Floral ornament, typically with alternating motifs. The term first occurs in a progress report commissioned in 409 bc on the building of the Erechtheion in Athens. Although the west side of the building was refurbished by the Romans in the 1st century ad, it is probable that the unfinished column bands referred to in the report were decorated with Palmette and lotus friezes comparable with those that decorate the Ionic columns of the north portico. In Classical architecture, anthemion ornaments are typical of the Ionic order, although they also occur in the decoration of a wide range of different artefacts, especially ceramics. Alternation of motif is characteristic, but there is considerable variation in the type, form and detail of the constituents.
The characteristic anthemion composition comprises alternating palmette and lotus motifs, which in Classical ornament emerge from an acanthine calyx (see Acanthus) and are joined to one another by curving S-shaped scrolls. In the ...