Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ancient Female Figurine 'Factory' Uncovered

Reported at the Cyprus Mail (online):
Ancient figurine ‘factory’ uncovered
Published on June 10, 2010

A BRITISH archaeology team has located evidence for the production of cruciform figurines such as the Idol of Pomos (image, left, not from the article), which is depicted on the Cypriot one and two euro coins, the Antiquities Department said yesterday.

The evidence comes from a settlement of 3000 BC located at Souskiou near Palaepaphos. The Pomos sculpture represents a woman with her arms spread. It was probably used as a fertility symbol.

“This is the first time that such detailed information on this subject has come to light in Cyprus,” a statement from the Department said.

“Among the remnants of a house lay the tools for making the figurines together with abundant fragments or chippings from the initial stages of production. These come from pebbles and blocks of raw material which the sculptors obtained, ultimately from the Troodos Mountains. A further production stage is evident from roughouts in which the figures begin to emerge from the parent rock. Also present were nearly finished figurines that were discarded because of imperfections.”

This unique evidence will allow archaeologists to reconstruct the techniques used by the prehistoric artisans and to see how the craft was organised within the Chalcolithic community. They said it was already clear that the workshop functioned in a building where domestic tasks were also carried out.

“There were many such houses at Souskiou which must have been a vibrant centre for the production of these iconic images. Eventually it may be possible to establish the characteristics of the Souskiou style and so to source some of the many figurines in museums,” the announcement added.

In another part of the settlement, the team investigated “rich economic data” such as animal bone, ceramics, charcoal and bone needles. “Normally washed away by erosion, the material here was trapped beneath buildings that were constructed over this ashy dump of food remains. It may have been deposited by temporary visitors to Souskiou before it was formally settled,” it said.

The four-week field work at the site was conducted by a team from the Lemba Archaeological Research Centre and the University of Edinburgh under the direction of Professor Edgar Peltenburg.

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