Since the dawn of time, man has offered votives to win the benevolent favor of his gods. Sometimes these were perishable gifts of food, or wine, or livestock. At other times they were figures of stone, metal, or clay--votives of a more enduring nature. The art of the sculpted clay votive reached its peak in the Hellenistic age, when the artistic influence of Classical Greece spread throughout the Mediterranean and Near East. In and around Alexandria--where the Olympian gods were mixed freely with those of ancient Egypt--the temples were filled to overflowing with lively depictions of deities, royalty, actors, beasts and ordinary folk. As gifts to the gods, these could not be destroyed, so periodically the votives were buried in pits to make room for new offerings. When we look upon their features today--at times mysterious, ageless, beautiful, divine, regal or aloof, sometimes comic or infinitely wise--we come face to face with the human past.