• r2-143-5
    Stele of Nympheros. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-143-10
    Stele of Nympheros. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-143-20
    Detail of inscription. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Stele of Nympheros

2nd C. AD, Roman
Manisa, Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum, 3938
Museum Inventory No.
Sardis or Museum Inv. No.
Marble, Stone
Object Type
Sculpture Type
Funerary Relief, Human Figure, Athlete
Inscription Text
Inscription Translation
Inscription Comment
PC, but not in excavations.

A heroic nude male figure in high relief stands frontally with his arms away from his body. He looks off to his l. The weight is on his l. leg, the r. is bent and drawn back slightly. In his r. hand he holds a thick round object, probably a weight (?), with an incised circle and a central dot. His l. holds a javelin. A small nude boy at his r. side looks in the same direction as the man, or more likely, looks up at him. He holds an object in his bent l. arm. The r. arm is also bent, the hand at his paunchy child’s stomach. The other athletic objects are indicated: a hoe, standing upright in the lower r. corner, would be to even out the sandpit for jumping; and a pair of concave-sided cylinders, hanging in the upper l. corner of the stele, are encircled and held suspended by a strap. Background surface recedes sharply from the man’s knees downward. Letters ΝΥΜΦΕΡΩΣ carved on flat surface just below relief. Back side is rough picked.

Type and pose are modeled on heroic athletic stelai and specifically follow the style of gladiatorial reliefs. Nympheros was a common name of gladiators. Better work of 2nd C. A.D.

H. 0.95; W. at bottom 0.52; Th. 0.105; W. of raised band around edge 0.03; H. of man 0.775, of child 0.32, of letters 0.035.

For spiritual antecedents of the relief cf. Friis-Johansen, Attic Grave Reliefs, 22, fig. 8 and Hatt, Sculptures Strasbourg, no. 17. For related gladiatorial reliefs, Robert, Gladiateurs, no. 302, pl. 19; no. 119, pl. 23; no. 241, pl. 21. For the name, cf. ibid., 301, no. 191a; no. 300, pl. 5; no. 302, pl. 19. For similar pair of cylinders, see Arndt-Amelung-Lippold, Einzelaufnahmen, no. 222.

See Also
See also: M14, No. 412.
Published: BASOR199, 40, fig. 6. Date is according to H. Möbius (letter Apr. 26, 1971).