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Case 7: Greeks beyond Greece

Collecting the Greek Past

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An ‘Olympic medal’

This medallion was bought by Colonel Leake during the Napoleonic wars (1799-1815), at Serres in northern Greece. He had been sent there to help the Turkish government organize the defence of Greece in case the French invaded.

The style and subjects of the medallion – the head of Athena and Alexander the Great on horseback hunting a lion – recall earlier Greek designs. But this example was probably struck in AD 242, to mark the ‘Olympic’ games celebrated that year in Macedonia, in honour of Alexander the Great.

Date: around  242 BC
Find spot: Macedonia, northern Greece
Leake Collection

Object Number: CM.LK.4210-R

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Bearded male figure, perhaps the god Zeus

The dark surface coating (patina) of this figure is very characteristic of bronzes from the Leake collection.

Production place: Greece
Date: around  450–350 BC
Bronze (copper alloy)
Leake Collection

Object Number: GR.5.1864

see the online collections database

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Stemless cup (kylix): the oracular head of Orpheus

According to some versions of the story of the legendary musician Orpheus, after he had lost his wife, Eurydice, he took no interest in any other women. The women of Thrace were so irritated by his indifference that they tore him into pieces. His head floated down various rivers to the sea, and was carried over to Lesbos where a shrine was set up for it and it uttered oracular sayings. In this scene, a seated man is writing down the head’s words, watched by the god Apollo.

The painter of this vase is a craftsman known today as the 'Painter of Ruvo 1346'.

Production place: Athens
Date: around  420 BC
Fired Clay, red-figure technique
On loan from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Lewis Collection

Object Number: Loan Ant.103.25

see the online collections database

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