SCHALLIN (A.-L.), PAKKANEN (P.) (edd.)

Encounters with Mycenaean Figures and Figurines. Papers Presented at a Seminar at the Swedish Institute at Athens, 27–29 April 2001. (Skrifter utgivna av SvenskaInstitutet i Athen, 8o, 20.) Pp. 195, figs, ills, maps Stockholm, SvenskaInstitutet i Athen 2009

Paper. ISBN: 978-91-7916-057-9.

In this volume Mycenaean figurines and figures, both anthropomorphic and zoomor- phic, are discussed with regard to contextual characteristics and possible functionsor meanings. Some papers examine material excavated in a certain area whileothers focus more on general interpretation of the function and role of statuettes.Terracottas from particular sites and regions, including previously unpublisheddata, are presented by K. Demakopoulou and N. Divari-Valakou (pp. 37–53),K. Shelton (pp. 55–60), E. Weiberg (pp. 61–75), N. Petrović (pp. 77–84), K.Pilafidis-Williams (pp. 113–24) and M.-L. Winbladh (pp. 177–91). Demakopoulouand Divari-Valakou’s article is a re-examination of the figurine assemblage fromthe Greek sector of the Midea excavations in the light of material from the 2000– 2004 seasons. Shelton provides a review of the material from Petsas’ house atMycenae, based on excavations from 1950–1 and a new project started in 2000,arguing that the figurines should be interpreted as a production deposit. Weibergreviews anthropomorphic figurines from Mastos in Berbati, excavated in 1930s and1950s in the ‘Potter’s Quarter’ area, and suggests that terracottas were producedhere and then exported within the region and perhaps beyond. Weiberg arguesthat figurines should be studied like pottery, as made for exchange and trade.Zoomorphic figurines from the same site are studied by Petrović. The majority of figurines, according to Petrović, were found in their production context. Weiberg’sand Petrović’s interpretation of the material is generally similar, but Petrović is morecautious in drawing final conclusions. Pilafidis-Williams discusses the kourotrophostype of Mycenaean terracottas with special reference to the Sanctuary of Aphaeaon Aegina. She argues that such figurines were specially commissioned, and notmass-produced. Winbladh discusses Mycenaean imports and figurines made in theMycenaean tradition found in Khania (Crete) and suggests that imported figurineswere used by Mycenaeans who came from the mainland. More theoretical and interpretative perspectives are offered in articles presented by E. French (pp. 15–21), I. Weber-Hiden (pp. 23–36), G. Albers (pp. 85–98), H.Whittaker (pp. 99–111), M. Guggisberg (pp. 125–38), L. Hammond (pp. 139–47),P. Pakkanen (pp. 149–59) and I. Tzonou-Herbst (pp. 161–75). French offers anoverview of previous and current research in the field of Mycenaean figures andfigurines. Weber-Hiden proposes a revised typology of the Mycenaean figurines, building on French’s typology. Albers discusses figurines and figures found in theidentified Mycenaean sanctuaries and their function and meaning based on spatial distribution and context. Methodology is discussed in detail, and Albers proposesto use one based on the actual material, in opposition to methodology derivedfrom other cultural-historical contexts. Whittaker argues that all the Mycenaeananthropomorphic figures should be interpreted as representations of deities. Shehighlights portability as an important factor in recognising the function of figuresin cult rituals and postulates cult images being carried in processions. Guggisbergdiscusses the relationship between the wheelmade animal figurines from Mycenaeansanctuaries and animal sacrifices performed in these sites, differentiating betweenintramural and isolated sanctuaries. However, as Guggisberg notes, animals actu-ally sacrificed are mostly goats or sheep, whereas figurines usually depict cattle;this makes the argumentation less convincing. Hammond compares the functionsand context of usage of figurines and miniature vessels, proposing that both typesof objects should be interpreted mainly as votives connected with popular cult.Pakkanen examines figurines as agents and embodiments of social and religious power in ritual actions. This is the most theoretically focussed article. Tzonou-Herbst discusses figurines in their discard context, re-used as door stoppers or recycled in construction fills. Tzonou-Herbst postulates a use-life for figurines, withchanging meanings invoked in their find contexts, and considers secondary context(discard) as providing valuable information. This is one of the most interestingarticles in the volume, presenting a fresh approach to the material.Although, as is often the case with conference or seminar proceedings, not all thearguments presented are equally convincing, the overall importance of the volumeis considerable. Both for presenting previously unpublished primary material andfor discussing new methodological approaches the volume should be of interest for scholars studying Mycenaean figures and figurines.


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