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Etruscan Art: Not Just a Transition

by April 27, 2022

By Ben Potter, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Etruscan art
Detail of two dancers from the Tomb of the Triclinium in the Necropolis of Monterozzi
Many folks see the Etruscan civilization as merely a segue, a follow up to the Greeks and a foreshadowing to the Romans. But casting this ancient society as a sideline character might not do them enough justice.
Indeed, despite the importance of Etruria (the wider region of the Etruscans) in its context as a link between the ancient worlds of the Greeks and the Romans, modern thought considers Etruscan civilization ‘far superior to the traditional picture of a poor relation of Greece and a mysterious prelude to Rome.’
This new found appreciation of the Etruscans can be most clearly seen in its art and architecture – and distinguishing where they leave off from the Greeks and create their own individual style.
Of course, Etruscan art did owe a great debt to Greece. Even in its primitive form, we are able to draw comparisons between the miniature statues of Etruscan native warriors and Greek Cycladic art (Quick note: the Cyclades is a group of islands including and north of modern Santorini). The unnaturally thin limbs and square faces, although not being a direct copy, certainly look as if the Etruscans must have been aware of the Cycladic statues.
Etruscan sculpture
Warrior with helmet, originally holding a spear. Etruscan art, Southern Umbria, 5th century BC. NG Prague, Kinský Palace, NM-H10 4787.
This very early example gives us the impression that trends in the art world, in general, evolve in tandem and that ‘picking and choosing’ Greek elements may not have been a conscious decision by Etruscan artists. Instead, the vast trading links with Greece would have provided constant contact with the art of different peoples.
For example, red and black pottery were introduced into the Etruscan world in the 6th century BC when Greek artists began to settle in towns such as Veii and Cerveteri. This would have made good fiscal sense, as it was far easier, safer and cheaper to relocate one gifted artisan than transport 500 pots. We see this evidence in the discovery of bird, ring, and animal shaped vessels found in Greece and Cyprus, but which are made of native clay. Such items are technically Greek rhytons, a type of drinking horn, despite their Etruscan origins.
Additionally, we can see that the antefix, a type of ornament that hides the joints of a tiled roof, from the temple of Portonaccio at Veii is designed in the image of a gorgon, and can be a direct copy of the Greek style prominent on the pediment of the temple of Artemis at Corfu. Also striking is that the two examples are within only a few decades of each other, implying that not only were ideas from Greece to Etruria transferred, but they were done so relatively quickly.
We can also see these cross cultural transfers in painting, particularly in the practice of portraying females in white and males much darker. This made sense in Greek painting as women were supposed to remain within the oikos, or house, whilst men went about their business outside. However, Etruscan women were given no such restrictions (though more about them later) and therefore this shows us an artificial depiction brought to the Etruscans from Greece.
But in many ways Etruscan art was different to that of Greece. For instance, the roofing techniques found in Etruria were not in Greece, and this can be taken further as we examine Etruscan dwellings in general. An Etruscan funerary urn (8th century BC) depicts a wattle and daub hut most unGreek in style. Also, even if some materials and techniques may have had Greek origins, we still have a good deal of subject matter that is uniquely Etruscan.
Etruscan house
Urna cineraria a capanna forse da Vulci, VII secolo a.C., Museo nazionale di Villa Giulia, Roma
For instance, there is little exaltation of local heroes in the art and no attempt to use it as a tool of fear or propaganda. This may be one of the reasons why the Etruscans are thought mysterious to modern archaeologists and dangerous to Greeks and Romans, as they felt identity was more precious than all else.
There are other ways in which the Etruscans revealed their own unique style. For example, in pot making. While the technique may be Greek, Etruscans introduced their own shapes into the art, making it no challenge to tell apart a Greek from an Etruscan pot. Additionally, more unGreek scenes appear, such as the mauling of a blindfolded man by a dog, and the occurrence of elaborate gold jewellery, which has more in common with the Celtic Le Tene culture, than with Hellenistic artwork. There is also a good deal of material whose origins could be said to be more Egyptian than Greek, such as the appearance of ‘human feline’ statuettes and hieroglyphic markings.
But it is the women in Etruscan art that make it really unique from Greece.
In both Greek and Roman societies even the highest bred women were subject to a greatly diminished status, both domestically and within the state. Whilst we have little to tell us of the official role of women in Etruscan society, we can see through the artwork that they enjoyed a much more even social status.
Etruscan art detail
Etruscan Boccanera Plaques Cerveteri, 560 BC – 55 BC
‘Etruscan woman ‘went out’ a great deal. We see them everywhere, in the forefront of the scene, taking a considerable place in it and never blushing from shame’ (J. Heurgon, Daily Life of the Etruscans). There are several wall paintings of feasts and banquet scenes that feature both men and women enjoying their meals together. The Greeks, rather unreasonably and rudely, used this as evidence that Etruscan women were all drunkards and promiscuous.
This domestic interaction between the sexes is something that is seen nowhere in Greek art. Women are either interacting between themselves, performing sexual acts, entertaining, working or taking part in a festival in Greece. These domestic scenes, therefore, would be wholly bizarre and unnatural to the Greeks.
Etruscan sarcophagus
Etruscan sarcophagus from Cerveteri c. 520 BCE. Terra cotta, length 2 m. Museo Nazionale di Villa Giulia, Rome.
In Etruria we see the women reclining along with their husbands in what the Greeks presumed to be a readiness to perform sexual acts, but seems far more probable to be merely an affectionate sharing of time together. This is supported in the grave markers, where the sculptures of a man and wife lie in peace together. We see one example of a couple with the woman holding a baby on her knees in a scene where presumably libations are about to be poured for the child’s safety. Domestic intimacy like this is an alien concept to Greek art.
Though we can clearly identify a good deal of Greek artistic traits in the art of the Etruscans, we could just as easily claim to identify Egyptian ones (to a lesser extent) and on this tack we could claim that any Greek art is not truly Greek but merely a bastardisation of near Eastern art.
That said, Etruscan art can clearly be identified as an art unto its own. Saying it is merely the evolution of Hellenistic art seems rather patronising towards the Etruscans. Regardless of to what extent the Greeks managed to influence Etruria, it seems that the Etruscans were more than capable of firmly stamping their own individuality on their artistic culture.

Walk Like an Egyptian: Early Greek Art

by April 16, 2022

It easily falls into the ‘conspiracy’ category – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun story to tell.
We are all taught that empires rise and fall and that every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt were no exception. The year was 1336 BC and the Egyptian Pharaoh, Akhenaten, had just died.
Akhenaten was a strange Pharaoh who shook many of the essential foundations of Ancient Egyptian culture. For one thing, Akhenaten was a monotheist. He only believed in Aten, a Ra-like sun God, a fact that drives some scholars to debate whether he is a founding father of judaism.
His wife, Nefertiti
Akhenaten was also a romantic, conferring unusual, elevated status to his wife, the famed beauty Nefertiti. He also may have had a strange syndrome or disability which he passed on to his children… something that may have resulted in the early death of his son, Tutankhamun or King Tut.
One the strangest things about Akhenaten though, was that he changed the way art was done in those ancient days. He shunned the rigid rules that maintained 3000 years of artistic stability. Depictions became more naturalistic, especially of plants, animals and commoners. They showed a sense of movement and action.
The royals too were depicted differently. Instead of showing the Pharaoh as god-like, immobile and eternal, the artists began producing tender images of him. He is drawn playing with his daughters beneath the rays of the Aten, while showing his wife affection. The lines surrounding the king are soft and curved. The hard straight features of the previous pharaohs are banished.
But then Akhenaten, the man who is considered “the first individual in history”, died.
Change at first was gradual, but eventually all the reformations faded away and returned to the previous, traditional way of doing things. The time referred to as the ‘Amarna period’ came to an end.
But what happened to all those artists who had just tasted creative freedom? The return to regulation meant the end of artistic liberalism. Did they stay in Egypt after the reversion to the mean? Or did they, perhaps, make their way up north, across the mediterranean?
Around this time, we start to see, for instance, the emergence of Etruscan hieroglyphics, in the land of the Minoans, a pre-Greek civilization.
Eventually, around 750 BC, we come to ‘Archaic’ Early Greek Art.
This time period is characterized by statues that are free standing, frontal and solid. They wear the strange, so-called archaic smile. One foot is placed forward, the fists are clenched. There are three types of figures, the standing nude youth (kouros), the standing draped girl (kore), and the seated woman. All of the different types of sculptures emphasize and generalize the essential features of the human figure.
Now these Greek statues look a lot like the Ancient Egyptian statues.
A comparison of Early Greek Art to Ancient Egyptian Statues
Ancient Egyptian on the Left, Ancient Greek on the Right
Of course this story of runaway sculptors, bringing an artistic renaissance and revolution to Ancient Greece, has a lot of holes. The time periods, for instance, are vastly contradictory. It is difficult to imagine keeping this new artistic approach alive for 500 years. The Ancient Greek Kouros also look more like the traditional Ancient Egyptian art, rather than the unique Akhenaten style.
So why did Ancient Egyptian-like statues start emerging in Ancient Greece? Could this just be a coincidence?
We, unfortunately, do not know. They are many other potential explanations, such as the Achaemenid Persian Empire, which was founded in the 6th century BC by Cyrus the Great. This huge empire, which encompassed approximately 8 million km and spanned three continents, would have brought Egypt and northern Greece, Macedonia, under the same umbrella.
The Achaemenid Persian empire also instituted infrastructures, such as road networks, a postal system, and an official language throughout its territories. It even had a bureaucratic administration which was centralized under the Emperor, as well as a large, professional army and civil services.
Maybe the famous Egyptian memorials made their way on these new found roads to Greece’s fledging shores. It is, after all, in this time period when the first Archaic sculptures start to appear.
Or maybe not. History is not an exact science. Dots that seem important might only stick out with hindsight, and connections between them weakened by improbabilities. All we do know, is that Early Greek art starts getting even more interesting from here on out.
“Walk Like an Egyptian: Early Greek Art” was written by Anya Leonard

High Classical Greek Art: Political Patrons

by April 13, 2022

Few things impact a budding art scene like an imperial power showing off. The ruling class often invest heavily in propaganda and self grandeur, paid into the hands of the artistically gifted. They might even commission a few temples, as thanks to the gods for their new found positions. The artists, as long as they celebrate approved figures, are rewarded with extravagant commissions. Their political patrons, in return, shower their favorite sculptors and painters with prestige and honor.
Bust of Pericles
Pericles, the Athenian Statesman, and Alexander the Great, the king of Macedon, were no exception. In fact, the Golden Age of Athenian art – the high Classical greek art period – is broadly defined by these exceptional gentlemen, book holders for fabricated historical boundaries.
Apparently it all started in 479 B.C. when Athens beat the Persians and founded a confederacy of allies to ensure the freedom of the Greek cities in the Aegean islands. Participants supplied either ships or funds in order to secure protection. This so-called “Delian League”, however, didn’t last long.
Athens wanted an empire, and that’s exactly what it got. First it moved the treasury closer to home – to the imperial city of Athens itself. Then the city-state put forth the Coinage Degree, which imposed Athenian silver coinage, weights and measures on all of the allies. Any left overs from the mint went straight to Athens, and any other use was punished by death.
Now the ordinary Greek members of the Delian league were, in fact, Athenian subjects.
This is where the man who was “surrounded by glory” comes into play. Pericles, who lived from ca. 461–429 B.C., was one of the masterminds behind Athens assuming full control over the league and a famous proponent for Athenian democracy. He then orchestrated one of the greatest human embezzlements of all time. He used the league’s treasury to build some of the most amazing artistic creations of the ancient world. He launched Greek Art into the “High Classical Greek Art”.
Political Patrons
Pericles transformed the Acropolis (including the Parthenon) into a lasting monument of Athens’ political and cultural power. He worked tirelessly, with the likes of the Greek sculptor Phidias, to promote Athens as the artistic center of the Ancient World.
The red figured vase on the right allows for more detail
The red figured vase on the right allows for more detail
This catalyst propelled Athens further, innovating art on every level, from theatrical works to sculpture to vases. In regards to the last item, a major development occurred in this time period. The red-figure technique superseded the previously traditional black-figure technique. This change may not, at first, seem monumental, but it allowed a greater ability to portray the human body, clothed or naked, at rest or in motion.
Meanwhile, the solid, archaic figures of early Greek sculpture transitioned into more naturalistic statues, revealing movement, grace and the female form. The nude Aphrodite of Knidos, by the Athenian sculptor Praxiteles, was one of the first to break the convention of hiding female figures behind heavily draped attire. In addition to realistic bodies, statues began to depict real people. Democracy trickled down from politics to art.
Aphrodite of Knidos - example of High Classical Greek Art
Aphrodite of Knidos – example of High Classical Greek Art
Among these changing stylistic innovations, developed the art of studying art. For the first time, artistic schools were established, such as the school at Sicyon in the Peloponnese. There students learned the cumulative knowledge of art, the foundation of art history.
Golden Age
It would seem as if the creative boom of the Golden Age would never end. The artistic funds of Athens, however, eventually dwindled along with Athens’ defeat in the second Peloponnesian war.
Fortunately for art, another champion came forward, along with grand commissions and an immense bank account. Alexander the Great, known for his ruthless wars and expanding empire, became a patron of the arts as never before seen… loot from plundered lands will do that. Man is seldom shy of spending other people’s money and Alexander was no different.
It is here that the artificial boundaries of history are vaguely drawn. Alexander the Great, founding great cultural cities around his empire, brought together artistic ideals which had previously never been in contact. Styles and techniques drastically changed throughout the empire’s reach. Was this the peak of Classical art or the beginning of a new age of Art? No one knows precisely when the one period ends nor when the next begins…  What follows though, is the final stage of Ancient Greek art… the Hellenistic Period.
“High Classical Greek Art: Political Patrons” was written by Anya Leonard

The Sudanese Pyramids: Wonders of Ancient Africa

by May 28, 2021

Written by Ed Whalen, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
We are all familiar with the pyramids of ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica, but few people are aware of the pyramids built by the remarkable African people in what is now North Sudan. The Nubian pyramids are a very important part of the heritage of Africa and provide a remarkable insight into the history of the continent. 
The History of Nubia
Pyramids at Meroe
The Nubians were an ancient people and were well-known to the Egyptians, who at times dominated them politically. They lived in a region that lies today mostly in Northern Sudan. Nubia was heavily influenced by Egypt but developed a distinctive culture. The first great Nubian kingdom was the Kerma kingdom. Later, the Kushite Nubian kingdom dominated Egypt. Expulsed by the Assyrians, the Nubians fell back beyond the First Cataract of the Nile and established a kingdom at Meroe (c 550 BC-500 AD). 
This period marked something of a Golden Age for the Africans. It seems that the Nubian kingdom came briefly under the control of the Persians and the Ptolemies but for the most part, Nubia was able to maintain its independence and culture. Their religion, however, was almost identical to that of the ancient Egyptians. 
In the first century AD, under Queen Kandake the Nubians fought the Romans to a standstill. During the third century AD, Nubia was Christianized by Egyptian monks and merchants. At about the same time, the Kingdom of Meroe was invaded by  invasion from Aksum (Ethiopia) and split into three smaller kingdoms. In the seventh century, the Christian kingdoms successfully resisted the Arabs and enjoyed great prosperity and peace. Nubia was finally conquered by Mamluk Egypt in the 14th century AD. 
The Nubian Pyramids
Statues of Nubian rulers from the late 25th Dynasty–early Napatan period, 7th century BC, source: Kerma Museum
The pyramids were mostly built between 300 BC and 300 AD. There are an estimated two hundred pyramids in Northern Sudan, if not more—far more numerous than in Egypt. They were built by Nubian kings who, like the Pharaohs, were seen as divine. The kings and queens of Nubia were buried in these structures. They were interred with vast amounts of gold and other precious metals and most likely mummified. Sadly, these royal tombs were all looted long ago. 
The Pyramids of the African kingdom are markedly different from their northern neighbors; they are much narrower and have an incline of about 70 degrees, a much steeper angle than those at Giza. The Nubian pyramids are composed of tiers of laid stones blocks, that are roughly six to 10 feet in size. 
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the structures in Nubia is that they include what has been interpreted as an offering temple. These temples are decorated with iconography that is uniquely Kushite. Here, monarchs were buried for centuries. The vast majority of the pyramids are located at three sites, the most important of which is the former royal seat of Meroe, where there are 50 tombs. Another important site is Nuri. Curiously, archaeologists have found rocks that ring when struck and believe they may have been used in rituals. 
The Importance of the Nubian Pyramids
Nuri: Pyramids of Kushite rulers
These structures stand testament to the wealth and power of ancient Nubia. As the burial place of the dead monarchs, they were central to the Nubian religion. Priests often performed sacrifices and rituals honoring the deceased monarch in the offering temples at the base of the pyramids. It is believed this was done in the hopes that the dead king or queen would intercede with the gods on behalf of their former subjects. 
The Nubian pyramids required immense resources and labor and as such, they likely contributed to the development of the state. While these structures were undoubtedly influenced by Egypt, they were equally an expression of national identity. The Nubians appear to have revived the building of pyramids centuries after the Egyptians abandoned their construction. Why this was the case no one knows. It is possible that as ancient Egypt came under Macedonian and later Roman rule, the Nubians saw themselves as the heirs of ancient Egyptian civilization and this led to the revival in pyramid-building. 
The Decline of the Nubians Pyramids
Illustration of the pyramids at Meroe, credit: Charlie Swerdlow, source: Behance
The last Nubian pyramids date to the third century AD. After this, they abruptly cease, which may be related to the decline in the power of the Meroite kings and queens. The region was also becoming increasingly Christianized. As monarchs adopted Christianity, many customs and practices—including the interring of monarchs in tombs—were left behind. 
After the conquest of Nubia by the Egyptian Mamluks and later the Ottomans, the region became Islamic and the tombs buried under the sands of Sudan. They were discovered by European explorers in the 19th century and excavated by archaeologists, who study them for insights into the Nubian society and civilization. 
The pyramids of Nubia are among the wonders of the ancient world. They were a product of a unique and very successful civilization deeply influenced by ancient Egypt but also distinctively its own. The pyramids played a crucial role in the development of Nubia and were a crucial part of their religion. Today, they are becoming increasingly popular with tourists and more tombs may even be unearthed in the future. However, the pyramids are at risk of flooding and neglect, raising concerns for the future of these ancient wonders. 
Lacovara, P., 2018. Pyramids and Obelisks Beyond Egypt. Aegyptiaca. Journal of the History of Reception of Ancient Egypt, (2), pp.124-137.
Emberling, G., 2011. Nubia: ancient kingdoms of Africa. Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University.

The Artemision Bronze: Mysterious Greek Masterpiece

by February 2, 2021

Written by Ed Whalen, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom

The Ancient Greeks produced many artistic masterpieces, especially in sculpture. Many have survived down to the modern age. Most of the world’s leading museums have some examples of Hellenic sculpture. The iconic Artemision Bronze is one of the most famous surviving pieces of Greco-Roman art—and it has a fascinating story.

The Discovery of the Artemision Bronze

Cape Artemisium, where the Artemision Bronze was discovered

The bronze was found in the waters of the Cape of Artemision on the island of Euboea, which is in the Aegean and just off the coast of mainland Greece. It was uncovered in a shipwreck and recovered from the sea in 1928. Also found in the general area was another famous bronze called the Jockey of Artemision. However, exploration was halted for many years after a diver died at the site.

It has been established that the figure came from a shipwreck that dates to the 2nd century BC. Scholars have speculated that the artwork was being transported back to Rome. Historic sources say that after the Romans conquered Greece, they sent many masterpieces to Italy. Many academics have attributed the piece to the 5th century BC.

The sculpture is in a style known as the Severe Style, which came out of the breakdown of the Archaic tradition and the emergence of the Classical style. Many believe that it was made by the great sculptor Kalamis (Calamis), thought to be an Athenian who worked principally in Asia Minor. Another possibility is that one of the students of Kalamis made the Bronze. Some scholars have argued that the piece was created by Miron, another famed sculptor, but no one knows for sure. It is not known who commissioned the piece or where was it displayed.

Description of the Artemision Bronze


The bronze work is about 6 feet and 6 inches (2.09 m) high, and the figure is depicted in motion. He appears to be throwing a projectile, his arms outspread to a span of about 6 feet (2 m). It is believed that the piece represents an Olympian god. This is because it is highly realistic but is also idealized, with perfect proportions and a highly muscular frame.

The figure stands with his weight on his right foot and the other is slightly lifted off the ground. The head of the piece is very detailed, and the hair and the beard are very intricate. The eyebrows are missing; it is believed they were made either of gold or silver. His mouth was possibly once covered in copper. The eyes of the sculpture are now empty, and they may have once been filled with precious stones or even jewels.

Close up of the Artemision Bronze. Photo credit: David Waldo

Zeus or Poseidon

The identity of the bronze deity has been a source of debate ever since it was discovered. The pose of the figure suggests that it is throwing a projectile, which was never found. Some believe that the projectile was a thunderbolt. This would indicate that the figure was intended to represent Zeus, the King of the Olympians. In Greek mythology, he is often shown hurling thunderbolts.

Another view is that the figure is throwing a trident and this would indicate that the bronze actually depicts the god of the sea, Poseidon. However, there are several similarities between the representation and iconography of Zeus on pottery and coins. As a result, most experts believe that the Artemision Bronze is a depiction of Zeus.

The Artemision Bronze, detail


The discovery of the Artemision Bronze in the waters of Euboea was remarkable. It encouraged the exploration of other shipwrecks in the Mediterranean and indirectly contributed to the development of marine archaeology. The masterpiece also allowed scholars to better understand the evolution of Greek art. If you want to see the Bronze in person, it is on permanent display in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece, where it is one of the most popular exhibits.


Moon, Warren G (1983). Ancient Greek Art and Iconography. Madison: Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press.


The Colossus of Rhodes… Coming back to life?

by May 1, 2019

By Jocelyn Hitchcock, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom

Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes was a feat of ingenuity and engineering and served as a Rhodian symbol of victory.

The Colossus of Rhodes was erected in 280 BCE but was toppled by an earthquake in 226 BCE. The monumental statue remained fallen until 654 CE, before it was ultimately victim to destruction, fragmentation, and looting… and now, there is a chance it may be resurrected once more.

The Colossus of Rhodes: A Victory Statue

Located off the modern day coast of southwestern Turkey in the Dodecanese islands, Rhodes has been a major commercial hub throughout its history. The Hellenistic Period on Rhodes, when the Colossus of Rhodes was built, witnessed a flourishing of its economy and maritime interactions. Philosophy, science, literature, and art all found homes in Rhodes.

Then, in 305 BCE Antigonus I Monophthalmus dedicated to attack. In a power struggle over who should get to rule Rhodes after Alexander’s death, Antigonus sent his son Demetrius to capture Rhodes and secure it against the opposing Ptolemy and Seleucus factions. The capital of Rhodes was fortunately protected by a wall and required Demetrius to construct two separate siege towers to overcome it. Ultimately, both sieges were unsuccessful and a fleet from Egypt arrived to help defend Rhodes from Demetrius.

The conflict ended with a peace treaty and the people of Rhodes viewed it as a personal victory.

The Colossus of Rhodes

The Colossus of Rhodes

To commemorate their successful stronghold against Demetrius, Rhodes decided to erect a statue in honor of their patron god, Helios. According to Pliny, the Colossus took 12 years to build and was started in 292 BCE. Sculptor Charles of Lyndus was the artist behind the statue, but legend holds that he didn’t live to see its completion.

Construction of the Colossus of Rhodes

The Colossus of Rhodes was said to be 105 feet tall, made of Bronze paneling, and internally supported by columns and iron. Construction of such a statue was of course a feat in itself and several theories have been presented as to how such a work was completed. Scaffolding and earthen ramps have been used to complete the Colossus, but it is pure speculation.

Some scholars, both ancient and modern, postulate that the statue was cast in situ. They suggest that an earthen mound was built up around it as the workers went in order to reach the height of the Colossus as it is described by Philo of Byzantium.

Painting of the Statue in Rhodes

An oil painting representing the ancient city of Rhodes by Frantisek Kupka (1906 CE).

Additionally, the positioning of the statue itself is unclear. We like to imagine that the Colossus straddled the harbor entrance, acting as a guard and port of welcome to visitors, inciting both respect and a bit of fear. However, this is not certain.

The Fall of The Colossus of Rhodes

As impressive as the statue was sure to have been, it only stood for around 54 years. In 226 BCE an earthquake rocked the region and the statue toppled to the ground. Strabo saw the fallen statue in his travels and wrote that, “he broke down by the falling from the knees,” and noted the Rhodian people did not restore it because an oracle instructed them not to do so. The colossus remained in this downtrodden position for nearly 800 years, when, according to Theophanes the Confessor, the statue was melted down and sold for its metal parts to merchants.


Potential construction for a replica

The Resurrection of the Colossus of Rhodes?

In the last few decades there has been a debate on whether or not to rebuild the Colossus of Rhodes. The project’s proposal states that the rebuilding of the Colossus would, “draw the attention of all humanity to our island [Rhodes], not purely motivated by a feeling of irredentism, but by creating a memorable cultural contribution of Rhodes.” The 2015 collective of architects, archaeologists, and civil engineers proposed to reconstruct a statue that would not only be much larger than the original, but would serve as a cultural center and lighthouse.

While we don’t know if this will happen or not, it would definitely be an astonishing feat… and a fantastic opportunity to see one of the seven wonders of world come to life again.