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Museum of Classical Archaeology Databases

Sporting Reliefs

These six low reliefs are thought to be from the base of a funerary statue, presumably in memory of an athlete or sportsman. They show a cat and dog-fight, wrestling, a ball-throwing game (pictured), hockey, and chariots and soldiers.

One of the figures watching the wrestling scene has a foreshortened foot. This, and similar feet on Greek vases of the same period are the first examples in Western art of such foreshortening and represent an artistic breakthrough. Before this, the human body was only shown frontally or in profile.

This memorial to a sportsman did not survive long before being demolished by the Persian invasion of 480 BCE; these reliefs were found built into a large fortification in Athens known as the Themistoclean Wall constructed immediately after the Persian War. The wall re-used many sculptures from the nearby cemetery as building blocks, including these

Location of Original: 

Athens, National Museum 3476


Purchased in 1924


Lippold: Griechische Plastik, 85 & pl.28
Philadelpheus, A: Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique XLVI (1922), 1-
Philadelpheus, A: Journal of Hellenic Studies XLII (1922), pl. 6
Stewart: Greek Sculpture, 122, pls. 138-141
Richter: Ancient Italy, 4
Papaspiridi: Guide du Musée Nationale d’Athènes (1927), 40-

c.500 BCE

Found built into a large fortification in Athens known as the Themistoclean Wall constructed immediately after the Persian War

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