in Greece 2015

No bull; no deal

The world’s best collection of Minoan art is at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Clockwise from top left: Circular shrine model featuring a goddess of the underworld with upraised arms and, on the roof, an animal, and two male worshippers; the latter are perhaps trying to contact the protectress of the deceased (late 9th c. BCE); Fragments of frescoes with crocuses and decorative themes (17th-15th c. BCE); Crockery with a red linear pattern that I would totally own a reproduction of today if it were available (27th-20th c. BCE); “Poppy goddesses” of healing, with upraised arms — too bad American football is not played in Europe (13th-12th c. BCE); Gold pendant depicting two bees holding a honeycomb, eating a drop of honey, and wearing on their heads a filigreed cage with a gold bead (18th c. BCE).

Κνωσός (kh-noh-SOS) – n.: capital and largest settlement of Minoan civilization (second millennium BCE); one of the, if not the, oldest cities in Europe, it is now surrounded by the metropolitan area of Heraklion, Crete’s largest city.

HERAKLION, July 12 – I spent much of the day at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. it’s a beautiful space with the world’s foremost collection of Minoan art. (Considering that Knossos is about an hour away, you’d think that would be logical, but, hey, the Elgin Marbles are still in England.) Every so often you happen past a pile of spear tips or pots or frescoes when you see something pretty, you stop and admire it, and you imagine the person way back then making it. Like the cup above, with the red linear patten: I would totally buy that at Target right now, and it’s fucking four thousand years old.

My guide to Heraklion, Mihali, was a most generous host. He showed me the city, with its giant Venetian walls, I talked politics with his wife and extended family, and we had the best orange sherbet I’ve ever had at an ice cream shop across the street from his apartment building. The food here is just marvelous, whether it’s something they cook up or something roasted on spits at a local eatery. (I promised food pics. They’re coming.) All in all, a great side trip, and of course I have to find a way to come back.

Meanwhile, the latest last-ditch negotiations are still going on, even though if they hadn’t forged an agreement by today the meeting of finance ministers was to be about transferring Greece out of the Euro, and the hashtag #ThisIsACoup is trending on Twitter. Will there be money in banks tomorrow? No one knows.

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