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Phoenician Terracotta Astarte Figure

Circa 7th-4th Century BC

Description:  Stylized hand-modeled female figurine with applied detail, probably representing the goddess Astarte. The figurine has a downward flaring cylindrical body with concave underside. Her arms are decorated with vertical lines of incision and curved in holding her flat breasts. Around her neck is a thick striated collar. She has a well defined beaked face with bulging eyes impressed with pupils and wears an elaborate fan-shaped hairstyle, consisting of three small strips of clay folded over at each side of her tapered head. The back of the figure is left plain except delineated hair and terminals of her collar.

Height:  3.5 in. (8.8 cm)

Condition: Intact except the very tips of the head and nose are missing.

Provenance:  Formerly in a private East Coast, USA collection.

Reference:  See Ancient Near Eastern Terracottas by P.R.S. Moorey (Ashmolean 2005), nos. 362-366 for the type.

Background:  Known by several names in antiquity, Astarte was an important deity to the Phoenicians with several temples and cults in her honor. From Jeremiah's prophesy, the biblical phrase, "queen of heaven" most likely refers to Astarte.


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