Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


1 February 2018

Some thoughts on the Troy type owl-headed idols of western Anatolia

Yilmaz Derya Prähistorische Zeitschrift 91.2 (2016): 369-378

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The subject of this study is a marble idol recovered at the Maydos Kilisetepe mound located near the town of Eceabat in the province of Çanakkale in Turkey. The idol belongs to a type known as a Troy type, specifically Type 2C of Blegen’s typology. It is also known as an “owl-headed idol”, as proposed by Schliemann. The distribution maps of these idols show that they are widely found in western Anatolia. There are no identical examples from local settlement sites; on the contrary they all vary. The contexts of the idols, which in the majority of cases come from domestic contexts, are examined in greater detail to reach a better understanding of their use. From this we conclude that the idols were employed within a domestic cult environment. The chronology of the owl-headed idols is also considered; they appear in the middle to late Early Bronze Age but continued to be used at the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age. The idols reflect the beliefs of the people and probably symbolise the mother-goddess who had the role of protecting the household. Owl-faced goddess representations also figure on pottery and stelae of the third millennium BC in Mesopotamia, Syria and the western Mediterranean as far west as the Iberian Peninsula. The artefacts considered in this article suggest that wide-ranging contacts existed in a geographical area encompassing Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean.


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