Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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At the Museums: Subway Art Volume 53 Number 5, September/October 2000
by Angela M.H. Schuster

Athens' Metro dig treasures on exhibit

[image] Fifth-century B.C. terra-cotta figurines found near the Kerameikos Station (Courtesy the Nicholas P. Goulandris Foundation Museum of Cycladic Art & The Greek Ministry of Culture) [LARGER IMAGE]

When construction of two new lines for Athens' Metropolitan Railway was announced a decade ago, it prompted concern in the international archaeological community. Plans called for digging more than 13 miles of tunnels for the subway, ventilation shafts, and a dozen new metro stations, five of which would be located in the heart of the ancient city. Construction would destroy several square miles of Athenian soil, sediments rich in information on the city.

Now, 500 of the more than 30,000 objects--bronze and marble statues, painted vases, and stone monuments, as well as items of everyday life such as cups and goblets, coins, jewelry, lamps, children's toys, cases for cosmetics, and tools--recovered during salvage excavations prior to construction, have gone on view in The City Beneath the City, a landmark exhibition at Athens' Nicholas P. Goulandris Foundation Museum of Cycladic Art. "For the very first time," says exhibition curator Liana Parlama, "we have a portrait of life of ancient Athens, which had been continuously occupied since the second millennium B.C. We now know what she looked like in times of prosperity and decline and in periods of artistic flowering and economic hardship."

Angela M.H. Schuster is a senior editor of ARCHAEOLOGY.

* Click here for ARCHAEOLOGY's list of current exhibitions.

© 2000 by the Archaeological Institute of America