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Gold ring showing the Temple of Aphrodite at Palaepaphos

 

Length: 1.500 cm
Width: 1.100 cm
Weight: 2.070 g

Cesnola Collection
Bequeathed by Sir A.W. Franks

GR 1917.5-1.1641 (Rings 1641)

Room 72: Ancient Cyprus

    Gold ring showing the Temple of Aphrodite at Palaepaphos

    Roman, about AD 150-250
    Made in Cyprus; Found near Koskieni, Rhodes, Aegean Sea

    Bought by a pilgrim to the Sanctuary of Aphrodite

    The design shows a semi-circular courtyard before the façade of a building. The central tower, with a large conical stone, is flanked by two smaller towers evidently containing pillars. A similar scene decorates other finger rings, as well as bronze and silver coins issued between the emperors Augustus (27 BC-AD 14) and Philip I (AD 244-249).

    Unfortunately no trace of an actual structure similar to those illustrated has been discovered. It is possible that it was not a large walled building, but a canopy-like structure of pillars and awnings containing the sacred cone. The sacred cone was a symbol of fertility in many eastern cults, but only at her most famous shrine at Paphos did it represent Aphrodite. It is likely that a dark-green conical stone, now in the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia, represents the actual cult idol of Aphrodite, which was venerated for more than one and half millennia.

    The Roman remains of the sanctuary show how it never represented a classical Greco-Roman design, but retained the basic character of the traditional open court sanctuary with its oriental antecedents. It did, however, incorporate the Late Bronze Age temenos (sacred enclosure) built around 1200 BC.

    Gold rings showing the Temple of Aphrodite were evidently sold to visiting pilgrims.

    F.G. Maier and V. Karageorghis, Paphos: history and archaeolog (Nicosia, A.G. Leventis Foundation, 1984)

    V. Tatton-Brown, Ancient Cyprus, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

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    On display: Room 72: Ancient Cyprus

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