The figurines, models of people and animals, shaped in clay or carved in stone, are among Neolithic man's most expressive creations, perhaps the principal manifestation of Neolithic art and the basis for the study of the ways in which man was depicted. The female figure, standing or sitting, dominates Neolithic coroplastic art, although male figures also exist. With the sexual characteristics emphasized, woman must have been for Neolithic people an object of wonder concerning life and creation.

The Neolithic figurines come chiefly from settlements and were not at all standardized. The variety of postures, the rendering of features indicative of sex or phases of life (e.g. pregnancy) make them unique creations. Paint and incision are used to indicate individual details of adornment and dress.

From the Early Neolithic, from 6500 BC, a naturalistic conception dominates the rendering of people, which reaches a peak in the Middle Neolithic by 5300 BC. There was an explosion in the inspiration, quantity and variety of anthropomorphic figurines. In the naturalistic examples the female body is portrayed with anatomical details, but with a tendency to exaggerate volumes, especially in the lower part of the body. Schematic figurines of the same period equal the naturalistic ones in numbers and variety. In spite of their schematization, the distinction of gender is apparent. The male figurines, both naturalistic and schematic, are chiefly distinguished by a projecting phallus.

In the Late Neolithic period (5300-4500 BC) abstract schematization prevails, a product of the transformations and developments of the period and not the result of technical inability. Moreover, the Nurse and the Thinker, with their superbly modeled rendering, underline the intentional choice of he abstract depiction of the human form. The plank figurines form a group of schematic figurines, in which the human figure is a flat rectangular piece of clay with two horizontal projections at the top to denote arms and a vestigial base. The acroliths are even more abstract. Into a rectangular or cylindrical core, indicating the body, is inserted a triangular shift of stone or marble to denote a head and  neck. The gender is not differentiated and since there are no anatomical features, these figurines should be described as humanoid rather than human. The ultimate schematization of the human form is to be seen in the ring shaped objects  which appear in this period and throughout the Final Neolithic one (4500-3300 BC) that followed it. They were worn as amulets, and the materials used to make them included gold, perhaps the first metal used by man. During the Final  Neolithic period white marble was also frequently employed for making anthropomorphic figurines, considered as the forerunners of the famous Cycladic figurines of the Early Bronze Age.


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