You’ve grown up hearing about Greek gods, reading Greek myths, learning about Greek drama, philosophers, mathematicians, writers and maybe some history. But from now through April 10, 2016 you can check out the real deal about Greece in “The Greeks-Agamemnon to Alexander the Great” at Chicago’s Field Museum.
It’s filled with gorgeous gold jewelry and ornamentation, marble and stone figures and heads of celebrated Greeks, weapons, daily household objects and other archaeological finds that have been amassed by museums in Greece, Canada and the U.S.
But at the exhibit’s opening Nov. 24, “Greeks” Co-Curator Bill Parkinson, Field’s associate curator of Eurasian Anthropology, recommended visitors do more than admire the objects. “The objects tell stories,” Parkinson said.
He pointed out that the stories date back to the land’s early history 5,000 years ago from Neolithic villages through expansion guided by various rulers up to Alexander the Great. As visitors wander through the exhibition rooms they can see what was important during different eras.
Parkinson explained the thinking behind the presentations in a handout. “This exhibition is not your typical art historical display of vases and statues. It really gives the visitor an opportunity to see the evolution not only of art, but also of Greek culture, politics and economics of the long-term,” he said.
With more than 500 objects and several good maps and historical notes on walls and cases, visitors might wonder what to particularly look for and what will stay in their minds when they leave.
Asked what impressed them and what they liked, three sixth-grade friends from the Elden Finley Junior High in Chicago Ridge had different answers. “Their power, and their weapons,” said one girl. “The pottery,” said another. A third girl chose Agamemnon.
Visitors may also be intrigued by findings from tombs. One tomb excavated in Crete had a type of crown but archaeologists don’t know its owner. A gold funerary mask originally thought to have been of Agamemnon was uncovered at Mycenae but it was from more than three centuries before the Trojan War so it couldn’t have been Agamemnon (if he really existed).
Then, there is the findings of a funeral pyre on Crete to read about that had an Iron Age warrior and companion with weapons and funerary vessels. If you know Homer’s “Illiad” you might recall that Achilles had such a pyre prepared for Patroclos and Trojan enemies. So, look for the clay vessel of Achilles Avenging Patroclos. Another item to check out is the gold “Myrtle Wreath uncovered in Stavroupolis that dates to 350-325 BC.
The exhibit, opened first in Canada at Pointe-a- Calliere Montreal Archaeology and History Complex, then the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, will end at the National Geographic Museum in Washington DC.
Two things to note: first, many of the objects have never been seen away from their museums and will return to their homes when the exhibit ends, secondly, the exhibit is sponsored by the John P. Calamos Foundation and Calamos chairs the National Hellenic Museum Board of Trustees. Try to fit in a visit to the National Hellenic Museum’s “Celebrating the Greeks,” for its exhibition and events before they end in May.
Details: The.Field Museum is at 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605. For more information visit The Field or call 312-922-9410. The National Hellenic Museum is at 333 S. Halsted, Chicago, IL60661. For more information visit National Hellenic Museum or call 312-655-1234.