• r2-233-10
    Stele with praying woman, overview. Butler photo. (Howard Crosby Butler Archive, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University)

Stele with Praying Woman

Date
450-425 BC, Late Lydian (Persian)
Museum
Izmir, Archaeological Museum, 690
Museum Inventory No.
690
Sardis or Museum Inv. No.
Izmir 690
Material
Marble, Stone
Object Type
Sculpture
Sculpture Type
Funerary Relief, Stele, Draped Woman
Inscription Text
[ siv]ãmlis akit qis
[ esνaν] antolaν 𝑓ẽnsλiḅ[id]
[ katsa]ṛlokid ẽnakmλ̣[ ]
Inscription Translation
of the sivams (this recurs -- hence not name of owner) and thus (akit) whosoever (qis)/esnan -- this stele (antola/anlola) damages (fenslibid)/ he shall be cursed (katsarlokis)
Inscription Comment
Site
Sardis
Findspot
Found in the same low wall of the Necropolis as the Lydian-Aramaic bilingual (ibid., no. 1; 241 Fig. 420) and other Lydian inscriptions, hence from the cemetery.
Description

Although there is no sign of dowelling on top, the stele probably had a covering element, possibly a palmette. A female figure facing to I. is placed freely and somewhat asymmetrically on a claw-chiseled background. The sides of the stele are also claw chiseled. The back is rough trimmed.

Despite the damage, one can discern the profile with imprints of an eye and earring. She has her hair in a bun and wears a veil or hood. She is dressed in a pleated chiton with long sleeves and a cloak. The cloak falls down her r. side; it is visible as a thin strip down to her r. wrist. On the other side it fell down the back to be held by the (lost) I. arm, which was probably wrapped in the cloak. With her I. hand she may have held the long central fold and the short double fold which is flying back. Her arm is bent and her short, pudgy hand is held open toward the spectator, the thumb laid over the index finger. The (advanced?) r. foot is carved closer to the background than the I.

The stele belongs to the "Cyclado-Ionic" type, popular during the first half of the 5th C. B.C., in which one single figure is placed on the shaft of the stele (Friis-Johansen, Attic Grave Reliefs, Ch. 4). Rodenwaldt rightly recognized Eastern Greek influence in the Thessalian and Boeotian pieces of "Cyclado-lonian" type. An Eastern Greek stele of this kind was the model for the Izmir stele. The strange and illogical central fold and the folds which radiate from it are the standard formula for guards and tribute bearers, beginning with the reliefs from Pasargadae. As G. M.A. Richter (Greeks in Persia, 17ff., fig. 4), modified by Nylander (Ionians in Pasargadae, 134ff., fig. 46), had surmised, the motif was brought in by Ionians with Cyrus but then adapted and perpetuated in typical Achaemenian style. One might think that the Lydian sculptor had perhaps come back from work at Susa or Persepolis and applied the formula he had carved a hundred times to the now unfamiliar Greek drapery in a genuine mixing of classical Greek and Achaemenian elements. The date is still within the third quarter of the 5th C.

Under the feet of the woman there is an inscription of three incomplete lines; possibly one more is lost (see Sardis VI, 2, no. 17; Gusmani, Lydisches Worterbuch, 258, no. 17 for complete text). The following is a tentative translation:

of the sivams (this recurs -- hence not name of owner) and thus (akit) whosoever (qis)/esnan -- this stele (antola/anlola) damages (fenslibid)/ he shall be cursed (katsarlokis)

Gusmani translates ena-k "and the Mother will to him..." He comments that as in Lycian, the curse formula might invoke the Mother of the Gods or a similar divinity (by letter Feb. 1972).

Condition

Marble with reddish discoloration, perhaps "local."

Top element missing. Top of present stele shaft broken at rear I. Bottom I. corner and much of lower r. side restored. The original condition is shown in Sardis VI, 2, pl. 7. Face and upper part of figure chiseled off, possibly intentionally. Except for lost I. heel, lower part well preserved.

Dimensions
H. 0.91; W. at top 0.385, at bottom 0.41; Th. at top 0.09, with relief 0.12. Sides of stele taper from 0.385 at front to 0.355 at back. H. of figure 0.67, of inscription band 0.08. Foot-ledge projection: D. 0.035; P.L. 0.21; Th. 0.12.
Comments
See Also
Bibliography
Published: Sardis VI, 2, no. 17, pl. 7; Bossert, Altanatolien, 27, fig. 192, 4th C. B.C.; Gusmani, Lydisches Worterbuch, 254, no. 17; ibid, 266, 272; Pfuhl-Möbius, Ostgriechischen Grabreliefs, no. 53, pl. 13. Nearest in placing a figure on a wide shaft are the stelai of Polyxenaia from Thessaly, Friis-Johansen, Attic Grave-Reliefs, 134, fig. 67, before 450 B.C.; Biesantz, Thessalischen Grabreliefs, 17, K 27, pl. 8, 450-425 B.C.; and Amphotto from Boeotia, fig. 4; Friis-Johansen, Attic Grave-Reliefs, 135, fig. 68, "hardly before 450 B.C.," which also displays "swinging" folds.
Author
NHR