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Figurines of Neolithic Boeotia from the Sarakenos Cave at Akraephnion



It is almost thirty years, since 1986, when I undertook the full responsibility of the Project of the Academy of Athens which concerned the study of Greek Neolithic art. The challenge was great: Neolithic art would be given for the first time the attention it deserved, by being studied as a whole, instead of forming part of random publications or being given a brief mention in books on the general Prehistory of Greece, which in fact deal mainly with the Bronze Age. This career work resulted-among others- to the creation of a large bibliographical and photographic archive of figurines from Greece, continuously updated with recent finds, which has been the basis of publications dealing with the evaluation and the comparison of this material.

My first concern was the rescue of the about 2500 Neolithic figurines from Thessaly in important private collections. Professor K. Gallis, then Ephor of the XV Ephorate of Antiquities, Larissa, who entrusted me with the study of the above figurines, investigated their exact provenance. The great majority of this material has been the subject of a Corpus, compiled in three volumes which were published by the Academy of Athens:

a) Gallis, K. – Orphanidis, L. 1996: Figurines of Neolithic Thessaly, vol. I. Athens

b) Orphanidis, L. – Gallis, K. 2011: Figurines of Neolithic Thessaly, vol. II. Athens (electronic publication)

c) Orphanidis, L. Malakassioti, Z. 2011: Figurines of Neolithic Thessaly. The A. Bastis Collection. Athens (electronic publication)

The present volume is the Corpus of Neolithic figurines from the excavation of the Sarakenos cave at Akraephnion, near the former lake Copais in Boeotia, by Prof. A. Sampson, who entrusted me with the study and publication the figurine material. I strongly believe that this Corpus, along with the above three corpora from Thessaly, is a significant contribution to the promotion of research on Neolithic figurine art. I also believe that Neolithic figurines are a very important aspect of the first organized human societies, since they are witnesses of the existence of the sperms of language, techniques, art and religion, as I discuss in my books: a) Orphanidis, L. 1998: Introduction to Neolithic Figurine Art. Athens and b) Orphanidis, L. 2015: Interpretation of Neolithic Figurine Art. Athens (electronic publication).

The Sarakenos figurines have been stored in the museum of Thebes in view of their future exhibition.

Preface | Introduction | Images