Acropolis, Erechtheion

The South Porch or Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion. "Caryatids" (or "Karyatids") are female figures used as architectural supports in place of columns -- a feature associated with Ionic architecture. The Roman architect Vitruvius wrote that Caryatids were supposed to represent the women of the southern Greek town of Caryae which supported the invading Persian force in 480 BC. After the Persian Wars, the other Greek states forced them to carry objects on their heads in punishment. Although this story sounds attractive, it is probably not entirely correct and does not "bear up" to what we know about the use of such female figures in ancient Greek architecture. For example, caryatids were already used in Ionic architecture in the 6th century BC in the Knidian Treasury (c. 540 BC) and the Siphnian Treasury (c. 525 BC) at Delphi. It has also recently been argued that there were 6th century caryatids on the Acropolis, too (represented by the so-called Lyons Kore of c. 540 BC).