On the six-square-mile island of Keros, a part of the Cycladic island chain of the Aegean Sea, thousands of broken sculptures and pottery dating to about 2,500 BC have been discovered since archaeologist Colin Renfrew started excavating there in the 1960s. The caches of broken figurines are especially interesting, as archaeologists have been unable to find joins - pieces that fit together:
|2500-year-old Broken Cycladic Figurines from Keros|
(credit: Cambridge University via The Guardian)
I've always had a soft spot for Cycladic figurines - for their clean lines and serene, almost corpse-like poses. As an undergrad, I wrote a particularly terrible paper for my Prehistoric Art class comparing Cycladic figurines and the Venus of Willendorf, but that naive attempt to engage in cross-cultural comparison helped me realize I was meant to be an anthropologist rather than a classicist.
One of the few mementos I have of my summer excavating on Crete in 2003 is a Cycladic figurine magnet that lives on my fridge. Just this morning, before I saw the Renfrew story, my 2-year-old daughter took great interest in it, and we had the following conversation:
Chickpea: "What's that?"
Me: "That's a Cycladic figurine magnet. Can you say 'Cycladic figurine'?"
Chickpea: "'at's an old man."
Me: "So true."
We headed out on a shopping trip, and Chickpea insisted on taking her new friend the Cycladic figurine with her in the car. He made it to Target and the mall, but by the time we got home, he'd slipped between her carseat and the car door, and he met an unfortunate demise:
|My poor fridge magnet|
Looks like I may need to book a trip to Greece - and a lovely Aegean cruise - to bury him at Keros.
G. Papamichelakis, & C. Renfrew (2010). Hearsay about the "Keros Hoard" American Journal of Archaeology, 114 (1), 181-185 : http://www.atypon-link.com/AIA/doi/abs/10.3764/aja.114.1.181
A. Selkirk (2011). Keros: Sanctuary of the Cycladic Figurines Current World Archaeology, 26 : http://www.world-archaeology.com/features/keros-sanctuary-of-the-cycladic-figurines/