Statuettes of pregnant sows from Knidos. New light on the cult of Demeter
Four marble statuettes of pregnant swine were found in the sanctuary of Demeter at Knidos over 160 years ago, but have been largely overlooked in previous research, even though the connection between pigs and Demeter has long caught the attention of scholars, especially in relation to the piglets required for the celebration of her Eleusinian Mysteries. The statuettes raise several questions. Why make sculptures of pregnant sows? Who dedicated those offerings, and in what context? Are they related to the sacrifice of pregnant sows? And ultimately, why pregnant sows for Demeter? The article starts with a presentation of the four marble sows from the sanctuary of Demeter at Knidos, followed by a more general examination of the archaeological evidence for pig, piglet, and pregnant sow representations at Greek sanctuaries. I will then explore the epigraphical evidence for pregnant sow sacrifices, all of which is in connection with the cult of Demeter, and contextualize it with other sacrifices of pigs and piglets. I will complete this study with a brief overview of the zooarchaeological evidence for the sacrifice of pregnant sows. The collected evidence will be used to better understand the use of pregnant sows and their religious significance in the cult of Demeter.
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Linda Talatas, ‘Statuettes of pregnant sows from Knidos. New light on the cult of Demeter’, Opuscula. Annual of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome (OpAthRom) 16, Stockholm 2023, 153-167. ISSN: 2000-0898. ISBN: 978-91-977799-5-1. Softcover, 268 pages. https://doi.org/10.30549/opathrom-16-07