Head from Figure, Spedos type, 2700-2300 BCE
Early Cycladic II, Keros-Syros
Greece, Cyclades Islands
5 5/16 × 2 5/8 × 2 ½ in. (13.5 × 6.7 × 6.4 cm)
3-D Object/Sculpture
CA 6019

Photo: Paul Hester
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This head once belonged to a full-bodied sculpture of the Spedos type, a group named for a cemetery on the island of Naxos. The Spedos type are known from sites across multiple islands in the southern Aegean Sea, and the form is represented by several other examples in the Menil Collection (CA 62038 and CA 6019). The cylindrical neck reflects a natural weak point of the sculpture. The head, most likely, would have belonged to a reclining female figure, as the majority of the known figures depict women. Generally, the heads of this variety feature a “U” or lyre-shaped head with a modeled nose that tilts backwards. Some figures had added pigments to create other features such as eyes, mouths, or ears. 

Typically, Spedos figures are recovered from funerary contexts, although many examples in museums today, including this piece, lack archaeological provenience. The figures were produced during a wide time span in the Early Cycladic II period (approximately between 2700 and 2300 BCE). The Early Cycladic people did not have a written language, so information about the meaning and function of the works is understood by the study of artifacts from known archaeological contexts.