Archaeology Essays Late Bronze Age

Archaeology Essays Late Bronze Age

Assess the evidence for cult practices on Cyprus during the LBA Late Bronze Age

There is a variety of evidence for cult practices on Cyprus during the LBA although it is often difficult to interpret and scholarly opinion of the significance or meaning of any particular piece of evidence may vary widely In absolute terms the LBA on Cyprus approximately covers the period from 16501050BC some six hundred years and in relative terms is divided by Steel into the phases LC Late Cypriot IIIIA TattonBrown 1997 91 Steel 2004 13 The later phase down to c1050BC traditionally termed LCIIIB may be considered a transitional BronzeEarly Iron Age Such a considerable amount of time offers considerable scope for change in religious thought and practice which may be more or less visible in the archaeological record and although some material change through time may be observable any interpretation still poses the danger of imposing a possibly nonexistent uniformity on the material A lack of any written references such as inscriptions dedications or other texts to deities in LBA Cyprus further complicates matters TattonBrown 1997 62 Nevertheless the archaeological evidence usually discussed in terms of religious or cultic beliefs and practices in LBA Cyprus seems to fall into several interlinked categories clay figurines architectural remains eg of sanctuaries and artefacts such as statuettes imported pottery or bucrania found in association with those architectural remains The identification of any particular deities has been fraught with difficulty but several bronze statuettes the most wellknown being known as the Ingot God and the Bomford figurine are often thought to represent Cypriot or sometimes foreign gods and to show a link between cult and metalworking This essay shall therefore examine these in turn focussing on LCII and LCIIIA in particular

There are various types of figurine from LBA Cyprus and as with figurines from elsewhere their interpretation and significance is disputed Considering the earlier stump and plank type human figures TattonBrown 1997 62 suggests that whether they were fertility charms or goddesses in practical terms their function would have been the same It is perhaps appropriate to bear this in mind with the LBA figurines Karageorghis 2001 323 has noted two types of female symbolism in the religious iconography of LBA Cyprus one type of nude female figurine holding or supporting her breasts first appears on Cyprus in the Chalcolithic and continues down to the sixth century BC see TattonBrown 1997 49 fig 49 another type the kourotrophos or boyfeeder see TattonBrown 1997 62 fig 67 for an early plankshaped kourotrophos appeared firstly in the LBA and was also present in the Aegean as well as Cyprus The former are sometimes known as Astarte type figures after the Syrian goddess This emphasis on female characteristics such as breasts and genitals as well as the feeding infant or infant in arms is certainly suggestive of an interest in fertility and the feminine aspect often thought to be represented by a Great Goddess of Cyprus Although there is no textual evidence regarding female deities from LBA Cyprus much later fourth century BC dedications at Paphos refer to Wanassa the Lady which seems to be an old title known in the LBA Linear B record of mainland Greece TattonBrown 1997 63 Greeks knew this goddess as Aphrodite or the Cyprian in the eighth century BC while Cypriots knew her as the Paphian from the religious centre at Paphos Whatever the female figurines represent and they may not even represent goddesses it has nevertheless been concluded that anthropomorphic clay figurines are not a typical element of LC cult equipment in LCII or LCIII but become popular towards the end of the LBA Steel 2004 205 211 Indeed it seems that especially at Enkomi in LCIIIB in the Sanctuary of the Ingot God smaller and larger figurines wheelmade with upraised arms became especially popular perhaps representin

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