The “Winged Victory of Samothrace,” an iconic Greek statue housed in the Louvre in Paris, is going to undergo a major restoration, Agence France-Presse reports.
The museum will spend an estimated $4 million to clean the statue and repair structural problems. The statue will be out of sight to the public until the spring of 2014.
The statue was made sometime between 220 and 185 B.C. and is considered a masterpiece of ancient Greek art. It was discovered by a French archaeologist in 1863 on the island of Samothrace in the Aegean Sea. It had been housed in a small building at the highest point of the religious sanctuary on the island.
The statue stands atop the prow of a warship (not visible in this shot courtesy MJM Photographie) and was intended to commemorate some unknown naval battle. Sadly, no dedicatory inscription has ever been found, so exactly what victory the Victory was celebrating will remain a mystery.
There’s something weird going on in the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Sozopol.
Last year, Bulgarian archaeologists dug up the graves of two vampires and analyzed the purported bones of John the Baptist. Now the Sofia Globe reports they’ve found a temple to the Classical god Priapus. This deity, best known for his huge erect penis, was the god of fertility and its opposite – erectile dysfunction. He acted as a sort of metaphysical Viagra.
Bozhidar Dimitrov, head of the National History Museum, said archaeologists excavating in Sozopol have found a clay phallus inscribed with the words “to Priapus.” This sort of item was common as a votive offering to the god. There’s no report on whether a building was found on the site. Actual temples to Priapus are rare, since he was a minor god worshiped mostly in the countryside or in gardens. His fertility extended to plants as well as people and he was also the god of merchant sailors, which would have been important in a thriving port such as Sozopol.
Priapus was a popular god in the Roman Empire. The above image, courtesy Wikimedia Commons, is of a fresco in Pompeii. You can find statues of the god and little phallic amulets in any large collection of Roman antiquities. The British Museum has several. Jump the cut to see a cute little figurine of Priapus with a little surprise.
This is actually two shots of the same bronze figurine dating to the first century AD and found in Picardy, France. On the right it appears as a man walking with a cloak wrapped around him, but pull the top off and presto! Instant fertility. It’s on display in the Musée de Picardie à Amiens. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
In the northern port city of Thessaloniki in Greece, workers of Metro’s construction company found ancient ruins during the building of a new subway. Archaeologists say the 230-foot section of uncovered road was built by Romans nearly 2,000 years ago.
The site was shown to the public on Monday, when it was announced the artifact would be raised and put on permanent display when the subway officially opens in 2016. People were able to see not just the street that was once a hub for travel, but also children’s board games and horse-drawn carriage marks etched into marble stones, tools, lamps and the base of marble columns.
And if that isn’t exciting enough, another road built by ancient Greeks 500 years prior to the first one was also discovered.
“We have found roads on top of each other, revealing the city’s history over the centuries,” explained Viki Tzanakouli, an archaeologist working on the project. “The ancient road, the side roads perpendicular to it appear to closely follow modern roads in the city today.”
[image via Tired time]
Despite hard economic times in Greece, its capital city, Athens, is about to expand visitation to a major archaeological treasure — the Stoa of Attalos. This ancient Greek colonnade and indoor market was built in 150 B.C. by Attalos II, King of Pergamum, as a gift to Athens in gratitude for the happy schooldays he spent there.
The Stoa was meticulously reconstructed in the 1950s by The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and houses the Museum of the Ancient Agora. While visitors have been able to visit the ground floor, the first floor has been off-limits for thirty years. It will reopen in mid-May, just in time for the start of the peak tourist season. The floor will house a display of Greek sculptures that have never been shown to the public. Windows will allow visitors to get a good view of the rest of the Agora, the ancient city’s social, spiritual and political hub.
Top photo courtesy Ken Russell Salvador. Bottom photo courtesy Tilemahos.
An ancient theater on the Greek island of Delos has received funding for a major renovation. The Greek government has earmarked 1.5 million euros ($2 million) to make the site more attractive for the thousands of tourists who visit it every year.
Delos was an important religious site in ancient Greece, being the purported birthplace of Apollo. Delos is one of the smallest of the Cyclades Islands, which are a favorite destination for many travelers for their historical importance and natural beauty.
The theater was finished in 250 B.C., and constructed entirely of marble. It could seat up to 6,500 people and it may be used as a theater again once the restoration is completed. Restoration work will include putting together the jigsaw puzzle of many broken pieces of marble, clearing away the plants that have grown on the site and providing drainage to minimize water damage.
The entire island of Delos is one of Greece’s seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is rich with archaeological remains. Archaeologists from the French School at Athens have been excavating at Delos since 1872 and are still making major finds. One of the most attractive is the Sacred Way leading to the sanctuary of Apollo. The road is flanked with carved lions, much the way sacred paths in Egypt were flanked with sphinxes. Besides Apollo’s sanctuary, there were also spaces set aside as sacred to Dionysus. Several giant phallic symbols sacred to the god of wine and partying have been found. You can see a couple in the photo gallery below.
Sumptuous mosaics have been discovered in many of the buildings as well as statues and richly painted pottery. Many of these finds are displayed in the local museum, one of the best in Greece.
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.