• latw-34-1
    Marble naiskos of Cybele, front. (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)
  • latw-34-2
    Cybele Monument, back. Drawing. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • latw-34-3
    Cybele Monument, side. Drawing. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • latw-34-4
    Cybele Monument, side. Drawing. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • latw-34-5
    Cybele Monument, as discovered reused in the Late Roman Synagogue at Sardis, with excavator David Mitten (No. 34). (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • latw-34-20
    Marble Naiskos of Cybele, front (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • latw-34-40
    Marble Naiskos of Cybele, oblique view (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • latw-34-50
    Marble Naiskos of Cybele, oblique view (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • latw-34-60
    Marble Naiskos of Cybele, back (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Marble Naiskos of Cybele

Date
540-530 BC, Late Lydian (Persian)
Museum
Manisa, Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum, 4029
Inventory No.
4029
Sardis CATNUM
S63.051
Material
Marble, Stone
Object Type
Sculpture
Sculpture Type
Naiskos, Relief, Human Figure
Site
Sardis
Sector
Syn
Trench
Syn MH
Locus
Syn MH Locus Spolia
Description
Block of white marble carved to represent a rectangular temple with goddess standing in front. The temple is represented by columns, one at each corner and one in the middle of each side and of the back; between columns are three registers of figures in low relief. The top of the monument, including column tops and goddess’s head, was cut away in antiquity; one fragmentary column capital survives (and has been restored). The form of goddess is in high relief. She stands fully draped with feet slightly separated, left arm at her side, right arm crossed over her breast (possibly holding a lion, according to Hanfmann). Flanking her on either side is a snake (?); with head missing. Columns have torus bases and fluted shafts; the capital fragment appears to be part of an Ionic volute member. At the sides of the monument, the 12 relief panels (six on a side, in three rows of two) show individual figures facing front: korai, dancers, crouching satyrs holding funnel-shaped cups (one with wine skin on his shoulder, the other with an animal). At the back, the six panels (three rows of two) show figural groups: flying birds flanking central tree; boar and lion confronted and flanking central tree (top row); man and lion in combat; chariot with single rider (middle row); centaur; three interacting figures, probably one female, two male (bottom row). Preserved height 0.62 m; width 0.41 m (at front), 0.57 m (at back); depth 0.33 m (at left), 0.442 m (at right).
Comments
Recovered in the Late Roman Synagogue at Sardis, where it had been reused as building material. The monument presumably was made to be a votive offering for the sanctuary of Cybele at Sardis. It poses many questions. Does the naiskos replicate a real building; if so, how closely are real building features replicated? The stubby front-to-back proportions presumably are a concession to the conventional form of small-scale building votives (although, to be sure, nothing is known about Lydian temple proportions). Do the registers of images at sides and back represent analogous decoration on temple walls behind free-standing columns or between engaged columns or on screens between columns? The order of the building is basically Ionic. Panels at the back appear to be narrative. Some have iconographic or thematic parallels in Greek art, e.g., boar, lion and tree with Peleus legend; combat with Herakles and the Nemean lion; interacting figures with Clytemnestra-Aegisthus-Agamemnon or Orestes-Clytemnestra-Aegisthus.
Discussed
Greenewalt, “Gods of Lydia”; Cahill, “City of Sardis”
Bibliography
Hanfmann and Ramage 1978, 43-51, no. 7; Hanfmann 1983a, 92; Hanfmann 1983b, 224; Dedeoğlu 2003, 44, fig.
Author
CHG