Skip Navigation

 Museum Explorer

Birds and beasts in Ancient Greece

Colossal lion

Length: 3.000 m
Height: 2.000 m

GR 1859.12-26.24 (Sculpture 1350)

Colossal lion

From: Knidos, south-west Asia Minor (Turkey)
Date: about 350-200 BC

This lion weighs six tons and is carved from one huge piece of marble. Lions have always been a symbol of leadership, and this one was made to sit on the top of the tomb or monument of someone extremely important, although we don't know exactly who they were.

The tomb was on a headland with a sheer cliff underneath falling 60 metres to the sea. The lion's eyes were originally set with coloured glass, and the light reflecting in them may have helped sailors keep away from the rocky coast.