CULTURE

From Ishtar to Aphrodite, Cypriot culture to go on display in Votanikos

About 100 ancient finds from the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, including clay objects, sculptures, golden bracelets, earrings and rings, statuettes, vases, bronze weapons and tools, will be on display as of February 9 at the Pieridis Museum of Cypriot Art, which is housed at the Athinais Arts Complex in Votanikos. The title of the exhibition is «From Ishtar to Aphrodite: 3,200 Years of Cypriot Hellenism.» The exhibition was organized with the collaboration of the six state museums of Cyprus, the Pieridis collection, the collection of Cypriot antiquities at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens and the Zintilis collection of the Museum of Cycladic Art. One of the highlights of the exhibition is the statue of Aphrodite Anadyomene (emerging from the sea), recovered by divers from the sea near Nea Paphos in 1956. Dating to the first century BC, the statuette is 85 centimeters high (the head, arms and lower part of the legs are missing) and made out of Aegean marble, smoothed by salt water over the centuries, and represents the Praxiteles sculpting tradition. Up to now, the exhibit had remained in Cyprus. The exhibition, which was first on display at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York between October 22, 2003, and January 3, is under the aegis of the president of the Cypriot Republic and was organized with the help of Cyprus’s Department of Antiquities, which is headed by Dr Sophocles Hadzisavvas. The exhibition aims at tracing the Hellenization of the island, as the Greek element gradually prevailed. Many believe that the goddess Aphrodite’s first manifestation was Ishtar, the goddess of fertility in Mesopotamia. Among the exhibits is the oldest inscription with Greek writing found in Cyprus, a bronze obelisk from the 11th century BC. Equally interesting is a bilingual inscription in both the Greek alphabet and the Cypriot syllabic script, statuettes of gods, silver coins from Classical times, a fourth century BC statuette of a comic actor and a third century BC theater mask. There are also statuettes of pregnant women or women representing maternity, as well as female terracotta statuettes from the late Bronze Age, from the Nicosia Museum.