Spartan terracotta masks

Since their excavation late in the first decade of the 20th century, the terracottas resembling masks found within the sanctuary of Orthia and Artemis at Sparta have remained a topic of contention. Previous hypotheses concerning these Laconian terracottas overlook potentially vital aspects related not only to the cultural context of the site, but also to its history and place within the broader region of the Greek Peloponnesos. My research concerning the Spartan terracotta ‘masks’ not only employs the review of former theories in order to discern helpful contributions of earlier scholars, it also offers for the first time a reassessment of the original ‘mask’ types. The marked variety of Laconian effigies, their change both in emphasis and number over time, speak for Sparta’s enduring heterodoxy. Their place at Sparta from the 7th through 5th centuries BC offers insight into individual preferences, local customs and broader issues related to Peloponnesian trade with the Near East. The fact that of the astonishing variety of Spartan ‘masks’ only Satyrs and Gorgons can be readily recognized indicat the majority of the terracotta effigies were never intended to be realized as specific types. Broader implications of the ‘masks’ appear to be more important than one story or event, with each face representing individual events.



Work Title Spartan terracotta masks
Subtitle Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia (Laconia, Greece)
Penn State
  1. G. Johns
  1. ceremonial masks
  2. Artemis (Greek deity)
  3. Terra-cotta figurines, Mycenaean
  4. Alcman
  5. terracottas (sculptural works)
License All rights reserved
Work Type Masters Thesis
Deposited May 09, 2018




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Figures.docx
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  • Added Creator G. Johns
  • Published