Ivory plaque showing Aristaios


British Museum

British Museum

Aristaios was a minor Greek deity particularly connected with agricultural pursuits. He was credited with the discovery of how to make olive oil and keep bees for honey, and also associated with the care of sheep and with hunting. He is rarely depicted in art, but where he does appear, he is often bearded and winged, as in this fine ivory plaque carved in relief. He carries a deep bag in his right hand, and probably held an agricultural implement of some sort in his left. The relief is in the style of Spartan ivory carvings, and though the exact circumstances and location of its discovery are not known, it is possible that the plaque comes from the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia at Sparta.

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  • Title: Ivory plaque showing Aristaios
  • Date Created: -650/-600
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 5.08cm; Width: 2.54cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: carved
  • Subject: classical mythology; mythical figure/creature
  • Registration number: 1954,0910.1
  • Production place: Made in Laconia
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia
  • Period/culture: Orientalising Period
  • Material: ivory
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Spiro, Peter