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Limestone funerary stele (shaft) with a "Cypriot capital"

Period:
Classical
Date:
5th century B.C.
Culture:
Cypriot
Medium:
Limestone
Dimensions:
Overall: 54 x 32in. (137.1 x 81.3cm)
Classification:
Stone Sculpture
Credit Line:
The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76
Accession Number:
74.51.2493
  • Description

    Rectangular shafts topped by capitals such as this were carved on Cyprus from the seventh through the fifth centuries B.C. Most come from Golgoi or Idalion. The capital is composed of several motifs that were well known in the eastern Mediterranean world. An Aeolic capital, marked by two volutes emerging from a triangular base, serves as support for two pairs of curving fronds between which rises a "tree of life" flanked by sphinxes. The Aeolic-style capital derived from floral motifs that go back in date to the Bronze Age. The earliest known stone capitals of this type date to the tenth to ninth century B.C. and were found in Palestine. They were apparently influenced by Phoenician examples, and it may well have been the Phoenicians who brought the motif to Cyprus. The symmetrical, stylized "tree of life" motif also originated in the Bronze Age and was used in a wide variety of media throughout the eastern Mediterranean area. Both motifs have connotations of fertility and the renovation of nature.

  • Provenance

    From the necropolis of Golgoi

  • References

    Myres, John L. 1914. Handbook of the Cesnola Collection of Antiquities from Cyprus. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 1418.

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

    Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 296, pp. 255, 465.

    Hermary, Antoine and Joan R. Mertens. 2013. The Cesnola Collection: Stone Sculpture. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 472, Myres 1418.

  • See also
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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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