Visitors in room 17 where the Nereid Monument sits

Room 17

Nereid Monument

390–380 BC

Visiting the gallery

Opening times

Daily 10.00–17.30 (20.30 on Fridays)

Free daily eye-opener tour

11.30 in gallery, 30–40 minute tour

The Nereid Monument takes its name from the Nereids, the most likely identity of the statues placed between the columns of this monumental tomb.

The Nereids were sea nymphs in Greek mythology, who helped sailors on their voyages when they faced fierce storms.

The monument was probably built for Erbinna (known as Arbinas in Greek), ruler of Lycian Xanthos in modern-day south-west Turkey. Although he wasn't Greek, Erbinna chose to be buried in a tomb that mostly resembled a Greek temple of the Ionic order, but here placed on a high podium following the local tradition for burials of important individuals.

The monument is influenced by the Ionic temples of the Acropolis of Athens. Its lavish decorative sculpture, which can be seen reconstructed and displayed around the walls of Room 17, is a mixture of Greek and Lycian style and iconography.

Gallery facts

  • This gallery contains the Nereid Monument, the largest and finest of the Lycian tombs from Xanthos, south-west Turkey. 
  • Although influenced by Greek and Persian styles, the people of the mountainous land of ancient Lykia had a unique style of funerary architecture.
  • It's believed that the Nereid Monument was built for Arbinas, a Xanthian ruler, and his family. He's mentioned elsewhere as the builder of the Temple of Leto, mother of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis, close to the city of Xanthos and other monuments on the acropolis in the city itself. 
  • Arbinas' exploits are likened to those of a number of Greek heroes, and the themes represented on both the larger and smaller podium friezes, show sieges and battles that are either legendary or biographical and historical.   
  • It's believed that Arbinas, the Xanthian ruler, died around 380 BC.
  • British archaeologist Charles Fellow explored the region of ancient Lykia between 1838 and 1844 and brought many antiquities back to England with the full permission of the Ottoman Turkish authorities.  
     

Accessibility

  • Some objects in this collection feature on the British Sign Language guide handset, available from the audio guide desk in the Great Court.
  • Some objects in this collection feature on the audio description guide, available from the audio guide desk in the Great Court.
  • Step-free access. 
  • View sensory map (opens in new window).

Visit Accessibility at the Museum for more information.