A not so brief guide on how to help the antiquities in the Mediterranean

Why collecting money is the last thing you want to do:

First of all sites and museums that look abandoned are not so because of a shortage of public funds. They could have been purposefully left to deteriorate so that they may be looted. So money can’t help there. What can help is you raising awareness on the illegal antiquities market.

Very often the problem is not the money, but the system for hiring the personnel that will do the work and how through their involvement some wise guy- politician or other form of lowlife- will be able to drain public money. What you can do there is get in touch with the local organizations and individuals that are protesting the situation and help them gain visibility. They know very well what to do and how to do it, they only need moral backing. Visibility will make it harder for these people to be ignored or harassed in order to keep quiet.

Remember that fascist organizations are often involved in the vandalizing of such sites, so there is always the element of fear for locals.

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Archaeological Museum of Delphi:

White-ground kylix, found in a tomb at Delphi. Work of an anonymous athenian vase-painter. On white ground, Apollo is depicted crowned with a wreath of myrtle leaves sitting on a stool with legs in the form of  lion paws. He is dressed in a white peplos and he is draped within a red himation. With his left hand he is plucking the the chords of his lyre, while with his right hand he is offering a wine libation from a navel-phiale. The black bird accompanying him is probably a crow, a reference to his mythical love for Aigle-Koroni, the daughter of king Phlegyas. (480-470 B.C)

Archaeological Museum of Delphi:

White-ground kylix, found in a tomb at Delphi. Work of an anonymous athenian vase-painter. On white ground, Apollo is depicted crowned with a wreath of myrtle leaves sitting on a stool with legs in the form of  lion paws. He is dressed in a white peplos and he is draped within a red himation. With his left hand he is plucking the the chords of his lyre, while with his right hand he is offering a wine libation from a navel-phiale. The black bird accompanying him is probably a crow, a reference to his mythical love for Aigle-Koroni, the daughter of king Phlegyas. (480-470 B.C)

Archaeological Museum of Delphi:

Bronze incense burner. A young woman wearing a long peplos and reticulated head-dress holds up a hemispherical cauldron in which the incense was placed. A pierced lid covers the top of the vessel. A most exquisite creation, most probably the work of a Parian workshop. (460-450 B.C)

Archaeological Museum of Delphi:

The statue of Antinoos:

This well preserved sculpture (only the forearms are lacking) portrays Antinoos, the youth from Bithynia whom Emperor Hadrian loved passionately until his premature death. Antinoos’s long hair was crowned by a wreath, of which there are indications of a band with leaves of a different material. This work exemplifies the evolution of ancient portraiture. Its melancholy beauty, the graceful angle of the head and the high polish of the marble surface embody the spirit of the Roman Imperial age, when there was a tendency to revive ancient Greek ideals. This most moving portrait of Antinoos was placed in the Delphi sanctuary by decision of the Amphictyons (presidents of the Pythian games) and of Aristotimos the priest. Antinoos drowned in the Nile in 130 AD and was subsequently proclaimed a god by Hadrian, who had statues and busts of the beloved youth placed in various cities and sanctuaries of the Roman empire, and established his worship, which included rituals and games in his honour.
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greek-museums:

Archaeological Museum of Delphi:

The Charrioteer:

This statue must be the work of some bronze-scupltor from Magna Graecia, probably of Pythagoras of Samos. According to written sources, Pythagoras sought symmetry and precise rendering of details. Undoubtedly the Charrioteer is a masterpiece of the Severe Style that marked the transition from the archaic to the classical style period (480-460 B.C). Plain and austere it mirrors the athlete’s morals.

(For more on the Charrioteer’s history see here)

Archaeological Museum of Delphi:

Remnants of three chryselephantine statues depicting perhaps the Delian triad- Apollo, Artemis, Leto. The statues were riveted to a wooden core with the faces, hands and feet rendered in ivory with golden decorations and jewellery. Apollo’s and Artemis’ features have been restored with wax but retain their original characteristics. The statues are probably the work of an Ionian or Samian workshop (6th century B.C).

They were discovered in 1939, after the grand excavation among other offerings from the cities of Ionia. The building within they were kept had been destroyed in the 5th century B.C. The finds were found amidst charcoal and ashes.

Archaeological Museum of Delphi:

The Charrioteer:

This statue must be the work of some bronze-scupltor from Magna Graecia, probably of Pythagoras of Samos. According to written sources, Pythagoras sought symmetry and precise rendering of details. Undoubtedly the Charrioteer is a masterpiece of the Severe Style that marked the transition from the archaic to the classical style period (480-460 B.C). Plain and austere it mirrors the athlete’s morals.

The Charrioteer was preserved thanks to a natural disaster.  It was buried in the debris of the great earthquake of 373 B.C and this is the reason it escaped looting and destruction. None other of the large scale bronze complexes described in literary and epigraphic sources has survived. Some of them must have been destroyed, while others must have been plundered during the Third Sacred War (356-346 B.C), when the Phocians owned the sanctuary and used the precious offerings to cover their military expenses.  Works that had not been moved to Rome during the Roman period were probably recast by later inhabitants of the area who needed the bronze for utensils.

The discovery of the charrioteer in 1896 during the Grand Excavation was the cause of much enthusiasm, since no other bronze statue, of natural size from the Classical period had been recovered so far. Many years later the Riace Warriors, the Poseidon from the cape Artemission- bronze statues of equal artistic value contemporary to the Charrioteer- were retrieved from the sea. Master sculptors of classical Greece worked mainly with bronze, their work now lost, has become known to us through marble copies reproduced during the Roman period.

The Charrioteer was part of large complex that represented a quadriga- a four-horse charriot- with one or two boys holding the outer horses in place. The race is over and the victorious Charrioteer wearing the champion’s headband, parades before the applauding spectators.

Charrioteers who participated in panhellenic games were youths of noble origins, aristocrats like the owners of charriots and horses. Such an ephebe was the Charrioteer of Delphi. He wears the typical sleeved tunic, long down to his thin ankles. A broad belt, and two crossing straps at the back prevent the garment from billowing while the vehicle is speeding. The deep vertical pleats of the garment resemble the flute of a column.

Along with  the statue, part of a stone pedestal was also found with two lines of the metrical dedicatory epigram. The first line must have been corrected and re-inscribed in the antiquity making it hard to decipher it. The name Polyzalos is legible- one of the four  sons of Deinomenes, tyrant of Syracuse. The golden tripods dedicated at Delphi by the Deinomenids for their victory against the Carthaginians at Himera in 479 B.C were famous in the antiquity.

About the same time the poets Pindar and Bacchylides praised Gelo and Hiero- brothers of Polyzalos- for their distinction at the Pythian and Olympic Games. So the quadriga with the Charrioteer is a dedication to celebrate either Polyzalos’ or his brothers’ championship.