The Joy of Museums

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Nereid Monument

Nereid Monument - Joy of Museums

Nereid Monument

The Nereid Monument is a sculptured tomb in the form of a Greek temple on top of a base decorated with sculpted friezes. The temple had columns on each side and stood elevated on a substantial podium, decorated with two friezes.  Ther was a shallower upper frieze above a deeper lower frieze. There are also reliefs on the architrave, the inner chamber of temple walls and in the pediment. There were also many large free-standing sculptures between each pair of primary columns.

The Nereid Monument originally stood in Xanthos (Greek: Ξάνθος, Turkish: Ksantos) which was the name of a city in ancient Lycia, the site of present-day Kınık, Turkey. Lycia was a geopolitical region in Anatolia known to history since the records of ancient Egypt and the Hittite Empire in the Late Bronze Age.  The Tomb was built in the early fourth century BC as a tomb for Arbinas, who belonged to the Xanthian dynast who ruled western Lycia at the time. Although Arbinas ruled Lycia as part of the Persian Empire, the monument is built in a Greek style, influenced by the Ionic temples of the Athenian Acropolis. The rich narrative sculptures on the monument portray Arbinas in various ways, combining Greek and Persian aspects.

Nereid Monument - Joy of Museums 2

The tomb is thought to have stood until the Byzantine era before falling into ruin. The ruins were rediscovered by British archaeologist Charles Fellows in the early 1840s. Fellows had them shipped to the British Museum, where some of them have been reconstructed to show what the east façade of the monument would have looked like. The Museum also houses many other parts of the monument as separate exhibits.

Nereid Monument

  • Title:                Nereid Monument
  • Date:                390BC-380BC (circa)
  • Culture:          Classical Greek
  • Findspot:        Present-day Fethiye in Mugla Province, Turkey
  • Materials:       Marble
  • Acquisition:   1848
  • Museum:        The British Museum

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“Victory belongs to the most persevering.” Napoleon

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Photo Credit: 1) JOM