Amazon frieze of the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos

The Amazon frieze is the best preserved of the three sculptural friezes from the tomb of Maussollos at Halikarnassos. It showed the expedition by Herakles and Theseus to Themiskyra, and the subsequent fierce battle with the Amazon women. The subject was a common theme in Greek art, but it was particularly relevant to Maussollos. According to Karian tradition, an axe once owned by the Amazon queen, Hippolyte, was housed at Labraunda, the ancestral sanctuary of the Hekatomnid dynasty. She is shown in combat with Herakles on one section of the frieze (Sculpture 1008), which is part of an unusually long slab. This focal point of the battle may have had a prominent position on the monument, perhaps at the centre of the principal side, which faced east.

According to the Roman writer Pliny the Elder, the Mausoleum was 140 feet high, had a peristyle of thirty-six columns and a stepped pyramid roof, crowned with a marble quadriga (a four-horsed chariot). The frieze was positioned at the top of the podium, and a corner block, recovered from the Castle of St Peter at Bodrum, indicates that the frieze met at the corners, and probably continued along all four sides. The whole frieze was richly coloured, with the background painted blue, and the flesh of the male figures painted red with added gilding. Bronze (perhaps gilded) was added for some of the weapons and for the bridles and bits of horses.

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