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Title: Making sense of figurines in Bronze Age Cyprus : a comprehensive analysis of Cypriot ceramic figurative material from EC I - LC IIIA (c.2300BC - c.1100BC)
Author: Knox, Daisy
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
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Prehistoric figurines have long proven evocative objects, and those of Bronze Age Cyprus have captivated researchers for more than a century. Much of this attention, however, has focussed on appraising the aesthetic characteristics, particularly of human figurines and using them to ascribe names to Bronze Age Cypriot deities. Most studies ignore animal figurines and less visually appealing, fragmentary or schematic examples; socially-situated analyses have also been particularly rare. However, the potential of these enigmatic objects to illuminate the society which made and used them has not gone unnoticed by archaeologists and calls have been made for a comprehensive, contextual investigation. This thesis undertook to provide such a study, aiming not only to interpret the function and significance of the figurines themselves but to consider the implications of these interpretations for the nature of the Bronze Age Cypriot society. The project has collated a detailed database of all 1790 known figurines from this period, including representations of humans, animals and inanimate objects, depicted as independent figurines, figurative vessels and vessels decorated with miniature figurines. These are predominantly ceramic but those few stone and metal variations of established ceramic categories have also been included. This varied material has been organised into a transparent, comprehensive typology and subjected to rigorous iconographical and contextual analyses. The interpretations to which these analyses have led have been informed by a diverse theoretical basis drawn from art-history, philosophy and archaeology, and situated on a firm understanding of the socio-cultural context of Bronze Age Cyprus. Investigations into the symbolic connotations and practical use of each figurine type have proven fruitful. Significant new findings include the hitherto unrecognised importance of textile imagery in the Early-Middle Bronze Age, evidence for the ritual breakage of Plank Figurines and a complex interplay of homogenisation and variation within the Late Cypriot figurine record. Finally, diachronic transformations in the forms, meanings and usage of figurines have been carefully evaluated to consider their implications for the changing socio-cultural landscape of Cyprus throughout the Bronze Age. Alterations in the criteria chosen to display group identity, a combination of continuity and change in ritual practices and sustained, close contacts with a wide sphere of external communities are just some of the trends and issues which figurines have been able to elucidate. Principally, this study demonstrates that nuanced, systematic investigation of this rich body of figurines holds significant potential to inform interpretations not only of the figurines themselves but also of their dynamic and complex Bronze Age Cypriot context.
Supervisor: Crewe, Lindy Sponsor: University of Manchester
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: figurine ; Cyprus ; Bronze Age ; imagery ; Cypriot