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The sculptures of the Archaic Temple of Artemis at Ephesos

The Archaic Temple of Artemis at Ephesos was constructed in the middle of the sixth century BC. The temple was of the Ionic order, about 115 metres long and 55 metres wide, with a double row of columns surrounding the long sides, and three rows on the two shorter sides. The colonnade surrounded an open walled court in which stood the shrine and cult statue of Artemis Ephesia.

Various fragments of sculpture have been found at the site during excavations conducted by J.T. Wood in the 1870s, by D.G. Hogarth in the early years of the twentieth century, and more recently by Austrian and Turkish archaeologists. Many of these are architectural sculptures, originally positioned either on sculptured square pedestals at the bases of some of the columns, or from circular column drums, perhaps situated directly below the columns' capitals. Some smaller pieces formed part of a continuous frieze around the sima, interrupted at intervals by lion-headed water spouts. From such fragmentary remains it is difficult to determine the subjects portrayed in the sculptural friezes, but it has been suggested that the columns and piers supported groups of people in a religious procession. The style of the fragments of the sima frieze suggests that this was carved at a later date than the other sculptures, some parts of it even as late about 460 BC. The subjects represented on this incredibly long frieze seem to include a Centauromachy (scenes of battle beween Centaurs and Lapiths), a Gigantomachy (between Gods and giants), and episodes from the Trojan War.

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