This surely was not the case for archaic terracottas from mainland or East Greek sites, where sanctuaries were identified epigraphically as places sacred to Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis, Apollo, Zeus, or the Nymphs were worshipped,3 not to mention the terracotta protome from Delos inscribed with a dedication to Hera. From a certain perspective this is understandable since this chthonic interpretation was based on a statement of Cicero, for example, for which all Sicily belonged to Persephone.
This point of view was itself a product of the culture of romanticism that had taken hold in northern Europe in the later 18th century and that matured in the early 19th century. Within this context there were two factors that contributed to what ultimately emerged as the Demeter paradigm.
The first was a fixation on death and a morbid fascination with underworld spirits, ruins, caves, and tombs, all represented within gloomy environments and with an apprehensive foreboding. Of singular importance was his predictable hypothesis that Greek religion was intensely erotic in origin and had rituals associated with it that were conducted under the veil of secrecy at night. As has been noted, this re-emerged as an exaggerated emphasis on fertility and underworld cults, and especially on the secretive rites associated with them.
The more inexplicable an artefact, the greater was the tendency to assign it to some aspect of a mystery cult, or at the very least an underworld or earth goddess, if not a death goddess. It also is not unexpected that all texts that were consulted favoured associations with the underworld and cults of fertility, for which Dionysos, Demeter, and, a little less, Persephone were the most important divinities.
This inclination, practically a prejudice, coloured all archaeological work and scholarly attempts at the interpretation of Greek art in the 19th century. Nor was this bias limited to the scholarly world. Paolo Orsi and the Demeter Paradeigm. But his philological approach to an interpretation of finds resulted in an excessive iconographic importance for certain archaic coroplastic types that gave birth to the Demeter paradigm in Sicily.
For example, when Orsi discussed archaic protomai from a votive deposit at Megara Hyblaia, he repeated an idea that had been implanted in the archaeological consciousness by Gerhard several decades earlier, whereby the motif of the isolated head could refer to Demeter Kidaria. As soon as this idea appeared in print, it became embedded in the archaeological literature for Sicily, with references to Demeter Kidaria and her cult growing more and more absurd with every successive publication. He maintained the same position for types of figured alabastra representing a standing female holding a dove that occasionally were found alongside protomai in both graves and votive deposits.
The presence of the dove, for Orsi a symbol of Aphrodite, in the hand of this standing female type accompanying images of Demeter Kidaria initially was problematic. Utilizing the same logic, Orsi held that discovery of protomai in a votive deposit at Megara Hyblaia could only indicate a cult of Demeter Kidaria. Orsi could never have imagined that what appeared to him as closed eyes was nothing more than a lack of detail that commonly is associated with a long serial production, or that perhaps the painted details that often were applied to terracottas simply did not survive.
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In this way, the notion that the protome represented Demeter Kidaria was embedded in the archaeological literature concerning Sicily, a notion that has persisted throughout the better part of the 20th century. She further postulated that this was proof that Demeter Kidaria was worshipped in Punic Palermo in the same form in which she was worshipped in the Greek colonies in Sicily.
Thus, the argument that figurines from a given sanctuary represent Demeter and that therefore the sanctuary must be chthonic rests on the premise that chthonic sanctuaries have figurines that represent Demeter. Of course, the evidence used to identify these figurines in the first place is the fact that they are found in chthonic sanctuaries. Without questioning this mode of reasoning, Valentina Hinz listed all the Sicilian sanctuaries said to be chthonic in her study of the cult of Demeter and Kore in Sicily and Magna Graecia,22 and this study has become embedded in the archaeological literature for cult identification in Sicily, thus unwittingly furthering a research bias that rests on very tenuous foundations.
The archaic types noted above all belong to the so-called Aphrodite Group of Reynold Higgins. The protomai, produced in the same East Greek workshops, appear to have been nothing more than abbreviated versions of the female alabastra, whose face was shared by some of the oldest of the protomai. Consequently, because the East Greek artisan could not know of the final deposition of the products, by necessity these had to have been created as generic images.
By association, male representations, much less frequent within Greek coroplastic corpora, have to be gods. As a notion this too came into prominence with the erudite writing of the 17th century by learned amateurs who sought to demonstrate their knowledge of ancient texts by applying them to ancient monuments. Even though figurative terracottas were hardly mentioned in these early discourses, when they were noted the reliance on ancient texts compelled the authors to see only representations of divinity,41 since the ancient authors did not write about mortals.
Demeter was the most obvious choice because of the superficial resemblance of the polos to the Roman grain measure, the modius, even though the so-called Demeter images were all Greek.
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In early scholarship, the polos was also referred to as a kalathos, the cylindrical basket that was used by the ancient Greeks for a variety of purposes, but significantly for collection of the harvest. This reference was based on a mistaken interpretation of the polos, with its cylindrical form, but one that became firmly embedded in the archaeological literature of the 19th century.
Iconographic references to the kalathos were so frequent in early studies of Greek art that the word kalathos was used randomly and interchangeably for the word polos. He saw in the rounded contour of the stephane a symbol of the vault of the heavens, a feature that indicated the celestial realm of Athena Polias. While Panofka interpreted a type of archaic Attic figurine of a seated female as Gaea Olympia, he further proposed that this figurine type represented the ethereal and life-giving principal of the collective creation of the universe, simultaneously evident in the moon and the earth.
In this way, a Hellenistic figurine of a Nike crowned with an ivy wreath and holding a phiale and oinochoe was identified as Hebe, or Ganymeda, the cupbearer wife of Dionysos Hebon. Do we assume further that the painters of vases, engravers of gems, or sculptors working, in most cases, for trade and for luxury, will be mired in the depths of a mythical cosmic or Orphic mythology?
Is this idea not a little more German than Greek? And as figurative terracottas increased in importance in private and museum collections over the course of the second half of the 19th century, so these too became subject to the same rules of scholarly discourse that continued to see divinity in every human image. In fact, so entrenched was this goddess bias that scholars completely ignored early suggestions that certain figurines could represent mortals,59 a suggestion that had been ridiculed by Heuzey,60 or even that there could be representations of mortals in the guise of the heroized dead.
This lack of a critical approach to the evidence has resulted in another meaningless circular argument, whereby the polos represents a given goddess because it is found on representations of that goddess.
Chronique archéologique - Persée
A different argument in favour of human representation was offered by Blinkenberg in his discussion of the archaic figurines and plastic vases from the acropolis of Lindos. While those following the goddess interpretation were still in the majority, occasionally there were others who wished to see representations of mortals, at least in some types. Among those scholars was Zuntz, who, in his study of Persephone, preferred to see mortals in all figurines of standing females from south Italy and Sicily, but those represented seated had to be goddesses, since he believed the seated posture to be one of authority.
The monolithic structure of the goddess bias has begun to crack and shift, in part as a result of the recent work of Huysecom-Haxhi and Muller,71 but also in part because of a more modern, anthropological and sociological approach to artifactual analysis in classical archaeology that has begun to color the archaeological literature of the early 21st century While philological attitudes may still prevail in some studies, the recent suggestions that the visual language of figurative terracottas could have had a broader, and more polyvalent, significance that could also include references to mortals, or to mortals assuming the natures previously exclusively attributed to divinities, has widened the door considerably to our understanding of the religious and social backgrounds of coroplastic production.
Bibliography Ammerman, R. Babelon, E. Barra Bagnasco, M. Protomi in terracotta da Locri Epizefiri. Blinkenberg, C. Les petits objets, Berlin: De Gruyter. Brommer, F. Paris: Firmin Didot. Choix de terres cuites antiques du cabinet de M. Land und Leute.
Département des antiquités orientales du musée du Louvre
Wien, There is an account of the Museum, pp. Anales del Museo nacional de Mexico. Mexico, , ann. Meyer A.
See Dresden. New York. Part ii. Meyer Heinrich. See London.
Engraved Illustrations of Ancient Arms and Armour, a series of Etchings of the collection at Goodrich Court,. Engraved by Joseph Skelton, infra, s. In German.
Catalog Record: Vases antiques du Louvre | HathiTrust Digital Library
Introduction by J. Planche", Somerset Herald. Mezger Moritz. See Augsburg.
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Michaelis A. Michaelis J. See Spener J. Michel A. See Paris, Louvre. Michelant See Austria, Margaret of. See Ann Arbor. Archaeological Collection. Internationales Archiv fiir Ethnographie , iv. Middleburg, Printed Books, MSS. Germana quaedam Antiquitatis eruditae Monumenta. Romae olim maxima ex parte collecta. The collection was purchased by Horace Walpole and dispersed at the Strawberry Hill sale in Middletown Connecticut. Annual Report of Curators.
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