Top and shaft of a grave stele

Archaic Period
about 550–500 B.C.

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 023; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 107 (additional published references).


Height: 131 cm (51 9/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble, probably from the Greek Island of Naxos

On View

Archaic Greece Gallery (Gallery 113)


The Ancient World



The upper part of a tall, relatively slender stele is surmounted by a richly carved anthemion. This consists of two symmetrical pairs of volutes, placed one above the other and topped by a palmette of seven large leaves with narrow, pointed leaves between. The shaft tapers slightly. It is framed in above by a flat band on which are traces of a painted egg-and-dart pattern and at the sides by narrow, round fillets with astragal moldings at their tops.
The surface of the shaft is finely smoothed and may possibly have borne a painted figure, although no traces of paint remain. Both pairs of volutes are connected by horizontal crosspieces, and a stylized lotus flower fills the space in the center. The lower volutes terminate in discs with raised centers, and small palmettes fill the outer angles of both pairs.
The lower part of the shaft has been broken away, and there are marks of a pick (?) near the break. Except for minor dents, the remaining section, including the akroterion, is in excellent condition, clean and white, with virtually no patina or discoloration. The shade is now the palest yellow.

Scientific Analysis:
Harvard Lab No. HI361: Isotope ratios - delta13C +0.82 / delta18O -10.43, Attribution - Naxos.


By 1892: Frank Calvert Collection at Thymbra Farm in the Troad [see note]; by 1903: with Edward Perry Warren (a note in his records, signed J.M. [John Marshall] says: "I was told it was found near the tomb of Aias."; a further note in Warren's records cites Körte, Athenische Mitteilungen, 1895, p. 93, who said the piece was found in the Troad 3 kms. east from 'tomb of Aias.'); purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren, March 24,1903

Note: S. H. Allen, AJA 99 (1995), p. 388, fig. 7 [photo dated 1892]

Credit Line

Francis Bartlett Donation of 1900