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3(43)/2015
doi:10.5277/arc150302

Ernest Niemczyk
The colossal statue of Bes from Amathus in Cyprus. Genesis, function, reconstruction

    The figure of the Egyptian deity Bes, full of joy, vigor, and combativeness driving off evil and providing erotic energy, protecting pregnant women, childbirth, and children enjoyed a well-deserved popularity in the Antiquity both in Egypt and in the whole area of the Roman ecumene. The uniqueness of this sculpture from the coastal city of Amathus in Cyprus regards not only its colossal dimensions (4.2 m tall). Most probably the sculpture depicting Bes taming a lion representing evil was placed in a niche by a fountain pool. The water flowing from the lion’s mouth made the sculpture look alive. This sculpture is probably the only known example of use in the official ancient art of such a unique canon of sculpture of the Dark Continent – Africa – especially on such a colossal scale.
    The results of the attempts at establishing the time when the sculpture was made greatly differ. They range over almost 700 years, from cir. 470 BC to cir. 200 CE. Trying not to resolve that dispute, assuming the “older” chronology, the attention was focused on the analysis of form and function of that unique work, emphasizing the proportions and their relation to the then applicable canons of statuary sculpture. The conclusions were visualized in the reconstruction of the whole composition where Bes was the main element.

Key words: Antiquity, empire period, Cyprus, fountain, Egyptian deity

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