thinking about archaeology

Empty plinths

Parthenon galleries 1

The British Museum opens a much anticipated exhibition on the human body in ancient Greek art on March 26 – a day when much of the world will otherwise be occupied with a royal burial in Leicester Cathedral. I’ll be wriitng a bit about it in the next British Archaeology. Six of the pieces in the show come from the BM’s Parthenon collection. You can already get an idea of what they are by looking at the permanent gallery.

Parthenon galleries 2

Parthenon galleries 4That’s Dionysos on the east pediment :

Dionysos British Museum

British Museum

Parthenon galleries 5

Parthenon galleries 6

Here’s Ilissos, from the West pediment (the piece that went to Russia):

Parthenon galleries 3

Main M Pitts, inset British Museum

And just to remind us of the extraordinary beauty and observational power of the carving, here are a couple of panels from the south frieze:Parthenon galleries 7A heifer is led to be sacrificed.

Parthenon galleries 8Horses fly.

Elsewhere in the BM, this opened yesterday (until May 25), a room with trees. Aboriginal Australian artist Wukun Wanambi has re-imagined painted hollow log coffins as larrakitj memorial poles, painted with Yolngu clan fish.

Larrakitj

They’re rather lovely, and reminded me of this – timbers from Seahenge in Lynn Museum, Norfolk:

Seahenge

Then back out in the London streets, my next appointment took me across Trafalgar Square to another empty plinth. This is the one where in 2009 I exhibited 10 pieces of stone to represent 700,000 years of British history (that’s all it was then… nearly a million now!). Which now, as then, was not actually empty. This is Hans Haacke’s Gift Horse, a skeletal representation of the beast with a rolling display of London stock prices, kind of fun and archaeological and also, again, rather beautiful (the exchange information shows up clearly in the half light). You can just make, out in lower right distance, George IV sitting on his horse on the matching plinth, no doubt wondering what happened to the days when you knew where you were.

Gift Horse

Gift Horse 2

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