The National Archaeological Museum of Athens regularly displays curious objects from its collections. These days, a unique fragment of a stele is being exhibited for the first time, unique for what it represents.

It is a fragment of a stele that was found and collected in a stream in Menidi and delivered to the Museum in November 2008 by a local collector and had never been exhibited to the public until now.

The fragment, dating back to the 4th century BC, preserves the relief sculpture of two twin babies in the arms of a female figure and probably was part of a funerary stele, unearthed in the tomb of a woman who died in childbirth.

This is the only funerary relief in the ancient Greek world in which two twin children appear in the same arms, indicating their common destiny as orphans.

Both heads protrude from the cloths in which they are wrapped, with their mother’s hands holding both bodies side by side.

The National Archaeological Museum has published a reconstruction by joining the fragment of the babies with the stele of Philonoe, offering an image of what the original stele might have looked like.

The “Stele of the twin children” will be exhibited in the Museum until Monday, May 13, 2024, and the Museum’s archaeologists will explain to visitors to the exhibition the curious history of the discovery of the precious fragment, the ancient Greek myths of twin gods, the life of children, and infant mortality in ancient Greece.

It is worth remembering that the theme of twins is recurrent in Greek mythology, where several pairs of twins and even twin doubles appear, such as the twin brothers Castor and Pollux and their sisters, also twins, Helen and Clytemnestra.


Sources

National Archaeological Museum


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