Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Snake Goddess from the Road Gravel

This terracotta plaque was found in the Athenian agora in 1932. But it was found in road fill put down during the 7th century BCE, and people have long wondered who the goddess might be and where it came from. Plaques like this were used as votive offerings at shrines, and even when they were removed from the shrine they were usually buried in pits rather than tossed out as trash. A new study of the objects found with the plaque says they include spindle whorls and pottery disks, which were often left as offerings to the goddess Demeter. So, says Michael Laughy of Washington and Lee, the plaque was probably also once an offering to Demeter and probably depicts her. Demeter had numerous shrines in Attica, and one of them must have been demolished or renovated or something, leading to a pile of votive offerings ending up in the road gravel.

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