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Work Seated figure holding a cup

Department of Near Eastern Antiquities: Levant

Seated figure holding a cup

© 2010 RMN / Franck Raux

Near Eastern Antiquities
Levant

Author(s):
Iselin Claire

This bronze statuette of a banqueter comes from a shrine at Enkomi, "Building 18." Banqueting scenes appear in Near Eastern relief sculpture in the early 3rd millennium BC and are found thereafter in various media. The theme is often found in Levantine iconography of the Late Bronze Age, and is treated here in an original style characteristic of the Cypriot workshops.

A seated figure reunited with its throne

The banqueter sits on a high-backed throne with footrest. This type of chair, known in New Kingdom Egypt, is also found in images from the Aegean world. The figure has a narrow, flattened body, and is dressed in an ankle-length robe trimmed with braid rendered in relief. The figure holds a biconical cup in its right hand. The throne, together with another statuette now in the Nicosia Museum, was found in the most recent occupied level in Building 18, which no doubt had a cultic function. The figure was found in the level beneath, which showed signs of violent destruction, and had no doubt been separated from the throne and lost in the last reconstruction of the building. The statuette in the Louvre fits the throne exactly - better than the one that was discovered with it.

The banquet

The banquet theme appears for the first time in the iconography of early 3rd-millennium Mesopotamia; it was depicted in statuary, perforated plaques, carvings, ceramics, and inlaid work. It is thought that banquets, as occasions to share food and drink, may have marked key moments in social and religious life. The participants, where more than one are present, seem equal in rank, and rarely bear divine attributes such as horns. Here the banqueter has a bulky head, short hair, a pronounced triangular, round-tipped nose, and thick smiling lips. This type of appearance is relatively uncommon in Levantine bronze statuettes, such as those of Ras Shamra, which generally have fine features and an aquiline nose. This large-nosed face is found, however, on a bronze weight from Ras Shamra of the same period. Some have related it to representations of the Sea Peoples. The throne and the figure may have been produced in Cyprus by an artisan familiar with the Near Eastern style of flat figurine well-attested in the Levant.

Religion in Enkomi

Three shrines at least have been identified at Enkomi: Building 18, the Sanctuary of the Ingot God, and the Sanctuary of the Horned God. These are of the Levantine type, consisting of a main hall with antechamber. Inside were divine images in bronze or clay: a statue of a god wearing a horned tiara, or a warrior god perched on an ingot of copper, symbol of divine protection over the mineral resources of a land rich in copper. Coastal cities such as Enkomi soon came to control the copper trade and its associated industry. Bronze founders' workshops have been identified at several locations in the city, and this statuette of a banqueter was probably produced in one of these.

Bibliography

Catling Hector William, Cypriot Bronzework in the Mycenaean World, Oxford, Clarendon press, 1964 (Oxford monographs on classical archaeology), p. 253, pl. 45.
Caubet Annie, La Religion à Chypre dans l'Antiquité : dossier du musée du Louvre. Exposition, Musée d'art et d'essai, Paris, Palais de Tokyo, novembre 1978-octobre 1979, Lyon, Maison de l'Orient, 1979, fig. 30, n 2.
Caubet Annie, Karageorghis Vasos, Yon Marguerite (sous la dir. de),
Les Antiquités de Chypre : âge du bronze, musée du Louvre, département des Antiquités orientales, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1981, coll. "Notes et documents des musées de France, 2", CKY 82.
Caubet Annie, Hermary Antoine, Karageorghis Vasos (sous la dir. de),
Art antique de Chypre au musée du Louvre : du chalcolithique à l'époque romaine, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1992, Athènes, Kapon, 1992, pp. 60-61, n 55.
Schaeffer Claude, Enkomi-Alasia : nouvelles missions en Chypre
1946-1950, Paris, Klincksieck, 1952 (Publications de la mission archéologique française et de la mission du gouvernement de Chypre
à Enkomi, 1), p. 371, ill. 115, pl. 73-75.

Technical description

  • Seated figure holding a cup

    Late Bronze Age III (1230-1050 BC)

    Enkomi, Building 18

  • Cast bronze in several parts

    H: 14.4 cm

  • Schaeffer expedition, 1950

    AM 2190, AM 2191

  • Near Eastern Antiquities

    Sully wing
    Ground floor
    Levant
    Room A

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