Psi and phi type figurine

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Example of a Psi-shaped figurine of a woman. Mycennaean import found in Ugarit by Claude F. A. Schaeffer and Georges Chenet.

Tau-, Psi- and phi- type figurines date back to 1450-1100 BC in Mycenaean Greece. They were typically made of terracotta, although a group of ivory figurines has been found,[1] and were found in tombs, shrines and settlement areas. They got their names from their shape and a resemblance to the Greek letters of tau (τ), psi (ψ) and phi (Φ).

Their function/purpose is unknown, although it has been suggested that their purpose changed with the context in which they were found. Possible uses were children's toys,[1] votive figurines or grave offerings.

Some figurines appear to wear flattened headdresses, which suggests they may be goddesses.[2] However, it is difficult to distinguish between goddesses and worshippers. It is likely that they were made by the same craftsmen who made Mycenaean vases, as the decoration techniques are similar.[2]


  1. ^ a b Olsen, Barbara A (Feb 1998). "Women, Children and the Family in the Late Aegean Bronze Age: Differences in Minoan and Mycenaean Constructions of Gender". World Archaeology. 29 (3): 380–392. doi:10.1080/00438243.1998.9980386. JSTOR 125037. 
  2. ^ a b British Museum. "Three terracotta figurines". Retrieved 17 July 2012.