Egyptianizing Figurines from Delos

A Study in Hellenistic Religion


This book investigates Hellenistic popular religion through an interdisciplinary study of terracotta figurines of Egyptian deities, mostly from domestic contexts, from the trading port of Delos. A comparison of the figurines’ iconography to parallels in Egyptian religious texts, temple reliefs, and ritual objects suggests that many figurines depict deities or rituals associated with Egyptian festivals. An analysis of the objects’ clay fabrics and manufacturing techniques indicates that most were made on Delos. Additionally, archival research on unpublished notes from early excavations reveals new data on many figurines’ archaeological contexts, illuminating their roles in both domestic and temple cults. The results offer a new perspective on Hellenistic reinterpretations of Egyptian religion, as well as the relationship between “popular” and “official” cults.
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Biographical Note

Caitlín E. Barrett, Ph.D. (2009) in Anthropology (Archaeology), Yale University, is Assistant Professor of Classics at Cornell University. Her recent publications address Egyptianizing cults in the Hellenistic Mediterranean, Egypto-Minoan trade, and Mesopotamian mortuary practices.

Table of contents

Front Matter List of Tables List of Plates Acknowledgments Chapter 1. Introduction: Egyptianizing Cult at a Crossroads of Hellenistic Trade 1.1. Introduction 1.2. Ptolemaic Activity on Delos 1.3. “Egyptian Cult” or “Egyptian Cults”? 1.4. Contextual Analysis 1.5. Fabric Analysis 1.6. Technological Style 1.7. Organization of the Text 1.8. Religious Syncretism and Hybridity Chapter 2. Fabric Analysis: Evidence for the Local Origins of the Majority of Egyptianizing Figurines on Delos 2.1. Introduction: Local Production versus Imports 2.2. Methodology 2.2.1. Research Methods: Tools and Terminology 2.2.2. Selection of Comparanda from the Cairo Museum and the Athenian Agora 2.2.3. Presentation of Fabric Groups 2.3. Egyptian Coroplastic Fabrics: Greco-Roman-Era Terracottas from the Cairo Museum 2.3.1. Introduction to the Cairo Museum Corpus 2.3.2. Categorization of Egyptian Pottery Types 2.3.3. Fabrics of the Greco-Roman-Era Terracotta Figurines in the Cairo Museum 2.4. Greek Coroplastic Fabrics: Hellenistic Terracottas from the Athenian Agora 2.4.1. Introduction to the Athenian Corpus 2.4.2. Reddish Attic Fabrics 2.4.3. Blond “Aeginetan” Fabrics 2.4.4. Other Imported Fabrics 2.5. Coroplastic Fabrics from Hellenistic Delos 2.5.1. Introduction 2.5.2. Sampling Methodology 2.5.3. Reddish “Cycladic” Fabrics Associated with Local Production 2.5.4. Imported Fabrics on Delos 2.6. Fabric Analysis: Conclusions Chapter 3. Manufacturing Techniques, Technological Style, and the Question of Egyptian Coroplasts on Delos 3.1. Introduction 3.2. Methodology 3.3. Establishing the Unique Characteristics of Egyptian Coroplastic Techniques: A Comparison of Technological Style in Figurines from the Cairo Museum and the Athenian Agora 3.3.1. Fabric Preparation: Selection of Tempering Material 3.3.2. Shaping of the Figurine: Molding and Appliqués 3.3.3. Reworking: Trimming, Retouch, and Retooling 3.3.4. Removal of Surface Irregularities: Smoothing and Application of Slip 3.3.5. Post-Firing Manufacturing Techniques: Limewash, Painting, and Repair 3.3.6. Conclusions: Distinguishing Egyptian from Greek (Athenian) Manufacturing Techniques 3.4. Coroplastic Manufacturing Techniques on Delos 3.4.1. Fabric Preparation: Selection of Tempering Material 3.4.2. Shaping of the Figurine: Molding and Appliqués 3.4.3. Reworking: Trimming, Retouch, and Retooling 3.4.4. Removal of Surface Irregularities: Smoothing and Application of Slip 3.4.5. Post-firing Manufacturing Techniques: Limewash, Painting, and Repair 3.5. Conclusions Chapter 4. The Eye of the Sun and the Inundation of the Nile: Iconographic Evidence for Egyptian Theology on Delos 4.1. Introduction 4.1.1. A New Perspective on Religious Syncretism within the Household 4.1.2. Inundation Festivals in Egypt 4.1.3. Textual and Architectural Evidence for “Nile Water” on Delos 4.2. Depictions of Deities Identified with the Returning Goddess 4.2.1. Depictions of deities identified with the returning goddess (1): Isis Isis and the Solar Eye Heads with Isiac Crowns Figurines with Isiac Costume Figurines with Corkscrew Curls 4.2.2. Depictions of Deities Identified with the Returning Goddess (2): “Oriental Aphrodite” “Oriental Aphrodite” figurines “Oriental Aphrodite” Heads with Elaborate Coiffures, Often Incorporating Vegetal Elements Clothed “Oriental Aphrodite” Bodies with Central Medallion on Chest Nude Female Figurines Wearing Crossed Chains and Central Medallions Male Figurines with Crossed Chains and Central Medallion Higgins’ First Subgroup of “Oriental Aphrodite” Figurines: An Argument for Eliminating Them from the “Oriental Aphrodite” Category 4.2.3. Depictions of Deities Identified with the Returning Goddess (3): Sothic Dogs 4.2.4. Depictions of Deities Identified with the Returning Goddess (4): Arsinoe II Ptolemaic Queens, Ptolemaic Royal Cult, and the Solar Eye Double Cornucopiae Figurines with the Portrait Features of Arsinoe II 4.2.5. Depictions of Deities Identified with the Returning Goddess: Summary 4.3. Sexual Imagery and the Inundation as Hieros Gamos 4.3.1. Sexual Imagery and Inundation Festivals in Egypt 4.3.2. Ithyphallic Harpocrates 4.3.3. Figurines of So-Called “Baubo” Type The Isiac/Hathoric Symbolism of the So-Called “Baubo” Figurines So-Called “Baubo” (Isiac/Hathoric) Standard Type Male Variant of the “Baubo” Type 4.3.4. Divine Pair with Cornucopiae (Perhaps Agathos Daimon and Agathe Tyche/Shai and Renenutet) Egyptian Parallels for A5622 Paired Deities with Cornucopiae in Greek Art Egyptian Images of Anguiform Paired Deities Agathos Daimon in Greek Iconography Agathos Daimon and Shai Agathe Tyche and Renenutet Political Implications of Paired Serpentine Deities Paired Serpentine Deities and the Hieros Gamos of the New Year A5622 and the Delian Cult of Agathe Tyche and Agathos Daimon 4.3.5. Sexual Imagery and Hieros Gamos: Summary 4.4. Birth of the New Solar Child: Figurines of Harpocrates 4.4.1. The Birth of the Solar Child 4.4.2. Harpocrates with Double Crown 4.4.3. Harpocrates with Sidelock, Imported, Perhaps Archaic or Based on an Archaic Patrix 4.4.4. Solarized Harpocrates Figurines: Harpocrates Seated in a Flower or Wearing a Radiate Crown 4.4.5. Heads of Pataikoi and Nubians with Harpocratic Lotus Buds 4.4.6. Figurines of Harpocrates: Summary 4.5. Nubians and the Entourage of the Returning Goddess 4.5.1. Representations of Nubians in the Greco-Roman World 4.5.2. Dancing or Singing Nubians with Festival Wreaths, and a General Discussion of Nubian Terracottas on Delos 4.5.3. Head of a Possible Nubian Cultic Functionary of Harpocrates 4.5.4. Nubians, Possibly Dwarfs, Adopting a Bes-like Posture 4.5.5. Images of Nubians: Summary 4.6. Bes and Related Dwarf Deities (Ptah-Pataikos) 4.6.1. Representations of Bes Bes and the Hathoric Sphere Armed Bes Bes-Silenos 4.6.2. Representations of Ptah-Pataikos 4.6.3. Dwarf Deities: Summary 4.7. Plastic Vases and Depictions of Water or Wine Vessels 4.7.1. Figurines Holding or Leaning on Vessels 4.7.2. Plastic Vases Plastic Vases as Containers for Water or Wine Plastic Vases Possibly Designed to Hold Perfume 4.7.3. Figurines Carrying or Taking the Form of Vessels: Summary 4.8. Dionysos Botrys 4.9. Herms Representing Hermes-Thoth 4.10. Flowers and Floral Wreaths 4.11. Pharaonic Predecessors for Ptolemaic and Roman-Period Egyptian Terracottas 4.11.1. Hathoric Figurines 4.11.2. Prunkgefässe 4.11.3. Faience Figurines 4.11.4. Textual References to Clay Figurines 4.11.5. Summary: Pharaonic Precedents 4.11.6. Excursus: Parallels in Two-Dimensional Greco-Roman Art (“Nilotic Scenes”) 4.12. Conclusions Chapter 5. A Contextual Analysis of the Findspots of Egyptian and Egyptianizing Terracotta Figurines on Delos 5.1. Introduction 5.2. Methodology 5.2.1. Sampling Methodology 5.2.2. Conventions for the Citation of Unpublished Material 5.3. Figurines from Private Houses 5.3.1. Figurines from Private Houses: Introduction 5.3.2. Egyptianizing Terracottas from the Theater Quarter 5.3.3. An Egyptianizing Terracotta from the Stadium Quarter 5.3.4. An Egyptianizing Terracotta from the Inopos Quarter 5.3.5. An Egyptianizing Terracotta from a House near the Port 5.3.6. An Egyptianizing Terracotta from the Lake Quarter 5.3.7. An Egyptianizing terracotta from the Post-Hellenistic Houses at the Northwest of the Hypostyle Hall 5.3.8. Household Ritual and the Possibility of Domestic Shrines 5.3.9. Figurines from Private Houses: Summary 5.4. Figurines from Streets in Residential Areas 5.4.1. Egyptianizing Figurines from Streets in the Lake Quarter 5.4.2. Egyptianizing Figurines from Streets in the Theater Quarter 5.4.3. An Egyptianizing Figurine from the “Street of the East” 5.4.4. Figurines from Streets: a General Discussion The Possible Origins of Figurines from Streets Ancient Looters, the Evidence for Repair of Figurines, and the Valuation of Terracotta Objects 5.5. Figurines from Ambiguous Contexts within Residential Districts 5.6. Figurines from Coroplastic Workshops 5.6.1. Introduction: Coroplastic Workshops on Delos 5.6.2. Local Production of Egyptianizing Figurines: Imported Patrices versus Locally- Made Patrices 5.6.3. Dating of the Coroplastic Workshops 5.6.4. Distribution of Mold Siblings of Figurines from the Delian Workshops 5.6.5. Presence of Egyptianizing and Non-Egyptianizing Figurines in the Same Workshops Greek, Egyptian, and Anatolian Imagery in the Workshops Greek, Egyptian, and Anatolian Coroplastic Imagery in the Overall Coroplastic Corpus from Delos 5.7. Figurines from Other Commercial Establishments: Shops in the Agora of the Italians and Elsewhere 5.7.1. Egyptianizing Figurines from Non-Coroplastic Shops in the Agora of the Italians 5.7.2. Egyptianizing Figurines from Shops in the Inopos Quarter 5.7.3. Figurines from Streets: The Possibility that Some May Have Originated in Shops as Well as Domestic Contexts 5.8. Egyptian Figurines from Graves on Rheneia 5.9. Egyptianizing Figurines from Non-Egyptianizing Sanctuaries 5.9.1. Introduction: Sanctuary Contexts 5.9.2. An Egyptianizing Figurine Possibly Originating from a Dionysiac Chapel 5.9.3. Egyptianizing Terracottas from the Kabirion/Samothrakeion The Delian Sanctuary, the Kabeiroi, and the Great Gods of Samothrace Egyptianizing Dwarf-Gods in the Kabirion/Samothrakeion Evidence for A1758’s Having Been in Situ Religious Syncretism between Egyptian Dwarf-Gods and the Kabeiroi 5.9.4. An Egyptianizing Terracotta from the Synagogue 5.9.5. An Egyptianizing Terracotta from the Archegesion 5.9.6. Egyptianizing Figurines from the Sanctuary of Apollo 5.10. Figurines from Ambiguous or Unknown Contexts 5.10.1. Egyptianizing Figurines with No Contextual Information 5.10.2. An Egyptianizing Figurine from a Clearly Secondary Context (Cistern) 5.10.3. Egyptianizing Figurines with Ambiguous or Imprecise Findspots 5.11. Figurines from Fill or Discard Contexts 5.12. Figurines from the Sarapeia 5.12.1. Figurines from the Sarapeia: An Introduction to the Data 5.12.2. Catalog of Figurines from Sarapeion A and Sarapeion C 5.12.3. Non-Egyptianizing Nature of the Figurines’ Iconography 5.12.4. Henotheism and Syncretism in the Sarapeia 5.12.5. A1983 and the Apparent Absence of Sarapis from the Delian Coroplastic Corpus 5.13. Conclusions Chapter 6. Conclusions: Syncretic Theology in Household Cult 6.1. Greco-Egyptian Religious Syncretism as a Meaningful Exchange of Ideas 6.2. “Personal Piety” 6.3. Egyptian Religious Festivals: Between Temple Ritual and Popular Cult 6.4. Hathor in Pharaonic Egypt, Isis in the Late Period, and the Role of Inundation Imagery on Delos 6.5. Producers, Consumers, and Differing Degrees of Religious Knowledge 6.5.1. Producers, Consumers, and the Reinterpretation of Meaning 6.5.2. Who Designed the Figurines’ Iconography? 6.6. Top-Down and Bottom-Up Influences on Egyptianizing Cult on Delos 6.6.1. Egyptianizing Figurines and the Ptolemaic State 6.6.2. Trade and the Isis Cult 6.7. Delos in Context 6.8. Cosmopolitanism in the Household Appendix A. Timeline of Delian History Appendix B. Catalog of Egyptian and Egyptianizing Terracotta Figurines and Plastic Vases from Hellenistic Delos Appendix C. List of Unpublished Field Notes Cited Bibliography


Classical archaeologists; Egyptologists; anthropologists of religion; ancient art historians; coroplastic specialists; ceramicists; Ptolemaicists; academic libraries and institutes; and all those interested in Hellenistic religious history, Greek Egyptomania, and Isis cult.