The paper is aimed at defining the main trends in the architectural decoration of the Early Hellenistic period, which influenced the iconography of the caryatids in the tomb in Ginina Mogila near Sveshtari and revealing the way these trends were modified and combined.
The figures at Sveshtari are related to the iconographic type of the caryatids – female figures in architectonic context holding up, constructively or symbolically, the superstructure above them. The caryatids from the recently discovered tomb at Amphipolis are very important for this study because for the present they and the ones from Sveshtari are the earliest examples of caryatids with raised arms. The Sveshtari figures are a combination between the image of the caryatids and the iconography of the tendril- and snake-limbed goddess reflected in both the raised hands of the figures and the way the kolpos of the chiton is rendered (turning into three acanthus leaves). The incorporation of the caryatids within the Doric colonnade in the burial chamber shows the third main line of influence, which is to place figures between columns. The original way, in which those trends are combined and modified, suggests also the main function of the figures – to hold the canopy over the grave of the deceased.