The Antikythera Ephebe


The Antikythera Ephebe is a bronze statue of a young man discovered in a 1st century BC shipwreck in 1900 by sponge-divers off Antikythera, Greece.  If Antikythera sounds familiar, it is associated with the Antikythera Mechanism (an astronomical calculating device) which was also in the same wreck.

During Restoration

The bigger-than-life-size (over six feet) statue was badly damaged (as in multiple small fragments) when it was salvaged.  A recent restoration corrected some of the errors made in the first restoration in the 1950s.  The statue was likely produced in Peloponnesa (the south of Greece) in the 4th century BC.  The statue is posed holding something in his right hand.  Since there is no context, archaeologists can’t determine its identity.  Possibilities include Paris presenting the apple to Aphrodite after the Judgment of Paris, Hercules holding the apple of Hesperides, or Perseus holding the Gorgon’s Head.  The statue is displayed at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Next week, more on the Antikythera Mechanism.    Rita Bay


7 Responses

  1. The love of antiquities (and combination of knowledge of metals and artistic skill) these restorations require is beyond my imagination. I’m grateful there are persons capable of such dedication.

    I’m also grateful you share your vast knowledge with us, Rita. I always come away with renewed interest in history and heritage. Thank you!

    PS (And I sure would like to meet a few of the models! lol)

    • THank you, Runere, It’s age, though, not dedication-been interested since elementary school. Have actually been on a dig in Italy–talk about dedication. THose folks live in primitive circumstances subject to the weather and the food is AWFUL. PS still praying for your hubby’s health. RB
      ps The models would be a bit old for you.

  2. It reminds me of David.

    It’s such a shame that so many fine pieces of art have been lost over the years.

    • Dead on, Ciara. Cellini did a gorgeous David in bronze holding up Goliath’s head in one hand and his sword in another, Maybe I’ll do them both next week. The contrast of MIchelangelo’s David looking towards an unncertain future as he goes itno battle with a victroious David is remarkable.
      Most ancient statues were of types that were reproduced either exactly or “in the style of.” This week’s hunk, though, is unusual because it is NOT seen elsewhere.
      On a positive note, many statues underground and at the bottom of the sea were preserved from destruction by barbarian hordes, Chrisitian/Muslim hardliners, or weather/earthquakes. Best ex-Pompeii/Herculaneum. RB

      • The statue that Bernini did of David is quite different. He’s really getting ready to hurl that rock and the effort in his face is evident. He’s not as pretty as Michelangelo’s David either, but I somehow like him better.

  3. Great photos and interesting suppositions about what he had in his hand.

    • Beautiful bronze but the aracheologists don’t really have a clue who the statue represents. He doesn’t wear or carry anything that could be identified with a particular god or hero. The shipwreck location also doesn’t allow for identification from the context of the find. Michelangel’s David is not so dynamic as Cellini’s but the set of sculpture’s in the hallway leading up to David are unvelievable. They’re called “Prisoners” The stone actually looks as though bodies are striving to emerge from the stone. Can’t find a pic to share because the museum won’t allow pics. Ashame. RB

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