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English / USA Language: English / USA

The Caryatids are the six female statues that supported the roof of the Erechtheion, another temple dedicated to Athena; they were the columns of one of the porticos. In the museum you can see just five of them, because the sixth is still in the British Museum. They date to 420 BC, and may have been crafted by the famous sculptor Alkamenes, a pupil of Phidias. They are wearing loose garments, with folds reminiscent of the flutes of the columns, and the baskets on their heads form the capitals. Below them was the tomb of Kekrops, a legendary king of Athens. The name Caryatids was attributed to the columns later; as we can see from an inscription on the temple, they were originally called “Korai”, or maidens. There are several explanations for the name: one theory is that it refers to the inhabitants of the ancient Greek city of Karya, enslaved by the Greeks because they had helped their Persian enemies; another theory is that they were chosen because they were talented dancers and singers.

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