Part of the ongoing work we do here behind the scenes at World Museum involves dealing with loan requests from other museums. This usually happens when a museum is putting on an exhibition and they need extra objects from other collections to help tell their exhibition’s story. Read more…
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.
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.
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.
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.
24 July 2018 by Tracey McGeagh
We were delighted to find three of our museums listed in a piece about accessibility in the Liverpool Echo recently. Respected website Euan’s Guide includes World Museum, the Museum of Liverpool and Merseyside Maritime Museum in the top ten accessible attractions in Liverpool. Read more…
Over the last two years we have been preparing some of our collections of Roman sculpture for the exhibition, ‘Age of Reason’ at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.
29 June 2018 by Gina
What do false teeth, a terracotta uterus and a focolare have in common? They are all objects selected by Dr Gina Muskett, our Honorary Research Associate (Classical Antiquities), as part of the 50 highlights of the Villanovan and Etruscan collection of World Museum.
Since our landmark exhibition China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors opened in February, we’ve welcomed over 300,000 visitors from across the country and around the world. For many, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to see some of the incredible life-size figures from the burial site of China’s First Emperor. Read more…
16 June 2018 by Joe
This weekend marks the Chinese holiday of the Dragon Boat Festival, an ancient celebration where boats are decorated in the form of dragons and raced in towns and cities across the country. To commemorate the festivities, we are exploring some of the dragon-themed objects on display in our landmark exhibition, China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors.
National Museums Liverpool, working with partners Autism Together, has signed up to the Autism Charter to help make our museums and galleries more autism-friendly for visitors, families and colleagues living with autism and learning difficulties.
We have produced a new range of Welcome guides for the museums and will be rolling out new guides for the galleries later in the year. We’d love you to take a look and let us know what you think of them. We hope they will help visitors prepare for a visit and answer many of your questions during a visit. They can be downloaded from our website or copies can be borrowed from the information desks at World Museum, Museum of Liverpool and Merseyside Maritime Museum.
From the tender age Qin Shi Huang first became king to the enormous terracotta army built to protect him for eternity, we delve into some of the astonishing numbers that make up the story of China’s First Emperor and his world-famous burial site. Read more…