The Archaeological Museum of Corinth was built between 1931-2 as a result of generous donation by Ada Small Moore, a wealthy American art collector and generous benefactor. Since that time, various extensions have been made to this small museum.
Through the main entrance we passed into the centre of the museum, the Atrium which was a crowded space of statues, generally in full toga but unfortunately without heads. (This may be because the head was always added separately so easier to lose!) There was also a magnificent coffin in this outdoor gallery with perhaps a portrait on the lid of the deceased in Elysium dining on grapes
As mentioned previously, we were not able to visit the remnants of the theatre of Corinth but here in the Atrium were some amazing remnants from the façade of the theatre’s stage building. These consisted of 15 relief sculptures (metopes) depicting scenes from the Amazonomachy (fights between Greeks and Amazons), fights between the Gods and the Giants (Gigantomachy) and one of Hercules labours. They date to around 125-150 CE.
From the Atrium we moved into the extensive Gallery entitled, ‘Corinth, a Powerful City State’. This is where the famous Kouroi statues are to be found plus findings from the cemetery outside Corinth where the Kouroi were originally found.
My favourite room of this museum was called ‘Corinth, a Roman Colony’ which was a long wide room that ran along one wall of the museum with the walls and the centre of the room jam-packed with the interesting Roman finds from the Corinth archaeological site and surrounding area. My favourite piece from the whole museum is of course the almost perfect mosaic taken from the floor of Roman villa of the ‘Colonia Laus Lulia Corinthiensis’, bearing the head of the God Dionysos, dated around 150-225 CE.
The image on the right is one of the imposing barbarians (Phyrigian Captives), larger than life slave statues that stood either side of the entrance doors of this Roman Corinth exhibition. They came from the archaeological site where they flanked a formal doorway of the North Basilica.
In this same room there were many excellent Roman statues to admire of which three examples are to be found below. The first one is a bust of Nero from around 60 CE that was found in the Julian Basilica. The portrait has a suggestion about it that this youth may be subject to tantrums, perhaps even to burning the city down if he doesn’t get his own way. The middle image is the very ornate remains of a statue of Hadrian in armour. The third bust is that of Julius Caesar, unusually with the sculptor suggesting that he hasn’t shaved recently. In a sense we are lucky to have seen this bust of Caesar as in 1990 it was stolen from the museum, put on a boat to Turkey and eventually ending up in a wharehouse attic in Miami, USA. Over 250 artifacts were stolen when organised thieves (already with orders for specific objects) broke into the museum, tied up the guards and helped themselves to the loot. The staff organised an inventory of stolen objects plus photos and sent them off to the police and various archaeological publications. To cut a long story short, some pieces were recovered from the Auction House of Christie’s New York (including, eventually, three heads of Caesar!) while 265 pieces were recovered by the FBI in a Miami warehouse.
We finished our walk around this museum in the Asklepion room. Despite having visited a number of Asklepions the previous year, we still were very surprised by the votive offerings that were left in the ruins of this building, presumably by previous grateful clients. Perhaps we were more confused rather than surprised, by the offerings in the top row of the image below.
APPENDIX 1…The Dionysos Mosaic…a closer look!