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THE EXHIBIT

Agia Pelagia. 450-425 BC

Towards the end of the 6th century BC, relief funerary stelae appeared on Crete. These are flat stone slabs used as grave markers, on the pattern of the Attic stelae. This marble funerary stele of a young archer is crowned with a pediment and plain acroteria at the upper corners. A naked youth, obviously the deceased, is depicted in high relief, head slightly bowed. His face is stern, with an expression of restrained sorrow. On his back is slung a quiver hung from leather straps, originally rendered in paint which has worn away. The quiver lid is closed, symbolically inactivated by death. The idealised depiction of the deceased youth as an archer, either a hunter or a warrior, is obviously intended to highlight his courage and virtue. Beyond its aesthetic value, this stele is a significant find because there are relatively few examples of Classical sculpture of the 5th and 4th centuries in Crete. They are mainly reliefs and funerary stelae with Attic and Cycladic influences, like this portrait of the young archer.
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