slope down lead us to one of the major attractions of Mykonos, a row of five 16th century windmills sitting on a hill above the town. We got there just before sunset, as did busloads of other tourists.

With so many people trying to get pictures in the perfect lighting, it was difficult capturing the white, round-shaped windmills with small windows and pointed roofs typical of the Cyclades islands. But somehow, the serenity of the scene made it more pleasurable than stressful. Eventually I gave up and watched the sun disappear into the horizon.

From the windmills, I could see colorful 18th century fishing houses with balconies lining the Aegean Sea. My friend and I walked down another small slope to get seats at one of the balconies turned food and drink establishments just to watch the colors of the sunset.

As it grew dark, we ventured away from the waterfront and the ambiance shifted from peaceful and romantic to upbeat and lively. The easy-to-walk cobblestone streets of large dark stones with bright white outlines were bustling with foot traffic and stayed so late into the night, in true European fashion.

I had built up an appetite for traditional fare, and asked an employee at an eatery that didn’t serve moussaka which restaurant served the best one. He suggested Marco Polo Greek Tavern, established in 1966.

The moussaka – slices of aubergine and potato with mixed meat sauce and local herbs, topped with bechamel – was baked in a clay pot, which the waiter said enriched the sauces’ flavors. It was easily my favorite savory dish of the trip.

Then the waiter enticed us to consider dessert. We shared an order of galaktoboureko, a Semolina based creamy custard pie baked with phyllo dough flavored with orange, drenched in honey syrup. It was softer and chewier than baklava and I wished it was just as available back home in the states.

At the break of dawn, my friend and I got ATV rides back to Mykonos for the sunrise. The way was much less daunting with no vehicles on the road, and the wind in my face woke up the sense of freedom that comes with summer in Europe.

Unlike sunset, no one was in sight for the sunrise. We took advantage of the solitude to take the photos we couldn’t 12 hours ago. The streets of the town, too, glowed when empty. We waited for places to open. A souvlaki, a Greek fast food skewer of small pieces of grilled meat and thick fries inside a pita wrap, hit the spot.

Santorini looked exactly the way I expected – breathtaking and perfect for honeymooners.

Crete, the last stop of the island hopping adventure, was more unexpected.

Our ferry docked in Heraklion and immediately I could tell the island was expansive, not quaint. The city center was large and busy, with countless restaurants and bars teeming with people even on weekdays and a shopping district with all the big box stores.

During the daytime, my friend and I went to the Palace of Knossos, just outside the city, and a must-do tourist attraction. It’s the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on the island and has been considered the oldest city in Europe. A couple hours were not enough to see all the frescos and baths dating back thousands of years to the Minoan civilization.

For our last hours in Crete, we headed to Malia, known for its stretch of beaches. It was relaxing, the water turquoise with bathers and others enjoying water sports, from jet skiing to parasailing. A tiny island in the distance called my name but I knew it looked closer to swim to than it really was.

We got back to Heraklion with enough time to stop at Liontaria Square to try Phyllo Sophies, where Anthony Bourdain filmed a segment of his show “No Reservations.” Phyllo Sophies story is that in 1922, a recipe for crunchy handmade phyllo pastry was combined with the Cretian soft cheese mizithra, creating bougatsa.

Served a la mode, the sweet dessert was a square of heaven, a great addition to the quintessential Greek vacation.


Off the beaten path in Greece

The Palace of Knossos in Heraklion has been called the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on the island and has frescos and baths dating back thousands of years to the Minoan civilization. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

ATVs are a popular, scenic and refreshing way to get around the island of Mykonos. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

Marco Polo Greek Tavern in Mykonos serves its moussaka – a traditional dish consisting of slices of aubergine and potato with mixed meat sauce and local herbs, topped with béchamel – baked in a clay pot. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

The Little Venice part of Mykonos town has colorful 18th century fishing houses with balconies along the Aegean Sea turned food and drink establishments. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

The Little Venice part of Mykonos town has colorful 18th century fishing houses with balconies along the Aegean Sea turned food and drink establishments. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

Mykonos’ easy-to-walk cobblestone streets of large dark stones with bright white outlines are bustling with foot traffic late into the night. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

Souvlaki, a Greek fast food, consists of a skewer of small pieces of grilled meat and thick fries inside a pita wrap. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

The Agios Titos church of Byzantine origins in Heraklion is one of the most important monuments in the center of Crete’s capital. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

Phyllo Sophies in Heraklion serves bougatsa, a dish created in 1922 of crunchy handmade phyllo pastry combined with the Cretian soft cheese mizithra, often served with ice cream. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

The summer sunset in Mykonos as seen from an outlook point close to its 16th century windmills. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

The coastal town of Malia is known for its stretch of beaches and water turquoise inviting water sports from jet skiing to parasailing. (Photo by Jessica Kwong, OC Register/SCNG)

There’s no place quite like Europe in the summer. Last summer, I picked Greece.

I had six days there and wanted to make the most of it. Two destinations were obvious – Athens, the history rich capital and most economic city to fly into internationally, and Santorini, the postcard honeymoon island.

There were many more islands to choose from. One way I narrowed it down was proximity. I wanted to ferry between cities as much as possible, to avoid wasting time at airports and have a more scenic ride.

Mykonos seemed highly recommended and appeared equidistant from Athens and Santorini. It was hard not to notice Crete, Greece’s biggest island, south of Santorini, and I figured an island of its size would have plenty to offer. That included multiple one-hour flights from Crete’s largest city, Heraklion, back to Athens.

After a day and a half in the intense metropolis that is Athens in the summer heat, I gladly boarded a comfortable early morning four-hour ferry to the first island on my itinerary. As we left the mainland behind, I didn’t have an image in my head of Mykonos like I did of the blue and white buildings on the famous caldera of Santorini.

My friend and I dropped off our bags at a hostel and took a local bus to the Little Venice area. A small slope down lead us to one of the major attractions of Mykonos, a row of five 16th century windmills sitting on a hill above the town. We got there just before sunset, as did busloads of other tourists.

With so many people trying to get pictures in the perfect lighting, it was difficult capturing the white, round-shaped windmills with small windows and pointed roofs typical of the Cyclades islands. But somehow, the serenity of the scene made it more pleasurable than stressful. Eventually I gave up and watched the sun disappear into the horizon.

From the windmills, I could see colorful 18th century fishing houses with balconies lining the Aegean Sea. My friend and I walked down another small slope to get seats at one of the balconies turned food and drink establishments just to watch the colors of the sunset.

As it grew dark, we ventured away from the waterfront and the ambiance shifted from peaceful and romantic to upbeat and lively. The easy-to-walk cobblestone streets of large dark stones with bright white outlines were bustling with foot traffic and stayed so late into the night, in true European fashion.

I had built up an appetite for traditional fare, and asked an employee at an eatery that didn’t serve moussaka which restaurant served the best one. He suggested Marco Polo Greek Tavern, established in 1966.

The moussaka – slices of aubergine and potato with mixed meat sauce and local herbs, topped with bechamel – was baked in a clay pot, which the waiter said enriched the sauces’ flavors. It was easily my favorite savory dish of the trip.

Then the waiter enticed us to consider dessert. We shared an order of galaktoboureko, a Semolina based creamy custard pie baked with phyllo dough flavored with orange, drenched in honey syrup. It was softer and chewier than baklava and I wished it was just as available back home in the states.

At the break of dawn, my friend and I got ATV rides back to Mykonos for the sunrise. The way was much less daunting with no vehicles on the road, and the wind in my face woke up the sense of freedom that comes with summer in Europe.

Unlike sunset, no one was in sight for the sunrise. We took advantage of the solitude to take the photos we couldn’t 12 hours ago. The streets of the town, too, glowed when empty. We waited for places to open. A souvlaki, a Greek fast food skewer of small pieces of grilled meat and thick fries inside a pita wrap, hit the spot.

Santorini looked exactly the way I expected – breathtaking and perfect for honeymooners.

Crete, the last stop of the island hopping adventure, was more unexpected.

Our ferry docked in Heraklion and immediately I could tell the island was expansive, not quaint. The city center was large and busy, with countless restaurants and bars teeming with people even on weekdays and a shopping district with all the big box stores.

During the daytime, my friend and I went to the Palace of Knossos, just outside the city, and a must-do tourist attraction. It’s the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on the island and has been considered the oldest city in Europe. A couple hours were not enough to see all the frescos and baths dating back thousands of years to the Minoan civilization.

For our last hours in Crete, we headed to Malia, known for its stretch of beaches. It was relaxing, the water turquoise with bathers and others enjoying water sports, from jet skiing to parasailing. A tiny island in the distance called my name but I knew it looked closer to swim to than it really was.

We got back to Heraklion with enough time to stop at Liontaria Square to try Phyllo Sophies, where Anthony Bourdain filmed a segment of his show “No Reservations.” Phyllo Sophies story is that in 1922, a recipe for crunchy handmade phyllo pastry was combined with the Cretian soft cheese mizithra, creating bougatsa.

Served a la mode, the sweet dessert was a square of heaven, a great addition to the quintessential Greek vacation.


9. Religion

The contacts between Scandinavia and the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England spanned back to 400's, even back to Angles' conquest of the country. The Danish archaeologist Jørgen Jensen writes: "Close dynastic relations, family relations and other alliance building measures that's what the tombs in the Sutton Hoo, Vendel and Valsgarde and a number of Frankish kings and nobility tombs from the same time testify. For millennia they had existed within the European elite and contributed to the relations between the various peoples. Behind the uniform equipment in the princely graves must have been an exchange of people, which took place in connection with marriage, conclusion of political alliances, exchange of hostages and so on."

Tombstone from Lindisfarne, which in all likelihood shows the Vikings attack the monastery in the year 793.

"But it is remarkable how silent the written sources from the 700's - primarily Beda and Alquin - are on England's Nordic connections. For example, Alquin mention's only contacts to the Nordic pagans to condemn them. This unwillingness of the Nordic must be an expression of the religious conflict between the parties. On one hand, a pagan society, where religion was so integrated with the social system that a change in religion could not happen without the community itself transformed. And on the other hand, an expansive church that could act in strict accordance with the royal power, i.e. by implementing far-reaching missionary activity."

"Could it be thought, " Jørgen Jensen concludes, "that such a political-religious conflict, as the archaeological sources also tell nothing about, may have caused a violent reaction? A reaction against what was seen as a threat to the Nordic population's own culture and identity? The idea has been advanced that the first Viking raids against sacral centers as Lindisfarne and Iona on the British east coast was a deliberate blow against the enemy's most prized cultural monuments and to the missionary-enterprise headquarters."

In fact, all the early Viking attack, which we know, until the looting of Dorestad in the year 834 were targeting Christian religious centers such as churches and monasteries.

Still in the year 845 the attack on Hamburg, which only a few years before had been made the center of the Christian mission in Scandinavia, the Vikings carefully destroyed all Christian churches. Vita Anskarii recounts: "In the same year the city of Hamburg was attacked and looted by an army of Normans led by Erik King of Jutland, who laid the country waste and deserted and destroyed almost all Christian churches."

Edmund was king of East Anglia and was killed by the Vikings. Aelfric of Eynsham tells about Edmunds death: "King Edmund, against whom Ivar advanced, stood inside his hall, and mindful of the Saviour, threw out his weapons. He wanted to match the example of Christ, who forbade Peter to win the cruel Jews with weapons. Lo! the impious one then bound Edmund and insulted him ignominiously, and beat him with rods, and afterward led the devout king to a firm living tree, and tied him there with strong bonds, and beat him with whips. In between the whip lashes, Edmund called out with true belief in the Saviour Christ. Because of his belief, because he called to Christ to aid him, the heathens became furiously angry. They then shot spears at him, as if it was a game, until he was entirely covered with their missiles, like the bristles of a hedgehog. When Ivar the impious pirate saw that the noble king would not forsake Christ, but with resolute faith called after Him, he ordered Edmund beheaded, and the heathens did so. While Edmund still called out to Christ, the heathen dragged the holy man to his death, and with one stroke struck off his head, and his soul journeyed happily to Christ." - The scene reminds of the Aesirs, who shoot for target at Balder, or St. Sebastian's, who was fired upon by arrows. Foto Wikipedia.

In his mention of the sea-kings, Adam of Bremen wrote: "Most cruel of them all was Ingvar, Lodparchs son, who everywhere let the Christians kill under torture. It is described in Frankish history." He must be the Lodbrog son, Ingvar.

The missionaries liked to put forward that their God was more powerful than other gods and helped those, who believed in him, for instance when pagans were defeated, or an attacking army was suffering from mysterious illnesses. The Viking's relentless attacks against churches and monasteries may have been a deliberate attack on the claim of the truth of the Christian faith. For if the Christian God could not protect his own and only powerless looked on, while pagans killed his priests and looted and burned his holy places, so anybody had to realize that he was not as strong and powerful as the priests claimed.

The missionaries' arguments also turned against themselves, when the archdiocese of Hamburg, the center for the Scandinavian mission, was attacked and robbed in the year 845.

The gods Odin, Tyr, Thor and Freyja or Freya have all given their names to the weekdays, which applied to whole Germanic Europe long before the Vikings.

Each god was worshipped separately with special rituals. It is believed by many that Odin was kings' and aristocrats' God of War, who required human sacrifices. We know from the English chroniclers from 900's that the Danes were mostly fond of Thor. Frey ruled for peace, joy and fertility.

Gotland picture stone in Swedish Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm. It is assumed that the three persons in the middle of the picture are the gods Odin, Thor and Frey, each with their distinct weapon. Odin with the spear Gungnir, Thor with the hammer Mjolnir and Frey with his good sword. Frey looks back on a round disk, perhaps the sun. Photo Wikipedia.

Adam of Bremen reports about the pagan temple in "Uppsala" in a way, so we must believe that Thor was the main god: "This people has a very famous shrine called Upsala and it is not far from the town of Sigtuna (and Birca). In this temple, entirely covered with gold, there are three God figures, which people worship so that Tor, as the most powerful, has his throne in the middle of the hall, while Odin and Frey have their places on either side of him. Their fields of activity are the following: On "Tor" it is stated that he "reigns in the air and rules for the thunder and lightning, storm and rain, good weather and crop." The other, Odin, that is rage, controls warriors and endows humans with bravery against the enemy. The third is Frey, who endows man with peace and joy. His statue they also equip also with a huge penis. Odin on the other hand, they depict armed, like our countrymen depict Mars, while Thor with his scepter seems to resemble Jupiter" - "If disease and starvation threaten, they sacrifice to the idol Tor, if war to Odin, and if to celebrate a wedding, to Frey. There also have the custom every nine years to celebrate a common festival for all Sveons' landscapes. No one gets relief from meeting to this festival." - "The sacrifice takes place in the following way: For every kind of living beings, they sacrifice nine pieces, with whose blood it is custom to appease the gods. The carcasses, on the other hand, are hanged up in the grove, just near the shrine. This grove is for the pagans so sacred that every tree in it is considered divine because of the victims' death and decay. There also hang dogs and horses as well as humans, and a Christian told me that he has seen 72 such bodies hang there between each other. Besides, the songs, that are used to be sung during this festival, are diverse and indecent, why it is best to keep quiet about them."

The names of and weekdays and the associated gods. The Germanic tribes took over the seven-day week from the Romans, but replaced the Roman god names with their own, as they thought fit. Except for Saturday (Danish: lørdag), which Danish name comes from laundry day.

The names of the Weekday let us also believe that Thor and not Odin was the main god. The Romans gave names to the days of the week after their gods, which system was imitated by the Germanic tribes, except that they replaced the names of the Roman gods with the names of their own corresponding gods. In the Roman world the fifth day had its name after their main god Jupiter, and in the Germanic world, the fifth day was named after Thor, making us believe that he was the Germanic main god.

Also Snorre let us believe that Thor was the main god. Actually, he tells that Odin was a descendant of Thor. The Prologue to Snorri's younger Edda says of Thor: "A king among them was called Munon or Mennon, and he married a daughter of the noble King Priamos, her, who was called Troan they had a child named Tror, whom we call Thor. He was raised in Thrace by a certain war-duke called Lorikus, but when he was ten winters old, he took his father's arms to himself. He was so magnificent to look at, when he moved among the other men, like ivory inlaid in oak his hair was more golden than gold. When he was twelve years old, he had reached his full measure of strength he lifted ten bear-skins off the ground all at once, and then he killed Duke Lorikus, his foster-father, and with him his wife Lora or Glora, and took in his own hand the area of Thrace, which we call Thrudheim."

Thor battling Jotuns. The bronze statue, showing Thor's battle against Jotuns, was made by sculptor Carl Bonnesen in 1926 to the order of the businessman Harald Plum. It took Bonnesen more than four years to complete the statue, and then it took the skilled bronze workers four years to cast it. At that time it was the second largest bronze statue in Denmark, surpassed only by the Gefion fountain in Copenhagen. It was originally erected on the island of Thorø at Assens, which Harald Plum owned. After Plum's death it was moved to Næsbyvej in Odense outside Haustrups Factories, which now is Glud & Marstrand. There it is today half hidden behind some bushes. Photo: Fyens Stiftstidende.

"Then he went out far and wide over the lands, and sought out every quarter on the world, alone defeating all berserks and Jotuns, and a dragon, the largest of all dragons, and many animals. In the northern half of his kingdom, he found the prophetess called Sibil, whom we call Sif, and married her. Sif's descent I can not tell she was the fairest of all women, and her hair was like gold. Their son was Loridi that resembled his father His son was Einridi, his son Vingethor, his son Vingener, his son Moda, his son Magi, his son Seskef, his son Bedvig, his son Athra (whom we call Annarr), his son Itermann, his son Heremod, his son Skjaldun (whom we call the Skjold), his son Bjaf (whom we call Bjarr), his son Jat, his son Gudolfr, his son Finn, his son Friallaf (whom we call Fridleifr) His son was the one who called Voden, whom we call Odin: he was a man widely famous for wisdom and many heroic deeds. His wife was Frigida, whom we call Frigg."

Also in Olav Tryggvason's Saga, Thor is the main god. It is said that Olav forces his way into the peasant Jarnskjegge's cult site: "- but when the king came to where the gods were, Thor sat there and was most venerated of all the gods and was adorned with gold and silver."

In the saga of Olav the Holy the King overcame a pagan chieftain in Gudbrandsdalen and took his son hostage: "In the evening the king asked Gudbrand's son, how their god looked like. He said that he looked like Thor," - and he has a hammer in hand is hefty and hollow inside. Under him, a kind of frame is made, on which he stands on top when he is out. He does not lack gold and silver. Four bread will be brought to him every day - and thereto slaughtered meat." Further in the saga: "The peasants carried their graven image in front of King Olav and said, "You try to frighten us with your god, who is blind and deaf, and can not help himself or others, and is not going to move unless he is carried. I now expect that he shortly will get hurt, and now look up and see to the east, there comes now our god with much light!" As the sun rose, and all the peasants looked toward the sun." One can believe that they connected Thor with a sun god.

Haakon Jarl worshipped the valkyrie Thorgerd Hölgabrud as his personal protector. In JomsVikinge Saga he sacrifices his 7-year-old son, Erling, for victory over the JomsVikings. She sent a hailstorm from the north, who stood the JomsVikings right in their faces and led to their defeat.

According to Njals Saga, Haakon Jarl and Dale-Gudbrand owned a God House, in which there were images of three gods: Thorgerd, Thor in his chariot and Thorgerd's sister Irpa all adorned with a gold ring in hand or on arm. According to the Faroe Saga Haakon Jarl owned a temple in Lade or nearby, in which there were several idols, of which the best known was Thorgerd Holgabrud, also here wearing a ring in her hand. Also in the later story of Thorleiv Jarleskjald can be read on the same temple, and here it is called the sisters Thorgerd Horgabruds and Irpas temple, and a spear is mentioned, which Haakon had taken from these sisters temple, and which Hoergi (Hoelgi) had owned. According to Hardarsaga Grimkelssoner Grimkel Gode, son of Bjoern Gullbere from Orkedalen at Oelvuvatn, had a temple with images of many gods, of which Thorgerd must have been the most prestigious since the temple is called "Hof Thorgerdar Holgabrudar". During the late Viking Age and the Middle Ages Thorgerd Holgabrud gradually was reduced to a sorceress on an island in the far north.

King Domalde is being sacrificed to the gods to save the Swears from famine. Illustration to Heimskringla by Erik Werenskiold. Domalde was the eighth descendant of Odin the Old as king of the Svears. However, no one knows precisely how he died. The Ynglinge Saga only says: "The chieftains held council and agreed that the bad year came from Domalde, their king, and also they agreed to bear arms against him and kill him, and color the Gods' alter-supports red with his blood. And they did." - and it worked.
A few hundred years before Jesus became known all over the world, because he in a similar way sacrificed himself on a cross to save mankind, not only from famine, but from death, because Jesus by his suffering and death enables that the believer can be forgiven their sins, and thus get access to eternal life in Paradise, after they have left this world.

The Arab traveler Ibn Fadlan met the people Rus, whom we think were Vikings, at the Volga: "As soon as their ships had come to anchorage, each of them went ashore, having bread, meat, onions, milk, nabid (beer) with him and went to a tall wooden figure with a face that looks like a human face. Small figures are all around it, and behind these figures are high timber poles which are put into the ground." Ibn Fadlan thus confirms that in the sacred place is a main god represented by the largest wooden figure, having wooden figures, which represent the less important ones located on either side. The biggest wooden figure may have represented Thor or possibly Odin.

The German bishop Thietmar of Merseburg from 1015 wrote in a chronicle of the German King Henry I's achievements: " - Moreover, he used his troops to suppress the Normans and Danes, and when he had brought them out of their original errors, he learned them and their king, Knud, wearing the yoke of Christ. But as I heard some strange things about the traditional prisoner sacrifices of these people, I will not let this matter go unchallenged. In these territories there is a place called Lejre also called Sjælland, which is the kingdom's capital. There they gathered all of them every nine years on that day in January when we celebrate the holy three kings. At this place, they slaughtered 99 humans and a similar number of horses in honor of their Gods, and they sacrificed dogs and roosters instead of hawks in the firm belief that this would help them in the underworld and make amends for the crimes, they had committed. What a noble act of our king to prevent them from such an abominable ritual! Every one that protects human blood brings her godfather a welcome sacrifice for the Lord forbade us to kill the innocent and pious."

Only Adam of Bremen talks about that the God figures were placed indoor, in a temple, however, such that the actual sacrifices took place in open air in a sacred grove near the temple. Thietmar and Ibn Fadlan do not mention anything about temples, so we must believe that godfigures, in general, were placed in the open.

Tacitus reported on the Germanic tribes in the first century after Christ: "they consider it incompatible with the celestial powers' greatness to confine them behind walls and give them human traits" and further that they: "inaugurate groves and forests to their gods".

There is much to suggest that Tacitus statement about the worship of the Gods in the open nature was still valid in the Viking Age, we can even today find the Gods' names in place names, designating natural formations.

From left to right: Tommy Olesen from Roskilde Museum excavated in 2009 a two cm. high gilded silver figure in Gammel Lejre, which without doubt imagines Odin on his throne Hlidskjalf, from which he can look out over the world. Odin's ravens, Hugin and Munin, are sitting on the armrests. They fly out each morning to return home in the evening and tell Odin on all that had happened.
On the farm Eyrarland near Akureyri on Iceland the owner found in 1815 or 1816 a 6.4 cm high bronze figure from around the year 1,000. It is believed to imagine the god Thor with the hammer Mjolnir.
Near Rollinge in Sodermanland in Sweden a bronze figure with an erect penis has been found, which undoubtedly represents Frey.

Odin gave name to the city of Odense, which name according to Snorri's Edda original meant Odin's Island (Odinsey). Onsved south of Fredrikssund may mean Odin's forest. Onsild south of Hobro was called "Othenshylleheret" in Valdemar's Jordebog interpreting "hylle" as hill. One can imagine that Oddense north of Skive and Oens south of Horsens have a similar meaning as Odense. Onsbjerg on the island of Samsoe must obviously mean Odin's mountain, and the meaning of Onsjoe in Scania is obvious. Vojens has undoubtedly been named after Odin. There are no examples that a person had the name, Odin.

The historian Peter Sawyer writes: "In addition, many of the place names containing the name of Odin were owned by the king, here especially Odense must be highlighted. Odin was a distinguished war god, who demanded human sacrifices, an awe-inspiring hallmark of a royal deity. Although the Icelanders well knew Odin, his name does not appear in the Icelandic place names it fits nicely with the notion of the royal affiliation of the worship of Odin, as there were no kings on Iceland."

An incredibly well-preserved Thor's hammer found in Vendsyssel by the brothers Michael and Peter Stokbro north of Frederikshavn in 2013. Photo from the brothers' website bricksite.com.

In Eyrbyggja Saga is a description of a temple consecrated to Thor. It was built by the landnam man, Thorolf, when he settled in Iceland. A number of the objects in the temple are mentioned. Two high seat pillars were erected, in which were inserted two "Regin nails" , there was a kettle to collect blood from the sacrificed animals, a gold ring, as well as depictions of Thor himself and other gods. The gold ring was used when you took an oath, which shows Thor's position as the god of justice. The Regin nails could have been pieces of steel used for making fire.

Place names that contain the name Thor, are found in many places, and the meaning of the ending is very straightforward. For example Thorsbjerg (Thor's Mountain) at Vojens, Torshavn (Thor's harbour) on the Faroe Islands, Thorstedlund (Thor's place Grove) near Thisted, Thorshoej (Thor's Hill) in North Jutland, Thorsager (Thor's field) on Djursland, Thorskoven (Thor's Forest) south of Aarhus, Thorsoe (Thor's Island) north of Silkeborg, Torslunde (Thor's Grove) between Copenhagen and Roskilde, Thorning south of Viborg, which probably means descendants after Thor, and Torsjoe (Thor's lake) in Scania. Place names with Thor are complicated by that personal names containing Thor, have been used since the Middle Ages, such as Tor or Thor, Torben, Torbjorn, Torkil, Torleif, Torsten, Torvald, Troels, Tora and so on.

A few place names in Denmark contain the name of the god Frey. It is about Frobjerg (Frey's Mountain) north of Assens, Froesmose (Frey's bog) at Ringsted Froelunde (Frey's grove) north of Korsor, Froeslev north of Flensburg and Froestrup west of Thisted. Most place names containing the name of Frey, are found in Sweden around the lake Malaren, such as Froeslunda (Frey's Grove) and Froesvi, which obviously refers to the shrine for Frey.

Weapons from Viking age found in the lake Tissø between Kalundborg and Slagelse. The ancient custom to sacrifice weapons to the gods in lakes and bogs were still used in the Viking Age. Foto Pinterest.com

Casting lots was a Germanic custom that already Tacitus wrote about: "To divination and casting of lots, they pay attention beyond any other people. Their method of casting lots is a simple one: they cut a branch from a fruit-bearing tree and divide it into small pieces which they mark with certain distinctive signs and scatter at random onto a white cloth. Then, the priest of the community if the lots are consulted publicly, or the father of the family if it is done privately, after invoking the gods and with eyes raised to heaven, picks up three pieces, one at a time, and interprets them according to the signs previously marked upon them." Adam of Bremen has a very similar description of divination by casting lots by the early Saxons.

"The Life of Saint Willibrord" tells of another example of divination by casting lot. The missionaries visited the cruel king of the Frisians, who determined that they every day should cast lots to see, who this day was to suffer death. The author recounts with pride that only one monk on that occasion was martyred.

Such a confidence in the drawing of lots testifies that people in the early Viking Age thought that the gods could impact on events in the world of the humans through chance. If they had known the chaos theory, they would probably have meant that the gods intervened in the earthly affairs through manipulating chance as the first cause in a sequence of events characterized by cause and effect.

Chaos theory: A butterfly is flapping randomly with its wings over a West Indian Island, becoming the first cause of a long chain of cause and effect, all determined by the unchangeable laws of nature, which ultimately leads to a cyclone is ravaging the US East Coast causing extensive destruction.

A piece of fabric found in the Oseberg Viking ship. The tapestry shows a religious procession and a scene with apparent human sacrifices - where human bodies are hanging in a tree. The tapestry gives archaeological support to Adam of Bremen's account on the Uppsala shrine, where nine men are said to have been hanged in a sacred grove along with different species of animals. Photo: Freyia Volundarhasins.

There was also continuity in the religion. The ancient custom to immerse defeated enemies' weapons in sacred bogs and lakes were still used in the Viking Age. There are found about 50 objects in Tissoe from the Viking period, it is especially weapons like swords, axes and lances, but also some jewelry. We believe that the lake's name means Tyr's lake. And as Tyr was a Viking god of war, it is tempting to interpret these findings as a sacrifice to him.

The ropes were still sitting around the necks of the Tollund and Borremose men when they were found, suggesting that they were hanged or strangled. One can believe that human sacrifices to the gods should be killed in this way so they came into the gods' possession whole and undamaged that is to say without outside wounds or bone fractures. This custom still existed in the Viking Age, both Adam of Bremen and Thietmar of Merseburg describes that human sacrifices to the gods were being hanged.

Gotland picture stone from Hammars in Larbro - now in the Bungemuseum in Faroesund. It shows a warrior in full armor with a noose around his neck tied to a bowed down tree ready to be sacrificed by hanging when the tree is released. To the right, a person is sacrificed on a sacrifice-bench. Photo Wikipedia.

The Chronicle writers report on Danes or Normans, who were baptized by the Frankish Emperor. But not all converts were equally serious. The Swiss monk Notker, who wrote Gesta Karoli Magni, tells the following anecdote about converting of northern pagans: "Each received a white robe from the Emperor's wardrobe and from his sponsors a full set of Frankish garments, with arms, costly robes and other adornments. This was done repeatly and more and more (Danes) came each year, not for the sake of Christ but for the mundane advantages. They used to hurry over on Eastern Eve to pay homage to the Emperor, more like faithful vassals than foreign envoys. On one occassion as many as fifty arrived. The Emperor asked them if they wished to be baptized. When they had confessed their sins, he ordered them to be sprinkled with holy water. As there were not enough linen garments to go round on that occasion, Louis ordered some old shirts to be cut up and tacked together to make tunics or to be run up as overalls. When one of these without more ado was put on a certain elderly envoy, he regarded it suspiciously for some time. Then he lost control of himself completely and said to the Emperor: "Look here! I have gone through this ablutions business about twenty times already, and I have always been rigged out before with a splendid white suit, but this old sack makes me feel more than a pig-farmer than a soldier! If it were not for the fact that you already have pinched my own clothes and not given me any new ones, with result that I had to feel a right fool if I walked out here naked, you should keep your togs and your Christ, too!