Ancient Greek sculpture

Ancient Greek sculpture is the sculpture of ancient Greece. Modern scholarship identifies three major stages in monumental sculpture. At all periods there were great numbers of Greek terracotta figurines and small sculptures in metal and other materials.

The Greeks decided very early on that the human form was the most important subject for artistic endeavour.[1] Seeing their gods as having human form, there was little distinction between the sacred and the secular in art—the human body was both secular and sacred. A male nude of Apollo or Heracles had only slight differences in treatment to one of that year's Olympic boxing champion. The statue, originally single but by the Hellenistic period often in groups was the dominant form, though reliefs, often so "high" that they were almost free-standing, were also important.

Cavalcade south frieze Parthenon BM
Riders from the Parthenon Frieze, around 440 BC


Natural marble

By the classical period, roughly the 5th and 4th centuries, monumental sculpture was composed almost entirely of marble or bronze; with cast bronze becoming the favoured medium for major works by the early 5th century; many pieces of sculpture known only in marble copies made for the Roman market were originally made in bronze. Smaller works were in a great variety of materials, many of them precious, with a very large production of terracotta figurines. The territories of ancient Greece, except for Sicily and southern Italy, contained abundant supplies of fine marble, with Pentelic and Parian marble the most highly prized, along with that from modern Prilep in North Macedonia, and various sources in modern Turkey. The ores for bronze were also relatively easy to obtain.[2] Marble was mostly found around the Parthenon and other major Greek buildings.

Athena workshop sculptor Staatliche Antikensammlungen 2650
Athena in the workshop of a sculptor working on a marble horse, Attic red-figure kylix, 480 BC, Staatliche Antikensammlungen (Inv. 2650)

Both marble and bronze are easy to form and very durable; as in most ancient cultures there were no doubt also traditions of sculpture in wood about which we know very little, other than acrolithic sculptures, usually large, with the head and exposed flesh parts in marble but the clothed parts in wood. As bronze always had a significant scrap value very few original bronzes have survived, though in recent years marine archaeology or trawling has added a few spectacular finds, such as the Artemision Bronze and Riace bronzes, which have significantly extended modern understanding. Many copies of the Roman period are marble versions of works originally in bronze. Ordinary limestone was used in the Archaic period, but thereafter, except in areas of modern Italy with no local marble, only for architectural sculpture and decoration. Plaster or stucco was sometimes used for the hair only.[3]

Chryselephantine sculptures, used for temple cult images and luxury works, used gold, most often in leaf form and ivory for all or parts (faces and hands) of the figure, and probably gems and other materials, but were much less common, and only fragments have survived. Many statues were given jewellery, as can be seen from the holes for attaching it, and held weapons or other objects in different materials.[4]

Surviving Greek Bronze
The Victorious Youth (c. 310 BC), a remarkably weather-preserved bronze statue of a Greek athlete in Contrapposto pose

Painting of sculpture

NAMABG-Aphaia Trojan Archer 3
Despite appearing white today, Greek sculptures were originally painted.[5][6][7] This color restoration shows what a statue of a Trojan archer from the Temple of Aphaia, Aegina would have originally looked like.[6]

Ancient Greek sculptures were originally painted bright colors;[5][6][7] they only appear white today because the original pigments have deteriorated.[5][6] References to painted sculptures are found throughout classical literature,[5][6] including in Euripides's Helen in which the eponymous character laments, "If only I could shed my beauty and assume an uglier aspect/The way you would wipe color off a statue."[6] Some well-preserved statues still bear traces of their original coloration[5] and archaeologists can reconstruct what they would have originally looked like.[5][6][7]

By the early 19th century, the systematic excavation of ancient Greek sites had brought forth a plethora of sculptures with traces of notably multicolored surfaces, some of which were still visible. Despite this, influential art historians such as Johann Joachim Winckelmann so strongly opposed the idea of painted Greek sculpture that proponents of painted statues were dismissed as eccentrics, and their views were largely dismissed for more than a century.

It was not until published findings by German archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann in the late 20th and early 21st century that the painting of ancient Greek sculptures became an established fact. Using high-intensity lamps, ultraviolet light, specially designed cameras, plaster casts, and certain powdered minerals, Brinkmann proved that the entire Parthenon, including the actual structure as well as the statues, had been painted. He analyzed the pigments of the original paint to discover their composition.

Brinkmann made several painted replicas of Greek statues that went on tour around the world. Also in the collection were replicas of other works of Greek and Roman sculpture, and he demonstrated that the practice of painting sculpture was the norm rather than the exception in Greek and Roman art.[8] Museums that hosted the exhibit included the Glyptotek Museum in Munich, the Vatican Museum, and the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, et al. The collection made its American debut at Harvard University in the Fall of 2007.[9]

Brinkmann said that "no other aspect of the art of antiquity is as little understood as is the polychrome painting of temples and sculptures", and that modern sculptures, ostensibly inspired by the Greeks but left unpainted, are "something entirely new".[10]

Development of Greek sculptures


It is commonly thought that the earliest incarnation of Greek sculpture was in the form of wooden cult statues, first described by Pausanias as xoana.[11] No such statues survive, and the descriptions of them are vague, despite the fact that they were probably objects of veneration for hundreds of years. The first piece of Greek statuary to be reassembled since is probably the Lefkandi Centaur, a terra cotta sculpture found on the island of Euboea, dated c. 920 BC. The statue was constructed in parts, before being dismembered and buried in two separate graves. The centaur has an intentional mark on its knee, which has led researchers to postulate[12] that the statue might portray Cheiron, presumably kneeling wounded from Herakles' arrow. If so, it would be the earliest known depiction of myth in the history of Greek sculpture.

The forms from the geometrical period (c. 900 to c. 700 BC) were chiefly terra cotta figurines, bronzes, and ivories. The bronzes are chiefly tripod cauldrons, and freestanding figures or groups. Such bronzes were made using the lost-wax technique probably introduced from Syria, and are almost entirely votive offerings left at the Hellenistic civilization Panhellenic sanctuaries of Olympia, Delos, and Delphi, though these were likely manufactured elsewhere, as a number of local styles may be identified by finds from Athens, Argos, and Sparta. Typical works of the era include the Karditsa warrior (Athens Br. 12831) and the many examples of the equestrian statuette (for example, NY Met. 21.88.24 online). The repertory of this bronze work is not confined to standing men and horses, however, as vase paintings of the time also depict imagery of stags, birds, beetles, hares, griffins and lions. There are no inscriptions on early-to-middle geometric sculpture, until the appearance of the Mantiklos "Apollo" (Boston 03.997) of the early 7th century BC found in Thebes. The figure is that of a standing man with a pseudo-daedalic form, underneath which lies the inscription "Μαντικλος μ' ανεθε̅κε ϝεκαβολο̅ι αργυροτοχσο̅ι τας {δ}δε-κατας· τυ δε Φοιβε διδοι χαριϝετταν αμοιϝ[αν]", written in hexameter. The Latinized script reads, "Mantiklos m’ anetheke wekaboloi argyrotokhsoi tas (d)de-katas; tu de Phoibe didoi xariwettan amoiw[an]", and is translated roughly as "Mantiklos offered me as a tithe to Apollo of the silver bow; do you, Phoibos [Apollo], give some pleasing favour in return". The inscription is a declaration of the statuette to Apollo, followed by a request for favors in return. Apart from the novelty of recording its own purpose, this sculpture adapts the formulae of oriental bronzes, as seen in the shorter more triangular face and slightly advancing left leg. This is sometimes seen as anticipating the greater expressive freedom of the 7th century BC and, as such, the Mantiklos figure is referred to in some quarters as proto-Daedalic.


Kleobis and Biton, kouroi of the Archaic period, c. 580 BC. Delphi Archaeological Museum.

Inspired by the monumental stone sculpture of Egypt[13] and Mesopotamia, the Greeks began again to carve in stone. Free-standing figures share the solidity and frontal stance characteristic of Eastern models, but their forms are more dynamic than those of Egyptian sculpture, as for example the Lady of Auxerre and Torso of Hera (Early Archaic period, c. 660–580 BC, both in the Louvre, Paris). After about 575 BC, figures such as these, both male and female, began wearing the so-called archaic smile. This expression, which has no specific appropriateness to the person or situation depicted, may have been a device to give the figures a distinctive human characteristic.

Three types of figures prevailed—the standing nude male youth (kouros, plural kouroi), the standing draped girl (kore, plural korai), and the seated woman. All emphasize and generalize the essential features of the human figure and show an increasingly accurate comprehension of human anatomy. The youths were either sepulchral or votive statues. Examples are Apollo (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), an early work; the Strangford Apollo from Anafi (British Museum, London), a much later work; and the Anavyssos Kouros (National Archaeological Museum of Athens). More of the musculature and skeletal structure is visible in this statue than in earlier works. The standing, draped girls have a wide range of expression, as in the sculptures in the Acropolis Museum of Athens. Their drapery is carved and painted with the delicacy and meticulousness common in the details of sculpture of this period.

The Greeks thus decided very early on that the human form was the most important subject for artistic endeavour. Seeing their gods as having human form, there was no distinction between the sacred and the secular in art—the human body was both secular and sacred. A male nude without any attachments such as a bow or a club, could just as easily be Apollo or Heracles as that year's Olympic boxing champion. In the Archaic Period the most important sculptural form was the kouros (plural kouroi), the standing male nude (See for example Biton and Kleobis). The kore (plural korai), or standing clothed female figure, was also common; Greek art did not present female nudity (unless the intention was pornographic) until the 4th century BC, although the development of techniques to represent drapery is obviously important.

As with pottery, the Greeks did not produce sculpture merely for artistic display. Statues were commissioned either by aristocratic individuals or by the state, and used for public memorials, as offerings to temples, oracles and sanctuaries (as is frequently shown by inscriptions on the statues), or as markers for graves. Statues in the Archaic period were not all intended to represent specific individuals. They were depictions of an ideal—beauty, piety, honor or sacrifice. These were always depictions of young men, ranging in age from adolescence to early maturity, even when placed on the graves of (presumably) elderly citizens. Kouroi were all stylistically similar. Graduations in the social stature of the person commissioning the statue were indicated by size rather than artistic innovations.

KAMA Kouros Porte Sacrée

Dipylon Kouros, c. 600 BC, Athens, Kerameikos Museum.

ACMA Moschophoros

The Moschophoros or calf-bearer, c. 570 BC, Athens, Acropolis Museum.

ACMA 679 Kore 1

Peplos Kore, c. 530 BC, Athens, Acropolis Museum.

006MAD Frieze

Frieze of the Siphnian Treasury, Delphi, depicting a Gigantomachy, c. 525 BC, Delphi Archaeological Museum.

Euthydikos Kore

Euthydikos Kore. c. 490 BC, Athens, authorized replica, original in National Archaeological Museum of Athens

Janiform aryballos Louvre CA987

An Ethiopian's head and female head, with a kalos inscription. an Attic Greek janiform red-figure aryballos, ca. 520–510 BC.


Reggio calabria museo nazionale bronzi di riace
Riace bronzes, examples of proto classic bronze sculpture, Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia, Reggio Calabria
Artemision Bronze, thought to be either Poseidon or Zeus, c. 460 BC, National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Found by fishermen off the coast of Cape Artemisium in 1928. The figure is more than 2 m in height.

The Classical period saw a revolution of Greek sculpture, sometimes associated by historians with the popular culture surrounding the introduction of democracy and the end of the aristocratic culture associated with the kouroi. The Classical period saw changes in the style and function of sculpture, along with a dramatic increase in the technical skill of Greek sculptors in depicting realistic human forms. Poses also became more naturalistic, notably during the beginning of the period. This is embodied in works such as the Kritios Boy (480 BC), sculpted with the earliest known use of contrapposto ('counterpose'), and the Charioteer of Delphi (474 BC), which demonstrates a transition to more naturalistic sculpture. From about 500 BC, Greek statues began increasingly to depict real people, as opposed to vague interpretations of myth or entirely fictional votive statues, although the style in which they were represented had not yet developed into a realistic form of portraiture. The statues of Harmodius and Aristogeiton, set up in Athens mark the overthrow of the aristocratic tyranny, and have been said to be the first public monuments to show actual individuals.

The Classical Period also saw an increase in the use of statues and sculptures as decorations of buildings. The characteristic temples of the Classical era, such as the Parthenon in Athens, and the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, used relief sculpture for decorative friezes, and sculpture in the round to fill the triangular fields of the pediments. The difficult aesthetic and technical challenge stimulated much in the way of sculptural innovation. Most of these works survive only in fragments, for example the Parthenon Marbles, roughly half of which are in the British Museum.

Funeral statuary evolved during this period from the rigid and impersonal kouros of the Archaic period to the highly personal family groups of the Classical period. These monuments are commonly found in the suburbs of Athens, which in ancient times were cemeteries on the outskirts of the city. Although some of them depict "ideal" types—the mourning mother, the dutiful son—they increasingly depicted real people, typically showing the departed taking his dignified leave from his family. This is a notable increase in the level of emotion relative to the Archaic and Geometrical eras.

Another notable change is the burgeoning of artistic credit in sculpture. The entirety of information known about sculpture in the Archaic and Geometrical periods are centered upon the works themselves, and seldom, if ever, on the sculptors. Examples include Phidias, known to have overseen the design and building of the Parthenon, and Praxiteles, whose nude female sculptures were the first to be considered artistically respectable. Praxiteles' Aphrodite of Knidos, which survives in copies, was often referenced to and praised by Pliny the Elder.

Lysistratus is said to have been the first to use plaster molds taken from living people to produce lost-wax portraits, and to have also developed a technique of casting from existing statues. He came from a family of sculptors and his brother, Lysippos of Sicyon, produced fifteen hundred statues in his career.[14]

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia and the Statue of Athena Parthenos (both chryselephantine and executed by Phidias or under his direction, and considered to be the greatest of the Classical Sculptures), are lost, although smaller copies (in other materials) and good descriptions of both still exist. Their size and magnificence prompted rivals to seize them in the Byzantine period, and both were removed to Constantinople, where they were later destroyed.

009MA Kritios

Kritios Boy. Marble, c. 480 BC. Acropolis Museum, Athens.

Aphrodite Braschi Glyptothek Munich 258

So-called Venus Braschi by Praxiteles, type of the Knidian Aphrodite, Munich Glyptothek.


Family group on a grave marker from Athens, National Archaeological Museum, Athens

NAMA X15118 Marathon Boy 3

The Marathon Youth, 4th century BC bronze statue, possibly by Praxiteles, National Archaeological Museum, Athens.

3326 - Athens - Stoà of Attalus Museum - Head of Dyonisos - Photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto, Nov 9 2009

Terracotta vase in the shape of Dionysus' head, ca. 410 BC; on display in the Ancient Agora Museum in Athens, housed in the Stoa of Attalus

Atuell en forma d'Afrodita en una petxina, Àtica, necròpolis de Fanagoria, pinínsula de Taman. Primer quart del segle IV aC, ceràmica

Pottery vessel, Aphrodite inside a shell; from Attica, Classical Greece, discovered in the Phanagoria cemetery, Taman Peninsula (Bosporan Kingdom, southern Russia), early 4th century BC, Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg.

Grave relief of Dexileos, son of Lysanias, of Thorikos (Ca. 390 BC) (4454389225)

Athenian cavalryman Dexileos fighting a naked hoplite in the Corinthian War.[15] Dexileos was killed in action near Corinth in the summer of 394 BC, probably in the Battle of Nemea,[15] or in a proximate engagement.[16] Grave Stele of Dexileos, 394-393 BC.


Nereus, Doris, Okeanos Pergamonaltar
The Hellenistic Pergamon Altar: l to r Nereus, Doris, a Giant, Oceanus

The transition from the Classical to the Hellenistic period occurred during the 4th century BC. Greek art became increasingly diverse, influenced by the cultures of the peoples drawn into the Greek orbit, by the conquests of Alexander the Great (336 to 323 BC). In the view of some art historians, this is described as a decline in quality and originality; however, individuals of the time may not have shared this outlook. Many sculptures previously considered classical masterpieces are now known to be of the Hellenistic age. The technical ability of the Hellenistic sculptors are clearly in evidence in such major works as the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and the Pergamon Altar. New centres of Greek culture, particularly in sculpture, developed in Alexandria, Antioch, Pergamum, and other cities. By the 2nd century BC, the rising power of Rome had also absorbed much of the Greek tradition—and an increasing proportion of its products as well.

During this period, sculpture again experienced a shift towards increasing naturalism. Common people, women, children, animals, and domestic scenes became acceptable subjects for sculpture, which was commissioned by wealthy families for the adornment of their homes and gardens. Realistic figures of men and women of all ages were produced, and sculptors no longer felt obliged to depict people as ideals of beauty or physical perfection. At the same time, new Hellenistic cities springing up in Egypt, Syria, and Anatolia required statues depicting the gods and heroes of Greece for their temples and public places. This made sculpture, like pottery, an industry, with the consequent standardisation and (some) lowering of quality. For these reasons, quite a few more Hellenistic statues survive to the present than those of the Classical period.

Alongside the natural shift towards naturalism, there was a shift in expression of the sculptures as well. Sculptures began expressing more power and energy during this time period. An easy way to see the shift in expressions during the Hellenistic period would be to compare it to the sculptures of the Classical period. The classical period had sculptures such as the Charioteer of Delphi expressing humility. The sculptures of the Hellenistic period however saw greater expressions of power and energy as demonstrated in the Jockey of Artemision.[17]

Some of the best known Hellenistic sculptures are the Winged Victory of Samothrace (2nd or 1st century BC), the statue of Aphrodite from the island of Melos known as the Venus de Milo (mid-2nd century BC), the Dying Gaul (about 230 BC), and the monumental group Laocoön and His Sons (late 1st century BC). All these statues depict Classical themes, but their treatment is far more sensuous and emotional than the austere taste of the Classical period would have allowed or its technical skills permitted. Hellenistic sculpture was also marked by an increase in scale, which culminated in the Colossus of Rhodes (late 3rd century), thought to have been roughly the same size as the Statue of Liberty. The combined effect of earthquakes and looting have destroyed this as well as any other very large works of this period that might have existed.

Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, Greek culture spread as far as India, as revealed by the excavations of Ai-Khanoum in eastern Afghanistan, and the civilization of the Greco-Bactrians and the Indo-Greeks. Greco-Buddhist art represented a syncretism between Greek art and the visual expression of Buddhism. Discoveries made since the end of the 19th century surrounding the (now submerged) ancient Egyptian city of Heracleum include a 4th-century BC depiction of Isis. The depiction is unusually sensual for depictions of the Egyptian goddess, as well as being uncharacteristically detailed and feminine, marking a combination of Egyptian and Hellenistic forms around the time of Alexander the Great's conquest of Egypt.

In Goa, India, were found Buddha statues in Greek styles. These are attributed to Greek converts to Buddhism, many of whom are known to have settled in Goa during Hellenistic times.[18][19]

Seleucid prince Massimo Inv1049

The Hellenistic Prince, a bronze statue originally thought to be a Seleucid, or Attalus II of Pergamon, now considered a portrait of a Roman general, made by a Greek artist working in Rome in the 2nd century BC.

NAMA Jockey Artémision

Jockey of Artemision. Late Hellenistic bronze statue of a mounted jockey, National Archaeological Museum, Athens.

0 Monument funéraire - Adonis mourant - Museu Gregoriano Etrusco

Sepulchral monument of a dying Adonis, polychrome terracotta, Etruscan art from Tuscana, 250-100 BC

Fragment of a marble relief depicting a Kore, 3rd century BC, from Panticapaeum, Taurica (Crimea) (12853680765)

Fragment of a marble relief depicting a Kore, 3rd century BC, from Panticapaeum, Taurica (Crimea), Bosporan Kingdom

Antikensammlung Berlin 487

Ancient Greek terracotta head of a young man, found in Tarent, ca. 300 BC, Antikensammlung Berlin.

British Museum - GR 1859-2-16-4 (Terracotta D194)

Female head incorporating a vase (lekythos), 325-300 BC.

1415 - Archaeological Museum, Athens - Bronze portrait - Photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto, Nov 11 2009

Bronze portrait of an unknown sitter, with inlaid eyes, Hellenistic period, 1st century BC, found in Lake Palestra of the Island of Delos.


Greco-Buddhist frieze of Gandhara with devotees, holding plantain leaves, in Hellenistic style, inside Corinthian columns, 1st–2nd century CE. Buner, Swat, Pakistan. Victoria and Albert Museum.

Arte greca, pietra tombale di donna con la sua assistente, 100 ac. circa

Gravestone of a woman with her child slave attending to her, c. 100 BC (early period of Roman Greece)

Cult images

Athena Parthenos LeQuire
Reproduction of the Athena Parthenos statue at the original size in the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee.

All ancient Greek temples and Roman temples normally contained a cult image in the cella. Access to the cella varied, but apart from the priests, at the least some of the general worshippers could access the cella some of the time, though sacrifices to the deity were normally made on altars outside in the temple precinct (tenemos in Greek). Some cult images were easy to see, and were what we would call major tourist attractions. The image normally took the form of a statue of the deity, originally less than life-size, then typically roughly life-size, but in some cases many times life-size, in marble or bronze, or in the specially prestigious form of a Chryselephantine statue using ivory plaques for the visible parts of the body and gold for the clothes, around a wooden framework. The most famous Greek cult images were of this type, including the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, and Phidias's Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon in Athens, both colossal statues now completely lost. Fragments of two chryselephantine statues from Delphi have been excavated. Cult images generally held or wore identifying attributes, which is one way of distinguishing them from the many other statues of deities in temples and other locations.

The acrolith was another composite form, this time a cost-saving one with a wooden body. A xoanon was a primitive and symbolic wooden image, perhaps comparable to the Hindu lingam; many of these were retained and revered for their antiquity. Many of the Greek statues well-known from Roman marble copies were originally temple cult images, which in some cases, such as the Apollo Barberini, can be credibly identified. A very few actual originals survive, for example the bronze Piraeus Athena (2.35 metres high, including a helmet).

In Greek and Roman mythology, a "palladium" was an image of great antiquity on which the safety of a city was said to depend, especially the wooden one that Odysseus and Diomedes stole from the citadel of Troy and which was later taken to Rome by Aeneas. (The Roman story was related in Virgil's Aeneid and other works.)



Diana of Gabies

Diane of Gabies dressing with a diplax

Athena Giustiniani Musei Capitolini MC278

Pallas over a peplos.

Egastinai frieze Louvre MR825

Weavers on the Parthenon Frieze



  1. ^ Cook, 19
  2. ^ Cook, 74-75
  3. ^ Cook, 74-76
  4. ^ Cook, 75-76
  5. ^ a b c d e f Brinkmann, Vinzenz (2008). "The Polychromy of Ancient Greek Sculpture". In Panzanelli, Roberta; Schmidt, Eike D.; Lapatin, Kenneth (eds.). The Color of Life: Polychromy in Sculpture from Antiquity to the Present. Los Angeles, California: The J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute. pp. 18–39. ISBN 978-0-89-236-918-8.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Gurewitsch, Matthew (July 2008). "True Colors: Archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann insists his eye-popping reproductions of ancient Greek sculptures are right on target". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Prisco, Jacopo (30 November 2017). "'Gods in Color' returns antiquities to their original, colorful grandeur". CNN style. CNN. Cable News Network. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  8. ^ Gurewitsch, Matthew (July 2008). "True Colors". Smithsonian: 66–71.
  9. ^ October 2007, Colorizing classic statues returns them to antiquity: What was really on that Grecian Urn? Harvard University Gazette.
  10. ^ Brinkmann, Vinzenz (2008). "The Polychromy of Ancient Greek Sculpture". In Panzanelli, Roberta; Schmidt, Eike D.; Lapatin, Kenneth (eds.). The Color of Life: Polychromy in Sculpture from Antiquity to the Present. Los Angeles, California: The J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute. pp. 18–39. ISBN 978-0-89-236-918-8.
  11. ^ The term xoanon and the ascriptions are both highly problematic. A.A. Donohue's Xoana and the origins of Greek sculpture, 1988, details how the term had a variety of meanings in the ancient world not necessarily to do with the cult objects
  12. ^ [1] Archived February 27, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ The debt of archaic Greek sculpture to Egyptian canons was recognized in Antiquity: see Diodorus Siculus, i.98.5-9.
  14. ^ Gagarin, 403
  15. ^ a b Hutchinson, Godfrey (2014). Sparta: Unfit for Empire. Frontline Books. p. 43. ISBN 9781848322226.
  16. ^ "IGII2 6217 Epitaph of Dexileos, cavalryman killed in Corinthian war (394 BC)".
  17. ^ Stele, R. Web. 24 November 2013. <>
  18. ^ Gazetteer of the Union Territory Goa, Daman and Diu: district gazetteer, Volume 1. panajim Goa: Gazetteer Dept., Govt. of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu, 1979. 1979. pp. (see page 70).
  19. ^ (see Pius Melkandathil,Martitime activities of Goa and the Indian ocean.)



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External links


An acrolith is a composite sculpture made of stone and other materials, as in the case of a figure whose clothed parts are made of wood, while the exposed flesh parts such as head, hands, and feet are made of marble. The wood was covered either by drapery or by gilding. This type of statuary was common and widespread in Classical antiquity.

Greek etymology: acros and lithos, English translation: "height" or "extremity" and "stone".

Similarly, chryselephantine sculpture used ivory instead of marble, and often gold on parts of the body and ornaments. Acroliths are frequently mentioned by Pausanias (2nd century AD), the best known example being the Athene Areia ("Warlike Athena") of the Plataeans.

Berlin Foundry Cup

The Berlin Foundry Cup (German: Erzgießerei-Schale) is a red-figure kylix (drinking cup) from the early 5th century BC. It is the name vase of the Attic vase painter known conventionally as the Foundry Painter. Its most striking feature is the exterior depiction of activities in an Athenian bronze workshop or foundry. It is an important source on ancient Greek metal-working technology.

Chryselephantine sculpture

Chryselephantine sculpture (from Greek χρυσός, chrysós, 'gold', and ελεφάντινος, elephántinos, 'ivory') is sculpture made with gold and ivory. Chryselephantine cult statues enjoyed high status in Ancient Greece.

Classical sculpture

Classical sculpture (usually with a small "c") refers generally to sculpture from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, as well as the Hellenized and Romanized civilizations under their rule or influence, from about 500 BC to around 200 AD. It may also refer more precisely a period within Ancient Greek sculpture from around 500 BC to the onset of the Hellenistic style around 323 BC, in this case usually given a capital "C". The term "classical" is also widely used for a stylistic tendency in later sculpture, not restricted to works in a Neoclassical or classical style.

The main subject of Ancient Greek sculpture from its earliest days was the human figure, usually male and nude (or nearly so). Apart from the heads of portrait sculptures, the bodies were highly idealized, but achieved an unprecedented degree of naturalism. In addition to free standing statues, the term classical sculpture incorporates relief work (such as the famous Elgin Marbles of the Parthenon) and the flatter bas-relief style. Whereas sculptural works emphasized the human form, reliefs were employed to create elaborate decorative scenes.

Although making large or monumental sculptures almost ceased in the Early Middle Ages and in Byzantine art, it greatly revived in the Italian Renaissance as Roman examples were excavated, and classical sculpture remained a great influence until at least the 19th century.

Diana of Gabii

The Diana of Gabii is a statue of a woman in drapery which probably represents the goddess Artemis and is traditionally attributed to the sculptor Praxiteles. It became part of the Borghese collection and is now conserved in the Louvre with the inventory number Ma 529.


Ephebe (from the Greek ephebos ἔφηβος (plural: epheboi ἔφηβοι), anglicised as ephebe (plural: ephebes), or Latinate ephebus (plural: ephebi) is the term for an adolescent male. In ancient Greek society and mythology, an ephebos was a boy, aged 17–18, who went through a period of initiation that included military training.

Ephebe may also refer to:

Ephebe (lichen), a genus of lichen in the family Lichinaceae

Ephebus (personal name)

The fictional Discworld country Ephebe

Kritios Boy, an ancient Greek sculpture, also called Ephebe of Kritios

Marathon Boy, an ancient Greek sculpture, also called Ephebe of Marathon

A novel, Efebos, only part of which survives, by Polish composer Karol Szymanowski


A glyptotheque is a collection of sculptures. It is part of the name of several museums and art galleries.

The designation glyptotheque was coined by the librarian of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, derived from the Ancient Greek verb glyphein (γλύφειν), meaning "cut into stone." It was an allusion to the word pinacotheca (from πίναξ pinax, "panel" or "painting"). Glypton (γλυπτόν) is the Greek word for a sculpture.

Museums that today bear this name or cognates of it include:

Glyptothek, in Munich, Germany

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, in Copenhagen, Denmark

National Glyptotheque, in Athens, Greece

Gliptoteka, in Zagreb, Croatia

Gods in Color

Gods in Color or Gods in Colour (original title in German: Bunte Götter – Die Farbigkeit antiker Skulptur, painted gods - the polychromy of ancient sculpture) is a travelling exhibition of varying format and extent that has been shown in multiple cities worldwide. Its subject is ancient polychromy, i.e. the original, brightly painted, appearance of ancient sculpture and architecture.

Hardstone carving

Hardstone carving is a general term in art history and archaeology for the artistic carving of predominantly semi-precious stones (but also of gemstones), such as jade, rock crystal (clear quartz), agate, onyx, jasper, serpentine, or carnelian, and for an object made in this way. Normally the objects are small, and the category overlaps with both jewellery and sculpture. Hardstone carving is sometimes referred to by the Italian term pietre dure; however, pietra dura (with an "a") is the common term used for stone inlay work, which causes some confusion.From the Neolithic period until about the 19th century such objects were among the most highly prized in a wide variety of cultures, often attributed special powers or religious significance, but today coverage in non-specialist art history tends to be relegated to a catch-all decorative arts or "minor arts" category. The types of objects carved have included those with ritual or religious purposes, engraved gems as signet rings and other kinds of seal, handles, belt hooks and similar items, vessels and purely decorative objects.


Hepatizon (Greek etymology: ἧπαρ, English translation: "liver"), also known as Black Corinthian Bronze, was a highly valuable metal alloy in classical antiquity. It is thought to be an alloy of copper with the addition of a small proportion of gold and silver (perhaps as little as 8% of each), mixed and treated to produce a material with a dark purplish patina, similar to the colour of liver. It is referred to in various ancient texts, but few known examples of hepatizon exist today.

Of the known types of bronze or brass in classical antiquity (known in Latin as aes and in Greek as χαλκός), hepatizon was the second most valuable. Pliny the Elder mentions it in his Natural History, stating that it is less valuable than Corinthian bronze, which contained a greater proportion of gold or silver and as a result resembled the precious metals, but was esteemed before bronze from Delos and Aegina. As a result of its dark colour, it was particularly valued for statues. According to Pliny, the method of making it, like that for Corinthian bronze, had been lost for a long time.

Similar alloys are found outside Europe. For example, shakudō is a Japanese billon of gold and copper with a characteristic dark blue-purple patina.


A herma (Ancient Greek: ἑρμῆς, pl. ἑρμαῖ hermai), commonly in English herm, is a sculpture with a head, and perhaps a torso, above a plain, usually squared lower section, on which male genitals may also be carved at the appropriate height. Hermae were so called either because the head of Hermes was most common or from their etymological connection with the Greek word ἕρματα (blocks of stone), which originally had no reference to Hermes at all. The form originated in Ancient Greece, and was adopted by the Romans, and revived at the Renaissance in the form of term figures and Atlantes.

Heroic nudity

Heroic nudity or ideal nudity is a concept in classical scholarship to describe the un-realist use of nudity in classical sculpture to show figures who may be heros, deities, or semi-divine beings. This convention began in Archaic and Classical Greece and continued in Hellenistic and Roman sculpture. The existence or place of the convention is the subject of scholarly argument.

In ancient Greek art warriors on reliefs and painted vases were often shown as nude in combat, which was not in fact the Greek custom, and in other contexts. Idealized young men (but not women) were carved in kouros figures, and cult images in the temples of some male deities were nude. Later, portrait statues of the rich, including Roman imperial families, were given idealized nude bodies; by now this included women. The bodies were always young and athletic; old bodies are never seen. Pliny the Elder noted the introduction of the Greek style to Rome.

Agnolo Bronzino's painted Portrait of Andrea Doria as Neptune (c. 1530) was a rare Renaissance example, but the convention, which was identified by the theorist of Neoclassicism, Johann Joachim Winckelmann, was sometimes revived in Neoclassical art. Canova's statue of Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker is an example.


A Meniskos (Greek: μηνίσκος, plural Meniskoi, English translation: "crescent moon") is a bronze disk mounted above some Greek statues on an iron nail drilled through the statue's head.


In classical architecture, a metope (μετόπη) is a rectangular architectural element that fills the space between two triglyphs in a Doric frieze, which is a decorative band of alternating triglyphs and metopes above the architrave of a building of the Doric order. Metopes often had painted or sculptural decoration; the most famous example are the 92 metopes of the Parthenon marbles some of which depict the battle between the Centaurs and the Lapiths. The painting on most metopes has been lost, but sufficient traces remain to allow a close idea of their original appearance.

In terms of structure, metopes may be carved from a single block with a triglyph (or triglyphs), or they may be cut separately and slide into slots in the triglyph blocks as at the Temple of Aphaea. Sometimes the metopes and friezes were cut from different stone, so as to provide color contrast. Although they tend to be close to square in shape, some metopes are noticeably larger in height or in width. They may also vary in width within a single structure to allow for corner contraction, an adjustment of the column spacing and arrangement of the Doric frieze in a temple to make the design appear more harmonious.

Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge

The Museum of Classical Archaeology is a museum in Cambridge, run by the Faculty of Classics of the University of Cambridge, England. Since 1983, it has been located in a purpose-built gallery on the first floor of the Faculty of Classics on the Sidgwick Site of the University.

The museum is one of the few surviving collections of plaster casts of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture in the world. The collection consists of several hundred casts, including casts of some of the most famous surviving ancient Greek and Roman sculptures. Noteworthy casts include those of the Laocoön and His Sons, the Farnese Hercules, the Barberini Faun and Charioteer of Delphi.

The Peplos Kore is perhaps the best known exhibit in the museum. It is a plaster cast of an ancient Greek statue of a young woman painted brightly as the original would have been, which was set up on the Acropolis of Athens, around 530 BCE. In 1975, the museum attempted to replicate the sculpture’s original appearance by painting a cast of the figure. The replica was then displayed next to a second, unpainted cast as a challenge to the erroneous equation of ancient Greek sculpture with pure white marble.The museum also holds a large collection of sherds and epigraphic squeezes.

The museum is open to the public Monday to Friday: 10.00am to 5.00pm and on Saturdays in University term time: 10.00am to 1.00pm.

The museum is one of eight which make up the University of Cambridge Museums consortium.

Its former home on Little St Mary's Lane was designed by Basil Champneys in 1883. In the 1970s it became evident that it was no longer adequate to house the collection, and it is now part of the buildings of Peterhouse.


The naiskos (pl.: naiskoi; Greek: ναΐσκος, diminutive of ναός "temple") is a small temple in classical order with columns or pillars and pediment. Often applied as an artificial motif, it is common in ancient art. It also found in the funeral architecture of the ancient Attic Cemeteries as grave reliefs or shrines with statues for example the stele of Aristonautes from Kerameikos in Athens and in the black-figured and red-figured pottery of Ancient Greece at the Loutrophoros and the Lekythos and the red-figured wares of Apulia in South Italy. There also exist naiskos-type figurines or other types of temples formed in terracotta; examples abound at the Louvre Museum in Paris. The form of thenaiskos suggests a religious context, relating especially to Greek funerary cult. Some of the Hellenistic inscriptions found in the Bay of Grama are placed inside a naiskos, and in this case the religious context is an invocation of Castor and Pollux (Dioskouroi) for a safe passage across the Adriatic, rather than funerary. A similar style, called the Aedicula, is observed in Roman art.

Nike of Callimachus

The Nike of Callimachus (Greek: Nίκη του Καλλιμάχου) also known as The Dedication of Callimachus, is a statue that the Athenians created in honor of the Callimachus.

Parian marble

For the tablet known as the Parian Marble or Marmor Parium, see Parian Chronicle.

Parian marble is a fine-grained semi translucent pure-white and entirely flawless marble quarried during the classical era on the Greek island of Paros in the Aegean Sea.

It was highly prized by ancient Greeks for making sculptures. Some of the greatest masterpieces of ancient Greek sculpture were carved from Parian marble, including the Medici Venus and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.

The original quarries, which were used from the 6th century BC onwards, can still be seen on the north side of the island on the slopes of its central peak. The Parian's main rival in antiquity was Pentelic marble, which is also flawless white, albeit with a uniform, faint yellow tint that makes it shine with a golden hue under sunlight. Italian Carrara marble is also flawless white with a uniform faint grey tint. It is today mined mostly on the neighbour island of Paros, Naxos, in the mountains near the village of Kinidaros.

Parian ware is an artificial substitute for marble, originally a brand name for a variety of unglazed biscuit porcelain, developed in 1842 in England. This is cast in moulds, typically for small busts and figurines, rather than carved.

Peter Alexandrovich Saburov

Peter Alexandrovich Saburov (22 March O.S./3 April 1835 – 28 March O.S./10 April 1918) was a diplomat, collector of ancient Greek sculpture and antiquities, and a strong amateur chess player and patron of chess tournaments, as an honorary President of the St Petersburg Chess Club.As the Tsarist Russian envoy to Greece, he assembled an outstanding collection of Ancient Greek sculpture, Tanagra figurines, painted vases and other Greek antiquities, which, at the end of his subsequent embassy to Berlin (1879-84) he then sold to the Antikensammlung Berlin, where the collection was catalogued by Adolf Furtwängler, who thereby established his reputation as a master of Greek terracottas, and where it occasioned an acute lack of space that spurred additional construction.. Among the prize works was the headless bronze of an Apollo or Dionysus found in the sea off the coast of Salamis. During his retirement in Saint Petersburg, the Hermitage Museum purchased part of the remainder of his collection, about 1909including 233 molded terracotta statuettes, which he bought in the 1870s when treasure hunters had plundered the necropolis of ancient Tanagra (Boeotia).Saburov was born on the estate of Veryaevo in the district of Elatma in the Government of Taboff. His brother Andrei held for several years the portfolio of the Minister of Public Instruction. Petr Alexandrovich graduated from the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum, in 1854, gaining a first gold medal. After employment in the Chancellery (1857-59), he worked in Munich, and then in England, where he stayed for eleven years, moving in upper-class British society. In 1870 he went to Karlsruhe, and subsequently moved on to Athens, where he stayed until 1879. In the summer of 1879 he went to Constantinople, where he was appointed Russian Ambassador, although he never entered upon the official duties. Then he was posted to Berlin (1880-1884), which involved him at the center of the secret negotiations that led to the unpublished pact, the League of the Three Emperors. In 1884 he left the diplomatic service and returned to Saint Petersburg.

During the last decade of the century he became well known as a financial and economic advisor. He listed his pastimes as pomiculture, architecture, the piano and chess. His son Alexander Saburov, the former Civil Governor of St. Petersburg, was arrested by the Bolsheviks in Moscow in 1918 and shot in 1919. In the early stages of the Russian Revolution, Saburov was a senator but was dismissed upon the accession of the Bolsheviks. Following a short illness he died in Petrograd.

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