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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Classical Bronzes : Roman Bronze Votive Plaque Depicting a Goddess
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Roman Bronze Votive Plaque Depicting a Goddess - X.0158
Origin: Black Sea Region
Circa: 2 nd Century AD to 3 rd Century AD
Dimensions: 3.875" (9.8cm) high x 4.25" (10.8cm) wide
Collection: Classical
Style: Roman
Medium: Bronze

Location: UAE
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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 a fertility goddess. 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. The Phyrigian goddess Cybele represented one of the most popular adaptations 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.

She is generally depicted on such plaques crowned with a kalathos, a type of tiered basket, holding her arms in front of her, revealing her open palms to the viewer. However, here, she wears an elaborate floral diadem headdress and the frame of the composition truncates her arms. Instead, the artist has chosen to emphasize the jewelry that adorns her body, including a necklace with a crescent pendant, armbands, earrings, and a thin headband. Flanking the goddess in the field on either side of her bust are two cult objects: a torch on the left, and a pair of cymbals on the right. The presence of the torch may indicate that this goddess is not Cybele, but Bendis, whose cult was famous for torch races. Although the identity of the goddess represented here may be uncertain, we can be sure that she represented a contemporary version of the ancient Anatolian Mother Goddess. - (X.0158)


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