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While the limestone dedications at Malloura emphasize rituals of offering and piety through the depiction of male votaries, many bearing gifts, the terracotta offerings are less overtly religious in subject. Many depict male warriors, either freestanding, on horseback, or in chariot groups (the war animal and vehicle par excellence). While such militaristic subjects may at first seem an odd choice for a religious dedication, recent scholarship has explored the use of Cypriot sanctuaries for establishing and solidifying political power, as places for the overt display of status and power, and as economic centers. Thus, in this context, the dedication of warrior statues and figurines can be understood as expressions of elite male status and power in these sacred and public venues. The elite themes in this category belie any simplistic links between scale, medium, and status of the subject.

These dedications depict soldiers (or at least men overtly referencing military status) bearing weapons or wearing armor, most commonly the conical helmet. While standing warriors occur at scales ranging from over-life-size to miniature, the more complex chariot and horse-and-rider compositions are restricted to small-scale figurine groups. Because of their subject, figures of this type are often portrayed in active poses and in group compositions. Another significant difference between the votary and warrior types is that terracotta figurines (but not larger-scale figures) depicting warriors are also found in tombs, unlike depictions of votaries, which seem to have been produced exclusively for dedication in sanctuaries. Despite these differences, both votary and warrior dedications emphasize the elite status of their donors, with the warrior types focused on elite masculinity as expressed through prowess in war.

Terracotta warrior figurines are widespread across the island; in particular, large- and small-scale terracotta warriors, horse-and-riders, and chariot groups were dedicated in large numbers at sanctuaries of male deities, including Ayia Irini, Peyia, Apollo Hylates at Kourion, Salamis, and Malloura during the CA period. The figures in this type include standing warriors (including a rare, life-size example in limestone, AAP-AM-254) who hold swords, spears, and shields and wear a variety of helmets. The conical helmet, however, and its variations (see Male Votaries with Conical Helmets and Other Headgear), is the most common form of headgear. Other male figures ride horses or quadrigae (more rarely bigae). In some examples, these male figures are armed (especially on the overtly militaristic terracotta chariot groups, AAP-AM-1218+1459+2007; AAP-AM-2100), but in other examples, the riders or chariot groups appear ceremonial and merely reference their use in war (limestone chariot groups, for example, do not contain armed riders, as illustrated on two limestone sarcophagi from Amathous, now in the MMA, with reliefs depicting ceremonial chariot processions). It is possible that chariot processions, some of which also included horse riders, were used for religious and funerary ceremonies based on the inclusion of chariots in the royal burials at Salamis and on depictions of chariot processions on the Amathous sarcophagus (although no chariot figurines have been found in graves). In limestone, freestanding chariot groups are far less commonly represented, with a unique life-size example in the Cyprus Museum; significantly, the few smaller limestone examples are clustered in the Mesaoria plain, with several examples from Malloura (e.g., AAP-AM-4360).

Finally, armed and unarmed figures appear on horseback (AAP-AM-998; AAP-AM-1099; AAP-AM-1530). The horse is an animal reserved for the most elite members of Cypriot society, especially associated with royalty, men of high social status, war, and ceremonial processions (as seen on Cypriot painted pottery and with the elaborate royal burials at Salamis with horse sacrifices). Like the chariot groups (whether explicitly armed or not), horse-and-rider figures were likely also linked to ceremonial religious processions that showcased elite male status in religious and funerary settings.

Suggested Citation

Erin Walcek Averett. "Warriors, Horses, and Chariots". (2020) 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 (Eds.) . Released: 2020-07-28. Open Context. <http://opencontext.org/types/756ff91d-a38f-409d-946f-7e86721abcbd>

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