Sunday, September 2: After my lunch and making my way through the markets, I head to Kerameikos, the potters’ quarter of the city, from which the English word “ceramic” is derived. This was also the site of an important cemetery from the 12th century BC to Roman times, as well as numerous funerary sculptures erected along the road out of the city towards Eleusis.
It is quite a long walk in the sun along a pedestrian walkway, and I am struck by all the graffiti on the walls along the path (See my earlier post: graffiti in athens: youth crying out to be heard in the midst of economic crisis?). When I go inside, I am happy to escape into the air-conditioned Kerameikos Museum, a small neoclassical building that houses an extensive collection of burial-related artifacts, varying from large-scale marble sculpture to funerary urns, jewelry, toys, etc. The original burial monument sculptures are displayed within the museum, having been replaced by plaster replicas on the original grounds. The museum incorporates inner and outer courtyards, where the larger sculptures are kept.
Outside on the grounds, the shade provides some relief from the heat. I don’t study what’s what because at this point, I’m simply hot and exhausted. I just wander about aimlessly taking pictures of random interesting things. I should be more of a historian, and I often wonder why I don’t take more interest in these things. Yet. I do them because they are the “should do” things in a place. So here are my random pictures of the grounds of this ancient cemetery.
The Sacred Gate was one of the gates of the city wall built by Themistocles in 478 B.C. It allowed the passage of the river Eridanos and of the Sacred Way, the processional way that led to Eleusis. It was protected by two square towers and had a courtyard divided into two parts, one of which was occupied by the bank of the river.
At this point I have to confess that I’m not really paying attention to ancient history. It is now getting close to the time I need to make my way back to the hotel and then make my way to the airport for my flight to Crete. I am tired of ancient things and am looking forward to exploring and relaxing in the Greek islands.