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Temple Pendant with the Head of Athena Parthenos

First half of the 4th century BC

Gold, enamel

This gold filigree temple pendant, part of a woman's head-dress, was found in the Kul Oba burial mound, and is of unique artistic and historical significance. In composition and style it belongs to a type of article widespread amongst the Bosphoran nobility in the 4th century BC. The medallion, which has a delicate network of minute interwoven chains attached to it, is decorated with miniature discs, rosettes and pendant buds, and a relief representation of three Sphinxes and the head of Athena clad in a sumptuous helmet. According to Pausanias, just such a helmet adorned the head of the Athena Parthenos, the great sculpture made by the renowned Phidias for the Parthenon in Athens. The colossal wooden statue, covered with gold and ivory, has been lost, and only Roman marble copies have survived. This medallion relief was undoubtedly inspired by the original, which the artist must have seen himself, and is the earliest and most perfect reproduction of the famous sculpture.

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