This video is about ancient Greek pottery.
Today, there was a tour with Dr Ruurd Halbertsma in the antiquities museum, specially on graves of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
We started at a big funeral vase of about 740 BCE, from the region around Athens. Originally, Greeks put vases on their graves; tombstones came later.
The vase has no bottom. There used to be theory that was to pour libations of wine for the deceased into the grave.
However, it was really to prevent rain from accumulating into the vase, allowing it to seep away into the ground.
About three hundred years later in Athens, much had changed. Tombstones had replaced pots. There were conflicts between aristocratic rich families and democratic politicians about how big the biggest funeral monuments were allowed to be.
Many tombstones depicted a handshake, symbolizing continuing links after death.
One of these stones had originally been a woman’s tombstone. However, later when there was apparently no longer a family interested in it, it was sold to a non Athenian citizen, an immigrant probably with not enough money for a new tombstone of his own.
A sculptor then remade the woman’s tombstone into a man’s tombstone, however without destroying all traces of its original purpose.
This stone used to be property of famous Flemish painter Rubens. Apart from being a painter and a diplomat, he was also an antiquities trader. He resold most antiquities which he bought, sometimes after using them in this paintings, keeping only a few items permanently.
Rubens used to own a Roman sarcophagus as well.
Opposite Rubens’ Greek tombstone, the big monument of the young woman Archestrate, from Sounion, South East of Athens.
The museum bought it in 1820.
Over a hundred years later, in the Hellenistic period, in Asia Minor, styles changed again. The deceased was depicted now much bigger than other figures, differently from the earlier more realist style.
Borderlines between gods and humans became fuzzier through the concept of heroic demigods. Heroic depictions of the deceased helped originate the idea, first in the east, then in the west, of the Roman empire that emperors became gods after, later even before their deaths.
Also in the depiction of a Germanic soldier in the Roman army, found in the Netherlands, the deceased looks much bigger than a servant.
A unique funeral monument in this museum is the Simpelveld sarcophagus, from the Roman age in the Netherlands.
Unlike tombstones, it is underground.
And unlike other sarcophaguses, the decoration is on the inside, not the outside, of the coffin.