Thursday, September 13: Today, my last day in Greece, I go to visit the amazing National Archeological Museum and its excellent collection of Greek antiquities. The museum, housed in a 19th-century neoclassical building, showcases sculptures, pottery, jewelry, frescoes and artifacts discovered in Greece, from the Neolithic Age (6800-3300 BC) to the Cycladic Civilization (Early Bronze Age: 3200-2000 BC) to the Mycenaean Civilization (1600-1100 BC). I have to say I am bowled over by this stunning and beautifully displayed collection that reveals such a sweeping history of mankind. There are times when I feel so overwhelmed by the significance of this collection, that I become totally choked up.
People say one should visit this museum before seeing the original sites within Greece. However, during my trip, I have seen the major sites, including the Acropolis, Mycenae, Delphi, & Epidaurus. Despite recommendations to the contrary, I find it quite amazing to see the treasures found in all of these sites in one culminating grand finale. I find my reaction to this display quite surprising, as I am not an avid historian. I am simply awestruck by this collection.
The Prehistoric Collection represents the major civilizations that flourished in the Aegean from the 7th millennium to around 1050 BC. It includes objects from the Neolithic Period and the Bronze Age, from mainland Greece, the Aegean islands and Troy. The most important exhibits are the treasures from the royal tombs at Mycenae, the famous Cycladic marble figurines, and the superbly preserved wall paintings from Thera with their large-scale compositions.
The Sculpture Collection presents ancient Greek sculpture from the 8th century BC to the end of the 4th century BC. The treasury of large-scale sculpture occupies 30 rooms on the ground floor, arranged in a broad circle around the periphery of the old building. The exhibits come from excavations in cemeteries, such as the Kerameikos and in sanctuaries, including the Athenian Acropolis.
The Bronze Collection is famous for its unique, large-scale original statues, such as the Poseidon or Zeus from Artemision, the Marathon youth, and the jockey from Artemision.
Here is a small sampling of what is on display in this stunning museum. Luckily, visitors ARE allowed to take non-flash photos within. Click on any of the photos to see a full-sized slide show.
This post is partly in reply to Ailsa’s (Where’s my backpack?) Travel Theme challenge: On Display. She writes: No matter where you go, there’s always something for sale somewhere. The items on display in local stores are often evocative of the flavours and aesthetics of the culture you’re in and make for really interesting photographs.
Though none of these antiquities in the National Archeological Museum are for sale, at least not to the common people, they are most definitely on display. Priceless.