Five thousand years of history will be on display as a result of the exhibition, “The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great,” which will be inaugurated on December 12th at the Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Archaeology and History in Montreal.
The exposition, whose focus is centered around personalities synonymous with the history of Hellenism such as the legendary kings Agamemnon of Mycenae and Leonidas of Sparta, the storied philosophers Plato and Socrates of Athens and the incomparable Philip and Alexander the Great of Macedonia, is a chronological path through the history of Greece and its people.
More than five hundred artifacts, from ancient wreaths and sculptures to masks and jewelry, will be showcased at the museum located in the Old Port of Montreal until the end of April, providing evidence that Greece is truly the Ark of Western civilization.
At the same time, the importance of the event, with its numerous pieces travelling outside the country for the first time, can be seen as reinforcing the message that, should the British Museum return the Parthenon marbles to their rightful home, it could receive such archaeological exhibitions in return. As Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Evangelos Venizelos, told visiting Canadian journalists last autumn, Greece would be willing to lend the British Museum exhibitions of similar heirlooms in exchange for the coveted Parthenon sculptures. “The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great,” he said, “could be seen as an example of what Greece could offer in return for the marbles.”
Ancient objects, both original and copies, from 22 different Greek museums, including the National Archaeological Museum, the Monetary Museum, the Epigraphic Museum, the Acropolis Museum and the Archaeological Museums of Thessaloniki and Heraklion, arrived in Montreal under tight security from the other side of the Atlantic. Spanning five millenia covering nine historic periods, from the prehistoric to the late Hellenistic, the spectacle’s objective is to familiarize the visitor with ancient Greek civilization.
Divided into distinct parts, the exhibition’s first offering is entitled “Prelude: Man in the Prehistoric Aegean” and presents works from the Neolithic age depicting the funerary finds of merchants and seafarers from the Cycladic islands of Amorgos, Naxos and Paros as well as numerous bronze and teracotta relics from the Minoan civilization.
The second section, “Agamemnon and the World of Mycenae,” progresses from Mycenae’s early relations with its Minoan counterparts to the Royal Tombs of Mycenae, dating from the 16th century B.C, and on to the administrative, economic and religious centers that eventually developed afterwards.
The third exhibit, “Heroes and Aristocrats,” recounts the series of events that led to Greece’s transition from a land of city-states, such as Classical Athens, to its establishment of colonies and financial centres.
The sections named “Athletes and Olympics” and “Kouros and Korae” are self-evident as to their subjects while the sixth, “Leonidas, King of Sparta,” contains the renowned sculpture of “Leonidas” (5th century BC) from the Archaeological Museum of Sparta.
The exhibits “Athenians and Democracy” and “Athenians and their Achievements” are dedicated to Athens and the structure of Athenian democracy with the use of inscriptions, reliefs, coins and models.
The next two sections highlight the Macedonian Empire and its splendid artwork, earthenware and jewelry from the archaeological museums of Thessaloniki and Pella. These sections cover the paramount period of Philip and Alexander the Great, displaying silver utensils found in Philip II’s tomb, in Vergina, along with gold wreaths from the Macedonain capital of Aigai and Olympian gold medals, to name but a few.
Finally, the era covering the successors of Alexander the Great, “Dawn of a New World,” depicts beautiful Hellenistic figurines from the archaeological museums of Pella and Veria in Northern Greece.
It should be noted that this exhibition was made possible through the synchronized efforts of the former Greek Ambassador to Canada, Eleftherios Angelopoulos, and the Greek Ministry of Culture and from Canada’s Ambassador to Greece, Robert Peck, and the President of the Museum of the History of Ottawa, Mark O Neill.
Proclaimed Ambassador Peck, “this exhibition is unprecedented, not only for its cultural treasures, many never seen outside Greece before, but also because of the unique collaboration between four major museums in North America. I salute the leadership of Mark O’Neill, the Canadian Museum of History’s President and CEO, its Director-General and Vice-President, Jean-Marc Blais, and their team as well as the exceptional collaboration of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture.”
“The exhibition is, without doubt, an important milestone in the relationship between Canada and Greece and comes at a time when major Canadian companies such as Fairfax, PSP and Eldorado have shown confidence in Greece’s future with their significant investments,” Ambassador Peck concluded.
At the same time, the former ambassador of Greece to Canada, Eleftherios Angelopoulos, stated “The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great” is unique, not only for the richness of its contents, but also because it will be presented, successively, in four major North American Museums over the next two years. It is an exemplary accomplishment of the Ministry of Culture of Greece and the Canadian Museum of History and a great source of pride for the Greeks of North America.
After its four-month run at Montreal’s Pointe-à-Callière Museum, the exhibition will open at the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa on June 5th. It will then travel to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and to the National Geographic Museum in Washington where it will close on October 9, 2016.
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