Isthmia: starting-gate

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Isthmia © David Gill

Excavations at the Panhellenic sanctuary of Isthmia in the Peloponnese uncovered remains of the balbides starting-gate from the stadion. There were a sixteen starting-gates (on the right of the picture) that were controlled by strings that passed along grooves leading to the pit where the ‘starter’ was positions. The gate ‘system’ appears to date to the 5th century BC, although its use may have been limited.

Austerity, Heritage, and Tourism

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David Gill will be giving a lecture on ‘Austerity, heritage and tourism: UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece’ as part of the Edmund Lecture Series for 2017/18. The lecture will be in Suffolk House, Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday 18 April 2018 at 6.00 pm.

Abstract

Tourism is a significant part of the Greek economy and an important counterbalance to austerity. There are 18 UNESCO cultural and two mixed World Heritage Sites (WHS) in Greece. They range from the Bronze Age site of Mycenae, through the Classical site of Olympia, to the Medieval City of Rhodes. These locations stand alongside a rich range of archaeological and heritage sites as well as museums that serve as a repository for the finds. This lecture will review the value of these UNESCO recognised sites as focal points for tourist activity. This overview will be presented against the wider visitor figures for other archaeological sites and museums in the care of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. This information will be mapped onto the wider visitor data for Greece, and contributes to the discussion over the economic impact of World Heritage Sites for local economies as well as the wider economy of Greece. The lecture will explore the likely impact of Brexit on the Greek tourist economy, and opens a wider discussion of why the UK Government should value our own UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

[Details]

Victory Monument from Greece

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Victory relief now in New York © David Gill

This relief was acquired by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1959 [inv. 59.11.19]. It was first recorded by Michel Fourmont in 1729/30, and was last known in 1753. The piece surfaced in the London sale at Sotheby’s of part of the collection of Lord Hatherton in 1959.

The relief dates to the second century AD. Although the name of the individual is lost, his father was Alexander (restored, [Ale]xandrou) of the deme Rhamnous in Attica. The relief marks from left to right, victories in the Panathenaic games (showing an amphora containing olive oil), the Isthmian games (with a pine wreath), Argive games (with a shield), and the Nemean games (with a celery wreath). Brian F. Cook has suggested that a further wreath would have appeared at the left end, above the now missing personal name: Delphi and Olympia are possibilities.

The relief is a reminder how cultural property can move from one country to another passing through historic collections.

From Octavian to Augustus

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Bronze Augustus, National Museum, Athens © David Gill

On this day, 16 January 27 BC, Octavian was awarded the title Augustus ‘by decree of the Senate’.

This equestrian statue of Augustus was found in the sea between Ayios Evstratios and Euboea in 1979. It is now in the National Museum in Athens (inv. X 23322).

Celebrating Hadrian in Athens

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Colossal portrait of the Emperor Hadrian, found in Athens, 1933. Athens, National Archaeological Museum inv. 3729. © David Gill

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is celebrating the reign of the emperor Hadrian in an exhibition, “Hadrian and Athens: Conversing with an Ideal World“.