Fourteen of these figures are said to have been found together in a burial in Attica. They are among the earliest known statuettes of actors and are superbly executed and preserved. Originally they were brightly painted. They document the beginning of standardized characters and masks, indicating the popularity not of a specific figure but of types—the old man, the slave, the courtesan, etc.—that appeared repeatedly in different plays. By the mid-fourth century B.C., Attic examples or local copies were known throughout the Greek world, from Southern Russia to Spain.
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The Museum's collection of Greek and Roman art comprises more than 30,000 works ranging in date from the Neolithic period to the time of the Roman emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity in A.D. 312.