Marble head of a kouros (youth)

East Greek, around 550 BC
Found at Didyma, modern Turkey

Two of the most distinctive forms of free-standing sculpture to emerge during the Archaic period of Greek art (about 600-480 BC) were statues of youths (kouroi) and maidens (korai). The male figures, usually in the form of naked young men, acted both as grave markers and as votive offerings, the latter perhaps intended to be representations of the dedicator. The female figures served similar functions, but differed from their male counterparts in that they were elaborately draped. Inscriptions sometimes survive along with the statues, and mention the names of the subjects. However they are not true portraits, but generic types created to represent young men and women.

Most of the Archaic sculpture in The British Museum was discovered in the eastern Aegean islands and in sanctuaries in western Turkey, and therefore derives from East Greek workshops. This head, with the remains of its broad left shoulder, was found near the seated figures from the Sacred Way of the Sanctuary of Apollo at Didyma. The head is unlikely to have come from one of these seated figures, however, because their long hair was carved adjoining the upper part of their high-backed chairs. This head probably came from a standing kouros figure instead. He resembles kouroi from the island of Samos, close to the region of western Turkey where he was found.

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G.M.A. Richter, Kouroi (London, Phaidon, 1960)


Height: 31.000 cm

Museum number

GR 1874.7-25.1 (Sculpture B 283)


Excavated by Sir Alfred Biliotti


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