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…. There are also ancient winged chairs of note, but don’t try to sit in them….. One of the more hilarious artifacts is the small head of the god Eros, who in this case looks like a cranky child…. Here’s a more normal pose for Eros…. 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….. Or winged lion-griffins?
There are some nice monuments to the ancient sports heroes— gladiators…. this first one is named Petros– i.e. Rocky….cue the music…. Here’s an interesting one with two boys idolizing their champion….. One of the most interesting pieces is the partial statue of a discus thrower….
Here is a nice head of Aphrodite, the ancient equivalent of Miss Universe…. and a nice statue of a young man…. 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.
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.
Here’s a lovely bust of a woman with a head covering…. and of a Greek man…. Romans tended to be much more clean cut than the scruffy Greeks…. Here is perhaps Neptune chasing a dolphin…. Here is an important honorific column that mentions both the city of Smyrna and of Ephesus and Pergamon…. 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….
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.