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Posts tagged with 'Ancient Greece'

Who was Artemis-Orthia?

8 August 2018 by Cicely Hill

When most people think of ancient Greece, the Classical city of Athens usually springs to mind. Yet, Sparta in the Peloponnese, is known as the military state and is the total antithesis of the city of Athens. This is where you would find the prolific Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, one of the most important religious sites in the ancient city and the centre of religious rituals that we still know very little about.

The World Museum has 83 lead votive offering figurines from the sanctuary in its collection. Other findings at the sanctuary – excavated by the British School at Athens in 1906 – included figurines made of terracotta and ivory, along with masks. The sheer number of offerings found at the site demonstrates the importance of the sanctuary.

A winged female figure votive offering

A winged female figure votive offering from the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia. Such representations are considered to be the goddess herself.

The lead figurines start to be offered around the 8th century B.C. The figurines at this time were well made, fairly thick and were cast in shapes that imitated expensive jewellery offerings, including earrings. In the following century (700-635BC) there was a boom in the different types of figurines being offered, including animals, both real and mythical, as well as representations of the goddess.

It’s at this time we see evidence of the goddess being addressed as ‘Orthia’ on pottery and tiles. Orthia is the Greek word for ‘standing’, but it also could have been the name given to the Spartan winged animal goddess of women and fertility.

Two main fragments of a decorative plaque

Two main fragments of a decorative plaque from a votive offering associated with the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia.

In later periods there is evidence of her being referred to as ‘Artemis-Orthia’. There’s a possibility that Orthia was merged with the Greek goddess ‘Artemis’, who has similar qualities being a mistress of the animals. However in Ancient Greek art representations, Artemis is often depicted as a maiden huntress in a skirt carrying a spear. In around 635-600 BC winged goddesses were popular, as well as women wearing skirts, suggesting that both interpretations of the goddess were used by different individuals at the same time.

Figurines dating to 600-500 BC suggest an ideological shift to the Greek style Artemis, rather than Orthia. In this period deer – Artemis’ most sacred animal – are introduced, and other animals decrease in number. Other gods, including Poseidon (Artemis’ uncle) and Hermes (Artemis’ half brother) also start being used along with warriors. This is also the peak time for the number of figurines found. The shift in figurines offered coincides with the building of a second temple around 570BC and an expansion of the old temple.

Fragments of a deer, a votive offering from the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia.

Fragments of a deer, a votive offering from the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia. Deer are associated with the hunting goddess Artemis.

The figurines gradually become poorer quality, and many of them have not survived. Around the 3rd century AD the Romans had taken over the region and built a theatre around the temple, welcoming tourists to watch ritual displays. It is probable that the figurines became more crude as the offerings became a novelty for tourists.

View our Artemis Orthia collection >

A taste of Ancient Greece

27 November 2017 by Chrissy Partheni

Travel through time, from prehistoric Crete and the Minoans to the Mycenaean palaces and tombs of the Peloponnese with our Ancient Greek collection.  Through the stories of our diverse range of objects you can discover the different phases of Ancient Greek history, including the sanctuaries of Artemis Orthia in Sparta, Hellenistic Ephesus and even lands as far as the Roman Cyzicus (now in Turkey), as well as learning how the interactions of ancient Greeks with other cultures facilitated the development of new ideas.

Read more…

Greece is the word

26 July 2017 by Chrissy Partheni

Curator of antiquities Chrissy Partheni delivering a Greek workshop.

What is a curator’s knowledge and passion if not shared? How important is it that we reach out to communities and make the future generation aware and proud of their heritage?

Read more…

Going back to my roots: the curator of classical antiquities

23 December 2014 by Ann

Chrissy Parthini

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a curator for National Museums Liverpool?  Here Chrissy Partheni tells us about her first few weeks doing just that.

Having worked at National Museums Liverpool for 15 years in roles that involved interpretation and public engagement as well as partnerships with other museums I am honoured and excited to take up the post of the curator of classical antiquities at World Museum. The significant variety and quality of the collections, ranging from Cycladic, Minoan and Mycenaean art to classical pottery, the Ince Blundell sculptures, and the Anglo Saxons.  Read more…

Apollo in the USA

21 November 2013 by Gina

Blog1Regular visitors to the Ancient World Gallery at World Museum may have noticed that one of our statues, Apollo Sauroktonos (Apollo the Lizard-Killer), a Roman copy of a famous statue by the Greek sculptor Praxiteles, hasn’t been on display since the summer. That’s because the statue is on loan to Cleveland Museum of Art in the USA, where it’s one of the star items in the special exhibition ‘Praxiteles: The Cleveland Apollo’, which is open until 5th January 2014. Read more…

Ancient World News!

24 October 2013 by Gina

1966.177

Are you planning a visit World Museum during the half-term break? You mustn’t miss our new case in the Ancient World Gallery on Level 3, with objects which have never been on display before. Caring for our collections is one of our on-going jobs, and I am very grateful to Steve, our metals conservator, and Jan, our ceramics conservator, for their help in getting these objects on display. Read more…

Konnichawa from Japan!

29 August 2013 by Gina

2013Yukiko

‘Konnichawa’ means ‘hello’ in Japanese, and that is how I was greeted by Yukiko Saito from Kyoto Seika University in Japan who visited World Museum this week. Yukiko was awarded a grant by the Japanese government to come to the UK to help her university research on the fascinating topic of colour in antiquity. Read more…

Ancient Greece at the World Museum

11 February 2010 by Lisa

 

It may still be freezing outside, but here at the museum one of our curators has been occupied with thoughts of sunnier climes – Greece to be exact! Here’s our Curator of Classical and European Antiquities, Gina Muskett, to tell us more…


Curators putting objects into a case

Careful with that pot!

Visitors to the third floor of World Museum will see a change – a brand-new display of Greek objects. Lots of people – not just me – have been working on this display, and it’s taken us less than a year to get ready, from start to finish. Above you can see a photo showing two of us arranging the objects in one of the cases. It takes a lot of time to get things just right and, of course, we have to handle the objects with great care – the pot we’re putting into position is about 2,500 years old. Read more…



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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.