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by Archaeology Newsroom

D.G.Kambouroglou; “The Tale of the Veil” or “The Princess Who Turned to Marble”. A fairy tale about the Elgin marbles

In this tale, inspired by the theft of the Parthenon marbles, D.G.Kambouroglou (1852-1942), author of the History of the Athenians writes the story of the Karyatid who went missing. An Athenian belief had it that the Karyatids were fairies. Only their bodies had turned to marble. A Greek tradition says that fairies become mortal if their veil is stolen, and in Athenian traditional tales the Karyatids were known as “princesses turned to marble”. What is the truth behind the traditional tale, other than the true story of the statue’s theft? Who were the Karyatids actually? Were they priestesses serving the goddess Artemis at her temple in Karya, or rather were they maidens at the Panathenea procession? They might have been women slaves from Karya, the town destroyed by the Athenians for siding with the Persians. In Kambouroglou’s tale the Karyatid’s lament for the loss of their stolen sister becomes a plea for the liberation of their city.