Berlin Goddess, upper torso and head from right

Berlin Goddess, torso in frontal view

Berlin Goddess, torso in right profile

Berlin Goddess, lower legs and feet

Berlin Goddess, back of torso

Berlin Goddess, legs from left

Collection: Berlin, Antikenmuseen
Title: Berlin Goddess
Context: From Attica
Findspot: Found at Keratea
Summary: Female statue with polos and pomegranate
Material: Marble
Sculpture Type: Free-standing statue: kore
Category: Single monument
Style: High Archaic
Technique: In-the-round
Original or Copy: Original
Date: ca. 570 BC - ca. 560 BC
Dimensions: H. with plinth 1.93 m, H. plinth ca. 0.10 m, H. face 0.20 m, W. shoulders 0.55 m
Scale: Over life-size
Region: Attica
Period: High Archaic


Subject Description:

This female figure wears an epiblema, or rectangular shawl, with tassels at the corners, over a sleeved, belted peplos. She stands in a frontal pose with her feet parallel, and both arms bent. With her right hand she holds a pomegranate--a fruit with funerary associations--in front of her right hip. She holds her left hand reverently in front of her chest. Her feet, shod in high-soled sandals, emerge from beneath arch-like openings at the hem of her skirt.

The hair of the so-called 'Berlin Goddess' is arranged in scallopped waves over the crown and forehead, and is tied behind the ears with a double-fillet, from which it falls in herringbone waves to just below the neck, where it is fastened in a cylindrical element around which parallel lines are incised. She also wears a polos, or cylindrical crown--a traditional headdress of fertility goddesses in the Near East and Greece--which is decorated with incised maeanders and lotus buds. She is also adorned with jewelry: a necklace and matching earrings, decorated with bud-like pendants, and a spiral bracelet on her left wrist.

Condition: Complete

Condition Description: This statue is complete, as it was found wrapped in lead, presumably as a form of protection in antiquity. The surface in in good condition, but slightly chipped. Traces of red, yellow, and blue pigment are discernible.

Material Description: White marble w/ blue-grey streaks (Attic, according to Blümel

Collection History: Acquired by the museum from the art market in 1924.

Other Notes: The pomegranate may be a gift to a deity (in which case this statue might be a votive monument), or merely a funerary indicator. If this statue does represent a deity--as suggested by the polos, as well as the statue's otherwise unsubstantiated nick-name, 'Berlin Goddess'--then the inclusion of the pomegranate would conspire to indicate that it represents Persephone, the daughter of the grain goddess Demeter, and the wife of the underworld god, Hades.

Sources Used: Boardman 1978a, fig. 108; Richter 1968, 39-40 no. 42, figs. 139-46; Alscher 1954-63, 697 ff.; Blümel 1964, no. 1 (with full bibliography)

Other Bibliography: Lullies & Hirmer 1979, 39, pls. 18-21; Lippold 1950, 37 f., pl.10.2; E. Buschor, AthMitt 52 (1927) 212