Sunday, June 12, 2011

Colin Renfrew Says...

...that all of those smashed statues on the Greek island of Keros were probably disposed of there in sacred ceremonies (they were buried, after all) at the end of their useful lives as votive objects.

Colin Renfrew is one of my heroes :)

Monday 13 June 2011
Smashing discovery
Cambridge University scientists have discovered that the ancient Greeks smashed valuable pottery in bizarre ceremonies 4,500 years ago.
Archaeologists embarked on a huge dig on the uninhabited Greek island of Keros in 2006 and discovered hundreds of pieces of ornate statues.

The Cambridge University team has now proved that the smashing of these marble pottery and statues was part of a bizarre religious ritual.

They believe that statues and pottery used for spiritual services were taken to Keros and broken, then buried in shallow pits.

Colin Renfrew, professor of Archaeology at Cambridge University, has spent hundreds of hours cataloguing the “remarkable” finds.

He said: “We believe that the breaking of the statues and other goods was a ritual and that Keros was chosen as a sanctuary to preserve the effects.

“They had a use-life, probably being painted and repainted from year to year.

“We believe the convention was that when a figure had reached the end of its use-life, it could not simply be thrown away or used conventionally, it needed to be desanctified in an elaborate process.

“Strangely, there seems to have been some obligation to bring a piece of the broken figure and deposit it on what must have been the sacred island of Keros, possibly staying a few days on Dhaskalio while the ceremony was completed.

“This is a remarkable find. The marble statues are very beautiful and have much value. We have never heard of a ritual like this before.”

The beautiful figurines, with their folded arms, sloping feet and featureless faces, have been found previously in Cycladic Bronze Age graves.

More information in this very informative article from

Broken idols of Keros: British archaeologists explain Greek mystery
Cambridge scientists dig up evidence of beautiful marble figurines broken then buried by Greeks 4,500 years ago
Mark Brown, arts corresponden
The Guardian
Friday 10 June 2011

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