Tomb of Payava

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The tomb of Payava
The tomb of Payava, a Lykian aristocrat, about 375-360 BC, from Xanthos, British Museum (9504934234).jpg
Upper part of Payava's tomb in the British Museum
Location Originally Xanthos, Lycia, Persian Empire; now British Museum, Room 20
Type Barrel-vaulted sarcophagus
Material Stone
Height 3.5 metres (11 ft), originally 7.85 metres (25.8 ft)[1]
Completion date 375-360 BC

The Tomb of Payava is a Lycian tall rectangular free-standing barrel-vaulted stone sarcophagus, and one of the most famous tombs of Xanthos. It was built in the Achaemenid Persian Empire,[2] for Payava who was probably the ruler of Xanthos, Lycia at the time, in around 360 BC. The tomb was discovered in 1838 and brought to England in 1844 by the explorer Sir Charles Fellows. He described it as a 'Gothic-formed Horse Tomb'.[3]

The tomb

Payava, who is named in the inscriptions, is only known from this tomb. The tomb is a particularly fine example[4] of a common Lycian style, carved from stone but accurately depicting a wooden structure.[5] The carved friezes on the tomb and its roof contain Greek and Persian features, showing the mix of influences in Xanthos at that time[6] and show:

  • Two long-haired and bearded men clothed in cuirasses and cloaks, one of whom may be Payava (South side).
  • An athlete and companion dressed in a Greek style (North side).
  • A seated figure, in Persian dress receiving a delegation. Possibly the satrap Autophradates receiving Payava (West side).[1]
  • Battle of cavalry and foot soldiers (East side and Upper frieze).
  • A bear being hunted (Upper frieze).
  • Lions (Roof).
  • Sphinxes (Pediments).
  • Four horses pulling a Greek chariot (Roof).
  • A Persian couple (Gable ends).
Carving from the south side of the second tier of the tomb showing two men in military dress, wearing a cuirass with pendant leather straps, a cloak and greaves. The Lydian inscription runs: “Payava, son of Ad[…], secretary of A[…]rah, by race a Lydian…”.

Three of the four tiers of the tomb are currently housed in the British Museum where they dominate the centre of room 20, the lowest tier was left in Turkey and is in a poor state.[7] Displayed with the tomb are other Greek and Lycian objects from 400–325 BC.

Indian architectural parallels

Tomb of Payava and Lomas Rishi cave entrance (dated circa 250 BCE).
Tomb of Payava and Ajanta Cave 9 (dated 1st century BCE).

The similarity of the Payava tombs, and more generally the Lycian barrel-vaulted tombs, with the Indian Chaitya architectural design (starting from circa 250 BCE with the Lomas Rishi caves in the Barabar caves group) has also been remarked on. James Fergusson, in his " Illustrated Handbook of Architecture", while describing the very progressive evolution from wooden architecture to stone architecture in various ancient civilizations, has commented that "In India, the form and construction of the older Buddhist temples resemble so singularly these examples in Lycia".[8]

The Lycian tombs, dated to the 4th century BCE, are either free-standing or rock-cut barrel-vaulted sarcophagi, placed on a high base, with architectural features carved in stone to imitate wooden structures. There are numerous rock-cut equivalents to the free-standing structures. Both Greek and Persian influences can be seen in the reliefs sculpted on the sarcophagus.[9] The structural similarities, down to many architectural details, with the Chaitya-type Indian Buddhist temple designs, such as the "same pointed form of roof, with a ridge", are further developed in The cave temples of India.[10] Fergusson went on to suggest an "Indian connection", and some form of cultural transfer across the Achaemenid Empire.[11]

The known Indian designs for the Chaityas only start from circa 250 BCE with the Lomas Rishi caves in the Barabar caves group, and therefore postdate the Xanthos barrel-vaulted tombs by at least one century.[12] The Achaemenids occupied the northwestern parts of India from circa 515 BCE to 323 BCE following the Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley, before they were replaced with the Indian campaign of Alexander the Great and subsequent Hellenistic influence in the region.

Art historian David Napier has also proposed a reverse relationship, claiming that the Payava tomb was a descendant of an ancient South Asian style, and that Payava may actually have been a Graeco-Indian named "Pallava".[13]

References

  1. ^ a b Jenkins, Ian (2006). Greek architecture and its sculpture. Harvard University Press. pp. 179–181. ISBN 0-674-02388-9.
  2. ^ Dusinberre 2013, p. 196.
  3. ^ "The tomb of Payava, a Lykian aristocrat". British Museum. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  4. ^ Jona Lendering (21 April 2010). "Lycian Tombs". LIVIUS, Articles on Ancient History. Retrieved 6 June 2010.
  5. ^ William Bell Dinsmoor; William James Anderson (1973). The architecture of ancient Greece: an account of its historic development. Biblo & Tannen. pp. 67–68. ISBN 0-8196-0283-3.
  6. ^ John Curtis; Nigel Tallis; Béatrice André-Salvini (2005). John Curtis, Nigel Tallis, ed. Forgotten empire: the world of ancient Persia. University of California Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-520-24731-0.
  7. ^ "Lycia :: Xanthos". exploreTurkey.com. IstanbulNet. Retrieved 6 June 2010.
  8. ^ The Illustrated Handbook of Architecture Being a Concise and Popular Account of the Different Styles of Architecture Prevailing in All Ages and All Countries by James Fergusson. J. Murray. 1859. p. 212.
  9. ^ M. Caygill, The British Museum A-Z compani (London, The British Museum Press, 1999) E. Slatter, Xanthus: travels and discovery (London, Rubicon Press, 1994) A.H. Smith, A catalogue of sculpture in -1, vol. 2 (London, British Museum, 1900)
  10. ^ Fergusson, James; Burgess, James (1880). The cave temples of India. London : Allen. p. 120.
  11. ^ Fergusson, James (1849). An historical inquiry into the true principles of beauty in art, more especially with reference to architecture. London, Longmans, Brown, Green, and Longmans. pp. 316–320.
  12. ^ Ching, Francis D. K.; Jarzombek, Mark M.; Prakash, Vikramaditya (2010). A Global History of Architecture. John Wiley & Sons. p. 164. ISBN 9781118007396.
  13. ^ According to David Napier, author of Masks, Transformation, and Paradox, "In the British Museum we find a Lycian building, the roof of which is clearly the descendant of an ancient South Asian style.", "For this is the so-called "Tomb of Payava" a Graeco-Indian Pallava if ever there was one." in "Masks and metaphysics in the ancient world: an anthropological view" in Malik, Subhash Chandra; Arts, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the (2001). Mind, Man, and Mask. Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. p. 10. ISBN 9788173051920.

Sources

  • Dusinberre, Elspeth R.M. (2013). Empire, Authority, and Autonomy in Achaemenid Anatolia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1107018266.
  • British Museum information board in room 20

Further reading

  • L. Allen, The Persian Empire: A History (London, British Museum Press, 2005)
  • M. Caygill, The British Museum A-Z companion (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)
  • E. Slatter, Xanthus: Travels of Discovery in Turkey (London, Rubicon Press, 1994)
  • A.H. Smith, A Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum Vol. 2 (London, British Museum, 1900)
This article is about an item held in the British Museum. The object reference is GR 1848.10-20.142 (Sculpture 950).
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