• r2-269-10
    The Borgia Stele, in Naples (Photo from Arachne (http://arachne.dainst.org))

The "Borgia Stele"

Date
ca. 480-470 BC
Museum
Naples, National Museum, 98
Museum Inventory No.
98
Sardis or Museum Inv. No.
Naples 98
Material
Marble, Stone
Object Type
Sculpture
Sculpture Type
Stele
Description
The controversy over the "Borgia stele" is reviewed with bibliography by Friis-Johansen (Attic Grave-Reliefs, 125, n. 2) who notes that the provenance is not known with certainty. Finati (Supposto Ulisse, 3f., text, pl. 10) states that according to a "reliable source" it was found in Asia Minor, so placed as to correspond to a second, exactly similar, stele before the facade of a tomb with Greek inscriptions. It is now impossible to check the reliability of Finati's information. Whether it is correct to conclude with Pfuhl (Grabstele) that the stele is a Lydian-Greek work is a matter of opinion. That Greek inscriptions (rather than Lydian) are mentioned weighs against the provenance from Sardis. I reject with Friis-Johansen Rumpf’s idea of Attic or Cycladic workmanship. It seems to me to be conceivably an earlier, Eastern Greek work of the same school as the Satrap Sarcophagus of Sidon (cf. Hanfmann, Pediment Persian Era, 293). Given the very uncertain provenance and lack of close parallels from Sardis, the Borgia stele should not be cited as a Sardian work or as coming from Sardis.
Comments
See Also
Bibliography

Later bibliography: Berger, Arztrelief, 41, 113, 200 (literature) fig. 135, and 40 (detail), quotes H. Hiller who says that the stele had a clamp hole which shows the stele may have been attached to a wall or rock. Ridgway, Man and Dog, 60, n. 2, 63, 69-71, fig. 3. Because of the recurring uncertainty about Finati's statement, we give it here verbatim:

E questa nostra supposizione si è molto avvicinata al vero, essendosi saputo da buona fonte che nell'Asia Minore fu ritrovato un diruto monumento sepolcrale con avanzi di greche iscrizioni, al quale apparteneva un bassorilievo compagno in tutto al nostro, exprimendo voltata a diritta una bellissima figura dello stesso antico stile e nello stesso atteggiamento, tenendo al dippiù nella mano un vaso di bronzo, la cui metà era nel masso incastrata. E siamo stati pure informati che il nostro bassorilievo apparteneva allo stesso monumento asiatico, ed ambedue facevan parte del frontone di quella tomba, nel quale era sculto un sepolcro posto fra la nostra figura e la compagna, e che ambedue sono nello atteggiamento di eseguire una libazione su quel sepolcro per placare gli Dei infernali.
Author
NHR