As part of an initiative titled “The Unseen Museum,” which casts the spotlight on items owned by Greek museums but hidden from public sight due to a lack of space, the National Archaeological Museum hosts a series of events focusing on an amazing artefact, the Ring of Theseus.
The Mycenaean signet ring from the Acropolis of Athens dates back to the 15th c. BC. The Minoan popular scene of bull-leaping is depicted on the ring bezel, flanked by a lion and a tree. Mycenaean signet rings were personal prestige objects of the first Greek-speaking rulers, the Mycenaeans. The choice of this particular scene on a ring that was to be worn by the rulers of Athens indicates a preference for a Minoan theme and its symbolic connotations. We do not know the reason for this inclination, but, nonetheless, it generates a variety of interpretive associations into our mind.
The ring of Theseus, along with a contemporaneous stone vase fragment depicting the same theme from the Acropolis of Athens (Hall 3 of the Museum), enliven in our eyes the connection between myth and archaeological finds. The legend has it that Theseus, the first king-founder of the city of Athens, overpowered the fierce Minotaur as well as formidable King Minos of Crete. Yet another Athenian myth, according to which King Minos threw his signet ring into the sea and then dared Theseus to find it, seeks its magical confirmation in the most beautiful manner through the present exhibit.
According to the testimony of the first owner, its place of provenance is the Acropolis of Athens. A random find from the Anafiotika Houses (neighborhood at the foot of the Acropolis hill), the ring turned up among the earth deposits that were thrown down the slope in the course of the works for the construction of the Old Museum extension in the 1950’s. The artifact is on display for the first time in Greece.
The ‘Unseen Museum’
Statues, gold jewelry, valuable bronze vessels, as well as personal everyday objects patiently await the moment to become the centre of attention.
Antiquities selected from the unknown world of the storerooms, one after the other emerge every two months everfrom their secure state of obscurity into the light, inviting the fans of rare memorable moments to capture their stories and narratives.
Dates: February 5, 20 and 27 at 11.00
Location: National Archaeological Museum