Examining the chaîne opératoire of the Late Cypriot II-IIIA Female Terracotta Figurines: Preliminary Results of the Experimental Approach
Constantina Alexandrou & Brendan O’Neil In R. Maguire & J. Chick (eds) 2016. Approaching Cyprus. Proceedings of the Post-Graduate Conference of Cypriot Archaeology (PoCA) held at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, 1st-3rd November 2013, Newcastle upon Tyne: 98-109.
During the Late Cypriot II-IIIA (ca. 15th-12th centuries B.C.), the anthropomorphic Base-Ring figurine tradition reached its height. Broadly speaking, the handmade female terracottas can be stylistically separated into two groups comprising both hollow and solid examples: the so called “bird-headed” (Type A) and “flat-headed” (Type B) figurines. While examining their chaîne opératoire, an experimental methodology was employed to draw out additional information relating to their manufacture. The results of these practical tests were only compared against primary sources as a means of verification. The goal of examining the chaîne opératoire is to shed light firstly on the technical abilities required in their production, and secondly, on their use and possible social significance. In addition, questions relating to timing, levels of necessary expertise, difficulties in production, the choices of artisans etc., could only be answered through such experimentation and replication. This research employs a broad range of sources to interpret the Base-Ring female terracotta figurines, while demonstrating the benefits for a structured methodological approach within experimental archaeology.