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Votive statuette of a worshipper
    • CollectionNear East
    • Inventory numberO.04569
    • Object nameStatuette
    • TitleVotive statuette of a worshipper
    • CulturePhoenician
    • GeographyPlace of discovery:TyreGeographical Reference > Asia > Near and Middle East > Lebanon > South Lebanon (governorate)
    • Date800 BC - 301 BC
    • PeriodAchaemenid(Near East and Iran)
    • MaterialTerra cottaMaterial > Earth > Clay > Ceramics > Earthenware (material)
    • DimensionsH x La x P: 27 cm, 5,9 cm
    • LocationOn display
    • OwnerMusées royaux d'art et d'histoire/Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis
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    After a storm at sea in the 1960s, several clay figures washed ashore on a beach near the town of Tyr. These finds put amateur deep-sea divers on the trail of one or more shipwrecks loaded with votive statuettes. The art market was subsequently flooded with hundreds of these figurines, depicting men and women in prayer. They are standing on pedestals, decorated with offering trays or symbols, such as dolphins, anchors, or the so-called Tanit-sign.
    It is likely that the shrines in the temples of Tyr were often emptied. Due to a lack of space on the small island on which the city was located, the votive statues were ritually buried at sea. They were placed on old ships that were deliberately sunk. Because of the large quantities, a ritual burial at sea seems more plausible than the theory of a cargo ship with religious artefacts that wrecked on its way to Carthago. Especially since statues of this type are not known in the Punic world, nor in the nearby Cyprus.
    Although most of them date to the Persian period, some archaic examples were also identified. For example, the statue of a veiled musician playing a lyre dates to the 8th century BC. This type is also known from a bronze statue, currently preserved at Copenhagen.