Archaeological Museum of Sparta
comprises the oldest provincial archaeological museum of the country. Its neoclassical building was constructed between 1874 and 1876 in the center of the city and it has been declared a listed building for its architectural and historical interest.
With finds ranging chronologically from the Mycenaean to the Roman period (1100 BC-324 AD), the exhibition of the museum offers a panorama of the art and history of ancient Sparta. Of particular interest are the finds from the most important sanctuaries in the region:
The sanctuary of Artemis Orthia,
a cult center associated with the rites of passage the young Spartans underwent through their rigorous agogi;
the sanctuary of Apollo of Amyklae,
a significant political and religious center of Sparta throughout antiquity, and
at ancient Therapni.
Here is attested, from at least the 8th century BC, the cult of the mythical king of Sparta Menelaus and of his wife, Helen of Troy.
Among the most important exhibits of the museum are:
Palatial Style amphoras from the Mycenaean cemetery at
Clay masks of the 7th-6th centuries BC from the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, depicting warriors and medusae. These were votive offerings, probably used in rituals to honor the goddess.
Laconic capitals of the so-called mixed type, namely a combination of Doric and Ionic elements, from the sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios, dated to the 6th century BC. The capitals displayed in the museum are attributed to the sculptor Vathykles, who was also the architect of the sanctuary.
Among the best preserved specimens of Laconic sculpture is the pyramidal stele with relief decoration on either side, depicting probably Menelaus and Helen on the one side, while on the other is represented Orestes murdering his mother Clytemnestra. The stele is dated to the 6th century BC.
Statue of a Spartan warrior,
the so-called Leonidas. Only the upper part of the torso is preserved. The statue was found in the sanctuary of Athena Chalkioikos at the
acropolis of Sparta
and is dated to the second quarter of the 5th century BC.
Mosaics of the Hellenistic and Roman times, some bearing mythological scenes, such as the abduction of Europe by Zeus
or Orpheus with his lyre and animals.