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Descriptive Attribute Value(s)
Type Divine Images: Bes
Title Bes Wall Bracket
Excavation Unit 34
Stratigraphic Unit 3406
Context found in alluvial deposits directly to the east (exterior) of the western section of the peribolos of the Hellenistic-Roman phase of the sanctuary (EU 34/SU 3406).
Current Location Larnaka District Archaeological Museum, Cyprus
Material Limestone
Height (cm) 24.3
Width (cm) 12.6
Date 600 – 480 BCE
Thickness (cm) 11.0
Weight (kg) 1.797
Description This wall bracket is almost fully preserved; a small fragment of one of the lion’s hindquarters was broken, now joined. A small triangular-shaped piece is missing from the upper right portion of the vertical plaque and the front portion of the base is chipped and worn. A naturally occurring fault line runs through the central portion of the relief. The flat, vertical plaque is fitted at the top with a pierced hole and terminates in a shallow receptacle or platform flanked by two couchant lions in relief; each lion confronts the viewer with a wide-open mouth and extended tongue. The lions support a small shelf above the receptacle, upon which three Bes figures are carved in relief. A central Bes figure is the largest and carved in the most depth; he stands between two similarly posed, but smaller, Bes figures in shallower relief arranged in heraldic composition. The rendering of the musculature is impressive: the central Bes exhibits a distinct epigastric arch and all three Beses figures have sculpted pectorals and protruding stomachs. Their relatively squat stature is combined with large and distinctive upper thigh and calf muscles. The central Bes, moving right to left, exhibits the Smiting God attitude with the right arm raised above the shoulder to the head and fist clenched. The smaller flanking figures, partially obscured by the central Bes, move toward the center and raise both arms with fists tightly clenched. Each figure combines a fully frontal face and torso with profile legs; movement is indicated by the knielauf pose. All three figures are nude (the male genitalia of the proper right figure are missing although faint indications of breakage are visible). The heads are bearded with vertical incisions delineating distinct rows; the beard of the central figure is slightly more elaborate with a horizontal incision creating a two-tiered effect. Like the bodies, the wide faces are anthropomorphized with horizontal, almond-shaped eyes and prominent cheeks. The broad nose, on the other hand, is more zoomorphic, as are the parallel striations across the upper cheeks of each figure, indicating fur. The long tongues of each Bes are carved in low relief, extending out from the bottom lip in a gesture that mimics the lions below. All three Bes figures wear a lionskin headdress. The headdress is clearly defined on the central figure with lion ears protruding from the top, although traces are also slightly visible on the others. The flat surface of the relief above the figures contains four vertical relief bands that extend upwards from the back of the central figure’s head to meet the base of the pierced hole above. Directly above the proper left Bes, a battered and weathered arc-shaped object appears carved in low relief as if held in his proper left hand, which might represent a snake or perhaps a knife/sickle.
Commentary Images of Bes and other iconographically related divinities appear in Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Middle Kingdom until Roman times (Wilson 1975; Hermary 1986; Counts and Toumazou 2006; Hermary 1986; Wilson 1975). Given this long history and enduring popularity in the region, it is not surprising to find representations of Bes in the artistic repertoire of Cyprus. On Cyprus, wall brackets are found in sanctuaries in the Bronze Age and continue in use throughout the CA period, if not later (Caubet 1979; Caubet and Yon 1974; Caubet 1979). Although the exact function of these cult objects is unclear, the receptacle probably served as a stand for a lamp or incense burner. The Bes iconography of the Malloura wall bracket is unique in Cyprus, but one might compare images of Bes on two other objects that were meant to be hung: a lLate Bronze Age ivory plaque from Kition (Karageorghis 2003: 107, fig. no. 222) and a late Archaic terracotta lamp in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Karageorghis et al. 2016: 74, cat. no. 121). Nevertheless, even without exact parallels, the basic iconography of AAP-AM-2431 fits nicely into the repertoire of Bes images in Cyprus; however, there are no exact parallels here or elsewhere in the eEastern Mediterranean. For example, the repetition of Bes figures (perhaps enhancing the image’s magical powers) is seen on an early CA silver bowl from Idalion wherein Bes is represented no less fewer than six times in the role of master of animals (Markoe 1985: 39-–41, 170-–71, cat. no. Cy2); where he is anthropomorphic and bearded, wearing a leopard skin., as well asAdditionally, on the famous Amathous sarcophagus, where the god is repeated four times wearing Egyptianizing kilts and striding from left to right (Hermary and Mertens 2015: 353-–63, cat. no. 490). Finally, parallels can also be sought in the iconography of satyrs in Cyprus (Hermary 1986: 111), who commonly appear in groups on female headdresses (e.g., troupes of satyrs carved in relief on the kalathoi of two late CA female statues, one from Vouni [(Karageorghis 2003: 246-–47, cat. no. 284]) and an unprovenienced example now in the Worcester Art Museum [(Sophocleous 1985: 131-33, pl. 33; Worcester Art Museum inv. no. 1941.49; Sophocleous 1985: 131–33, pl. 33])). Finally, frontal faces and protruding tongues are standard apotropaic features of Bes -types in Cyprus. The apotropaic quality of these and other attributes areis directly linked to a wide variety of guardian figures in ancient art such as Ggorgons and lions. In this context, it is worth recalling that the lions flanking the receptacle on the Malloura wall bracket are also depicted with tongues extended. The solitary appearance of Bes’s face on garments, seals, jewelry, coins, furniture, and in other media further suggests the primacy of the face as the source of the divinity’s protective power. The Malloura wall bracket was discovered in an alluvial deposit directly outside the easternn wall of the temenos; Derek B. Counts and Michael K. Toumazou (2006: 601) have argued that it could have hung on the wall’s exterior face as a constant guard (similar in function to the standing stone that protects the entrance to the sanctuary along the northern peribolos [(Toumazou et al. 2015: 210-–11]). Bes’s apotropaic nature supplemented his other spheres of influence in the divine protection of Cypriot sanctuaries and their patrons. Based on stylistic and iconographical comparisons, as well as the prevalence of the imagery in the CA period, a date within the last quarter of the sixth century BCE for the Malloura wall bracket seems likely.
Bibliography Counts and Toumazou 2006; Schmidt 2016: 210-14 (figs. 5.2, 5.3); Pilides and Papadimitriou 2012: 254-255, cat no. 258
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Suggested Citation

Derek Counts, Erin Averett, Kevin Garstki. (2020) "AAP-AM-2431 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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