An exploration of how the ancient Greeks saw the convergence of art and science has opened at the Science Museum, featuring ancient Greek objects, many of which have never been seen in the UK before.
Ancient Greek philosophers defined themselves as ‘lovers of wisdom’ and, for them, art, religion and science were inseparable. They turned to the gods and Muses for intellectual inspiration as they sought to understand the world around them and question its workings.
The exhibition takes a choice selection of items that then reflect these thoughts and opinions, so it’s an exhibition that’s packed with things to see, but more the highlights that should trigger musings of our own.
The exhibition opens with a dramatic and very clever display using moving lights and video to highlight the nine Muses carved on the side of a sarcophagus.
Do be aware that the animation pauses for a while at the end before repeating, and the countdown clock is quite small, so if you walk in during the interval, it can be very easy to miss the display. And that would be a pity as it’s rather good.
The muses make a second appearance in the exhibition, as a set of gold earrings representing one of the goddesses of intellectual and artistic activity. Broadcasting your artistic nature to the world around you.
Around the back is crinkly bottom – a large statue of Hermes discovered on the same shipwreck that lead to the discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism. His head is unusually clear of erosion as it was covered in sediment.
Although the mechanism is not here, as that would headline any exhibition, the world’s second-oldest geared mechanical calendar is here, dating to somewhere around 400-600 CE.
A small silver globe rewards careful study, as it’s a celestial globe, one of only three known survivors from ancient Greece and shows the 48 constellations known to astronomers at the time in mythical creatures. A fusion of art and science in a cricket ball-sized object.
It’s a nice exhibition, timed with the 200th anniversary of the start of the Greek War of Independence, and offers a group of headlines about how ancient Greece saw the world.
It’s not massively in-depth, just teasers of facts, along with some videos that go into more detail, but it makes for a pleasing to the eye diversion if you are already on a visit to the Science Museum.
You are required to book a free ticket from here.