Ancient Greek Sculpture
The first piece of ancient Greek sculpture that was found by archeologists dates from about 900 BCE. It’s
a terra cotta statue that had been deliberately cracked in half and buried in two separate graves. The statue is
believed to be a scene from Greek mythology. Even though the first actual artifact of Greek sculpture dates to 900
BCE there are reports in ancient literature of even earlier ancient Greek sculptures that were made of wood and
were used in religious ceremonies. Some of the reports indicate those wooden sculptures were hundreds of years old,
but none have survived to be found by modern archeologists.
The Greeks were prolific sculptors, and used sculptures for many different purposes including
The Greeks were one of the first civilizations to use sculpture solely as decoration. Most of the Greek
emphasis on sculpture was on creating statutes. The Greeks created many different techniques that are still used
today to make statues are lifelike and realistic as possible. Over the years the idea of trying to create the
perfect human figure in sculpture became associated with creating depictions of nude humans, which is why there are
so many Greek sculptors that created nudes.
Part of the reason that the Greek statues were so lifelike is that Greek sculptors worked very diligently
to learn how to sculpt the roundness of the human form out of materials like marble and terra cotta. Because of the
desire of Greek sculptors to learn how to reproduce the dimensions and fluidity of the human body in sculpture they
began to work with nude models so that they could see the muscles and posture of a real human and then try to
translate that into their sculpture.
Greek sculpture styles became the model and standard for Western Civilization. The Romans were the first to copy
Greek styles of sculptures. In fact, many Roman sculptures are deliberate exact copies of older Greek sculptures.
During the Renaissance, artists again took Greek sculpture as their inspiration and replicated the Greek styles.
Still to this day, to create a sculpture in a Greek manner is a popular form of sculpture.