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North Ionia: Archaic Sculpture

Author(s) : Leka Evridiki (5/22/2002)
Translation : Nakas Ioannis (11/23/2007)

For citation: Leka Evridiki, "North Ionia: Archaic Sculpture", 2007,
Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor
URL: <http://www.ehw.gr/l.aspx?id=7456>

Βόρεια Ιωνία, Αρχαϊκή Πλαστική (12/6/2007 v.1) North Ionia: Archaic Sculpture (10/2/2008 v.1) 
 

1. Introduction

The few and isolated works of monumental sculpture which are preserved in north Ionia do not allow anything more than the detection of certain general trends, better still some differentiations and variations, in comparison to the art of south Ionia.

On the contrary, small scale sculpture, preserved in a plethora of works, presents original characteristics. But these terracotta statuettes are of very low quality and are not ideal for the study of the style of a region. The type of the dressed female figure as a votive offering to a sanctuary or a tomb is very usual. The study of the clay busts, however, offers some new evidence. F. Croissant1 attributes to north Ionia some groups of terracotta busts whose originality and unity are clear, but their origin hypothetical, since examples found in situ are absent. Following E. Langlotz's method,2 who was seeking in coins and pottery similar profiles to the ones of three dimensional works, it is suggested the attribution of a group to Phocaea and of another group to Clazomenai.

2. Phocaea

The neighbouring to Aeolis Phocaea was an important artistic metropolis before its conquest by Arpagos in 545 BC and the immigration of most of its inhabitants to the western Mediterranean.3 However, few works of sculpture from Phocaea have survived from the period before the Persian conquest. They are a crouched lion and a relief on a rock portraying a little temple where the goddess Cybele stands. From representations on coins we are also aware of a cult composition of the Dioskouroi in the type of the kouroi armed with a spear and a shield. Fragments of terracotta simes with a decoration of female heads and horses are also dated in the Late Archaic period (504-450 BC).

Minor art and mainly coins allow for a better understanding of the sculptural production of Phocaea. Women’s heads on amber coins with a curved upper profile, small lenticular eyes, long pointed nose and a great cavity of the mouth between the nose and the jaw show clear connections to the art of nearby Aeolis. There has also been assumed that artists from Phocaea participated in the creation of terracotta friezes at Larissa in Ermos. Modern research has greatly underlined the role of Phocaea in the colonization of the western Mediterranean. Nevertheless, the great colonies of the city never produced anything noteworthy concerning sculpture: some 70 votive little limestone temples from Marseilles with the figure of a goddess on a throne, are works that lack any artistic ambition.4 Similar votive temples have also been found in Asia Minor (1 in Myrina, 3 in Cumae, 1 in Phocaea, 1 in Clazomenai, 2 in Erythrae, 1 at Didyma and 1 in Miletus) and are rather characteristic of a northern Ionian or Aeolian type of monument.

Immigrant sculptors from Phocaea most probably produced the marble sculptures of the Massalians' treasure at Delphi: fragments of the surrounding frieze are preserved (c. 510 BC) in high relief representing battles (Gigantomachy and Amazonomachy) and parts of the pediments and of the akroteria portraying the goddess Nike (Victory). An “anonymous” Aeolian treasure in Delphi is also attributed to Phocaea; the biggest preserved fragment from its sculptural decoration depicts a chariot with four horses and warriors with helmets. These attributions are, however, questionable.

3. Erythrai

Pausanias5 mentions a standing statue of Hercules, in Erythrai, maybe from Tyros, which held a club in his right hand, which was lifted high. The lost statue is represented on coins. Also from Pausanias we know that the wooden cult statue of Athena, as well as the marble statues of the Hours and the Graces from the sanctuary of Athena Polias was a work of the famous sculptor Endoios. The excavations in the sanctuary of Athena revealed important works of sculpture from the 7th and 6th centuries BC.6Amongst them a slightly later marble torso of a kore of a size slightly over the natural was found (560-550 BC).7 The figure is portrayed with her left hand bended on the chest and the right hand lifting the edge of her garment. She wears a thin, wrapped around the waist, tunic with long sleeves and an apoptygma, forming monotonous, thin and perpendicular folds. The body is clearly traced under the cloths and the figure appears to be in a slight motion. The head was made from a separate piece of marble. The sculpture bears traces of ancient repairs on its right hand and on its left arm. A female head with rounded and soft characteristics which was found nearby and bears traces of ancient repairs on the nose probably belonged to this statue.8A group of fragmentary preserved kores which were also found at the sanctuary of Athena and date around 560 BC are related to the aforementioned kore.9A crouching lion was probably placed on a gateway as a guard.10 Tombstones of the late 6th century BC had a richly decorated crowing of cubic pyramid shape. The two votive temples from trachyte stone with the figure of the goddess Cybele are totally primitive.11

The sculpture of Erythrai depends mainly on models from Miletus, although the torso of the kore shows influences from the islands of the eastern Aegean too. In all cases, however, these are works of local workshops.

Terracotta sculpture from Erythrai presents the usual types of eastern Greece,12 whereas the ivory statuettes of the 7th century BC are original works of local artists.13Amongst these works, following the models of the Daedalian sculpture, a woman statuette of the third quarter of the 7th century BC14 and three later heads with the roofed wig stand out.15 In contrast to that, an early ivory archaic kore is a work of an Ephesian workshop.16A bronze fibula in the form of a lion is a local orientalizing work,17whereas a bronze statue of a corpulent nude woman figure is an import from the East.18

4. Smyrna

The thriving city of Smyrna was conquered and destroyed around 600 BC by the Lydian king Alyates. It seems, however, that great sculpture had developed in the city many years before the destruction.19 During the end of the 7th century BC, two limestone monumental statues of lions of the Hittite type can be dated, as well as fragments of two male figures, all of them in natural size and probably being votive offerings in the sanctuary of Athena. The style of these sculptures is related to that of the capitals and other architectural parts from the temple of Athena, thus its creation from the same artisans is possible. One of the male heads is dated around 600 BC and reflects Attic models. The other head and the two fragmentary preserved lions can be dated slightly earlier, to the end of the 7th century BC. Two parts of the limestone frieze, representing a chariot race and lions, which initially probably decorated the altar of Athena, are also dated to the end of the 7th century BC.

The production of great sculpture continued in Smyrna also during the Early Archaic period (575-545 BC): two fragments of two different statues of dressed female figures, dated to the period 570-560 BC, as well as a woman head covered with a himation, bearing a diadem, dated around 550 BC and being one of the finest works of Ionian sculpture, equal to analogous works from Miletus and Didyma,20 have been found. Around 530 BC two marble lying lions21 and a marble drainpipe in the form of a lion’s head can also be dated.22 The ivory works from Smyrna belong to the Late Daedalic period (640/630-620 BC). They comprise of a relief representing a “Mistress of the Beasts” (Pontia Theron), a hawk and a lion of Assyrian type,23 with which a bronze lion in Athens can be related.

A bronze statuette of a young man with a short tunic and a disproportionately large head standing still on his open legs is contemporary.24 A silver woman statuette from the second quarter of the 6th century with a corpulent, wide face and a tunic tied around the waist is very much influenced by Oriental art.25

5. Clazomenai

From the important artistic centre of Clazomenai, mostly known for its painted sarcophagi, comes the upper torso and the head of a goddess seated on a throne (maybe Cybele) –an accidental find which is today exhibited in the Louvre- which belonged to a votive sculpture in the form of a small temple and is dated around 560 BC.26 This sculpture is made of limestone and represents a figure wearing a tunic with thick clear folds and an himation covering the head. It greatly resembles a similar work found near Miryna (570-560 BC). The relevance of the two works indicates that they probably come from the same workshop, while the fact they are both made of limestone suggests as a region of origin northern Ionia or Aeolis, where architects and sculptors during the first half of the 6th century BC were working exclusively on limestone and porous. A small temple with a seated Cybele of the third quarter of the 6th century is a clumsy work of lower quality.27

From Clazomenai comes also a late archaic limestone kore –today in Louvre- wearing a tunic and an oblique Ionian himation, according to the habit of the Aegean islands and holding a bird as an offer. It is a local work with heavy forms of circa 530 BC.28 Herodotus29 mentions a treasure of Clazomenai in Delphi, with which a frieze with a rich floral decoration,30 whose limestone fits the one of the sculptures of Clazomenai has been connected.

6. Teos

Two marble crouched lions from Teos, ready to attack their prey and with their heads turned to the side, were probably placed on tombs.31

7. Claros

A headless marble statue of a kore from Claros, an offering of the priest Timonaktas son of Theodoros to Artemis, is also of Daedalic style and must be dated around 600 BC.32 The motionless figure wears a long and thin, tied around the waist tunic, whereas the upper torso, slightly bended towards the right and the shoulders are covered by a kind of short and round epiblema. The left hand, probably holding an offer (bird, flower, fruit), is bended and touches the breast, while the right is spread along the body. It is the work of a local sculptor who imitates his contemporary Samian works.

The statue of a calf bearer kouros slightly larger than the natural size, an offering to Apollo is a bit later, another local work of circa 530 BC.33 The young commissioner is represented in frontal view holding the animal that is about to be sacrificed, with his left leg slightly appearing towards the front. The slim juvenile body is softly shaped, the muscles barely visible.

Two more partially preserved kouroi were found in 1995 carefully buried near the southern access of the sanctuary of Apollo.34 It is part of a kouros, also an offering of Timonaktas, preserved from the waist to the knees, with an initial height of 1.90 m., as well as a second kouros, also of the type of the commissioner, whose initial height must have been 2.10 m. and from whom only the hands and the feet are missing. From the same area comes also a very badly preserved head,35 as well as a part of the thigh of a kouros of similar style to the above mentioned kouroi.
In the sanctuary of Apollo in Claros a large number of bull figurines and riders of the 7th century BC, a silver bust of a hawk, terracotta statuettes of the late 6th century BC with Apollo holding a lyre –a type which replaced the bull statuettes- a small terracotta kouros of the late 6th century BC and a terracotta female head of the early 5th century BC were found.36

8. Other workshops in northern Ionia

A marble statue of Dionysermos, of unknown provenance and of size smaller than the natural, now in Louvre (530-520 BC)37 has been attributed to a northern Ionia workshop. It depicts a young, stout dressed male figure with the arms attached on the body and with one foot slightly protruding towards the front side.

Of lesser importance are other works attributed to northern Ionia: a small head of a kore and a Cybele seated statue, whereas marble lamps were exported from northern Ionia to mainland Greece, to Attica (a lamp with three lions’ heads) and to Thebes (a lamp with a rich animal decoration). Provincial bronze figures from a sanctuary of Cybele on the coast opposite Chios are distinguished for their variety of types: ploughmen compositions, pairs of adversaries, charioteers, Centaurs, sea beasts, animals. The heavy square cubic forms remind clumsy clay statuettes.

From bronze workshops in Ionia which cannot be located with greater precision, come two kouroi with soft smooth bodies, a hero walking with two lions on his shoulders, a lying lion and a pair of rams.38

Unfortunately, the evidence available today does not allow us to compose a more integral and coherent picture of the sculptural production of northern Ionia.


1. Croissant, F., Les protomés féminines archaïques, Recherches sur les représentations du visage dans la plastique grecque de 550 à 480 av.J.-C (BEFAR 250, Paris 1983).

2. Langlotz, E., Studien zur Nordostgriechischen Kunst (Mainz 1975).

3. For the archaic sculpture of Phocaea see Langlotz, E., “Beobachtungen in Phokaia”, AA (1969), p. 377-385; Langlotz, E., Studien zur Nordostgriechischen Kunst (Mainz 1975); Bodenstedt, F., Phokaisches Elektron-Geld von 600-326 v.Chr. (Mainz 1976); Croissant, F., Les protomés féminines archaïques, Recherches sur les représentations du visage dans la plastique grecque de 550 à 480 av.J.-C. (BEFAR 250, Paris 1983), p.125-140; Floren, J., Die griechische Plastik 1: Die geometrische und archaische Plastik (Habdbuch der Archaologie, Munich 1987), p. 399.

4. Hermary, A., “Les naiskoi votifs de Marseille”, in Les cultes des cités phocéennes, Actes du colloque international organisé par le Centre Camille-Julian (Aix-en-Provence – Marseille 1999) (Et. Massa. 6, Aix-en-Provence 2000), p. 119-133.

5. Pausanias 7.5.5.

6. For the archaic sculpture from Eryhtrai see Floren, J., Die griechische Plastik 1: Die geometrische und archaische Plastik (Hanbdbuch der Archäologie, München 1987), p. 397; Akurgal, E., Griechische und römische Kunst in der Türkei (München 1987), tab. 59-64.

7. Smyrna, Archaeological Museum, no. 5301. Preserved in a height of 1,80 m. Akurgal, E., “Neue archaische Skulpturen aus Anatolien”, in Kyrieleis, Η. (ed.), Archaische und klassische griechische Plastik 1 (Mainz 1986), p. 1-9, tab. 1-3.

8. Akurgal, E., Erythrai. An Ancient Ionian City (Izmir 1979), fig. 6.

9. Smyrna, Archaeological Museum, no. 69 amd 6779. Bayburtluoglu, C., “Archaische Statuen und Statuenfragmente aus Erythrai”, in Kyrieleis, Η. (ed.), Archaische und klassische griechische Plastik 1 (Mainz 1986), p. 193-198, tab. 80-81.

10. Smyrna, Archaeological Museum, no. 6892.

11. Naumann, F., Die Ikonographie der Kybele in der phrygischen und der griechischen Kunst (IstMitt, Beih. 28, Tübingen 1983), p. 129, 301, no.54-55, tab. 17.1-2.

12. Bayburtluoglu, C., Erythrai 2. Terracottas in Erythrai (Ankara 1977).

13. Akurgal, E., Erythrai. An Ancient Ionian City (Izmir 1979), εικ. 9-10. The Anatolian Civilisations 2 (Istanbul 1983) αρ. B 53-55· Αkurgal, E., Griechische und römische Kunst in der Türkei (München 1987), πίν. 63, 73.

14. Smyrna, Archaeological Museum, no. 5276.

15. Smyrna, Archaeological Museum, no. 5280, 5880.

16. Akurgal, Ε., “Eine ephesische Elfenbeinstatuette aus Erythrai”, στο Lebendige Altertumswisseschaft, Festgabe zur Vollendung des 70. Lebensjahres von H. Vetters (Wien 1985), p. 43-49, tab. 9.

17. Smyrna, Archaeological Museum, no. 5284. The Anatolian Civilisations 2 (Istanbul 1983), no. B 58.

18. Smyrna, Archaeological Museum, no. 8327. The Anatolian Civilisations 2 (Istanbul 1983), no. Β 56.

19. For the archaic sculpture from Smyrna see Akurgal, E., Alt-Smyrna 1. Wohnschichten und Athenatempel (Ankara 1983); Floren, J., Die griechische Plastik 1: Die geometrische und archaische Plastik (Hanbdbuch der Archaologie, Munich 1987), p. 398

20. Akurgal, E., “Zur Entstehung der ostgriechischen Klein- und Grossplastik”, MDAI (I) 42 (1992), p. 79-81, tab. 7-9.

21. Smyrna, Archaeological Museum, no. 328; Akurgal, E., Die Kunst Anatoliens von Homer bis Alexander (Berlin 1961), p. 279, fig. 246-247.

22. Smyrna, Archaeological Museum, no. 331.

23. Akurgal, E., Die Kunst Anatoliens von Homer bis Alexander (Berlin 1961), p. 186, fig. 140-142.

24. Akurgal, E., Die Kunst Anatoliens von Homer bis Alexander (Berlin 1961), p. 187, fig. 137-139.

25. Constantinople, Archaeological Museum, no. M 2245; Tigrel, G.Y., “Eine silberstatuette aus Nymphaion”, in Lebendige Altertumswissenschaft, Festgabe zur Vollendung des 70. Lebensjahres von H. Vetters (Wien 1985), p. 50-51, tab. 10.

26. Paris, Louvre, no. Μa 3380; Akurgal, E., “Bemerkungen zur Frage der örtlichen und zeitlichen Einordnung der griechischen archaischen Grossplastik Kleinasiens”, in Festschrift fur Nikolaus Himmelmann (Mainz 1989), p. 38-39, tob. 8; Hamiaux, M., Musée du Louvre. Les sculptures grecques 1 (Paris 1992), no. 55.

27. Paris, Louvre, no. 3304. Hamiaux, M., Musée du Louvre. Les sculptures grecques 1 (Paris 1992), no. 54.

28. Paris, Louvre, no. 3303. Hamiaux, M., Musée du Louvre. Les sculptures grecques 1 (Paris 1992), no. 52

29. Herod. 1.51. This thesaurus was used for the storing of the offerings after the destruction of the temple of Apollo from the fire of 548 BC. 

30. Langlotz, E., Studien zur Nordostgriechischen Kunst (Mainz 1975), p. 45, 68-72, tab. 7.1, 16.4.

31. Smyrna, Archaeological Museum, no. 381, 889.

32. Smyrna, Archaeological Museum, no. 3708. Preserved height 1,28 m. Holtzmann, B., “Les sculptures de Claros”, CRAI (1993), p.811-815, fig. 9-10.

33. Smyrna, Archaeological Museum, no. 3504. Marble. Preserved height 1,30 m. Ηoltzmann, B., “Les sculptures de Claros”, CRAI (1993), p. 809-811, fig. 7-8.

34. Geniere, J. de La, “Sanctuaire d’Apollon à Claros”, CRAI (1996), p. 269, εικ. 7· Geniere, J. de La, “CLAROS. Bilan provisoire de dix campagnes de fouilles”, REA 100 (1-2) (1998), p. 241, π.ν. 12.2.

35. Smyrna, Archaeological Museum, no. 3711.

36. Mitchell, St., “The Archaeology in Asia Minor 1990-1998”, AR 45 (1999), p. 148-149

37. Paris, Louvre, no. ΜA 3600. Devambez, P.,- Robert, L., “Une nouvelle statue archaïque au Louvre. I-La statue, II-L’inscirption”, RA (1966.2), p. 195-222, tab. 1-4. Hamiaux, M., Musée du Louvre. Les sculptures grecques 1 (Paris 1992), no. 51.

38. For these sculptures see Floren, J., Die griechische Plastik 1: Die geometrische und archaische Plastik (Hanbdbuch der Archäologie (München 1987), p. 399-400.

     
 
 
 
 
 

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