Tour the National Archaeological Museum in Athens

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The National Archaeological Museum in Athens, opened in 1891 is often simply referred to as the National Museum. Considered the “best museum in Greece”, it houses the world’s best collection of ancient Greek art, displayed chronologically from 7000 BC to AD 500. Treasures include sculptures, pottery, jewelry, frescoes, and other artifacts found all over Greece including Mycenae, Epidavros, Santorini, and Olympia dating from the Neolithic era to classical periods. There is so much to see at the museum that people can visit twice.

Cycladic Figurine

Cycladic Figurine

Half of the museum was temporarily closed to the public in 1999 after it was damaged in the infamous September 1999 earthquake. It reopened with most of the objects restored in 2004 and the overhaul provided the chance to improve the displays.

Highlights of the National Archaeological Museum include:

Cycladic Figurines
The Cycladic Museum has the largest collection of Cycladic figurines but the collection at the National Archaeological Museum has some interesting and unusual pieces. The purpose of these naked female figurines posing with folded arms remains unknown, but they are older than the Egyptian pyramids. There is evidence that the eyes, lips, and ears were originally painted on. These figurines were made only in the Cycladic Islands circa 3200-2200 BC but have been found all over Greece.

Thira Frescoes
These beautiful frescoes were perfectly preserved under the ash of a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC at the highly advanced settlement of Akrotiri, on the island of Thira (Santorini).

Mycenaean Collection
This collection dates to the 16th-11th centuries BC. The Mycenaeans were famous for their warrior status and hoards of gold. Part of their gold collection is displayed here including a death mask and golden swords. This is the museum’s most popular attraction and includes gold treasures, frescoes, ivory sculptures, and seal rings made out of precious stones.

Hellenistic Statuary
These solid monuments of the Archaic period are full of vigorous movement and sensuality. The most popular statue is the Youth of Antikythira, a Hellenistic bronze statue that was discovered off the island of Antikythira in 1900. It stands at approximately 7 feet tall. Other statues include Aphrodite, Pan and Eros, and a wounded Gaul.

Bronze Collection
This collection includes many of the greatest Archaic and Classical bronze works that remain, since most were melted down for weapons during invasions. It features the majestic 460 BC sculpture of Poseidon or Zeus. The statue is in position to hurl a thunderbolt or a trident. The weapon is missing so it is not clear which God is depicted. It’s an example of a transition to the Classical style.

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This post was written by GreekBoston.com

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