The National Archeological Museum

The National Archeological Museum of Athens is housed in a two-story neo-classical building of the 19th century (1866-1889).  Opened in 1891, this museum brought together a collection that had previously been stored all over the city. There are items from Thessaly, the Cylcades, the island of Thira (Santorini), and Mycenae along with an unrivaled amount of sculpture, pottery and jewelry. There is also a bronze collection, mainly famous for its unique, large scale original statues. The museum contains exhibits from all over Greece dating from Prehistoric times to the Byzantine period. 

Click on the thumbnails below in order to see pictures of the exhibits in the National Archeological Museum.  Use your browser's back button to return to this page.

The Harp player from KerosThe Harp player from Keros. A marble idol representing a seated musician who plays the lyre or harp expressing the concentration and intense feelings of a musician in the complex harmony of curves and the tilt of his head up to the light. He will have been some official bard or hero for he is sitting on a rich throne. The three-dimensional figure, typical of all the male idols representing musicians, is an early achievement of Cycladic sculpture. It was found at Keros and dates from the Early Cycladic period (2800-2300 BCE). The minimalistic Cycladic style of sculpture flourished in the 3rd millennium BCE and originated in the Cyclades.  Gold mask of AgamemnonFunerary gold death mask from Mycenae, also known as Schliemann's Agamemnon, found in shaft Grave V of Grave Circle A at Mycenae.  It is the most expressive of those found in Grave Circle A.  It is dated to the second half on the 16th century BCE, four centuries prior to the Trojan War and could therefore not have belonged to the legendary king.  The impressive and majestic face on this gold mask reveals the unknown artist's attempt at realistically portraying the features of a Mycenaean sovereign. Bronze Dagger

Elaborate bronze dagger with inlaid ornamentation to form a hunting scene. Three heavily armed men are moving against an enormous lion who has thrown one of their comrades to the ground. Two other lions are fleeing, startled, and one of them is looking backwards, thus forming a link with the main scene. The bodies of the men and lions are made of a mixture of gold and silver and the shields are of niello (a compound containing sulfur). The dagger was found in Shaft Grave IV of Grave Circle A at Mycenae and is dated to the 16th century BCE.
Gold goddess broochLarge silver pin with a gold brooch in the form of a goddess attached to one side. There are two floral symbols superimposed above the head of the goddess, from which the rich leaves and flowers that enclose her branch out. This wonderful picture represents the deification of a protectress of the plant world, of Spring and of the rebirth of life.  From Shaft Grave III of Grave Circle A at Mycenae.  Dated to the 16th century BCE. Gold rhomboid diadem

Gold rhomboid diadem with flat spear shaped pieces.  It is not known whether of how the diadem was supported on the head of the princess to whom it belonged. The diadem is almost barbaric in form, with large elliptical, pointed rhombuses above the main plate, both of which are decorated with circles. It was found in Shaft Grave III of Grave Circle A at Mycenae and is dated to the 16th century BCE. 
Gold mask from MycenaeGold death mask from Shaft Grave IV of Grave Circle A at Mycenae portraying a beardless man with closed eyes lacking any detail. The mouth is outlined and the whole expression shows the peaceful contentment of death. Dated to the 16th century BCE.
Silver bull rhytonSilver rhyton (a ritual vessel used to pour libations) in the shape of a bull's head. The high horns are made of gold and its internal core would have been made of wood. A gold rosette is attached to the forehead signifying that the animal has been dressed for sacrifice. The whole craftsmanship and the presence of a bull, which has parallels in Cretan works, leaves no doubt that it was the work of Cretan smiths.  This remarkable specimen was found in Grave IV of Grave Circle A at Mycenae.  Dated to the 16th century BCE. Gold pieces covering a child's bodyGold pieces covering a child's body found in a tomb in Mycenae. The royal tombs on Mycenae yielded so many gold objects that Homer's description of it as "the city rich in gold" cannot be doubted. Assorted jewelry

Assorted jewelry from the Mycenaean shaft graves.

Lion's head gold rhytonGold rhyton in the shape of a lion's head from Grave IV of Grave Circle A in Mycenae. It is an exquisite example of Mycenaean embossed work.  Dated to the 16th century BCE. 

Mycenaean alabaster vaseThe skilled hand of a Mycenaean craftsman at his best can be distinguished in the most elegant of the Mycenaean alabaster vases. The curves of the body and the handles, and the furrows which relieve them, can only be explained in terms of the shape being copied from a bronze vessel. Found in Shaft Grave IV of Grave Circle A at Mycenae.

Mycenaean ivory statuetteIvory figurine with two goddesses and the "divine child". Wearing Creto-Mycenaean dress, they have their arms around each other and are protecting the small child between them. A wonderful cloak is worn by both goddesses, who perhaps are Demeter and Kore. The figurine was found in the lower city of Mycenae and is dated to the 15th century BCE.
Fresco from Mycenae

Fresco of a female figure discovered in a house just inside the west wall of the acropolis at Mycenae. The female figure is depicted with the upper body full frontal which gives her a certain divine appearance. The white face is painted on a deep blue background and her gaze is firmly fixed on the object that she is holding tightly in her right hand. She is touching her throat with the long fingertips of her left hand. The ornaments, with their light color, are emphasized by the colors of her dress - brown, purple and white. The exquisite, very Greek face, is lost in thought. The powerful design, the wide range of colors and the expressiveness of the figure are unique in Mycenaean art.  Late 13th century BCE.
The Poseidon of ArtemisionThe Poseidon from Cape Artemision.  It is not only its height - 2.09 meters overall - that makes this a great work. The sculptor has captured the movement of the god, poised to hurl the trident that he holds in his right hand. The achievement of the sculptor lies above all else in the freedom with which he has rendered the legs apart, in chiastic balance with the open shoulders, and also in the working of the head, the curls on the forehead and the hair tied behind in a charming plait.  It is an original work of a great sculptor, possibly of Kalamis.  It was raised from the sea, off the cape of Artemision, in north Euboea. Dated to circa 460 BCE. The Youth from AntikytheraThe Youth from Antikythera. Bronze statue of a young man, a god or a hero who held a spherical object in his right hand. It could well be Paris, whose judgment of the three goddesses and the apple of discord led to the Trojan War. It is one of the most brilliant products of the Peloponnesian bronze sculpture, perhaps the work of the famous sculptor Euphranor. It has the form of a Classical statue, with that rhythm in the body that the Greeks were the only people of the ancient world to study and achieve successfully. Newer elements of the 4th century are the turning of the head towards the relaxed right leg which is drawn back so that only the toes touch the ground. The left arm, hanging free, is balanced by the looseness of the right leg, while the left is tensed to match the right arm. It was found in the area of an ancient Roman shipwreck off the island of Antikythera. Larger than life, it is approximately 2 meters (7 feet) tall. Dated to circa 340 BCE.
SirenMarble Siren. In art, Sirens appeared first as birds with the heads of women, later as women, sometimes winged, with bird legs. Sirens were placed as guards on tombs of the sixth century BCE. Greek Sirens may have evolved from Egypt. In Egyptian religion, the ba is a portion of the soul which is generally represented as a bird with a human head. SirenMarble Siren. The Sirens, in Greek mythology, were half bird and half woman sea nymphs who inhabited an island surrounded by dangerous rocks. They sang so enchantingly that all who heard were drawn near and shipwrecked. SirenMarble Siren. The Sirens seem to have evolved from a primitive tale of the perils of early exploration combined with an Oriental image of a bird-woman. Anthropologists explain the Oriental image as a soul-bird - a winged ghost that stole the living to share its fate. In that respect the Sirens had affinities with the Harpies.
Large Grave MonumentCrowning device from a large funerary monument. The inventive imagination of the workshops producing grave monuments in Athens during the 4th century BCE can be seen in this large grave monument from Athens. There is a marble fluted cauldron, with the upright necks and heads of griffons at intervals, all reminiscent of the earlier bronze lebetes. Circa 340 BCE. Funerary Monument from KolonosLarge funerary monument from Kolonos. A young Ethiopian groom is trying to control a large horse, offering it some food which is not clearly defined. The head of the horse is inspired, projecting as it does away from the block, while the body remains attached to it. Above the horse's back there are traces of a painted helmet belonging to the horseman who is not portrayed. The intense, spasmodic movement of the groom, the whip in one hand, the extended legs, the anxious face opposite the animal's head, the contrast between the head of the dead skin of the panther and the open eyes of the horse, and the whole muscular body of the latter reveal the work of a bold artist fired with Greek genius. The whole shape of the monument and the style of the carving in deep relief derive from the tradition of the last Attic stelai (gravestones) before the law of 317 BCE, thus this monument is placed during the first half of the 3rd century BCE when grave monuments were no longer being erected in Attic cemeteries. AmazonsStele portraying amazons fighting naked Greek men.
Boy from MarathonThe boy from Marathon is a bronze statue representing a youth, perhaps the god Hermes. The dreamy expression and easy pose are characteristic of the works of Praxiteles, the leading late Classical sculptor. It was found in the sea of the Marathon bay and is dated to 325-300 BCE. Statuette of a naked boyStatuette of a naked boy with a duck. He leans against a colonnette and clutches a duck in his left hand. It was found near Lilaia at the foot of Mount Parnassus. Third century BCE. Statue of ThemisStatue of the goddess Themis, goddess of justice and mother of The Fates and the Seasons, discovered in 1890 at Rhamnous, Attica. It has survived together with its base where the inscription of the artist, Chairestratos of Rhamnous, is incised along with the name of the dedicator, Megakles, also of Rhamnous. Third century BCE.
The Philosopher of AntikytheraThe philosopher of Antikythera. Portrait head of a bearded, elderly man, perhaps a philosopher of the Hellenistic period. The striking head combines personal characteristics with a formal ideal. It is a living picture of an observant, skeptic philosopher of the Hellenistic period, from the hand of some unknown sculptor. It has been suggested that it may be a portrait, showing a psychological competence unknown in earlier statues, of Bion the Borysthenite, a 3rd-century BCE philosopher who left his mark on the age with his satirical "diatribes".  It was found in an ancient shipwreck off the island of Antikythera and is dated to 250-200 BCE. The Varvakeion AthenaThe Varvakeion Athena dates from the Roman period (2nd century BCE). It is a reduced copy of the famous gold and ivory cult statue of Athena by Pheidias that stood in the Parthenon for 1000 years.  It takes its name from the place in Athens where it was found.  The goddess wears a peplos and a helmet decorated with Pegasus and sphinxes.  Her armor is decorated with snakes and in her right hand she holds a small, winged victory, while Errichthonius is curled up on her shield. The jockey of Artemision

Horse and Jockey of Artemision. The horse is racing at full gallop while the young jockey, dressed in a short tunic, is holding on tightly to stay astride. He probably held the reins in his left hand and a whip in the right. The work is a fascinating example of the human passion which artists of the peak period of the Hellenistic era succeeded in infusing into their most inspired works. It was found in pieces, in the area of a shipwreck off the cape Artemision, in north Euboea. Dated to circa 140 BCE.
Statue of PoseidonThis large, marble statue of Poseidon stood in his temple on the distant island of Melos. The posture shows a slight decline from the dynamic centrifugal emphasis of earlier works from the first half of the 2nd-century BCE. The dolphin is an ingenious device, forming a living support beside the right leg. The vacant expression is typical of the age. The whole portrayal, probably by a good, provincial Cycladic sculptor, was influenced by statues of gods or leaders that stood in the great centers of Asia Minor. Circa 130 BCE. Statue of Octavian AugustusStatue of Octavian Augustus. The first Roman emperor is represented riding a horse and this is the only preserved life-size equestrian statue of Augustus. He wears a heavy chiton and a mantle and he held the reins with his left hand. The statue was recovered from the sea, in the area between Euboea and the island of Aghios Eustratios. Dated to the end of the 1st century BCE. Aphrodite, Pan & ErosMarble group representing Aphrodite, the goat-footed Pan and Eros (height 1.30 meters).  Pan is trying to embrace the naked goddess who has removed her left sandal with which she teasingly threatens to strike him. A little Eros flies above the goddesses' shoulder and seizes hold of one of Pan's horns. It was found on Delos and dates to circa 100 BCE.
AthenaAthena statue found at Epidauros. PanMarble statue of goat-footed Pan. He is wearing an ox-skin. In his left hand he is holding a syrinx (Pan-pipe).

Back to Athens & Attica

Rings page   Grisel's Home Page   Email Grisel

Go to the Roman Agora

Sign Guestbook   Guestbook   View Guestbook

All pictures are Copyright 2000 Grisel Gonzalez and Jeff Prosise