The fully renovated National Archeological Museum is one of the biggest and most remarkable archeological museums in the world. Its numerous and outstanding exhibits give you the opportunity to travel back in history. Without a doubt its treasures will mesmerize you and it is really worth to visit it more than once. If you are planning to visit it just once make sure you have plenty of spare time.
Some of the museum exhibits are:
Poseidon of Artemision. Is it actually the statue of Poseidon or Zeus? Archeologists keep on arguing on this. This bronze statue is a masterpiece of classical period sculpture art. Its height reaches 2.09 m and is one of the few original bronze statues preserved until now.
Zeus statuette. A statuette of Keravnovolos Zeus (Thunder-striking Zeus) found in Dodoni. The position of the god as he is preparing to strike the lightning is really remarkable. It is the same position as that of Poseidon of Artemision.
Dimitra and Persephone. This beautiful and well preserved bas-relief found in Elefsina was created approximately in the period of 440-430 B.C. It depicts Dimitra who offers wheat to Triptolemos, the young King of Elefsina. On Dimitra’s right side is the daughter if Persephone giving her blessings. Pay attention on the size difference between Triptolemos and Dimitra. The artists of that period, as a demonstration of their respect to the gods, were presenting gods taller than mortals when they had to depict both on a votive column.
Myrrini lecythus (oil-flask). It is the main exhibit of the homonym room 16. This particular lecythus, created from white marble, was discovered in 1873. It is decorated with a bas-relief that depicts Hermes holding the hand and leading somewhere a young woman called Myrrini. According to the inscription above her head Hermes intends to take Myrrini to Pluto (god of Addis- the place where all dead people were going). Three men, probably Myrrinis relatives, watch the whole scene (430-420 B.C.).
Igesous column. Do not miss to see the most famous preserved column (5th century B.C.). It was discovered in Kerameikos and at present its copy stands in the former location. The bas-relief depicts Igeso seated, taking a jewel from a box that her slave holds. It is believed, that the colors used for the relief’s background and the jewel were blue and gold respectively. The name “Igeso of Proxenos” is curved on the upper part of the column. Remarkable is also how skillfully the artist depicted Igesos melancholy as well as the pleats of her dress.
The golden mask of “Agamemnon”. Although is has been proven not to be Agamemnon’s mask, it is still a remarkable exhibit worth seeing. The theory of E. Schliemann was wrong and nowadays it is believed to be the mask of a dead king, who died three centuries before Agamemnon (16th century B.C.). You can see the mask together with other objects (jewels, golden artifacts, swords etc) found in Mycenaean royal tombs in The Mycenaean Collection Room right opposite the entrance.
The Artemision Jockey. This bronze statue (2nd century B.C.) was discovered with the Poseidon statue outside Artemision cape. The jockey was probably smelted separately from his horse. Pay attention on the depiction manner of the horse strained muscles as well as the agony on the face of the jockey.
Marble votive bas-relief: Dimitra, Persephone and Asclepius. Persephone stands on the left side of the relief holding two torches on her right hand. In front of her sits Dimita and on her right stands Asclepius. On the right side of the relief you can see six beggars who, according to the inscription, dedicated this bas-relief to Asclepius and to the two Elefsinian goddesses. Their names are curved on the bottom of the bas-relief, between crowns made from olive tree branches.
Hygeia’s (Goddess of Health) head. It was discovered in the temple of Athena Alea in Tegea and was obviously part of a statue. You will definitely recognize Ygeias head from numerous photos you have seen it in.
Efivos of Antikythira (Teenager of Antykithira). It is one more statue that caused disagreement among archeologists. It is obvious that the statue held a spherical object on his hand. That’s the reason why some argue that the statue represents God Pan holding an apple, while others claim that this is Perseas’ statue holding Andromeda’s head (340 B.C.) It was found in a shipwreck next to Antikythira in 1900.
The Child of Marathonas. It is a statue of a young boy named after Marathonas’ gulf where it was discovered in 1926. The inscription on its base says that the child is a boxer. Apart from its left hand which is believed to be a later repair, this statue is considered to be a masterpiece. It is probably the work of Praxiteles or one of his students (330 B.C.).
The Thera exhibition. The most important items of this exhibition are the frescos which give valuable information about the life in the Aegean during the Bronze Period. The findings were discovered in Thera’s cape (Santorini) and constitute earliest examples of large scale painting in Europe.
Spring fresco: It depicts a rocky landscape full of bright red lilies and swallows flying in couples or alone.
The fisherman’s fresco: One of the most well preserved frescos depicting a naked fisherman holding two bunches of fish.
Fresco of two children boxing. Here you see two children boxing. The child standing on the left wears boxing gloves and earrings. Note their almond-shaped eyes.
Epigraphic Museum (Museum of Inscriptions). It is part of the Archeological Museum but has a separate entrance. It includes 14.000 inscriptions from Greece and Asia Minor and is the biggest epigraphic museum in the world.
The National Archaeological Museum houses a modern coffee shop, onto the interior atrium of lush greenery, a hidden corner for rest and relaxation. Experience the unique opportunity to enjoy your coffee, hot or cold drinks with tasty sweets, next to very rare antiquities, statues and mosaics.
Tip: The opening hours of the cafe follow the timetable of the Museum.
Source Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO)