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In ancient Athens, female hairstyle was a distinctive symbol of status worn by women of high social rank and affluence when they appeared in public settings such as religious festivals.
Sculptures with elaborate female hairstyles or coiffures, unveiled and on display in the sacred and prominent location of the ancient Athenian Acropolis, invite an analysis of the preserved hairstyles to determine whether or not the sculptors invented an artistic convention or used real hairstyles of the day.
The Caryatid Hairstyling Project, spearheaded by Dr. Katherine Schwab, was conducted at Fairfield University in April, 2009. The project tested the reality or fantasy of these hairstyles by engaging student volunteers as models while a professional hairstylist recreated the individual hairstyles of the Erechtheion marble Caryatids or maidens (korai), which stand in place of columns in the South Porch.
The result? Confirmation that the marble Caryatids were closely modeled after real women of the day!
Six Fairfield students pose in front of Bellarmine Hall on April 26, 2009. Their elaborate hairstyles replicate the ancient Caryatids from the South Porch of the Erechtheion, a temple on the Athenian Acropolis.
- View photos of the hairstyling
- Learn more about the Caryatids through our selected resources
- To purchase the DVD on this unique project as a learning tool for you, your school or institution, contact The Bellarmine Museum.
- View Upcoming and Past Events
The Caryatid Hairstyling Project Photos
The Caryatid Hairstyling Project and companion DVD have been generously funded by the Faculty Research Committee of Fairfield University, with additional support from the Classical Studies Program, the Art History Program, the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, and The Humanities Institute of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Past & Present Media/Events
Lectures, Poster Sessions, Publications, Exhibitions, Screenings and Presentations:
- "Investigating the Surface: The Parthenon Metopes and Caryatid Hairstyles," Dartmouth College, September 27, 2016
- "Classical Hairstyles: Identity, Society and Fashion," University of Arizona, April 5, 2016
- "The Caryatid Hairstyles," The Brearley School, New York City, April 19, 2016
- "Classical Hairstyles: Identity, Society and Fashion," Timken Museum of Art, May 5, 2016
- "Classical Hairstyles: Identity and Fashion," Trinity College, March 7, 2016
- "Classical Hairstyles: Identity and Fashion," Bucknell University, October 27, 2015
- "The Meaning and Technique of Hair in Ancient Greek Art," ATINER, June 1, 2015
- "The Caryatid Hairstyles,"The Brearley School, New York City, April 14, 2015
- "The Caryatid Hairstyling Project," Fairfield University, March 30, 2015
- "The Caryatid Hairstyles," The Marymount School, New York City, November 12, 2013
- "How to Look Like a Greek Goddess", March 3, 2013, 2:00-3:30 p.m. at the Wilton Public Library for teens in grades 6-12.
- "The Caryatid Hairstyles from the Athenian Acropolis: technique and meaning" Archaeological Associates of Greenwich, Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT, October 18, 2012
- "The Caryatid Hairstyling Project," ARTiria, Lefkada, Greece, June 9, 2012, screening
- "The Caryatid Hairstyles," The Brearley School, New York City, April 24, 2012
- "The Caryatid Hairstyles," Kouros Gallery, New York City, April 17, 2012
- "Investigating the Surface: Hairstyles of the Athenian Caryatids," Department of Classics, Amherst College, March 27, 2012
- "The Caryatid Hairstyles: How to Braid Your Hair Like a Greek Goddess," Fairfield University Bookstore, February 15, 2012
- "Typologies of the Caryatid Coiffures," poster session presentation, 114th Annual Meeting, Archaeological Institute of America, Philadelphia, January 6, 2012
- "The Caryatid Hairstyles" A.G.A.P.W. (Association of Greek American Professional Women), World Bar, Trump World Tower, New York City, September 13, 2011
- "The Caryatid Hairstyles," ESEDY (Greek Foreign Affairs Diplomats' Spouses Association), Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece, June 14, 2011
- "The Caryatid Hairstyling Project and DVD Screening," Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan, April 23, 2011
- "Investigating the Surface: the Parthenon Metopes and the Caryatid Hairstyles," co-sponsored by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the American Friends of the New Acropolis Museum, Greek Embassy, Washington, D.C., April 7, 2011
- "The Athenian Acropolis: The Restoration Project and New Acropolis Museum," and screening of the Caryatid Hairstyling Project, Speaker Series, White Sands Residential Community, La Jolla, California, March 21, 2011
- "The Caryatid Hairstyles: Reality and Meaning (or how to braid your hair like a Greek goddess)," Department of Art History and Art, Case Western Reserve University, February 8, 2011
- "Gifts from Athens," AHEPA, New Britain chapter, January 25, 2011
- "Investigating the Surface: the Parthenon Metopes and the Caryatid Hairstyles," Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University, October 19, 2010
- "Photographs of the Caryatid Hairstyling Project," Greek Consulate General in New York City, February 25-March 27, 2015
- "Photographs of the Caryatid Hairstyling Project," Greek Embassy, Washington, D.C., April 30-June 26, 2015
- "Hair in the Classical World," Fairfield University Art Museum, Fairfield University, October 7-December 18, 2015
- AGON Film Festival, Athens, Greece, November 8-9, 2014
- Archaeological Film Festival, March 14, 2013. An Evening of Archaeological Films Organized by the Archives of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, AGON, and Fairfield University. Event will be live streamed beginning 10 a.m. EST.
- "Caryatid Hairstyling Project," 23rd International Festival of Archaeological Film, Trailer.
- "Cinema and archaeology: the camera in search of the Past," Rovereto, Italy, October 1-6, 2012.
- "Caryatid Hairstyling Project," AGON 2012 9th International Meeting of Archaeological Films on the Mediterranean and Beyond. Athens, May 7-13, 2012. View more details.
- Katherine A. Schwab and Marice Rose, "Fishtail Braids and the Caryatid Hairstyling Project: Fashion Today and in Ancient Athens," Catwalk: The Journal of Fashion, Beauty and Style, vol. 4.2 (2015) 1-24.
- Rose, M. and K. Schwab, Hair in the Classical World, exhibition brochure, Bellarmine Museum of Art, Fairfield University, Fall 2015
The Caryatid Hairstyling Project at Fairfield University in April 2009 tested the possibility of replicating the hairstyles and braiding techniques of the marble Caryatids (or maidens) from the South Porch of the Erechtheion on the Athenian Acropolis. 6 students (5 art history majors and 1 psychology major) were selected for the project on the basis of the length and thickness of their hair. They participated out of curiosity, then after the hairstyling, became enthralled by the direct connection they felt to the ancient Athenian culture.
"Participating in The Caryatid Hairstyling Project really made me understand
that there was a group of people actually alive at that time period. It no longer
seemed like some point in ancient history." - Amber Nowak '12 (Kore C)
Often hairstyles in ancient Greek art are elaborate and appear decorative. However, professional hairstylists today can readily recognize the technical virtuosity within these ancient designs. The Caryatids are individually referred to as Kore A - F (Kore is Greek for "maiden"). The elaborate hairstyles reflect a visual symbol connecting these maidens to the larger Athenian community. It is this connection that traveled through the ages to our current Fairfield students as they participated in this unique project.
Kore A - Sandra Cimino '09
Kore B - Dana Westrup '10
Kore C - Amber Nowak '12
Kore D - Mara Giarratana Young '11
Kore E - Caitlin Parker '11
Kore F - Shannon Berger '11
- Antoniadis, Costis, ed., 2008. The Creative Photograph in Archaeology. Athens, Benaki Museum.
- Bartman, Elizabeth, 2001. "Hair and the Artifice of Roman Female Adornment," American Journal of Archaeology 105:1, 1-25.
- Bartman, Elizabeth, 1999. Portraits of Livia. Imaging the Imperial Woman in Augustan Rome. Cambridge University Press.
- Blomberg, Marilyn, 1985. "Five Greek Gold Earrings in the Medelhavsmuseet," Medelhavsmuseet Bulletin 20, 53-62.
- Harrison, Evelyn B, 1986. "Greek Scupltured Coiffures and Ritual Haircuts," Early Greek Cult Practice: Proceedings of the Fifth International Symposium at the Swedish Institute at Athens, 26-29, June, 1986. Eds. R. Hagg, N. Marinatos, G.C. Nordquist, 247-254.
- Hurwit, Jeffrey M., 2004. The Acropolis in the Age of Pericles. Cambridge University Press.
- Lauter, Hans, 1976. Die Koren des Erechtheion. Antike Plastik 16.
- Lee, Mireille, 2000. "Deciphering Gender in Minoan Dress," in Alison Rautman, ed. Reading the Body: Representations and Remains in the Archaeological Record. University of Pennsylvania Press.
- Lesk, Alexandra L. A Diachronic Examination of the Erechtheion and Its Reception. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Cincinnati, 2005.
Dr. Katherine Schwab and Dana Westrup '10 discuss the hairstyling project.
- Lesk, Alexandra L. "’Caryatides probantur inter pauca operum’: Pliny, Vitruvius, and the Semiotics of the Erechtheion Maidens at Rome," Arethusa 40:1 (2007) 25-42.
- Lewis, Sian, 2002. The Athenian Woman. Routledge.
- Levine, Molly Myerowitz, 1995. "The Gendered Grammar of Ancient Mediterranean Hair," in Howard Eilberg-Schwartz and Wendy Doniger, eds. Off with Her Head: The Denial of Women's Identity in Myth, Religion, and Culture. Berkeley, 76-130.
- Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd, 2003. Aphrodite's Tortoise: The Veiled Woman of Ancient Greece. Swansea.
- Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd and Sue Blondell, eds. Women's Dress in the Ancient Greek World
- Oakley, John and Rebecca Sinos, 1993. The Wedding in Ancient Athens. University of Wisconsin Press.
- Papanikolaou, Alexander, 1994. "The Restoration of the Erechtheion," in Acropolis Restoration, ed. by Richard Economakis (London, Academy Editions) 136-49.
- Rose, M. and K. Schwab, Hair in the Classical World, exhibition brochure, Bellamine Museum of Art, Fairfield University, Fall 2015.
- Vlassopoulou, Christina, 2006. The Athenian Acropolis: The Monuments and the Museum. Athens.
View a three-minute clip of the DVD The Caryatid Hairstyling Project, produced by the Media Center of Fairfield University. To purchase a copy, contact the Fairfield University Art Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 2017: "Untangling the Caryatid's Intricate Braids" Greece Is. January 4, 2017
December 2015: "Ancient Hairstyles of the Greco-Roman World" Ancient History Et Cetera. December 9, 2015.
December 2015: "Ancient Hairstyles Make a Statement" Greek News. December 7, 2015. (PDF)
September 2015: "Fairfield University and the Greek American Community" Greek News. September 21, 2015. (PDF)
May 2015: "The Rachel haircut of 2015? Hairdos of the Ancient Greeks brought to life," The Independent, May 26, 2015
May 2015: "How did they do that ‘do?" The Washington Post, May 22, 2015
March 2015: "Living Stone Maidens: The Caryatid Hairstyles Project," Greek News, March 8, 1 and 32 (PDF)
February 2015: "Caryatids Come Alive at Greek Consulate," The National Herald, February 28 – March 6, 2015, 4 (PDF)
Summer 2014: 2,500-Year-Old Greek Statues Sparkle After Facelift. National Geographic.
Spring 2013: The Blue Skirt. The Brearley Middle School Paper.
January 13, 2013: "Six Beautiful Maidens: The Korai of the Acropolis Museum." Online interview and article with Marianthi Milona, on National Public Radio of Germany. Listen online or read a transcript.
November, 7, 2012: "Grecian formula: Archeologist unravels the ancient hairdos of the Caryatid" in the Greenwich Citizen
Spring 2012: The Blue Skirt. The Brearley Middle School Newspaper
February 9, 2012: Interview with Bill Buschel on "Graffiti," for Hellenic Public Radio
April 17, 2011: Greek News
February, 2011: ARTnews article (PDF) and website
May-July, 2010: Wandering Educator, The National Herald
April 14, 2010: Front page of To Vima in Athens, Greece
April 8, 2010: Press release from Fairfield University