Sunday, 13 December 2015

National Archaeological Museum and the Ancient Agora

We covered a lot of grounds on our last full day in Athens.  The National Archaeological Museum was the only out of the way sight and we took a cab to visit.  It was huge - we spent a few hours in it and didn't even get to the second floor.  There were so much to see - but we needed a break by lunch time so we reluctantly left for the streets for our planned walk back to the Plaka to see the rest of the ancient sites, including the Ancient Agora.   We had an interesting walk back and you will see some of the photos in the next post.

On our walk through the Plaka, we stumbled  upon what we thought was the ancient agora and Hadrian's Library, but it appeared to be closed.  Ruins could be found around every other corner in Athens, so it was not surprising that we made that mistake.  Finding it difficult to accept that what we saw was the ancient agora, I googled for images when we returned to the hotel and realized that we had missed a key chunk of antiquity, yet again!  We scrambled and found our way to the real agora before it closed.  It was quite a hike and by the time we got there we had an hour to see everything, which clearly was not enough.  We stayed till the guards came to kick us out.  And of course, as we wandered back to our hotel, we saw what must be the real Hadrian's Library, closed for the day.  A photo through the gates would have to suffice for this visit.

We likely would not have missed these sights if we had joined an organized tour.  But then we would have missed all those other things that we came across just wandering around the city by ourselves. I also don't know of too many organized tours that would allow you to spend more than two hours in a museum...

National Archaeological Museum

Cycladic figurines - reminiscent of the collection in the museum in Heraklion

What was thought to be the mask of Agamemnon by archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann.  Modern archaeology had found that the death mask was from 1500 BC, predating Agamemnon.
Excavated gold jewelry 

Amphora with unusual decorations of two large octopuses and a marinescape of rocks and seaweed
Kore and kouros both wearing the distinctive Archaic period smile

Iconic statue of Poseidon

Young horseman 

Statute of Athena - this is the best preserved and most faithful copy of the Athena Parthenon statue

Some finger-pointing here

Class from Berkeley with their teacher -  pretty funny responses when the teacher asked what they think was happening in the sculpture below...

Interesting statue of Aphrodite trying to fend off Pan with her sandal and Eros coming to her rescue.  The sculpture, from  about 100 BC was dedicated by Dionysios to his ancestral gods.

We thought this was the ancient agora, but in fact it was the Roman agora...

It's a good thing we found the actual agora which had some interesting buildings.  This is a reconstruction of the Stoia of Attalos which now houses the Museum of the Agora.

Pillars from the original stoia

The beautiful Temple of Hephaestus, one of the best preserved structures of its kind

The Temple from another perspective

Decorative detail in the Temple

Hadrian's Library stood some distance from the Ancient Agora

Another view of the Acropolis from the Agora