Representation of a deity or a human? The case of the so-called “Aphrodite” of Margëlliç


  • Belisa Muka


The terracotta figurine that has been discussed in this article was discovered during the excavations of 1982 in the domestic quarter of the ancient city of Margëlliç. It was part of the exhibition of Hildesheim Albanien Schätze aus der Land der Skipetaren and according to N. Ceka, we are dealing with the image of the goddess Aphrodite Urania, an Apollonian production reflecting a local cult and is dated to the second half of the 3rd century BC. Today this object is in display at the Archaeological Museum, in Tirana.
Through a detailed analysis of the elements that characterize this image, both technical and iconographic – physical appearance, costume, adornments and polychromies – regardless of what has been previously said about, this article aims to possibly say more about the object itself and the function it should have had in general and in this particular case, in the domestic context. In conclusion, the set of components that characterize the image of the terracotta figurine from Margëlliç seems to orient us towards a different and more complex reading: to my view, it represents the young girl at the coming of age, the utmost of her physical beauty, sensuality and sexuality, the indispensable elements that will assure her transformation into a nymph first, and then into a gyne – the spouse and mother of legitimate children. In the domestic context, the presence of this object is inextricably in relation
to the female residents. The portrayal of the girl's beauty at the coming of age is there to commemorate what essentially gave life to this dwelling; this beauty surpasses the limits of time, it becomes eternal, to the limits of the divine.


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How to Cite

Muka, B. (2023). Representation of a deity or a human? The case of the so-called “Aphrodite” of Margëlliç. Iliria, 40(40), 131–144. Retrieved from