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|Reliefs on two pedestals at the top of Kuretes Street, Ephesus|
|The two matching pedestals (bases for statues or pillars?) flank the steep street as it descends westwards from the Upper State Agora to Kuretes Street and on towards the Library of Celsus (see a photo of the location below).
Each pedestal is decorated on the side facing the street with a bas-relief of a tripod, between the lion-claw feet of which is the omphalos, the navel of the world, indicating that it belongs to the Delphic oracle of Apollo (see photo below), the twin brother of Artemis, the patron deity of Ephesus.
Over the central leg of the tripod is a winged figure with sickle-shaped wings, holding animals in its outstretched arms. The figure is badly worn and difficult see, but it appears to be a depiction of the Mistress of Animals (Potnia Theron), a deity associated with Artemis.
The downhill (west) side of each pedestal is decorated with a bas-relief of Hermes leading an animal: the relief on the north side of the street (left as you go up, see photo below) shows him walking to the right with a male goat, and on the south side he walks to the left with a ram. The images of the god are mirrored so that they face each other and the street.
On both reliefs the messenger god is depicted as a naked, athletic youth with winged sandals. In one hand he holds a winged kerykeion (caduceus), his trademark staff or wand entwined with two snakes, which he used to induce sleep and healing. With his other hand he pulls along the reluctant-looking animal by the head. Behind him is an altar with a phiale (libation bowl) on top, indicating that the image is concerned with a sacrifice, perhaps to Apollo.
The reliefs may refer to the healing god Asklepios, Apollo's son, and have been associated with an Asklepion or healing centre thought to have been located nearby. Alternatively, they may have been connected with the adjacent Prytaneion, or the Upper Agora.
The pedestals have been dated to somewhere between the 1st and 4th centuries AD (according to one source circa 3rd century AD), which is rather vague, and little seems to have been published about them. On one hand it is wonderful to see them on the street in Ephesus, but strange that they have been left here and not sheltered in the museum.
The omphalos between the feet
of the tripod of the pedestal
on the north side of the street.
The Mistress of Animals on
the north pedestal tripod.
The better preserved of the
Hermes reliefs, on the pedestal
on the south side of the street.
Looking up the street eastwards to the Upper Agora
and the upper entrance of the archaeological site.
The step on which the pedestals stand marks the start of Kuretes Street (foreground)
and the boundary of the upper part of the town which contains the Upper State Agora,
the Bouleuterion (meeting place of the city council) in the Odeion, the Prytaneion,
the Stoa Basilica and other official buildings.
The area of the Prytaneion and asscociated buildings is on the left, and the enormous
foundations of the Upper Agora are on the right. The steep slope and the uneven,
irregular paving slabs makes going difficult, though not impossible, for wheelchair users.
The tripod relief on the pedestal on the south side of Kuretes Street.
On this relief a snake (python), writhes up from the omphalos
to below the bowl, with its head to the right of the central leg.
The relief of Hermes with a ram on the south pedestal on Kuretes Street.
The relief of Hermes with a male goat on the north pedestal on Kuretes Street.
Herakles (Hercules, left) steals the tripod from Apollo's temple
in Delphi, with Apollo in hot pursuit.
Fragment of an Archaistic marble relief on a round building element,
perhaps a puteal (well head). End of the 1st century BC - beginning
of the 1st century AD. Said to be from Cumae (Italy).
Antikensammlung SMB, Berlin (Pergamon Museum). Inv. No. Sk 894.
From the Bartholdy Collection, Rome. Height 60 cm, width 56 cm, depth 36 cm.
|Map, photos and articles: © David John
Additional photos: © Konstanze Gundudis
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have been attributed where applicable.
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Higher resolution versions are available on request.
Some of the information and photos in this guide to Ephesus
originally appeared in 2004 on davidjohnberlin.de.
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