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Motifs of the City-Siege on the Shield of Athena Parthenos

Evelyn B. Harrison
American Journal of Archaeology
Vol. 85, No. 3 (Jul., 1981), pp. 281-317
DOI: 10.2307/504171
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/504171
Page Count: 46
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Motifs of the City-Siege on the Shield of Athena Parthenos
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Abstract

The article is in four parts. Part I is a preliminary publication of sarcophagus fragments found at Aphrodisias in 1975. Nos. 1-7 almost certainly belong to one sarcophagus. No. 8 probably comes from a second similar one. These fragments depict an Amazonomachy composed of figures copied from the Shield of Athena Parthenos at the same scale as the Neo-Attic copies from the Piraeus, presumably the scale of the original figures. The style of the reliefs and the type of the sarcophagi suggest an early Antonine date. Two figures not preserved in the Piraeus reliefs, a dead Greek and a dead Amazon, here occur for the first time in full-scale copies although both are known from the small replicas of the whole Shield. Part II makes changes in the restored composition of the Shield proposed by the author in 1966 and defends certain assumptions that have been challenged in subsequent literature. Part III examines motifs belonging to city-siege scenes in ancient art which can be identified in the Amazonomachy of the Shield. These motifs suggest that on the original Shield terrain and walls were indicated in low relief. The walls which occur in copies from the bottom of the Shield represent the city circuit with its gate. The walls of the Acropolis of Athens will have been represented at the top. Rocky terrain suggestive of the parts of Athens in which fighting took place will have been shown on the sides. The battle before the outer gate carried reminiscences of Marathon and that within the walls recalled the sack of Athens by the Persians in 480 B. C. The ten Eponymous Heroes of Athens will have appeared among the defenders. Part IV discusses the compositions of the small Roman copies of the whole Shield and the reasons for the changes which they make in the original.

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