Friday, October 31, 2008

Time of the Heroes - An Exhibition in Karlsruhe, Germany

I wanted to visit two exhibitions while in Karlsruhe, well, you know, two birds.....

The exhibition about the archaeology of Karlsruhe and its surroundings promised to be interesting on the internet, so I went there in anticipation of nice objects like this Neolithic axe:

Neolithische Steinaxt aus dem Rhein bei Maxau, 3. Jahrtausend v. Chr.

However, nobody was informed and apart from some posters with alltogether not more than 30 lines about the prehistoric time and a miniature photo of the above mentioned axe, there was nothing there.

After getting rid of my bad mood through bying birthday presents, C and I went to the exhibiton in Karlsruhe's castle:

Zeit der Helden (age of the heroes)
Die 'dunklen Jahrhunderte' Griechenlands 1200 - 700 v. Chr.

The Mycenaean civilization flourished betweenn 1600 BC and ca. 1100 BC, the late Bronze Age in Greece. It ended with the collapse of their Bronze-Age civilization. The last phase of the Bronze Age is also the setting of Homers epics and heroes, hence the name of the exhibition. But it wasn't so much about the heroes themselves, with the exception of a virtual pyre for Patrokles, where Achilles (Achill, Achilleus, they couldn't agree which version of his name they should use) offered his hair.

Here some photos of the exhibition:

We also were lucky and had the chance to attend a lecture by Prof. Maran from University of Heidelberg. He talked about his excavations in Tiryns. Here he is together with a piece of an ivory rod inscribed with cuneiform characters, mostly numerals.

There is also a cuneiform tablet with some scribbeling on it:

And here you can see how the megaron of the palace changed in size after the catastrophic horizon, however, it was still in use:

What has this got to do with heroes? Well, he didn't mention any heroes in his lecture, the nameless kings of Tiryns are heroes for their architecture, building a huge dam to divert a river, building sophisticated secret exits, or cyclopic walls. Maybe he should have mentioned that Perseus reigned in Tiryns, Hercules was supposed to be born there, that Hera stole the throne of Tiryns from Hercules, that it was also here, that Hercules in a bad temper threw Iphitus from the famous walls of Tiryns.

In any case it was fun and we wished we had more time to explore the exhibition.

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