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Gold ring showing the Temple of Aphrodite at Palaepaphos

150/250

British Museum

British Museum

The design shows a semi-circular courtyard before the façade of a building. The central tower, with a large conical stone, is flanked by two smaller towers evidently containing pillars. A similar scene decorates other finger rings, as well as bronze and silver coins issued between the emperors Augustus (27 BC-AD 14) and Philip I (AD 244-249).

Unfortunately no trace of an actual structure similar to those illustrated has been discovered. It is possible that it was not a large walled building, but a canopy-like structure of pillars and awnings containing the sacred cone. The sacred cone was a symbol of fertility in many eastern cults, but only at her most famous shrine at Paphos did it represent Aphrodite. It is likely that a dark-green conical stone, now in the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia, represents the actual cult idol of Aphrodite, which was venerated for more than one and half millennia.

The Roman remains of the sanctuary show how it never represented a classical Greco-Roman design, but retained the basic character of the traditional open court sanctuary with its oriental antecedents. It did, however, incorporate the Late Bronze Age temenos (sacred enclosure) built around 1200 BC.

Gold rings showing the Temple of Aphrodite were evidently sold to visiting pilgrims.

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Details

  • Title: Gold ring showing the Temple of Aphrodite at Palaepaphos
  • Date Created: 150/250
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 1.50cm; Width: 1.10cm; Weight: 2.07g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: engraved
  • Subject: temple
  • Registration number: 1917,0501.1641
  • Production place: Made in Cyprus
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Koskinu
  • Period/culture: Roman Imperial
  • Material: gold
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Bequeathed by Franks, Augustus Wollaston. Previous owner/ex-collection Cesnola, Luigi Palma di

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