Details in the carving of this figure identify it as an example of the Louros type (about 2800-2700 B.C.), named after an Early Cycladic cemetery on Naxos. Scholars have divided Early Cycladic sculpture into groups or types indicating stylistic and chronological developments. The Louros variety represents an intermediate stage between the two broader categories of schematic and naturalistic figurines. Most Louros figures are of relatively small dimensions, and are distinguished by the highly abstract rendering of the human form and the total absence of facial features, as well as of other anatomical details. The Getty’s figure has a flattened, schematic head and upper torso combined with more carefully defined legs. Triangular projections at the level of the shoulders represent arms. An incised pubic triangle identifies the figure as female. The left foot and right leg below the knee are missing.
Although the findspot of the great majority of Cycladic figures is unknown, many of those with known contexts were found in burials. Not all Early Cycladic graves contain such sculptures, however, and several examples have been found in settlement and sanctuary contexts, indicating a more complex and perhaps multifaceted usage. In recent excavations, hundreds of fragments were found in a sanctuary on the island of Keros, deliberately shattered and ritually discarded. Some may have been held upright in social or religious activities, such as processions. As the majority of Early Cycladic figures are female, and are represented nude, with breasts and incised public triangles to indicate their gender, they may be linked with the idea of fertility and reproduction, which was often a focus of ancient Mediterranean religions.