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Charonion, Antioch

Photo © Troels Myrup Kristensen. View all images in our Charonion Photo Gallery.

The Charonion is an ancient carved stone bust in the mountainside above Antioch. It dates from the time of King Antiochus in the Seleucid era (3rd century BC).

The stone figure in the rock wears a veil, and on its right shoulder stands a (badly-weathered) smaller draped figure which appears to wear a calathus, a lily-shaped basket of a type carried in processions in honor of Demeter. Although most of its current battered state is due to damage, examinations have shown that the bust was never finished.

According to the sixth-century chronicler Malalas, the Charonion was carved in an attempt to save Antioch from a plague. After many people had perished from the illness, a seer named Leios commanded that a great "mask" be carved out of the mountain overlooking the city, "and inscribing something on it he put an end to the pestilential death. This mask the people of Antioch call the Charonion."

No inscription is visible on the present sculpture, but it may well have been lost, as the face of the bust has been badly damaged and a portion of the chest is missing. It is difficult to determine whether the bulk of the damage is due to any purposeful destruction or simply to 2500 years of weathering.

The name Charonion may indicate that the carving was intended to represent a deity of the underworld who needed to be appeased to bring to an end the plague that had sent so many souls to Charon.

The Charonion is located just outside the city of Antakya, above the Cave Church of St. Peter.

Quick Facts on Charonion

Site Information
Names:Charonion; Charonion, Antioch
Categories:Colossal Statue
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Antioch, Turkey
Coordinates:36.207709° N, 36.185680° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Charonion

Below is a location map and aerial view of Charonion. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

More Information

Article Info

Title:Charonion, Antioch
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:10/27/2009
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/antioch-charonion/turkey/antioch-charonion">Charonion, Antioch</a>