added by archaeologs A supporting base or column of a structure shaped in the form of a woman. Most often, a caryatid supported a porch, entablature, or a colonnade and was in the form of a draped woman bearing it on her head. The best known are of the Erechtheum at Athens (420-415 BC) and other examples part of three small buildings (treasuries) at Delphi in Greece (550-530 BC). The figures' origin can be traced to mirror handles of nude figures carved from ivory in Phoenicia and draped figures cast from bronze in archaic Greece. Caryatids were used in the Roman emperor Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, the Villa Albani at Rome, two colossal figures at Eleusis, in Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa's Pantheon, and in the colonnade surrounding the Forum of Augustus at Rome. The male counterparts of caryatids are called 'atlantes'.
added by archaeologs Properly, a standing female figure sometimes substituted in a classical building for a column (usually of the Ionic order). Notable examples are to be found in the Cni-dian and Siphnian Treasuries (6th century bc) at Delphi in Greece, and one porch of the Erechtheum temple on the Acropolis at Athens (late 5th century bc).
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983