Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Limestone funerary stele (shaft) with a "Cypriot capital"

5th century B.C.
Overall: 54 x 32in. (137.1 x 81.3cm)
Stone Sculpture
Credit Line:
The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 175
Rectangular shafts topped by capitals such as this were carved on Cyprus from the seventh through the fifth centuries B.C. Most come from Golgoi or Idalion. The capital is composed of several motifs that were well known in the eastern Mediterranean world. An Aeolic capital, marked by two volutes emerging from a triangular base, serves as support for two pairs of curving fronds between which rises a "tree of life" flanked by sphinxes. The Aeolic-style capital derived from floral motifs that go back in date to the Bronze Age. The earliest known stone capitals of this type date to the tenth to ninth century B.C. and were found in Palestine. They were apparently influenced by Phoenician examples, and it may well have been the Phoenicians who brought the motif to Cyprus. The symmetrical, stylized "tree of life" motif also originated in the Bronze Age and was used in a wide variety of media throughout the eastern Mediterranean area. Both motifs have connotations of fertility and the renovation of nature.
From the necropolis of Golgoi

Cesnola, Luigi Palma di. 1877. Cyprus: Its Ancient Cities, Tombs, and Temples. A Narrative of Researches and Excavations During Ten Years' Residence in That Island. p. 117, London: John Murray.

Cesnola, Luigi Palma di. 1885. A Descriptive Atlas of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriote Antiquities in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Vol. 1. pl. XCIX.671, Boston: James R. Osgood and Company.

Perrot, Georges and Charles Chipiez. 1885. Histoire de l'Art dans l'Antiquité. t. 3, Phénicie, Cypre. p. 215, fig. 152, Paris: Hachette.

Myres, John L. 1914. Handbook of the Cesnola Collection of Antiquities from Cyprus. no. 1418, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mercklin, Eugen von. 1962. Antike Figuralkapitelle. no. 65, p. 21, fig. 89, Berlin: W. de Gruyter & Co.

Harden, Donald B. 1980. "A Hellenistic Footed Glass Bowl of Alexandrian Workmanship." Museum News, The Toledo Museum of Art, 22.2: pp. 185, 187, pl. 46.

Karageorghis, Vassos, Joan Mertens, and Marice E. Rose. 2000. Ancient Art from Cyprus: The Cesnola Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. no. 347, pp. 216-7, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Karageorghis, Jacqueline. 2005. Kypris: the Aphrodite of Cyprus: Ancient Sources and Archaeological Evidence. pp. 168–69, fig. 176, Nicosia, Cyprus: Foundation Anasatasios G. Leventis.

Petit, Thierry. 2006. "“Oedip et le Chéubin”." Kernos: Revue internationale et pluridisciplinaire de religion grecque antique, 19: p. 326 n 47.

Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 296, pp. 255, 465, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hermary, Antoine and Joan R. Mertens. 2013. The Cesnola Collection of Cypriot Art: Stone Sculpture. no. 472, pp. 338–39, Online Publication, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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