Monday, July 03, 2006

New Acropolis Museum - first day of exhibition

So we went to the opening with K, George and an increasingly pregnant Poppy of the exhibition of finds from the area where the New Acropolis Museum is being built.

The new Museum, being built next to the Weiler building under the Acropolis.

George, Poppy and K

Far too many people in too small a space and politicians and the teams of cameramen following them gave the whole trip to the museum a different feel altogether. The exhibition houses some of the findings from the site of the new museum being built just a few tens of yards away, displayed in cases made out the building materials being used on the new museum. The site cuts through a good slice of old Athens from classical through to late roman and early byzantine. The site will be visible through the floor of the acropolis museum making it a huge almost open-air museum. Poppy had worked for some months before leaving for the UK on the site and had been informed of the opening by an archaeologist friend who was involved in the excavations of ten years.

On arrival and after all the faff of waiting for the Minicult to arrive, we went in and sat through speeches by inaudible archaeololigsts and the booming Minicult himself who mostly talked bollocks using rhetoric worthy of midday soap operas rather than someone with the syllable "cult" in his title.

After the obligatory chamber music and mad crush for the drinks table, and after some of the most impolite and unbecoming scrambles for the unimaginitive but tasty enough canap├ęs K and I managed to enter the exhibition. George and Poppy had left for elsewhere.

Poppy's friend was showing someone famous around. Well, famous enough to be shown around by one of the excavators, but not famous enough to be someone I recognise. The plus side to all this fame and what have you is that K and I and half a dozen others managed to piggy back on Tatiana's tour of the finds and at the same time benefit from both her enthusiasm for and knowledge of the site.

The exhibition is separated into thematic sections.

The first section is worship. In this section we have some good marbles statues of deities which are very rare indeed outsdie the east - there are not many excavated sites in Greece which are contemporary with some of the sections of this site, so although we got the oriental gods here and there, what was found in this esentially rescue dig was unique in Greece. The first "cool" find is a statue of "Isis Panthea" an Isis figure from the second or third century AD.

Isis Panthea

Why Panthea? - well, she’s got the sun disk of Sol Invictus, the corn sheaths of Demeter, the aegis of Athena, the grape clusters of Dionysos around her ears, a snake running around her body, reminiscent of Asclepios, and she is standing on a funky crocodile. All the gods and goddesses together… Next up comes a Zeus Heliopolites – Zeus from Heliopolis (today’s Baalbek), with a whole bunch of other deities on his tunic.

Zeus Heliopolites, appearing after coming all the way from Baalbek, Ladies and Gentlemen

We also saw a nice representation of the Artemis Astarte with the many breasts.

Artemis of the many breasts...

There was a good bust of Plato from a Herm, and a whole bunch of home implements and pottery, commercial stuff and tradesmans' craftsmens' stuff in the economic activity section.


One thing I liked a lot was how they give the concept of stromatography a real good showing with this conceptual well with many pots discarded in it over time after it had silted up.

Nice representation of the stromatography in one of the silted up wells

I also liked this thumb shaped mortar for the pestle – very nice and apparently not uncommon, sitting amongst the spice containers and cooking vessels in the cooking section of the exhibition.

Can't find something witty to say - but I'm working on it...

In all the exhibition is really quite worth it, very nicely put together museuologically and interesting for the wealth of second and third century AD items on show all in the same place.

Like I said before, the experience of seeing it under the wing of one of the excavators made the whole thing that much more fun.

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