This very detailed and superbly preserved ceramic sculpture is a votive figure from the middle of the first millennium BC, and represents a deity in the Phoenician pantheon. Unusually for the Phoenicians – who seem to have had more goddesses than gods – it represents a male. The figure halts at about the level of the knees, and has been slightly restored so it stands correctly. The figure is dressed in what resembles a tunic and toga. The former drapes the individual from shoulder to base, and is denoted with vertically-oriented textile ripples. The latter seems to be draped around the figure, then pulled from the right side of the waist to under the left arm, passing over the shoulder and tucked back under itself to secure it in position. This is the only piece we have seen that preserved such details. The head is commensurately well-preserved, showing superb rendering of a covered hairstyle which frames a serene face with a long nose, high brows, almond eyes and a pursed mouth. The cheeks are full, the jaw is long and the ears break with the profile of the coiffure. The pose is very upright, with the right hand flexed upwards and the left resting on the hip. Unusually, the left hand appears to have originally had a hollow in the clenched fingers (since filled with calcareous matter) which implies that he might once have held a perishable item. Judging from its size and orientation, it was some sort of staff/weapon, which would have crossed his body at about 45 degrees. The face is supremely naturalistic and more sophisticated than most of the Greek Archaic Period sculptures that the Phoenicians inspired. 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