Canaanite fertility goddess sells for $242,500

The Ancient Levant covered southwestern Syria, the west of Jordan, and modern-day Lebanon, Palestine, and Israel. Ancient Semitic religions were polytheistic and centered upon a cult of mother goddesses. The Canaanite fertility goddess in Syria-Palestine was Astarte, consort to Baal, the rain god.

Mother goddesses were the divine incarnation of love as well as mistresses of fertility. Religious rituals included the performance of explicit sexual acts in front of their statues. These rituals also included the sacrifice of first-born children. Many texts detailing Canaanite religions were found at Ugarit, an ancient Phoenician city discovered at Ras Shamra on the coast of Syria in 1929.

In the late Bronze age, Astarte “bed figurines” with exaggerated sexual organs had their feet at an obtuse angle, so they would not be able to stand up unaided. Astarte was always naked and adorned with bracelets, anklets, and necklaces. Her hair was parted above the forehead, and pushed behind the ears.

At Christie’s, on 8 June 2012, a Syrian goddess from the Middle Bronze Age (1950-1750 BC) sold for $242,500. She was flat cast, thin waisted, and wore a belt, bracelets, torque necklace and head ornament. Missing earrings used to fit into the holes on the sides.

Highly stylized human forms were traditional in the ancient Near East and originated in Syria. I thought this one was notable.


by Barbara Steinberg‏

Barbara’s blog

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