III.A.1. Terracotta of a seated goddess with uplifted arms
This partly-preserved figurine with stumpy uplifted arms is rendered in a seated position. The find place, underneath Temple II, is important because, together with the Bern-Malibu fragment of a couple figurine and the painted images of the goddess with uplifted-arms on pottery from the Temple Plateau it shows that such finely incised figurines were not only found in tombs but also dedicated on the Temple Plateau, where an altar functioned at least since the 9th c. BC and later on temples were erected in steady succession. The figurine had an attachment at the upper back to fasten it to another object, Dr. Stoop suggested a chair and considering the posture of the
figurine a throne is likely. Seated figurines found in a sanctuary must be deities as no mortal would portray herself seated in the presence of a goddess.
Similarities with the v-shaped lines incised in figurines from Torre Mordillo are striking and therefore it is likely that the lines indicate an ornate system of necklaces. Likewise, the lines incised around the waist may show metal pendants worn from a belt. The lines incised in the back side indicate long hair.
Although the incisions were applied more or less conforming to the system of the elsewhere discussed impasto and terracotta figurines, which, together with the clay fabric, makes local production certain, the modelling of this figurine is strikingly different. The figurine’s body parts are relatively well rounded and anatomical details like slight cavities in the buttocks’ sides and along the spine of the figurine are well rendered. These details may show that the figurine was meant to represent a nude. However, Stoop’s description of traces of two colours on the figure, blue and red at the waist, makes one hesitate if a dress can have been painted. Andrea Babbi points to a fragmented parallel figurine from Hera’s sanctuary on Samos, which establishes the date around 700 BC.
As the incised lines of the figurine were made in the wet clay before firing and not a later addition, the figurine must be the work of an artist familiar with Samian coroplasting but also used to the indigenous way of indicating the jewellery customarily worn by Oinotrian aristocratic women and possibly dedicated to cult statues, as for instance shown with the Torre Mordillo impasto figurine. Thus, the figurine must have been made in a local workshop.
It is a wonderful hybrid creation combining new knowledge on how to render the female body plastically with the requirements an Oinotrian rendering of the goddess – already a cult statue? – imposed on the artist. The figurine, together with the enthroned goddess painted on the pyxis by the Francavilla painter (cf, Museum No. V.B. 4A) is anyhow an indication that a seated goddess was imagined on the Temple plateau from early on.
The object comes from the Temple plateau on the Timpone della Motta, Scavi Stoop 1963-69, and is now in the Archaeological Museum of the Sibaritide.