This imposing and beautifully-modelled ceramic sculpture is an exceptional votive figure from the middle of the first millennium BC, and represents a deity in the Phoenician pantheon. It is exceptional in terms of styling, composition and size. The base is double-tiered, with a four-legged, oblong section with discrete feet, topped by a second more cubic section upon which the figure stands. The sculpture represents a pregnant woman, with prominent stomach and breasts. The stance is full-square, the weight of the body spread between both feet. Hand positions are slightly out of the ordinary – the right hand (truncated) is raised in what is usually assumed to be benediction, while the left cups her breast. The left hand is usually holding up a fold of the robe, but in this case the robe is open and barely hangs from the shoulders, lending a sensual impression to the figure. The face is somewhat eroded, but nevertheless powerful in its series of smooth lines and preserved contours. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the piece is the headwear. Most Phoenician pieces are wrapped in robes that are more to do with the classical tradition than any more ancient inspiration. Yet in the current case the figure is clearly wearing an Egyptian headdress, which betrays one of the Phoenicians’ great sources of inspiration but that is rarely seen in such detail. The back of the piece is almost completely plain, implying that it was always meant to be viewed from the front rather than in the round, which is appropriate for figures destined for shrines. The piece retains some calcareous concretions from its long interment in the Mediterranean.
Ancient Near East