October 2019

Silver feet stool (diphros) of the 4th c. BC

Silver feet stool (diphros) of the 4th c. BC © Ministry of Culture- AMTh

This unique example of ancient furniture (ΜΘ 7440) has been found in a cist grave of the late 4th c. BC at the region of Stavroupolis near Thessaloniki.

It was a wooden four leg stool, namely a diphros, covered with silver sheets of which only parts of the metal casings and four beams were preserved. Due to these elements it has been possible to restore it.

In particular, the silver casings of two feet and four iron beams which were also covered with silver foil and horizontally connected the four legs at their mid height are the only preserved elements. The decoration of the turned feet with alternating geometric volumes, such as the inverted truncated cone at their upper part and the compressed disc in their middle, attribute to the seat a plain elegance.

As Athenaios informs us, diphroi were considered as simple seats compared to the thrones (thronoi) and the chairs (klismoi) that disposed a back. Nevertheless, there were certainly luxurious versions of this particular piece of furniture, since five “silver feet” diphroi are listed among the Parthenon treasures.

Various representations preserved on vases, funerary stelae or even on the sculptural decoration of monuments show diphroi in the context of everyday or ritual scenes. For instance, on the Parthenon frieze the Olympian gods attend to the Panathenaic procession seated on diphroi. Besides these representations, there are preserved models of diphroi as well as some rare reproductions in stone, such as the two marble diphroi that were found in a chamber tomb dated at the end of the 4th c. BC at Naip in Eastern Thrace or the built diphros that decorated a Macedonian tomb of the 3rd c. BC at Agios Athanasios near Thessaloniki. Moreover, some examples of metal folding stools (diphros okladias) are known from Roman time graves in Thrace and Bulgaria.

The placing of furniture or models and reproductions of furniture in tombs was an ancient practice aiming probably to offer to the dead the comfort and the warmth of the domestic environment. Following this trend the bereaved of the Stavroupolis dead placed in his grave the silver diphros. This piece of furniture stands out with its impressive luxury, like the rest of the valuable grave offerings that accompanied the prominent dead (a golden wreath, golden jewelry, silver vases, a bronze fold-up box etc).

The Stavroupolis disphros offers us a unique chance to see “a silver feet stool” (argyropous diphros) described in the ancient texts and inscriptions, a valuable piece of furniture which decorated also the houses of the rich citizens and officials of Macedonia.

Date: 325-300 BC

Dimensions: height 45cm, width 55cm.

You may see the exhibit at the permanent exhibition The Gold of the Macedon.