• r2-23-10
    Double-sided relief with Archaic lion sejant, left side view. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-23-20
    Double-sided relief with Archaic lion sejant, right side view. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-23-30
    Double-sided relief with Archaic lion sejant, top view. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Double-Sided Relief with Archaic Lion Sejant

Date
ca. 580-560 BC, Lydian
Sardis or Museum Inv. No.
S60.031
Material
Marble, Stone
Object Type
Sculpture
Sculpture Type
Animal, Lion
Site
Sardis
Sector
AC
Trench
AcT
B-Grid Coordinates
*2.70
Findspot
AcT, trench C, Byzantine cistern; see Sardis R1, 33, fig.4.
Description

The lion is conceived as one, not two beasts; he has only one tail. Frontally viewed, the two legs are separated by “background,” ca. 0.06 W., thicker (0.075) below the belly. The lion has a broad mane of plastically rendered, overlapping curls which spread down toward the front of the shoulders. The mane then narrows and continues down the spine to the tail as a dorsal mane (Rückenmähne). On each side, seven pointed curls appear on the belly, adjacent to the shoulder. Contrasting with these plastic renderings, two half circles and three deeply graven arcs describe the muscles on the l. haunch; and while the fetlock, elbow, and muscle of the upper r. foreleg are done plastically, a double outline is used again to describe the muscle of the lower r. leg. The tooling is archaic: there is point and flat chisel work, and the surface is abraded, but not to a gloss.

The rectangular cuttings on the back probably served to seat marble parts for possible use in a throne or other piece of furniture. Their size and direction do not indicate whether the lions were facing frontwards, as the lions on later Cybele thrones and Phoenician sphinx thrones, or backwards, as those on Attic black-figure vases. A lion throne rather than live lions may be envisaged in the votive of Eleutherion to the Mother of the Gods (Cybele) from Sardis (Cat. 256 Fig. 442).

The double relief indicates that this was part of a furniture piece; the original position, somewhat steeper than in the photographs, permits either a throne or a table.

Derived from Near Eastern (”Late Hittite,” Urartian, Akurgal, Kunst Anatoliens, figs. 13, 15) models, the double outlining of muscles was still popular in Greece in the first half of the 6th C. B.C. (Matz, Geschichte der Griechischen Kunst I, pl. 137 b). A good example appears on an Eastern Greek Corinthianizing sherd found in the Cybele altar at PN and datable to ca. 575 B.C. (BASOR 191, 14, fig. 12, P67.143). As to “advanced” features, the rendering of upper shoulder muscle (Fig. 88) resembles that of the lion from Perachora in Boston, dated variously between 580 and 550 B.C. The plastic pointed locks are seen on the Lydian-provincial lion from Kula (Gabelmann, Lowenbild, no. 108, pl. 21) mistakenly said to be from Sardis. They were certainly earlier in Sardis. The basic inspiration may have been Corinthian, but such details as the soft locks may be a “progressive” eastern Greek contribution.

Condition

Large-grained, grayish white marble, reddish incrustation (leaching); possibly “local.”

Most of the body, parts of upper legs and back haunches, and background between them preserved. Proper l.: surface broken off over chest and upper r. leg. Surface preserved on belly, l. rear haunch, and on part of back with bit of head mane. Proper r.: surface of rear haunch broken away except for edge accompanied by upward curling tail. Surface preserved from piece of back including bit of head mane downward to belly and part of upper. r. foreleg.

Dimensions
H. 0.42; L. 0.565; W. 0.22. On top of lion’s back, causing initial break, are two cuttings: cutting nearer neck W. 0.075-0.065, L. 0.06, D. 0.065; the other, W. 0.04, L. 0.27, D. 0.015-0.02. N. H. Ramage considers them possibly secondary, from reuse; G. M. A. Hanfmann considers them original, made skillfully with medium point chisel.
Comments
For Cybele thrones see relief of Azzanathkona, M. I. Rostovtzeff, Excavations at Dura-Europas, 171ff., pl. 14. For Phoenician thrones, Kyrieleis, Throne und Klinen, 45, 65; E. Kukahn in Schefold, Die Griechen, 304, fig. 361, Ibiza, 7th C. B.C.? For lions on Attic vases, see Boston Museum of Fine Arts, amphora 00.330, Richter, Ancient Furniture, 14, fig. 28; idem, Furniture of the Greeks, 24, fig. 94, where however, the lions are only protomes. For other late examples, cf. P. C. Baur, ed., Dura Europas Third Season, 105ff., 115, 124ff., pl. XVI, Atargatis, and Great Mother, discussion of iconography. For thrones with animal figures, Richter Furniture of the Greeks, 13ff., figs. 53, 73, 129-135, 156-159. For Perachora lion see Caskey, Catalogue MFA Boston, 15ff. and ills.; Gabelmann, Lowenbild, 50, no. 29, pl. 5.
See Also
Bibliography
Published: Hanfmann-Detweiler, Trojan War Tamerlane, 538, fig. 15; BASOR162, 36, fig. 20; Hanfmann-Detweiler, Heights, 7, fig. 5. Mentioned by Gabelmann, Lowenbild, 83, n. 345, 119, no. 110 (no specific date).
Author
GMAH