Abstract

This article offers a new interpretation of a two-sided mold reportedly found near Jerusalem. It argues that the mold was used in the off-site manufacture of clay or soft-metallic souvenirs that could be sold to pilgrims at the cult sites themselves or further afield. It provides a reconsideration of the iconography of the mold, arguing that one side features the unique iconography of Aphrodite of Aphaca, whose shrine was reportedly destroyed under Constantine. It further asserts that the mold’s other side depicts the angels at Mamre in a manner reflective of the site’s cultic topography and designed to appeal to the diverse pagans, Jews, and Christians reported to have visited the site in the fourth century. It thus challenges previous interpreters who have seen the mold’s Mamre image as exclusively Christian and argues that its divergent religious imagery reveals the economic motivation of pilgrimage souvenir manufacture. Based on the mold’s depictions of Aphrodite of Aphaca and Mamre, the literary sources describing the sites, and the visual style of the mold, it contends the object should be dated between the early and mid-fourth century.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1942-1273
Print ISSN
1939-6716
Pages
pp. 28-48
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-07
Open Access
No
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