Turkey 2016–Part 19– The New Izmir Museum

Turkey 2016–Part 19– The New Izmir Museum July 13, 2016

The ‘new’ (not really that new) Izmir museum is in a large park complex that has several museums in it, but our interest is strictly in the one that has the antiquities in it. There are some remarkable pieces here, not least the almost entirely intact statue of Kaistros the river god whose water brought fertility….nm1 There are also ancient winged chairs of note, but don’t try to sit in them…..nm2 One of the more hilarious artifacts is the small head of the god Eros, who in this case looks like a cranky child….nm3 Here’s a more normal pose for Eros….nm5 The ancients certainly did believe in winged creatures of various sorts, including what we would call angels. This concept is not simply Biblical…. How about cupid on a goose…..nm6nm7 Or winged lion-griffins? nm8

There are some nice monuments to the ancient sports heroes— gladiators…. this first one is named Petros– i.e. Rocky….cue the music….nm9nm10 Here’s an interesting one with two boys idolizing their champion…..nm11nm12 One of the most interesting pieces is the partial statue of a discus thrower….nm18

Here is a nice head of Aphrodite, the ancient equivalent of Miss Universe….nm13 and a nice statue of a young man….nm14 There are a good number of sarcophagi and grave steles as well…. This stele has the image of Asclepius with the pole and the snake, but presumably this person is hoping for other worldly benefits from him, since they are dead. nm15
Here is Hermes, the messenger deity, he of the long beard… he looks like a member of the band ZZ Top…nm19

Here is a typical small altar for sacrifices, this one likely for the drink offerings, or small grain offerings….nm16 Statues of lions were always popular as well….nm17

Here is a replica of an ancient sailing boat, the sort Paul may have sailed in along a coastline to get point to point. This boat would never venture out into the ocean itself but rather would hug the coast. nm20

Here’s a lovely bust of a woman with a head covering….nm21 and of a Greek man….nm22 Romans tended to be much more clean cut than the scruffy Greeks…. Here is perhaps Neptune chasing a dolphin….nm23 Here is an important honorific column that mentions both the city of Smyrna and of Ephesus and Pergamon….nm24 Here’s an interesting stele with the very common inscription at the top— Good Luck— Grave stele’s often have this, and it’s hard not to see this as ancient gallows humor….nm25

Here are two unusual column heads, one in a drum shape, one Aiolic or in the shape of rams’ horns….nm27nm28 Here are two impressive sarcophagi….nm30nm31

If you are wondering why the ancients went to such lengths to honor the dead, many of them believed that the spirits of their ancestors lived on beyond the grave and were as it were protective and guiding their living relatives, long after they died. The Romans had little shrines in their houses with death masks of their deceased family members…..and did devotions to them. It is not too much to speak of ancestor worship of a sort, and consultation of the ancestors before acting.

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