11 August 2009

11 August

This morning, walking down the Street of the Knights, we had the occasion to go into a few of the buildings which used to be the HQ's of the various "tongues" or nationalities by which the Knights Hospitallers (alt. Knights of St. John) arranged themselves. In the Spanish and French Inns were art exhibits from modern painters, both surprisingly fresh and intriguing. I managed to finagle a poster from one of the shows.

The Byzantine Museum is sadly closed for renovation, but we walked through the Archaeological Museum and its satellite galleries, Prehistoric and Epigraphic. I recalled an idea I had seized upon a few days ago in the Fira Prehistoric Museum: I realized that most of my fascination lies not in the objects themselves, but in their discovery, their reconstruction. My infatuation is perhaps then not with ancient man, but with the archaeologist. My time-traveling daydreams consist not of chitons and ritual, but of working with Sylvia Benson or Marinatos.

However, I do not mean to sell the artifacts short. There is an amazing exhibit here of unpublished finds from, if I remember the wall text correctly, a sanctuary at Lindos. It highlights both exceptional craftmanship and artistry and also the importance of the Rhodes as an international port. This exhibit includes tiny scarabs (quartz, bone, glass, faience), tiny votive animals and ships, blue blown glass bottles, gold leafed potsherds, glass beads AND magnifying glasses - about 3/4in thick but most no bigger in diameter than a nickel or quarter - for doing detail work!

The Prehistoric collection was also well dones, with some fabulous rhytons and even skeletons. I think most of the pottery was Mycenaean, from Ialysos. I learned a new word: nekrodeipna: meals for the dead.

The Epigraphical was also exciting with a few bilingual grave slabs, one with Phoenician and Greek, and one with Latin and Greek.

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