The National Archeological Museum in Athens is the largest archeological museum in Greece and is one of the most important museums in the world devoted to Ancient Greek art. It is not to be missed! So many of these artifacts date back many centuries before Christ. It is mind boggling!
I could never be an archeologist. The work is too slow and methodical for my temperament. But I have always loved reading about archeological digs and discoveries and I find the stories of those who decipher lost languages amazing. This also drives my interest to see archeological sites for myself.
The Artemision Bronze (above) is so named because it was found amongst the remains of a shipwreck off Cape Artemision. Many call it Poseidon, god of the seas, but it may be a case of mistaken identity. Ancient Greek pottery portrays Poseidon wielding a trident in combat in a stabbing motion, whereas Zeus is usually depicted with his arm raised holding a thunderbolt overhead – in the same position as the Artemision Bronze.
Heinrich Schliemann 1822 – 1890) was a German businessman and a pioneer, albeit amateur, in the field of archaeology. He believed the places mentioned in the works of Homer were not fictional and excavated what is presumed to be the site of Troy (in Turkey) along with Mycenae and Tiryns in Greece. His work lent weight to the idea that Homer‘s Iliad reflects historical events.
I remember enjoying reading The Greek Treasure by Irving Stone of Heinrich Schliemann’s digs.
The Mycenaean civilization, both mainland Greece’s and Europe’s first major civilization, dominated the Peloponnese in the Bronze Age from its stronghold at Mycenae near Nafplio. The Mycenean civilization collapsed suddenly at the end of the 2nd millennium BC.
I was totally intrigued by the discovery of The Antikythera Mechanism among wreckage off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera. It is generally referred to as the first known analogue computer.
I really enjoyed seeing Greece’s National Treasure at the National Archeological Museum in Athens as well as visiting the excellent museums displaying artifacts recovered at each of the archeological sites we visited: the Greek Agora Stoa in Athens, Ancient Corinth, and Ancient Olympia.
At the Corinth museum we learned that on the night of April 12, 1990, thieves broke into that museum, assaulted the guard, forced open display cases and made off with more than 270 ancient Greek and Roman artifacts. It had taken over 90 years of archeological work by the American School of Classical Studies in Athens to accumulate these artifacts.
I went online to learn more and discovered that several pieces were recovered from Christie’s New York auction house in the late 1990s. Most of the remaining pieces were discovered in a Miami residence. Some pieces were never recovered.
As I searched I learned of more robberies.
At Greece’s Ancient Olympia Museum in 2012, two armed robbers tied up the one female employee on duty and used hammers to smash display cases, taking away between 60 and 70 items.
Nine months later, the suspects were caught in a sting operation.
According to the Associated Press, “an undercover police officer posed as a collector and arranged a meeting with one of the men, who tried to sell him the oldest of the antiquities: a 3,200-year-old golden seal-ring, for which he wanted €1.5 million ($1.3 million).
The man then led police to two accomplices and told them where to find the rest of their hoard. All 76 stolen items were recovered, many of them found buried in a field just two miles from the museum.”
And just this year, January 2019, a Greek suspect was arrested in the southern town of Gytheio following a tip-off. Found in the 46-year-old’s car were over a hundred antiquities, some dating to around the 3rd century B.C. They probably came from an ancient cemetery. He was trying to sell them for 600,000 euros ($682,000).
Coming soon: How Meet You in the Morning became multi-millionaires!