Painted limestone stele showing a boy with a pigeon

Cypriot, about 300-200 BC
Found on the surface above Tomb 257 at Amathus, Cyprus

A painted gravestone

The boy stands in three-quarter view to the left, his right arm falling down his side. He holds a pigeon in his outstreched left hand. He wears a sleeved tunic. A cloak, reaching down below his knees, is draped over his left shoulder and across his body just under his chest. His tunic and short hair are painted red and his cloak white. His flesh now appears a pale colour. The pigeon was also originally painted.

This is one of several painted gravestones from Amathus. They date from the time that Cyprus was ruled by the Ptolemies of Egypt. Although similar gravestones are also known from northern Greece, they seem to reflect the influence of Alexandria, the new capital of Egypt. Subterranean tombs cut into the rock at Paphos around this time are similar to those found in the cemeteries of Alexandria. Other rock-cut tombs have painted chambers, another reflection of Alexandrian influence.

However, Ptolemaic rule had little effect on other established practices. The dead were still sometimes buried in simple shafts or pits, but some chamber tombs were enlarged with niches and loculi (rectangular extensions) and the entrance passages lined with masonry. Tombstones and sarcophagi (stone coffins for the dead) became more common.

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More information


V. Tatton-Brown, Ancient Cyprus, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)


Height: 69.000 cm
Width: 34.500 cm

Museum number

GR 1894.11-1.716 (Paintings 8)


Miss E.T. Turner Bequest excavations


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