• r2-19-5
    Veiled female, front. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-19-10
    Stele with veiled female, three quarter view of front. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-19-20
    Stele with veiled female, left side. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-19-30
    Stele with veiled female, detail of face. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Stele with Veiled Frontal Female

5th C. BC, Late Lydian (Persian)
Sardis or Museum Inv. No.
Marble, Stone
Object Type
Sculpture Type
Naiskos, Relief, Human Figure, Votive Relief
Syn MH Spolia
B-Grid Coordinates
E77 / N19
Near north wall of

The r. side of the stone had a moulding just above the height at which the front panel ends; otherwise the surface is smoothed. There is an L-shaped cut at the bottom from reuse. The l. side of the stone is smooth, the surface destroyed from moulding height upwards. The back surface is smooth at the bottom, rough-picked above, again in the shape of a panel with smooth vertical anathyrosis at the sides. The top surface has two square clamp holes with channels leading into them from the back. They are unevenly placed, hence probably from the reuse of the stone. The top surface is rough-picked but smoothed at the two side edges. The bottom surface is broken away.

In outline and rough surface one can see the shape of a woman’s body to about the upper legs, her head, and the edge of her r. elbow. She stood closer to the r. edge of the stone than the l., her l. side touching the edge of the panel. There is a narrow, vertical anathyrosis to the r. and l. of the panel above a broken surface.

The figure stands frontally. The strands of hair at the sides of her head are tubular and plain on the surface. They curve slightly outward at her shoulders. Part of the first curl near her r. ear remains. The neck has incised horizontal wrinkles. At either side of her neck are traces of the neckline of her dress coming forward. There is much small point work in the hollows on both sides of the head and traces of abrasive lines on the background and veil. Very fine claw chisel was used on the r. and l. ends of the stele. The background was smoothly chiseled, but one still sees the tool marks slightly curved towards the middle. The transition from the figure to the background is sharp and clear-cut.

The stele was originally intended to be freestanding as the back is finished. This would favor a votive rather than sepulchral function. There is not enough preserved to decide whether the woman is a votary or a goddess. The piece is probably early classical, 5th C. B.C.


Bluish gray marble, large crystals, reddish discoloration.

Broken at bottom and restored with cement, 1969-1970. Surface damage. Trimmed off with trimming hammer in reuse; also still partly covered with cement traces. Of the original surface of the woman only two locks of hair (one on each side), the neck, and the edge of her shoulders and r. side remain.

P.H. 1.01; W. 0.49 (with moulding 0.51); D. 0.21; P.H. of panel 0.65; W. of panel 0.34; W. of anathyrosis 0.075; H. of head 0.15 (with chin 0.185); H. of moulding 0.85. From moulding to top of stone 0.205. Back: smooth at bottom to 0.47; rough to 0.425; anathyrosis 0.075 (same as front). Top: clamp holes 0.035 by 0.03 D.; channel W. 0.02, L. 0.11 and 0.13 (at 90° to front).
For veiled frontal woman on stele, cf. stele of Polyxena, Boeotia (Berlin no. 1504), Collignon, Statues funeraires, 132f., fig. 71; G. Rodenwaldt, Thespische Reliefs, 322, fig. 5, 2nd half 5th C. For draped and veiled woman of “Europa” type see Collignon, Statues funeraires, 116, fig. 59 (Berlin); Ridgway, Severe Style, 66, figs. 106-108 (Baiae Museum) “unfinished Aspasia/Sosandra type,” dated 470-460 B.C.
See Also