Friday, 29 November 2013

Comment: Venus Anadyomene

When I saw first saw the dig's lovely Samian sherd with a female figure on it, I immediately thought it's Venus, and wasn't sure why, apart from the fact she has no clothes on!:

So I've looked into it more closely, and realised I may have been thinking of Roman pipeclay figurines, like this Venus here, from York Archaeological Trust's Excavations at 24-30 Tanner Row:

This is what Dave Hooley said about this figurine in 'General points from an accident of fortune' Archaeology in York Interim Volume 13 No 1, 1988, page 18-19:

Venus was not simply the 'Goddess of Love', she is depicted here [see the photograph above] as Venus Anadyomene, a guise which derives its inspiration from Aphrodite's birth from the seas, and is believed to be a dedication to the water-nymph guardian of the sacred waters from which all life flows. The figurine itself is almost certainly made  in Central Gaul.

The lifting of her hand is to shake water from her hair.  In addition Samian is imported from Gaul, where the pipeclay figurines are also made. So maybe this is common them for that area of the Empire, and it isn't a surprise to also find her on Samian.  I was certainly able to find archaeological reports online which mentioned the motif appearing on Samian, such as that found at Piercebridge.

However, I could easily be wrong, and it'll be interesting to see what the Samian experts say when the pottery is written up in coming years.

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