As you can see there is a crack in the architrave above. This area was reinforced yesterday, as the soil was slowly removed.
These figures were carved in high relief of Thassian marble and backed on piers measuring 20 by 60 cm (the full height is not yet certain as they have not been excavated to the ground).
As I argued in various papers since 1994, the Caryatids Vitruvius described were funerary, wore a polos and had alternate inner arms raised to support the superstructure (academia is so full of back-stabbing, please allow me to gloat a second) - he did not described as Caryatids the sorts of carved columns seen on the Erechtheion.
The face of the left Caryatid, on the Western side, survives; that of the Caryatid on the right does not.
The curls are slightly archaising.
The raised arm was 'pieced' a technique also seen on the Sphinxes guarding the first entrance.
The marble retains traces of red and of blue paint. Pieces of the figures such as fingers and parts of the hand have already been found in the soil below. This indicates that the sculptures were damaged before the Romans back-filled the tomb.
In front of the caryatids, and from the waist down there is a limestone wall sealing the tomb (width 4.5m). This is the second sealing wall, and was created using the same technique as the one in front of the Sphinx gate.
Moving on to comparanda:
I posted a version of an article I wrote about them which was also a chapter of my PhD, here (can't blog footnotes, sorry): Article: Vitruvius, Caryatids and Telamones
The key passages are:
It has become common practice to refer to all female figured supports as Caryatids, the most famous examples being those of the South Porch of the Erechtheion in Athens. This assumption stems from a passage of Vitruvius (De Architectura I. 1. 5), but if one examines the text of Vitruvius it soon becomes apparent that he had a specific type in mind.
Vitruvius gives the story of the Caryatids as a digression on the necessity of architects knowing some History. Unfortunately he himself seems to have made mistakes, and thus the passage is open to interpretation.
Plommer pointed out that Vitruvius’ inclusion of the use of mutules, which are to be found beneath triglyphs, indicates that the figures were placed within the context of the Doric rather than the Ionic order. One can also read into the passage that the figures were ‘burdened’ and physically supporting the superstructure, presumably with their arms, atoning for their sins and not being honoured. They replaced columns and so literally supported the superstructure, but must also have been seen to do so in terms of their pose, bringing in an element of trompe l’œuil.
Subsequently however three Doric tombs, and a number of other sculptures, have been identified, and these provide strong evidence in favour of the Caryatid Monument having had such figures, supporting the superstructure with their palms and poloi. The chronology of these tombs is uncertain, but they all belong to the Hellenistic period.
The first of these is a rock-cut tomb at Aghia Triadha, near Rhodes (above). A square ground-plan was formed by four klinai, at the heads of each of which stood statues of women, carved in the round, and crowned by the circular Doric entablature from which sprang a dome. The figures are highly fragmentary, but preliminary restoration would seem to indicate that they supported the superstructure with alternating raised palms and the poloi on their heads. Their dress, consisting of long peploi, also conforms to the implications of Vitruvius’ textual source. The presence of a dome leads one to assume a date in the later Hellenistic period, and publication of the archaeologists’ evidence for dating is eagerly awaited.
The second example is better preserved, a Thracian tomb near Svestari in modern Bulgaria (above). It dates from soon after 300 BC. The frontal figures, located in the main chamber, are in high relief, but otherwise they fit Vitruvius’ description. Cut into the limestone, they were fully painted, with much of the pigment remaining; details were picked out in ochre, dark brown, blue, red and lilac. The figures stand on ledges between Doric half-columns, and hold up a Doric entablature. The women wear long chitons, the high-girdled overfolds of which are heavily stylised and have been subject to local stylistic variations, turning into three acanthus leaves, below which the long skirts continue, moulding the legs; the shoes protrude from the bottom and are visible. There were ten of these figures in all, standing 1.20 m high: four on the north wall opposite the door, and three on the two side walls. The south wall, where the door was located, was undecorated.
The proportions of the women vary slightly but all are in roughly the same pose. The corner figures have only their inner arms raised, the central figures both. As on the Naples relief and in the Rhodian tomb, they bear the architrave on their hands and poloi. Of particular interest are the faces, with expressions that appear to represent pain and grief, which are quite unusual in Greek sculpture. Their features are all differentiated and highly individual, with a variety of ages, and they appear to be portraits rather than idealised figures. One might note especially the northernmost figure of the west wall, whose head is turned down in a look of great despair. The tomb was built under the influence of Macedonian art.
Although no examples of Caryatids have been found amongst the rather limited architectural sculpture of these, they do make an interesting appearance on the throne in the so-called Tomb of Eurydice at Vergina, suggesting a possible chain of influence. Here there were figures around three sides of the seat, supporting the armrests and the painted panel that formed the back; male figures with raised right arms alternate with female ones whose left arms are raised, both using one of their palms to effect the support. A number of the figures are now missing.
Tomb N 228, Cyrene, is a rock-cut facade tomb, 6.93 m wide, built some time during the later Hellenistic period, probably ca. 150-50 BC (above). At the corners of the facade there are Ionic quarter-columns engaged to pilasters; the whole is however crowned by an undecorated Doric frieze, making this a structure of mixed order. In the centre, between the doors, there are two Caryatids that supported the frieze with their poloi and both raised palms. The figures are carved in relief, and not fully depicted, turning into engaged half-columns with Doric fluting below the knees. The figures are highly Classicising; they seem to wear chitons and the way that these are represented, particularly the apoptygmata, is very much late Classical in style. The figures are quite worn, and the tomb has not yet been fully excavated, but the figures, other than in their dress, appear to conform to Vitruvius’ prescription.
A further type of Caryatid, with archaising and Severe style details, is known through copies surviving at Athens, Tralles and Cherchel; it appears to be an eclectic work of ca. 100 BC, rather than a Classical original, that was copied as late as the Antonine period. The type is known as the Tralles-Cherchel Caryatid, after its most famous known replicas. As with Vitruvian Caryatids the figures could have provided support on their poloi and the palm of one raised arm; those from Tralles may have been architectural, but the others were free-standing copies.
The oldest, and first discovered, figure was found at the Theatre at Tralles, and is now in the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul, no. 1189, ht. 1.86 incl. 0.03 plinth (above). A head from the figure’s pair in the Ecole Evangélique in Smyrna was destroyed in a fire and is now only preserved in a photograph; part of the right shoulder was preserved and showed that this was raised. Stylistically they date from the first half of the first century BC. Carved in a small-grained white marble, the back was summarily worked suggesting that the figure was placed against a wall; the left arm of the extant statue was pieced below the shoulder, and is lost. Also missing are the bottom of the plinth, a few fingers of the right hand, besides which there are numerous chips. It was highly painted, traces of red remaining on the face and blue on the polos. The figure wore a finely pleated short-sleeved chiton and a cloak folded in two and wrapped around her body and over the left shoulder. Although the figures were found in or by the theatre, there is insufficient evidence conclusively to state that they formed an integral part of its decoration; by this late date such Caryatids may no longer have been reserved purely for funerary structures, as they appear to have been earlier in the Hellenistic period, but the use of those that both pre- and postdated them would suggest that might still have been the case.
A version of the figure type was found in the palace of Juba II at Cherchel, the ancient Caesarea of Mauritania, and dates to the 20s BC (photos above). A variant rather than an exact copy, it was a cruder work, provincial and over-exaggerated. The head and upper neck are broken off, the arms missing below the shoulders. The left arm was raised. Two heads and the fragmentary pieces of their bodies, from Hadrianic or Antonine copies, were found on the Athenian Acropolis. The number of examples of the type, their wide geographical spread and the variations in their dates, would suggest that they are replicas of well known originals. Their style suggests that this was an eclectic work of the later Hellenistic period rather than the eponymous Caryatid Monument.
The majority of these examples of Caryatids would appear to come from funerary contexts, so whatever the original pejorative intention of the figures when the Caryatid Monument was set up, the form soon took on overtones of mourning. As well as large-scale examples used as sculptural decoration on buildings, there are a number of small-scale depictions of the pose.
Very similar small figures can be found on a number of late Hellenistic funerary stelae, now in Istanbul, and on either side of the doorway on a late fourth century or early Hellenistic rock-cut tomb at Limyra (photos above).
Caryatids were used by the Romans, almost exclusively in a funerary context, and they decorated a number of Roman Sarcophagi. Caryatids were carved on the corners of a rock-cut sarcophagus at Cyrene which, though sometimes dated to the Hellenistic period, is more likely to be Roman.
I could go on, but ... Amphipolis is the earliest known example of the type of structure Vitruvius described. The Cyrene tomb clearly imitates the figures on a smaller scale, the Svestari figures are a Thracian re-interpretation of a Macedonian tomb ... and the Tralles-Cherchel figures are an archaising version of a figure type which evolved also into a Classicising version known through figures in Mantua, Venice etc.
So Amphipolis has figures known elsewhere in Macedonian art of the period on the throne of Eurydice at Vergina.
And before anyone criticises the archaeologists in the comments, yes they are aware of all these examples, and yes they've had a copy of my PhD dissertation for ages. For those that want to read it, it's in the ASCSA and IofA libraries amongst others, or is available on Kindle without illustrations:
My dissertation on Amazon US; The Sculptural Decoration of the Doric Order ca. 375 - 31 BC on Kindle UK; etc
I wrote the thesis last century, so they are aware I have changed my mind about a few points. I had been planning to pop a new version of my research on Caryatids on Kindle with illustrations, and will try to do so this week.
An example of a change in idea is going to Miletus and realising that the theatre is too complete for there to be anywhere to put either of the sets of Caryatids associated with it. A photo of one of the Miletus caryatids, now in Izmir, is below: