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Athens – Day 3 – Part 3 – Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum

When we finally finished the bucket we travelled all the way back to the heart of Athens, back to where we started; opposite the Acropolis. For those who don’t know, the New Acropolis Museum stays open until ten o’clock at night on Friday’s and for those one day tourists this is the perfect way to end your day, instead of trying to cram it in somewhere amidst the journeying, carefully planned tours and the hundreds of places to go. Although we weren’t staying just a day, thank God, we decided going at night would be the best time, as it gave the museum an almost ethereal, fantastical feel similar to that old TV show where at night the museum came to life (no not Night at the Museum, although that was good as well)-as well as the fact that the regular day crowds of annoying and noisy school students (ha ha I relate that to my school) and whatnot were gone.

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Western side of the metopes in the New Acropolis Museum. Information gained thanks to my scrawly editing as I knew I would probably need it for the blog.

Here were the three different types of marble pictures shown on the Parthenon:

·         Friezes-The friezes show, starting from the southwest and meeting up again on the east side, two processions of the people of Athens(4) going to the Acropolis for the Great Panethanaic Festival(5), which was only held every four years. One of the most important factors depicted in the friezes is that of the robe of Athena, a folded cloth that is called the peplos. This peplos would, upon having reached the Acropolis on a large wooden ship with rollers, be given as a sacrifice to the ancient olive wood statue dedicated to Athena. In one of the scenes Athena can be seen watching the priest performing the sacrifice, Hephaestus, the great smith of the gods, sat next to her.

·         Metopes-There were originally 92 marble panels on the Parthenon, depicting a mythical battle between the Lapiths, a local Greek tribe, and the Centaurs-part human, part horse, resulting in natures on both sides (just like Spock from Star Trek). The Lapiths made the silly mistake of inviting the Centaurs, in a friendly way, to the marriage feast after the wedding of their king, Peirithoos. The Centaurs inevitably showed their wild side, tried to rape the newly wed bride and carry her off, which obviously ensued in wild combat between the two sides, eventually with the Lapiths coming out on top.

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A centaur about to kill a Lapith on one of the many metopes. He appears to be holding a rock.

·         Pediments-The most spectacular and grandiose of the three, there were two pediments-one on the West and one on the East, both equally superb and finely sculpted. The West pediment depicted the contest between Athena and Poseidon as they both competed to become the newfound city’s patron. To win, they had to create an object each-Poseidon held a piece of coral and Athena an olive tree. Athena won (which is why it is called Athens!) as no one had ever seen an olive tree before in their lives, as it was a new invention! The other pediment, the East, depicts the birth of Athena. Athena was born after Zeus had a headache and ordered Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods, to hit his head with his massive forging hammer. Hephaestus hit Zeus’ head, it split open, and out popped Athena dressed in full armour. All the gods are surrounding the trio, as well as Helios, god of the sun, and Selene, goddess of the moon, rising up and down from opposite sides of the pediment telling us that this event happened at the break of dawn, as both the moon and sun appear in the sky then (apparently.)

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The four horses of Helios’ chariot (god of the sun) ready for a day’s work.

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From left to right: Hestia (or Leto), Dione (or Artemis) and Aphrodite.

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This reconstructed floral akroterion originally crowned the ridges of the pediments.

As well as remnants of all three marble designs in the Acropolis Museum (you can find some of the friezes in the British Museum, I believe, and also there are some parts of the pediments located in the Museum of Archaeology, also in Athens) there were also parts taken from the Erectheion and other building atop the Acropolis, including the pillars shaped like girls called the Caryatids (no reference there, I knew that.) There were also some other fancy things, including the Acropolis completely built out of Lego, including the two amphitheatres below and some modern day touches-Elvis singing in the Herodes Atticus Odeum, Gandalf driving his cart into the Acropolis, you get the idea.

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The head of Athena

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Elvis performing in the Herodes Atticus Odeum.

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Gandalf and his fireworks are back in business.

The gift shop is pretty cool and I think you should check it out too if you ever go. I got a notebook, a special picture book displaying all artifacts in the museum and a magnet or two. Magnets are great. I must have bought ten of them at least just to one trip in Cornwall; the fridges are crammed with them.

After a tiring day, we headed back home to the nearby hotel, anxiously walking over the glass floors coming out of the Acropolis Museum…it’s a long drop…

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Underneath the foundations of the Acropolis Museum is this…not exactly feeling safe right now…

News and Announcements

I am back from Cornwall, as you may have noticed. It was great! Finally had a break from all that revising-phew. It’ll be coming out soon.

~MW

 

 

References

        i.            National Observatory of Athens

     ii.            Piraeus-Wikipedia

   iii.            TripAdvisor-Pita Time

   iv.            Ancient Greece-The Parthenon Frieze

      v.            The British Museum-Central scene of the east frieze of the Parthenon                                                    

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