About Aphrodite and Eros at Amathous: Terracotta and Sculpture

In: Hellenistic and Roman Terracottas

Abstract

The starting point of our discussion will be a few fragmentary Hellenistic terracotta statuettes from the acropolis of Amathous that depict a woman holding a young child against her shoulder. The type has been interpreted as a variation on the theme of Aphrodite with Eros. However, recent excavations in the storage area of the palace unearthed a limestone statuette of Aphrodite, resting on a column, holding a child. Stone statuette and terracotta fragments seem to evoke the same original. Another work, from the sanctuary, adds to the attempted reconstruction of the original: it is a curious limestone bust of a woman, headless, but in a pose that seems to derive from the same iconographic model.

As we shall see, the analysis of the archaeological contexts of the respective finds suggests close links with the sanctuary of Aphrodite. We propose to place this iconographic type in the overall context of the kourotrophos goddess in Cyprus and thus determine the influence of local traditions on the type. Locally produced for a very special sanctuary, these terracottas have some specific characteristics but are based on a limestone model, which itself adapts a Hellenistic model to local demands. Can the reconstructed image be that of a cult statue coming from the very sanctuary?

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