The DeYoung Museum in San Francisco has a number of Cycladic figures made thousands of years ago in what is now Greece. I was attracted to one of these figures, labeled as “Cycladic Figure, Early Cycladic II, Spedos variety,” dating to perhaps 2500 BCE, so I made a quick sketch of it:
This is a typical Cycladic figure of a woman with her arms crossed; it is made of white marble, though originally it would have been “painted with mineral-based pigments—azurite for blue and iron ores, or cinnabar for red.” There are those who assert that this type of figure represents a deity, perhaps the Great Goddess who may have been the chief deity of the ancient Greek world.
But of course there’s really no way to know what this figure represents. Is it a deity, or just a human figure? Or maybe something in between? Perhaps we would tend to call it a deity because the shape is so satisfying to look at; when we like looking at a piece of art it is tempting to think of that art as representing something beyond the mundane.