Tuesday, June 11, 2019


Daily lives of ancient Greeks revealed in Acropolis museum’s huge archaeological dig
Museum’s new exhibition space is an excavation site with villas, workshops and bathhouses
Helena Smith Athens

But a decade after it opened, the four-story edifice at the foot of the Acropolis is now focusing on the lives of ancient Greeks. As the museum prepares to celebrate its 10th birthday on 20 June, it has announced the opening of a new exhibition space: an entire excavated neighborhood of ancient villas, streets, workshops and bathhouses that lies below the museum building.

On Friday, as archaeologists put the finishing touches to the site, Dimitrios Pandermalis, the museum’s director, told how finds once considered a curse had become a blessing. “For the first time we are able to see how people lived in the shadow of the Acropolis,” he enthused, singling out an ornate ancient courtyard and a chamber where aristocrats had held symposiums.

“And through the display of discoveries such as plates and toys, visitors will have a glimpse into the daily lives of ancient Greeks. There are a lot of marble masterpieces on display around the museum but life is not only about the glory days of yesteryear; it is about little things that make each and every day.”

But the 13 years of digging paid off. One of the biggest excavations within the walls of ancient Athens helped archaeologists learn more than any previous dig had about the birthplace of democracy. “It was complex because there were so many layers, so many dwellings, one on top of the other, all telling the history of Athens,” said Stamatia Eleftheratou, who headed the excavation work.

The ancient settlement covers 4,000 square meters, accessed by steel walkways. But Eleftheratou and her team worked over an area three times that size, discovering close to 50,000 artifacts, including figurines of little-known deities. “There is an entire hidden layer, earlier ruins beneath the settlement that aren’t visible because we covered them again with earth,” she said.


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