Friday, January 30, 2009

Tanagras and Kourouniotis

In my postings on Angelos Tanagras and archaeology, I contemplated certain lines of inquiry. Since then, I've found one more piece of evidence. Tanagras was friends with Alexander Philadelpheus, a very important Greek archaeologist. Reading through the list of case-studies in Psychological Elements in Parapsychological Traditions (New York, 1967), I was thrilled to find an entry by another very important Greek archaeologist, Konstantinos Kourouniotis, Director of the Archaeological Service (left, picture from Eleusina). In 1929, Kourouniotis submitted a report on paranormal activities to Tanagras' scientific journal, Psychic Researches. This suggests that Kourouniotis was not only a follower of Tanagras' theories but perhaps also a friend. His report was both public and signed. I quote the whole passage below, involving an incident of bee the exorcism. It does not involve the practice of archaeology per se, but it took place during Kourouniotis' fieldwork in Asia Minor. This is the period when Kourouniotis conducted excavations in Ephesus (the church of Saint John), an interesting chapter in Greek archaeology between the 1919 Treaty of Versailles (which granted Greece control of Asia Minor) and the 1922 "Great Catastrophe" (which ousted the Greeks from Asia Minor). For the archaoelogical geopolitics of that period, see, Jack L. Davis, "A Foreign School of Archaeology and the Politics of Archaeological Practice: Anatolia, 1922," Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 16.2 (2003), pp. 147-173.

Tanagras recounts Kourouniotis' story in the chapter, "Psychobolic Influence on Animals,"
Psychological Elements in Parapsychological Traditions, p. 65.

"CASE 62. Professor C. Kourouniotis, the ephor of antiquities and head of the archaeological section at the Ministry of Education, has reported the following case, which was published in the Psychikai Ereunai, January, 1929: In 1920, during the Greek occupation of Asia Minor, Professor Kourouniotis was at Eskihesir, for the purpose of exmining the local antiquities. For his accomodation, an empty house had been requisitioned, and in the door of this house, at a height of six fee, a swarm of bees had built their nest. Every effort was made to dislogde the nest, without success, and, as the maidservant was very disturbed by the proximity of the bees, they were advised to call in a hodja (Turkishy priest) who had the ability of 'exorcising' and would therefore be able to solve the problem. Mr. Kourouniotis acceded to the appeals of the maid and called the hodja, who came in the evening and stayed for some time in order to pray. The bees were not seen again and no dead bees were found, as would have been the case if fumigation or a poison had been used. (signed) Professor C. Kourouniotis."

It is important to stress that Tanagras sought scientific principles behind these occurances, and there is no reason to think that Kourouniotis was any less scientific in his approach. The Tanagras Theory belongs to a fascinating moment in the history of science where Einstein's relativity, Curie's radiology and Freud's psychoanalysis coalesce into one discipline. According to Tanagras, animate beings (both animals and humans) emit psychic rays, similar to X-rays, that directly affect the physical world. His discipline of Parapsychology sought to substantiate, to experiment on, and to explain the processes of psychic projection. It was not, therefore, an enterprise of the occult but a respected scientific endeavor with many followers of high social standing in Greek society. Tanagras traveled throughout Greece to collect evidence and published authoritative eye-witness reports by other trustworthy sources

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States