Until today, any attempt to represent the throne has been based on the description of Pausanias. According to his testimony, the throne had the form of one big bench, in the centre of which, stood prominently the already existing column-shaped cult statue of Apollo. This was placed precisely over the grave of Hyacinth, and was used as much as an altar of Hyacinth as a pedestal of the cult statue. As the traveller stresses emphatically Bathykles of Magnesia not only undertook the construction and decoration of the throne, but all the remaining work of the design and configuration of the sanctuary. For the architect and artist Bathykles unfortunately no more information is available. It is speculated, however, that he reached Sparta via Samos, as was also the case with Ionian art.

At the top of the hill lying South of the church of Agia Kyriaki the only remaining part of the foundation wall built with the isodomon system is located; it has been identified with the support (krepida) of the throne. The preserved krepida is four metres in length and one metre high and is constructed in its lower layers of rectangular, porous stones, while the upper surface shows a line of blocks made of dark marble.

Many different approaches to representing the complex form of the throne have been attempted, such as the fantastic representations of Quatremere de Quincy in 1814 and Theodor Pyl in 1852, Ludwig Ruhl in 1854 and Adolf Furtwängler in 1893. These representations as well as certain additional attempts to reproduce the mythological themes of the decoration, were assembled in a functional way by Ernst Fiechter in earlier times and more recently by Amalia Faustoferri. All the proposed reformations of the monument have a common denominator: rendering the descriptions of Pausanias in free design proposals. The indicator of hypothetical depiction varies according to the case and also to the aesthetic rules at the time of their submission.
It must however be noted that in all representations, the basic idea of the seat prevails, independent of its more or less persuasive correspondence with the colossal cult statue of the God. On these same coordinates the two alternative proposals of Fiechter are set in 1918, these, however, were the first to be supported by all the architectural fragments that had been found at the excavations or came from the demolition of the church on top of the hill.

With the exception of the distinct parts of altar, all of the architectural pieces were considered to be parts of the throne, complicating yet further the problem of the correct representation of the monument. Thus, Ernst Buschor -for example- proposed in 1927 a form of seat more similar in appearance to an armchair than a throne, while a counter-proposal suggests a more "couch-like" shape, with the unspoken certainty that in Sparta one could seek the model of the Pergamon altar. Opinions similar to those of Fiechter were also supported by Roland Martin until 1976 leading to two alternative proposals. The representation proposed by Helmut Prückner in 1992, without taking into consideration all the conclusions that can be drawn from the distillation of the material, was rather solely based on the driving force of imagination.

During the research programme it was possible to temporarily restore the constitutive parts of at least three sections of the throne. More precisely, the following were restored 1) superstructure with the base of a Doric column on the upper level, 2) superstructure of a wall with posts in one of the sloped, closed sides of the building. This allows us to consider as a given henceforth that, due to the identical technique of masonry, the remaining part of the krepis should constitute part of the total construction of the throne, as well as part of its southern, closed side. 3) Finally, an entry with columns. This element supporting the shape of the monument is especially remarkable, since Manolis Korres, after having studied two bases in the shape of a lion foot that today support the lid of a Roman sarcophagus in the garden of the Archaeological Museum of Sparta, was led to the conclusion that those should be considered parts of the throne’s pilasters. This proposal is also strengthened by the laconian reliefs of heroes of the 6th century B.C., where it can be observed that this depiction, in which the legs of the throne lead to lion feet, was unknown, at least as a perception.

From the study of architectural material the following conclusions can be drawn:

  1. Four typologically different groups have been located of the cornices of the sima.
  2. With regard to the architectural style of the building, despite the redundant Ionian elements, the remaining parts of the colonnades are all Doric and are classified in two types, with a decorated or plain hypotrachelion of the capitals and, accordingly, the same for the abacus and the cornices.
  3. The intercolumnium of the first category is defined today with absolute precision thanks to the correction of the geison restoration with the inscription ΔΑΜΟΚΑΜΟΣ that Fiechter had proposed, afterwards the identification and welding of the missing part.
  4. A threshold of monumental dimensions, built in the church of Prophet Helias in modern Amykles which is combined with similar architectural elements also built-in at the church of modern Amykles, confirms the presence of wooden dryfakta - railings on the same level as the superstructure of the throne, where the Doric columns must have stood with the plain hypotrachelion of their capitals.
  5. This type of this most probably half-tone colonnade, appears to be combined with the famous marble consoles.
  6. The complete absence of fragments that could guarantee the existence of metopes and triglyphs, since the remaining parts have been subjected to a more recent process, implies that the architect of the monument wanted it to be free from all elements that would directly refer to the concept of the architecture, in order to stress the illusion of furniture. The same is also evident in the potential presence of one or more friezes.

Regarding the dating of the throne, Ernst Buschor played a decisive role for its dating to 530-520 B.C., he was led to this conclusion through comparisons with decorative elements from findings of the “western necropolis” in Samos. In a more precise way however, Konstantinos Tsakos as well as Amalia Faustoferri, after having re-examined this material including even more findings from the western necropolis in Samos and, also, after they had located a direct association with architectural elements from the early temple of Aphea in Aegina, propose a dating to around 560-550 B.C.

Cult statue

According to Pausanias (3.19.2), the statue was approximately 14 metres, wooden, lined with bronze plates, while the head bore a helmet and the figure carried a spear and a bow. This well-defined form of the statue can however be connected only with a later period. This is obvious from the fact that through the addition of a metal lining, the metal donated by Croesus, a more human form was given to the previously abstract pole. According to Brunilde Ridgway, the appearance of this first modest form is dated around the end of the 7th century B.C. Irene Bald Romano’s justified statement was that this form must have replaced a previous statue smaller in size, as was the case in other equivalent, wooden cult statues, like that of Athina Polias, Hera in Samos, Artemidos Orthias, as well as that of Hera in Olympia. A general picture of the statue’s form is provided for us by a votive and unfortunately largely destroyed bas–relief of the Late Classical period that was found in Amykles and, mainly, coins of Laconia from the imperial period. On the back of the Commodus and Galienus coins the statue is obvious in the form described above. Especially the depiction on the Commodus coin provides information for yet another l building: the pedestal, that is to say the base of the statue that formed simultaneously the grave and the altar to Hyacinth. Such a notion is also attested by Pausanias (3.1, 3, verse 7): “[…]καὶ Ὑακίνθου μνῆμά ἐστιν ἐν Ἀμύκλαις ὑπὸ τὸ ἄγαλμα τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος»” (“..and there lies the tomb of Hyacinth, in Amycles, under the statue of Apollo”). The conglomerate stone blocks, that in second use were placed in their current place around the krepida of the throne, should most probably be considered as parts of the pedestal. More precisely, they must be interpreted as parts of its foundation, which is about two metres in height, while the limestone blocks, that today are found five metres West of the krepida, are interpreted as parts of the respectively high superstructure of the building /pedestal. The fact that so much the throne as well as the cult statue must have been found in the area between the remaining foundation of the krepida and the modern church, results also from the conclusions of the excavation work during the summer of 2009.


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