Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Limestone sarcophagus: the Amathus sarcophagus

Period:
Archaic
Date:
2nd quarter of the 5th century B.C.
Culture:
Cypriot
Medium:
Hard limestone
Dimensions:
Overall: 62 x 93 1/8 x 38 1/2in. (157.5 x 236.6 x 97.8cm)
Classification:
Stone Sculpture
Credit Line:
The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76
Accession Number:
74.51.2453
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 174
The Amathus sarcophagus is arguably the single most important object in the Cesnola Collection and unique among ancient Cypriot sculptures in its monumentality and in the preservation of its polychromy. The primary scenes on the long sides show a procession of chariots escorted by attendants on horseback and followed by foot soldiers. The main personage is probably the driver, who is standing under a parasol in the first chariot. His horses, as the others, are richly caparisoned; his chariot resembles the others also, except that the wheel has fewer spokes. The decoration of the short ends consists of a row of Astarte figures, nude except for their double necklaces and ear caps, and a row of Bes figures. The choice of these two deities, one Near Eastern, the other Egyptian, suggests the importance of procreation to the deceased. The figural panels are framed by a variety of vegetal ornaments, while the gabled lid once featured a pair of sphinxes and a palmette at each end.
The sarcophagus probably belonged to one of the kings of Amathus. The procession scenes provide a glimpse into his world. The iconography as a whole, moreover, documents the thorough integration of Greek, Cypriot, and Oriental features in works of high quality at the middle fifth century B.C.
From the north necropolis of Amathus

Until 1874, Cesnola Collection, excavated by General Cesnola in Amathus, Cyprus; acquired 1874, purchased from General Luigi Palma di Cesnola.
Cesnola, Luigi Palma di. 1877. Cyprus: Its Ancient Cities, Tombs, and Temples. A Narrative of Researches and Excavations During Ten Years' Residence in That Island. pp. 249ff., pls. 14, 15, London: John Murray.

Cesnola, Luigi Palma di. 1885. A Descriptive Atlas of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriote Antiquities in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Vol. 1. pl. CXLIX.1184, .1185, pl. CL.1186, .1187, Boston: James R. Osgood and Company.

Richter, Gisela M. A. 1912. "Recent Accessions and Notes: Sarcophagi from Amathus and Golgoi." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 7 (4): pp. 76, 78-9.

Myres, John L. 1912. "Sarcophagus from Amathus." Antike Denkmäler, III(1). pls. 1-4.

Myres, John L. 1914. Handbook of the Cesnola Collection of Antiquities from Cyprus. no. 1365, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1936[1934]. A Guide to the Collections, Part 1: Ancient and Oriental Art, 2nd edn. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1939. Guide to the Collections: Ancient and Oriental Art--Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek and Roman Far Eastern, Near Eastern Oriental Armor, Vol. 1, World's Fair Edition. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Bandinelli, Ranuccio Bianchi. 1958. Enciclopedia dell'Arte Antica, Classica e Orientale, Vol. 1. pp. 300-2, 748-50, figs. 434, 945, Rome: Instituto della Enciclopedia Italiana.

Bandinelli, Ranuccio Bianchi. 1958. Enciclopedia dell'Arte Antica, Classica e Orientale, Vol. 2. pp. 66, 636, figs. 112, 865, Rome: Instituto della Enciclopedia Italiana.

McCann, Anna Marguerite. 1978. Roman Sarcophagi in the Metropoltian Museum of Art. pp. 16-7, fig. 2, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Kossatz-Deissmann, Anneliese, Brigitte Servais-Soyez, Fulvio Canciani, Giovannangelo Camporeale, Hans Peter Isler, Ingrid Krauskopf, Odette Touchefeu-Meynier, Marcel Le Glay, and Dr. Jean-Charles Balty. 1981–1999. Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Vols. 1-8. Zürich: Artemis Verlag Zurich und Munchen.

Sophocleous, Sophocles. 1985. ""Atlas des représentations chypro-archaiques des divinités." Master's Diss.." Master's Diss. no. 3, pp. 169–70. Paul Aströms Förlag.

Kossatz-Deissmann, Anneliese, Brigitte Servais-Soyez, Fulvio Canciani, Giovannangelo Camporeale, Hans Peter Isler, Ingrid Krauskopf, Odette Touchefeu-Meynier, Marcel Le Glay, and Dr. Jean-Charles Balty. 1986. Atherion-Eros, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Vol. 3. Bes, no. 96; Bes (Cypri et in Phoenicia), no. 25, Zürich: Artemis Verlag Zurich und Munchen.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1987. Greece and Rome. no. 5, pp. 18-19, 21 , New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

1994. Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide: Works of Art Selected by Philippe De Montebello. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hermary, Antoine. 1995. "Une tête de Bès chypriote au musée de Cannes." Cahier du Centre d' Etudes Chypriotes, 23. p. 6, fig. 6.

Lightfoot, Christopher S. 2000. "The New Cypriot Galleries at The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Minerva, 11(3): no. 3: 20, fig. 9.

Karageorghis, Vassos, Joan Mertens, and Marice E. Rose. 2000. Ancient Art from Cyprus: The Cesnola Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. no. 330, pp. 201-4, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Tatton-Brown, Veronica. 2000. "The New Galleris of Cypriot Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Apollo, 152:

Hendrix, Elizabeth. 2001. "Polychromy on the Amathus Sarcophagus: A 'Rare Gem of Art." Metropolitan Museum Journal, 36. pp. 43-58, figs. 3-8.

Crouwel, Joost H. 2002. "Chariots in Iron Age Cyprus." Selected Writings on Chariots, Other Early Vehicles, Riding and Harness, Peter Raulwing, ed. pp. 149, 155, 157, 158, pl. 21, Leiden: Brill.

Petit, Thierry. 2004. "Images de la royauté amathousienne: Le sarcophage d'Amathonte." Iconographie impériale, iconographie royale, iconographie des élites dans le monde gréco-romain, Yves Perrin and Professor Thierry Petit, eds. pp. 49-96, figs. 1-4, Saint-Étienne: Université de Saint-Etienne.

Karageorghis, Jacqueline. 2005. Kypris: the Aphrodite of Cyprus: Ancient Sources and Archaeological Evidence. pp. 98–9, fig. 94, Nicosia, Cyprus: Foundation Anasatasios G. Leventis.

Petit, Thierry. 2006. "“Oedip et le Chéubin”." Kernos: Revue internationale et pluridisciplinaire de religion grecque antique, 19: p. 326 n 47.

Petit, Thierry. 2006. "Malika: L'identité composite du Dieu-Roi d'Amathonte sur le sarcophage de New York." Identités croisées en un milieu méditerranéen, le cas de Chypre : Antiquité-Moyen âge pp. 63-99, figs. 1-4.

Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 294, pp. 252-53, 464-65, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Stylianou, Andreas and Patrick Schollmeyer. 2007. "Der Sarkophag aus Golgoi." Dynastensarkophage mit szenischen Reliefs aus Byblos und Zypern: Der Sarkophag aus Amathous als Beispiel kontaktinduzierten Wandels, 2. Mainz am Rhein: Philipp von Zabern.

Centre D'etudes Chypriotes. 2007. "Tamassos and Amathous - Afterlife and Apotheosis." Cahier du Centre d' Études Chypriotes, 37. pp. 219-20, 230, fig. 13.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2012. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. p. 67, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hermary, Antoine and Joan R. Mertens. 2013. The Cesnola Collection of Cypriot Art: Stone Sculpture. no. 490, p. 353–63, Online Publication, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Satraki, Anna. 2013. "The Iconography of Basileis in Archaic and Classical Cyprus: Manifestations of Royal Power in the Visual Record." Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research, 370: pp. 132, 136, fig. 7.

Papantoniou, Giorgos. 2013. "Cypriot Autonomous Polities at the Crossroads of Empire: The Imprint of a Transformed Islandscape in the Classical and Hellenistic Periods." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 370: pp. 173-74, 176, n. 13.

Tassignon, Isabelle. 2013. "Le "Seigneur aux lions" d'Amathonte : étude d'iconographie et d'histoire des religions des statues trouvées sur l'agora." Études Chypriotes, 18: p. 21, fig. 9.

Karageorghis, Jacqueline. 2014. "À Propos Du Sarcophage D'Amathonte." Cahier du Centre d' Études Chypriotes , 44. pp. 385–98, figs. a–c, n. 1.

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