Signage on Aegina

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Colonna, Aegina © David Gill

We have been noting the heritage of signs at various sites in State Guardianship in England, Wales, and Scotland. The complexity of architectural features at archaeological sites in Greece is resolved by the placing of signs to explain the elements to visitors.

In this view of part of the temenos of Apollo on Aegina (the Kolonna site), the different phases of the sanctuary wall (one from the archaic period, and the other from the Late Roman phase) are indicated in Greek and German (reflecting the language of the excavators of the site).

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Colonna, Aegina © David Gill

Troy at the British Museum

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Troy: Myth and Reality © David Gill

The Troy: Myth and Reality exhibition at the British Museum has just opened in Gallery 30. The beautifully designed exhibition takes the visitor from the Skaian Gate at Troy through to the installation of the Shield of Achilles.

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‘The Death of Hector, King Priam and the Skaian Gate’, Anthony Caro, 1993–94. Photo: David Gill

The narrative of the Trojan War was supported by a range of objects, underpinned with figure-decorated pottery from the museum’s extensive collection. One of the first pieces on display is the Geometric ‘Nestor’s cup’ from Pithekoussai (‘I am the cup of Nestor, good to drink from’).

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Skyphos from Pithekoussai © David Gill

There is a section on the excavations at Troy, and another one on the documentary evidence. The final section is on the reception of Troy, and includes a poem written by a British officer at Gallipoli in his copy of The Shropshire Lad. 

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Troy: Myth and Reality © David Gill

The exhibition contained two late 15th century Italian panels by Biagio d’Antonio (on loan from the Fitzwilliam Museum) showing the Death of Hector and the Wooden Horse entering the city.

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The Siege of Troy, Biagio d’Antonio. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum. Photo: David Gill

Schliemann’s part in the uncovering of Troy was explored a space that displayed some of the finds from the excavations against a backdrop of the great trench.

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Troy: Myth and Reality © David Gill

What were the personal highlights in the exhibition? The Roman silver kantharoi from Hoby in Denmark were stunning pieces of luxury art. The representation of Priam seeking the return of Hektor’s body before Achilles on one of them was moving.

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Kantharos from Hoby. Denmark, Nationalmuseet. Photo: David Gill

The real surprise was the Roman sarcophagus from Ephesus that now forms part of the collection at Woburn Abbey. This scene shows the weighing of Hektor’s body.

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Sarcophagus from Ephesus. Woburn Abbey. Photo: David Gill

This is one of the best temporary exhibitions to be mounted in Room 30. The design and installation of the exhibition was inspired, especially the graphics explaining the iconography on Attic figure-decorated pottery.

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Shield of Achilles. Spencer Finch, 2013. Photo: David Gill

Lanercost Priory: warning sign

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Lanercost Priory © David Gill

The Ministry of Works sign at Lanercost Priory uses strong language (‘forbidden’) to discourage visitors from exploring the site. Similar signs are found at Brough and Brougham Castles.

Alternative wording is found at other sites.

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Lindisfarne © David Gill
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Lindisfarne © David Gill

The Berlin Wall as heritage for the future

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Berlin © David Gill

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the effective reunification of Berlin. Few traces of this symbol of a divided city remain.

But we also remember those who died trying to cross this barrier.

How do we remember the recent past and present it to the public? How do we deal with such sensitive issues? How can this heritage be used to inform future generations?

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Berlin © David Gill
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Berlin © David Gill

Hadrian’s Wall: unfinished ditch at Limestone Corner

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Hadrian’s Wall, Limestone Corner © David Gill

One of the reminders of the difficulty in constructing Hadrian’s Wall can be seen at Limestone Corner (MC30), to the east of Carrawburgh, where the ditch to the north of the wall was left unfinished. It is estimated that one of the single blocks removed from the ditch originally weighed 13 tons.

Tyntesfield and the Areopagos

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Tyntesfield, chapel © David Gill

The chapel at Tyntesfield (managed by the National Trust) contains this stained glass window designed by Harry Ellis Wooldridge in the 1870s. (The chapel was completed in 1875.) The scene shows the Athenians, seated on the rocky Areopagos, listening to Paul. The backdrop is the Athenian akropolis with the Propylaia and the Parthenon. Note that the view of the akropolis is not the one seen from the Areopagos.

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Athens, Akropolis © David Gill
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Athens, akropolis from the Areopagos © David Gill

An olive tree was inserted into the panel.

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Athens, olive tree adjacent to the Erechtheion © David Gill