Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Leda and the Swan

Zeus and Heras relationship wasn't always quite what you might expect from two gods. Actually, Zeus, took more or less every opportunity he got to charm mortal women, this being unfaithful to Hera. This episode show us how he managed to win over Leda by transforming himself into a swan, and I'm quite sure that we interrupt them in the moment so to speak.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stoa of Eumenes

This is the Stoa of Eumenes on the south side of the Acropolis in Athens, it can be seen if you look to the right when passing by Herodes Atticus Odeon.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A walk in the park

Parks are different here in Athens. It's not so much that they are greener or the trees more beautiful, rather the opposite - yet, as to compensate us, they let you find ancient structural elements in the grass, an always welcome sight.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Earth Hour in Athens and the tomb of Schliemann

Earth hour in Athens was not quite what I expected, or perhaps more correctly, what I hoped for. This shot is taken 5 minutes before the lights was shut down and the Acropolis us really boring when you can't see it. And oh, did I mention that not one single private building was darkened? Only the monuments.

This is the tomb of Heinrich Schliemann, notice how it resembles an ancient treasure house (found in larger sanctuaries).

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The very best of Ancient and Old

Well, I've actually been posting pictures every day for a year now and I still have a couple of thousand that I would like to present. However, I feel like today is a good day to look back on some of my own favourite shots and that's why I want to post a "Best of" post. It would also be interesting to see if anyone who has been following the blog could mention some favourites.

A Votive statue from Brauron in Attica.

I don't post very much from Egypt on this blog. This piece came in when I was combining quotes with pictures and Tacitus mentioned the Egyptians as the inventors of writing.

This piece is probably more exciting to me than anyone else. It just so happen that someone gave grand father a copy of this frieze when he turned 50 and I ran into the original years later.

There are certain things you'll almost never get to experience. One such thing is being alone in the Colosseum. Now everyone who knows me, know that I consider the Colosseum to be overrated - it still makes for a great shot thou.

A facues mosaic from Pompeii, it simply got stuck on my mind and the motif is wonderful!

I love the setting and colors in this picture of the The Sciarra Amazone. The blue paint on the walls looks great in combination with the white marble.

There are some pieces that just stand out from the rest. This is most certainly one of them and I can only imagine how the beautiful the paintings in Rome must have been 2000 years ago.

The millennium church, in one of Roms suburbs. Build with a lot of symbolism (as the three sails reflecting the holy trinity) and finished to lead the church into a new age, it stands out from most of the things I've seen.

Another shot of pure luck. We were visiting the Museu della Civilta Romana, early in the morning after a late night. I was very close to not taking this picture arguing that I could do it some day later. Good thing that I didn't wait.

The Corinth Canal, built in the 19th century AD.

Friday, March 26, 2010

An Aphrodite of the Syracuse style

This a Aphrodite, 2nd century AD, of the Syracusan style. Notice that the head, neck and arms are restored (by A. Canova).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The church of Agia Foteini

This is the strange church of Agia Foteini in Arcadia. Notice that it's a modern building from the 1970's.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A sacrifice - the Agia Triada sarcophagus

Life is still hectic here, I really hope that it'll slow down soon, but I guess that's just a dream. Anyway, I've been staying in the library today so I'd like to present a picture from the material I'm looking at right now.

One side of the Agia Triada sarcophagus (ca 1400 BC). Here you see a (presumably) Minoan sacrifice with a slaughtered bull in the middle, two terrified animals below him and a woman offering on the right. Notice the double axe and horns of consecration next to the altar.

Close up on the bull. Poor bastard, he's having a really bad day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


This is a Centauromachy (Greeks versus Centaurs) scene from the pediment sculptures of the temple of Zeus in Olympia. Notice how the beast bite the young man who keeps his calm, a typical trait for the severe style. This style, which is dated to ca 480-450 BC, can be recognized by some movement while the face still is somehow frontal and still. The piece shown here should be somewhere between 460 and 450 BC.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hermes and the infant Dionysus

Hermes and the infant Dionysus (ca 340 BC).

This is one of the most famous statues from antiquity, attributed to the famous Athenian Praxiteles (born ca 395 BC) by Pausanias. It was considered a Greek original from the moment it was found in 1877, but later re-examined by Carl Blümmel (1927), who concluded that it was a Roman copy. It might be added that Blümmel, who was an expert on classical history and a sculptor himself, based his argumentation on eight technical points such as cutting technique, stature and the drilling.

The debate is by no means over today, Olympia still claim that the piece is an original, but common sense should convince anyone that this is a early imperial copy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Apollon at Bassae - a temple in a huge tent

I'm back from a week at the Peloponnesus and I've got far to many pictures that I would like to upload - you'll simply have to live with a small selection.

This is the huge tent put up to preserve and protect the temple. It might be worth mentioning that this is the place where the oldest preserved Corinthian column originate from (it's standing in the cella, where you would expect to find a cult statue)

Here's a shot from the inside. One of the many reasons to why the temple is covered is that they are moving it roughly one meter to the north, as it's in urgent need of a new foundation.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A clay seal

The mycenaeans used this kind of imprints to control the trade and who was owning what item, marking the vessels while they were still unburned.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Here you see a kylix (drinking vessel) with kalos decoration, discussed here earlier on. I am not quite sure on the dating of this piece but the early-mid 5th century BC would probably be correct.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Minoan Bull

This is a minion bull in terracotta. It's officially called a libation rhyton, but I get a feeling now and then that this term is over used.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Pyxis

Here's another pyxis, these guys were probably reasonably popular during the geometric period. I do suspect, however, that there seems to be more of these nowadays than there really was - they are highly decorative funerary ceramics, i.e. they are well preserved and attractive at the museums.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Amor and Psyche

There are some statues that were widely copied during antiquity such as the Herakles Farnese, the Cnidian Venus and so on - one less known piece however is the so called Amor and Psyche. You can compare the version below to one form Ostia in this post (where you also find a very brief summery of the story behind it).

From a temporary exhibition in Athens, normally to be found in the Vatican museum.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Inside the Parthenon

Well, the Parthenon is all but a construction site nowadays, but I thought that you might enjoy some pictures from the inside anyway.

This is the custom made crane that they use to lift the blocks. It was unfortunately impossible to get it up any way but by hand - i.e. they carried it, piece by piece, all the way to the temple and had to put it together it manually.

Here you see the north side where most of the work is going on right now. They estimate that they'll need another 50 years [sic] to finish the work.

A shot taken from the west side of the building.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A family grave

I apologize for the poor posts lately, I have been very busy, but you can (hopefully) expect something very unique tomorrow. Stay tuned.

This stele (375-350 BC?) was once placed over the family tomb of Heiron, son of Hierkoles of Halai. Notice the loutrophoros (vessel), a common funerary form.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Second Delian League

This stele contain the terms on which the second Delian league was formed.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Two pieces from the epigraphic museum

This is the earliest graffiti from the Athenian acropolis, dating to the 8th century BC and running in the so called Boustrophedon style, i.e. first line from left to right, second line from right to left and so on.

Here you see a Kleroteria, this kind of machine has been previously described in this post.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Attic border fortresses: Eleutheria & Aigosthena

Another day in the field, another set of ruins - border fortresses. These buildings are not only well preserved but also especially interesting as they are often overlooked today.

This is the Eleutheria fortress (early 4th century BC) guarding a valley between Attica and Thebes.

The view from a fortress at Aigosthena /early 4th century BC), near Megara, guarding a part of the Corinthian gulf.

One of the many towers, once 18 meters high. It's unfortunately off limits since an earthquake during the 1980's (if my memory serves me correctly).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Marathon and the Amphiaraus sanctuary

I really wish that I could spend more time working on this site, but I've got far too little time on my hands and I'm far too tired to actually get anything done.

This is the mound where the dead Athenian heroes from Marathon are supposed to be buried. I can not but wonder thou, how can the mound still be visible today if it was excavated? It seems logical to assume that what we see today is a reconstruction.

Here you see the inside of the mound of the dead soldiers from Plataea (only eight bodies were found!), probably buried where they fell.

A front row chair for one of the priests in the small theatre at the sanctuary of Amphiaraus.

This is actually (probably) a piece of an ancient original cult statue, more exactly the left arm.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sounion and the Vari cave

I will turn my attention to Attica for a while now, as I'm back from Crete. Here's some shots from today's adventure.

This is a statue in the so Vari cave, an amazing site and ancient shrine to Pan. It was constructed (or more exactly carved) by the one man, Archedemos, who claimed that he was possessed by Nymphs. Here you see a statue, carved from the living rock.

An altar in at the same site, notice the ancient inscription.

Cape Sounion, I won't add much more as I very much believe that you need to take a look at this site by your own if it's new to you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Some finds from the museum on Sitia

It feels like very village, no matter how small it is, have a museum in this country. Here's some shots from the local museum in Sitia on Crete.

Detail of a Pithos, depicting a gorgons head?

The Pithos mentioned above, full view.

A sarcophagus, most likely Minoan. I really like the octopus decoration.

A small flask from Itanos. I can't give you an exact dating or provenance but I am quite sure that it originate from some Phoenician settlement.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Yesterday - Zakros and Itanos

Back in Athens, and I've got internet. God knows that I'm tired after one week at Crete.

This is the Minoan palace at Zakros, probably a trading station more than anything else. This is the view from the central court, a place where most historians and archaeologists believe that the bull jumping took place, a view I do not share with then - the place is simply too small.

This is what will normally happen to any mud brick building after no more than 10 years. Picture from Zakros.

The "doric" city of Itanos at eastern Crete. I must admit that I know just about nothing about the site, but it's beautiful.