The 2,400-Year-Old Figurine Of Charon -The Ferryman Of The Dead – On Display In Izmir, Turkiye

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Conny Waters – AncientPages.com – In the beliefs of ancient Greeks, there is a well-known myth of Hades, a shadowy place where the dead lived.

The deceased entered Hades with the help of Charon, the ferryman and a psychopomp of Hades whose duty was to carry dead souls across Acheron and Styx, the rivers that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead.

The 2,400-year-old statuette depicting the ferryman of the dead, Charon

The 2,400-year-old statuette depicting the ferryman of the dead, Charon. Image dated Nov. 15, 2022 – credit: Anadolu Agency, via Daily Sabah

Now, the Izmir Archaeological Museum exhibits a unique 2,400-year-old statuette depicting the ferryman of the dead, Charon, and other rare artifacts from its collection usually kept from the public.

Daily Sabah writes that the figurine of Charon has been put on display for the first time in the treasury room for one month under the theme for November: “Cult of the Dead.” As part of the theme, artifacts from thousands of years ago describing ancient funeral ceremonies that were discovered in cemeteries during excavations have been put on display.

The figurine was discovered in the ancient city of Klazomenai in Izmir Urla(western Turkey) in 2014. The terracotta statuette of Charon went through a restoration period before its display.

It is worth mentioning that recently in the ruins of Klazomenai, archaeologists unearthed a unique 2,500-year-old ritual wash basin.

In ancient times, Klazomenai was the center of ceramic production in the Urla district of Izmir.

Izmir Archeology Museum assistant manager Elif Erginer shows the 2,400-year-old statuette depicting the ferryman of the dead, Charon, Izmir, Türkiye, Nov. 15, 2022. (AA Photo)

Izmir Archeology Museum assistant manager Elif Erginer shows the 2,400-year-old statuette depicting the ferryman of the dead, Charon, Izmir, Türkiye, Nov. 15, 2022. Image credit: AA via Daily Sabah

According to museum assistant manager Elif Erginer,

“in mythology, the ferryman Charon and the multi-headed hound Cerberus were believed to accompany the soul of the dead. We know that some rituals performed thousands of years ago are still practiced today. For example, it was believed that the passage to the other world was by boat. We can compare the coffin to a stylized boat. We can see a coffin hovering over the shoulders, advancing like a raft crossing a river.”

“In addition to this, a coin was placed on the eyes, mouth and hands of dead people as a toll for Charon along with cookies as well as gifts. This was considered as a bribe for the ferryman’s hound Charon. It was also a gift to make the transition to the other side easier.”

Erginer also informed that archaeologists usually find ancient funeral scenes depicted on vases called “lekythos“.-

The statuette of Leda, the queen of Sparta, on display for the first time at the Izmir Archeology Museum, Türkiye, Nov. 15, 2022. Image credit: AA

The statuette of Leda, the queen of Sparta, on display for the first time at the Izmir Archeology Museum, Türkiye, Nov. 15, 2022. Image credit: AA via Daily Sabah

“Perhaps for the first time, we can see the depiction of Charon as a figurine that we can take in our hands. In this sense, this work is unique,” she commented.

Emphasizing that the ferryman is depicted as a monkey in the work, Erginer stated that the mouth and nose of the deceased were also covered so that the soul would not reenter the body during the last voyage.

Among the artifacts on show at the exhibition, there is the statuette of Leda, the queen of Sparta, which was discovered in the ancient city of Kyme in Izmir’s Aliağa district, depicted with a swan.

Two 11-centimeter-long (4.3-inch-long) terracotta figurines from the archaic period unearthed from the necropolis area in the Teos region of Izmir’s Seferihisar district were also featured in the exhibition. It is estimated that the statues of the crouching bald men with big eyes, arched noses and protruding bellies are 2,600 years old.

Written by Conny Waters – AncientPages.com Staff Writer




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