Sunday, January 31, 2010

The last day in Argos and my return Athens

I've finally arrived in Greece - that's at least how it feels now; the sun is shining, it's between 15 and 20 degrees C and I've finished the Argolis bronze age tour.

The view from Asine, referred to as Asine upon the gulf in the catalogue of ships (Iliad II).

A tower in Asines wall. Notice how the corners have been "cut off" - a distinct Hellenistic feature.

This Kouros base (ca 510 BC) depicts a fight between a boar and a lion.

This is the inside of chamber tomb 15 LHIIIA tomb (late bronze age, around the 13th century AD) at Dendra. No body was found, but several vessels (most of them tinned to look like metal), some glass objects and three gold spirals (these were, however, probably from an earlier tomb).

A Mycenaean armour found in Dendra by Paul Åström. Compare to the Illiad X 260-265:

"They then put on their armour. Brave Thrasymedes provided the son of Tydeus with a sword and a shield (for he had left his own at his ship) and on his head he set a helmet of bull's hide without either peak or crest; it is called a skull-cap and is a common headgear. Meriones found a bow and quiver for Ulysses, and on his head he set a leathern helmet that was lined with a strong plaiting of leathern thongs, while on the outside it was thickly studded with boar's teeth, well and skilfully set into it; next the head there was an inner lining of felt."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A geometric vessel

This is one of the most famous vessels from the geometric period (ca 900-700 Bc), found at the Keramikos in Athens. The work is attributed to the Dipylon Painter (ca760-750 Bc). The central motif is a funeral with the dead lying on his back in a tent.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Some shots from Argolis

Another day in the field and I feel great, lots of exciting stuff today, such as several Roman baths (one with sarcophagi in the basement), an aqueduct, lot's of statues, some bronze age clay walls and finally a Mycenaean dam.

A relief,(depicting a rider, a large vessel and a snake) cut into the living rock at Argos - a very uncommon sight indeed.

A Greek architectural element saying "ΩΝΠΗΓΩΝΚΑΙΤΟΝΥΜΦΑΙΟΝΜΕΤΑΤΩΝΔΟΧΕ". I can only make out the middle section saying "ΚΑΙ ΤΟ ΝΥΜΦΑΙΟΝ (και το νυμφαιον as it would read in normal minuscule print) = and the Nympheae (elaborated fountain). We can therefore assume that someone dedicated this building and something else to the Agora where this piece is to be found.

The theatre in Argos. It may not look as impressive as the one in Epidaurus at first sight but you'll notice when you get closed that it is cut out from the living rock.

And at last, the aqueduct in the area, which you still can climb into.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A mycenaean bridge and some other finds

It's still rather cold and foggy here, but I actually enjoy it as we really have that mysterious bronze age feeling at every site right now.

A reconstructed Venetian (?) gate in Naplion.

A Mycenaean bridge in the cyclopedian style.

The foggy mountains - Greece can be very very wet.

The sea at Naplion.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

18 meter under the Cyclops

I'm at Naplion right now, in the Argolid, spending my days visiting the Mycenaean (and occasionally Roman) remains.

The treasury of Atreus, described here.

The Argive Heraion, the structure is the temple of Hera.

This tunnel is situated 18 (very dark) meters below the cyclopedian walls at Mycenae, leading to a hidden cistern. One of the top experiences so far.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A lost treasure

Athlet (?), early Roman period, copy from the 5th or 4th century BC. The find spot of this piece is unknown, but it is most likely from a ship wreak. It confiscated in Germany (1998) and returned to Greece in 2002.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Kouros and a Woman

Here's a few shots from the national museum, where I was spending the afternoon. Notice that I won't be able to answer any questions next week as I'll be in Argos (I will however be able to post pictures).

A Kouros (big one) from Delos (ca 600 BC) if my memory serves me correctly.

Close up on the head, notice the ear.

A women (Pentelic marble) found in Piraeus. The statue was dedicated to the Mother of the Gods and Aphrodite by Megiste, daughter of Architimos. 1st century Bc.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Athena Parthenos and some other pieces

I'm still drowning in work so this will be a quick one - some fresh shots from the National museum.

The very famous Athena Parthenos, a later copy however.

Poseidon (125-100 BC). Could have been Zeus but the dolphin at his feet reveal his true identity.

Funerary lebes-kalpe (tomb monument). Ca 350 Bc.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A slow Saturday

Last night was operation bonding with the guys over here, today is operation recover from bonding. Anyway, I managed to sneak out for a while, I enjoy taking a short walk every day, and it was well worth the effort.

The Parthenon (which have been presented in a number of different photos by now, I really gotta stop taking shots of the damn building). View from the Mouseion Hill.

The Mouseion Hill is crowned by this monument, a mausoleum for Gaius Iulius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappus who was a Commagenian prince (a small Hellenistic kingdom), suffect consul 109 AD and archon at Athens at one point. Notice that this spot was absolutely superb for any monument which testifies to how important the man was.

Roads should be horizontal right? God, I hope that they've got good breaks.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Three pieces from the Agora

I'm having very little time on my hands right now, as I'm supposed to have two presentations ready by Sunday, but I managed to sneak away to the Agora for a short while.

This is a very interesting piece that celebrate the winner in a contest, where you were to jump in and out of a chariot in full armour, during the Panathenaic games.

Statue of a goddess, 4th century BC.

Aphrodite in one of her more common poses

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sunrise over Zeus

I've spent more or less all of the day at the library, but I had time to sneak out earlier this morning to get a good sunrise shot of the temple to the Olympian Zeus.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Two major and one minor monument

I will unfortunately have to post some of the major monuments from Athens, even thou I'm sure that you've already seen all of them. Oh well, that problem should be short lived - ain't that many of them here.

The temple of Hephaestus at the Agora.

A small Byzantine church form ca 1000 Ad at the Agora. Compare to the one two days ago.

The acropolis - I sometimes forget how much of a cliff it really is.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Some finds from the Greek bronze age

Today was spent at the national museum, taking a look at the bronze age exhibition, including the mainland, Cyclades and the fiends from Mycenae.

A Bronze Age hedgehog/bear from the Cyclades.

A fresco (from Mycenae?) depicting a shield.

A golden cup decorated with bulls and bull jumpers.

A Cycladic figurine. These come in all sizes, this one was as tall as me, the smaller ones as a finger.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A small church and Hadrianus

The weather isn't really as good as it could have been right now, it's grey and the threat of rain seems constant but it's at least warmer here than in Sweden.

Anyway, I've spent the day walking the city, getting familiar with the modern Athens. I've seen Schliemanns house, the parliament and some other major modern monuments.

A small orthodox church in central Athens, and a typical example on how a Byzantine church looks.

The backside of Hadrians Library. This might very well be one of the dullest pictures that I've ever posted here, but I realised that it could be compared to another wall in Pompeii that imitate the masonry work seen here in plaster.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Parthenon

I've used most of today trying to recover from the last few, very hectic, days. Yes, recovering equals sleeping. Anyway, I had time to get out for a while and I went straight to the Parthenon and the new Acropolis museum where they are very strict on their non photo policy.

This is in many ways one of the oldest and most boring views imaginable, but there's a reason why it's commonly seen - it's simply makes a good picture. (Another shot of the building)

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Well, I have arrived at Athens and I will go back to how I used the blog about a year ago, i.e. I will post one or two pictures per day to illustrate what I’m doing at the moment. Enjoy.

My view

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thetis request

This will be the last post under the Quotes category - I hope that you have enjoyed it - as I will be going to Athens tomorrow where I will spend the coming months (until April 1st or so). The new category will be very similar to the one I stared of with in Rome, I will simply present ancient monuments that I have visited recently (normally the same day).

The gods could be persuaded - that the Trojans are victorious for a great part of the Iliad can be traced back to Thetis request to Zeus, quoted below.

Zeus sitting on his throne, a pose which is, to my knowledge, surprisingly rare.

"Father Jove [Zeus], if I ever did you service in word or deed among the immortals, hear my prayer, and do honour to my son [Achilles], whose life is to be cut short so early. King Agamemnon has dishonoured him by taking his prize and keeping her [Briseis]. Honour him then yourself, Olympian lord of counsel, and grant victory to the Trojans, till the Achaeans [Greeks] give my son his due and load him with riches in requital."

Homer - The Iliad I
translated by S.Butler

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cicero's Lares

Cicero is not one of my personal favourites, but he should be represented here non the less. Here's a short passage where he mention his penates and lares.

A household lar from the Campanian region.

"But they who caught the infection and polluted themselves with any partnership in the plunder, or in the purchase of anything, were not able to escape every sort of condemnation, whether public or private. Of this property then, of which no one touched a single thing without being accounted in every one's opinion one of the wickedest of men, did the immortal gods covet my house? Did that beautiful Liberty of yours turn out my household gods [i.e. Penates] and the eternal divinities [i.e. Lares] of my hearth, in order to be established there herself by you, as if in a conquered country?"

Cicero - de Domo sua (on his house) 108
Translated by C. D. Yonge

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A proper sacrifice

A Roman fresco depicting bulls.

"Bulls are selected as the very choicest of victims, and are offered up as the most approved sacrifice for appeasing the gods. Of all the animals that have long tails, this is the only one whose tail is not of proportionate length at the moment of birth; and in this animal alone it continues to grow until it reaches its heels. It is on this account, that in making choice of a calf for a victim, due care is taken that its tail reaches to the pastern joint; if it is shorter than this, the sacrifice is not deemed acceptable to the gods."

Pliny the Elder - Naturalis Historia (the Natural History) VIII 70
Translated by John Bostock, H.T. Riley

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cyclopean masonry

A lot of people wonder how the ancient civilizations could produce the huge buildings that we can see still today. Actually, even the ancients them self wondered that from time to time.

Cyclopean masonry from Tiryns. Compare the size to the man in the picture.

"The wall [at Tiryns], which is the only part of the ruins still remaining, is a work of the Cyclopes made of unwrought stones, each stone being so big that a pair of mules could not move the smallest from its place to the slightest degree."

Pausanias Description of Greece 2.25.1

"There still remain, however, parts of the city wall, including the gate [The lion gate at Mycenae?], upon which stand lions. These, too, are said to be the work of the Cyclopes, who made for Proetus the wall at Tiryns."

Pausanias Description of Greece 2.16.5

Translated by W.H.S. Jones and H.A. Ormerod

Monday, January 11, 2010

Plinius on Hares

Vessels in the shape of hares. The animal was considered a lovers gift in ancient Greece.

"There are also numerous species of hares. Those in the Alps are white, and it is believed that, during the winter, they live upon snow for food; at all events, every year, as the snow melts, they acquire a reddish colour; it is, moreover, an animal which is capable of existing in the most severe climates."

Pliny the Elder - Naturalis Historia (the Natural History) VIII 81 55
Translated by John Bostock, H.T. Riley

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Athena in armour

The passage below describe how Minerva (Athena) dress herself in her fathers [Zues] armour - she is about the enter the battle of Troy.

Athena in full armour. Notice the Aegis, goat skin armour - with the gorgons head in the centre. You'll find that she almost always wear it in ancient art.

An Etruskan antefix (terracotta), decorated with a gorgon. Athena normally appear in art with the gorgon adorned aeigis (goat skin armour).

"Meanwhile Minerva flung her richly embroidered vesture, made with her own hands, on to her father's threshold, and donned the shirt of Jove, arming herself for battle. She threw her tasselled aegis about her shoulders, wreathed round with Rout as with a fringe, and on it were Strife, and Strength, and Panic whose blood runs cold; moreover there was the head of the dread monster Gorgon, grim and awful to behold, portent of aegis-bearing Jove. On her head she set her helmet of gold, with four plumes, and coming to a peak both in front and behind- decked with the emblems of a hundred cities; then she stepped into her flaming chariot and grasped the spear, so stout and sturdy and strong, with which she quells the ranks of heroes who have displeased her. Juno lashed the horses on, and the gates of heaven bellowed as they flew open of their own accord"

Homer - The Iliad II
translated by S.Butler

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hector - the Tamer of Horses

This is a short passage about how Hector scare his son with his gleaming helmet.

An ancient war helmet.

"He [Hector] stretched his arms towards his child, but the boy cried and nestled in his nurse's bosom, scared at the sight of his father's armour, and at the horse-hair plume that nodded fiercely from his helmet. His father and mother laughed to see him, but Hector took the helmet from his head and laid it all gleaming upon the ground. Then he took his darling child, kissed him, and dandled him in his arms, praying over him the while to Jove and to all the gods. "Jove," he cried, "grant that this my child may be even as myself, chief among the Trojans; let him be not less excellent in strength, and let him rule Ilius with his might. Then may one say of him as he comes from battle, 'The son is far better than the father.' May he bring back the blood-stained spoils of him whom he has laid low, and let his mother's heart be glad.'"

Homer - The Iliad VI
translated by S.Butler