Siren, late 6th century BCE
Archaic Period
Greece, possibly Attica or Boeotia region
3 ½ × 4 7/8 × 1 5/8 in. (8.9 × 12.4 × 4.1 cm)
3-D Object/Sculpture
1967-20 DJ

Photo: Paul Hester
Image 2: Photo: Paul Hester Image 3: Photo: Paul Hester Image 4: Photo: Paul Hester
1967 20 dj v04 m
1967 20 dj v03 m
1967 20 dj v02 m
Learn More

Sirens (seirenes) are half bird and half woman creatures that appear in multiple ancient myths, including the abduction of Persephone, the journey of Odysseus, and the travels of the Argonauts. Gifted with powerful voices, sirens would lure sailors to their deaths. Representations of sirens were popular across the ancient Mediterranean in paintings, ceramics, stone, and bronze. These depictions vary over time with different proportions of female and avian elements.  

In this terracotta figure, said to be from Boeotia, the siren has the head of a woman and the full body of a bird. She turns her head to the right with tresses of long hair visible on either side of her face. She also wears a type of crown known as a diadem. White slip, still visible in large patches, covered the surface with additional details painted on top, such as an eye in black. The softness of the molded details, including her eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, may be the result of the repeated use of the mold by the workshop to create a series.