Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Helle Hochscheid, Networks of Stone: Sculpture and Society in Archaic and Classical Athens. Cultural interactions: studies in the relationship between the arts, 35. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2015. Pp. xviii, 506. ISBN 9783034309929. $97.95.

Reviewed by Carol C. Mattusch, George Mason University (mattusch@gmu.edu)

Version at BMCR home site

Networks of Stone is about sixth- and fifth-century-BC stone votive and funerary dedications from the city of Athens. Hochscheid's aim is to uncover the workings of the "art world" of Archaic and fifth-century Athens through the paired study of monuments and texts (p. 24). Because the evidence is uneven, and the literary testimonia tend to take the form of inscriptions on the monuments, the author draws upon additional types of monuments and materials as well, and a wider chronological range than the sixth and fifth centuries.

"Introduction: Athenian sculpture in context" (ch. 1, pp. 1-24) begins with a case-study of a late sixth-century-BC base from the Athenian Akropolis with an inscription stating that Telesinos of Kettos has dedicated a statue to Athena, and that he would like to dedicate another one. The dedicator "was reasonably wealthy - the statue was not large, but it was cast in bronze and set up on a column" (p. 2). Readers need to attend closely to footnote 1 (p. 1) where Hochscheid introduces the Appendix as the repository for supporting evidence, along with PDFs from a database HelleHochscheid for her full records, citations, and notes. From the Appendix we learn what remains of the dedication: Akr. 6505 is an unfluted Pentelic marble votive column, dated 525-500 BC, found built into the NE corner of the N wall of the Akropolis and published as IG I3 728; the dedication was a "Statue (br. Athena Promachos?)" dedicated to Athena Parthenos (p. 453). There is no description of the base, though its capital and the tops of a few letters of the inscription on the column itself are illustrated in Plate 1. Readers will see a metal base-plate that appears to have traces of attachments for two bronze feet, which could help to reconstruct the original size of the figure, but not whom it represented: the reason for the identification is not given. No measurements are listed for this or any other monument. A thorough description would also have strengthened the discussion. After the case-study, the author asks how a buyer chose an artist/sculptor/bronze caster, what the role of that individual was, how the type of monument and medium were chosen, and what the motivations of the dedicator were. There is not enough evidence to answer these questions.

Hochscheid focuses upon "the socio-productional context of a work of art" (p. 7). She divides the sixth and fifth centuries into eight 25- year segments, accepting dates assigned by other scholars, noting difficulties with some of those dates (see, e.g., the Kritios boy, whose number, Akr. 698, is confused with that of the Blond boy in the database). Only bases with dowel-holes for attachment and datable inscriptions are included; she plans to omit bronzes because so few survive, although this was the subject of the case-study with which she began the chapter (pp. 17-18), and bronzes appear frequently throughout the text. Finally, the author notes that wars during the sixth and fifth centuries affected production, trade, economics, patronage, politics, social reforms, and the nature (and surely also the numbers?) of monuments.

In Chapter 2, "A city of statues" (pp. 25-92), Hochscheid summarizes the evidence: 338 marble votive sculptures, 562 bases for votives, 175 grave sculptures, and 216 bases for grave sculptures; a total of 513 sculptures and 288 bases for grave sculptures (see Table 2.1). The information is unwieldy, and most of it, along with citations of modern scholars, is relegated to footnotes and the database.

Major findspots are the Akropolis, the Kerameikos, and the Agora. Most of the bases for votives date between 525 and 475; the author asks how this evidence "reflects sculpture practices… In a body of evidence like the current one, many variables may have caused the data to look like (sic) they do, of which preservation is only one, although admittedly important" (p. 26). Even so, "The trend in extant sculpture may to some degree represent actual production rates" (p. 29). There may be problems with "the two stylistic chronologies of sculpture and epigraphy" (p. 32), but only five discrepancies in dates are noted between marble votives and the bases to which they are still attached (pp. 34-35). Three times as many funerary monuments survive from the last quarter of the fifth century as from any earlier quarter.

Votives come mainly from the Akropolis, the Asklepieion, and the Agora, gravestones from the Kerameikos and elsewhere; readers will notice that the areas with more finds are those that have been more fully excavated. Earlier Akropolis votives were terracotta or bronze, presumably small, whereas marbles increase in numbers during the later sixth century, as do large bronzes and terracottas. The author might have considered correlating growth in wealth with these larger marble votives: perhaps there are more bases for bronzes than for marbles after the Persian wars because bronzes cost less. Following fn. 93 to the Appendix, readers find which type of votive a base supported, but not the criteria whereby the author drew that conclusion.

The author depends primarily upon numbers. Most funerary monuments from the late fifth century come not from the Kerameikos (21 examples) but from "Athens Other" (49 examples). Fewer than 20% of all the bases are for grave markers (42 versus 246 for marble and bronze votives). Many sculptures were built into the Themistoklean wall because of the need for building material. Burials were not permitted in the Agora, and yet 24 grave stelai were found there (pp. 78-79), but all in later contexts.

Chapter 3, "Choices in marble" (pp. 93-156), stresses the value of the marble quarries on Naxos and Paros to those who controlled them during the sixth and fifth centuries. First the data: 115 votives (34%) are Attic marble, 172 (51%) are island marble; 89 of the gravestones are Attic marble, 29 are island marble. There is more variety in the stones used for funerary monuments and their bases, but the reasons for this are not clear (pp. 113-116). Marble analysis is discussed at length, as is the advantage of using visual alongside scientific analysis (pp. 99-104). Tables help illuminate the discussion, but use of "Island," "island," and "Insular" marble is confusing.

Who chose the stone, patrons or sculptors? Although she makes wide-ranging observations around that general question, the author's conclusion is not clear. Quarrying techniques evolved over time (pp. 117-120). Mines needed skilled foremen, but miners could be slaves. Costs included transport and installation. The evidence comes from building accounts at Epidauros, Delos, Athens, and Eleusis, and includes the fourth century. The author states that "The 'private sector' of Athenian sculpture preferred island marble in the sixth and early fifth centuries, especially in votives" (p. 131). During the second half of the fifth century, building leftovers could probably be bought, or blocks could be included with shipments for architectural projects (pp. 149-152). This may have a bearing on the question: "did the sculptor come with the stone?" (p. 131). Readers should also remember that the same resources, shippers, shops, and carvers were involved in the production of both public and private stone sculptures and monuments.

Chapter 4, "The trades of sculpture" (pp. 157-235), begins with "horizontal specialisation," meaning associated trades or crafts, and "vertical specialisation," the various skills and trades needed to produce a single product" (pp. 157-158). Much of the chapter is devoted to terminology (pp. 158-174). Apparently ancient authors, like modern ones, were not necessarily purists in usage. Techne meant skill of various kinds; other terms tend to refer to the product or the process, not to the material, beyond distinguishing metal (any metal) from stone (pp. 172-173). Lithourgos, lithokopos, and lithoglyphos all refer to workers in stone, whereas chalkeus "became a common word for such divergent jobs as casting bronze statues, making jewellery or forging iron weapons"(p. 169). Both agalmatopoios and andriantopoios refer to a statue of a person, not to medium, but those terms come from later sources, and usage varied: Aristotle calls Polykleitos an andriantopoios and Pheidias a lithourgos sophos. Other later terms include hermoglypheis, zooplastein (to mold to life, meaning the trade of coroplasts), whereas in stone the term is zoglyphos. A few works cited here are not listed in the lengthy bibliography (pp. 341-385). In footnotes, some terms appear in Greek, but all are transliterated in the text, which is unnecessarily confusing.

Most of the signatures on 58 votives and 10 grave monuments are carved on bases: 28 signatures by 16 sculptors from the last quarter of the sixth century; 21 signatures by 10 sculptors from the first quarter of the fifth century. The name of Gorgias appears on six bases, some of which Hochscheid says were used for bronzes, others for marbles; that of Pollias on three bases, again evidently for both bronze and marble. Neither name appears in the literary sources, unlike Endoios, whose signature occurs on monuments and in literature. Yet many sculptors with only one surviving signed base are mentioned by ancient authors (p. 184), reflecting the uneven nature of the evidence. Table 4.1 counts signatures on 22 marble votive bases, 33 bronze votive bases, and 9 marble funerary bases. It would be helpful to know how the author distinguishes between bases for marbles and for bronzes. The suggestion that "statues in bronze, …were in all likelihood more expensive than marble" (p. 230) is not proven. Readers must find and apply the evidence to support other thought-provoking conclusions: "Excavated examples of single-purpose workshops grow more numerous in the fifth and fourth centuries, whether this purpose was metalworking or sculpture" (p. 233). And readers might wonder to what extent bronze was used for funerary monuments, or why "In the early fifth century, most … families apparently chose for bronzes" (p. 287, in a discussion of bronze dedications).

In Chapter 5, "A patron's world," the author asks how much influence private patrons had and who they were. Reliefs, stelai, and the bases of statues tend to be inscribed, and there is a "perceivable gap between lavish and modest examples" (p. 258). Hochscheid asks whether status or peer competition is reflected in monuments. Citizens, metics, women, and non-relatives were acceptable donors. Although she observes that it is not always possible to figure out who was a maker and who was a dedicant, she lists the professions mentioned in inscriptions - builder, spearman, kitharoidos, tanner, fuller, potter, fisherman or sailor, washerwoman, and messenger. There are stone images of craftsmen, farmers, soldiers, a physician, cobblers, a lyre player, weaving women. Hochscheid asks many important questions, to which our uneven evidence supplies no answers. Were basins cheaper than other types of dedications? Most votives were dedicated to Athena, but were there rules regarding where a votive might be erected? Were there regulations about the placement of funerary inscriptions on a monument? This chapter in particular would have benefitted from illustrations. There are only 2 illustrations and 2 figures in the book, and 17 numerical tables, whose contents might have been more effective had they been woven into the text. "Chi square test results" (Table 2.2 p. 33) needs explanation.

Hochscheid concludes ("Epilogue," pp. 339-340) that so many Athenian votive and funerary monuments were produced during the sixth and fifth centuries because of improvements in quarrying, availability of materials and of "support trades," and "the appreciation of audiences" (p. 340).

The Appendix (pp. 390-491) contains vital supporting evidence, in alpha-numerical order by museum. Extensive documentation is collected in the database mentioned above, covering votives, funerary sculpture, bases, and other scholars' work, much of it in the form of notes. Comments include description, condition, toolmarks, added paint, dating issues, comparanda, but no measurements. Readers must consult both Appendix and database to learn how the author chose monuments to study and arrived at conclusions. What of the bases is actually preserved? How did she distinguish votives from architectural sculpture? Hochscheid's goal to discuss monuments from many different angles is laudable, though her focus on stone votives and grave markers, along with a few bronzes, is problematic, when contemporary public monuments, such as, for example, Athenian architectural projects, provide relevant information (some of which she has used). A great many numbers are presented, and readers must rely upon their own ingenuity to integrate text, Appendix, and database.

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