This attractive ceramic sculpture is a votive figure from the middle of the first millennium BC, and represents a deity in the Phoenician pantheon. It is a tall and linear female example, with an integral, square base and a bowl placed before her feet. These receptacles probably imply that the figure received libations or gifts in order to grant wishes or bring about benedictions to her worshippers. The main form of the piece is defined by her long robe, which covers her hair and drops down to the floor. Details are sparse below the neck, but it is possible to identify the facts that she is leaning much of her weight on her left leg, that she has an unusually protuberant abdomen and that one hand is raised in benediction while the other is touching her neck. The significance of the latter is uncertain, although it is a not uncommon finding in such pieces. The figure is possible intended to represent pregnancy, although the robe is not open, and the breasts are not unduly enlarged, as is usually the case with fertility figures. The face is very serene and slightly austere, but with smoothly rounded cheeks and well-rendered features. The coiffure is rendered as a heap of curls, covered with the gown. The rather austere pose of the personage portrayed bears some affinity with Archaic Greek period pieces, which 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 has attracted some calcareous encrustation from its long immersion in the Mediterranean.
Ancient Near East