Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory

BOOKS | 2012

23 October 2012

Sexually Ambiguous Imagery in Cyprus from the Neolithic to the Cypro-Archaic Period

Sandra Christou

Sexually Ambiguous Imagery in Cyprus from the Neolithic to the Cypro-Archaic Period

City: Oxford

Year: 2012

Publisher: Archaeopress

Series: BAR International Series 2329

Description: Paperback, vii & 91 p., illustrated in colour and black and white, 29,5x20,8 cm


Although the earliest known literary evidence for a dual-sexed divinity on Cyprus dates to the fifth century BCE, archaeological evidence indicates there was a tradition on the island of sexually ambiguous imagery which predates the literary sources. This information prompted the present research, which traces the tradition back to the earliest known examples on Late Neolithic Cyprus, and tracks its evolution through to the Cypro-Archaic period. Rather than rely upon descriptions, photographs and drawings presented in consulted publications, the various international museums that house the figures were visited by the writer in order to physically examine the images. Controversial aspects of these figures were discussed with senior museum staff and/or curators. If figurines were unavailable for viewing, where possible, photographs were acquired from the relevant museums, and controversial aspects of the figures discussed by email. As a result, the majority of the images discussed in this study have been examined and photographed by the author. A catalogue of the sexually ambiguous imagery for Cyprus from the Neolithic to the Cypro-Archaic period has been compiled and is included in this work. It is proposed that the imagery is of Cypriot innovation, and consists of proto-anthropomorphic, anthropomorphic and half-animal, half-human representations. The genre is influenced from its earliest period by the figurative art of the Syro-Anatolian mainland, but from the Late Bronze Age onwards, influences from the western Mediterranean and Aegean are also evident. Despite the periods in which (here is little evidence for figurine production, sexually ambivalent imagery re-emerges when figurative evidence is once more apparent in the archaeological records. Furthermore, stylistic continuity of the genre from one period lo the next is also apparent. This continuity is regardless of the cultural changes which occur intermittently during the seven millennia period relevant to this study. Although it is not until the Cypro-Geometric period that there is firm evidence to support a religious interpretation of sexually equivocal imagery, it is suggested that the genre from the earliest period was at least associated with fertility, and perhaps religious cult.


Acknowledgements [i]
Abstract [ii]
List of Figures [iv]
List of Maps [vi]
List of Tables [vii]  

Chapter 1. Introduction [1]  

Chapter 2. Significant Prior Research [3]  

Chapter 3. Problems of Identification [8]

Identification of Sex [8]
The Mother Goddess Concept [10]  

Chapter 4. Earliest Evidence: Neolithic and Chalcolithic [13]

Late Aceramic Neolithic: Khirokitia – c. 7000-5500 BCE [13]
Ceramic (Late) Neolithic: Sotira – c. 4500-3900 BCE [16]
Discussion [19]
Chalcolithic: Erimi – c. 3900-c. 2400 BCE. [21]
Discussion [30]  

Chapter 5. Androgyny in the Bronze Age c. 2500-c. 1050 BCE [32]

Late Early to Middle Bronze Age – c. 2000-1650 BCE [33]
Late Bronze Age – c. 1600-c. 1050 BCE [43]
Discussion [45]

Chapter 6. Androgyny from the Cypro-Geometric to the Cypro-Archaic [49]

Cypro-Geometric I-III c. 1050-c. 750 BCE [50]
Cypro-Archaic I-II, c. 750-480 BCE [57]
Discussion [62]  

Chapter 7. Summary and Conclusions [67]

Epilogue: The Cypriot Worship of Aphrodite [71]

Appendix 1. Diodorus Siculus Texts [75]

Appendix 2. Sexually Ambiguous Figures from Later Greek and Near Eastern Sites [79]

Appendix 3. Catalogue of Sexually Ambiguous Figures from Cyprus: Neolithic to Cypro-Archaic Period [82]

Bibliography [84]


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