Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism

: 2015  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 190-

Goiter in Ancient Greek art

Konstantinos Laios, Gregory Tsoucalas, Marianna Karamanou, George Androutsos 
 Department of History of Medicine, Medical School, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

Correspondence Address:
Gregory Tsoucalas
62-64 Str. Kononos, Pagrati, 11633 Athens

How to cite this article:
Laios K, Tsoucalas G, Karamanou M, Androutsos G. Goiter in Ancient Greek art.Indian J Endocr Metab 2015;19:190-190

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Laios K, Tsoucalas G, Karamanou M, Androutsos G. Goiter in Ancient Greek art. Indian J Endocr Metab [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Oct 28 ];19:190-190
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Goiter, similarly to numerous modern diseases, appears in Ancient Greek art and thus raises the question whether it represented what is currently called Grave's disease. Three clay figurines have been discovered representing this pathological condition. The earliest archeological finding is a Minoan figurine found in the Peak Sanctuary of Traostalos, dated at the end of the 3 rd millennium BC. This figurine, a votive offering depicting a male head, was carved with a very large goiter in its neck. [1] The second example [Figure 1] is a figurine, dated at the late Hellenistic or the early Roman age, found in Smyrna (Leiden, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden: S 186), also representing a male head with a large goiter on its neck. [2] The third example [Figure 2] is a figurine of a female head, found in Troy and dated in the 1 st century BC (Paris, Louvre: D 556). This third figurine presents not only with a large goiter in its neck, but also an apparent bulging of the eyes (Greek: εξώɸθαλμoς, exophtalmos), raising the hypothesis that these are representations of Grave's disease. [3],[4] While the first figurine was a votive head, the other two represent realistic portraitures of the era. Some researchers believe that goiter also appears on portrait representations on Ancient Greek coins. [5] We, on the contrary, believe that a protuberance in the neck in a coin represents most probably a sing of dynamism of the represented person. It is rather unlikely that a distinguished personality such as a king, a general, or any form of hero, would have allowed to be "immortalized" as an ill figure. An alternative interpretation could be this of artistic miss-representations arising from the difficulty of handling the given material and the small surface on which the artist had to work. As always Ancient Greek art provides detailed realistic representations of various conditions.{Figure 1}{Figure 2}


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3Besques S. Musée National du Louvre. Catalogue Raisonné des Figurines et Reliefs en Terre - Cuite Grecs, Etrusques et Romains. Epoques Hellénistique et Romaine, Grèce et Asie Mineure. 3 rd ed. Paris: des Musées Nationaux; 1971-72.
4Grmek M, Gourevitch D. Les maladies dans l'art antique. Paris: Fayard; 1998.
5Hart GD. The diagnosis of disease from ancient coins. Archaeology 1973;26:123-7.