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Seeing the Sea: Ships' Eyes in Classical Greece

Deborah N. Carlson
Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Vol. 78, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 2009), pp. 347-365
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25622699
Page Count: 19
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Seeing the Sea: Ships' Eyes in Classical Greece
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Abstract

Excavations in the Athenian Agora have brought to light fragments of three sculpted marble eyes, or ophthalmoi, from Classical levels in and around the Tholos precinct. The discovery of similar objects at the ancient harbor of Zea, and more recently in association with a Classical Greek ship wrecked off the Aegean coast of Turkey, makes clear that all are examples of the eyes that decorated the bows of ancient Greek ships. Three hypotheses are offered to explain the presence of nautical artifacts within the Agora: they may have served as honorific fixtures relating to the fleet; represented surplus naval equipment stored in the Strategeion; or belonged to a wheeled ship used in the Anthesteria or the Greater Panathenaia festival.

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