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The Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum (open 8.30–3.30; closed Mon. Disabled access) on the north side of Eleftherias Square, which forms the western end of the area discussed above, is housed in a custom-built structure designed by Rodolfo Petracco in 1935. Given the richness and variety of ancient and mediaeval archaeological remains on the island, this collection of predominately later Hellenistic decorative material is decidedly limited in scope. There are three rooms around a central atrium; the pottery collection on the upper floor, which provides important evidence of prehistoric habitation on the island and of the specific Bronze Age, Geometric and Archaic settlements in the city, is currently closed to the public.
The atrium surrounds a famous floor-mosaic of the Arrival of Asklepios on Cos (3rd century ad) disembarking from a boat with his snake-bound staff, greeted by a local wearing a hat and by Hippocrates, dressed as a sage, who sits on a rock to one side. On similar theme are statues (right) of Asklepios and of his daughter Hygieia (the divinity of cleanliness) in highly polished marble; both hold serpents and eggs which are symbols of the regeneration (the sloughing of old skin from a serpent), and renewal (the hatching of an egg with new life), which the arts of Asklepios promised o adherents. Both figures are accompanied at their feet by executive micro-divinities who help carry out their work—a winged Hypnos for Hygieia, and a hatted Telesphoros (literally ‘bringer to fruition’) for Asklepios. All of these works are from the 2nd and 3rd centuries ad. On the wall behind Hygieia is a beautiful fragment of mosaic with fish and crustaceans, from the floor of a fountain in the Casa Romana. Opposite is a statue of a patrician woman, which bears areas of red under-painting, in the face (eyes, lips and nose), hair and garments.
In the long West Gallery (left), to either side of the door, are two fine fragmentary heads—of a boy and of a woman— of the 1st century ad. The 3rd century bc statue of an athlete, half-robed, would once have held a (coloured or gilded) victory wreath in his hands: the face appears to have been reworked during the later, Roman period. (Note the back of the head is un-worked, suggesting that the piece stood against a wall or in a niche.) The letters ‘D-A-I-D’ (? Daedalus) are inscribed on his chest.
The small rotunda at the far end of the gallery contains the famous 4th century bc statue of a philosopher—possibly an idealised image of Hippocrates—whose fine head is still integral with the body. Four holes for metal pins in the border of the robe suggest the attachment once of a carved element; this could have been a snake and staff, symbol of the Asklepiads. On the walls (left) are a couple of fine and memorable, fragmentary grave reliefs of the 6th century bc: one of a symposium scene with some quite advanced horse play evident; the other of a young boy, with a purse or phial hanging from his arm, who is carrying a cockerel—the preferred sacrificial animal of Asklepios.
The North Room contains finds from the Sanctuary of Demeter at Kiparissi, near Amaniouin the centre of the island, including a rare votive statue of Hades; several Hellenistic statues of good workmanship—of Aphrodite, and of Tyche or ‘Fortune’; and a fine and expressive head of Silenus by the door. The East Room, containing Roman statuary, is dominated by the Seated Hermes. This 2nd century ad piece, which was found in the House of the Europa Mosaic, is remarkably well-preserved—although of very variable quality (especially poor in the carving of the ram): it has some of the lifelessness that comes of copying by rote.
Kos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island group
Ancient Cos. The archaeological Museum.