Iste ego sum: Re-embodying and Reflecting the Early Bronze Age Cycladic Figurines Open Access

Dawes, Jamie (Spring 2018)

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The phrase iste ego sum comes from the myth of Narcissus in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, at the moment when he recognizes his own image: he exclaims, “I am that thing!” I pursue this idea of recognizing a reflection of self in the Cycladic figurines through the process of embodiment, or how a figurine becomes a reflective representation of an individual’s experiences in Early Bronze Age Cycladic society. An emphasis on typological studies of the figurines severely limits our ability to understand their distribution and incorporation into physical and societal landscapes, and functional labels based on myth and metaphor also fail to account for the wide range of practices on the figurines and their appearance in multiple contexts. By contextualizing the figurines in their island environments and the societal structures that facilitated both the movement of materials and their manufacture, we can begin to conceptualize how an individual crafter, handler, and even a viewer reflected their own personal narratives in the figurine. Physical manipulations of the figurines such as paint, repairs, and fragmentation all contribute to the personal uses of a figurine and create an embodied experience that is therefore recognizable and reflected. 

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

First space: island and landscape 4

Second space: personal and localized 5

Third space: the body itself 6

Chapter I: History of the Scholarship 11

Methodology 14

Chapter II: Reflection of the Crafter 15

Material Acquisition and the Toolbox 19

The Crafter 19

Marble 20

Tools: Emery, Obsidian, and the Hands of a Crafter 33

Pigments 39

Typology 41

Geography, Context, and Workshops 44

Conclusions 54

Chapter III: Reflection of the Figurines 57

The Figurines 62

A Mirror 72

Color and Body Modification 74

Chapter IV: Conclusions 78

Bibliography 83

Other References 94 

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