Archaic grave markers

Attic relief gravestones (stelai)

In Attica, around 580 BC, a series of tall gravestones begins, topped by the figure of a sphinx, on a simply decorated capital. After the mid-century the capital is elaborated as palmettes with spirals, but soon thereafter the stele type is simplified, with a palmette only. The type disppears in the early 5th cent. BC. Most figures are male and there is rough age differentiation by type: young as athlete, mature as warrior, old as man with dog. In the last phase the rectangular bases for the stelai may be decorated in relief on three sides.

Attic gravestone types

Drawings of 5 stelai
  • The sequence of Attic stelai (after Richter): 1 - New York; 2 - sphinx in Athens and capital in New York combined; 3 - New York; 4,5 - painted examples, Athens and New York
Photo of sphinx and capital
  • Sphinx and capital, from Attica. About 540-530 BC.
Cast of kouros base with relief scene
  • Cast of kouros base with relief scene, from Athens. Side A - a ball game. About 510 BC.
    Cast No. D 007a
Cast of stele of Aristion
  • Cast of stele of Aristion from Velanideza (Attica). About 510 BC.
    Cast No. D004

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