Length: 2.000 inches
Width: 1.000 inches
Room 13: Greece 1050-520 BC
Ivory plaque showing Aristaios
Greek, about 650-600 BC
Possibly from the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, Sparta
A rustic deity, the discoverer of olive-oil and honey
Aristaios was a minor Greek deity particularly connected with agricultural pursuits. He was credited with the discovery of how to make olive oil and keep bees for honey, and also associated with the care of sheep and with hunting. He is rarely depicted in art, but where he does appear, he is often bearded and winged, as in this fine ivory plaque carved in relief. He carries a deep bag in his right hand, and probably held an agricultural implement of some sort in his left.
The relief is in the style of Spartan ivory carvings, and though the exact circumstances and location of its discovery are not known, it is possible that the plaque comes from the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia at Sparta.
B.F. Cook, 'Aristaios' in Lexicon Iconographicum Mytholo, vol. II (1) (Artemis Verlag Zürich und München, 1981), pp. 603-7