pentelic marble

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Temple of Zeus

Olympia

~457 BCE

20.7 m in height, 29 m in breadth, 70.1 m in length


The temple was of peripteral form, with a frontal pronaos (porch), mirrored by a similar arrangement at the back of the building, the opisthodomos. The building sat on a crepidoma (platform) of three unequal steps, the exterior columns were positioned in a six by thirteen arrangement, two rows of seven columns divided the cella (interior) into three aisles. Although it lies in ruins today, an echo of the temple’s original appearance can be seen in the Second Temple of Hera at Paestum, which closely followed its form. The temple featured carved metopes and triglyph friezes, topped by pediments filled with sculptures in the Severe Style, now attributed to the “Olympia Master” and his studio. According to Pausanias, the temple’s height up to the pediment was 68 feet (20.7 m), its breadth was 95 feet (29.0 m), and its length 230 feet (70.1 m).[4] It was approached by a ramp on the east side. The main structure of the building was of a local limestone that was unattractive and of poor quality, and so it was coated with a thin layer of stucco to give it an appearance of marble to match the sculptural decoration. It was roofed with Pentelic marble cut into the shape of tiles. The marble was cut thinly enough to be translucent, so that on a summer’s day, “light comparable to a conventional 20-watt bulb would have shone through each of the 1,000 tiles.

Dionysus.  Sculpture of Pentelic marble by an unknown Roman artist, modeled after a number of lost Hellenistic originals.  Found in the Horti Liciniani, Rome; now in the Capitoline Museum.  Photo credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen.

The head of Hera/Juno.  Roman copy (made of Pentelic marble) from a lost Greek original by Agoracritus (ca. 420 BCE).  Found near the Via Labicana, Rome; now in the Capitoline Museum.  Photo credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen.

~ Funerary naiskos of Aristonautes.
Medium: Pentelic marble
Date: 350—325 B.C.
Provenance: Athens, National Archaeological Museum
(Αθήνα, Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο)
Place of origin: Ancient cemetry of the Kerameikos, Athens, 20 Dec. 1861.

• From the source: A young Athenian warrior, wearing a chlamys and with full military equipment, is depicted in the battle field. He carries a shield on his left arm and will have held a sword in his right hand. The dramatic facial expression and sinewy body recall works by the sculptor Skopas. The name of the fallen warrior, who died unmarried, is inscribed on the epistyle: ΑΡΙΣΤΟΝΑΥΤΗΣ ΑΡΧΗΝΑΥΤΟ ΑΛΑΙΕΥΣ (Ἀριστοναύτης Ἀρχινάυτο[υ] Ἁλαιεὺς — Aristonautes son of Archenautes of the deme of Halai).

~Marble Portrait Bust of a Woman with a Scroll.
Date: late 4th–early 5th century
Geography: Made in Constantinople
Culture: Byzantine
Medium: Pentelic Marble

This sensitively carved portrait bust presents a mature woman with a thoughtful expression and piercing gaze; the scroll held in her right hand signals an appreciation for classical learning and marks her as a member of the elite. She wears a mantle, tunic, and head covering, typical dress for an aristocratic woman. Such head coverings did not come into fashion until the fourth century. The bust likely formed part of a commemorative display, perhaps documenting a public donation, or was used in a domestic setting.

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Pentelic marble caryatid: a woman dressed to take part in religious rites. In a style adapted from Athenian work of the 5th century BCE. One of a group of five surviving caryatids found at the site, arranged to form a colonnade in a Sanctuary, most probably of Demeter (also Isis has been suggested, cf. Cook 2011, nr. 264:
‘A Statue of Isis, six feet six inches high; upon the head is the calyx of the Lotus, the symbol of this deity; The rose, chaplets, and other emblems of production are placed on other parts of the head; It is draped in a similar manner to the statue of Libera’). The Sanctuary was built on land owned by Regilla, wife of Herodes Atticus. We ought not to forget that Regilla was a priestess of Demeter and that her husband, at her death, dedicated her garments and jewelry at the Sanctuary in Eleusis (cf. Jennifer Tobin, Herodes Attikos and the City of Athens: Patronage and Conflict under the Antonines; Walter Ameling, Herodes Atticus, 2 voll; B. F. Cook, The Townley Marbles)
(The so called ‘Townley Caryatid’, now in the British Museum…)