Terracotta female protome, found in a tomb, Macri Langoni,  525-500 BC. Archaeological Museum of Rhodes. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Coroplastic Studies Interest Group
Promoting the Study of Sculptural Objects Made in Clay
from Antiquity

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January 3, 2015


Reviews of Book-Length Publications on Coroplastic Topics

Professors Maya B. Muratov (Adelphi University, mmuratov@adelphi.edu) and Ioannis Mylonopoulos (Columbia University, jm3193@columbia.edu) are the current book review editors for the CSIG.

Fourrier, Sabine

La coroplastie chypriote archaïque: Identités culturelles et politiques à l'époque des royaumes

(Travaux de la Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, n° 46). Lyon: Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, 2007. 196 pp., 9 figs, 24 pls; 29.5 cm. ISBN 978-2-903264-66-6

Reviewed by Giorgos Papantoniou, Trinity College, Dublin (papantog@tcd.ie)

The main body of the monograph consists of two parts, prefaced by a methodological introduction and followed by an annex where the data-set, i.e. the terracottas (of both large and small scale) on which the discussion is based, are listed according to site and style. Acknowledgements, a chronological table, a list of bibliographic abbreviations, a bibliography, an index, a list of illustrations and 24 plates complete the book.

In her introduction Fourrier puts the Cypro-Archaic period in context, laying out the scope of her study and her methodology, and relating her project to the existing scholarship. Building on earlier studies, the author aims, for the first time, to organize Cypro-Archaic terracottas from the various sanctuaries in a new system based on regional styles, drawing patterns of diffusion in the various regions, the centre of which is assumed to have functioned as a capital of royal authority. For methodological reasons, her corpus of analysed data is confined to anthropomorphic figurines with clear provenance.

In the first part the author analyses the regional styles of the island in nine chapters. Each chapter refers to a production centre: Salamis, Idalion, Kition, Amathous, Kourion, Paphos, Marion, Soloi, and the northern part of the island, in which Fourrier includes Lapithos and Kazaphani. In the first section of each chapter she reviews the existing evidence and the problems that arise from its discovery, in an effort to define the various styles. She regards a particular ‘regional style’ as a shared element of a community, which can be defined following a consideration of morphological characteristics, manufacturing techniques and sources of influence. In the second section of each chapter the author proceeds to a discussion of the diffusion of the various styles in the sanctuaries attempting, where possible, a distribution based on the distance from the production centre: sanctuaries very close to the centre (le cercle proche), territorial sanctuaries (les sanctuaires de territoire), and frontier sanctuaries (les sanctuaires de frontière).

In the second part the author brings together in three chapters the evidence from the previous chapters exploring the relations between workshops, sanctuaries and polities in the wider context of the island’s entity. Fourrier attempts an interpretation that addresses the diffusion of regional styles in relation to segmented cultural and political identities. In chapter one, taking on Gjerstad’s proposed chronology based on the finds from Agia Irini and on comparisons between Cypriot material found on the island and in the Aegean (mainly Samos), she discusses the problem of chronology proposing new and convincing revisions of stylistic successions and stratigraphy. In the second chapter, Fourrier draws conclusions about the distribution of terracotta styles on the island, as an indicator for the territorial formation of the various Cypro-Archaic city-kingdoms proposing a theoretical, as she herself emphasises (p. 112), map of the various regions of influence assumed for each kingdom (fig. 9). The artistic styles allow her to see nine regions, which she regards as corresponding to the territories of nine polities (Salamis, Idalion, Kition, Amathous, Kourion, Paphos, Marion, Soloi and Lapithos) that functioned as distinct city-kingdoms between the second half of the 7th and the beginning of the 5th century BC. In the last chapter, Fourrier, states clearly her influence by de Polignac’s model, according to which the act of founding Greek - mostly extra-urban - sanctuaries expressed notions and intentions of territorial domination and sovereignty. While, in what the author calls urban, peri-urban and territorial sanctuaries, the material is mostly of local production, i.e. identical to those of a production centre, in the frontier sanctuaries the material is of a mixed variety, i.e. it combines styles from more than one city-kingdom. At this end, it has to be acknowledged that, as regards to the spatial setting of the Cypriot sanctuaries, Fourrier, throughout her research, was the first ‘Cypriot scholar’ to methodically observe and advocate the clear interconnection of the political and religious lives in Iron Age Cyprus.

La coroplastie chypriote archaïque is an important volume that successfully addresses the political state model of Iron Age Cyprus. While it will enhance the collections of the libraries of institutions where ancient Cypriot history and archaeology are studied, it is bound to be of interest to scholars of the eastern Mediterranean, particularly those working in the eastern Aegean.

The full review can be found in BABesch 86, 2011, pp. 226-228

Dr Giorgos Papantoniou
IRCHSS, Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow
(co-funded by the European Commission-Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowships)
Department of Classics
Trinity College Dublin

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