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Yesterday our beach holiday ended and it was back to hardcore travelling.  For those unfamiliar with the term, “unschooling” is a form of homeschooling whereby you completely eschew textbooks and rote excercises in favour of experiential learning and following your interests.  While we don’t really practice this form of homeschooling in Canada, it has been what we have been doing on the road for the past six months.

Section of a beautiful mosaic from a wealthy home

Section of a beautiful mosaic from a wealthy home, Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki

Yesterday we visited the Archaelogical Museum of Thessaloniki.  The museum costs 6 euros per adult and 3 euros per child (free for under-18s if they are EU citizens).  In reality, I don’t think they ever charge children.  This museum is open every day, is world-class and all of the displays are explained both in Greek and in English.  The museum focuses on archaelogical excavations in the Thessaloniki area and includes rooms devoted to prehistory, classical Greece, Roman Greece, modern municipal history and much more.  A real highlight is the section displaying gold in the ancient world.  Currently, there is also a great exhibit on ancient coins.

Ancient coin

Ancient coin

The magnitude of the museum is overwhelming so pick and choose where you want to focus your attention.  We all learned many new things.  One of the things I discovered was the “acrolith”.  An acrolith is a composite sculpture.  In Greek times, they would often carve a statue out of wood and give it marble extremities (head, feet, hands).  The wooden part would be hidden in clothing or gilded.  Sneaky.

Wouldn't this look nice on Gwyneth?

Wouldn’t this look nice on Gwyneth?

I also learned that the goldsmiths who made all the exquisite jewlery and other fine objects as early as 580 BC (!) were considered artisans rather than artists.  They didn’t sign their work, probably didn’t get much respect and remained anonymous in history although their work looks as desirable today as then.  I could see Gwyneth Paltrow wearing one of these babies to the Golden Globe Awards!

Arch intricately carved from a single piece of marble

Massive arch carved from a single piece of marble

And speaking of fashion, the museum highlights the various hairstyles worn by ladies of the day as seen on the marble statues.

When Alexander the Great invaded and looted Persia, he flooded the market with so much gold that it became devalued.  You could spend a whole day just looking at all the gold items on display at the museum in Thessaloniki.

Ancient mosaic from a wealthy home

Ancient mosaic from a wealthy home

Here are the kids’ impressions of the museum:

Onlyboy (14 years old):

  • The museum was very informative.  I wish it was in my hometown so I could visit more often.  My favourite part was the gold.  It was very interesting.

Paris (12 years old):

  • Sup!  My first impression of the museum was: small.  Then my second impression was: rocks.  My third was: so. much. reading. I like books a lot but a bjillian words. That’s a lot to take in. In the end I (with only boy) were just skimming.  Then my forth impression was: that’s not the end!  My fifth and final impression was: not so small after all.

Venice (9 years old and taker of most of today’s photos):

  • It was an interesting museum.  I got to see all types of moneys from different places in the world a long, long time ago.  My favourite coin was probably the Italian one,  It had a sheaf of wheat and a creature that protects the town.
This beautiful gold crown is over 2000 years old!

This beautiful gold crown is over 2000 years old!

  • And my favourite room in the museum is definitely the Gold room!!!  It has dresses from old times and the dresses are stringed with gold!!!  Who ever owned that dress is REALLY rich! There’s also Gold crowns!!!  It was a wonderful museum! I really liked it!
Example of how a dress would have been decorated with gold

Example of how a dress would have been decorated with gold

Lastborn (4 years old):

  • I don’t have an impression, mama.  I saw bones of a girl and her hair was still there.  I saw a pot made out of clay that was used as a beehive.  I saw a sword and arrows that they would dip in poison to kill people.
People were buried with their personal pocessions

People were buried with their personal possessions

We ended our homeschool day with a drive through the Republic of Macedonia/FYROM to Skopje.  The scenery was magnificent and the way we know that is that it was enough to cause Onlyboy and Paris to stop i-poding and just stare out of the window saying, “Wow, look at that.”  I don’t believe they have ever done that in six months of travel and we have seen some pretty spectacular scenery.

But the quote of the day goes to Venice:

Why do we have keep seeing all this beautiful stuff?  It’s getting kind of annoying.