Grave Naiskos of Apollonia

Unknownabout 100 B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

A young girl stands within a naiskos or shallow three-sided structure on this Athenian grave monument. The inscription at the top identifies her as Apollonia, the daughter of Aristandros and Thebageneia. She wears a dress fastened by a round button at the right shoulder and belted above the waist, with a cloak over her left shoulder and platform sandals. Her hair hangs at chin length, with a braid down the center part. These features help to date the monument to about 100 B.C.

Originally, the whole relief would have been enlivened with polychromy, and traces of red paint are visible on Apollonia’s sandals. There are four holes near the top of the grave monument, two above the columns, and two in the upper corners of the field. These would have been used to hang funerary wreaths, and one of the holes still holds part of an iron peg. The bottom of the naiskos under Apollonia's feet was left rough to be embedded in a base.

Apollonia holds a pomegranate and reaches up to stroke a dove perched on a tall pillar. The pomegranate had a long history as funerary symbol for the ancient Greeks. In mythology, after being kidnapped by Hades, Persephone had to remain in the underworld for part of the year because she had consumed a pomegranate seed. Birds frequently appear with little girls in funerary sculpture, possibly as a sentimental reference to a favorite pet, or perhaps with a deeper symbolic meaning related to the correlation of the soul with a bird in Greek thought.


  • Title: Grave Naiskos of Apollonia
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: about 100 B.C.
  • Location Created: Greece
  • Physical Dimensions: 112.4 × 63.5 × 20 cm, 308.4 kg (44 1/4 × 25 × 7 7/8 in., 680 lb.)
  • Type: Relief
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Marble with polychromy
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 74.AA.13
  • Culture: Greek
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown
  • Classification: Sculpture (Visual Works)

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