• r2-18-10
    Section of a pediment, front. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-18-20
    Section of a pediment, detail of bead and reel design. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-18-50
    Section of a pediment, projection drawing. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Part of a Pediment

450-430 BC, Late Lydian (Persian)
Manisa, Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum, 4427
Museum Inventory No.
Sardis or Museum Inv. No.
Marble, Stone
Object Type
Sculpture, Architecture
Sculpture Type
Human Figure, Architectural Relief, Funerary Relief
B-Grid Coordinates
W360 / S588
Near PC, 2 m. below present bed of Pactolus, toward E bank, with Roman architectural pieces, hence probably already reused.

The block is probably one of the two pieces which constituted the l. side of a small pediment. The slope was ca. 1:4 (58:232) and the size of the missing corner block can be calculated to ca. 1.00. Half of the pediment was ca. 2.30, and the entire pediment ca. 4.60. The bottom surface was pretty well smoothed except for small chisel marks. At the proper r. end is a rectangular cutting (Fig. 74) for a tie piece to tie it to the next block. The dowel hole is 0.08 by 0.09 by 0.05 D. The side does have something like anathyrosis 0.10 in W. toward the back and 0.15 toward the front. The top is 1.20 L. and varies from 0.32-0.36 in W. A rectangular cutting (0.05 by 0.12) appears 0.45 from the l. end; it may have been for a dowel to hold the sima. At the l. end is a cutting and clamp hole for a Pi-clamp (0.10 by 0.04 for leading; 0.015 by 0.15 by 0.04 D. for clamp). The l. end of the pediment is uneven, probably trimmed for secondary use. The r. end is worn smooth by water. It was fitted tightly, but without marked anathyrosis, to the next piece of the pediment. The top l. corner is broken off; at the top, to the r. of the break is a trace of clamp hole and iron rust.

In front there is a band following the slope and decorated with a fine Lesbian cyma and bead and reel, most of which is lost (Fig. 73). The intervals between beads and reels were drilled with a small drill. In back the piece was hollowed out with very rough trimming hammer chisel strokes. Although this would be an effective device to lighten the weight of the pediment, the rough execution speaks for secondary reuse.

At the r. end of the relief a bearded man reclines on a couch. His l. elbow rests on a folded cushion. In his raised r. hand he holds a vase (for possible type cf. Porada, Ancient Iran, pl. 49; Ghirshman, Iran Earliest Times, pl. 20 a and b) and in his l. an indistinct object. P. Bernard suggested that he may be pouring from the vase into a bowl, but the hands are too far apart, and no clear trace of bowl survives. His bearded head, more than half lost, was turned to his l. and upward. There is hair falling on his back and possibly traces of a wreath (?). His feet seem to rise under the cloak or cover.

In front of the couch is a low table with a rounded object, perhaps a bowl, standing on it. Most of the table is broken off. A horizontal line below the tabletop might belong to the couch behind the table. A draped, seated female figure to the l. is probably the wife. She is seated on the l. end of the couch. Her head, slightly overlapping the pedimental band, is almost entirely lost. She is seated diagonally to the background, the r. shoulder and l. leg forward. Her r. arm is bent and rests on her chest. An indistinct extension merging into the couch may be her l. arm and hand holding something over the couch cover. She wears a long cloak and a chiton of which a couple of vertical folds are seen near her feet. A slight trace of a horizontal band from the closed neckline of her garment can be made out.

A vertical hollow indicates the end of the first couch and the beginning of a second couch. A smaller woman is seated in near profile view. The worn, oval head overlaps the pedimental band. Below a rounded hairdo we discern a small face. Her r. arm was bent, the hand placed on the chest. The outline of a rounded sleeve is visible. Her l. arm was extended palm down, the hand on a flat cushion. Three tiny incised folds radiate downward under her r. buttock.

The smallest figure, on the l., is probably seated on the same couch. She is seated diagonally; the upper part of her body turned frontally. Her r. arm is taken back and her r. palm is resting on the couch. Her l. hand rests on her knee. Her head, mostly broken off, was apparently turned to the r. and overlapped only slightly with the band of the pediment. At the lower edge of her long garment part of a foot is outlined by incisions. A double line over her l. shoulder may indicate an overhanging (peplos-like?) part of a dress. Quite a large part of the block on the l. is devoid of sculpture.

H. Möbius (by letter Oct. 1969) immediately recalled the E. pediment of the Nereid Monument at Xanthos (Niemann-Reisch, Nereiden-Monument, pl. 1; Coupel-Demargne, Xanthos III, pls. 98, 100). Indeed, the great interest of the Sardis piece is the proof that mausolea similar to the Nereid Monument and the newly excavated mausoleum at Limyra (J. Borchhardt, Heroon von Limyra, 357, fig. 4) existed at Sardis. The Sardis mausoleum pediment measured ca. 4.60, that of Xanthos, ca. 6.10, that of Limyra, ca. 7.

The Nereid Monument also features the subject of a funerary meal, popularized by the Persians (cf. J.M. Dentzer Reliefs au Banquet). Its central figures, however, are seated on thrones. The designer of the Sardis pediment created an unusual composition, stepping down a succession of rather widely spaced figures, which could appear in this manner “naturally.” He gave them strongly projecting relief, and one suspects that much was added by painting. The diagonal positioning of seated figures implies knowledge of foreshortening. The soft, well-rounded rendering of the figures is closest to the Ionian style of the Satrap Sarcophagus (Kleeman, passim). The owner was probably either a Persian or a highly placed Lydian of the Persian era, shown with his wife and two daughters (?).


White marble in “sugary” and bruised condition, weathered yellow.

Original overall dimensions of the block preserved except possibly on l. end, but many areas damaged, and all worn down by water. The condition called for consolidation with barium hydroxide and urea treatment. For details of damage see infra.

Max. L. 1.30 (at bottom); H. 0.58; W. at top 0.36, at bottom 0.36. H. of ornament at top 0.105-0.128. H. of figures: man 0.44; women 0.36, 0.325, 0.26. H. of relief of figures 0.06-0.10.
Cf. Hanfmann, “Sardis, 1969” AJA, 173. For a detailed discussion see Hanfmann, “Pediment Persian Era”, 289-301, pls. 99-102a, with details; idem, Croesus to Constantine, 19, fig. 42. The r. half of the pediment with two servants and serving table was found in Pactolus bed, fall 1977.
See Also
Published: BASOR199, 38f., fig. 29; Hanfmann-Waldbaum, Sardis, 1969, 252, ill.