Naukratis: Greeks in Egypt

Alexandra Villing, Marianne Bergeron, Giorgos Bourogiannis, Alan Johnston, François Leclère, Aurélia Masson and Ross Thomas

With Daniel von Recklinghausen, Jeffrey Spencer, Valerie Smallwood, Virginia Webb and Susan Woodford

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Supported by

The Leverhulme Trust
  • The Shelby White - Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications
  • Christian Levett and the Mougins Museum of Classical Art
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Egyptian Late Period figures in terracotta and limestone


Ross Iain Thomas

Naukratis was a Nile Delta settlement in which many inhabitants followed the Egyptian religious and cultural practices of Lower Egypt. The over 550 Late Period Egyptian figures found at the site are a large and important group among the finds from Naukratis because they attest a clear link with native Egyptian practices at a settlement commonly misunderstood as predominantly Greek. Manufactured from both terracotta and limestone, they are of typical Lower Egyptian types, with representations of nude female, ithyphallic male and Bes figures particularly frequent. Indeed, phallic figures and ‘erotic’ figure groups used to be commonly known as ‘Naukratite figures’ because of the ‘great quantity of indecent statuettes’ (Edgar 1905, 130) uncovered at the site. This chapter discusses the production, meaning and use of this little understood group. Their production continued into the early Ptolemaic period when the industry was transformed by the introduction of new production techniques and styles from the late 4th century BC onwards.

Limestone figure of ithyphallic Harpokrates, dated c. 600–400 BC. British Museum, EA90337