Friday, May 10, 2013

Irakleon Archeological Museum--The Paid Part

After visiting the free part of the museum, we paid a small fee to go into the rest of the Irakleon Archeological Museum.

One of the first things to see is a cabinet full of ancient bronze weapons, jewelry and knickknacks.

Various items from antiquity

This set of tiles is possibly decoration for wooden chests. They represent various two- and three-story Minoan houses, with doors and windows and even staircases to the roof. They look like tiles from an ancient game of Carcassonne, if you ask me. They are from Knossos and the neopalatial period (1600-1450 B.C.).

Tiles of houses (click to enlarge)

An actually game related item is the Minoan Chessboard, a game board found in Knossos dating from the 1500s B.C. The board has ivory, rock crystal, glass paste, gold and silver leaf. The game was probably similar to games that were played in the Egyptian court. It's fun to imagine what kind of game they played on the board. No rules or game pieces were found with it, other than those at the top of the display case.

The "Chessboard" (click to enlarge)

A clay house from Archanes in the 1600s B.C. shows a typical Minoan house.

Model Minoan House (click to enlarge)

Three-quarters view (click to enlarge)

The double-headed axe is a common symbol on Crete, often depicted in religious ceremonies. This bronze axe head on a modern wood post is from Nirou and also dates from the neopalatial period.

Double-headed Axe

This libation vase is another common image on Crete. The vase was found at Knossos and is still in fantastic condition. Perhaps it is related to the Minotaur myth which comes from Crete, either as a result or as an inspiration. A hole in the back of the neck allows the libation offering to be poured in; a hole in the muzzle pours the libation out.

Bull's Head Libation Vase

The bronze statue of a cloaked youth dates from the late Hellenistic period (1st century B.C.) and might have been part of a tomb. The eyes may have had ivory or glass.

Bronze youth

J told us all about the jewelry and coins in this display, though his accuracy is in dispute.

Maybe he's picking out gifts for Mother's Day

The large jars in this picture were used for cremated remains. The small jars were used for sacrificing oil, grain, and other valuables to the gods. They date from the 800s to the 600s B.C.

Vases (click to enlarge)

The Bull-leaping Fresco depicts an ancient Minoan event where the young and agile would attempt to somersault over a bull the long way, i.e. from the bull's head to his tail. This fresco is also from Knossos but the late palatial period (1450-1400 B.C.).

Bull-leaping Fresco (click to enlarge)

One final display includes the famous fertility goddess holding two snakes over her head. This is another Cretan icon, appearing in shops and on shopping bags.

Fertility figurines and small double-headed axes (click to enlarge)

More figurines

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