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The Kritios Boy: Discovery, Reconstruction, and Date

Jeffrey M. Hurwit
American Journal of Archaeology
Vol. 93, No. 1 (Jan., 1989), pp. 41-80
DOI: 10.2307/505398
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/505398
Page Count: 40
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The Kritios Boy: Discovery, Reconstruction, and Date
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Abstract

Despite its frequent appearance in textbooks and histories of Greek art, the Kritios Boy has never been the subject of a discrete or detailed study. Perhaps as a result, a number of misconceptions and errors have found their way into the scholarship on the piece (the height of the statue, for example, is considerably greater than the almost universally cited dimension), and certain problems (such as the curious nature of the join at the neck) have gone unresolved. This article clarifies a number of issues related to the discovery and reconstruction of the statue, presents the results of work performed on the statue in the spring of 1987 (when the head was removed from the torso, the join reexamined, and the post-World War II restoration proved incorrect), and examines criteria for identifying and dating the statue. It is argued that the head and torso of the Kritios Boy, though found at different times and in different spots, certainly belong together and that there is no evidence of any ancient repair. Neither head nor torso came from a homogeneous deposit of Perserschutt; indeed, it is likely that the statue's bodily parts were not buried until the third quarter of the fifth century (an old photograph showing the torso of the Kritios Boy in the company of the Moschophoros, Angelitos's Athena, and the head of the pedimental Athena from the Archaios Naos, and often used as evidence for the torso's archaeological context, has little or no documentary value). It is suggested that the statue may in fact have been created under the stylistic influence of Kritios and Nesiotes (often doubted), that the Kritios Boy represents a young hero (Theseus, in all likelihood) rather than a victorious boy athlete (the usual identification), and that it was probably dedicated on the Acropolis after 480 B. C., in which case it was the victim not of Persians but of either accident or Athenians.

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