Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Old Site, New Tricks Volume 55 Number 4, July/August 2002
by Mark Rose

Excavations have been ongoing at the Kerameikos, an ancient cemetery just outside Athens' city wall, for nearly a century and a half. But in March, archaeologists discovered a marble kouros, a statue of a naked athletic youth that served as a votive offering or funerary sculpture. The newly found statue's body and head are largely intact, but its left arm and leg and right ankle and foot are broken off. It would have stood about six feet, six inches tall.

The kouros is similar to an over life-size one in the National Museum in Athens found in several pieces, the first in the Kerameikos more than 70 years ago, and a life-size one acquired by New York's Metropolitan Museum in 1932. The three, which date to around 600-590 B.C., are possibly by the same artist or at least were carved in the same workshop.

Fragments of two marble column capitals, two lion sculptures, and a sphinx were also found. Dating to ca. 560 B.C., the sphinx is the twin of one found in 1907. An ecstatic Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier, head of the German Archaeological Institute excavations at the Kerameikos, told Reuters "A hundred years ago, archaeologists discovered the first finds of the sculptor and we were almost certain that that was it. Now I can only say that I really, really don't know anymore."

© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America