Psi and phi type figurine

Tau-, Psi- and phi- type figurines date back to 1450-1100 BC in Mycenaean Greece. They were typically small in size (about 10cm high), made of terracotta, although a group of ivory figurines has been found,[1] and were found in tombs, shrines and settlement areas. They are classified by their shape and a resemblance to the Greek letters of tau (τ), psi (ψ) and phi (Φ), according to a typological system created by Arne Furumark in 1941.[2]

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.[3] 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.[3]

Examples of such figurines are held by the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art (Athens)[4], the British Museum (London)[5] and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) among other places.[6]


  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. ^ French, Elizabeth (1971). "The Development of Mycenaean Terracotta Figurines". The Annual of the British School at Athens. 66: 101–187. doi:10.1017/S0068245400019146. JSTOR 30103231.
  3. ^ a b British Museum. "Three terracotta figurines". Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  4. ^ "Female figurine (Psi type) | Museum of Cycladic Art". Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  5. ^ "figure". British Museum. Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  6. ^ Retrieved 2018-12-22. Missing or empty |title= (help)