Apotropaia and Phylakteria

Conference Paper

Archaeological evidence: 3b. Apotropaic qualities of objects: Terracottas
Friday 2021-06-25
11:20 | 12:30
Place: Swedish Institute at Athens & Zoom

Terracotta figurines of apotropaic character in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens

Maria Chidiroglou, 2021-06-25, Time: 11:45 - 12:05


A number of terracotta figurines from Euboea, Boeotia, the Aegean islands and other regions of the ancient Greek world in the National Archaeological Museum, could be integrated in the class of apotropaic ones based on recent research data. They include dwarfs, grotesque and ithyphallic figures, as well as some Janus-formed ones and they are dated from the Classical to the Hellenistic times. Most of these figurines were found in graves excavated during the 19th to early 20th century, for instance in Tanagra and Eretria, while other ones come from systematic excavations in sanctuaries, such as the Kabeirion of Thebes.

Representative examples of these figurines of apotropaic character will be presented in this paper, followed by an investigation of their types, parallels and excavation or archival data. Interpretative theories regarding apotropaic figurine types will be summarily presented next and in this view we will attempt to trace some of the social and religious beliefs, obsessions and occasional playful or wry spirit of their owners and/or the craftsmen involved in their making, as well as their owners’ need for prophylaxis.

About the Author(s)

Dr., Archaeologist National Archaeological Museum, Department of the Collections of Vases, Metal and Minor Arts Artefacts


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