Neolithic Marble Idol from Thessaly - 5500 BC

A Neolithic “idol” from Thessaly, dating to the 6th - 5th Millennium BC.

Of coarse grained marble, the female figure is shown in abstract form, standing with arms under her breasts. The eyes incised with horizontal slits, the nose pointed. Her abdomen is prominent and swollen, her pubic triangle is clearly defined.

The figure is clearly steatopygous in type, and is typical of Neolithic sculptures from mainland Greece. The pointed nose and slit eyes find parallels in figures from Thessaly (cf. Gimbutas, The goddesses and gods of old Europe, no. 138), though the form of the torso also bears similarities to figures thought to be from Sparta and Attica (ibid. no. 141 and Ortiz 046).

Neolithic figures such as this have variously been called idols and mother goddesses, though their precise function is not well understood. The female figures, often shown with rolls of fat and a swollen abdomen, have been interpreted as primordial “mother goddesses”.

These are some of the earliest manifestations of human creativity known, dating to a time when human beings had recently moved from a hunter gatherer existence to farm-based communities that would eventually lead to the rise of civilisation. They predate the famous Cycladic idols of the Bronze Age Aegean and in some ways represent the beginning of our western artistic heritage.

 

Neolithic Marble Idol from Thessaly - 5500 BC. A Neolithic “idol” from Thessaly, dating to the 6th - 5th Millennium BC. Of coarse grained marble, the female figure is shown in abstract form, standing with arms under her breasts. The eyes incised with horizontal slits, the nose pointed. Her abdomen is prominent and swollen, her pubic triangle is clearly defined. The figure is clearly steatopygous in type, and is typical of Neolithic sculptures from mainland Greece. The pointed nose and slit eyes find parallels in figures from Thessaly (cf. Gimbutas, The goddesses and gods of old Europe, no. 138), though the form of the torso also bears similarities to figures thought to be from Sparta and Attica (ibid. no. 141 and Ortiz 046). Neolithic figures such as this have variously been called idols and mother goddesses, though their precise function is not well understood. The female figures, often shown with rolls of fat and a swollen abdomen, have been interpreted as primordial “mother goddesses”. These are some of the earliest manifestations of human creativity known, dating to a time when human beings had recently moved from a hunter gatherer existence to farm-based communities that would eventually lead to the rise of civilisation. They predate the famous Cycladic idols of the Bronze Age Aegean and in some ways represent the beginning of our western artistic heritage.  

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