Museum In Delphi Archaeological Site
The Museum in Delphi Archaeological Site is one of the most important museums of Greece and one of the most visited. It was founded in 1903 and has been rearranged several times. It houses discoveries made at the panhellenic sanctuary of Delphi Archaeological Site, which date from the Late Helladic period to the early Byzantine era.
The collections are arranged chronologically in fourteen rooms on two levels. In general the museum mainly displays statues, including the famous Charioteer of Delphi, Architectural Elements, like the Frieze of the Siphnian Treasury and ex votos dedicated to the sanctuary of Pythian Apollo, like the Sphinx of Naxos.
To begin with the first two rooms are devoted to the most ancient objects. Starting with Mycenaean finds, particularly clay figurines. Among which is a significant female figure seated on a three-legged chair, which has been viewed as a precursor of the later tripods. However, the majority of the exhibits are bronze votive offerings, dating to the 8th and 7th centuries BC. They include bronze tripods and cauldrons with decorative elements inspired by mythical creatures, such as griffins, as well as bronze figurines of warriors. Notably the items displayed date to the late Geometric and early Archaic periods.
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Room 3 is dominated by The Kouroi of Delphi, archaic male statues known also as Cleobis and Biton. In fact they were produced at Argos between 610 and 580 BC. It also contains The Metopes of the Treasury of the Sicyonians. The latter include four metopes made of yellowish poros stone from Sicyon, coming from the so-called “monopteros”.
Room 4 is dedicated to the very precious offerings found in an pit on The Sacred Way. The silver Statue of a Bull and the chryselephantine statues. This statues represent the Apollonian triad, namely God Apollo, Goddess Artemis and their mother, Leto. Notably, the room reminds of a safe where visitors are let in to admire the precious objects.
Room 5 displays The Sphinx of Naxos and The Friezes of the Siphnian Treasury. The parts of the treasury displayed include one of the two Korae. Korae are the elegant female figures supporting the vestibule of the treasury, one of the capitals and parts of the frieze.
Moreover, the most impressive exhibit, however, is the Sphinx. It is an enormous statue which crowned an ionic column and capital. In fact the column, 12 meters in height, stood close to the Halos. The City of Naxos dedicated The Sphinx. Naxos was wealthy island of the Aegean in its prime time, i.e. between 575 and 560 BC. An inscription at the base of the column renews the right of “promanteia” for Naxos in the 4th century BC.
Room 6 contains the archaic and classical facades of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi Archaeological Site. The archaic sculptures, made of Parian marble, include a carriage with four horses, carrying God Apollo. To the left of the carriage stood three female figures. Possibly the daughters of Kekrops, King of Athens To the right three male figures. The scene is identified as the advent of God Apollo to Delphi. Important to realize is that the sculptures of the pediments of the 4th century temple were made of Pentelic marble.
Rooms 7 & 8 contain objects from the Treasury of the Athenians. The first room contains the metopes, the second contains acroteria, pedimental sculpture and inscriptions. The two pediments of the Treasury of the Athenians are fragmentary. Furthermore they depict, apparently, the meeting of Theseus and Peirithus and Hercules in a battle scene. Twenty-seven out of the thirty metopes of the treasury are also preserved. They bear representations in deep relief. Also, the east side metopes depict an Amazonomachy.
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Furthermore, the south side metopes depict the heroic deeds of Theseus. Such as the killing of the Minotaur, the bull of Marathon, the hero with an amazon, the hero with the Goddess Athena, the fight against the bandit Cercyon and against Skiron. On the north side are depicted nine heroic deeds of Hercules, such as the fight against Geryones, in four consequent metopes, in an unusual “narrative” style.
Rooms 9 & 10 hold the objects from the Temple of Athena Pronaia. Especially among them stand out sculptures from the Treasury of the Massaliots and the Doric Treasury. Two acroteria in the form of running female figures have been attributed to the Temple of Goddess Athena. Architectural members on the north wall of the room such as simae, gutters in the form of lion-head and acroteria in the form of anthemia, as well as parts of Nike acroteria belong also to various buildings of the sanctuary. They date to the late archaic and classical periods and preserve traces of their initial colours.
Distinctly in the middle of the room there are free-standing cases. Three bronze figurines are displayed . First a Corinthian figurine of a man playing the double flute. Second two naked athletes dated to the same period and coming from an Attic workshop. Third a magnificent bronze incense-burner in the form of a “peplophoros”, a female figure holding above her head a cauldron for burning the incense. All three figurines were found in the pit of the Sacred Way along with the chryselephantine statues and several other finds.
Along the western side there is a case displaying bronze figurines dated to the first half of the 5th century BC, as well as parts of larger bronze statues. Among the latter stand out the part of a crane and the part of a himation decorated with maeander motifs with inlay copper.
Room 10, on the other hand, contains parts of the Tholos. Tholos is the round building standing out in the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia. It is dated to the first quarter of the 4th century BC. Two rows of simae with lion-heads and two rows of metopes have been found. The first row of metopes decorated the external side and the row with the smaller figures belonged to the internal side of the pteron. Alos, the sculpted decoration was complete with acroteria in the form of women dressed in floating peplos. Moreover, the outer metopes depicted an Amazonomachy and a Centauromachy. The sculptures of the Tholos date to 380–370 BC and constitute magnificent specimens of late Classical sculpture. They remind of the sculptures of the Asclepeion of Epidaurus.
Room 11 contains Late Classical and early Hellenistic objects. The most important are the Dancers of Delphi and the ex voto of Daochos. Daochos II was the tetrarch of Thessaly between 336 and 332 BC. The ex voto consisted of a rectangular base 11 meters long which bore openings for supporting nine statues, discovered around it. Eight of the statues were identified by inscriptions.
The Dancers of Delphi on the other hand, is a column identified due to the inscription of its base. It was dedicated by the Athenians, made of Pentelic marble. Finally, the column ended in a composition consisting of acanthus leaves. Out of these leaves sprang three female figures with their hands lifted, as if dancing. They probably held a tripod crowned by the omphalos displayed also in the same room. Equally important exhibits of the room count a statue of God Apollo in the Patroos type and the statue of a man wearing the himation. Also, the statue of an aged man with a himation leaving the right shoulder and the breast uncovered, identified as a priest of God Apollo or as a philosopher.
Room 12 contains Late Hellenistic and Roman objects, including a famous Statue of Antinous. The main exhibit of the statue of Antinous, protégé of the emperor Hadrian. It is probably one of the best specimens of the depictions of the young man which were erected all over the Roman Empire. After his untimely death under order of the emperor. Close to Antinous stands a head of a man probably depicting Titus Quinctius Flamininus, the Roman general who conquered Delphi in 198 BC.
In the middle of the room stands a round altar made of Pentelic marble and coming from the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia. The altar is decorated in three bands with cyma recta and astragalus patterns and twelve female figures. It dates to the 2nd century BC. Another important exhibit is the pedestal with the frieze in relief constituting the Monument of Aemilius Paullus. Along the south side of the room are displayed parts of The Roman Frieze decorating the theatre. They consist of depictions of scenes from the life and deeds of Hercules.
Room 13 is the room of The Charioteer. The statue constituted one of the finest specimens of 5th century bronze sculpture, of the so-called austere style. It belonged to a larger complex including the chariot, the horses and possibly a stable boy.
Room 14, last room is devoted to the final years of the sanctuary. It especially displays three Marble Heads. First a head of Hercules dated possibly to the 1st century AD. Second the head of a philosopher of Late Antiquity, dated to the 4th century AD. Third a head of a priest or philosopher dated to the 2nd century AD. In the past it had been identified as a head of Plutarch.
The ground floor room contains finds from the Necropolis of Delphi, Houses, the Corycian Cave. It also contains several other finds of unidentified origin. Three funerary stelae stand right next to the entrance. They they bear depictions of the deceased in relief. The first case contains Mycenaean stirrup jars. Moreover the next one various types of Mycenaean pottery from the Mycenaean settlement. Hand-made and wheel-made pottery are also extant. They are coming from a chamber tomb discovered at the site of the museum. In the case at the opposite side of the room is displayed pottery, of which stands out a group of pottery from the so-called “Corinthian house” dated to 625–600 BC.
Next case displays seals and scarabs of Egyptian style. In a free standing case in the middle of the room is displayed a bronze hydria with depiction in relief, a rather rare vessel of a workshop locate in the north Peloponnese. Burial votive offerings are exhibited in the next case, including belt buckles, aryballoi and incense bottles.
Classical period pottery follows. A large clay bust of Goddess Demeter or Persephone along with several other clay vessels come from the so-called “grave of the priest”. In the next case are exhibited grave goods from a grave located around the museum, dated to the first half of the 4th century BC. Two attic lekythoi with depictions in relief, clay figurines of Goddess Aphrodite, a dancer, Cassandra, a comic actor as well as a doll with movable hands and legs count among the most important exhibits. The long case along the narrow wall contains finds from the Corycian cave, such as two vessels of the late Neolithic period, some human clay figurines, obsidian blades and some of the knuckle bones discovered there. Some figurines depict korae (young women) and animals.
The most impressive exhibit, however, is a chorus of the Muses around Pan. In the rest of the cases are displayed black-figured lekythoi, clay figurines, a rather large figurine of Goddess Aphrodite and a folding mirror decorated with the head of the same goddess. Finally, some Late antique exhibits such as oil-lamps and a leopard made of mother-of-pearl offer a glimpse into the city of Delphi in Late Antiquity.
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Excellent guide, very clear in her explanations and with a lot knwoledge.
Excellent visit and sites.
The food, for the Delphi tour, maybe can improve.
For the fald day Athens, excellent guide, excellent visit to the museum.
I booked the reservation in advance of our trip and was a little unsure of whether or not we'd like it as I had heard that parts of Delphi had been closed and I wasn't sure if they'd opened again. I was also concerned about the 3 hour drive to get there and thought the whole experience might be tiring as it takes up a full day. Well, it turns out, it was wonderful! We loved this trip. Everything at Delphi was open - we didn't have any problems. The 3 hour drive doesn't feel like 3 hours at all. I took a book with me. The guide speaks a bit about various things during the ride (not the whole time), the bus stops after about an hour or so at a cafe/restaurant where you can use the restrooms, get coffee/snacks, etc. and stretch your legs a bit and that all breaks up the trip a bit. There's a lot of beautiful scenery on the drive there and back so this makes it pleasant as well. On the way to Delphi, you pass through a beautiful little town called Arachova and they actually stopped there on the way back. We were able to wander some of the shops and take pictures - we were there for about 20-30 minutes. Delphi itself is amazing. The tour guide was very descriptive and knowledgeable. It's so interesting when you understand the background and history of the site. It is in the middle of the mountains and the views are just gorgeous. After visiting the historic site, we went through the museum which was also very interesting.
I usually avoid bus tours with a passion, but I needed to save time to travel to Turkey, and I did not want to miss Delphi. The logical thing to do was to book a tour which I did rather reluctantly. I have no regrets. Tour guide was quite knowledgeable and happy to answer questions often with a dry sense of humor. The lunch was good, the Delphi Museum excellent, and the guide heaven sent. You get your money's worth, and this is one trip I'm glad I did not miss. Best of all, we were not herded through some factory to buy things like one tends to encounter when traveling.