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Museums with great Greek artefacts

A chariot racer from the British Museum

A chariot racer from the British Museum

© Jack Shoulder

    • Ancient Greece was an incredible civilisation. It began around 3000BC and ended around AD140 when the Romans conquered Greece. The Ancient Greeks gave the world so many things, like philosophy, democracy and some amazing stories about gods and heroes.

      They also made some beautiful objects that have found their way into museums across the planet. It would be impossible to make your way to all of them so the team here at Show Me HQ has compiled a guide to the best places in the UK to see Ancient Greek artefacts.

      With the Parthenon Marbles and some beautiful pots, the first place on our list is the British Museum in London. The Parthenon Marbles have a controversial past.
      Even though Lord Elgin wanted to preserve the statues and had permission to remove some of them, some people think that he stole the famous marbles and that the museum should return them. 

      A photograph showing the statues from the east pediment of the parthenon© Jack Shoulder
      You can find out more about the Great Marble Debate on the British Museum’s website.

      If you pay a visit to the Museum of Classical Archaeology in Cambridge, you can see many of the greatest hits of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture in one place.

      How is that possible? Well, the statues in the museum are all plaster casts, not the real thing. That doesn’t mean that we can’t learn loads from them. Take their famous Peplos Kore for example – it shows us just how colourful Greek statues were.

      A photograph showing a colourful version of the Peplos Kore next to an uncoloured version.© Jack Shoulder
      If you do visit the Museum of Classical Archaeology in Cambridge, be sure to pop in and see their neighbour, the Fitzwilliam Museum, which has some great Greek artefacts. They also have a really useful timeline of Greek and Roman history you can download.

      The Birmingham Museum and Art gallery have some great stuff too – our favourite is this strange 12-sided shape. Even the experts at the museum aren’t sure what it was used for! Do you have any ideas?

      Have you heard the thrilling tale of Theseus and the Minotaur? The hero, Theseus has to battle a bull-headed monster in the labyrinth underneath a palace on the island of Crete. Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum has some stunning stuff from Knossos, a famous Cretan palace.

      You can find out more about the excavation at Knossos and some highlights from that discovery on the Ashmolean’s website.

      Did you know that the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology has the largest collection of Greek ceramics in Britain? It’s true, they do! They have everything from everyday objects that give a fascinating insight into how the Greek’s lived – to masks in the shape of terrifying creatures from mythology such as the dreaded Gorgon.

      Now that you know so much about Ancient Greece, why don’t you test your knowledge with the museum’s online quizzes?

      If you're interested in Ancient Greece, have you seen Show Me's Topic Guide?
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