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Fragments of horses from Halikarnassos

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Height: 2.330 m (forepart)
Length: 1.980 m (hindquarters)

Excavated by Sir Charles Thomas Newton

GR 1857.12-20.238-9 (Sculpture 1002-3)

Room 21: Halikarnassos

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    Fragments of colossal horses from the quadriga of the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos

    Greek, around 350 BC
    Bodrum, modern Turkey

    From one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

    A four-horse chariot group (quadriga) was positioned on the top of the stepped pyramid that crowned the Mausoleum. The entire group would have been about 6.5 metres in length and around 5 metres in height. These two fragments are the largest that survive. They form the head and fore-part of a horse with its original bronze bridle, and the hind-quarters probably of another horse.

    Charles Newton, the first excavator of the Mausoleum, describes the sensation caused among the people of Bodrum by the finding of the hind-quarters of one of the horses:

    'After being duly hauled out, he was placed on a sledge and dragged to the shore by 80 Turkish workmen. On the walls and house-tops as we went along sat the veiled ladies of Bodrum. They had never seen anything so big before, and the sight overcame the reserve imposed upon them by Turkish etiquette. The ladies of Troy gazing at the wooden horse as he entered the breach, could not have been more astonished.'

    C.T. Newton, Travels and Discoveries in the Levant (London, 1865), volume II, p. 110

    The exact significance of this chariot group is uncertain. The quiet and dignified composition may reflect a funerary function. If the chariot was empty, it may have been an offering to the dead king. Though not common in ancient Greece, the practice of offering an empty chariot and horses was more frequent among the dynasts who ruled the outer limits of the ancient Greek world.

    It is perhaps more likely that the chariot was occupied, certainly by a charioteer and maybe even by Maussollos himself. If this were the case, the whole group would have represented the apotheosis (becoming a god) of Maussollos. The king is shown accompanied by Nike, the goddess of victory, rising up to the heavens. Alternatively, the chariot may have been driven by Apollo, or Helios, the god with whom some scholars believe Maussollos associated himself.

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

    M. Hughes, 'Tracing to source' in Science and the past-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1990), pp. 99-116

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