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Limestone head of a bearded worshipper


Height: 53.500 cm

GR 1885.10-13.4 (Sculpture C 74)

Room 72: Ancient Cyprus

    Limestone head of a bearded worshipper

    From Byblos, Phoenicia (modern Lebanon)
    Made in Cyprus about 570-550 BC

    A unique example

    A large number of limestone statuettes dating to about 610-550 BC have been found on sanctuary sites, notably on the islands of Samos, Rhodes, Aegina, Chios, and Delos, at Cnidus and at Ephesos on the west coast of modern Turkey, at Naucratis in Egypt and in Phoenicia. Such statuettes are often in a style designated Cypro-Ionian because of the clear influence from East Greece, referring to the Greek cities on the west coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and the neighbouring islands. Recent research has shown that the limestone is of Cypriot origin, suggesting that they were exported from the island or made by itinerant Cypriot sculptors (of Cypriot stone). The notable East Greek features of many of these statuettes was evidently to appeal to local taste.

    This head from a colossal statue must belong to this group. Looking more Cypriot than many of the statuettes, with its helmet, long beard and Cypriot facial expression, the head's size suggests that it may have been carved locally, though other large statues in different styles and of different materials seem to have been exported ready-made. It is the only recorded example of a colossal statue of Cypriot stone alongside the many smaller figures or statuettes.

    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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