Archaeological evidence: 3a. Apotropaic qualities of objects: Sanctuary context
Terracottas, masks, gorgoneion roundels, amulets, apotropaic inscriptions, symbols and reliefs. Lead as a material with prophylactic qualities.
Friday 2021-06-25 | 09:00 | 09:20
Twentieth century excavations by Georgios Bakalakis and Dimitrios Lazaridis at Kavala’s old town (Panagia promontory), brought to light impressive finds from the sanctuary of Parthenos, the patron deity of ancient Neapolis. Dating mainly to the Archaic period, these finds testify to the cosmopolitan character of the sanctuary, its high number of visitors and the important role it played in the Northern Aegean not only as a sacred temenos but also as a social and economic center. The archaeological record included architectural members, inscriptions, large amounts of pottery -both local and imported- and significant small finds. It is particularly the latter that need to be addressed, as they invite a fresh examination of the characteristics of the patron goddess of this important Thasian colony.
This paper investigates the apotropaic qualities of certain objects from the sanctuary, such as an extraordinary lead disk, clay and other artifacts, astragaloi, pendants, figurines and miniature vessels, attempting to understand their significance vis-à-vis the rest of the finds but also key topographical elements. This material prompts an exploration of the role of Parthenos beyond her poliadic and kourotrophic powers, focusing more on the prophylactic facets of the goddess. When examined in comparison to similar characteristics of Thasian Artemis, this new data helps us form a better understanding of the ritual practices that took place in the sanctuary of Parthenos.
Friday 2021-06-25 | 09:25 | 09:45
Terracotta and bronze finds from the Demeter and Kore sanctuary at ancient Corinth: some evidence for amulets
Evidence is elusive for the dedication of amulets in the Demeter and Kore sanctuary in ancient Corinth because no literary or epigraphic sources referring to the dedicatory practices that took place in it have survived. On the other hand, the sanctuary’s plentiful published material evidence, especially the terracotta figurines and sculpture, is very helpful in bridging that gap. These publications suggest that many of the finds were probably offered in association with family-related issues such as birth, marriage, death and the household, and referred to the main deities’ protection of human and agricultural fertility. These notions are now further supported by several, mostly unpublished, small terracotta and bronze finds, which may be defined as amulets that were dedicated in the sanctuary. The focus of this paper is to present these finds, their chronological framework and relevant manufacture details, to discuss their possible function as amulets, and to offer interpretations regarding their apotropaic power in the sanctuary.
Friday 2021-06-25 | 09:50 | 10:10
Οι μάσκες από τον «βόθρο» της Τίρυνθας υπό το πρίσμα των νέων παρατηρήσεων και η σύνδεσή τους με το αποτρόπαιο
Στόχος της ανακοίνωσης είναι η προσέγγιση της ερμηνείας των μασκών, των παραδοσιακά ερμηνευομένων ως Γοργονείων, από τον «βόθρο» της ακρόπολης της Τίρυνθας. Η σημασία των Γοργόνων και των Γοργονείων στην ελληνική τέχνη του 8ου και του 7ου αιώνα έχει ήδη πολλαπλώς μελετηθεί. Εδώ το ενδιαφέρον επικεντρώνεται στην ανάδειξη του ιδιαίτερου χαρακτήρα των μασκών υπό το πρίσμα της ήδη υπάρχουσας βιβλιογραφίας και της σύζευξής της με τα νέα δεδομένα από την ακρόπολη της Τίρυνθας, όπως με την αναθεώρηση περί της ερμηνείας του «ναού της Ήρας» ως «κτιρίου Τ», και με παρατηρήσεις που έχουν προκύψει από την εκ νέου μελέτη και προσέγγιση των ανασκαφικών δεδομένων. Μέσα από τη διερεύνηση του ρόλου τους, της θέσης τους στο περιβάλλον εύρεσής τους και της σχέσης τους με τα υπόλοιπα ευρήματα του περικείμενου γίνεται προσπάθεια να προσεγγιστεί ο ακριβής χαρακτήρας των αντικειμένων αυτών. Περαιτέρω, τίθεται υπό νέο πρίσμα η έννοια του αποτρόπαιου στο unicum της περίπτωσης της Τίρυνθας και η ξεχωριστή σύνδεσή του με την τελετουργική πρακτική. Ποια είναι η διαχείριση των αντικειμένων μετά την περάτωση του αρχικού σκοπού κατασκευής τους είναι ένα άλλο σημείο, το οποίο αποκαλύπτει σε σημαντικό βαθμό την ιδιαίτερη θέση τους στο πλαίσιο της συνολικής θεώρησης των γοργονείων ως αποτρόπαιων. Τέλος, η εύρεσή τους σε ένα περιβάλλον με έντονο κοινωνικό-ιστορικό, πολιτικό και μυθολογικό παρελθόν άπτεται των θεμάτων του χρόνου γένεσης του αποτρόπαιου και της ενσωμάτωσής του στη χρήση των μασκών.
Friday 2021-06-25 | 10:15 | 10:35
A. M. Sara Karatas
More than hundred fragments of clay plaques depicting a temple façade and a pair of eyes have been recovered from the sanctuary of Demeter at Mytilene that was excavated by Canadian archaeologists under the direction of Hector Williams (University of British Columbia).
Marble and clay plaques depicting eyes were found in various sanctuaries. It is assumed that the plaques depicting eyes reflect health problems and were dedicated to healing deities. This may lead us to believe that the clay plaques from Mytilene were also consecrated with the same intention and Demeter was worshipped as a healing deity on Lesbos. However, not all plaques were dedicated to healing deities. It is suggested that some of these plaques had an apotropaic function or represented the encounter with the deity.
In contrast to the plaques found in other sanctuaries, the plaques (ca 10-11 cm) from Mytilene are pierced at the top to be hung on the wall; and the pair of eyes on some plaques are painted black or white (see figure below). This brings us to the question as whether the plaques from Mytilene may have had an apotropaic or epiphanic function. Demeter at Mytilene had exercised multiple functions for her devotees. Depending on the intention, worshippers dedicated presumably clay plaques depicting unpainted, white, or black eyes.
My paper aims to explore the various intentions behind the dedication of clay plaques depicting eyes consecrated at the sanctuary of Demeter at Mytilene.
Friday 2021-06-25 | 10:40 | 11:00
Clay gorgoneion-roundels. Evidence for a new defined group of votive offerings in an apotropaic/prophylactic context
Maria G. Spathi
The gorgoneion is widely understood to be apotropaic in intention, originally at least, and its representations in Greece were extremely popular throughout the historical period from the 7th c. BCE. onwards. The face of the Medusa, which takes the form of the round gorgoneion is very familiar for example from many cup tondi, in vase-painting and also as an emblematic figural motif decorating many different types of objects, like armour, jewellery, antefixes, pediments and epistyles, later also found on sarcophagi and floor mosaics, from sacral as well as profane contexts.
The discovery of two moulded roundels with the depictions of a gorgoneion in a foundation deposit, at the sanctuary of Artemis Limnatis in Messene, triggered the study of similar finds, upon which no attention has been drawn as yet. They are cut-out reliefs with two holes on the upper part, probably for suspension and they seem to constitute a specific category of votive offerings. Their diameter ranges between 11 and 17cm and the back side is flat or slightly convex or even concave. So far, they have been mostly found in sacral contexts in sanctuaries of Demeter in Thessaly, in heroic contexts in Laconia, in Corinth and the Argolis and in Southern Italy. They are quite different from their counterparts, which are smaller, without holes, and with a flat rim all around, apparently designed as attachments to furniture, chests or even coffins.
The aim of the paper is to collect relevant scattered material evidence, mostly from excavation contexts, to define the special characteristics of such finds, including those from Messene, and offer an interpretation on their function. At the same time, since the gorgoneion presented is part of a foundation deposit, we will seek to illustrate the motives for such an act of deposition.