Egypt Exploration Society
Greek Sculpture in Ptolemaic EgyptAuthor(s): A. W. LawrenceSource: The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 11, No. 3/4 (Oct., 1925), pp. 179-190Published by: Egypt Exploration SocietyStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3854139Accessed: 08/12/2009 08:39
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GREEK SCULPTURE IN PTOLEMAIC EGYPT
BY A. W. LAWRENCE
With Plates XVIII-XXIV.
It has been said that an Alexandrian School existed with ideals markedly different from those of the rest of the Hellenistic world'. This question must be settled if the
development of Hellenistic sculpture is to be traced; I have therefore collected what
1 It might be useful to give references here to a few recent publications of importance for the general study of Graeco-Egyptian art (and indirectly of the sculpture), as Wace's summary is no longer adequate (B.S.A., ix, 1902-3,211-242). Pagenstecher has produced a theory (Landschaftl. Relief, Sitz. Heidelb. Akad., Phil.-hist. Klasse, 1919, 1 Abh.) that there were Alexandrian stucco originals behind the Roman bucolic reliefs whilst the heroic-mythological reliefs began in Asia at the same period. He himself notes the com- plete absence in the reliefs of anything reminiscent of Egypt, and although the stuccoes might all have perished yet landscape elements should appear in other Alexandrian work, and he can find nothing of the sort except a few imperial terracottas showing apes and negroes climbing palm-trees. Sieveking's idea (text to BR.-BR., 621-630, Postscript) that the bucolic scenes are merely later than the mythological seems to me therefore to hold good till further notice. (See also PFUHL, Jahrb., xx, 15, 154). The so-called Alexandrian Grotesques have been dealt with by WAGE (B.S.A., x, 1903-4, 103), and by SIEVEKING (Terrakotten der Samml. Loeb, text to P1. 86) who attributes them to Asia Minor; Pagenstecher's view (Landschaftl. eel., 39), that they were made everywhere, is more plausible. University College, London, possesses a number of terracotta heads representing men of various nationalities from the foreign quarter of Memphis (PETRIE, Memphis, I, 15, Pls. XXXV-XLIV; Palace of Apries, 16, Pls. XXVII-XXXIV). The early date proposed for them is obviously incorrect and it is probable that all are Hellenistic; some certainly are (e.g., Memphis, I, Pls. XLII, nos. 57-60, XLIII, nos. 61-67 ; Palace, Pls. XXX, nos. 95-97, XXXI, nos. 98, 102, 105, 106). The Greek vases found with them (Memphis, I, P1. XLVI, nos. 5, 6) and the satyr mask (ibid., P1. XLIX) confirm this dating. The majority of the so-called Graeco-Egyptian terracottas are known to belong to Roman times although some few may be Hellenistic (VALD. SCHMIDT, Graesk-Aegyptiske Terrakotter; WEBER, Ag.-gr. Terrakotten; K. M. Kaufmann's catalogue of the Frankfort Ag. Terrakotten was repub- lished in 1915 under the title Ag. Koroplastik). The genuine Hellenistic terracotta is quite different, e.g., some from Alexandria, Bull. Societe' dAlex., no. 9 (2II), 58; the one on the top of an urn (Fig. 17) was found with other urns which bore inscriptions of an early Ptolemy, probably Ptolemy III.
In ceramics Alexandria seems to have had a good record, as might have been expected from what is known of the luxury of the city (COURBY, Vases d reliefs; BRECCIA, Alexandrea ad Aegyptum). The inscribed Hadra vases date between 284 and 249 (POMTOW, Berliner philolog. Wochenschrift, 1910, 1094, correcting Pagenstecher's publication of them, A.J.A.2, xiiI, 1909, 387). It is surprising that Graeco- Egyptian jewelry was not of finer quality (cf. Guide du Musee du Caire, 1915, 438, a deserved condemnation); a few portrait-gems have been identified as Ptolemies or their queens (FURTWINGLER, Ant. Gemmen, Pis. XXXI, no. 29; XXXII, nos. 10, 15, 16, 22, 31, 36; LXI, no. 47), and the Tazza Farnese in Naples seems to be second-century work done for the Egyptian market (op. cit., LIV-LV).
The Sieglin excavations at Alexandria furnished Pagenstecher with the material for his researches into the source of the Pompeian mural decorations. (Alex. Studien, Sitz. Heidelb. Akad., Phil.-hist. Kl., 1917, 12 Abh., 20; and the later book Nekropolis.) His opinion is that the First Pompeian Style originated in Alex- andria but spread quickly and became universal, but that there is no justification for seeing any Alexandrian influence in the subsequent styles: the Second Style does not begin (in Rome and Pompei) till the time of
180 A. W. LAWRENCE
remains of Graeco-Egyptian work in the round, and I wish people to look at the collection and see that it is badl.
In this paper I deal only with objects reputed to have been found in Egypt, and for the
majority of the more remarkable ones an Egyptian provenance can be guaranteed. Collec- tions of Hellenistic work from the country may be seen in the museums of Alexandria, Cairo and Dresden, and in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. Most pieces are small and
obviously of careless execution, which bears out Brunn's remark that one might as well
expect to find a school of skating as a school of sculpture in a place like Alexandria where there is no good stone within reach. Schreiber's theory after all is comparatively new and
certainly original; as Cultrera2 puts it," the general opinion before Schreiber wrote was that Alexandria really had no art of sculpture, and we shall probably have to return to this old
opinion." There is an argument on the other side to account for the paucity of the material from
Alexandria itself: the land has subsided, some of the finest portions of the Ptolemaic city are now beneath the sea and the rest of it is so deep down below the modern town that not
Sulla and meanwhile the Hellenic graves of Alexandria had become Egyptianized. Ippel disputes this view (Bronzefund von GaljAb, 87), but the pettiness of the available material speaks for it.
Some painted stelae of early Ptolemaic period are given in Nekropolis, 32; Alex. Studien, P1. I, and A. J. REINACH, Galates dans l'art alex., Mon. Piot, xvIII, 1910, 37.
A valuable find (at Memphis) was that of a large number of plaster-casts taken apparently from silver originals of various schools and dates within the limits of 350 and 220 B.C. One piece bears the signature of an artist Epimachus, the handwriting of which is ascribed to the first half of the third century; it and a possible portrait of Ptolemy III indicate the time at which the casts were made (Arch. Anz., 1907, 357; RUBENBOHN, Hellenist. Silbergerdt in Gipsabgiissen; some later finds are included in Denkm. d. Pelizaeus Mus., 140). The Berlin Museum has acquired two fine silver plates from Hermopolis with medallion heads of Heracles and a Maenad (PERNICE, Hellenist. Silbergefasse, 58 Winck. Berlin; he quotes, p. 22, an
interesting description by Aristeas of a Ptolemaic dedication at Jerusalem). One may also note a badly- corroded silver cup from the Delta with Bacchic scenes in relief, Hellenistic according to PAGENSTECHER (Arch. Anz., 1907,358 and Figs. 3,4). The Budapest Museum has two examples of gold- and silver-inlay, a hydria with a frieze of Egyptian deities and a pan with a crocodile and hippopotamus fighting in a swamp that is full of plants and birds. They were found at Egyed in Hungary, but Hekler and von Bissing date them to the middle of the third century B.C. (Jahres., xxiv, 1909, 28,40, Pls. III, IV). Egyptian deities were of course still used for decorative effect during the Empire, e.g., on a glass sherd from Germany in the Karlsruhe Mus. (Der ober-germ.-rdtis. Limes, 39, 18 ; Germania romana, 86, no. 5).
The Greek moulds so common in Egypt mostly belong to early Roman times, but Edgar notes one which shows a fashion of hair-dressing that occurs on coins of the last Cleopatra (Jahres., Ix, 1906,27). I mention them here because a large proportion of the Pelizaeus collection has been rashly attributed to the Hellenistic period (RUBENSOHN, op. it., 10; Dem. Pel. , 149). A recent visit to Hildesheim convinced me that the majority were demonstrably of imperial age; a very few pieces might possibly be earlier, but none could be definitely proved to be so. The moulds were reported to have come from the same group of ruined houses as the casts, but as they were the product of the oriental looting, no reliable information is available: in any case the view that they must be of