On April 7 the Ashmolean, Britain’s first public museum and home to the University of Oxford’s world-class collections of art and archaeology, launched a groundbreaking archaeological exhibition that is presently showcasing over five hundred treasures made of gold, silver and bronze, recently found in the royal burial tombs and the palace of Aegae, the ancient capital of Macedon.
Most of these extraordinary new discoveries are now on display for the first time anywhere in the world. They re-write the history of early Greece and tell the story of the royal court and the kings and queens who governed Macedon, from the descendants of Heracles to the ruling dynasty of Alexander the Great.
The event, which was organised under the aegis of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the 17th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, is to run until August 29, 2011 at the University of Oxford.
The collection rewrites the history of early Greece and tells the story of the royal court and the kings and queens of Macedon, descendants of Heracles whose rule culminated in the empire of Alexander the Great.
Aegae remained relatively unknown until 30 years ago when excavations uncovered the unlooted tombs of Philip II and his grandson Alexander IV. Recent work at the site by the 17th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, has continued to unearth a startling wealth of objects – from beautifully intricate gold jewellery, silverware and pottery, to sculpture, mosaic floors and architectural remains.
If you are planning a visit to Britain this year, this is one event you do not want to miss. The true extent of the wealth left behind at Vergina, has come to light with recent work in the last 20 years, making this exhibition an international first.
On show will be the riches of the royal court, with gold wreaths and jewellery, silverware and pottery; weaponry and spectacular reconstructions of the burials of royal women. The exhibition takes visitors through the world of Macedonian men – in hunting and war; the life of women – in fashion and rituals; and the royal palace – with fragments of its architecture and objects of the banquet.