Acrolith of Cirò

Apollo Aleo

Among the masterpieces of the Archaeological Museum of Reggio, the acrolith of Cirò certainly deserves mention. It was discovered by Paolo Orsi during the excavations carried out between 1924 and 1929 in Punta Alice, in the territory of present-day Cirò Marina. An acrolith, a term rarely used in Greek sources and interpreted in Latin sources as a colossal statue, is a statue with a head, hands, and feet made of marble, stone, or ivory, while the rest of the body was made of wood or other materials and then covered with clothing.

Archaeologists interpret the remains and findings as belonging to the temple of Apollo Aleo in Krimisa, a city and sanctuary founded, according to mythological tradition, by Philoctetes after the end of the Trojan War. The temple of Apollo was famous in ancient times for the presence of the enchanted arrows of Hercules, which unfailingly hit the intended target. These arrows were later transported by the people of Croton to their own Apollonian temple in the city.

Acrolito di Apollo Aleo di Cirò

From an archaeological perspective, the Acrolith of Apollo Aleo is preserved in the form of a white marble head, 41 centimeters tall, along with the feet and a fragmented left hand. All these artifacts come from the temple area, and according to experts, the acrolith is believed to have been created between 440 and 430 BCE.


During the excavations, a refined bronze wig was also discovered, featuring a hairstyle typical of Apollo’s iconography. However, it is not relevant to the marble head and appears to have been made in an earlier period. Most likely, it is an element of a previous acrolithic statue that was concealed in a sacred pit, known as a “bothros,” when it was no longer in use. Additionally, the marble remains also seem to have been placed in a bothros, either to protect them during a moment of danger for the sanctuary of Krimisa or to remove them from public veneration.

Acrolito di Apollo Aleo di Cirò
Acrolito di Apollo Aleo di Cirò
Testa di Igiea
Marble head of Hygeia, Feneos, Archaeological Museum.
Apollo citaredo collezione farnese
Apollo Citaredo from the Farnese Collection, Naples, Archaeological Museum.

Our proposed reconstruction of the acrolith, based on limited archaeological comparisons, including the Apollo Citaredo from the Farnese Collection at the Archaeological Museum of Naples, depicts it seated and fully dressed, playing a lyre. To complete the missing elements, we suggest the inclusion of a bronze wig with a similar hairstyle to the one found on-site, although we have noticed it is not directly relevant. We also recommend adding bone, ivory, or calcite eyeballs with glass or precious stone irises, as well as a small bronze plate to create the eyelashes. The left hand should be positioned as if supporting a lyre, and the feet and ankles should correspond to a seated statue, bearing the marks of rectangular pegs used to attach them to the wooden structure, along with small holes for fastening the deity’s sandals.

Acrolito di Apollo Aleo di Cirò