Keywords: Olbia Pontica, terracotta, bust thymiaterion, Aphrodite, botros, temenos


Among Olbian terracottas there is a group of Aphrodite’s busts crowned with handmade cups. These bust thymiateria were probably used in this goddess cult for spreading scents and as votives. They come from the excavations at houses and from the Eastern (Central) Temenos. The series of busts is dated to the late period of this temenos functioning: the late 3rd or the first half of the 2nd centuries BC.

The image of Aphrodite with Erotes on her shoulders probably originates from her depictions where she holds her twin sons in her arms. One more variant of this image was the schematic depiction of Erotes heads on her shoulders at the backgrounds of palmettes. They as if peer out of the goddess shoulders and their wings form the palmettes. Terracottas of this variant come from the botroi at the Central and Western Temenoi.

Aphrodite with Erotes on her shoulders is known in coroplastics of many cities while the very image of this full-faced, openly smiling and not young woman is peculiar for Olbia. The same face is reproduced in semifigures of ladies with ivy wreath found in the area near agora. Aphrodite being usually depicted as young and tender looks almost stout on the busts discussed. It can correspond to the image of Aphrodite Ourania.

Olbian bust thymiateria distinguish also by the simply shaped thymiaterion cup. Only handmade cups are known among the materials of the Central Temenos where dozens of busts with broken away thymiateria cups were found.

Bostros served as a place for burying remains from sacral precinct, therefore bust thymiateria lost their value before falling into this context. It could be reasoned by their broken condition, otherwise there could be a new type of bust thymiateria which interchanged the previous. Each variant of serially produced busts was used simultaneously on both temenoi.


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How to Cite
Shevchenko, T. M. (2020). OLBIAN THYMIATERIA OF APHRODITE. Archaeology and Early History of Ukraine, 34(1), 114-128. https://doi.org/10.37445/adiu.2020.01.07