New exhibit reveals important role of horses in ancient Athens

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The important role that horses played in the lives of ancient Athenians is highlighted in a new art and science exhibit that has opened in the Greek capital Thursday.

Organized by the American School of Classical Studies, the “Hippos – The Horse in Ancient Athens” exhibition inaugurated in the Makriyannis wing of the Gennadius Library, near the city center.

A highlight of the exhibit is a well-preserved ancient horse skeleton from Faliron Cemetery – presented for the first time – with its archaeological context and zoological data.

Horse burial in Faliron Cemetery © Ministry of Culture / Hellenic Organization for the Development of Cultural Resources (HOCRE.D.)

Organized by Professor Jenifer Neils, the exhibition will highlight the American School’s unique collaboration with the Ephoria of Piraeus and the Islands for the conservation and study of osteological material from the Faliron cemetery.

The exhibit will also feature a variety of antiques from Greece and abroad, such as marble reliefs, ceramic vases and silver coins, ranging from the Protogeometric (1050-900 BCE) to the Hellenistic period (330-30 BCE) .

These works of art, especially the Attic painted vases, illustrate the ancient Athenians’ obsession with horse breeding and racing. Excavations of the Athenian Agora have provided ample evidence of the organization and important role of the Athenian equestrian corps, the hipped, in the form of inscriptions, tokens and cavalry monuments.

One of the highlights of the exhibition, presented for the first time in Greece, is the loan from the Archaeological Museum of Florence of the life size hellenistic bronze horse head that belonged to Lorenzo the Magnificent.

Life-size bronze horse head Medici Riccardi, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze (Direzione Regionale Musei della Toscana)

During the exhibition, six public lectures on ancient horsemanship will take place at Cotsen Hall, the School’s amphitheater. The lectures will also be available online on the School’s website (ascsa.edu.gr).

Auxiliary programs will include weekly educational visits for schoolchildren led by Steinmetz Family Foundation Museum Fellow Eleni Gizas.

The exhibition will open on January 20 and will last until April 30.

More information on the Opening hours and Covid-19 measures can be found at www.ascsa.edu.gr/events/details/hippos-the-horse-in-ancient-athens-en.


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