“I’ll be back within three days,” pledges bearded fugitive

sorrasrally

UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, 1 April 2017. Greek fugitive from justice Artemis Sorras has promised his followers that he will return “within three days, give or take a few, Zeus Almighty and the Twelve Gods of Olympus willing, if you pay me a just a modest administrative fee.” The bearded self-proclaimed financial alchemist has been on the run since a warrant was issued for his arrest, following his conviction for minor fraud earlier this month. From his secret hiding place, Sorras has issued numerous proclamations to his followers, including lengthy a YouTube video, and an interview with the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine.

Sorras is believed to have built a following of over 12,000 faithful in his organisation, Assembly of Greeks, based on the promise of settling their personal debts, as well as the national debt of Greece and Cyprus with bonds issued against his massive fortune, which he estimates at several trillion Euros. Members of the Assembly of Greeks are thought to have contributed several hundred Euros each to the organisation in joining fees, membership dues and administrative costs. Now, Sorras is calling them to march on the Greek parliament in his support.

Sorras attributes his prosecution to a vast global establishment (viz. Jewish) conspiracy against him and the Greek people. His rapid ascent since he first appeared on the scene in 2010 has certainly made him some powerful enemies. Father Lamogios, a monk in a remote monastery in the Peloponnese, spoke of the frustration of many in the Greek Orthodox church at was is seen as unfair competition from Assembly of Greeks. “Just the other day I was sitting down with a devout widow, who was poised to sign over her late husband’s estate to our humble institution – for what good are a few hectares of seafront property in this world, compared to eternal salvation for the departed’s soul?” The transaction came to an abrupt halt, according to the monk, when the widow asked him if the church would be covering her arrears to the electricity board and paying her back taxes. “I said of course not, my child, we are as poor as church mice… – at which point she said she had had a better offer from Sorras and walked out. Just like that.” The story has repeated itself across Greece with alarming frequency in recent years, according to church representatives, who admit they are seriously concerned about the impact on their flock’s souls, as well as their own property portfolio. The church has excoriated the apocryphal rituals of Sorras’s organisation, which include reciting a “warrior’s oath” pledging lifelong faith to the “benevolent Prince of Light” and imbibing a shot of “holy water”. “Only the blood of our Saviour drawn from the holy demijohn behind the altar has the power of salvation. We invite you to join us this month in celebrating His resurrection following His persecution by the Jews.”

There is also growing consternation in political circles, particularly since Sorras has been open about his political ambitions. “The man is a ruthless populist and a charlatan, he has no integrity,” said a senior member of the government under anonymity. “He is making all sorts of outrageous promises that he clearly cannot keep, and people are lapping it up. He has no place in politics.”

ellsy

As rumours rage about the whereabout of the fugitive Sorras, one intriguing scenario is beginning to circulate among the Greek diaspora. A number of witnesses claim to have seen a mysterious bearded figure among the VIP guests at President Trump’s White House reception to mark Greek Independence Day.  The event, which was described by some participants as the Biggest Fattest Greek Wedding Ever, included a statement from Trump in which he repeatedly and enthusiastically proclaimed his love and admiration for “the Greeks”. Many are now attributing greater significance to the statements, which were perhaps naively interpreted at first as a transparent grab for the Astoria/Greektown vote. “My cousin’s girlfriend’s kouniados works in catering and he swears on his mother’s honour that when he was delivering the spanakopitta to the White House he saw Sorras meeting Trump in the basement,” we were told by one regular at Chicago’s White Tower Grill (“Saganaki opa! a specialty”). “He saw Trump bow down to kiss his hand and swear an oath to Hermes Trismegistus, I kid you not.”

In other news, President Trump is poised to break ground on the border wall with Mexico – a key campaign promise which has lacked funding ever since “the Mexicans” refused to underwrite the project – after an “anonymous patriot” is said to have offered to sponsor it “for a modest administrative fee.”

 


ΔΙΣΚΛΑΙΜΕΡ: While this story is a fabrication, the truth is much stranger. Click on any of the genuine links in the text and prepare to be amazed. If you read Greek, I also recommend this infiltration account.

“I’ll be back within three days,” pledges bearded fugitive

Trolling for Business

startup

ATHENS, 9 March 2017. The Trump campaign team and its affiliated media groups are thought to be considering a major expansion of their operations in the Balkans as part of their coverage of upcoming national elections in several key European countries. The move follows the success of their early stage investment in so-called “troll farms” in the region on eve of the November 2016 US presidential elections. A cluster of tech firms run by young entrepreneurs based in the small town of Veles in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are known to have been behind the mass production of “fake news”, believed to be instrumental to the securing the Trump victory. Now, neighbouring Greece is believed to the location for the next phase of growth in the region.

It is believed that a recent poll of Greek attitudes has been doing the rounds in President Trump’s “war room” after strategic advisor and Breibart news boss Steve Bannon flagged it up as his favourite bedtime reading. A campaign insider refused to give details of the plans, but spoke extensively of the competitive advantages offered by Greece: “You leaf through this report and you start to form a picture of the typical Greek, he is your typical Trump voter. The women too. All our core values are there, and we value that bigly.”

The survey (summarised here) highlights great unease in Greece over the scale and effects of migration: over 80 percent of Greeks believe that the number of migrants in Greece over the past decade is excessive, 64.4 percent said migrants contribute to rising crime rates and 58 percent hold them responsible for growing unemployment. Less than 20 percent of Greeks surveyed would like to see undocumented migrants integrated into Greek society, with the remainder disagreeing only as to the means and speed of deportation. Although it is understood to be technically challenging to build a wall around the country’s predominantly maritime borders, campaign insiders have been keen to acknowledge that Greece was the first country in Europe to erect a fence along its land border with Turkey as early as 2011, and local leaders have made “all the right noises” in response to the recent refugee crisis. A sceptical attitude towards foreigners extends to many nationalities and ethnic groups, with the exception of Russians who score a whopping 77.4 percent approval rating.

The survey shows further evidence of alignment between the values of the Trump campaign and the attitudes of “Joe Greek”. “These guys are seriously smart,” remarked our source. “Over 80 percent have figured out that secret organisations are pulling the strings, even though three in four apparently still don’t believe chemtrails.” The enormous potential of the Greek conspiracy industry has been hinted at in many earlier studies, and has even begun to make its mark through promising local tourism and hospitality initiatives, as well as becoming increasingly influential in national politics. “Greeks have really shown the way in terms of recruiting their political talent from outside the mainstream, we learned a lot from them.”

“Initially we had some misgivings,” admitted our source, “because we had been led to believe that Greeks were fans of Big Government. But here they tell us that they are crying out for low tax, a smaller welfare state and less government meddling. They are pro-capitalism but anti-globalisation, and are coming around to the idea that the EU is an instrument of German domination. We couldn’t agree more.” Moreover, it was noted that 71.3 percent agreed with the statement that “contemporary Greek culture can influence the Western world in ways that many other countries can not.” Confidence in their brand’s global outreach is seen as a great selling point within the campaign, according to our source.

There are also more pragmatic reasons for seeking to establish a base of operations in Greece. Among the country’s competitive advantages are large and well-established informal economy sector dominated by cash and cash-like transactions, offering obvious advantages in terms of traceability of funds. In addition, experts point to an enormous untapped talent pool, in the form of idle computer-literate millennials, a product of the mass youth unemployment which has been one of the deepest effects of the financial crisis now entering its eighth year. “These kids are flying. Not only are they addicted to social networking, hate the mainstream media, they also have an inventive way with profanity which makes them ideal trolls – I mean, passionate advocates for alternative truth.”

Talent scouts are already believed to scouring the Greek internet for recruits to the new venture. A lot of excitement was generated by a youtube video released in recent days. The video features a young “troll” at work, generating a stream of personal invective on social media (“they’re on the take, the f*gg*ts, the liberals, foreign tools, slaves of the system”).

Many in Greece hastened to interpret the clip as part of a desperate political campaign by shrinking centre-left party “To Potami”, while others took it to be a clumsy ad hominem attack on actual social media activists. However, the Trump representatives on the ground have read it as a very effective pitch for business and are actively seeking to recruit the team behind it.

The internet is seen as a key battleground in upcoming electoral contests in Europe, where Eurosceptic candidates like the Front National’s Marine Le Pen in France are already being accused of recruiting Russian-inspired “internet armies” as a platform for negative campaigning and disinformation. Meanwhile, cyber experts and intelligence agencies are on the alert for Russian hacking interference in the French and German elections, as well as the upcoming Dutch polls, “as practice.” At the time of writing, Breibart News has yet to establish a base in continental Europe, in part because of robust competition from native far-right media.

IMAGE via Businesswire


DISCLAIMER: All external links are genuine, the story is entirely fabricated. If it appears on any fake news sites like last time, the joke’s on you.

 

 

Trolling for Business

You’re hired.

trumptsipras

Today, 2 December 2016, GreekiLeaks™  publishes a partial transcript of a phone call between President-elect of the United States Donald Trump [PEOTUS] and the Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras [AT], obtained through a confidential source. On 23 November, Tsipras spoke with Trump to congratulate him on his victory in the U.S. presidential elections. Trump is speaking from his private headquarters in Trump Tower. Only one end of the conversation was recorded. Its authenticity has been verified by comparison to official records of recent communications with world leaders.  

AT: [inaudible]

PEOTUS: Thank you, Alexis, I am truly honoured. You are a terrific guy. You have a beautiful country and very very talented people. The Greeks are one of the most intelligent people. First thing I said to my campaign team, look at these guys! Look how they said a proud “NO” to the elites in Europe, drained the swamp, and made their country great again. They have a world-leading truther industry. And this guy, this guy took on the lying, corrupt media and won, right?

AT: [inaudible]

PEOTUS: We will have a beautiful relationship. You know why? Because we both keep our word.

AT: [inaudible]

PEOTUS: Forget that guy. What was he doing walking around that building site in his casuals? Guy has no class. Before I go there, it’s gotta be finished. We need to add a few beautiful statues and some hot hostesses and at least one fountain. And don’t hold back on the gold leaf. It’s gonna be amazing. It’s gonna be the best temple to democracy on the planet. Then we need to clear a few acres around it and create an amazing golf course. It’s gonna be the biggest, most amazing golf course you have ever seen.

AT: [inaudible]

PEOTUS: I’m not interested in infrastructure. I’m only into beautiful things. Hotels, resorts, casinos, beauty pageants. The Chinese can keep the ugly stuff as long as they don’t think they’re running the show.

AT: [inaudible]

PEOTUS: Some very good friends of mine got killed buying your banks. I mean, they’re incredibly successful guys, they didn’t get killed, but they don’t like losing money. But I trust you Alexis, you have a great reputation, and I’m sure we can negotiate one hell of a deal to make them happy.

AT: [inaudible]

PEOTUS: Forget her, great leader but I’d give her a 2, maximum. She makes Hillary look like a 6. And the French one? Legs are a 10 but no one likes a ballbreaker. Such nasty women. The worst.

AT: [inaudible]

PEOTUS: Don’t talk to me about debt. Debt is for losers. Listen, Alexis. I am a businessman, a very successful one, and you need to learn to talk like a businessman too. We call it leverage. And don’t worry about paying it back, believe me. That’s what Chapter 11 is for. I’ve done it four times, and look at me. Don’t I look like a successful businessman?

AT: [inaudible]

PEOTUS: Yeah, just make sure you write “Alexi’s Greece” in big gold letters on everything. And keep the penthouse for yourself. Invite Hello magazine to do a spread with your beautiful wife and your beautiful, amazing, talented kids. Trust me, you’ll come out ahead. I’ll give you the name of my tax guy, you won’t pay a dime, cent, whatever, in taxes, the rest of your life. Doesn’t make you a loser – it makes you smart.

AT: [inaudible]

PEOTUS: Alexis, I guarantee you I will negotiate a deal on Cyprus and those other islands like you won’t believe. Tayyip is a great guy, great leader. Big in property. We speak the same language, we both have terrific taste. We’re gonna negotiate an amazing deal, I guarantee you. It would be an honour and I will personally do it.

AT: [inaudible]

PEOTUS: Just kidding, you’re not hired. Unless you want to be our man in Havana. Terrific development potential, just need someone who speaks Commie.

AT: [inaudible]

PEOTUS: Let’s tweet this moment. It’s beautiful.

 

You’re hired.

Hope is on the way (out) – Barry’s farewell tour

obama

Today, 14 November 2016, GreekiLeaks™  publishes a partial transcript of a briefing call between the outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama [OPOTUS] and a staff member at the U.S. Embassy in Athens [Athens] in advance of the presidential visit scheduled for 15-16 November, obtained through a confidential source. Only the Athens side of the conversation was recorded. 

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Mr President, unfortunately we have had to cancel the Pnyx engagement for your “birthplace of democracy” speech. We’re putting out rumours about alternative venues, but the plan is to use a green screen in the Embassy basement with a backdrop of the Acropolis. No one will know the difference.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: That’s right, sir, the Pnyx was nixed. Very good.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Security concerns, sir.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Not those guys, Mr President. No, they were dismantled. Turns out they were more concerned with holiday pay and Christmas bonuses than with the revolution.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: [laughs] No sir, I don’t think they got employer-sponsored healthcare. Didn’t need it, they have socialised medicine here.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: I don’t know what they wanted, Mr President. Seems to me they had it better than most Americans, sir, but they had a beef with us anyway.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Anyway, there are these new kids on the block calling for mayhem. And the teachers’ unions. And someone lobbed a hand grenade at the French Embassy. Could have been one of President Hollande’s exes, but best to err on the side of caution. Which brings us to Kaisariani… Unfortunately, Mr President, we won’t be able to visit.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Sir, the local council have declared it an “Obama-free-zone”. I appreciate that you are deeply disappointed.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: I know Rush Limbaugh calls you a Socialist, Mr President, but this is way more granular. Some kind of local turf war. The local elections went Florida-style, the Communists contested and won a re-vote. Syriza not the right shade of red, apparently, even though the New York Times calls them “leftists”, yada yada. Long story short, the Prime Minister himself can only visit in the company of the riot police. Marxist-Leninists and Leninist-Marxists aren’t welcome either, if that makes you feel any better.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: I’m not sure we would want to take the Trump line on this, Mr President. But you’re right, it is… ironic.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Well, there is the local festival. This year they are extending it by a couple of days in your honour.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: The high point is the annual “friendship parade” that comes right by the Embassy, Mr President. It’s very colorful. I suggest we watch the fireworks from the roof. I can organise some cocktails and canapés, maybe some gyro sliders?

flagburning
The annual “friendship parade” and firework display outside the U.S. Embassy.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: No, the Prime Minister won’t be able to attend, he normally lays the ceremonial wreath in the parade, it’s kind of his “thing”.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: “Foniádes ton laón, Amerikánoi”. Yes, sir, it translates roughly as “Liberators of people, our American brothers.”* I believe it refers to the Marshall Plan.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Yes, sir, you are correct. The government is expecting to hear that you will press for debt relief for Greece.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Yes, sir, I am aware that “don’t mean diddly squat now that the Short-Fingered Vulgarian is getting the decorators in to gold-plate the White House taps”. But we don’t need to make any promises. Goodwill, sir, your legacy, that is what this visit is about. Use the word “meaningful” if you wish – what that actually means is open to interpretation, that’s the beauty of it.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: So, in that spirit, we talk about reforms, blah blah blah, bold efforts of the Greek government, sacrifices of the Greek people etc., no specifics here, don’t have’em. On the one hand “hope”, on the other hand “reforms”, quid pro quo, carrot and stick. Keeps everyone happy. Well, keeps Athens happy, keeps creditors meh. Refugees, too. Safe topic. Again, no specifics. The humanitarian effort, the generosity of the noble Greek people etc. Steer clear of asylum processing, hot spots and riots. Security, counterterrorism: super-important, thank you for your military spending, keep those orders coming, our friends at Lockheed will be happy to take your calls.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Good point. Probably best not to antagonise the neighbour with too much of the “d” word, but do remind us that he’s there, hence military spending. Tricky customer, but that’s one for you successor to deal with, I suspect he finds him more sympatico.

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Yes, definitely mention Antetokounmpo, Mr President. That’s a slam-dunk!

OPOTUS: [inaudible]

Athens: Sure, we can arrange for you to shoot some hoops in the Embassy gym. You will have to go easy though – the Prime Minister is more of a volleyball man.

basket
“More of a volleyball man.”

Switchboard: Mr President, Berlin is on the line.

 

* Editor’s note: It means “Killers of people, Americans” and is a perennial favourite at anti-American rallies.


IMAGES: President Obama looking demob-happy (White House); Flag burning outside U.S. Embassy in Athens, November 2014, via patrasevents.gr; Tsipras with former Greek basketball captain Nikos Gallis via lay-out.gr.

 

 

 

Hope is on the way (out) – Barry’s farewell tour

Imitation ‘Greek’ statues flooding the market, consumer organisations warn

Consumer organisations are warning buyers against an influx of counterfeit goods from the Far East. Customs police, acting on a tip-off from Interpol, recently cracked down on a massive fake goods operation, which specialised in trafficking ornamental sculptures into Europe and marketing them as ‘Greek’.

The life-size terracotta statues were originally described by their Chinese promoters as “[potentially] inspired by Greek sculptures and art”, however ruthless European middlemen have taken it one step further, claiming to “imagine that a Greek sculptor may have been at the site to train the locals.” Experts warn consumers to beware of false advertising, and to be sceptical of the hype in the popular media. “These products claiming to be ‘Greek’ are not only smaller and of lesser artistic merit, they are also made of inferior materials,” cautions Pheidias, who owns a garden centre specialising in architectural ornaments on the Marathon road. “For example, a genuine caryatid is 100% solid Pentelic marble, guaranteed to hold up a temple pediment for centuries. These copies are terracotta, they will crumble instantly and injure someone. They would never pass European safety tests.”

The counterfeiters appear to be exploiting on the sky-rocketing demand for so-called caryatids in Greece, where state-sponsored British looting has resulted in a scarcity of the monumental female statues. “They think that if they slap the word ‘Greek’ on them we’ll be fooled,” said Mrs Toula, a bargain-hunter rifling through a stall of ‘Superbry’ and ‘Abidas’ sportswear at the local outdoor market. Recently, a campaign by German supermarket chain Lidl to promote Greek products backfired, when nationalists complained about the alleged desecration of the Greek flag on the marketing logo.

The terracotta statues are believed to have been mass-produced in a giant manufacturing plant in China’s Shaanxi province, while traffickers working for the operation are recently thought to have been identified from their skeletal remains as far afield as London.

terracottaarmy
The alleged “Chinese caryatid factory”, Xi’an, China.

Others, however, argue that the Chinese statues should be appreciated on their own merits, regardless of whether the Greeks had a hand in making them.”I have a deep respect for the cultures of the East, mused Isodoros, a 25-year-old DJ/mixologist, as he polished the battery-operated ‘lucky cat’ on the reclaimed zinc bar of his Monastiraki speakeasy. “I think it is because I have always been a spiritual person. At the end of the day, we are all one big cosmic civilisation.”

Asked to comment on the controversy, Professor Killjoy, holder of the Nitpicker chair of Archaeology at the University of Pedantry told us: “It is the job of professional archaeologists to determine whether this is a case of cultural diffusion or independent invention. More study is required to shed light on this question, which will necessitate extensive international travel, many media appearances and a small army of postdocs to cover one’s teaching duties. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a research grant to apply for.”

Imitation ‘Greek’ statues flooding the market, consumer organisations warn

Earth-like planet “already discovered” by Greek explorers

 

proximab

The discovery of an Earth-like planet orbiting the solar system’s closest star, 4.22 light years away, has caused great excitement among the scientific community and excited the imagination of ordinary people across the globe. Proxima Centauri b, as it has been dubbed by scientists, has characteristics that suggest that it may offer suitable conditions for hosting life, and as such may, in time, offer an escape destination for humans once they have depleted the usable resources of their home planet and/or are driven to escape by intra-planetary strife.

Much of the initial reporting has focussed on the practicalities of establishing the physical characteristics of the newly discovered “exoplanet”, with the viability of human colonisation being seen as a very distant prospect by serious researchers. However, new evidence has emerged to suggest that even this seemingly distant haven has already been “discovered” by enterprising Greek explorers.

paralia

Images retrieved from the European Extremely Large Telescope and subjected to detailed analysis in the laboratory have revealed hut-like structures closely resembling the Aegean “Type 1” buildings of the Middle Anthropocene, including evidence of Greek script. Although scientists were initially excited by the prospect of discovering life on another planet, epigraphers were able to confirm that the etchings were in fact modern Greek writing. One translated as “Freddo €4.50”, apparently refers to a cold beverage popular in the early 21st century AD, whose distribution is confined to the southern tip of the Balkan penninsula. Archaeo-economists note that the price, quoted in the currency of the time, is vastly inflated compared to that prevailing in surviving records from the mother-planet.

Although scientists were initially hopeful that Proxima b offers a water-rich environment, finds in the area of the makeshift structure suggest that bottled water was imported to the site in small plastic bottles, labelled €1.50 each (approximately three times the regulated Earth price of the time).

Other features appear to confirm the Greek origins of the early colonists of Proxima b. There is a hastily constructed track on the approach to the structure that appears to have been cleared by a bulldozer under cover of darkness (incidentally confirming that the planet did indeed rotate about its axis, another condition for supporting life). Concrete bollards made from used 5-litre olive oil tins and rebar demarcated a flat area, clearly destined for “reserved” space vessel parking. The rusting remains of after-market modified beach buggy (circa 2003 AD), with decals advertising surfing gear and Camel cigarettes were also identified at the site.

Scientists are torn as to the significance of this latest find, and some clearly feel that they have been robbed of the joy of discovery: “Just when you think you’ve found a quiet unspoiled spot in a friendly galaxy where you can really get away from it all, you find some wide boy has got there first and ruined it,” said one bitter boffin, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of jeopardising his research grant for three months’s prime telescope time in Hawaii or Mallorca (“depending on the weather and the availability of female co-researchers, but definitely NOT the Atacama desert. No beaches, you see”).

IMAGES: Artist’s impression of the surface of Proxima Centauri b (ESO); artists’s impression of the hut-like structure on Proxima Centauri b (@atlantis_host).

 

Earth-like planet “already discovered” by Greek explorers

Monumental evidence of wealth-destroying “tournaments of value” in the Middle Anthropocene

Abstract

This paper puts forward a new interpretation for the monumental earthworks recorded across the continental masses of the planet Earth, dating to the Middle Anthropocene period. This study seeks to refute previous interpretations in favour of a new theory, namely that these monumental structures represent the material remains of symbolically charged ritual events which can be seen as an expression of societal stress in a period of rapid transitions and environmental decline.

canoekayak
A well-preserved earthwork of the early 3rd millennium AD, with elaborate ditch-and-bank features, usage unknown (Athens).

Introduction

Monumental constructions and earthworks have been documented on the outskirts of a number of large conurbations dating to the Middle Anthropocene period (late 2nd/early 3rd millennium AD) in widely separated parts of continental Earth. The mystery surrounding these structures has been enhanced by the paucity of the contemporary documentary record due to the Great Solar Storms of the mid-3rd millennium AD, which erased most of the predominantly digital records of the period, leaving only fragmentary texts from which to reconstruct the contemporary literary, political and economic milieu.

The monuments have in common a massive scale but show a variety of shapes and functional forms. Some are simply banks of spectator seating arranged amphitheatrically around flat areas and circuits of varying shapes and dimensions; others contain trenches and water-filled lustral basins of unknown purpose; the most puzzling ones include elaborate curvilinear ditch-and-bank earthworks, combined with mysterious mounds (see above). They were often located on the margins of existing habitations, after the land was extensively cleared, perhaps in a ritual purging, removing all traces of previous activity.

swimmingpool
Abandoned lustral basin, usage unknown. It is believed that the chair is a later intrusion. (Athens).

Stylistically, the structures are defined by a collection of common traits which has come to be known as the “International Startchitect Koiné”: exaggerated monumentality, the use of rare materials and elaborate construction techniques, the labour-intensity of the construction, the dominance of form over function are all features of this universal style, which becomes more elaborate as the period progresses. The structures could accommodate several thousand people and are believed to have taken years to construct using imported labour that may have been drawn from lower castes, forced or indentured, and there is some evidence to suggest that the grizzly custom of human foundation sacrifice was practiced to secure the buildings’ foundations. Mysteriously, most of the structures appear to have been put to very limited use, as attested by the unusually light wear patterns in their furnishings.

aquaticcentre
Artist’s impression of a ritual structure in the “International Starchitect Style”, housing several lustral basins of unknown usage (London).

The function of the monuments has puzzled archaeologists and the fascinated the general public for generations. Earlier scholars posited that such structures were the remnants of extra-terrestrial civilisations, so alien did they appear within the human landscape. However, through recently published cross-cultural studies with our extra-terrestrial colleagues we are now able to discount these rather fanciful theories. The argument that the monuments are “visible from outer space” is in our view an ex post fact rationalisation reflecting an Earth-centric bias in the scholarship of the time. Another interpretation suggested that they were defensive structures; however, evidence of damage by artillery fire and mass burials has been shown to post-date the initial phase of their use. We use the fragmentary documentary evidence in conjunction with the archaeological remains to propose a radically different interpretation that does not require the presence of alien visitors, but rather explains the extraordinary structures in the context of complex ideations and value systems of contemporary societies, as they sought to respond to increased global interaction, social pressures and rapid climatic change.

Towards an alternative interpretation

Previous scholarly attempts to explain the purpose of these structures have tended to focus on functionalist interpretations, for example that they were defensive in nature, or that they were initiated with the aim of mobilising labour for productive purposes, on the model of Amish barn-raisings. We have found very little evidence to support such theories. Instead, we would argue that the immense mobilisation of labour and resources for ephemeral or even single-use purposes have more in common with the types of practices that anthropologists refer to as “total prestations” or “tournaments of value”, systems of gift-giving with political, religious, kinship and economic implications. These are are marked by the competitive exchange of gifts, in which gift-givers seek to out-give their competitors so as to capture important political, kinship and religious roles. Examples of this include the “potlatches” of the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada, during which chieftains competed to distribute gifts such as blankets, animal skins and ritual instruments, and enhanced their social standing by ritually destroying them in large bonfires. In contrast with western industrial economies, status in these societies was achieved in such events not by accumulating wealth, but by giving it away or destroying it in a conspicuous manner.

image
Artist’s impression of Middle Anthropocene ritual. The female priestess (?) is thought to be lighting a torch to be used for the conspicuous destruction of wealth through incineration (a ritual known as “The Burning of the the Money”).

It may be seen as a paradox that such “primitive” practices could be found in “advanced” human societies. It is useful to bring to bear here the documentary record, which, though fragmentary, offers glimpses into a sophisticated ideational construct surrounding these mysterious material remains. Studies have shown that the official religion of the Middle Anthropocene centred on the dogma of “economic rationality”, which at the height of the construction of these buildings had entered the phase known as “late capitalism”. Within this value system, the driving force was the individual’s (or group’s) maximisation of material wealth by the most efficient means. This appears to be borne out by meticulous administrative documentation relating to the preparation and building of the structures. In these documents, the priestly castes frequently invoke religious terms such as “cost/benefit” and “economic impact analysis” in order to present the projects in an “economically sound” light.

At the same time, a seemingly contradictory body of evidence associates the very same projects with metaphysical concepts such as “regeneration”, “sustainability” and “legacy” – a clear nod to the mystical Dionysiac concept of death and rebirth. It is clear from the literature that this belief system viewed the structures as part of a cosmogonic ritual aimed at summoning up “world peace”. An apocryphal text known as the “Olympic Spirit” exhorts participants “to build a peaceful and better world […] to promote tolerance and understanding in these increasingly troubled times in which we live, to make our world a more peaceful place”.

Despite being mutually contradictory and internally inconsistent, these belief systems seem to have coexisted in tandem for over a century, and were surprisingly resilient to critique. We have, for example, ample contemporary evidence of criticism that the structures and the rituals associated with them did not in fact deliver the promised economic salvation but instead guaranteed balance sheet damnation, while others pointed out that there was no correlation between the rituals and world peace, or that the events resulted in debt, displacement, and militarisation of public space” and some accused the elders entrusted with organising them of corruption. It is thought that such criticism was regarded as heretical and its exponents punished severely, but the fate of the critics is not recorded.

wenlockmandeville
Wenlock and Mandeville, the Cyclopean guardians of London.

 

Little is known about what actually took place within the monumental structures. From the associated waste dumps it is clear that ritual feasting played a great part in the activities. With time, the paraphernalia associated with consumption became increasingly formalised, and ritual vessels more often than not bear the mysterious “Golden Arches of Consecration”. It is also known that those attending the rituals partook of a beverage served in a distinctive steatopygous glass vessel, whose recipe was closely guarded in a temple vault – perhaps an aphrodisiac or a fertility elixir. Each ritual site seems to have been presided over by a distinct monstrous deity or anthropomorphic animal spirit (above), clearly intended to induce a holy terror in the participants. Some claim to have found evidence of athletic contests, however we believe that such evidence is too scant to merit consideration here.

A car driven by a student of a driving school slowly moves around the carpark in front of the deserted 2008 Beijing Olympics venue for the cycling competition in central Beijing
A “sacred ruin”, venerated by later generations; note the preservation of empty space around the monument (Beijing).

The resilience of the belief system that fuelled these “tournaments of value” is further evidenced by the respect with which the monuments were often treated after their initial construction. Although subsequent generations appear to have forgotten the original purpose of the structures, they often venerated them as sacred ruins by preserving them intact and allowing the land around them to lie fallow. It is likely that only the more prosperous hosts that were able to do this, while others were forced to adapt and reuse the structures as their circumstances dictated. Occasionally, the structures were put to temporary use, as is evidenced in Phase VIIb of the Hellenikon Rhomboid Structure which appears to have been repurposed as a temporary habitation site during the “great migration” of the early 21st century AD (below).

 

baseball
Artist’s rendering of Phase VIIb of the Hellenikon Rhomboid Structure, showing densely packed temporary habitation structures.

An ancient precedent?

Recently, scholars have suggested that the structures and and the rituals associated with them find a direct antecedent in religious festivals dating two and a half millennia earlier, and have adopted the term “Olympic” to describe them, alluding to the largest of these earlier festivals. However, despite sharing many features with these earlier practices, the long hiatus between the two sets of events leads us to posit that we are in fact dealing with a Hobsbawmian “invented tradition”: by adopting self-consciously archaising practices, emergent elites seek to legitimise their status by demonstrating their continuity with a quasi-mythical past.

It is suggested here that such practices arose as a way of bolstering a fragile global hierarchy and establishing social cohesion in an era when a rise in the overall living standards on the planet was accompanied by increased competition for resources and the looming threat of catastrophic climate change. Testing this hypothesis, however, is beyond the scope of the current paper.

Further documentation of the mysterious structures and their history of re-use here, as artillery defences and as a prison.

Further reading on the future archaeology of the Middle Anthropocene: “Our Piece of Paradise: Patterns of Coastal Habitation…”


IMAGES: Athens 2004 canoe/kayak venue by Milos Bicanski; Athens 2004 training pool by Associated Press; London 2012 Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects; Wenlock and Mandeville, the London 2012 Olympic Mascots via Rainbow Productions; Beijing 2008 velodrome by REUTERS/David Gray; Athens 2004 baseball stadium by Jai Mexis & Partners via This American Life.

Monumental evidence of wealth-destroying “tournaments of value” in the Middle Anthropocene