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The questions of origin, influence, and identity that vex the study of conical helmets worn by Archaic Cypriot male votaries in limestone and terracotta also shape the discussion of diadems worn by votaries during this same period. Although almost all male votaries in the CA period wear headgear of some sort, it is significant that nonmilitary types are also prevalent, especially in limestone votives. The origins of the diadem, a broad band worn around the head that is often decorated with relief rosettes (AAP-AM-1108), are Near Eastern; in fact, Assyrian, Neo-Hittite, and Achaemenid examples suggest that use of this headdress was widespread across cultures and reserved for persons of high rank.

In Cyprus, diadems do not appear on statues larger than life-size and rarely on bearded males; thus, this attribute was perhaps reserved for “princes” (individuals of royal status associated with the island’s Iron Age poleis) or other youthful high-status individuals. In many cases, males wearing diadems don a short-sleeved tunic and so-called Cypriot shorts, which often carry relief rosettes like the diadems (AAP-AM-96). In a terracotta group from Meniko, two men escorting a bull to sacrifice wear decorated diadems matched with Cypriot shorts, which further suggests a ritual significance; princes and elite men are thought to have served various ritual roles linking them to divinities in Cypriot sanctuaries in the Iron Age kingdoms. The addition of other accessories, such as earrings (AAP-AM-1108) and spiral armlets, also points to the proclivities of the wealthy and powerful. Gold diadems, some with embossed rosette decoration and thus similar to the type rendered in sculpture, have been discovered in tombs. Plain versions of diadems and Cypriot shorts are also found and it is possible that rosettes were once painted. The type is not unknown in terracotta, but extremely rare.

The origins of Cypriot shorts are not clear, although it likely reflects a local adaptation of Greek orientalizing dress (e.g., seventh-century BCE parallels come from Crete and Samos, as well as on the Temple of Apollo at Thermon, where Perseus is depicted with rosette-decorated shorts on a metope). The rosettes are also common on locally made Cypriot White Painted and Bichrome pottery of the seventh and sixth centuries BCE.

Suggested Citation

Derek B. Counts. "Male Votaries with Diadems and Cypriot Shorts". (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. <>

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