Cruciform female idol

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The sculpture depicts a woman with extended arms and was probably used as a fertility symbol. The smaller versions were used as amulets around the neck.

The Chalcolithic period in Cyprus is known from the excavations carried out by Porphyrios Dikaios in Erimi in the 1930s and by the appearance in the antiques market of cross-shaped anthropomorphic figures, often made with Picrolite, a soft greenish-blue stone. The excavations of the settlement and the cemetery in Souskiou Laona show a very different image of the life on the island at the end of the 4th and beginning of the 3rd millennium BCE. Burial practices in other known sites are usually individual burials in pits within the settlement and are seldom accompanied by grave goods. In Souskiou, multiple burials were placed in tombs dug deep into rocks grouped into extra-mural cemeteries.

Excavations have revealed complex burial practices in multiple periods accompanied by a rich variety of productions destined for funerary goods. The main group is of figurines and cruciform pendants. This unusual treatment of the dead, which has not been recorded anywhere else in Cyprus, changes the vision of the individual in the community, and provides evidence of significant changes involving links of kinship groups with common ancestors.

The excavations in the Laona settlement have provided evidence suggesting that it functioned as a specialized centre for the acquisition and manufacture of Picrolite in its initial phase. The subsequent decline in Picrolite production and the early appearance of new types of ornaments, such as ceramic beads and copper spiral pendants, attest to significant changes involving the transformation of personal and social identities in the first centuries of the 3rd millennium BCE.

A very limited number of female cruciform idols in Cyprus has been found. The few in existence are preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Cyprus, in Nicosia, and the Kinský Palace in Prague. The idol of Pomos is the most iconic and important Cypriot Chalcolithic period cruciform figurine. It is truly a masterpiece. It was found in Pomos, a village in the district of Paphos.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

- CAUBET, Anne. Idoli. Il podere dell’immagine. Skira Editore. Venice. 2018.
- PELTENBURG, Edgar; BOLGER, Diane; CREWE, Lindy (Editors). Figurine Makers of Prehistoric Cyprus: Settlement and Cemeteries at Souskiou. Oxbow Books. 2019.

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