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Siphnian Treasury South Frieze, chariot team approaching altar

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Siphnian Treasury South Frieze, left center of frieze

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Siphnian Treasury South Frieze, detail of altar

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Siphnian Treasury South Frieze, woman carried off on chariot

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Siphnian Treasury South Frieze, detail of left chariot

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Siphnian Treasury South Frieze, right end of frieze

Collection: Delphi Archaeological Museum
Title: South Frieze of the Siphnian Treasury
Context: From Delphi
Findspot: Excavated at Delphi
Summary: Rape scene, possibly of the Leukippidai
Material: Marble
Sculpture Type: Architectural
Category: Statuary group
Placement: South frieze
Style: High Archaic
Technique: High relief
Original or Copy: Original
Date: 530 BC - 525 BC
Dimensions: H. 0.64 m, L. 8.60 m
Scale: Under life-size
Region: Phocis
Period: High Archaic
In Group: Delphi, Siphnian Treasury sculpture

Subject Description:

Significant portions of the South Frieze are missing, making identification of the subject difficult. Four major fragments preserve two pairs of horses, two nude riders (each with a spare horse?), a quadriga with chariot approaching an altar, a second quadriga and a second chariot. The pair of horses at the right end of the scene walk; others appear to move at a faster pace. The significance of the altar is unclear. Because one of the fragments depicts a woman carried off, the subject is often thought to be a rape scene, perhaps that of the daughters of Leukippos by the Dioskouroi.

Form & Style:

The west and south friezes of the Siphnian Treasury are clearly the work of one sculptor's workshop, though there is no inscription which confirms this, as in the case of the north and east sides. The style reflects the fully developed Ripe Archaic tradition. Compositionally each side is divided into distinct units. These consist of relatively few figures in conjunction with chariots and teams of horses, widely spaced with open areas in between. The spaces would have appeared less open in antiquity with the addition of painted details such as reins. However, the effect would still be one of a procession passing in front of a solid wall. The chariot teams provide the greatest sense of depth, with the horses massed one in front of the other, each carved in a slightly more recessive plane. The heavy reliance on the profile view, however, greatly limits any real sense of depth. The modeling is very shallow, though quite subtle in detail, with the attention to surface pattern — e.g, the treatment of the manes and tails of the horses — characteristic of earlier archaic sculpture. The clothing and heads (especially "Aphrodite" on the west side) suggest the same sculptor was responsible for the Caryatids on the building's front. The oval shapes of the faces look particularly East Greek, although connections between the Cyclades and Ionia were so strong that it is difficult to speak with confidence of the sculptor's homeland. Ridgway points to certain iconographic details, such as the winged horses of Athena, and to the processional quality of the compositions, as additional clues which suggest an East Greek heritage.

Date Description: See Delphi, Siphnian Treasury sculpture

Condition: Fragmentary

Condition Description: A significant portion of the South Frieze is missing. Four large fragments preserve the full height of the slabs, including the right end of the South Frieze, with the return of the East Frieze. Several smaller fragments are also extant. The slabs are particularly battered along the top edge. All but one of the heads is lost.

Associated Building: Delphi, Treasury of the Siphnians (IV)

Sources Used: GuideDelphMu 1991; Stewart 1990, 128f.; Hurwit 1985, 295 ff.; Watrous 1982; Boardman 1978a, 158; Ridgway 1977, 269 ff. and elsewhere; Robertson 1975, 152 ff.; FdDelph 4.2, 57-171