Small votive plaques forged from precious metals
such as this one were common to the regions of
the western Black Sea coast under Roman
control. Scholars believe that the images of a
woman likely represent the Phyrigian goddess
Cybele. Even as Hellenistic influence began to
infiltrate Asia Minor, the Anatolian cult of the
mother goddess, which can be traced back to the
Neolithic era, remained a vital force. Based on
the late Hittite goddess Kubaba, Cybele
represented the most contemporary adaptation
of this ancient fertility goddess. Called the Great
Mother, she was one of the few Eastern deities
whose cult was absorbed into the Roman
pantheon almost fully intact.
Here, she is depicted in the form of a woman
wearing a garment belted just below her breasts.
A headdress symbolizing the walls of a city she
presumably protected crowns her head. She
holds her arms in front of her, revealing her
open palms to the viewer. The Great Mother
Goddess of Anatolian mythology was worshipped
before history was first recorded. Over time, her
name and image changed as her cult was
adopted and adapted by the varying civilizations
that at one time ruled the land of Asia Minor.
Here, on this bronze votive plaque, we witness
this deity as she appeared to the Romans.
Centuries later, this portrayal of the ancient
Mother Goddess would survive in the form of the
Virgin Mary, who is traditionally represented in
Eastern Orthodox art forming a similar gesture.