Regal ladies or princesses; priestesses or healers; women of authority or knowledge; local women, who stood apart from the rest; other women, who accepted and adopted the cultural traits of different societies or of the men they married in their homeland – local or foreign men – or even those women, who for reasons of intermarriage, traveled from one place to another, are the women this exhibition examines. Through their stories, one can distinctly perceive how these women played a contributing role in broadening the cultural horizons of their time, including their involvement in the development of the archaic Mediterranean culture.

In an attempt to give a Mediterranean dimension to the role of women in the dawn of history, namely from the 10th century B.C. to the Archaic period (6th century B.C.), around 24 burial assemblages of women from Greece (Attica, Euboea, Macedonia, Crete), Cyprus, Southern Italy, and Etruria will be displayed. Analysis of these specific burials reveals how, the concentration of grave gifts and the similarities in burial customs, establish a strong ideological connection and a collective social dimension between countries and civilizations; it appears that these women, who held high status positions in their societies, were carriers of cultural and social information.

The great advantage of this exhibition lies in its selection of artefacts; these artefacts belonged to real women, not mythical or other figures. A genuine, tangible dimension is thus given, whereby specific deceased women are the protagonists and consequently, the human element plays a definitive role. The opportunity is afforded to discuss the interpretative issues and approaches of a woman’s role in the Early Iron Age societies.

The displayed assemblages comprise bronze vases, bronze and iron implements (ladles, spoons, cart models), glass and faience objects, terracotta, bronze, and ivory figurines, and, mostly, jewellery: fibulae of bronze, iron, or silver and precious stones, some surprisingly long (20 cm), decorated with gold pomegranates or birds; bronze breastplates; gold belts; gold, silver, and bronze bracelets and armbands; gold and silver earrings in various shapes and sizes; gold, silver, and bronze finger rings; gold, silver, and electrum hair pins; gold, silver, and bronze necklaces; beads of faience, amber, and semi-precious stones, such as amethyst, carnelian, rock crystal, and Egyptian blue; scarabs made of various materials; gold masks; various pins and pendants. The jewellery displays a vast array of fine gold and silverwork techniques, such us pierced work, granulation, embossing, chasing, and decorative wire, which illustrate a world of high art and wealth. The famous wooden throne of a dead princess from a tomb at Verruchio (Italy) completes the display. In total, the exhibition presents more than 500 ancient objects.

Exhibition curators: Professor Nicholas Chr. Stambolidis, Director MCA

Dr Mimika Giannopoulou, Archaeologist MCA

Exhibition durartion: December 2012 – April 2013

The exhibition is held under the auspices of the Presidency of the Hellenic Republic and the Presidency of the Italian Republic.