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Research Perspectives in Coroplastic Studies: The Distribution, Trade, Diffusion, and Market Value of Greek Figurative Terracottas

Jaimee P. Uhlenbrock

Abstract

The hundreds of thousands of Greek figurative terracottas that have been brought to light at sites around the Mediterranean and Black Sea from the late seventh to the first century B.C.E. provide excellent evidence for trade and diffusion, on both a local and international level. We know that at certain terracotta-producing centers figurative terracottas were produced far in excess of local needs, suggesting that they must have been conceived as exportable items driven by a market demand within long-distance trading networks. The ability to recognize the products of specific coroplastic manufacturing centers through clay analysis has facilitated the recognition of the extent to which figurative terracottas and their molds were marketed abroad. Moreover, an attentive examination of mold series or contextual evidence can offer clues to modes of diffusion and the consequent influence that this diffusion may have exercised on a distant terracotta-producing center. Finally, the nature and extent of that influence, as well as certain technical features that accompanied it, may shed some light on the market value, or worth, that may have been assigned to certain of these figurative terracottas at given periods.

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Introduction1: Distribution models for long-distance trade

  • 1 This chapter has been excerpted from the forthcoming Handbook for Coroplastic Research in preparati (...)
  • 2 Boldrini 1994, 30.
  • 3 Demetriou 2013,78.

1It is obvious that, in some cases, figurative terracottas in all probability formed part of cargoes of pottery and other goods that were produced in one part of the Greek world, but that ended up at sites far from their points of origin. A good model for this could be provided by the finds from the commercial port of Gravisca, for example, where East Greek pottery was found alongside a wide range of East Greek figured vases and figurines, most dating within the second quarter of the 6th century.2 Epigraphic documentation confirms a strong, multi-ethnic Greek presence at this important trading center,3 and the suggestion arises that long-distance traders, mostly from East Greece, serviced this market for the eager reception that their goods would have enjoyed.

  • 4 Higgins 1970, no. 121.

2A review of the typological range of imported figurines within specific coroplastic assemblages could shed some light on the mechanisms responsible for the presence of those imports within those assemblages. But for this ideally one should have closed deposits, or at least a good quantitative grasp of the specific typologies so that enough evidence is available from site to site that could be suggestive of distribution patterns. Even so, this does not always illuminate exactly why certain distribution patterns exist, and occasionally these distribution patterns give rise to more questions than answers. For example, a type of seated female represented by British Museum 121,4 believed to be

  • 5 Higgins 1970, no. 113.

3East Greek in origin and dated to the early years of the 5th century B.C.E. (fig. 1), is particularly well represented at sites in the Greek East, from where it was widely distributed throughout the Mediterranean. At sites on the Greek mainland, the islands, and North Africa, among other areas, scores of imported examples of this type provided the models for lively local productions. However, in the Greek West this type appears to be virtually absent. This distribution pattern is duplicated by a related type of standing female5 of the same period, fabric, and possible East Greek origin that shares the face of the seated female type (fig. 2). Again, this type of standing female is unknown in the archaeological literature dealing with Sicily and south Italy in the early 5th century. The reasons for this are not readily evident, although it is worthy of note that in Sicily and south Italy East Greek pottery of the late 6th to early 5th centuries also is absent from the archaeological record.

Fig. 1. British Museum 1864,1007.1284

Fig. 1. British Museum 1864,1007.1284

Photo: British Museum

Targeted trade

  • 6 In an earlier article (Uhlenbrock 1985, 299–300) I referred to this type of commerce as bulk trade. (...)
  • 7 Higgins 1967, 32–37.
  • 8 Pautasso 2012, 114.
  • 9 See the discussion in Gras 2000, 148–155.

4What the evidence does strongly suggest is that specific areas of the Greek world at times were target markets for coroplastic goods.6 The earliest example of this on any significant scale may be illustrated by the finds of East Greek figured vases and figurines collectively referred to as belonging to the Aphrodite Group of Reynold Higgins7 (figs. 3–7) that entered the market either from Ionian Miletos, Ephesos, or Samos sometime early in the second quarter of the 6th century B.C.E8 The majority of these types were conceived as containers for scented oil and, as such, it must have been either the oil they contained, or, if empty, their association with the East Greek perfume industry that was the important commodity.9 In addition, a complementary repertoire of figurines and protomai based on both Greek and non-Greek models also was developed and mass-produced in the same workshops that made the figured perfume vases.

Fig. 3–7. Five representative types of the “Aphrodite Group:” kore alabastron, seated female, siren alabastron, protome, crouching dwarf

Fig. 3–7. Five representative types of the “Aphrodite Group:” kore alabastron, seated female, siren alabastron, protome, crouching dwarf

Photo 3–5: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Photo 6-7: Author

  • 10 Krämer 2016, 77.
  • 11 See the discussion in Albertocchi and Pautasso 2009, 283–288.
  • 12 For the distribution of Aphrodite-Group material in Greek contexts see Uhlenbrock 2007, note 18; in (...)
  • 13 Martelli Cristofani 1978, 205–212; see also Boldrini 1994, 30–31 for Gravisca.
  • 14 For example, Huysecom-Haxhi 2009, 47–296; Prokova 2014, 132–302; see also infra note 13.
  • 15 Chrysostomou and Chrysostomou 2014, figs. 5, 8; Lilibaki-Akamati et al. 2011, 328–338, 340–342; Kot (...)

5Distribution patterns and quantitative analyses reveal that this East Greek production may have been conceived early on as a purposeful, export commodity, since it is clear that it was made in quantities well beyond local requirements. It does not appear to be coincidental that the beginnings of the mass production of this material around 575 B.C.E. occurred at about the same time that the earliest sanctuary structures were being built at the Ionian trading outposts of Gravisca and Naukratis that were the result of the goal-oriented trade policies of the Ionian cities.10 To what extent these goal-oriented trade policies were responsible for the immediate distribution of these East Greek figurative terracottas is difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain. What can be said with certainty, however, is that by ca. 570 Aphrodite-Group plastic vases and figurines were already widely dispersed around the Mediterranean from their East Greek center or centers.11 It is instructive to note that Aphrodite-Group material is rarely encountered in the central and southern Greek mainland, where Ionian trading interests were not paramount. However, a completely different story can be documented in the Greek west, where in Sicily an estimated 1200 or so examples of the Aphrodite Group have been recovered collectively from sanctuaries in Catania, Gela, and Selinus, sites where many mold-related examples also have been brought to light; other Sicilian sites have yielded this material as well,12 but in fewer numbers. At Etruscan sites Aphrodite-Group plastic vases and figurines also are well represented,13 while in north Greece, finds of Aphrodite Group plastic vases and figurines are especially numerous.14 At Archontiko in Macedonia, for example, groups of mold-related, Aphrodite-Group plastic vases have been recovered from funerary contexts,15 suggesting that these groups, or lots, stayed together from their point of origin and were brought directly to their place of final discard without the possibility of being broken up. Such is the nature of targeted trade.

Basket trade

  • 16 Uhlenbrock 1985, 301.

6When small groups of figurines at a given site are found to be mechanically related, this may document a different kind of trade, one that is small scale, but still purposeful. Such a situation can be documented by a small group of Corinthian figurines brought to light among the thousands of terracotta votives at the Extramural Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone at Cyrene. At least 30 imported Corinthian figurines or figurine fragments of the Spes typology were found to represent 6 mold families, 11 fragments of seated females can be assigned to three mold families, while other contemporary types are documented in runs of three or four from the same mold. Since the Extramural Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone has been only partially excavated, it is impossible to know if there are more imported Corinthian figurines that could complete these sets or alter the impression of homogeneous groups. But it is clear that if these 30 examples, at least, arrived at Cyrene via different agents, it is highly unlikely that figurines from the same mold would stay together to eventually be deposited in the sanctuary. Perhaps, in this instance, one could postulate that these figurines represent a homogeneous group that was purchased by a trader directly from Corinth along with a boatload of goods also containing other Corinthian commodities to be sold at Cyrene, perhaps in anticipation of one of the festivals at the sanctuary. This type of trade has been termed basket trade,16 since the quantity of figurines in question may fit conveniently in a single basket.

Bazaar trade

  • 17 Uhlenbrock 1985, 301–302; Merker 2000, 285–286.
  • 18 Uhlenbrock 1985, 301–302.

7While targeted or even basket trade at a given site could be suggested by the quantity of mechanically-related, imported figurines, this circumstance is less often encountered in the archaeological record. More typical is a coroplastic assemblage containing a wide variety of individual, heterogeneous imports, alongside the even more numerous local figurines, with these imports occasionally representing a chronological cluster indicative of the popularity of those types in a given period. Thus, the presence of a range of mechanically-unrelated, Attic figurines, for example, of the late 6th to early 5th century representing various seated and standing females could be said to have arrived at a site by indirect means, or by what has been termed “bazaar trade,” 17 or cabotage. In this hypothetical model, an itinerant trader, or naukleros, possibly an owner of a small boat, carries minor objects for sale and trade up and down the coast at various markets. These objects may also include small lots of figurative terracottas that were purchased from a local vendor, or one possibly even representing the coroplast who made them. The naukleros then distributes them along the coast in trade as piecemeal goods during his subsequent travels. In effect, as has been noted elsewhere,18 his boat becomes a floating bazaar. In this model, lots do not stay together, but rather are broken up as the need arises, and mechanically-related terracottas end up at sites that are far from one another.

Trade and Diffusion

  • 19 Mitsopoulos-Leon 2012.
  • 20 Michele and Santucci 2000.

8These models for direct or indirect trade outline theoretical processes by which coroplastic typologies could have been distributed well beyond their centers of origin. But once this initial distribution took place, other processes could have taken place that resulted in the further, often widespread, diffusion of coroplastic typologies. Such diffusion can be merely regional, as one sees in Arcadia in the early 5th century,19 or Cyrenaica,20 for example, in the later 5th century, where, in each case, an independent typology was developed that remained strictly local. On the other hand, coroplastic diffusion can also be at an international level, when a given typology is widespread and appears across ethnic and political boundaries. This can be demonstrated by the figurative terracottas of the aforementioned Aphrodite Group that originated in Ionia in the Archaic period (figs. 3–7), by the classical peplophoroi and related types that were developed in Athens (fig. 8–10), or by Hellenistic figurines of the Tanagra style (fig. 11–12), representatives of each of which have been documented at numerous sites throughout the Mediterranean and Black Sea areas in both imported and local examples.

Fig. 8–10. Classical peplophoros and related types

Fig. 8–10. Classical peplophoros and related types

Photo 8-10: Author

Fig. 11–12. Tanagra figurines

Fig. 11–12. Tanagra figurines

Photo 11-12: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • 21 Gras 2000,129; Jeammet 2010, 68.
  • 22 Jeammet 2010, 68–69.
  • 23 On the notion of the “specialness” of things as an embedded aspect of social occasions see Foxhall (...)

9The reasons behind the market demand for the typology of a primary production center and the consequent diffusion of its products, either regionally or internationally, can be elusive. But, as mentioned earlier, evidence suggests that trade routes and the accessibility of the markets, and therefore the products, of a given primary production center surely played a significant role, 21 as probably also was the case with spheres of socio-political influence.22 The status, prestige, or value that might have been accorded the products of certain manufacturing centers also should not be discounted, as these factors reflect social behaviors responsible for consumption. Once an imported figurine type or typology could have been perceived as having a social value for the purposes of self representation, its replication within that social group would have been assured.23

Typological diffusion I: The circulation of molds

  • 24 Some examples: Pottier 1890, 261; Pottier 1909, 83; Fowler and Wheeler 1909, 310; Laumonier 1956, 3 (...)
  • 25 Anderson-Stojanović 1993, 269.
  • 26 Fillieres et al. 1983, 66 no. 579.
  • 27 Kassab 1988, 58.
  • 28 Laumonier 1956, 283, pl. 102:1371.
  • 29 Barra Bagnasco 1977, 153, n. 9.

10Whatever the reasons for the popularity of a specific typology, evidence suggests that its consequent diffusion may have been realized by means of several modes of transmission. The first is the result of the circulation of actual molds. This idea has been articulated repeatedly in the archaeological literature ever since the late 19th century, particularly in relation to the appearance of Tanagra figurines outside of Athens or Boeotia, where these types are believed to have originated.24 While this idea is indeed attractive, compelling objective evidence for this is relatively meager. Ideally, such objective evidence, which is on a primary level, comprises the discovery of actual molds, or mold fragments, that are scientifically confirmed through clay analysis as having been made in a fabric known to be foreign to the place where those molds were found. Examples include the Corinthian mold fragments that eventually were discarded in the Rachi settlement at nearby Isthmia,25 or in the more distant Athenian Agora.26 The wider circulation of molds is attested by a mold fragment inscribed with the monogram of Sosibios, a coroplast known at Myrina in Aeolis 27 that was found in a coroplast’s workshop on the island of Delos in the Cyclades.28 While no analysis of the clay fabric of this mold was carried out to confirm its origin, the presence of the monogram of Sosibios, identical to those known from Myrina, is sufficient evidence to establish it as a product of an Aeolian workshop. It also has been suggested, for example, that Tarantine mold fragments were found at Metaponto,29 among other places, but this has not been confirmed by archaeometric means.

  • 30 Besques and Kassab 1978, 324; Uhlenbrock 1990, 74; Muller 1993, 171–174
  • 31 Kassab Tezgör 2007, 267–269.
  • 32 Jeammet 2010, 90:59.
  • 33 Besques 1978, 622–623; Kassab Tezgör 1997, 365. For anadditional example from Chalkidike, see Misai (...)

11However, these mold fragments notwithstanding, the most often cited evidence in support of the idea of imported molds is secondary, since it is based on the character of actual figurines, i.e., the impressions, or casts, from the molds, rather than the molds themselves. This secondary evidence comprises figurines that present an iconographic similarity to other figurines, as well as identical proportions, scale, and an apparent clarity of detail, so that these figurines appear to be mechanically related and are of the same generation. Because of such similarities evident among a group of Hellenistic figurines from Tomb A in Myrina, the use of molds imported from Boeotia or Athens to Aeolia has been postulated,30 while a similar argument has been made for the use of imported Attic molds at Alexandria.31 Other examples: local figurines from sites as distant from one another as Alexandria in Egypt, Kertch on the Black Sea, and Thasos in the northern Aegean are first generation siblings made in imported, parallel molds;32 types of 4th-century figurine groups that include a composition comprising a seated Aphrodite and Eros that was made at Cyrene on the Libyan coast, at Kertch on the Black Sea, and near the Salt Lake on Cyprus, among other places, from a set of hypothetical parallel molds that are said to have been made in Athens as deliberate export items.33

  • 34 See the caution by Kassab Tezgör 2007, 267.

12However, it is important keep in mind that the evidence for the use of imported molds that is based on the figurines said to have been produced from these molds, and not based on the molds themselves, can lead to speculation, since this determination frequently relies on criteria that are assumptions or that are estimated by means of photographs and often cannot be confirmed. Although these criteria are the most often used in support of imported molds, it is clear that scientific confirmation is necessary in the form of a campaign of precise measurements taken from a given series of mechanically-related figurines that can be followed from the first generation through several successive generations, including figurines from the center believed to have produced the original molds.34 It is obvious that such a campaign may not always be practical.

Typological diffusion II: Itinerant coroplasts

  • 35 See Coulié 2000, 253–289, for a discussion of itinerant artisans and their role in the diffusion of (...)
  • 36 Besques and Kassab 1978, 324.
  • 37 Heuzey 1891, 174, 179.
  • 38 Kassab Tezgör 2007, 356–357, with doubts on the ability to definitively recognize the origin of tra (...)
  • 39 Romano 1995, 73.
  • 40 Bahrani 2011, 91.

13The second proposed mode of diffusion for coroplastic typologies, and one that is related to the notion of imported molds, is that of the itinerant coroplast,35 who is believed to have left his own production center, such as Hellenistic Athens, or Thebes, for example, for political or economic reasons to re-establish himself and his craft, including his molds, at some distant center, such as Myrina in Asia Minor,36 Kition in Cyprus,37 Alexandria in Egypt,38 Gordion in Phrygia,39 or even Babylon in Mesopotamia.40 This suggestion, most often articulated for Hellenistic material, is based on the quality of certain figurines at a given site that are manufactured in the local clay of that site, but whose high level of artistic and technical skill parallels that known at such mainland Greek centers as Athens, Thebes, or Tanagra on the Greek mainland, or at Pergamon in Asia Minor. The contrast between the technically and artistically superior figurines and the rest of the local production is often so marked that it is difficult to see any other explanation for that difference other than the hand of a skilled Greek coroplast at work.

Typological diffusion III: Surmoulage (derivative production, or serial production)

  • 41 Hornung-Bertemes et al. 1998; Muller 2000, 99–102.
  • 42 For examples in the Archaic period, see Huysecom-Haxhi 2000; in the Classical and Hellenistic perio (...)
  • 43 Kassab Tezgör 2012, 183.

14Surmoulage, derivative production, or serial production, concerns the use of a figurine as a secondary patrix, such as the example from Volos,41 from which molds could have been made for the further replication of that figurine type. That mold then could have been used to produce a given number of casts, or figurines, ultimately derived from that secondary patrix. The shrinkage of the clay of the mold through drying and firing, as well as that of the resulting cast, could reveal the extent to which a particular figurine type was reproduced in successive generations.42 A good concrete illustration of this process from cast to mold to cast is found among funerary terracottas from Alexandria and a local mold made of Nile clay for a Tanagra standing female. This mold can be attributed to the third generation of a particular series, although it is not possible to trace this series back to known figurines from Athens or Boeotia, either as imports brought to light in Alexandria itself or from the Greek mainland. However, from this local mold at least two casts of a fourth generation also have been recognized at Alexandria.43

15It is clear that surmoulage must have been the primary factor in the diffusion of coroplastic typologies that were transmitted to production centers, as well as individual workshops, by means of figurines carried from their center of origin by trade or personal carrier. This complex process of diffusion ensured that new, up-to-date types could be readily available for reproduction. It is only through an understanding of the concept of surmoulage— derivative production, or serial production— that one can explain the concurrent diffusion of figurine types at many sites around the Greek world to the extent that sudden and complete typological innovations can be documented simultaneously at many sites around the Mediterranean that comprise a universal stylistic language at specific chronological moments.

Typological diffusion IV: Pattern books

  • 44 Muller 2000, 102.
  • 45 Besques 1988, 20–22.
  • 46 Donderer 2005.
  • 47 HN, 35.36 (trans. D.E. Eichholz): “And there are many other pen sketches still extant among his [Pa (...)
  • 48 For a discussion of pattern books relative to Greek votive reliefs see Baumer 2000.

16The fourth coroplastic model for typological diffusion is based on the notion of the diffusion of motifs via pattern books, sketches in clay, clay impressions, vase painting, or other similar, indirect, means, as well as the freehand creation of a new prototype only loosely based on a newly-created motif in another medium44. A strong case for the circulation of pattern books among coroplastic workshops was made by Simone Besques in 1988.45 She argued that the similarity of iconographic motifs found among certain coroplastic types to imagery in other media could only be explained by the circulation of collections of designs loosely referred to today as pattern books. Such a collection has been recognized on the back of an Egyptian papyrus of Ptolemaic date,46 while Pliny mentioned drawings by the 5th century painter Parrhasius on panels or papyrus that were still an inspiration to artists of his time four centuries later.47 One also should not forget that coroplasts worked within artistic milieux that were shared by other artisans, such as vase painters, wax modelers, bronze casters, and metalsmiths, not to mention sculptors and painters48. As soon as motifs and techniques were “invented” it appears that their use almost immediately became part of a shared artistic vocabulary throughout the Greek world that surely was driven by needs arising out of commonly-held ritual, and more broadly, cultural experiences.

The market value of figurative terracottas

  • 49 As translated by Alexander 2014, 109 (97–112).

17While the trade and consequent diffusion of figurative terracottas must have been driven by a market within which this material was valued, we know virtually nothing of what that value could have been. The ancient writers did not comment on the value of these sculptural objects made in clay, but there is a literary reference to the price of a figurine of a winged Eros modeled in wax. This is found in a poem written by the archaic poet Anacreon that involved the sale of this figurine to a passer-by, who, after inquiring about the price, offered to buy it for a drachma.49

“A certain young man was selling a waxen Eros / And I standing close / said, “How much do you want from me / for the work?” / and he, speaking Doric / said, “take it for what you want. / So that you might know the whole story / I am not a wax-maker, / but I do not want to live with criminal Eros.” / “Give him to me for a drachma, a beautiful bed-mate.” / “Eros, straight away / set me on fire. Otherwise, / you will melt over a flame.”

  • 50 Chankowski 2013, 25–38.
  • 51 Aesopica, 68 (Perry Index).

18If we compare the cost of this wax figurine to the prices that are known for pottery, a drachma seems expensive, since one could purchase a lot of 21 plain amphoras for three obols, or half a drachma, while a black-figure amphora of the mid-sixth century was inscribed “for two obols you can take me.”50 A drachma is also the price quoted by a sculptor for a statue of Zeus.51 How much the value of the Eros figurine for the buyer was dependent on its ability to instill desire in its new owner, as is indicated in the poem, is unknown, but the price of one drachma for a figurine modeled in wax suggests that the subject of the figurine was the more desirable commodity, rather than any concern for a permanent image. In the poem the buyer threatens to destroy it by melting the figurine over a flame if it does not do its job. Since the poem implies that the wax figurine was attractive to a buyer because of its iconographic content, could the same be said of a terracotta figurine of an Eros? Can the iconographic content of a figurative terracotta play a role in its perceived value in the marketplace?

  • 52 Uhlenbrock 2015, 37–38.

19This is not a question that can have a definitive answer in the present state of our knowledge, but the terracottas themselves may shed some light on their commercial worth to some degree. For example, figurative terracottas that were designed to be handled, such as East Greek plastic vases of the Archaic period, probably were more highly valued, and therefore more expensive, if they were light in weight and pleasant to hold, as opposed to their heavy, clumsily-cast imitations. Of course, their function as containers for scented oil must have been an important factor in their appeal. It has been suggested that just the external appearance alone of a local copy of such an East Greek figured vase, for example, was sufficient to endow it with a certain cachet, since its visual language was that of luxury, even though its technique was not.52

  • 53 Fourdin, 2016, 446–453; Jeammet 2012–2013, 483–510.
  • 54 Asderaki-Tzoumerkioti 2011, 5.
  • 55 Maravelaki-Kalaitzaki and Kallithrakas-Kontos 2003, 209–225.
  • 56 Higgins 1967, 119.
  • 57 Picon and Hemmingway 2016, cat. no. 61.

20Clearly, a larger figurine, one embellished with gold53 or tin leaf54 in the Hellenistic period, or painted with rare pigments that were imported from distant lands,55 must have claimed a considerably higher price than one that was of a modest size and decorated with a few swipes of color. Occasionally terracottas were even gilded, perhaps to imitate bronze.56 A certain prestige, as well as elevated price, also must have been attached to figurines that were direct imitations of well-known statuary types, probably more suited to the home than the sanctuary or grave, such as the terracotta copy of Polykleitos’ Diadoumenos from Smyrna now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.57 This was completely hand modeled by a coroplast thoroughly familiar with the canons of late Hellenistic, monumental sculpture. A unique work of art was thus created.

  • 58 Pottier 1890, 257.
  • 59 Kassab Tezgör 2007, passim.

21For the ancient Greek consumer, especially in the Hellenistic period, the size, finish, embellishment, and subject matter of a figurative terracotta also must have played a role in its purchase for a specific context. In 1890 Edmond Pottier noted that funerary terracottas in general were more carefully finished and showed more elegant retouching than terracottas from votive contexts.58 This implied that they were perceived by Greek consumers as having a greater value because of the time and effort spent in their production. One could argue that his opinion was strongly colored by his experience in the excavation of over 5000 graves at Myrina, during which terracotta figurines of exceptional quality were brought to light that were even more noteworthy than the fine Tanagra figurines that had recently entered the antiquities market from graves in Boeotia. Subsequent explorations at necropoleis around the Greek world from the Black Sea to Sicily, especially from the Hellenistic period, have tended to confirm this view, although the funerary terracottas from the four necropoleis at Alexandria, for example, are less than remarkable.59

  • 60 Lilimpaki-Akamati 2000, especially pls. 38–40, 66–68.
  • 61 Lilibaki-Akamati et al. 2011, 209, 210, 212, 213, 216, 218, 260.
  • 62 Rumscheid 2006, nos. 6, 59, 102, 165, 234–239, 260, 277, 278, 282, 288, among others.
  • 63 Rumscheid 2006, 177.

22Yet, recent excavations at Pella in Macedonia have shown that in the late Hellenistic period, at least for this site, there is little difference in size and quality between the material from votive contexts60 as opposed to those from burials.61 How much the production of terracotta figurines of ambitious, if not grandiose, character and size was driven by the patronage, and therefore of the requirements, of an elite clientele at Pella, or at Centuripe in Sicily, at Taranto in south Italy, at Myrina in Asia Minor, or at Pantikapaion on the Black Sea, for example, is difficult to assess. But a glance at the spectacular Hellenistic terracottas that were found in aristocratic houses in Priene in Ionia62 strongly suggests that coroplasts were responding to a demand for large, singular objects of what must have been of significantly greater value and that may have been intended to represent the status and identity of the owners,63 as well as provide amusement and provoke discussion among guests. It is noteworthy that these large and handsome domestic terracottas are in striking contrast to the mediocre, contemporary figurines from Priene’s sanctuary of Athena.

  • 64 See Muller 1996, 516–517.

23However, the eloquent finds from Priene, Pella, Taranto, and Myrina notwithstanding, the physical evidence from the thousands of terracottas recovered from votive deposits throughout the Greek world from the Geometric through the Hellenistic periods suggests that the vast majority of coroplastic wares were industrial items that were produced to realize the maximum profit for a minimum of effort. Even poorly-fired figurines that tended to crumble when handled were purchased for deposition at a sanctuary or shrine by what must have been in general an undiscriminating clientele, as were terracottas produced from casts that were so late in the derivative production of that type as to render them practically featureless.64 In this regard, the production of run-of-the-mill terracotta figurines for routine votive purposes was no different than the production of the routine pottery that accompanied these figurines in their final place of discard.

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Endnote

1 This chapter has been excerpted from the forthcoming Handbook for Coroplastic Research in preparation by a team from the Association for Coroplastic Studies. See Les Carnets de l’ACoSt 11, 2014 and 13, 2015. The first chapter to be published “Research Perspectives in Greek Coroplastic Studies: The Demeter Paradigm and the Goddess Bias” appeared in Les Carnets de l’ACoSt [Online], 14 | 2016. I am indebted to Arthur Muller and Antonella Pautasso for their careful reading of this present text and for their invaluable suggestions and bibliographic references.

2 Boldrini 1994, 30.

3 Demetriou 2013,78.

4 Higgins 1970, no. 121.

5 Higgins 1970, no. 113.

6 In an earlier article (Uhlenbrock 1985, 299–300) I referred to this type of commerce as bulk trade. I now feel that targeted trade is a more appropriate term.

7 Higgins 1967, 32–37.

8 Pautasso 2012, 114.

9 See the discussion in Gras 2000, 148–155.

10 Krämer 2016, 77.

11 See the discussion in Albertocchi and Pautasso 2009, 283–288.

12 For the distribution of Aphrodite-Group material in Greek contexts see Uhlenbrock 2007, note 18; in addition see also infra notes 13–15.

13 Martelli Cristofani 1978, 205–212; see also Boldrini 1994, 30–31 for Gravisca.

14 For example, Huysecom-Haxhi 2009, 47–296; Prokova 2014, 132–302; see also infra note 13.

15 Chrysostomou and Chrysostomou 2014, figs. 5, 8; Lilibaki-Akamati et al. 2011, 328–338, 340–342; Kottaridi 2013,166–167; Vokotopoulou 1985, nos. 173174, 251256, 258, 260, 394398, 413, 414.

16 Uhlenbrock 1985, 301.

17 Uhlenbrock 1985, 301–302; Merker 2000, 285–286.

18 Uhlenbrock 1985, 301–302.

19 Mitsopoulos-Leon 2012.

20 Michele and Santucci 2000.

21 Gras 2000,129; Jeammet 2010, 68.

22 Jeammet 2010, 68–69.

23 On the notion of the “specialness” of things as an embedded aspect of social occasions see Foxhall 1998, 298.

24 Some examples: Pottier 1890, 261; Pottier 1909, 83; Fowler and Wheeler 1909, 310; Laumonier 1956, 31; Mollard-Besques 1963, 76, 288–289; Ridgway 1989, 18 Romano 1995, 74; Merker 2000, 190, 285; Huysecom-Haxhi 2000, 108; Jeammet 2010, 90:59; Muller 2000, 100; Bahrani 2011, 91; Tzanavari 2012, 355.

25 Anderson-Stojanović 1993, 269.

26 Fillieres et al. 1983, 66 no. 579.

27 Kassab 1988, 58.

28 Laumonier 1956, 283, pl. 102:1371.

29 Barra Bagnasco 1977, 153, n. 9.

30 Besques and Kassab 1978, 324; Uhlenbrock 1990, 74; Muller 1993, 171–174

31 Kassab Tezgör 2007, 267–269.

32 Jeammet 2010, 90:59.

33 Besques 1978, 622–623; Kassab Tezgör 1997, 365. For anadditional example from Chalkidike, see Misailidou-Despotidou 2014, fig. 9; from Dyrrhachion, see Muller and Tartari 2006, 83 and fig. 19; from Lesbos, see Acheilara 2005, 242, cat. no. 164. It remains to be determined, however, if all these examples were cast from molds of the same generation

34 See the caution by Kassab Tezgör 2007, 267.

35 See Coulié 2000, 253–289, for a discussion of itinerant artisans and their role in the diffusion of their products. See also Huysecom-Haxhi 2009, 612, who suggests that in the late Archaic period north Ionian artisans sought refuge in Thasos from the Persian advance.

36 Besques and Kassab 1978, 324.

37 Heuzey 1891, 174, 179.

38 Kassab Tezgör 2007, 356–357, with doubts on the ability to definitively recognize the origin of transplanted coroplasts.

39 Romano 1995, 73.

40 Bahrani 2011, 91.

41 Hornung-Bertemes et al. 1998; Muller 2000, 99–102.

42 For examples in the Archaic period, see Huysecom-Haxhi 2000; in the Classical and Hellenistic periods, see Muller 1993, or Muller 1996, passim.

43 Kassab Tezgör 2012, 183.

44 Muller 2000, 102.

45 Besques 1988, 20–22.

46 Donderer 2005.

47 HN, 35.36 (trans. D.E. Eichholz): “And there are many other pen sketches still extant among his [Parrhasius] panels and parchments, from which it is said that artists derive profit.”

48 For a discussion of pattern books relative to Greek votive reliefs see Baumer 2000.

49 As translated by Alexander 2014, 109 (97–112).

50 Chankowski 2013, 25–38.

51 Aesopica, 68 (Perry Index).

52 Uhlenbrock 2015, 37–38.

53 Fourdin, 2016, 446–453; Jeammet 2012–2013, 483–510.

54 Asderaki-Tzoumerkioti 2011, 5.

55 Maravelaki-Kalaitzaki and Kallithrakas-Kontos 2003, 209–225.

56 Higgins 1967, 119.

57 Picon and Hemmingway 2016, cat. no. 61.

58 Pottier 1890, 257.

59 Kassab Tezgör 2007, passim.

60 Lilimpaki-Akamati 2000, especially pls. 38–40, 66–68.

61 Lilibaki-Akamati et al. 2011, 209, 210, 212, 213, 216, 218, 260.

62 Rumscheid 2006, nos. 6, 59, 102, 165, 234–239, 260, 277, 278, 282, 288, among others.

63 Rumscheid 2006, 177.

64 See Muller 1996, 516–517.

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List of illustrations

Title Fig. 1. British Museum 1864,1007.1284
Credits Photo: British Museum
URL http://acost.revues.org/docannexe/image/926/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 112k
Title Fig. 3–7. Five representative types of the “Aphrodite Group:” kore alabastron, seated female, siren alabastron, protome, crouching dwarf
Credits Photo 3–5: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
URL http://acost.revues.org/docannexe/image/926/img-2.jpg
File image/jpeg, 84k
Credits Photo 6-7: Author
URL http://acost.revues.org/docannexe/image/926/img-3.jpg
File image/jpeg, 36k
Title Fig. 8–10. Classical peplophoros and related types
Credits Photo 8-10: Author
URL http://acost.revues.org/docannexe/image/926/img-4.jpg
File image/jpeg, 84k
Title Fig. 11–12. Tanagra figurines
Credits Photo 11-12: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
URL http://acost.revues.org/docannexe/image/926/img-5.jpg
File image/jpeg, 64k
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References

Electronic reference

Jaimee P. Uhlenbrock, « Research Perspectives in Coroplastic Studies: The Distribution, Trade, Diffusion, and Market Value of Greek Figurative Terracottas », Les Carnets de l’ACoSt [Online], 15 | 2016, Online since 02 November 2016, connection on 18 October 2017. URL : http://acost.revues.org/926

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About the author

Jaimee P. Uhlenbrock

Department of Art History
State University of New York, New Paltz
uhlenbrj@hawkmail.newpaltz.edu

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Les Carnets de l'ACoSt est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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