Relatively little is known about the people who inhabited the Aegean Sea’s Cycladic Islands during the Greek Bronze Age. The islanders’ buildings, pottery, metalwork, tombs, and sculpture provide the primary evidence for their lost culture, which did not include a writing system.
Folded-armed figurines, such as this one (which probably dates to the second Early Cycladic period, ca. 2800–ca. 2300 BCE), are the best-known Cycladic artifacts. Scholars dispute the function of these simple, flat statues of nude women carved from indigenous white marble, primarily found in graves. They may have served as funerary goods, cult statues, status symbols, or even toys.
Art collectors have long admired the figurines’ spare, elegant forms, a taste that has had regrettable consequences. Marketplace demand for figurines fuels an illegal trade that has separated countless statues from the important archaeological evidence of their original locations.
figures; abstract; standing; sculpture
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