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'War and Storm: Treasures from the Sea Around Sicily' at the Glyptotek, Copenhagen

The spring special exhibition at the Glyptotek plunges deep beneath the surface and explores archaeological finds from shipwrecks off the coast of Sicily. The exhibition will be presenting a wide selection of treasures from shipwrecks, ranging across exclusive bronze wares, vases and weapons reflecting the many facets of Antiquity. With a time frame of almost 3000 years the exhibition also sheds light on the significance of the Mediterranean for trade, cultural encounters and perilous journeys and demonstrates that the ancient world was also globalised.

'War and Storm: Treasures from the Sea Around Sicily' at the Glyptotek, Copenhagen

Trade, Perils and Mythology

By virtue of its geographical position alone, Sicily has always been a natural trading nexus for merchants from near and far. So such races as the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans have exchanged goods, knowledge and cultural customs and have contributed to the island’s reputation as an exotic marketplace. This diversity has also led to the playing out of cultural strife on Sicily. This often resulted in naval battles and the exhibition also displays the legacy of this in the form of, for instance, war helmets and ships beaks for the ramming of enemy vessels. Today, shipwrecks form a wreath around the island like a unique pearl necklace - from warships sunk in historical sea battles to merchant vessels which foundered under the assault of wind and weather.

At the same time Sicily and the surrounding sea have always been an area where reality and mythology meet. One example of this is the way the island constituted a setting for the tale of how the narrow, dangerous Straits of Messina were the domain of the sea-monsters Scylla and Charybdis. The sea was clothed in mystery, and the exhibition illustrates the ancient world’s notions of sea-monsters, sirens and sea gods.

'War and Storm: Treasures from the Sea Around Sicily' at the Glyptotek, Copenhagen
Bronze ram from a warship, 8th cent. BC. Discovered off the west coast of Sicily, 2010 
[Credit: Glyptotek]
The Globalised Past

'War and Storm. Treasures from the Sea Around Sicily' shows how the sea shaped Antiquity’s world picture, while, at the same time demonstrating that global links and cultural encounters are anything but a purely modern phenomenon.

On the contrary: the sea formed the basis for a large part of the modern world, and mariners and merchants of Antiquity can be seen today as the forerunners of the European economic community.

The luxury items shown in the exhibition were transported round the world by water. For example: in this exhibition you can experience a life-sized elephant’s foot in bronze, which in all probability was part of a complete elephant. Even though the rest of the enormous figure is thought to lie at the bottom of the sea, the find is a reflection of the extraordinarily active and diverse world of ancient trade.

'War and Storm. Treasures from the Sea Around Sicily'will run until Aug. 20, 2017.

Source: Glyptotek [April 06, 2017]

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