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Archaic grave columns – ancient reality or a modern myth?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Classical Archaeology and Ancient History.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1769-4128
2022 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Grave columns and pillars are often mentioned in older research publication as a phenomenon of the Archaic period. The Archaic grave columns has been claimed to be Doric, mainly dated in the 6th century BC and used in the entire Greek world. They were a status symbol, used by the rich to symbolize the funerary games, show off a prize standing on top of it or to associate the deceased with the heroes of the past. When examining these statements closer, one realizes that these assumptions are made on a very small number of excavated funerary columns and few researchers have made a comparison of the published Archaic grave columns. Architectural or freestanding columns are by no means common prior to 500 BC, even if this is the century when they are exploding in numbers. The larger part of all columns in the Archaic period were constructed in sanctuaries, but grave columns seem to be a relatively rare phenomenon. 

Smaller grave columns, often defined as pillars or cippis in modern publications, were much more common. They were used from the Geometric period and onwards, but got a large upswing in numbers during the Hellenistic period. Most of these lack inscriptions, especially from the earlier periods. They design varies much, they can be entirely undecorated and quite roughly cut or highly polished with relief decorations, but they seldom include a proper capital as a column should. The main question is therefore if there has been a shift in definition of a grave column between the 19th and early 20th century scholars and modern studies, or if the hypothesis of an Archaic column is yet another myth base on a few randomly excavated examples? Were freestanding columns really used more commonly as funerary markers during the Archaic period? 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2022.
Keywords [en]
Grave columns
National Category
Classical Archaeology and Ancient History
Research subject
Classical Archaeology and Ancient History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-213470OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-213470DiVA, id: diva2:1724148
Conference
Death in Transition: New archaeological perspectives on burial practices and societal change, Stockholm, Sweden, September 22-23, 2022
Projects
Lokal användning av polygonala kolonner i grekisk arkitektur – en stilistisk, ekonomisk eller politisk stil?
Funder
Anna Ahlströms och Ellen Terserus stiftelseAvailable from: 2023-01-05 Created: 2023-01-05 Last updated: 2023-01-26Bibliographically approved

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Emanuelsson-Paulson, Therese

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