Aghia Anna and the Archaeological Museum
At the eastern end of the promenade is the small plateia, (now the main taxi rank) named after Mando Mavrogenous (1796–1840), whose bust stands at its centre. Visitors in different periods have commented on how the women of Mykonos frequently appeared to outnumber men by as much as four to one, and how they were a force to be reckoned with. Mando Mavrogenous is perhaps the best known example of the courageous Mykoniot woman.
Born in Trieste to a family of prominent merchants and administrators from Ottoman Mykonos, she received a re markable and cosmopolitan education. Returning to Greece in 1809 she became deeply committed to the cause of Greek Independence and dedicated her energy and her personal wealth to its support. Like Laskarina Bouboulina, she participated in battle action, and in 1822 led the successful repulse of a Turkish attack on Mykonos. She was instrumental in sensitising women in other European countries to the Greek Independence struggle, enlisting their moral and material help. She died, impoverished in Paros, but in the free Greece for which she had fought.
North from the square towards the ferry port (now referred to as the ‘old port’), the street skirts the sandy beach of Aghia Anna: on the rise at its northern end, be side the road to the port is the Mykonos Archaeological Museum (open daily except Mon 8.30–3). The structure was built in 1905 specifically to house the finds from the ‘purification bothros’ on the island of Rheneia. In 426 bc, following instructions of the Delphic Oracle, the island of Delos was purified for a second time (see Delos , below): all the bones and grave-offerings on the island were exhumed, transported to the shore of the opposite island of Rheneia (sometimes called ‘Greater Delos ’), and buried in a new bothros, or sacred pit, which covered an area of nearly 500sq m. This was then excavated in 1898–1900, and yielded a uniquely complete range of ancient pottery stretching from the 9th century bc to 426 bc, which has been of great assistance in the identification of dates, styles and workshops of pottery from those periods. Other objects from these and from later graves on Rheneia are exhibited, together with some statuary.
The museum’s most prominent exhibit is not from Rheneia, but was found in the Chora of Mykonos: directly ahead in the Central Room (V), is the magnificent, 140cm high, 7th century bc funerary urn, or -pithamphora, whose colour of clay, design of handles and figurative style is so similar to those from Xoburgo on Tinos, that this, too, must have been made by Tiniot artesans, working around 675 bc. It may possibly have been used for a child of noble birth. The fine relief decoration is only on one side and does not extend to the rear: around the neck is a wheeled, Trojan Horse, with the carefully depicted soldiers inside, visible through ‘windows’. The lower registers, around the belly, return again and again in their figurative content to scenes of Greek warriors wresting young children from resisting and imploring Trojan women. The repeated insistence on such a scene is puzzling.
The vase collection, which occupies the rest of the central room and the two rooms to either side of the vestibule, is of extraordinary richness and variety. To the right (Room II) is shown the earlier, paler, less polished but more vigorously decorated, Geometric pottery: amongst them, the noblest in execution are the vases from Naxos ; to left (Room III) are the later, much more polished, narrative scenes of the red and black figure vases of the 5th and 4th centuries bc. The sophisticated elegance of the world of 5th century bc Attica is wonderfully evoked in the –nuptial lebes of the Syriskos Painter, with its exquisitely depicted dancing figures.
The two rooms at either extremity contain various objects from later burials found on Rheneia, which after 425 bc became the official cemetery for Delos : the room to far right (Room I) contains a miscellaneous collection of funerary offerings—farm implements, figurines, jewellery, ornaments and perfume jars. Interesting are the contents of the grave of Philo, priestess of Isis on Delos , which include her ring engraved with her name, her ceremonial sistrum and some fine objects in clear glass. The centerpiece of the room is the beautiful, 18cm high, solid-cast bronze Kouros figure, which was originally the handle of a cup. The room to far left (Room IV) contains grave stelai, two of which, figuring disconsolate mariners seated on the rocks with their boats drawn up in front of them, commemorated sailors lost at sea. Note also the care fully shaped block of marble (beside door to courtyard), with two pairs of foot imprints cut into its surface, perhaps of a father and son: this was a not uncommon form of votive dedication made before or after under taking a long journey.
In the entrance vestibule is a polished Roman copy of a late Classical figure, depict a (rather un-Herculean) Hercules with club and lion pelt.
Mykonos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.
Aghia Anna & Mykonos Archaeological Museum.