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  Highlights of the Collection: Aphrodite, Female Figurines and Cyprus
  Aphrodite, Female Figurines and Cyprus: Late Bronze Age Female Figurines

It is in the Late Bronze Age (c.1650-1050 BC) that the sanctuary at Paphos was first established. Female figurines found on the site may indicate the association of the temple with a fertility goddess although it is impossible to name her. The structure of the temple resembled in shape those found in the Near East. Elsewhere on the island, other Near Eastern influences were creeping into the fertility cult. This terracotta figurine of a fertility goddess, dated to circa 13th century BC, is very similar to Astarte figurines found in Syria. They first appeared at the beginning of the 15th century. This figure was found in the Kafkalla cemetery in Dhenia village in the district of Nicosia, but figurines of this type have been found all over the island. She is naked, with prominent hips and is also carrying a child. She has bird-like features, similar to the Syrian statuettes, and around her neck can be seen a multiple-layered necklace, like those on the Cypriot plank figures. Birds were thought to represent fertility at this time, as well as bulls and other horned creatures. The broken clay around her head represents ears and the holes are piercings. She would have had metal or clay hoops threaded through them. Jewellery is a very prominent feature of Cypriot culture from the very earliest times, many of the anthropomorphic figurines being depicted wearing necklaces or earrings of some sort. The Syrian equivalents sometimes have belly button piercings! These figurines were found in both burials and settlements and were probably personal possessions buried with their owners in death.

Terracotta female figurine (AN1953.244) -click image to see more information about this object

Terracotta female figurine
from excavations at Dhenia, Kafkalla cemetery,
by H. Catling (AN1953.244)


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