Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Metapontum: ekklesiasterion and theater

Yesterday afternoon, I visited the Museo Archeologico Metaponto and the archeological site of Metapontum in Basilicata. The museum, a modern building at the outskirts of the village, possesses a beautiful collection of ancient Greek artefacts. It is odd, or better quite frustrating that no brochures or booklets are available or even for sale. Most irritating is that photography is prohibited. Where the Louvre, Getty or Neues Museum allow people making pictures, the Museo Archeologico Metaponto, does not! An investigation for the reason of this strange ban, was not very successful. A small woman with mustache was walking around like a prison warden, making my visit feel like an illegal operation.

The theater however is a special case. It is located in the archeological park. Primarily it was built as an ekklesiasterion, in a circle, which can be seen in the artist impression below. Much is known about the construction which can be found here.

More pictures of the theater and some 'stolen' ones from the museum, you can find here!

One of the finds in the theater, now in the Metaponto museum, is this beautiful terracotta with Dyonisos (or Bacchus, for Roman freaks), God of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, or ritual madness and ecstacy in Greek mythology. His name was worshipped from ca. 1500-1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysion-type cult have been found in ancient Minoen Crete. His origins are uncertain, and his cults took many forms. His festivals were the driving force behind the development of Greek theater.
In Aristophanes play 'The Frogs' Dyonisos travels to Hades to bring Europides back from the dead. This journey is shown in the terracotta.

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