GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 98-2
Presentation Time: 1:50 PM


PIKE, Scott, Environmental Science Department and Archaeology Program, Willamette University, 900 State Street, Salem, OR 97301

The exploitation of white marbles on the Cycladic Island of Naxos dates back to at least the Bronze Age. This marble was among the first used in the Greek world and played a key role in the development of stone-working techniques and the evolution of Greek sculpture. The known ancient quarries on Naxos are in the central and northern parts of the island where larger-than-life unfinished kouros statues remain in situ. A stable isotope marble characterization study by the author identified marble fragments from the Naxian Kouros of Apollo on Delos as being from an as-yet unidentified marble location somewhere in the south of Naxos. The provenance location was similar to many of the Bronze Age Cycladic sculptures studied by Getz-Gentle (2001). There were no known locations of ancient white marble sources in the south. The stable isotope database developed by Herz (1987) broadly identifies the matching isotope fields as being from the “Southeast Naxos” region with no further detail about sample location. This paper reports preliminary results of a survey to identify potential white marble sources in southern Naxos that were possibly exploited in antiquity.

Two field surveys were conducted throughout southern Naxos in the summers of 2018 and 2019 in order to locate potential white marble sources. The surveys located previously unreported marble outcrops that sit atop weathered schistic hills in the Sangri Valley. These marble-capped hills are not identified on readily available geologic maps which likely led to the failure of previous field campaigns to locate the southern Naxos white marble quarries. Stable isotope and textural analysis of samples collected from the Sangri Valley outcrops show similar profiles to fragments of the Naxian Kouros of Apollo at Delphi and some of the Cycladic figurines. Future research includes LiDAR-based aerial survey to locate potential quarry locations and additional marble sampling to improve the resolution of the stable isotope database.

Getz-Gentle, P., 2001, Personal Styles in Early Cycladic Sculpture: Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 192 p.

Herz, N. 1987, Carbon and oxygen isotopic ratios: Classical Greek and Roman marble: Archaeometry, v. 29, 35-43.