Twisting in the Wind: Monumental Weathervanes in Classical Antiquity

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Lowe, Dunstan (2016)

Monumental weathervanes have been overlooked as a tiny but important genre of ancient bronze sculpture. This is the first collective study of all three definite examples: the so-called ‘triton’ on the Tower of the Winds in Athens, a copy of this somewhere in Rome, and the winged female ‘Anemodoulion’ on the Bronze Tetrapylon in Constantinople. I propose to identify the intended subjects of these sculptures as the weather-deities Aiolos and Iris, thereby restoring a part of each monument’s original meaning that was unknown to the authors of our ancient written accounts. I also suggest that monumental weathervanes were first invented in Hellenistic Alexandria, which may explain why the Tower of the Winds shared the octagonal design of the Pharos, and why the Anemodoulion was mounted upon a bronze pyramidion.
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