Woven in Stone: The Use of Symmetry Analysis Methodology to Determine Underlying Patterns of Symmetry in the Polychrome Painted Decorations on Some Athenian Korai

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Thomson, Ainslie Elizabeth
Kore , Korai , Archaic Greek Sculpture , Symmetry Analysis , Symmetry in Art , Pattern Perception , Repetitive Patterns
Many studies of the Archaic Greek kore focus exclusively on stylistic considerations in an attempt to date these statues more and more accurately. Other studies propose various meanings for the kore. Each of these approaches can be extremely subjective, with the result that the large body of extant literature about the kore tends to be repetitive and argumentative in nature, and, with several exceptions, does not advance the understanding of the kore to any appreciable degree past where it had developed by the 1980s. I use a different, more empirical methodology to study a small group of korai, found in the 1880s near the Erechtheion on the Athenian Akropolis. Symmetry analysis of the patterns painted onto these korai at the time of their creation reveals both consistency of pattern use through the period of seventy years between c560 BCE and c490 BCE, as well as some anomalous patterns. I tabulate the various patterns, as well as their frequency of occurrence, and briefly speculate that there is a correlation between the pattern consistencies and anomalies and events in the known historical record, such as the mid-6th century rule by the Peisistratids and the democratic reforms of Kleisthenes. I also propose other directions in which the study of the kore could be taken using symmetry analysis.
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