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Terracotta pinax (‘plaque’) representing the Goddess Athena, found on the Timpone della Motta, 7th c. BC, height  18 cm, now in the Archaeological Museum at Sibari.
Terracotta pinax (‘plaque’) representing the Goddess Athena, found on the Timpone della Motta, 7th c. BC, height 18 cm, now in the Archaeological Museum at Sibari.

III.A.3 Terracotta pinax of the ‘Dama 2’ type

As was mentioned earlier (cf.  Museum no. III.A.2.) the production  -  in shallow moulds  -  of pinakes, these sacred images for the sanctuary on the Timpone della Motta in the 7th c. BC, was a local one.The most common type is this ‘Dama 2’, so called because the image, while containing elements of the ‘Dama 1’ (cf. Museum no. III.A.2.), is much smaller and less detailed. The Dama 2 figure is dressed in a close-fitting peplos with  a girdle around the waist and a complicated shoulder arrangement. Above the detailed, snail-like curls on the forehead is a decorated polos (stiff hat). The tiny feet are shown frontally and standing on a base, which suggests that the pinax was intended to resemble a statue.

Two such pinakes have been found on the cella floor of Temple V.d of the Athenaion on the Timpone della Motta, together with two aryballoi of East Greek bucchero (Museum no. V.E.1.), a shell and a protome pinax (Museum no. III.A.1.) showing a veiled girl. These finds show that the images were used in a ritual adornment or kosmèsis during an Athena festival.

The much debated question whether such terracotta images represented the goddess or a mortal girl presupposes a perspective that is probably too modern. We interpret these images as dedications by young women who wished to place themselves in the goddess’ timeframe and share her sacredness during ‘coming of age’ festivals in the Athenaion. In other words, the images represent the goddess but at the same time - in idealised form - the mortal women who came to venerate her.

Similar pinakes have been discovered in Athena’s sanctuary at Michellicchio, just south of Sybaris, and another one is known from Siris-Herakleia. They are evidence that similar cults existed there.

Complete pinakes as well as fragments of the Dama 2 type were found during the Scavi Stoop 1963-69  and the Scavi Kleibrink 1991-2004, and are also present among the former Bern-Getty and Ny Carlsberg collections of objects that were looted from the Timpone della Motta. At present all 15 pinakes from the Timpone, except the ones at Copenhagen, are in the National Archaeological Museum at Sibari (Fig.A). The terracotta’s from Michellichio are exhibited in the Municipal Museum at Cosenza.

Fig. A. Pie chart of the provenances of the pinakes and the fragments of the Dama 2 type.