The Pedimental Sculptures from the Temple at Aegina
Aegina lies just a few sea miles away from Piraeus, the port of Athens. In the Archaic period of the 7th and 6th centuries BC, the island reached the height of its economic and political power. It was here that the first coinage in Greece was minted. Around 510 BC, the people of Aegina began to build a new temple in their most important sanctuary complex, which was dedicated to the time-honoured local goddess, Aphaia. The work began with the west façade. It ended 10 to 20 years later with the east side. The limestone building was decorated with sculptures made of Parian marble. Both pedimental groups dealt with the Trojan Wars: the west side showed the conflict that Homer also described in his Iliad. The east side, on the other hand, depicted another battle for the town, which according to myth had taken place a generation beforehand.
The sculptural adornment of the Temple of Aphaia marks precisely the boundary between two important periods in Greek art. The west pediment is still late archaic, whereas the east pediment is early classical. Nowhere else is this most radical turn of an era in the history of ancient art documented so clearly as here. This makes the sculptures probably one of the most important surviving monuments of Greek art.
The pedimental sculptures of the Temple of Aphaia were discovered in April 1811 by a group of German and English explorers. A year later, Martin von Wagner was able to purchase by them auction for the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig. They have been standing in the Glyptothek since 1827.