Saturday, September 11, 2010

Antiquities Overload

I take back some of what I said about the Greeks not doing a good job of  preserving and displaying their antiquities. Today we went to the Greek Archeaological Museum and the Benaki Museum. They turned out to be two of the most spectacular museums we have visited anywhere. They weren’t very crowded, because most shore excursions from the massive cruise ships do not include these sites.

It’s hard to determine which characters are from mythology and which were real people. The Greek history goes back several thousand years and most of the “good stuff” is from hundreds or thousands of years B.C.. After several hours in the two museums, it was mind dulling. One could spend weeks in these two places studying the exhibits and appreciating the historical significance of all of it.

You are allowed to take pictures in some of the museums, but you are not allowed to use flash or to take pictures posing next to the statues. I couldn’t figure out the rationale for the latter rule until I started to study the Greek statues. Unlike the Egyptian statues, the Greek statues are naked. I guess they don’t want people taking photos in sexually suggestive poses with the naked statues (use your imagination).

Athens was a small city until sometime in the 1800s. Now it is a city of 5M+ people in a country of only 11M people. The 2004 Olympic Games were both a curse and a blessing for the city. They undertook a number of massive construction projects and infrastructure improvements that have greatly enhanced the city. But it put the country into deep debt and a lot of the construction projects have little use in today’s Athens.

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