The Cycladic Goddesses
encompasses the visual art of the ancient Cycladic civilization, which
flourished in the islands of the Aegean Sea from 3300 - 2000 BCE. Along with the
Minoans and Mycenaeans, the Cycladic people are counted among the three major
Aegean cultures. Cycladic art therefore comprises one of the three main branches
of Aegean art.
The majority of these figures, however, are highly stylized representations of
the female human form, typically having a flat, geometric quality which gives
them a striking resemblance to today's modern art. However, this may be a modern
misconception as there is evidence that the idols were originally brightly
A majority of the figurines are female, depicted nude, and with arms folded
across the stomach. Most writers who have considered these artifacts from an
anthropological or psychological viewpoint have assumed that they are
representative of a Great Goddess of nature, in a tradition continuous with that
of Neolithic female figures such as the Venus of Willendorf.
archeologists would agree, this interpretation is not generally agreed on by
archeologists, among whom there is no consensus on their significance. They have
been variously interpreted as idols of the gods, images of death, children's
dolls, and other things. One authority feels they were "more than dolls and
probably less than sacrosanct idols."
Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, 2800-2300
During the period between 3200 and 2000 B.C. the small Cycladic islands (Cyclades,
Greece) in the Aegean became home to a flourishing pre-Greek culture. The most
prominent craft in Cycladic culture was stone-cutting, especially marble
sculpture. The abundance of high quality, white marble on the islands,
encouraged its wide use for the creation of a wide range of artifacts.
Among these, Cycladic Statues are the most
distinctive Cycladic creation because of the great numbers in which they are
found, and the significance they held for their owners. The majority of Cycladic
Figurines show women, nude with the arms folded over the belly and the long
feet, soles slopping downwards. We do not know whether they were meant to show
mortals or deities, but probably symbolized the worship of the 'Mother Goddess'.
In this case, the statues may have been conceived as representations of the
Goddess, or companions to her.