The archaeological museum of Nafplio is housed at the imposing Venetian stone-built building that with its impressive size and its strict, symmetric form, blocks off the western part of Syntagma square. The building was built in 1713, during the period of the 2nd Venetian occupation, by the Proveditor of the fleet, Augustine Sagredos, to be used as a warehouse for the fleet, as stated on the marble latin inscription that is built in its facade. It is one of the most beautiful and best preserved buildings from the Venetian era in Greece.
Exhibits of the Archaeological Museum of Nafplio
The new resident exhibition of the museum takes place in two halls of similar top view, on the two floors of the building and is structured in theme units, that present the civilizations which rose in Argolida, from early prehistoric to later ancient times. Findings from Frahthi cavern in Ermionida, verify the transition from hunting to productive economy.
Stone and bone tools are displayed, shells and bones of animals and fish, jewelry made from shells, bone and stone, the first handmade Neolithic pots made from clay, as well as a series of clay anthropomorphic and animal-shaped figurines. The early Bronze period or protohelladic period (3300-2100/2000 π.Χ.) is represented by exhibits from Tiryns, Asini, Berbati, and Old Epidaurus. Distinctive pottery from that period is exhibited, seals from stone, clay and bronze, bone tools, marble protocycladic figurines, as well as the clay earth from Berbati. A special place among them, holds the unique Tiryns cooler.
Pots, vessels and other artefacts from the Mid-Helladic Period settlements of Assini, Pronoi a (settlement in Nafplio), Midea, Tiryns and Berbati, cover the whole chronological spectrum of the Mid-Helladic period (2100/2000-1600 BC), a civilization that was the founding stone for the Mycenaean civilization.
The structure of the Mycenaean palace authority and administration is depicted through the findings from the major Mycenaean centers, namely Tiryns, Midea and Assini. One can distinguish the worshipping utensils and figurines, among which are the impressive, wheeled female-shaped figurines from Tiryns and Midea, as well as the famous “Lord of Assini”, signs where «Linear B» was used, storage amphorae (urns), workshop remains ( casts, semi or unprocessed precious stones) together with cylindrical seal-tops, a copper-made «talantο» (coin), objects made out of amber, faience, alabaster, that bear witness to the extent of the Mycenaean commerce.
Next come exhibits originating from the cemeteries of vaulted tombs from the areas of “Evangelistria” in Nafplio, Assini, Dendra, Ancient Epidaurus, as well as from the vaulted tomb of “Kazarma”. Stone, metal and clay pottery, figurines, ivory-made art, signets and jewelry made of gold, semi-precious gems, amber, faience and glass, all enlightening to the burial practices, and depict societal status quo layering of the Mycenaean society. Amphorae-like craters can be singled out, painted with scenes from a chariot and a guitarist respectively, and “kalathos”, a drinking pot painted with wild goat scenes, from the region of “Evangelismos” in Nafplio.
The museum’s most exquisite exhibit, the Bronze Armor Suit of Dendra, is exhibited in an eminent display, together with the rest of the breathtaking findings from the tomb where it came from, equipment from the warrior’s weaponry, bronze and clay pottery.
In the hall of the second floor of the Archaeological Museum of Nafplio, the presentation begins with the material remains of the Iron Age. A prominent spot is held by the bronze helmet from the famous tomb of Tirynth (11th century BC.) The Geometric Period is depicted through the findings from the tombs in “Pronoia” (Nafplio area), Tiryns, Assini and Berbati regions. The horses and the horseman, perhaps the most distinctive argeid iconography theme, depicts the heroic spirit of the period, while scenes with ships, ceremonial dances, animals and birds, draw out the picture for the Homeric era.
Worshipping in the archaic period is presented through the findings from Tiryns. Throne-seated women deities, a shield-bearing horseman, micrographic pottery, flowers, seeds and wreaths, all connect to the worship of Hera, while bronze effigies of helmets and leggings, as well as parts from 5th century BC craters with dedicatory inscriptions, are connected to the worship of the goddess Athena. Of special interest are the famous clay-made, dedicatory shields with mythological scenes, and the clay ritualistic masks, from the 7th century BC, found in the so called “Vothros” area in Tiryns, as well as the bronze “Kouros” from the region of “Kefalari” outside Argos (560-540 BC).
Next come the thematic units for Ancient Epidaurus, Ermioni, Alieon region, and Ancient Assini. Clay and glass vessels, figurines, gold jewelry, bronze mirrors and utensils; all depicting life and death aspects in those ancient cities. Among them, the bronze statuette of a maiden (around 600 BC) stands out, found in Artemis sanctum in Epidaurus, as well as the Karyatides’ style bronze mirror (490-470 BC) found in Ermioni, and the three stuck together due to rust iron keys, found in the temple of Apollon in Alieon region. The tour is completed with the demonstration of a “Pyrgouthi”, Berbati valley farmhouse. The utensil and the tools related to wine-production, as well as other agrarian tasks of its inhabitants are being displayed.
The archaeological exhibition comes to its end with the collections from donations to the Museum. Figurines and jugs from Attica, Viotia and Corinth are presented, originating from the Collections of antiquity-friends and donors Glymenopoulou, Potamianou, Archbishop Nikandrou, Thermogianni.
An eminent place among them is held by the panathenian amphorae, the work of the Painter of Mastos (530-520 BC). The scene of the murder of Clytemnestra by Orestes is depicted on a red shaped, Attican “hydria” (pot – circa 440BC). A pseudo red-shaped “skyphos” cup from Viotia region (425-400 BC), depicts a parody of the renowned fable of Odysseus’s hospitable accommodation in Circe’s palace.