Architrave block from the Temple of Athena at Assos with facing sphinxes
Greek, East Greek
about 540–525 B.C.
Findspot: Anatolia (Turkey), Troad, Assos (Behramkale), Reused in medieval wall of citadel
Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 020; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 106-107 (additional published references).
82 x 190 cm (32 5/16 x 74 13/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Evanthea and Leo Condakes Gallery (Gallery 113A)
Two recumbent sphinxes placed heraldically facing one another occupy the whole face of this block. They are carved in somewhat higher relief than the figures of the block with Pholos, Herakles, and the centaurs (84.67 a and b). In the center between the sphinxes is a small, slender column surmounted by a rudimentary Ionic capital. Each sphinx rests one forepaw on this capital, while the other foreleg is laid along the ground. Their wings curve upward and have rounded tips; their tails are S-shaped, with a tuft at the end. The heads are of a distinctly Archaic type, with receding forehead, prominent nose, small, rounded chin, lips twisted up in a smile, and large eye shown in nearly front view. Their hair is drawn back behind the ears and falls in a thick mass on the neck.
The relief has been broken in two, and the upper edge of the left-hand fragment is injured. It is complete at the left end. The missing portion of the block, including the body of the right-hand sphinx, is in the Archaeological Museum at Istanbul. The surfaces are now a crusty brown.
From the architrave of the Temple of Athena at Assos (Behramkale, Turkey); reused in a medieval wall at the northwest part of the citadel at Assos. 1881: excavated by the Archaeological Institute of America; gift of the Archaeological Institute of America to MFA, January 1884.
Gift of the Archaeological Institute of America