Aphrodite, Coming of Age and Marriage: Contextualisation and Reconsideration of the Nude Young Women Kneeling in a Shell

in Hellenistic and Roman Terracottas
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Abstract

We have chosen to study here the naked female figure kneeling in a shell: this is a relatively uncommon theme which is articulated in several types with significant differences in the gestures, ornaments, accessories or companions. Whenever the context is known, it has always to do with sanctuaries of female divinities or graves. Our objective here is to reconsider the interpretation of this image by taking into consideration the different data at our disposal. The main question would not be to establish if they represent Aphrodite or not, but to try to understand the values that the image of a naked female body, emerging from a shell, might well represent, and help explain the presence of this object in this particular context, by or for an individual, at a particular moment of life.1

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