The Great Marble ‘Winged Victory’
The Nike monument was found in 1863 by a French expedition led by an amateur archaeologist Charles Champoiseau, vice-consul to Adrianople. The remains of the monument were found and sent off to Paris to be displayed in the Louvre in 1884. The monument dates to the first half of the second century B.C. The components include Parian marble for the statue and Lartos from Rhodes for the base. Nike was installed in a dramatic position on the landing of the great Daru Stairway and remains there today. Emory.edu describes the work as, “the most famous monument of Samothrace—and one of the earliest discoveries–is the great marble Winged Victory (Nike in Greek) lighting on the prow of a ship that appears to move swiftly forward.”
The Nike is very tall, towering 5.57 meters in the air. Originally, it stood in an architectural niche above the theatre and to the south of the stoa. This made the monument visible from many vantages within the sanctuary. Beautiful in that precise position and beautiful now, it must commemorate a great victory. Emory University suggests the victory was connected with a naval engagement or with the achievement of naval supremacy. However, when the Nike was commissioned and what she commemorates remains contested. It is clear that the Nike is truly a breathtaking beauty.