• r2-17-10
    Stele of Atrastas. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-17-20
    Stele of Atrastas, detail of relief and inscription. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-17-30
    Stele of Atrastas, detail of inscription. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Inscribed Stele with Seated Man (Atrastas, son of Sakardas)

520-500 BC, Late Lydian (Persian)
Manisa, Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum, 1
Museum Inventory No.
Sardis or Museum Inv. No.
Manisa 1
Marble, Stone
Object Type
Sculpture Type
Stele, Relief, Human Figure
Inscription Text

(e)s anlola atraśtal
śakardal akad qis fisqãnt
bukaś fẽdaνoλt faktad
kabrdokid nãmλ qig dẽt
nãkmλ [...] clλ akad
artimuλ ibśimlλ fẽncãn

Inscription Translation

This is the stele of Atrastas (Adrastos), son of Sakardas. And thus whosoever destroys or by misdeed (damages) [the stele], he shall pay (or "make good" or "restore"). (And him?) and whatever possession (he may have?) thus to Artemis of Ephesus I dedicate (vow).

Inscription Comment
According to Manisa museum inventory, found at Sardis (Sart) 1935.

The stele was set at the bottom into a base. The back, which was probably not seen, is extremely roughly trimmed. The sides are finished with multiple claw chisel. The lower part of the front preserves the scattered stroke patterns of claw chisel and point. At the top of the stele is a relief standing on a ground line which is cut 0.007 into the stone. Below is an inscription of six lines. Seated on a stool, a man puts a long object which may be a scroll on the table with his r. hand. He is young, beardless, has a thin, turned-up nose, and wears his hair in a roll on the nape of the neck. His short cloak is thrown over the shoulder in a double fold which then falls down the back. His I. arm is presumably concealed in the cloak. Toward the front the cloak ends in a pointed fold over the legs, only one of which is visible. Several parallel folds descend from the chest to the lower edge of the cloak. His shoe is high and boot-like with turned-up toe. Behind the man appears the forepart of an animal (dog?) whose head, chest, foreleg, and forepart of the body can be made out. The table seems to have legs ending in hull's hoofs.

The stele, which was misdated to the 4th C. B.C. by Bossert, is late archaic Eastern Greek, the widest possible range being 530-460 B.C. The comparisons with various seated figures cited below show that proportions, gesture, composition, and character of folds are closest to, though slightly later than, the painted Etruscan "Campana" plaques from Caere, which date ca. 530-520 B.C. In terms of more sophisticated Attic draftsmanship, they relate to the period between Oltos and Euphronios, ca. 520-500 B.C. L. Bonfante-Warren has noted that the pointed shoes, too, were particularly fashionable between 540-475 B.C. Seated figures by Douris and the Pistoxenos Painter (Pfuhl, Malerei und zeichnung III, figs. 468, 471) are clearly later. The athlete's base, ca. 510-500 B.C., is also more advanced (Lullies-Hirmer, Greek Sculpture fig. 61). Among seated men on Eastern Greek late archaic stelai illustrated by Berger (Basler Arztrelief, 49, 99f.), a relief from Rhodes, dated 530-520 B.C., comes closest in lively pose and slight build (ibid., fig. 120). The Basel physician relief (ibid., fig. 9) is more stationary and monumental. Thus the date 520-500 B.C. is indicated for the Sardis relief.

The representation suggests that the dead man Atrastas (Adrastos) was concerned with writing. Bossert considered the inscription to be in verse, but Gusmani (letter Nov. 29, 1976) considers it "probably not a poem" and does not include it among his “poetic texts” (Lydisches Worterbuch, 54; cf. idem, Iscrizioni Poetiche passim). As the fine is to be paid to Artemis of Ephesus, one wonders if he might not have been a special priest serving Artemis of Ephesus at Sardis. That Artemis of Ephesus was the founder of the Artemis cult at Sardis is alleged in the same Greek inscription which reports that a sacred procession went from Artemis in Ephesus to Artemis at Sardis (see Sardis R1, 179 n. 12). The classical relief Cat. 20 (Figs. 78-83) represents Artemis of Sardis (?) in one of the aspects known at Ephesus.


Grayish, large-grained marble, possibly local. Reddish discoloration and much pinkish white earth on surface.

Broken at top; a modem clamp holder is set into the break. The relief is much worn and the inscription is slightly damaged by later, arbitrary chiseling.

H. 0.97, of relief 0.30, of man 0.26; W. at top 0.305, at bottom 0.32. Th. at side top 0.09, at bottom including back, up to 0.16.
For stele with man and (half) dog, cf. Ridgway, “Man and Dog Stelai,” esp. 73, fig. 7. For the theory that the so-called Borgia stele in Naples might have come from Sardis, cf. 269.
See Also
See also: LATW, No. 10.
Published (inscription): Bossert, Vorläufiger Mitteilung; Bossert, Altanatolien, 28, fig. 195, "inscription in verse, 4th C. B.C."; Armağan, Manisa Arkeoloji, 15; Gusmani, Lydisches Worterbuch, 268, no. 54, wrongly states that the marble stele is "from Manisa, exact findspot unknown"; idem, Lydiaka, 272. For Campana plaques see Pallottino, Etruscan Painting, 35f., color; Bonfante-Warren, Etruscan Dress, 280f., pl. 66:11, with literature. On Oltos see Pfuhl, Malerei und zeichnung III, fig. 360; on Euphronios, ibid., fig. 393.