Category Archives: LETTER I

Idols – Cult Figures Lookalike Human Beings in the Ancient World

In ancient Greek literature, an idol means an eidolon plural: eidola or eidolons. Accordingly, it is an image, apparition, phantom, ghost. It stands either for a spirit-image of a living or dead person or a shade or phantom lookalike a human being. In art, idols are cult figurines with simplified or geometric shapes, mainly female representations made, among others, of wood, clay, ivory, marble or bronze. They appear across the ancient world, mostly from the Paleolithic to Late Antiquity. Nevertheless, the term ‘idols’ is usually applied in relation to the Cycladic culture (ca. 3200–ca. 1050 BC.).

Featured image: Clay model from Palaikastro, Crete, representing three female figures dancing with their arms stretched, in a circle, to the accompaniment of a lyre held by a woman in the middle. Preserved by the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. Copyright©Archaeotravel.


“Eidolon” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <>. [Accessed on 4th February, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 156. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.