Romancing the Clay by Susan Helft

These little figurines, approximately 5-7 inches high, are a hot topic in biblical archaeology.

They are found in the hundreds at Judean sites dating to the 8th-6th centuries BCE in all sectors of society. Interpretations identify the figures as the goddess Ashera, fertility figurines, or even dolls.

Examining the three examples in the museum’s collection prompted some thoughts of my own. Through the prominent breasts held aloft, an emphasis on females as the nurturers of life seems clear. To me, the abundance of these figurines suggests that female sexual power was an important component of the Judean worldview, even if not prevalent in biblical texts.


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