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The Greek collection is organised around a remarkable group of vases. They are arranged chronologically from the Neolithic period to the time of the Hellenistic rulers. These utilitarian objects (wine service, jewellery boxes, funerary offerings, etc.) are often decorated with figures evoking the military activity of citizens, camaraderie and drinking at the symposium, marriage or the life of women in the gynecary. The procession of Greek gods and heroes, from Athena to Zeus, including Heracles or Theseus fighting the Minotaur, can also be seen.

The begin

The first section presents a panorama of the societies that have developed on the island of Cyprus over the centuries. At the same time, the most ancient cultures that developed on Greek soil are revealed: Cycladic, Minoan and Mycenaean arts. The birth of the Greek city and its development during the geometric, orientalist and archaic periods (-8th-6th century) are then discovered in different cities and regions (Athens, Corinth, Sparta, Boeotia, Ionia...)

Cycladic idol, marble
Cycladic idol, -2500-2400, Naxos, marble

Archaic and classical Athens

The vases made in Athens in the -6th and -5th centuries take pride of place, with famous pieces such as the canthara of Douris or the stamnos of Smikros. They are grouped by theme while respecting the chronology. The utensils of the banquet and its progress are evoked at length. The images on the vases bring the Athenians to life before our eyes: the men hunt, practice sports and war, the women discuss, make themselves beautiful and look after the children. When a family member dies, the deceased is laid on a funeral bed, surrounded by mourners, and greeted by his or her relatives. The body is...

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Kantharos with the figure of Heracles
Kantharos by Douris, -490-480, Athens, pottery

Southern Italy

The Greek cities of southern Italy adopted the Attic technique of the red figure, while adapting it. Regional styles developed, mixing Greek and local contributions, as well as rich and refined cultures such as that of Taranto. One of the masterpieces in the Museum's collection comes from Apulia: the crater representing the apotheosis of Heracles.

Volute crater with red figures (detail)
Apulian volute crater, -4th cent., Taranto, terracotta

The Hellenistic period

During the Hellenistic period, stone, glass and ceramic objects bear witness to the new sensibilities that were developing in the eastern Mediterranean basin. The bronze and terracotta figurines illustrate new perceptions of the human being through a wide variety of representations of the body (ideal, deformed, etc.). A special place is devoted to the Greek kingdom of Egypt, over which the Ptolemies reigned from their capital, Alexandria.

Female figurine with a fan
Female figurine with a fan, -4th-3d cent., Beotia, fired clay

Natacha Massar