“Pearl divers” in Greece

Of course, you remember that Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, emerged from the foam of the sea and swam to the shore on a shell: in Botticelli’s painting.

Why such a depiction?

We offer you an idea…

Recently, reports appeared in the press from a group of scientists working in the Euboean Gulf. It turns out that oysters there, growing tiny masterpieces inside their shells: iridescent pearls, as if glowing from within.

They have long been considered a symbol of purity and virtue, valued as an expensive jewelry. The pearl is a unique stone: the only precious one that does not require long jewelry processing.

It takes a lot of time (6-7 years) for a grain of sand or other foreign body that gets inside the shell of an oyster to become covered with mother-of-pearl: layer by layer the mollusk envelops the “garbage”, protecting itself with it.

In the old days, a lot of effort was required to get a pearl shell from the bottom of the sea, shoveling through a bunch of empty ones. Pearl fishermen in the southern seas (in Japan, China or Thailand) had to drive to depths 30-40 times of a day, losing their health and risking their lives because of sharks. Now people have learned to grow artificial pearls by placing a foreign body inside an oyster shell. But such farms require special natural conditions, which, as it turned out, were abundant in the Euboean Gulf.

While scientists and authorities are thinking about the prospects of this fishing (how to protect marine life from overfishing), coastal residents are mastering it, traying to get oysters with pearls. The thing is in the impossibility to get them accountable, since there is no legislation regarding it.

The Greek word for pearls is “margaritari” (μαργαριτάρι): it comes from the ancient Greek word “marmairo” – “to shine”, which is an epithet of Aphrodite.

The goddess of love, the myth tells, emerged from the sea, shook her head, and the drops falling from her golden hair turned into precious pearls.

… What if the shining Aphrodite was born from a grain of sand that fell inside the shell on which she floated ashore?