You are here

Κατάλογος Γλυπτών του αρχαιολογικού μουσείου Θεσσαλονίκης. Vol. 3

Κατάλογος Γλυπτών του αρχαιολογικού μουσείου Θεσσαλονίκης. Vol. 3

Edited by Giorgos Despines, Theodosia Stephanidou-Tiveriou, and Emmanuel Voutyras. Pp. 397, figs. 833. Cultural Foundation of the National Bank, Thessaloniki, Greece 2010. €58.50. ISBN 978-960-250-452-9 (cloth).

Reviewed by

This is the third catalogue on sculpture in the Archaeological Museum in Thessaloniki. It follows Κατάλογος Γλυπτών του αρχαιολογικού μουσείου Θεσσαλονίκης (Catalogue of Sculpture in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki) (G. Despines, T. Stephanidou-Tiveriou, and E. Voutyras, eds. Vols. 1, 2 [Thessaloniki 1997, 2003]); volume 1 is in English and Greek and volume 2 is in Greek. This publication includes 13 contributors in all. This major undertaking will be completed by volume 4, on which work has already begun. Volumes 1–3 present an important collection of 665 sculptures from ancient Macedonia. They make a major contribution to the study of Greek and Roman sculpture and will be important resources in university and scholarly libraries. The authors should be commended for seeing them through to publication in a relatively short period of time. One hopes that volumes 2 and 3 will appear in English also, so they will receive wider use. For reviews of volume 1, see Freyer-Schauenburg (Gnomon 73 [2001] 48–52) and Frielinghaus (GGA 251 [1999] 147–53); for volume 2, see Fittschen (GGA 257 [2005] 151–63) and Rolley (RA [2005] 390–91).

Volumes 1 and 2 contain a larger number of high-quality, nearly complete works, most of which are exhibited in the museum. Most of the 328 works in volume 3, which date from the Classical period through late antiquity, are from the storerooms and are published here for the first time. As with volumes 1 and 2, the description, analysis, and discussion of each sculpture represent solid scholarship with up-to-date bibliography. Each piece is illustrated by one to four photographs, all of consistent, high quality (the work mostly of von Eickstedt, with Iliadi).

Not all sculptures have known findspots. Most of the known findspots are in or near Thessaloniki, while a few others are from Amphipolis, Kilkis, Pella, and the Chalkidiki. Statues in the round form the majority, with the next largest category being portrait statues, portrait heads, and protomes, followed by votive reliefs and funerary reliefs, round funerary reliefs, architectural sculpture, sarcophagi, trapezophorai, supports for thrones, and a few of uncertain identification. An index to findspots and a concordance of inventory to catalogue numbers are included. Indices by subject and by museum would have been useful. In all three volumes, portraits and funerary reliefs predominate, indicating a Macedonian preference for such sculptures and their social and religious importance.

This volume offers a number of interesting and important works. Sculptures in the round include Aphrodite (of various types, some of fine quality), Artemis, Asklepios, Athena, Cybele, Dionysos, Eros, Hekate, Herakles, Hermes, Hygieia, Nike, Pan, Poseidon, satyrs, Serapis, and Zeus. Among funerary sculptures are the characteristically northern, rounded reliefs with multiple heads. Heroizing reliefs of the “Thracian rider” type are also popular. Several figures (figs. 354, 416, 503) provide interesting examples of the acrolithic technique. Four well-preserved Attic sarcophagi, with hunting centaurs, Amazonomachies, and Dionysiac scenes (cat. nos. 612, 631, 639, 640) support the conclusion that Thessaloniki was a leading market for Attic sarcophagi.

Works of particular interest include catalogue number 423, an Aphrodite statuette of Parian marble. The highly polished right shoulder-to-breast was worked separately and probably combined with wood, like Hellenistic statues of Aphrodite from Egypt. Also of interest are catalogue number 433, the head of a bearded male deity, one of the few examples of Severan-style deep drillwork with struts; catalogue number 435, an elongated male figure wearing an exomis, a “realistic genre” type of figure; catalogue number 438, a small Aphrodite Anadyomene carved in a white alabaster niche; catalogue number 464, the portrait of a young man, once the head of a young woman, recut and changed to a man in the Trajanic period, illustrating a common feature of reused heads (a sex change); catalogue number 466, a bearded male portrait typologically like a kosmete in Athens (National Archaeological Museum, inv. no. 402); catalogue number 470, the head of a beardless, long-haired youth, sometimes identified as Baphyras, a river god; catalogue number 472, the head of an African child wearing “Libyan,” or corkscrew, locks emanating from the back of the crown; catalogue number 479, a Trajanic head of a girl, her low-relief melon coiffure contrasting with a high bank of curls (the coiffure, suggesting a deity, implies private deification in the guise of Artemis; comparisons with heads in Corinth (Archaeological Museum at Ancient Corinth, inv. no. S-2667) and Boston (Museum of Fine Arts, inv. no. 96.698) are noted for the similar, more elaborate head (Despines et al. 2003, no. 278); catalogue number 490, a man in a himation, dated to the first half of the second century C.E., based on Corinth S-200, dated Hadrianic by Johnson in 1931 (Sculpture, 1896–1923. Corinth 9 [Cambridge, Mass.]; however, the 1974 study by C.E. de Grazia [“Excavations of the American School of Classical Studies at Corinth: The Roman Portrait Sculpture,” Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 271–72] considers it Antonine); and catalogue number 497, a half-finished bearded figure with measuring mounds, important evidence for technique.

Outstanding in quality and much discussed are two Late Antique portraits of a man (cat. no. 522) and woman (cat. no. 523), probably from Thessaloniki. Stefanidou-Tiveriou dates them ca. 410 C.E., whereas Vanderpool (“Roman Portraiture: The Many Faces of Corinth,” in C.K. Williams and N. Bookidis, eds., Corinth, the Centenary, 1896–1996. Corinth 20 [Princeton 2003] 379–80, fig. 22.13) places them and the male head in Corinth of the same subject (Archaeological Museum at Ancient Corinth, inv. no. S-77-13) before catalogue number 391. Whatever the date, these sculptures provide clear evidence for strong connections between Thessaloniki and Corinth and for the existence of excellent sculptors in Greece in the Late Antique period.

The organization of the catalogue is first chronological, then typological and by category. In each entry, questions of marble type, workshop affiliation, relationship to earlier models and to contemporary works, and techniques of carving and construction are addressed. Scholarly documentation is detailed throughout. A consistent use of author-date format in the footnotes and a general bibliography for the book would have reduced the length of the text.

With their three volumes, the editors have brought into the public domain the broad spectrum of Greek and Roman marble sculptures from ancient Macedonia.

Mary C. Sturgeon
Art Department
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599

Book Review of Κατάλογος Γλυπτών του αρχαιολογικού μουσείου Θεσσαλονίκης. Vol. 3, edited by Giorgos Despines et al.

Reviewed by Mary C. Sturgeon

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 116, No. 2 (April 2012)

Published online at

DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1162.Sturgeon

Add new comment

Plain text

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.