• r2-159-10
    Cybele in mural crown in front of tree, overview. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Cybele in Mural Crown in Front of Tree

150-50 BC?, Hellenistic
Sardis or Museum Inv. No.
Marble, Stone
Object Type
Sculpture Type
Votive Relief, Mythological Figure
Village of Matdere? Brought by peasant of that village to BT camp, Aug. 5, 1963.

At the top of the relief is a projecting simple profile. Below it are preserved the head of Cybele (or Tyche?) with a tall mural crown and the upper part of a tree. The head of the goddess is seen in profile, facing l. Her turreted crown sits on top of the head. The hair on top of her head is in simple curves and bound by a ribbon; below, the hair puffs out and is drawn into a bun at the back of the head. Half of the l. ear is visible, with a drill hole in the center (for an earring?). There is a small curl in front of it. She has a deep-set “Pergamene” eye and a somewhat bulbous nose with a strongly curved nostril. The projecting upper lip and chin and a small “breathing” mouth are characteristically Hellenistic. The tree is in two major trunks, with smaller, upward-rising branches on each. It is somewhat sketchy in execution, but was probably painted. The background is plain, with some tooth-chisel marks still visible.

If this is Cybele, then the tree might be the Pine of Attis. The scene might have been the r. end of a votive relief to the goddess. The style of the face and the tree seem to be Hellenistic, of perhaps 150-50 B.C.

H. 0.24; L. on top 0.35; Th. with profile 0.55, without 0.45; H. of head, chin to top 0.085; H. of projecting profile 0.035.
An argument for Tyche is a comparison with a relief on the arch of Trajan at Benevento, D. Strong, Roman Imperial Sculpture, fig. 77 or Pieranges, L’arc de Trajan, pls. 24, 28. On Tyche, Hinks, Myth and Allegory, 76ff. and Dohrn, Tyche, passim. On the other hand, Cybele with the Pine of Attis seems the more likely interpretation, cf. altar of Cybele and Attis, Vermaseren, Legend of Attis, 27, pl. 16, and Willemsen, Lowenkopf-Wasserspeier, pl. 116. On Cybele as Tyche, see J.M.C. Toynbee, Roma and Constantinopolis, 136.
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