Colossal statue of a woman from the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos

Greek, around 350 BC
From Bodrum, modern Turkey

Traditionally identified as Artemisia, of the Hekatomnid dynasty

This colossal female figure, originally carved from one block of Pentelic marble, was found in several fragments on the north side of the Mausoleum site. It was only realised that the head belonged to the figure after its arrival at The British Museum.

She wears a short-sleeved chiton (tunic) fastened with buttons at the shoulders. A himation (cloak) is draped over this, forming a mass of bunched-up folds around her waist, tightly enveloping her hips and legs. It is then wrapped around her back, finally falling over her left shoulder. She wears high-soled sandals, the straps of which would have been rendered in paint. Though the arms have broken off, they can be reconstructed, outstretched in a typical gesture of mourning. Does the figure then represent a female ancestor of Maussollos lamenting his death, or simply a generic mourning woman?

The woman's hairstyle, with its snail-shell curls, recalls much earlier, Archaic styles. This may have been intentional, to infer that the Hekatomnid dynasty had a long history. Alternatively, the style may have come back into fashion among fourth-century Karian women. The rest of this woman's hair, like that of some of the other female heads from the Mausoleum, is bound by a sakkos (hair-net), here with an additional veil.

Research suggests that there were once thirty-six such colossal portraits standing between the Ionic columns of the peristyle of the Mausoleum.

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More information

Bibliography

G.B. Waywell, The free-standing sculptures o (London, 1978)

Dimensions

Height: 2.670 m

Museum number

GR 1857.12-20.233, 260 (Sculpture 1001)

GAA8149

Excavated by Sir Charles Thomas Newton

Location

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