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Ancient Cycladic civilization meets modern Beijing March 24, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums, Hellenic Light Asia.
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Archaeological exhibition will open on April 3

24-03-08_cycladic.jpg  A marble female figurine from the early Cycladic II period, circa 2700-2300 BC.

With the Olympic Games in Beijing almost upon us, the Chinese capital is getting ready to welcome some of the wonders of one of Europe’s oldest civilizations. “The Cyclades: Masterpieces of an Aegean Culture” is an archaeological exhibition that will go on display at Beijing’s Imperial City Art Museum on April 3 and is scheduled to run to May 15.

On loan from the Museum of Cycladic Art and the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, figurines, tools and pots, dating to the 4th and 3rd millennia BC, are set to travel to China for the first time. The exhibition is part of the ongoing Cultural Year of Greece in China, which started last September and includes more interesting cultural events.

“This is the first archaeological exhibition of the Cultural Year of Greece in China,” said Sandra Marinopoulou, the new President of the N.P. Goulandris Foundation [who took over after the death of Dolly Goulandris], at a recent press conference. She pointed out that a display of artifacts from the ancient Cycladic civilization – the culture that flourished on the islands of the Cyclades – is of particular importance in a country that has not had much contact with Greek culture, because the exhibits are highly reminiscent of modern artworks by 20th-century artists whom they have inspired.

24-03-08_cycladic_art.jpg  The exhibits have been carefully arranged so as to reflect a sense of familiarity, as Nikolaos Stambolidis, Director of the Museum of Cycladic Art, explained. “We had at our disposal a huge space with glass displays which could have made the few statuettes almost disappear,” said Bessy Drouga from the National Archaeological Museum. Yet the opposite effect was achieved, since the exhibition has been enriched with maps of Europe as well as colors reminiscent of the Aegean Sea. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog in Chinese and English.

Situated in the center of Beijing, in Chang Pu He Park, the Imperial City Art Museum opened its gates to the public in June 2003. The two-floor structure houses traditional Chinese art but is also keen on showcasing international artwork.

Further events organized in the context of the Cultural Year of Greece in China, as Sofoklis Psilianos, general secretary for the Olympic Utilization explained, include an exhibition of costumes from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, a large exhibition in collaboration with Greece’s National Archaeological Museum, a performance of Dimitris Papaioannou’s staging of “Medea” as well as Sophocles’ tragedy “Ajax” by the Attis Theater, among other activities.

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Greece to be featured at the Nye Beach Gallery March 16, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean, Hellenic Light Americas.
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Hillside buildings at Fira, Santorini. Typical architecture on the island begins in caves and extends outward to terraces overlooking smaller islands of the volcanic crater.

Photographs of the Greek Islands and the Acropolis by Elizabeth Atly will be on exhibit at the Nye Beach Gallery and paired with a Greek wine tasting featuring Santorini wines for the gallery’s weekly wine tasting. An artist’s reception will be held at the same time, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, March 15. Nye Beach Gallery is located at 715 NW Third St. Atly’s exhibit will be on display through the month of March.

Through several vocations as a French professor, residential designer/architectural historian, and filmmaker, Atly, who recently transplanted from Portland to Newport, has avidly pursued the avocation of photography, with occasional one-artist shows and inclusion in group shows.

16-03-08_santorini.jpg  The photographs on exhibit at the Nye Beach Gallery were taken in Greece in 1996.

Santorini is the only volcanic island in the Aegean, said by locals to be the site of the sunken city of Atlantis. Prior to visiting the island, Atly considered only black and white photography, nurtured to life in the darkroom to become “art.”

On a walk through the colorful Fira neighborhood the morning after embarking from the ferry, Atly returned to her room and put away the black and white film. This show is a result of that decision.

Atly is a founding member of the For ARTSAKE Gallery, soon to be open at 258 NW Coast St. in Nye Beach. Her work and that of the nine other For ARTSAKE members will be on display at the new gallery. Watch for opening information.

The first thing you notice about Santorini is the whiteness of the buildings, all massed on the ridges of the crescent-shaped island, with green and rocky hills and fields between the villages. Just as the white shapes up close reveal a kaleidoscope mingling subtle and outrageous color, the fields reveal various phenomena. Olive trees and even prickly pear cactus grow, seemingly out of rock, and in springtime, one sees fields on rolling hills, full of what appear to be crowns of thorns. These are the starts of the grape vines from which the remarkable Santorini wines are cultivated. Training them into circular patterns on the ground protects the starts from the harsh winds that can tear through these islands.

Santorini cuisine for the traveler on a budget consists of variations of souvlaki, chicken and potatoes roasted together, Greek salads and spaghetti cooked in a thinner tomato sauce than its Italian counterpart, subtly spiced with bail. Lobster and other seafoods are plentiful, served up with orzo pasta and local seasonal vegetables; and what would a Greek meal be without olives, feta, olive oil, Greek bread, all accompanied by ouzo, or retsina, or best of all, one of the delicious Santorini wines.

For more information contact Wendy Engler at the Nye Beach Gallery at 265-3292.

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In search of the ancient Minoans March 8, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Culture History Mythology, Hellenic Light Europe.
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Archaeologist Nikolaos E. Platon (1909-1992), a native of the island of Cephalonia, was an expert in Minoan civilization who undertook many excavations in Boeotia, Evia, Fthiotida, the Sporades and Crete.

It was he who discovered the fourth Minoan palace and surrounding settlement, bringing to light a large number of exhibits, many of which are now in the Archaeological Museum of Iraklion in Crete.

In a lecture at the Hellenic Center, London, his son Lefteris, professor of prehistoric archaeology at Athens University, said he hoped that some of these could be transferred to the Siteia Museum. Lefteris Platon’s lecture for the Greek Archaeological Committee of Britain was held on February 20.

He described the work carried out by his father and the exploration that continues to this day, which he himself leads. Professor Platon presented a large number of slides showing Linear A inscriptions, gold and other objects, clay pots decorated with marine themes and stone objects.

From the land of the Labyrinth to New York City March 7, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Hellenic Light Americas.
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Minoan Crete at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York City 

06-03-08_minoan.jpg  Bull’s Head Rhyton. A spectacular vessel dating to the Late Minoan IB period (ca 1450 BC), Iraklion Archaeological Museum. More than 300 artifacts reflecting the high level of creativity of the Minoan civilization will be exhibited at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York.

A full depiction of the glory of Minoan Crete is set to travel outside Greece for the first time. In collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and archaeological museums on the island, the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation is preparing to launch the “From the Land of the Labyrinth: Minoan Crete, 3000-1100 BC” exhibition at its New York-based affiliate, the Onassis Cultural Center. The exhibition, which will run March 13 to September 13, will reveal different aspects of the daily life of the so-called Minoan civilization, which derives its name from the legendary Cretan King Minos.

Onassis Foundation President Antonis Papadimitriou pointed out the importance of Minoan civilization, as Europe’s first fully developed culture, at yesterday’s press conference. “We decided to do something more edgy,” he explained, because lately the foundation’s New York exhibitions have dealt with more “mainstream” themes, such as the Athens-Sparta conflict and Alexander the Great.

“We should not forget that Crete had unfortified cities, something which we only encounter later in Europe after the 19th century,” said Papadimitriou. “At a time like today, when civilizations, religions and races get all the more intertwined, it is important to remember what it is that connects us.”

Minoan civilization is the name given to the culture that developed in Crete between 3000 and 1100 BC and which is divided into different periods (Prepalatial, Protopalatial, Neopalatial and Postpalatial). Favored by its privileged geographical position, Crete developed an extensive network of trade routes. The blossoming of trade in the first period and the ensuing wealth resulted in a well-structured palatial society, with the palaces becoming the centers of economic, religious and social life. Two types of scripts, a hieroglyphic script and Linear A, were used to facilitate economic activities.

Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki, head of the 25th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and director of the Hania and Rethymnon archaeological museums as well as one of the exhibition curators, said the display covers all Minoan periods. It is divided into 11 thematic and chronological sections. Highlights include the “Religion and Ritual” section, which features sacred Minoan symbols (such as the Bull’s Head Rhyton), the murals section but also “Scripts and Weights” which includes Linear B tablets, clear proof of a Mycenaean presence in Crete in the final period. “Pots and Potters” features some skillfully made vases, while “Masterpieces in Stone” demonstrates a variety of stone artifacts. There are sections devoted to tools used in workshops, weaponry and cooking. Elaborate seals, jewelry and sarcophagi will also be on display.

An international day conference as well as lectures have been scheduled to take place in the context of the exhibition, which will be accompanied by a catalog and a DVD.

The Foundation has also launched a series of dramatized readings of ancient Greek texts. The first rhapsody of Homer’s “Iliad” was successfully performed at the steps of the Altar at Berlin’s Pergamon Museum recently. The next reading will re-enact ancient historian Thucydides’ famous “Melian Dialogue”, the debate between the Athenians and the residents of Melos which failed to deter the former from their hard stance. It will be held in Washington in the near future before traveling on to other US cities.

Onassis Cultural Center, Olympic Tower, 645 Fifth Avenue, New York City, USA.

Related Links > www.onassis.gr

Greek Culture Year continues in Beijing, China March 2, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Asia, Olympic Games.
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The exhibition at the Hellenic House gave people in Beijing a preview of the new Acropolis Museum in Athens. The Museum was constructed to house the famous exhibits from the site of the Acropolis, Athens’ most famous landmark. Visitors are able to see cast copies of the west frieze of the Acropolis, as well as the Parthenon, and a photographic presentation of the New Acropolis Museum.

There’s also a scale model of the Museum’s “Parthenon Gallery”. The Gallery will house the original blocks of the frieze and other elements of the architectural decoration of the Parthenon. The new Museum in Athens will be fully opened by late 2008.

Another remarkable event this week debuts a contemporary adaptation of an ancient comedy, by Aristophanes. “The Birds”, is to open at Beijing’s National Grand Theatre.

The Birds originally was staged nearly 25 hundred years ago, shaping a Utopian ideal of a city comprised of men and birds. The contemporary adaptation, staged for the first time 47 years ago is considered a digest of modern Greek culture and a benchmark in modern Greek cultural history. It is considered the most successful post-war Greek drama to travel the world.

Greek Minister of Culture Mihalis Liapis attended the press conference announcing the events. The Minister said, “During the exhibition, I will promote an agreement with my Chinese colleagues to prevent the smuggling of cultural relics. I know both China and Greece have suffered inestimable losses from smuggling. As for the “Birds”, I believe Chinese the audience will love it. It is a masterpiece beyond time and space. We hope to showcase not only the ancient history and culture of Greece, but also it’s modern life. And you will find it all in the year of culture.”

The Greek Minister of Culture also noted that lighting ceremony for the Olympic flame for the Beijing Olympic Games will be gathered at Olympia, Greece, on March 24. Preparations already are in place.

From Aristophanes to the Acropolis, Greek culture on show in Beijing February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Culture, Hellenic Light Asia, Olympic Games.
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Two Greek cultural landmarks were presented in Beijing yesterday. Both events are part of the ongoing Culture Year of Greece in China.

Aristophanes’ masterpiece “The Birds” opened at the Chinese city’s Grand National Theater last night. The sold-out performances are based on a celebrated production presented for the first time by Karolos Koun’s Theatro Technis at the Herod Atticus Theater in 1959.

The second event, an exhibition on the New Acropolis Museum, was inaugurated at the Hellenic House in Beijing earlier this week.

Presenting both events at a press conference in Beijing yesterday, Greek Culture Minister Michalis Liapis expressed his satisfaction with the way Chinese audiences have responded to the Greek cultural presence. Liapis also announced a large-scale music event scheduled to take place during the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Princeton Coins a gateway to History February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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Alan Stahl has a lot of change on his hands, and not the kind you can cash in at any bank. The curator of Princeton University’s numismatic collection is in charge of protecting and displaying tens of thousands of coins, tokens, medals, and pieces of paper money.

The 150-year-old collection started as an assemblage of plaster casts of ancient Greek and Roman coins. Stahl estimates it now contains about 80,000 items. New acquisitions in the past year have made the collection even more diverse: a donation of 2,000 ancient Chinese coins, and the purchase of more than 800 medieval Greek coins, bought for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

About a dozen university students each spend a few hours a week cataloging the coins. So far, the collection’s online system has more than 3,000 coins listed, about 1,000 coins entered in each year. For the students, cataloging the coins is an education in itself. As a junior majoring in classics, Joe has read a great deal about the ancient Romans.

But he felt a greater connection with the subject he loves last week as he held a brass coin with the image of the big-chinned Roman Emperor Nero on the front. The back showed Rome’s temple of Janus with its doors closed, a symbol that the empire was at peace.

Some of the collection’s coins are on display at Princeton’s Firestone Library, where the collection is housed. Any member of the public can also ask to see a tray with some coins, though Stahl will keep close watch to make sure coins don’t go missing. Stahl still cringes when he recalls a theft at the American Numismatic Society when he was there in the late 1980s.

Half of the collection, about 30,000 coins, comes from Princeton University archaeological work in Antioch, during the late 1930s. The dig turned up a trove of ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic coins. Stahl still handles envelopes with the handwriting of the lead archeologist’s wife, who catalogued the money.

The collection includes Byzantine coins that are bent, almost in cup shapes. Some of the ancient Chinese coins are shaped like knives and keys. But for the most part, the coins are round and flat, a feature Stahl guesses might be due to functionality.

“The knife coins would sure punch a hole in your pocket or purse. I guess a square coin would be bad,” Stahl said. Kingdoms and empires, Stahl said, usually have rulers on the front of their coins, though the Byzantine Empire also used Jesus. Republics in history have avoided living people, and instead concentrated on symbols of what is valued by the state. Particularly in the past, most average people didn’t see their country’s capital and its public buildings, or the nation’s important documents. But they did see coins.

Related Links > The Princeton University Numismatic Collection > http://www.princeton.edu/rbsc/department/numismatics