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A Mutilated Aphrodite in Istanbul 24 May 2006

Posted by Troels in : Case Studies,Thesis Rant , trackback

I have previously mentioned the mutilated statue group of the Three Graces, now in the Antalya Museum, that is going to form part of the core argument of my chapter 5 “Before the Fig Leaf: Body & Society in Late Roman Perge.” The statue group is only one of several statues from Perge’s South Baths that have been mutilated in various ways.

I have also found some interesting comparanda to the Perge material. One of them is a statue of Aphrodite/Venus, found in a niche in the frigidarium of the Baths of Faustina at Miletus. It is now in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. The mutilation is wonderfully noted by Fritz Krischen in the 1928 publication: “Die Brüste und der mons Veneris sind verstümmelt”.

Mutilated statue of Aphrodite from Miletus in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Photo: TMK, May 2006. Larger version here.

Krischen also notes the mutilation of a statue group of Bacchus and a satyr, found in the same baths’ tepidarium. I have previously discussed similar material from Scythopolis here and here.


1. Iconoclasm » Ortwin Dally on Late Antique Sculpture - 15 January 2007

[…] Dally’s talk “Pagan Sculptures in Late Antiquity: Between Destruction and Preservation” was also interesting. He mainly discussed preservation and restoration of earlier statues and only very briefly the production and installation of new works. He focused on the statuary from baths and public buildings in Miletus, Ephesus and Aizanoi – some of which I’ve discussed earlier on this blog (here and here) and also talked about in San Diego. Several (nude) statues from these sites were moved to baths and nymphaea in the 4th and 5th centuries CE, but not before their genitalia had been mutilated. To the right, you see an example of a mutilated Venus from the Baths of Faustina at Miletus and now in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. From Dally’s discussion, these ‘castrations’ may seem like a phenomenon limited to Asia Minor, but there are also comparanda to the practice outside this region, e.g. on Cyprus (Salamis) and in the Levant (Scythopolis). A few examples are also found in Italy, so it’s not an exclusively eastern practice either. […]