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Sensing Devotion at Sparta: The Ivory Adornments at the Sanctuary of Artemis Ortheia (750-600 BCE)



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Martin, Daphne D. 


This paper deals with a case-study within the archaic Greek world where religion is known to have been prominent, but beauty is long thought to have been eschewed: Sparta. Using Alkman as an emic theorist, it explores the theological aesthetics of female accessories of ivory, considering in particular their role in religious performance at the sanctuary of Artemis Ortheia in Sparta. Theologically speaking, dressing up and adornment, and the objects which achieve this, are shown to be central to understanding the relationship between Spartan girls, ivory objects, and Artemis Ortheia. The sensory affordances of ivory accoutrements, including their lustrousness, carvability, and exoticism, stand out for how they forge religio-aesthetic relationships between the goddess and her worshippers. Ultimately, by placing Sparta in the broader context of archaic Greek aesthetic thought, it is possible to highlight that with respect to beauty, perhaps Sparta is not so different as we might think.



Sparta, ivory adornment, theology

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Archaeological Review from Cambridge

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