Figurines of the Anatolian Early Bronze Age: the assemblage from Kocumbli-Ankara


ANATOLIAN STUDIES, vol.67, pp.85-108, 2017 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 67
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1017/s0066154617000023
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.85-108
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Through analysis of a figurine assemblage from the site of Kocumbeli-Ankara, this study aims to re-evaluate the origins, meanings and functions of the Early Bronze Age (third millennium BC) anthropomorphic figurines of Anatolia. Conventional typological approaches to figurines are often focused on their origins and sex; however, such approaches hinder an understanding of the context of the norms of production, display and discard within which the figurines become more meaningful. Following an examination of breakage patterns and the decorative aspects of the Kocumbeli assemblage, a comparative review of figurine find contexts, raw materials and abstraction scales in Anatolia is provided, so that the social concerns underlying the use of these figurines can be explored. It is concluded that the origins of the figurines are difficult to pinpoint, due to the presence of similar items across a variety of regions of the Near East from the later Neolithic onwards. The sex of the figurines is equally ambiguous; while some human sexual features can be discerned, it is difficult to decide whether these features are 'male', 'female', both or beyond classification. Alternatively, the decoration, breakage and find contexts of the figurines suggest that the imagery was embedded in more complex perceptions of social status, death and social regeneration. The need for materialisation of these concerns in the form of the figurines could be related to the development of a new social landscape of interaction leading to political centralisation by the second millennium BC. Furthermore, the figurines were produced through a meaningful linking of particular raw materials and particular abstraction scales to particular use contexts, which seems to have shifted during the centralisation process.