The exhibition “The origins of sculpture. Archaeological finds from the Old World and Lesbos 2.5 million to 50,000 years Before Present” includes stone tools and ‘figure stones’ depicting birds, faces, and bodies originating from sites in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East and presented for the first time in Greece. The oldest goes back to 2.5 million years and the most recent dates to 50,000 years Before Present.

These works by ancestors of Homo sapiens testify that the aesthetic awakening and the ability to recognise beauty and meaning in objects go back millions of years before our time, when the origins of the art of sculpture can be traced.

The exhibition also includes 3D-printed casts, which visitors are able to touch. Based on the ‘First Sculpture: Handaxe to Figure Stone’ exhibition (Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, 2018), the Athens show is co-organised by the University of Crete, the Benaki Museum, and the Region of Crete and for the first time showcases tools from the important Palaeolithic site of Rodafnidia in Lesbos brought to light by the University of Crete archaeological excavations.

The exhibits are rare Paleolithic stone tools from the Mytilene Archaeological Museum, the Tony Berlant collection (Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas), the Institut de Paléontologie Humaine in Paris, the Upper Galilee Museum of Prehistory and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology of Cambridge University, the Centre Européen de Recherches Préhistoriques de Tautavel and the Witwatersrand University Museum in South Africa.

This is the first time they have been showcased in Greece.

The exhibition is based on the earlier exhibition First Sculpture: Handaxe to Figure Stone, organised by the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, 2018.