Cyprus: 3D has been the common thread in our calendar of activities since 2018: we have incorporated our figurines in many events to promote the collection as part of our outreach programme and audience development, in which older teenagers and families had the chance to play with our prints as a way to have a better understanding of Cypriot ancient culture. We encouraged responses from the participants with questions about:

  • What the figures looked like?
  • Who they might represent?
  • What genders they might reflect?
  • What each figure was carrying, with follow-on questions such as why they might be carrying these attributes
  • How do you think they were found? In which position?

– First of all, they preferred the heavier replicas, which gave them the sensation that they were holding something important or “real”, as they put it. Although printing quality is an issue, it was not as much of a hindrance as we had imagined: they quickly accepted that the surface of these artefacts was not that of the originals, but proceeded to play with them nonetheless.

– Most of them considered the bearded figure to be a male warrior – just like Karageorghis[1] – or an authority of some sort, holding a shield or weapon. They also spotted some resemblance with Egyptian pharaohs or shabtis, which enforced the idea that it was representing an “important person”.

– The beardless figurine, however, was not identified as female in most cases, although when associated with its attribute it was considered to be a servant or a musician. It was funny to see that renowned archaeologists in their writings and school learners in our museum coincidently identified the attribute as tambourines, rattles, platters, loaves of bread, sun-disks and moons, although most of our audience saw in the rounded shape a musical instrument (cymbals, tambourine, harp).

– As for the function, students explained that they were representing either gods or real people, showing their everyday life, but turned into amulets or lucky charms for the afterlife, linking them to shabtis. Hence, they were either as ex-votos or funerary goods.

– The different sizes were perceived as representing people from different ages or echelons of the society, being the bigger ones more important, respected or richer. When asked about a possible interpretation for the whole set of figurines, they understood it as a family (pharaoh’s) or a music band, with people playing instruments and dancing.

The interpretation of one of the figuriens as a tambourine player provided a vehicle to discuss ancient music in Cyprus. This iconography was widely popular througout the island, and were produced by many terracotta workshops in a variety of techniques and sizes.

To learn how 3D printed replicas helped to introduce music and motion in the educational offer, please click here

[1] Karageorghis 1993; 1995.