Xanthus, Harpy Tomb


Xanthus: town in western Lycia; its original name was Arňna, its modern name is Kınık.

Harpy Tomb

The Harpy Tomb

One of the most famous monuments from Xanthus is the Harpy Tomb, which is now in the British Museum in London. This Greek-style monument shows a soldier who hands over a helmet to a bearded man (a god or king?) on a throne. To the left and right you can see two winged figures carrying away human figures, who may represent the souls of the people killed by the soldier. Alternatively, they may represent the soul of the warrior ascending to heaven, depicted twice for the sake of symmetry.

The name "Harpy Tomb" is a bit problematic. The discoverers believed that the winged figures were those Harpies who had, according to Greek mythology, stolen the daughters of a king named Pandareus, and made them slaves. Nowadays, art historians believe that the winged figures are in fact Sirens, who carry dead souls to the Underworld.