CULTURE

Antiquities go on the road

One of the most important exhibitions to be held in recent years, «Athens and Sparta: from the 8th Century BC to the Beginning of the Peloponnesian Wars,» is to open in November at the Onassis Foundation in New York. To run until next May, the exhibition will include 266 artifacts from Greece, all rare antiquities that include a bronze figure of an athlete from the National Archaeological Museum which is on the list of antiquities that may not removed from its place. Permission to travel The Central Archaeological Council (KAS) nevertheless gave its permission for the move of this and other objects, most of which will be leaving Greece for the first time. Altogether, 120 of the pieces are from the National Archaeological Museum. At present, the collection is under the working title of «Athens-Sparta: Two Cities, One History.» It will attempt to portray, in three sections, the two most important city-states in the ancient Greek world. According to National Archaeological Museum officials, the idea is to comment on their history and their achievements, their relations to each other and the roles they played in Greek affairs on the political, social and intellectual level. It covers the Archaic era and the 5th century BC, the period, that is, during which the two city-states were center stage in Greek history. First of its kind This is the first time that an exhibition has brought together such a large number of objects from Laconia and Attica. The first section, «Sparta-Athens during the Geometric Period» refers to the time that the city states were created (8th century BC) and includes potsherds from Mt Hymettus with the first samples of Greek script. The next section «Athens-Sparta during the Archaic Period,» follows events in these two cities (the first Ionic, the second Doric) at that time. The third and final section refers to the 5th century BC, the time of the Athenian victory at Marathon and the Spartans at Thermopylae, without having crossed paths. Among the exhibits from this time are objects from the tomb at Marathon and arrowheads and spearheads from Thermopylae, along with pots from graves that are of great historical value. Among the objects KAS eventually refused to allow out of Greece were Miltiades’s bronze helmet from Olympia and coins from the Sparta Archaeological Museum, as well as the spoils of war taken by the Athenians from the Spartans during the naval battle of Pylos, which are kept in the museum of the Ancient Agora. These objects have sustained considerable damage even though they were restored just a few years ago.