Monday, February 13, 2012

Ancient Greece - Part II

I recently blogged about our history curriculum, and studying Ancient Greece.  I promised to post pictures after we visit the Ancient Greece section at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (aka - The Met).  We wandered around about half of the Ancient Greece section, but we only focused on the first two galleries - the earliest periods.  We will make followup exhibits for later periods in Ancient Greek art and history.  I also want to mention that the links I posted are the ones we are using in our homeschool.  There are zillions of other websites, articles, links, and more out there...pick and choose what works best for your family or interests. 

Although we visited The Met, and will eventually read The Met's guides to their Ancient Greek collections, for this particular visit, I just wanted to introduce JP to what we would be seeing, the stories and history behind the objects, what Ancient Greek life might have been like, and so on.  The Met has two fantastic guides that you should check out (here and here), and could easily adapt for use at home and with The Met's website.  But, for this visit, we started with a guide from The British Museum.  We started with reading the background information in the Everyday Life guide, and will revisit other guides, and sections of the British Museum website at another time in our studies. (The British Museum has loads of other great resources as well...)

Anyhow...on to our visit to The Met!  The Met's Ancient Greek collection is split among about 7 rough time periods.  As I stated, we focused on the earliest - the 7th and 6th centuries B.C.  In the first two galleries, I asked JP to choose two pieces which we would study in depth this coming week.  He chose a terra cotta bull, and a collection of three small, bronze double axes.  I created a worksheet for him to record information about the pieces, and his thoughts about them:

And on to the art and artifacts...
This is the little bull that JP has chosen to study this week.  It is terracotta, from the Helladic (Mycenaean), Late Helladic IIIA period, ca. 1400-1300 B.C..  It is about the same height and length as a regular credit card.  While this guy isn't available to look at on The Met's website, a similar bull sold at Christie's (the auction house) for $6,875!
Tiny little bronze double axes (only a few inches in size). Minoan or later, said to be from Arkalochori; at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.   While The Met has not included a picture of these on their website, they do have a bit more information HERE.

From the information card:  "The hole at the end of the shaft indicates that these pieces probably served as pendants. Double-ax pendants were common not only in Crete but also in Greece from the Protogeometric through the Archaic period."
Terracotta stirrup jar with octopus, Helladic (Mycenaean), Late Helladic IIIC period, ca. 1200-1100 B.C., at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.   More at The Met's website HERE.

From the information card:  "The shape takes its name from the configuration of the spout and the two attached handles. Such jars were commonly used to transport liquids. Mycenaean artists adopted the marine motifs from Minoan antecedents."
This was one of my favorite pieces in the Ancient Greece exhibit at The Met!

Terracotta vase in the form of a bull's head; Minoan, Late Minoan II period, ca. 1450-1400 B.C.  Nothing additional on The Met's website, unfortunately.

"This vase is a type of rhyton, or libation vase. The offering was poured through the hole in the animal's muzzle. The vase was filled either by immersion in a large container or through the hole in the head. Using the principle of the siphon, liquid would not flow out as long as the opening at the top was closed with the thumb."

Gold bits in the Ancient Greece exhibit at The Met.
Marble seated harp player; Cycladic, late Early Cycladic I-Early Cycladic II period; ca. 2800-2700 B.C. at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.   More details on The Met's website HERE.

From the information card: "A male figure playing a stringed instrument sits on a high-backed chair. This work is one of the earliest of the small number of known representations of musicians. It is distinguished by the sensitive modeling of the arms and hands."
Terracotta kernos (vase for multiple offerings); Cycladic, Early Cycladic III-Middle Cycladic I, ca 2300-2200 B.C.  More info at The Met's website HERE.

From the information card:  "Although the kernos was used in widely disparate regions during the prehistoric period, particularly impressive examples have come to light in the Cyclades, and this is one of the grandest preserved. The receptacles probably contained foodstuffs of various kinds or perhaps flowers.

"The kernos was a tomb in Melos by Captain Copeland, a British naval officer. In 1867 his widow gave the [vase and other objects] to Eton College where they rmained until coming to The Met on loan in 1996."
Top view of the kernos.
Terracotta krater, Greek, Attic, Geometric period, ca. 725 B.C., Attributed to the Trachones Workshop.  This thing is huge! JP could have fit inside with room to spare!  No picture at The Met's website, but a bit more information HERE.

From the information card:  "...this krater served as a funerary monument and shows...primary subjects, the prosthesis - or laying out of the deceased surrounded by mourners - and chariots in procession. In this work...the deceased is shown with a long braid or pigtail issuing from his head; the same detail appears on the... warriors standing to the right, suggesting that it is either his braided hair or the crest of his helmet. Also noteworthy is the little, almost simian creature that seems to be attending to the warrior's head. Below the dead man sits a row of female mourners. Of the two subordinate zones, the upper one shows chariots drawn by two horses; the lower one shows a single horse per chariot. Foot soldiers are at a minimum."
Close up of the terracotta krater.
Closeup of the terracotta krater.
Bronze rod tripod stand, Greek, early 6th century B.C.  More at The Met's website HERE.

From the information card:  "The tripod stands on feline-paw feet. Atop the central rod of each leg is a palmette, and above this, on the upper ring, a couchant sphinx. Large horse protomes, each including the forelegs as well as the head, decorate the upper rim above each of the inverted U...-shaped intermediate rods. Below each horse protome is a lotos blossom. The stand would have supported a bronze vessel.

"Rod tripod stands have a long history in the eastern Mediterranean region. The earliest occurred on Cyprus in the thirteenth century B.C., and the type continued to be produced there and elsewhere in the succeeding centuries. The Cypriot version has a wide distribution: it has been found on Cyprus, Crete, the Cyclades, mainland Greece, Sardinia, and Italy. This stand is an early example of a later, ornate type of Greek manufacture. Cast in several pieces and jointed together, it is a highly accomplished piece of metalwork."
Closeup of the top of the bronze rod tripod stand.
JP found the military armor and weapons fascinating.  Three bronze mitrai (belly guards), Cretan, late 7th Century B.C., at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.

From the information card:  "These three mitrai were found on Crete with the two helmets [in the next pictures]. They were suspended from belts to protect the lower abdomen. One, with the depiction of the foreparts of horses, is inscribed "Synenitos, the son of Euklotas, took this." Another, with the foreparts of winged horses, is inscribed "Aisonidas, the son of Kloridios, took this." The third mitra is decorated with two sphinxes. Such heraldic representations of fantastic animals were derived from Near Eastern prototypes."
Two bronze helmets, Cretan, late 7th centruy B.C. at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.   Additional views, and more information at The Met's website HERE.

From the information card:  "These helmets and the three mitrai exhibited below them are the finest pieces of a large cache of armor that came to light in south central Crete, where it was undoubtedly made. The inscription suggests that the armor was captured as booty and offered as a dedication. In repousse on both sides of one helmet... is a pair of winged youths grasping a pair of intertwined snakes. Below them are two panthers with a common head. The helmet is inscribed "Neopolis." In repousse on both sides of the other helmet is a horse; incised on each cheekpiece is a lion. The inscription states that Synenitos, the son of Euklotas, took this object."
Bronze griffin attachment from a cauldron, Greek, mid-7th century B.C., said to be from Olympia. at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.  No additional info on The Met's website, but The British Museum has a bronze griffin attachment as well, with details HERE.

Terracotta cosmetic vase; East Greek; fourth quarter of the 6th century B.C., at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.  View from the other side at The Met's website, and additional information HERE.

From the information card:  "On one side of the upper frieze of this exquisite vase a youth holds two winged horses and two youths drive a chariot. Real and imaginary animals circulate on the other frieze areas between carefully drawn geometric patterns. The ram's head cover may have served as the handle for a cosmetic applicator."
Terracotta statuette of a siren; Greek, archaic period, ca 550-500B.C.; at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.  More at The Met's website HERE.

From the information card:  "Sirens are mythical creatures famous in antiquity for their song, which lured sailors to their death. Sanctuaries to the sirens are known to have existed in parts of Southern Italy and Sicily, as the geographer Strabo and other ancient writers tell us. This large, hand-modeled sculpture with applied decoration may well have been a votive offering at such a sanctuary."

I am leaving you with a writing assignment - scroll back up, and take another look at the pictures.  Which is your favorite (or, to make it more interesting...your least favorite)?  Your task is to write a short story or poem with the object in your favorite/least favorite picture as the subject.  What would that story be?   Would it be set in Ancient Greek times, or more modern times?  Would it be happy, sad, war-filled?  My son will be writing a short story about the little terracotta bull.  I will be asking him to keep his story in the timer period of Ancient Greece, using accurate details, but the rest is up to him.  
And, for those of you studying Ancient Egypt, I came across this fun game (and several other great links) at the National Museum of Scotland's website - click HERE for the game.  The NMS also is unveiling a new Ancient Egyptian exhibit called "Fascinating Mummies" which you can read a bit more about HERE, plus you can see slides of some terrific artifacts from Ancient Egypt, and follow the links on the lower right for more about Ancient Egypt (some are the same as those on the game page).

1 comment:

  1. Wow, thanks Malea! We don't have any museums around here, but I'll show Lu these awesome photos when we start on Greece.


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