Ancient Greece

Remnants from a probable statue of Demetrius the Besieger, c.300 BC. Courtesy American School of Classical Studies at Athens: Agora Excavations.

In the ancient world, statues were not symbols of virtue and could take revenge on those who attacked them.

Black figure kylix attributed to the Boreads Painter, Sparta, sixth century BC © Getty Images.

Warriors in red cloaks battling against the odds at Thermopylae is the image usually associated with Sparta. But a richer and more contentious tale lies in the ancient city’s stones.

Oedipus and the Sphinx by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1808 © Bridgeman Images.

The city of Thebes was central to the ancient Greeks’ achievements in politics and culture. For many centuries it has been largely – and often deliberately – forgotten.

'Finding of the Sibylline Books and the Tomb of Numa Pompilius', workshop  of Giulio Romano with Polidoro Caldara da Caravaggio, c.1524-25 © Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Rome

Antiquities were high stakes and high profit in 16th-century Rome, and no one was above breaking the law for loot.

A Renaissance imagining of the Temple. Tempel van Diana te Efeze, Philips Galle, after Maarten van Heemskerck, 1581 - 1633. Rijksmuseum.

On 21 July 356 BC, the day Alexander the Great was said to have been born, the temple burned to the ground.

Detail from the Bull-leaping fresco from the Minoan Palace of Knossos

King Minos and the Minotaur remain shrouded in mystery and mythology, yet evidence of a Bronze Age ‘Bull Cult’ at the Minoan palaces abounds. Were bulls merely for entertainment or did they have a deeper significance?

Talos of Crete

Autocrats have deployed automatons as weapons since antiquity, not just in myth but in reality. 

Parthenon, Athens. c. 1895 - c. 1915. Rijksmuseum.

The Athenian temple was partly destroyed on 26 September 1687.

Kore 674, Archaic period marble statue from the Acropolis, Athens.

A reconsideration of our complicated relationship with ancient Greece, questioning how we view it through the lens of the 18th century.

Britain’s ownership of the Parthenon Sculptures has caused controversy since they were first brought to London in the early 1800s. Keen to keep the Greeks onside, the debate became highly charged during the Second World War.