Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


The Unseen Museum: the “Ring of Theseus”

Saturday, 14 March 2015, at 12 o’clock, Athens Archaeological Museum

On Saturday, 14 March, at 12 o’clock, the curator of the National Archaeological Museum Dr Costas Paschalidis will present to the members of Aegeus the Unseen Museem. The Unseen Museum is a new project of the National Archaeological Museum, according to which antiquities selected from the unknown world of the storerooms, one after the other emerge every two months from their secure state of obscurity into the light.

Moreover, the members of Aegeus will have the chance to see the so-called Ring of Theseus. According to the testimony of the first owner, the ring’s provenance is the Acropolis of Athens. A random find from the Anafiotika Houses (neighbourhood at the foot of the Acropolis hill), the ring turned up among the earth deposits that were thrown down the slope in the course of the works for the construction of the Old Museum extension in the 1950s. The ring was given to the National Archaeological Museum in 2004 and it was later bought by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture in 2010; it is on display for the first time.

A few words about the “Ring of Theseus”

The Minoan popular scene of bull-leaping is depicted on the ring bezel, flanked by a lion and a tree. Mycenaean signet rings were personal prestige objects of the first Greek-speaking rulers, the Mycenaeans. The choice of this particular scene on a ring that was to be worn by the rulers of Athens indicates a preference for a Minoan theme and its symbolic connotations. We do not know the reason for this inclination, but, nonetheless, it generates a variety of interpretive associations into our mind. The ring of Theseus, along with a contemporaneous stone vase fragment depicting the same theme from the Acropolis of Athens (Hall 3 of the Museum), enliven in our eyes the connection between myth and archaeological finds. The legend has it that Theseus, the first king-founder of the city of Athens, overpowered the fierce Minotaur as well as formidable King Minos of Crete. Yet another Athenian myth, according to which King Minos threw his signet ring into the sea and then dared Theseus to find it, seeks its magical confirmation in the most beautiful manner through the present exhibit.


The new project of the National Archaeological Museum:


A history of the finding of the ring (in Greek):


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