SCY365 : Politiko Ayios Mnason 3

Archaic-Classical sanctuary

Grid reference: 521620/3876220
Cadastral plan: XXX/57, plot 476/2 and area
Reference: Smith, in Given and Knapp 2003


Terracotta hand from the sanctuary of Politiko Ayios Mnason 2, with holes for joining to body
Photograph: Michael Given

Terracotta hand from the sanctuary of Politiko Ayios Mnason 2.
Photograph: Michael Given

From this area immediately west of the monastery of Ayios Mnason, survey found fragments of seven terracotta figurines, could have come either from tombs or from a sanctuary. More explicit were 96 fragments of large-scale terracotta sculpture, which derived from both small statuettes and near life-size statues. Such pieces are found most often in sanctuaries during the Iron Age; some of the best-known examples come from Ayia Irini and Pera Frangissa, 4 km southeast of Ayios Mnason.

Though spread over much of the area of SIA 6, these terracotta sculpture fragments show a clear pattern of distribution. The heaviest concentration lies immediately above and to the south of the monastery, with a peak in Unit 5018 (21 pieces); the two units immediately north of it have eight pieces each. Clearly a certain amount is trickling down the hill, the result of hillslope erosion. More still have fallen down the heavily eroding bluff on the eastern side of the monastery, which explains the 12 pieces lying in the fields at the base of the bluff. It is clear that the position of the sanctuary was immediately south of the monastery.

As well as the fragments of large terracotta sculpture and statuette fragments, a small juglet was found in the main concentration, possibly a 'miniature' or non-practical but symbolic juglet. Another miniature was found on the east slope. It is possible that Ayios Mnason was the production site for terracotta statuary in addition to or instead of its use. Given the roof tiles of Classical type, it is likely that a building of some importance stood here, which would suggest that the statues were deployed symbolically, not just manufactured. Ayios Mnason was definitely a locus of ceramic production during this period, possibly including terracottas. The association of this sanctuary with production has parallels among many other Cypriot Iron Age sanctuaries with associated workshops.