• r2-16-10
    Two-sided relief fragment with folds or feathers, side A. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-16-20
    Two-sided relief fragment with folds or feathers, side B. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Two-Sided Relief Fragment with Folds or Feathers

Before 570 BC?, Lydian
Sardis or Museum Inv. No.
Lava, Stone
Object Type
Sculpture Type
Human Figure, Animal
B-Grid Coordinates
W272 - W276 / S324 - S326 *85.8 - 85.2
PN. May be associated with the floor at furnace B, BASOR 191, 13 and 199, 25, plan, fig. 9. Found with Lydian black-on-white skyphoi and a disk-shaped gold pendant (J67.004).

Curving, finely cut folds border a shallowly molded muscle of a leg (?). The piece was originally recorded in a horizontal position as possibly a leg and part of a wing of a sphinx. It may, however, be viewed as vertical, either a walking lion or bull with feathered wing or a human leg with swinging drapery. The relief ended on one side, as part of a jamb (?) or screen (?).

Material and style recall the doorjamb reliefs of palaces S and P at Pasargadae (546?-530 B.C.), where Luschey (Lowe von Ekbatana, 86, pl. 39:2) sees possible Lydian influence (cf. also see Nylander, Ionians in Pasargadae, 123 ff., 136ff., figs. 42-44). Made of material unquestionably imported to Sardis, the fragment shows Egyptian technique but not Egyptian style. The material, according to Monna, is not Egyptian; it could have come from the volcanic region of Lydia called the Katakaumene E of Sardis.

Nylander (Ionians in Pasargadae, 138, n. 355) suggested that in Pasargadae and Susa Egyptian craftsmen who “adorned the wall,” according to the Foundation Tablet, may have carved the reliefs. Egyptians or Egyptian-trained specialists might have also come to Sardis in the time of Alyattes. A Lydian graffito has been found in Egypt (Gusmani, Lydisches Wörterbuch, 266, no. 49), and seals from Naucratis have been found at Sardis (BASOR 170, 25, fig. 21). Sardis stratification suggests a date before 570 B.C.


According to examination by D. Monna, M. Felici, and L. Peruccini (Aug. 27, 1972) the material is lava with very fine micro-crystalline structure. It comes from a recent flow which was in contact with metamorphosed limestone (marble). It may well come from a volcanic region of Asia Minor.

Top, bottom, r. side, and part of l. side broken. The “vertical” surface is original.

H. 0.183; L. 0.164; profile Th. 0.075.
See Also