This gravestone, or stele, came from a street of tombs immediately outside the walls of Athens known as The Kerameikos. The inscription identifies the man as Philomelos and the woman as Plathane. Unlike the funereal art of many other civilizations, Greek monuments emphasized life rather than death -- the memory of the dead in the minds of the living. The couple is shown either in the act of departing from one another in this world or greeting one another in another world, united forever in death by the affectionate gesture of their touching hands.
Low relief carving was particularly suited to the restrained emotion of funerary shafts of this type. The shallow projection of the forms is still sufficient to indicate the three-dimensional quality of the figures and the architectural setting.