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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
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The statue of Eros carrying an amphora, found in the pool of the cold water bath, and the body parts of the new Aphrodite statue that imitates an original made by Praxiteles

The plinth of a smaller statue

Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.
by Marc Waelkens

Sculptural Studies: August 15-19

We made several more important statuary finds this week, especially in the cold-water pool of the Roman Baths, forcing Semra Saral (University of Cologne, Germany, and soon also of the KULeuven) to postpone her planned departure in order to finish her study of this year's finds for her Ph.D. Most prominent were fragments from statues of Eros and Aphrodite, which once stood in the curved recess along the pool's eastern edge. The Eros statue was broken into several pieces, but it can be completely restored, except for its face (back part of head is preserved) and parts of its arms. The child-like Eros is naked and carries an amphora. This statue type represents a copy or adaptation of a Hellenistic prototype, the best replica of which is now in the Palazzo dei Conservator on the Capitoline Hill at Rome. Whereas the Roman example was originally part of a fountain in a private house, our newly found Eros had a purely decorative function, as the open mouth of the amphora did not serve as a waterspout. Despite the fact that the body of the Eros figure is completely worked on all sides, the cloak on the left shoulder, which carries the amphora, is only roughly treated with a pointed chisel at the back. This shows that the statue could not be seen on all sides, as it must have stood against a wall, most probably the back wall of the curved recess east of the pool. There was an identical counterpart for this Eros in the baths, of which only the plinth with the feet and part of the body support is preserved. The identical measurements, surface treatment and representation of the cloak covering the support identify both Eros statues as products of the same workshop.

The date of these sculpture finds is given by the under life-size head of an Aphrodite found inside the same pool. The head, completely preserved except for the broken nose, is early Antonine in date, as suggested by the drilling of the eyes and the rendering of the hair with only sparse drilling. An inscription found in 2001 in Caldarium 2 allowed dating the inauguration of the building to the year A.D. 165, so that the newly found statues may belong to the original statuary display inside the baths. The rendering of Aphrodite's hair also identifies her as a product of the same workshop that produced the Eros statues. All three statues are most probably carved in Docimian marble. The head itself represents a statue type that was very popular since Hellenistic times and that was used for different types of Aphrodite, among whom also the so-called Aphrodite Kallipygos. In our case, one can unfortunately not yet attribute with certainty the head to a specific body. Inside the pool, an Aphrodite torso was found, which according to its posture and support (an amphora) imitated the famous Cnidian Aphrodite carved by Praxiteles in the fourth century B.C. Despite the fact that the marble of this torso seems identical to that of the head, the latter seems too big to fit to the body. Last year another body attributed to an Aphrodite was found (Field Notes 2003, Roman Baths, August 10-16), so that next to the two Eros statues, there were also two representations of Aphrodite, with slightly different dimensions, carved by the same workshop.

Other sculpture finds from the Frigidarium 2 included three plinths, which according to the dimensions of the preserved feet, carried statuettes with a height between 0.40 m and 0.70, which were considerably smaller than the Eros and Aphrodite statues. There are no certain indications as to their identity, but the fragment of a lyre suggests that one of them represented Apollo.

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