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Kouroi and Statistics

January 2010 (114.1)

Kouroi and Statistics

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Kouros dedicated by Isches in the Sanctuary of Hera on Samos
Kouros dedicated by Isches in the Sanctuary of Hera on Samos

In a well-known series of articles, Eleanor Guralnick undertook statistical studies to compare the proportions of Greek archaic kouroi with one another and with the proportions of the Egyptian second canon; she concluded that Greek sculptors used the Egyptian canon sporadically for proportioning kouroi during most of the sixth century B.C.E. Here, we examine the results of Guralnick's analyses against the backdrop of current statistical method. While we do not believe that her analyses convincingly demonstrate any Greek use of the Egyptian system, we agree that the analyses do distribute the kouroi included in the studies into two main groups. We argue that this division results from the influence of regional styles, rather than from the use of standardized proportional systems. We also examine Guralnick's methodology in cluster, principal components, and z-score analyses and demonstrate that her studies do not provide statistically significant evidence for similarities among Greek kouroi or between kouroi and the Egyptian canon, in part because of the limitations of the statistical techniques employed and in part because of problems in her procedures and data. Thus, we disassociate archaic Greek kouroi from a dependence on the Egyptian standardized proportional schemes and argue instead that the development of regional styles best explains the proportional similarities documented by Guralnick.

DOI: 10.3764/aja.114.1.103

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