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  • R. E. Wycherley


One might give as sub-title ‘Attic Marble: Science and Common Sense’. The names by which Greek marbles are usually known have been gravely questioned in recent years. In a very important article in the Annual for 1968, Mr. Colin Renfrew and Mr. J. Springer Peacey emphasized the need for more scientific research and further development of new methods before one could safely attach the common labels—‘Pentelic’, ‘Hymettan,’ ‘Parian,’ ‘Naxian,’ or ‘Island’. ‘Most of the attributions hitherto made’, they said, ‘and hence the various observations based on them, are not well founded’; and later, ‘If “Hymettan” merely means “finegrained grey”, and “Naxian” simply “coarse-grained white” there seems little point in using the geographic terms. Such a usage denies the hope that the origin of the various marble used for Greek sculpture may one day be better understood.’



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1 ‘Aegean Marble: a Petrological Study’, BSA lxiii (1968) 45 ff.; cf. Ashmole, B., BSA lxv (1970) 12. Norman Herz and W. Kendrick Pritchett dealt with the difficulties of nomenclature of marbles in epigraphy in AJA lvii (1953) 71–83. Evelyn Harrison raises the question in the Preface to The Athenian Agora, xi, Archaic and Archaistic Sculpture (Princeton 1965), and retains the use of ‘Pentelic’ and ‘Hymettian’, with due caution (needed especially where Archaic work is concerned).

2 IG ii2. 1665, lines 5–8; this stone is generally thought to be conglomerate (though it has been suggested that it is Kara limestone); see Martin, R., Manuel d'architecture grecque i (Paris 1965) 114, 129. I give references here only for the less common stones; see further Martin, op. cit. 117, 120, 129–31.

3 IG i2. 336, line 7.

4 IG ii2. 1665, line 25; cf. Pausanias, i. 44. 6.

5 See Herz, Norman, ‘Geology of the Building Stones of Ancient Greece’, Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, xvii (1955) 499–5.

6 IG ii2. 1666, lines 8, 16, 24–5.

7 IG ii2 1672, lines 21, 48, 52; Martin, op. cit. 114–15.

8 See Stanier, R. S., ‘The Cost of the Parthenon’, JHS lxxiii (1953) 6874; Burford, Alison, ‘The Builders of the Parthenon’, Greece and Rome, Supplement to vol. x, 2335.

9 Carpenter, Rhys, The Architects of the Parthenon (Penguin, 1970).

10 Martin, op. cit. 164–72.

11 IG i2. 363, line 46.

12 IG ii2. 1673, line 21.

13 IG i2. 348 ff.

14 And for some architectural details in the upper parts: Morgan, C. H., Hesperia xxxi (1962) 211 ff., 221 ff.; xxxii (1963) 91 ff. (n.b. 108).

15 IG i2. 363, lines 35, 46.

16 IG i2. 373 and 374.

17 Dinsmoor, W. B., The Architecture of Ancient Greece (London and New York, 1950) 180–2; Hodge, A. T. and Tomlinson, R. A., AJA lxxiii (1969) 185–92.

18 ‘Greek Marbles, Determination of Provenance by Isotopic Analysis’, Science clxxvi (28 April 1972) (Professor N. Herz kindly sent me a copy of this).

19 Lines A35, 49, 65, 83, 97, B18; aspilos does not mean that the blocks must be delivered free from superficial stains (these would disappear in the final trimming), but free from disfiguring blemishes in the stone. Cf. Pliny, xxxvi. 44, ‘non fuisse tum auctoritatem maculoso marmori’.

20 McAllister, M. H., Hesperia xxviii (1959) 2; cf. Lepsius, R., Geologie von Attika (Berlin, 1863) 18, for such marble on Pentelikon.

21 Thompson, H. A. and Wycherley, R. E., The Agora of Athens (Princeton, 1972) 165.

22 Ibid. 166, 167.

23 See R. Lepsius, op. cit., Taf. i.

24 Shoe, Lucy, ‘Dark Stone in Greek Architecture’, Hesperia Suppl. viii (1949) 341–52; cf. Thompson, H. A., Hesperia vi (1937) 46–7.

25 IG ii2. 1668, lines 32–3, 59–60.

26 Thompson and Wycherley, op. cit. 37–8, 104.

27 Ibid. 109; IG ii2 1685 lines B2 2–3, B4 3.


  • R. E. Wycherley


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