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Descriptive Attribute Value(s)
Type Female and Other Types
Title Embracing Figures
Excavation Unit 10
Stratigraphic Unit 1063
Context Found in a deposit defined as ancient tumble from the southern and eastern sections of the peribolos of the Hellenistic-Roman phase of the sanctuary, perhaps originally built into the wall in that area (EU 10/SU 1063).
Current Location Larnaka District Archaeological Museum, Cyprus
Material Limestone
Height (cm) 25.1
Width (cm) 34.7
Date 400 – 300 BCE
Thickness (cm) 19.0
Weight (kg) 2.0
Description Under-life-size statue group depicting an embracing couple, both broken at shoulders and hips. The composition consists of a male figure (proper right) and female figure (proper left) oriented frontally with their legs wrapped around one another. The right leg of the female, preserved from the right buttocks to just below the knee, wraps around the back of the male; the thigh extends over part of her back in an unrealistic pose. Her left leg wraps around his front and is broken apart from the left foot preserved under the male’s right arm. A protrusion on the bottom of the woman’s right thigh is perhaps the left leg of the male wrapped around her torso, but the breaks are irregular. On the front, a rounded plane extends from the male’s torso down toward the female, possibly his right thigh. Another possibility is the left thigh, which would indicate the man’s legs do not wrap around the woman. The male’s left arm extends around the woman’s back to her left shoulder; fingers are preserved but weathered. Her right arm, if it was shown at all, appears to be broken at the shoulder. The male’s right arm is bent at the elbow; the forearm extends forward in front of his torso and holds an object. The object extends from the hand up the forearm, and has small pieces extending outward in an alternating fashion from the center. The left arm of the female is flexed across her body and appears to rest on her lap (hand is missing). The thin drapery of the female is discernible by shallow, vertical relief bands on her stomach, as well as a curving, horizontal fringe near the waist; a fold is also indicated just below her right knee. The surface is worn extensively with minute porous holes, pits, and craters. There is no evidence of applied pigment. Extensive gray discoloration from natural weathering passim, possibly burning.
Commentary While symplegmata were common during the Hellenistic period around the Mediterranean, this group is stylistically different. Erotic scenes are certainly not unknown in ancient Mediterranean art, especially in the second half of the first millennium BCE. The Malloura figures are presented frontally and would have been looking at each other or out at the viewer; their heads are too far apart to be kissing. The position of the figures is unusual and difficult to discern. There are no direct comparanda for this position, although a CA Cypro-Phoenician bowl (likely from Salamis), dated to the seventh century BCE (BM inv. no. 1892,0519.1; Brendel 1970: pl. 12; Gjerstad 1946: pl. V), features a standing man with a woman similarly wrapping her legs around him as they engage in coitus in the banquet scene around the bowl’s edge. Another possibility is that the man is lying down with the woman straddling him, a position commonly found in later Roman art (see MFA, Comstock and Vermeule 1976: cat. no. 116). The scene becomes even more remarkable when one considers the attribute held by the male figure in his right hand. This object recalls laurel branches on numerous votive statues, wherein a (usually male) figure hold the bottom of the stem in his hand with leaves extending up the forearm (e.g., Hermary and Mertens 2015: 89, cat. no. 80). In this Malloura sculpture, however, it is possible that the man is using the branch to stimulate the female’s genitals, although such a depiction would be extremely rare, if not unique. No other objects excavated at the sanctuary depict any type of erotic activity, although a statuette fragment preserving nude buttocks (AAP-AM-5415) was found in another part of the sanctuary and perhaps represents Aphrodite. AAP-AM-325 was built into a wall, dated circa 300 BCE at the time of the sanctuary’s reorganization, offering a useful terminus ante quem for this rather enigmatic sculpture group. Although coital positions appear around the Mediterranean in the seventh century BCE and on Greek vase painting during the late sixth and fifth centuries BCE, a larger sculpture such as this seems more at home in the fourth century BCE, when new types of sculptures became more common.
Bibliography Unpublished
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Suggested Citation

Derek Counts, Erin Averett, Kevin Garstki. (2020) "AAP-AM-325 from Europe/Cyprus/Athienou-Malloura". In Visualizing Votive Practice: Exploring Limestone and Terracotta Sculpture from Athienou-Malloura through 3D Models. Derek B. Counts, Erin Walcek Averett, Kevin Garstki, Michael Toumazou (Ed). Released: 2020-07-28. Open Context. <> ARK (Archive):

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