Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A visit to the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes

Greek Trip, Day 15, Saturday 2 October 2010, Rhodes End

Continuing our trip story from Popes, Knights, Mussolini & Rhodes, the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes is housed in the medieval building of the Hospital of the Knights. The building was begun in 1440 by Grand Master de Lastic with money bequeathed by his predecessor, Fluvian, and completedP1010890 in 1489 by Grand Master d'Aubusson.

We simply didn't allow time at the Museum. It sprawls with a series of exhibitions or galleries tracking the Island's complicated history.

I ended up making a beeline to the newly opened Minoan gallery.

In earlier posts (The remarkable story of Arthur Evans, Knossos and the Minoans, Akrotiri, Greece and the passage of time) I explained a little of my fascination with the Minoans. I hadn't actually realised prior to the trip just how widely distributed the Minoan influence was. Now I was looking at the same thing in another place.

Sadly, I wasn't allowed to take photos, but I found it fascinating.

I know that many of my readers do not share my somewhat obsessive love of history. It's an addiction, a fascination with the discovery of patterns. I made the point in an earlier post that part of the story of the Greek Islands can be seen in terms of access to water (this was necessary for life) and the sea (trade allowed growth in wealth.) However, you also have to understand location.

Over the centuries, the sea facilitated the spread of Minoan influence and the growth in Minoan wealth. Location affected the Minoans because they had access to the advanced civilisations in what is now the Middle East. To the north on what is now the Greek mainland, another civilisation grew called the Mycenaean that supplanted the Minoans. Then this collapsed, creating a dark age.

For those who want to know more about the history of this long period, I have found a very useful resource, The Prehistoric Archaeology of the Aegean, prepared by Dartmouth College.

P1010904 I spent far too much time with the Minoans, so that it was getting dark when I emerged and had to scoot to see things. This wasn't helped by poor lighting in many places (the photo will give you a feel), nor by the extended history covered by the museum.

According to Wikipedia, in the 8th century BC, the island's settlements started to form, with the coming of the Dorians, who built the three important cities of Lindos, Ialyssos and Kameiros, which together with Kos, Cnidus and Halicarnassus (on the mainland) made up the so-called Dorian Hexapolis (Greek for six cities). I have left the Wikipedia links so that you can explore if you want.

The Persians invaded and overran the island, but were in turn defeated by forces from Athens in 478 BC. The cities joined the Athenian League. When the Peloponnesian War broke out in 431 BC, Rhodes remained largely neutral, although it remained a member of the League. The war lasted until 404 BC, but by this time Rhodes had withdrawn entirely from the conflict and decided to go her own way.

In 408 BC, the cities on Rhodes united to form one territory. They built the city of Rhodes, a new capital on the northern end of the island. From then until Alexander the Great's conquest of Rhodes in 332 BC, life seems to have been turbulent. However, Alexander marked the start of of a long period of great prosperity for Rhodes. P1110329

Under the successor empires that followed Alexander's death, Rhodes became an ally of the Ptolemies who established a new Egyptian dynasty that ruled there until the death of Cleopatra in 30 BC. Rhodes then became a part of the Roman Empire and subsequently the Byzantine Empire.

All this and subsequent history is mirrored in the Museum. You can see why one can get museumed  out!

Just thinking about it in terms of my own interests in using history to help promote tourism in New England, there is a very real skill in the way history needs to be presented to provide context.

The complexity of Rhodes' history is far greater than that of Australia. Yet the challenge is the same. Without history, the museum artifacts lack context. Yet with too much history, it is easy to become even more confused!

After finally gathering all our party, we wandered back to our hotel for a wash, a pre-dinner drink and then out to dinner.

I have no recollection as to where we went, nor did I take any notes! It clearly didn't stand out in my mind as to food.

Tomorrow we drive to Lindos, passing through three very different worlds in one day.

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