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Supplment 23
Le donateur, lorande et la desse
Systmes votifs dans les sanctuaires
de desses du monde grec
Actes du 31
colloque international organis par lUMR HALMA-IPEL
(Universit Charles-de-Gaulle/Lille 3, 13-15 dcembre 2007)
dits par Clarisse Prr+rr
avec la collaboration de Stphanie Htsrco-H:ni
Centre International dtude de la Religion Grecque Antique
Lige, 2009
Le donateur, !'offrande et la deesse
Kernos supplement 23 (2009), p. 97-110.
Some Remarks on Meaning and Function
of Moldmade Terracotta Relief Plaques
Depicting Naked and Dressed Female Figures*
Abstract: Moldmade relief plaques depicting naked and dressed females are frequently
attested as votive offerings in Cretan sanctuaries in the Early Archaic period. Recent
research has emphasized the role plaques of this type might have played in initiation rites for
young members of the society. In this paper it will be argued that such plaques typologically
depend on imported Near Eastern and locally made ivory handle figures. In the context of
changing votive behavior from the Late Geometric period onward, moldmade plaques are
likely to have been initially produced to satisfy an increasing demand for imagery associated
with the aristocratic elite. As a result, the presumed association of the plaques with rites of
maturity, which cannot, in any case, be considered an exclusive explanation of their
function, could have gradually evolved over a longer period of time. In the final section,
some functional similarities between moldmade plaques showing naked and dressed females
and doll-like objects are adressed.
Resume : Les plaques moulees en terre cuite representant des femmes nues ou vetues
sont des offrandes frequemment attestees clans les sanctuaires cretois du debut de la periode
archa'ique. La recherche recente a mis l'accent sur la fonction jouee par ces plaques clans les
rites d'initiation destines aux jeunes membres de la societe. Cet article montre que de telles
plaques relevent, d'un point de vue typologique, des figures sculptees sur des manches en
ivoire, importees du Proche-Orient ou fabriquees localement. Dans le contexte d'un
changement de comportement votif des la fin de l'epoque geometrique, il est vraisemblable
que ces plaques moulees ont ete produites a l'origine pour satisfaire une demande croissante
d'images associees a l'elite aristocratique. Par consequent, !'association supposee de ces
plaques avec les rites de maturite, qui ne suffit pas clans tous les cas a expliquer leur
fonction, pourrait s'etre developpee progressivement sur une plus longue periode. En
conclusion sont evoquees les ressemblances fonctionnelles constatees entre les plaques
moulees montrant des femmes nues ou vetues, et les objets figurant des poupees.
The meaning and function of early moldmade terracottas depicting naked and
dressed female figures (Fig. 1-2, 5) have been much disputed since such votive
offerings first came to light in Greek sanctuaries at the end of the nineteenth
century. In this debate, the naked type in particular has attracted considerable
' I would like to thank A. Babbi, J.D. Baumbach, J. Larson, A. Muller, and V. Pirenne-Delforge
for discussion and useful comments. Furthermore, I am grateful to I. Keller and A. Theodoris for
correcting and improving the English text.
98 O. PILZ
interest. Larlier research generally emphasized the connection o the naked
igures with ertility or tended to identiy them with speciic deities, or instance
Aphrodite. In the last decades, research has ocused more on the role that
moldmade plaques and igurines o this type played in ritual practice.
Since the time when such plaques irst attracted
scholary attention, a paradigm shit has taken place in
regard to the explanation o their primary unction. It
contributed to replacing the preiously dominant
concept o ertility by that o initiation as the general
ramework o interpretation.
Since it is widely accepted
that there were no rites directly comparable to tribal
initiation` in ancient Greece, initiation has been
described in a broader sense as the process o integrat-
ing children and adolescents into the socio-religious
system o the poti. society.
loweer, accepting such a
deinition, it becomes clear that religious rites with
presumed initiatory unction are only one aspect o this
integration process. Accordingly, it would be more
correct to speak o socialization instead o initiation.
Applying the concept o initiation to the interpreta-
tion o the plaques in question has indeed proen
ruitul. 1he aim o this paper is thereore not to
undamentally challenge this approach but, on the
contrary, to proide urther eidence or the suggestion
that in particular the plaques showing naked emales
could hae been associated with rites o maturity. In
contrast to preious research, howeer, it will be argued
that this might actually not hae been the case already
rom the moment when such plaques irst occurred. 1o
clariy this point, the origins o moldmade terracottas
and the reasons or the demand or such objects will be
examined. In addition, it is ery unlikely that the role
plaques o the type discussed here might hae played in
initiation rites can be regarded as an exclusie explanation o their unction.
1hereore, other possible occasions or their dedications must be taken into
consideration as well.

Cf. K. \ALDNLR, Cebvrt vva ocbeit ae. Krieger.. Ce.cbtecbteraifferev vva vitiatiov iv M,tbo. vva
Ritvat aer griecbi.cbev Poti., Berlin, New \ork, 2000 ,RC11, 46,, p. 39-44, l. GRAl, Initiation. A
concept with a troubled history`, in D.B. BROOKS, Chr. A. lARAONL ,eds.,, vitiatiov iv avcievt
Cree/ ritvat. ava varratire.: ver criticat per.pectire., London, 2003, p. 3-24.
\ALDNLR, o.c. ,n. 1,, p. 44-45, \. BURKLR1, ..r. Initiation , 1be.CR. II ,2004,, p. 118.
Moldmade 1erracotta Relie Plaques 99
It is commonly agreed that in the early seenth century BC Greek cratsmen
introduced rom the Near Last the use o molds or the production o terra-
cottas. 1his new technique, allowing the serial i not mass-production o clay
plaques and igurines, seems to hae irst appeared in Crete and quickly spread
rom there all oer the Greek world. 1he general opinion is that the introduction
o the mold technique is closely related to the appearance o terracotta plaques
depicting naked emale igures.
loweer, new inds as well as the re-study o
preiously examined material indicate that the use o molds was sporadically
documented in Crete as early as the late eighth century BC.
1he relation between
the introduction o the mold technique and the appearance o the plaques might
thereore not hae been as close as preiously assumed.
lrom the ery beginning o their appearance, moldmade terracottas were used
as personal otie oerings in Greek sanctuaries, replacing to a large extent the
until then common hand-made human igurines. In this regard it is important to
emphasize that the use o molds in connection with the attractie Orientalizing
Daedalic style led to a signiicant quality improement in terracotta production.
Apart rom other actors, this too must hae contributed greatly to the rapidly
spreading use o moldmade plaques as otie oerings.
During the Larly Archaic period, one o the
most popular subjects o moldmade terracottas is
the standing emale igure ,ig. 12, :,. Plaques o
this type are attested as otie oerings in a wide
range o sanctuaries rom Asia Minor to the Greek
colonies in the west. As already alluded to, mold-
made terracottas in general and particularly the
plaques in question here were mainly dedicated in
cults related to emale deities such as Athena, Arte-
mis, Aphrodite, and lera. Moreoer, such plaques
are requently attested together with other inexpen-
sie terracotta oties in cult places situated in urban
or suburban locations. In these sanctuaries, which
were apparently isited by a considerable portion o
the local population, community-based ritual acti-
ities are likely to hae been perormed.

A. MULLLR, Artisans, techniques de production et diusion : le cas de la coroplathie , in
l. BLONDL, A. MULLLR ,eds.,, `arti.avat ev Crece avcievve : te. proavctiov., te. aiffv.iov.. .cte. av
Cottoqve ae ,ov ;1011 acevbre 1), Lille, 2000, p. 94-96, G. SALAPA1A, Greek otie plaques:
manuacture, display, disposal`, .e.cb ,2002,, p. 22.
Cf. O. PILZ, Matrievgeforvte 1erra/ottev aer .patgeovetri.cbev vva frvbarcbai.cbev Zeit avf Kreta,
unpublished PhD thesis, lriedrich Schiller Uniersity o Jena, 2008, p. 44-45, 192-195.
lor Crete cf. M. PRLN1, Cretav .avctvarie. ava cvtt.: covtivvit, ava cbavge frov ate Mivoav C to
tbe .rcbaic perioa, Leiden, 2005 ,RCR!, 154,, p. 4-48, 633.
100 O. PILZ
1he island o Crete not only played a key role in the transmission o the mold
technique rom the Near Last to Greece, but it is also the richest source o
moldmade plaques depicting acing emale igures in the seenth century BC. At
least 30 sites - most o them sanctuaries - producing such plaques hae been
identiied. Praisos, Lato, Axos and in particular Gortyn seem to hae been leading
production centers, judging by the quantities o moldmade terracottas ound
there. \ith the exception o Lato, sanctuaries with large numbers o plaques are
located in close range o these settlements.
Outside Crete, the situation is
somewhat dierent. In sanctuaries such as the Lphesian Artemision, the Samian
leraeum or the sanctuary o Artemis Orthia at Sparta, the naked type usually
appears only in a ew specimens. Plaques depicting dressed emales, on the other
hand, are generally not attested as early as in Crete, but only rom the later
seenth century BC onwards.
As already noted, preious research has mainly ocused on the plaques show-
ing naked emale igures. In her thorough study on the so-called Naked Goddess
in Larly Greek art, St. Bohm suggested that both meaning and unction o the
Greek plaques largely corresponded to those o their Near Lastern counterparts.
Interpreting the requently attested gestures pointing to the sexual organs as
reerence to the organs` unction in connection with childbirth and nursing,
Bohm argued that the plaques were associated with emale ecundity, pregnancy,
motherhood and women`s sexual lie in general. According to Bohm, such
plaques would thereore represent suitable otie oerings or emale worshi-

1his debate has largely neglected the act that plaques showing naked igures
were almost immediately ollowed by specimens depicting dressed emales. One
o the stylistically earliest moldmade plaques ound in the sanctuary o Athena at
Gortyn shows a naked igure with an extremly elongated triangular ace ,ig. 1,.

A second plaque ragment depicting a dressed emale ,ig. 2, is only slightly later,
as the equally elongated but somewhat uller ace indicates.
It is important to
stress that plaques depicting naked and dressed igures regularly appear together

O. PILZ, lind contexts o Archaic Cretan terracotta relie plaques. \ith a note on the
Oxord plaques rom Papoura`, in G. DLLIGIANNAKIS, I. GALANAKIS ,eds.,, .egeav Koive: a
aiacbrovic approacb to tbe .egeav rorta ava it. cvttvre., 000 C - .D 2000. Craavate ror/.bop,
|virer.it, of Ofora, 222 .prit 200:, in press.

St. BOlM, Die vac/te Cttiv. Zvr /ovograpbie vva Devtvvg vvbe/teiaeter reibticber igvrev iv aer
frvbgriecbi.cbev Kvv.t, Mainz, 1990, p. 136-13. In a recent paper, Bohm has additionally mentioned
the possibility that the plaques played a role in girls` transition rites: St. BOlM, 1he Naked
Goddess` in early Greek art: an orientalizing theme par exellence`, in N.Chr. S1AMPOLIDIS,
V. KARAGLORGlIS ,eds.,, `c,. ea rovte.. vtercovvectiov. iv tbe Meaiterraveav, 1
c. C.
Proceeaivg. of tbe vtervatiovat ,vpo.ivv beta at Retb,vvov, Crete, eptevber 2
- October 2
Athens, 2003, p. 36-368.
G. RIZZA, V.S.M. SCRINARI, t .avtvario .vtt`acropoti ai Cortiva I, Rome, 1968, p. 161, n
ig. 26a, 284, pl. 12.
RIZZA, SCRINARI, o.c. ,n. 8,, p. 162-163, n
66a, pl. 12.
Moldmade 1erracotta Relie Plaques 101
in the same otie assemblages.
lurthermore, the same gestures o placing the
hands on the breasts or the pubic area occur with both naked and dressed igures.
It is thereore necessary to treat these two groups not separately but as a single
class. Regarding their role in ritual practice, broadly similar but probably not
identical unctions or both ariants can be assumed.
Llaborating on ideas irst expressed by l. Cassimatis,
M. Prent recently
argued that such plaques, emphasizing the beauty o the youthul emale body,
might betray a special association with young, unmarried women and their
sexuality. 1hereore, according to Prent, plaques o this type could hae been
dedicated in connection with rituals accompanying girls` transition rom
childhood to maturity.
1he nudity o the igures is interpreted by Prent as an
allusion to a desired or expected state o sexual attractieness`.
In the case o
the sanctuary o Athena at the acropolis o Gortyn, where large numbers o
plaques depicting naked and dressed emales were dedicated, Cassimatis has
noted that oties reerring to pregnancy and motherhood are completely
lence, both Cassimatis and Prent concluded that the rituals carried out
in the sanctuary must hae centered on young, unmarried women.
It is interesting to see that in Prent`s approach, initiation is now uniersally
applied in the interpretation o the plaques, irtually excluding any other explana-
tion in regard to their unction. Although Prent`s suggestions are ery intriguing,
the eidence presented to strengthen her case remains largely circumstantial. 1his is
partly due to the act that literary sources reerring to emale initiation are rare and
hardly eer tell us anything about otie dedication in connection with such rituals.
Regarding the points made by Prent, it is questionable whether the absence o
oties associated with pregnancy and motherhood really indicates that the rituals
inoling the plaques in question must hae mainly concerned young women.
Voties related to childbirth as well as kourotrophic imagery are in general scarcely
attested in cult places o Athena throughout the Greek world. Other Cretan
sanctuaries, howeer, or instance the cult cae o Lileithyia at Inatos, hae yielded
terracottas depicting naked emales as well as pregnant women and kourotrophic
It is thereore eident that the range o oties dedicated in a sanctuary
depends to a large extent on the deity`s speciic area o responsibility. Neertheless,
in an important suburban cult place such as the sanctuary o Athena at the

PILZ, o.c. ,n. 4,, p. 161.
l. CASSIMA1IS, ligurines ddaliques de Gortyne. Lssai de typologie , C 106 ,1982,,
p. 453, 461, eaa., L`Athna de Gortyne en Crete et son culte , in ./tev ae. 1. vtervatiovatev
Kovgre..e. fvr Kta..i.cbe .rcbaotogie, ertiv, Mainz, 1990, p. 46-468.
PRLN1, o.c. ,n. 5,, p. 480-481, 635-636.
PRLN1, o.c. ,n. 5,, p. 48.
lor a general account, cf. M. D`ACUN1O, Gortina, il santuario protoarcaico sull`acropoli di
laghios Ioannis: una riconsiderazione`, ..teve 80 ,2002,, p. 183-229, PRLN1, o.c. ,n. 5,, p. 26-
23, n
PRLN1, o.c. ,n. 5,, p. 331-332, n
102 O. PILZ
acropolis o Gortyn, rituals are likely to hae been perormed on many dierent
occasions. lurthermore, a considerable portion o the local community is supposed
to hae taken part in these rituals. As a result, the oties dedicated in a sanctuary
o this type are most probably associated with a great ariety o concerns. In act,
the cult o Athena at the acropolis o Gortyn seems to hae eoled rom the
eneration o an all-powerul goddess ruling oer both nature and human beings.

Apart rom the ew plaque types that seem to show young girls with hardly deined
there are many other types depicting naked and dressed women with
more ully deeloped breasts. Consequently, the youthul appearance o the
idealized emale igures cannot be interpreted as an actual reerence to the age o
their dedicants, and it would be unwise to ectv.iret, link these images to a speciic
age group.
In order to discuss an interpretation recently proposed by N. Marinatos, the
origins o the iconographic scheme reerred to as the Naked Goddess` should be
briely considered here. It has rightly been recognized that a distinction must be
made between the strongly Orientalizing representations o the so-called Naked
Goddess and naked emale terracotta and bronze igurines o Geometric style.
\hereas in the latter case nudity was primarily used to indicate the sex o the

Cf. D`ACUN1O, t.c. ,n. 14,, p. 215-21.
Both Cassimatis and Prent reer to a type showing a dressed emale carrying a circular
object on her head: RIZZA, SCRINARI, o.c. ,n. 8,, p. 16, n
16, pl. 26.
Moldmade 1erracotta Relie Plaques 103
the pronounced nudity o the Orientalizing igures clearly points to a
dierent meaning o this eature. 1he moti was probably introduced through
imported Near Lastern bronze items
and quickly adopted by Greek cratsmen.
On a bronze shield rom the Idaean cae a Naked Goddess` holding lotus stems
appears between sphinxes ,ig. ,.
Kunze assigned this shield to his Group B
,Jagdschildgruppe`,, which he conincingly dated to the late eighth century BC.

Items such as precious bronze shields hae strong elite male connotations. In a
sanctuary context they are thereore best understood as otie oerings o
leading members o the aristocracy.

Reerring to Near Lastern iconographic and textual eidence, N. Marinatos
recently interpreted the nudity o diine emales, ormerly seen in connection
with ertility, as an attribute o their powerul and dangerous sexuality. Stressing
the possible protectie and apotropaic properties o such diinities, she interprets
the Naked Goddess` depicted on weapons and horse ornaments as a patroness
o warriors.
According to Marinatos, this speciic meaning also applied to the
naked emales appearing on Larly Archaic moldmade plaques. 1he Naked
Goddess` is considered by Marinatos as one o the aspects o a powerul emale
deity oerseeing the initiation o male adolescents into their role as warriors.
Accepting the presumed association o their Near Lastern counterparts with
emale initiation,
Marinatos proposes that the Greek plaques depicting naked
emales might hae been dedicated by male adolescents as well.

Not to mention the general diiculties o her cross-cultural approach, Marina-
tos` suggestion in regard to the unction o the plaques is highly questionable.
1ypological similarities, particularly in a diachronic perspectie, do simply not
imply an identical role in cult practice. lurthermore, i plaques showing naked
emales had played a signiicant role in rituals o male initiation, one should
expect to ind them in considerable numbers in sanctuaries where such rites are

BOlM, o.c. ,n. ,, p. 22-23, C. BONNL1, V. PIRLNNL-DLLlORGL, Cet obscur objet du
dsir`. La nudit minine entre Orient et Grece , MR. 116 ,2004, p. 853-856.
Cf., e.g., a bronze horse ornament rom the Samian leraeum dating to the eighth, i not
een late ninth century BC: l. K\RILLLIS, \. ROLLIG, Lin altorientalischer Perdeschmuck aus
dem leraion on Samos`, MD.;.) 103 ,1988,, p. 3-5.
L. KUNZL, Kreti.cbe roveretief., Stuttgart, 1931, p. -8, n
5, pl. -8, P. BLOML, Die figvrticbe
itarett Kreta. iv aer geovetri.cbev vva frvbarcbai.cbev Perioae, Mainz, 1982, 22, 1-3, pl. , BOlM, o.c.
,n. ,, p. 153, n
B13, pl. 21a.
KUNZL, o.c. ,n. 20,, p. 24. Cf. BLOML, o.c. ,n. 20,, p. 15-2.
Cf. PRLN1, o.c. ,n. 5,, p. 369.
N. MARINA1OS, 1be goaae.. ava tbe rarrior: tbe ^a/ea Coaae.. ava Mi.tre.. of .vivat. iv eart,
Cree/ retigiov, London, New \ork, 2000, p. 18-24.
Cf. O. KLLL, Chr. ULlLINGLR, Coa., goaae..e., ava ivage. of Coa iv avcievt .raet, Ldinburgh,
1998, p. 100, Chr. ULlLINGLR, ..r. Nackte Gottin , Rt. IX ,1998-2001,, col. 58-59.
MARINA1OS, o.c. ,n. 23,, p. 2-28.
104 O. PILZ
actually attested, or instance in Kato Syme.
Since this seems not to be the case,
it is rather unlikely that such oties were related to male elite initiation.
Moreoer, 1emple A at Prinias, though repeatedly mentioned by Marinatos as
eidence or the association o a Potvia 1berov with the initiation o young
did not yield any moldmade plaques. As the idealized representations
o emale igures on the plaques probably imply a certain degree o identiication
between this imagery and the donors,
it would be much more appropriate to
assume that they were dedicated by emale worshipers in the irst place.
Already in the Geometric period, there is, in act, eidence or a close relation
between the moti o the naked emale igure and the emale sphere. A grae in
the Kerameikos, possibly a emale burial, yielded at least ie iory igurines dated
by the ceramic context no later than 30,20 BC.
1he largest statuette measuring
24 cm is also the best presered ,ig. 1,. Len though locally produced, the
Dipylon iories` are clearly inspired by handle igures o Near Lastern iory
items such as mirrors or ans.
1he igurines are oten treated as ree-standing,
but technical eatures indicate that they sered, as their Oriental prototypes, as
handles or attachements.
Although the grae context is not particularly rich, the
precious material o the igurines again suggests elite connotations.
In Crete,
ragments o similar emale iory igurines, belonging to toiletry articles or luxury
urniture, came to light in a Knossian chamber tomb and the Idaean cae.
to the ragmentary state o preseration and the act that the iories rom the
Idaean cae are not yet ully published, the question whether there are local
imitations among the emale igures is still a matter o debate.

lor male initiation at Kato Syme cf. A. LLBLSSI, 1 :c .oo ! :o: ., `o., .
o I 1: `:o :.: .oco.o, Athens, 1985, p. 188-198, eaa., 1 :c .oo ! :o: .,
`o., . o III: 1 `:o oo c`o, Athens, 2002, p. 269-282, PRLN1,
o.c. ,n. 5,, p. 5-580, 646-64.

MARINA1OS, o.c. ,n. 23,, p. 6-8.
BONNL1, PIRLNNL-DLLlORGL, t.c. ,n. 18,, p. 869.
L. KUNZL, Zu den Anngen der griechischen Plastik`, MD.;.) 55 ,1930,, p. 14-148,
1-5, ig. 1, pl. 5-8, N. lIMMLLMANN, ever/vvgev vr geovetri.cbev Pta.ti/, Berlin, 1964, p. 20,
pl. 24-2, BOlM, o.c. ,n. ,, p. 156-15, n
L1-L4, pl. 6-8. Cf. J.N. COLDS1RLAM, Cree/ Ceovetric
potter,, London, 1968, p. 361.
BOlM, o.c. ,n. ,, p. 25-2.
K.D.S. LAPA1IN, Cbr,.etepbavtive .tatvar, iv tbe avcievt Meaiterraveav rorta, Oxord, 2001,
p. 44-45.
lor the high esteem o iory, cf. LAPA1IN, o.c. ,n. 31,, p. 46, with urther reerences.

J.N. COLDS1RLAM, l.\. CA1LING ,eds.,, Kvo..o. ^ortb Ceveter,: eart, Cree/ tovb., London,
1996 ,., suppl. 28,, p. 219, n
2, ig. 190, pl. 309, J.A. SAKLLLARAKIS, 1he Idaean cae
iories`, in J.L. lI11ON ,ed.,, ror, iv Creece ava tbe a.terv Meaiterraveav frov tbe rove .ge to tbe
ettevi.tic perioa, London, 1993 ,riti.b Mv.evv Occa.iovat Paper., 53,, p. 113-114, pl. 2-4, L. RLlM,
Llenbeine`, in L.A. BRAUN-lOLZINGLR, L. RLlM, Orievtati.cber vport iv Criecbevtava iv frvbev
1. abrtav.eva r. Cbr., Mnster, 2005 ,.O.1, 328,, p. 146-148, n
K12-K18, pl. 28-31.
Moldmade 1erracotta Relie Plaques 105
As we hae seen, throughout the Geometric period
representations o Orientalizing naked emale igures occur
predominantely on luxury items. Such items, usually appear-
ing in sanctuaries and rich tombs, played an important role
in the social articulation o elite groups. Since precious iory
items, in particular toiletry articles, clearly point to the
emale sphere, the Orientalizing Naked Goddess` was by no
means exclusiely associated with male warriors. It is,
howeer, diicult to determine to what extent the naked
handle igures o items such as mirrors or ans had any
religious meaning to their Greek owners. Certainly, a general
allusion to emale beauty and youthulness is eident.
But yet, how can the sudden appearance o moldmade
terracottas depicting Orientalizing naked emales in the early
seenth century BC be explained Aboe all, the phenome-
non must be considered in the context o major changes in
otie behaior taking place during this period. Generally,
rom Late Geometric times onward, a considerable increase
in the number o otie oerings is attested in numerous
Greek sanctuaries.
Closely linked to this process is the
appearance o new otie types requently consisting o
rather inexpensie materials. In the same period, the wider
diusion o iconographic motis ormerly associated almost
exclusiely with the aristocratic elite can be detected.
dissemination o motis is not limited to Orientalizing
representations but inoles the whole range o symbolic
imagery preiously linked to the elite sphere.
1he case o the terracotta plaques depicting Orientalizing naked emale
igures is best suited to illustrate the interrelation between these deelopments.
As a new otie type, relie plaques were mass-produced, using molds, in cheap
and easily aailable material. 1he comparison with the Dipylon iories` clearly
shows that the plaques reproduce an iconographic scheme already known rom
locally made luxury items. Consequently, the appearance o the plaques might
hae been related in the irst place to a local demand or readily aailable oties
showing elite imagery. It seems thereore ery likely that the earliest moldmade
igurines depicting naked emales imitate iory carings, in particular handle
igures o toiletry articles. A technical detail can possibly proide additional
eidence or this suggestion. 1he cream-colored slip o the already mentioned

A. SNODGRASS, .rcbaic Creece, London, 1980, p. 52-54, I. MORRIS, vriat ava avcievt .ociet,:
tbe ri.e of tbe Cree/ cit,.tate, Cambridge, 198, p. 190-192, l. DL POLIGNAC, Cvtt., territor,, ava tbe
origiv. of tbe Cree/ cit,.tate, Chicago, 1995, p. 14-15.
lor Crete cf. PRLN1, o.c. ,n. 5,, p. 240.

106 O. PILZ
plaque rom Gortyn ,ig. 1, could hae been applicated to imitate the appearance
o its iory prototypes.
In marked contrast to their presumed prototypes in iory, the terracotta
igurines did not sere as parts o implements but were produced as indepen-
dent otie oerings. It is, howeer, important to emphasize that the presumed
typological dependency on the iory igurines does not determine either the
meaning or the unction o the plaques. In addition, one should keep in mind
that the unctions o a otie type were not necessarily the same throughout the
whole period o its occurrence. \hereas the earliest plaques were perhaps
simply produced to satisy the demand or objects resembling luxury items,
they could hae subsequently assumed dierent unctions in connection with
speciic rituals. \et, it is questionable whether the naked igures on the plaques
hae eer been associated with cultic` nudity in the context o initiation rituals.
In Crete, at least, the scarce eidence or the changing o garments and nudity
in the context o maturity rites seems to be conined to male initiation.
As we
hae seen, the earliest plaques showing naked emales were almost immediately
ollowed by a dressed ariant. 1his might best be explained as an adaptation to
the demands o certain groups o worshipers. On a more general leel o
interpretation, richly dressed emale igures, similarly to bronze and clay
statuettes o warriors,
are likely to relect a generic social role model. It is
apparent that both meaning and unction o the moldmade plaques in question
are not clearly deined rom the moment they irst appear, but hae gradually
eoled as the result o a rather complex deelopment.
1he suggestions made here partly contradict the widely accepted opinion that
Greek moldmade plaques typologically depend on their Near Lastern counter-
Although this iew is generally accepted, it is questionable whether there
was a direct connection between meaning and unction o Near Lastern and
Greek plaques. According to the model proposed here, only a ery loose
association, namely the use o molds or the production o the plaques, can be
assumed. lor these reasons, any interpretation o the Larly Archaic plaques
showing naked emale igures largely based on the presumed meaning o their
Near Lastern counterparts should be dismissed. Since otie oerings assume a
speciic unction only in the context o contemporary ritual practice, diachronic,
not to mention cross-cultural approaches to the understanding o their role are
not at all helpul.

Cf. PRLN1, o.c. ,n. 5,, p. 483-484, with urther reerences. lor a more general iew, cf.
BONNL1, PIRLNNL-DLLlORGL, t.c. ,n. 18,, p. 848-849.
lor the warrior igurines, cf. M. B\RNL, 1be Cree/ Ceovetric rarrior figvrive: ivterpretatiov ava
origiv, Louain-la-Neue, 1991.
P.J. RIIS, 1he Syrian Astarte plaques and their western connections`, er,tv. 9 ,1949,,
p. 69-90, BOlM, o.c. ,n. ,, p. 81-86.
Moldmade 1erracotta Relie Plaques 10
As already noted, the attempt to identiy the igures on
the plaques with Olympian deities has rightly been
abandoned in recent years. Neertheless, the interpretation
o the plaques is still oten reduced to the question
whether they depict either deities or worshipers. lor
arious reasons, such an approach seems ar too simplistic.
Since attributes are lacking except or some igures with
potoi, a ready identiication with a speciic deity was
obiously neither possible nor intended. On the other
hand, it cannot be excluded that the emales depicted on
the plaques could sometimes be identiied with a goddess
in the context o a speciic cult. In this regard, there is still
a tendency to see the poto. as an attribute indicating the
diine character o the igures.
loweer, it is hard to
proe that this headgear was worn exclusiely by diinities.
In the lomeric-lesiodic epics, the words o:-.o and
o:. probably reer to cylindrical headgear not only o
emale diinities, but also o mortal women engaged in
cultic actiities.
In the lesiodic 1heogony, Pandora is
crowned with a o:. decorated with land and sea monsters.
potoi o early moldmade igures are occasionally decorated, or instance with
heraldic sphinxes or griins ,ig. :,.
It is thereore possible that lesiod reerred
to some high cylindrical headgear. Consequently, in the case o the Knossian girls
perorming a cult dance mentioned in the tiaa, we cannot exclude either that the
term o:. reers to some headgear similar to what we would call a poto..
addition, L. Simon suggested that potoi might hae sered as bridal crowns in the
context o cultic celebrations.

Preious research has completely neglected seeral eatures linking the
plaques in question with an interesting class o objects o a somewhat later date,
usually reerred to as dolls`. Dolls were produced in dierent materials, but only
the seated or standing terracotta igurines, whose limbs are occasionally truncated

R.M. AMMLRMAN, 1he naked standing goddess: a group o Archaic terracotta igurines
rom Paestum`, .. 95 ,1991,, p. 204, BONNL1, PIRLNNL-DLLlORGL, t.c. ,n. 18,, p. 852, 568.
lor a dierent iew, cf. BOlM, o.c. ,n. ,, p. 13.
V.K. MLLLR, Der Poto., aie griecbi.cbe Ctter/rove, Berlin, 1915, p. 84, 102-103. lor a
contrary iew, cf. M. BLLL III, Morgavtiva .tvaie. I: tbe terracotta., Princeton, 1981, p. 81-82.
les., 1b., 58.
Unpublished. Cf. PILZ, o.c. ,n. 4,, p. 35, 16, 32, n
Un III,12, pl. 8, 5.

lom., t. XVII, 59.
L. SIMON, lera und die Nymphen. Lin bootischer Polos in Stockholm`, R. ,192,,
p. 205-220.
108 O. PILZ
or separately attached, hae been presered.
Just like the igures depicted on the
plaques, dolls may wear potoi and occur both naked and dressed. Doll-like objects
hae been ound not only in sanctuaries - requently dedicated to emale deities -
but also in tombs.
Moreoer, on a number o Attic grae relies o the late ith
and ourth centuries BC, girls and young women are represented holding dolls or
playing with them ,ig. ,.
As J. Larson has rightly obsered, no distinction can
be made between the doll igurines with truncated limbs and other dolls in regard
to their unction.
1hereore, doll-like objects should generally be interpreted as
toys, which could also unction as otie oerings.
Although the scanty literary
eidence or the speciic case o the dolls is disputed,
it is occasionally attested
that toys were dedicated when adolescents reached maturity.

As toys, naked doll-like objects were probably dressed by the young girls
playing with them. Similarly to the plaques, the nudity o the dolls might hae
been related to their socializing unction, which was recently emphazised by
J. Reilly.
According to Reilly, the naked dolls in particular, representing anatomi-
cally correct reproductions o the emale body, would hae helped the girls in
their sexual maturation. As idealized images o emales at a nubile age, doll
igurines might hae oreshadowed the uture social role o young girls as brides.
In this context it is interesting to see that one o the ancient Greek terms or
doll` . also means bride`.
Again, the aspect o identiication between the
idealized representation and the owner or otary might hae played an important
role. As already mentioned, potoi might hae been worn as bridal crowns, and one
wonders whether there is a connection between this attribute and the aboe-

lor the dierent types cf. K.McK. LLDLRKIN, Joint dolls in Antiquity`, .. 34 ,1930,,
p. 455-49, R.A. lIGGINS, Catatogve of tbe terracotta. iv tbe riti.b Mv.evv I, London, 1954, n
01, 34, 909, 959, 93, J. DORIG, Von griechischen Puppen`, .K 1 ,1958,, p. 41-52.
Cf. V. DASLN, Les lieux de l`enance , in l. lARICl-SCl\ARZBAULR, 1h. SP1l ,eds.,,
Cevaertvaie. iv aev .ttertvv.ri..ev.cbaftev. Ravve vva Ce.cbtecbter iv aer .vti/e, 1rier, 2005, p. 68-69.
. -o, .- - : -.o`, .pbev ,1909,, p. 123, n
`, ig. 4,
Ch.\. CLAIRMON1, Cta..icat .ttic tovb.tove. I, Kilchberg, 1993, p. 309, n
1.312, ig. lor an
oeriew o these grae relies, cf. O. CAVALILR, Une stele attique classique au Muse Calet
d`Aignon , a Rerve av ovrre et ae. Mv.e. ae ravce 4 ,1988,, p. 285-293.

J. LARSON, Cree/ v,vpb.: v,tb, cvtt, tore, Oxord, New \ork, 2001, p. 101-102.
lor a dierent iew, cf. DASLN, t.c. ,n. 46,, p. 68: Plusieurs dtails suggerent que la plupart
des igurines n`ont probablement jamais seri de diertissement proane.`
A lellenistic epigram ,.vtb. Pat. VI, 280, has been cited as eidence or the oering o
dolls on the occasion o the prenuptial sacriice ,proteteia,. loweer, it has been proposed to read
- ,hair, instead o - ,doll, by G. DAUX, Les ambiguts du grec KORl , CR.
,193,, p. 389-393, ia., Anth. Pal. VI 280 ,Poupes et cheelure, Artmis Limnatis, , ZP 12
,193,, p. 225-229.
.vtb. Pat. VI, 309: Philokles dedicates arious toys to lermes.
J. RLILL\, Naked and limbless: learning about the eminine body in ancient Athens`, in
A.O. KOLOSKI-OS1RO\, C.L. L\ONS ,eds.,, ^a/ea trvtb.: rovav, .evatit, ava gevaer iv Cta..icat art
ava arcbaeotog,, London, New \ork, 199, p. 154-13.
\. BURKLR1, Criecbi.cbe Retigiov aer arcbai.cbev vva /ta..i.cbev pocbe, Stuttgart, 19, p. 236, 269.
Moldmade 1erracotta Relie Plaques 109
mentioned nuptial connotations o the dolls. On the other hand, it is literarily
attested that doll-like objects could hae represented Aphrodite and probably also
nymphs or other goddesses.
Interestingly, many dolls hold cymbals or /rotata
and hae been interpreted as dancers or chorus members. As chorus members,
the doll igurines possibly relect not only diine choruses o nymphs, but also
human choruses made up o young women. C. Calame has shown that choruses
o male and emale adolescents taking part in religious estials are an essential
element in socializing young members o the society.
More clearly as in the case
o the plaques, we can see with the dolls how ambiguous the distinction between
the diine and the human sphere is.
Len though it cannot be argued
that the moldmade plaques were used
as toys in analogy to the dolls, seeral
similarities regarding the role o such
objects in the socializing process o
girls and emale adolescents hae been
pointed out. \hereas the youthul
naked igures depicted on the plaques
allude to emale beauty and sexual
attractiness, the elaborately dressed
emales more clearly relect a social
role model. In this sense, plaques
showing naked and dressed emale
igures might hae been precursors o
the later doll igurines, especially in
regard to their role in the construction
o gender. Neertheless, the idealized
emales depicted on the plaques do
not justiy linking them to a speciic
age group. It is thereore highly
improbable that plaques o this type
were exclusiely dedicated by young
girls in connection with rites o
maturity. Similarly to the doll-like
objects, the naked and dressed emales
depicted on the plaques might hae been occasionally identiied with a speciic
goddess. loweer, as in the case o the warrior igures, the aspect o identiica-
tion between donor and otie must hae played an important role. In this
regard, V. Pirenne-Delorge conincingly argued that the gestures o both

Schol. 1heoc., a. II, 110d: -: o :o.o--. Cf. LARSON, o.c. ,n. 48,,
p. 105, 106-10.
C. CALAML, Cborv.e. of ,ovvg rovev iv avcievt Creece, Lanham, 199, pa..iv.

110 O. PILZ
warriors and emale igures depicted on the plaques point to the underlying
gender concept. \hereas swinging a spear or holding a shield emphasizes warlike
qualities, touching the breasts and,or the pubic area may indicate concern with
sexual maturation, childbirth, or motherhood.
Although we cannot exclude that
plaques o this type were occasionally dedicated by male worshipers, they are
better understood as typical otie oerings o emale donors. 1he dedication o
such oties most likely inoled a wider range o concerns, probably including
human ecundity as well as emale sexuality and health in general. 1ypological
similarities with Oriental and locally made iory igurines sering as handles o
toiletry articles indicate that the moldmade terracotta plaques might hae been
initially produced to satisy an increasing demand or imagery with elite
connotations. Accordingly, it must be emphasized that the aboe-mentioned
unctions o the plaques in question probably eoled only gradually oer a
longer period o time. Although it is diicult to gain insight in this process, the
moldmade plaques depicting naked and dressed emales may neertheless attest
that both meaning and unction o a otie type are not inariable characteristics,
but subject to change in the course o time.
Olier PILZ
German Archaeological Institut at Athens
1 lidiou St.
GR - 1068 A1lLNS
vait: otirer.pitreb.ae
!"#$%& 1erracotta relie plaque rom Gortyn ,leraklion, Arch. Mus. 11298,
!"#$%' 1erracotta relie plaque rom Gortyn ,leraklion, Arch. Mus. 11291,
!"#$%( Bronze shield orm the Idaean cae ,leraklion, Arch. Mus. 6,
!"#$%) Iory igure ,Athens, Nat. Mus. 6,
!"#$%* 1erracotta relie plaque rom Crete ,Athen, Benaki Mus. 3113,
!"#$%+ Attic grae relie ,Athens, Nat. Mus. 21 ,
!"#$%& SAIA Neg. B,615
!"#$%' SAIA Neg. B,614
!"#$%( D-DAI-A1l-Kreta 234 ,L. Kunze,
!"#$%) D-DAI-A1l-NM 3282 ,l. \agner,
!"#$%* Photo Athens, Benaki Museum
!"#$%+ D-DAI-A1l-Grabrelie 640

V. PIRLNNL-DLLlORGL, L`Aphrodite greque : le dossier cretois , in S. RIBIClINI, M.
ROCClI, P. XLLLA ,eds.,, a qve.tiove aette ivftveve ricivoorievtati .vtta retigiove greca. tato aegti .tvai e
pro.pettire aetta ricerca. .tti aet Cottoqvio ivtervaiovate, Rova, 2022 vaggio 1, Rome, 2001, p. 19.