The sculptural white marble figures made in the Greek Cycladic islands during the Early Bronze Age (3200 BC – 2300 BC) are among the most instantly recognizable of archaeological objects. Some are less than 10 cm tall, while others almost life-sized. Nude females, especially those with arms folded across the belly, are most common, but there exist many other types, including male “hunter-warriors”, flute players, seated harpists and figures cojoined in a small group.
Almost every aspect of these figures remain enigmatic. We do not know what they were made for and for whom. Traces of painted decoration survive on a few examples, but it is their brilliant whiteness, simple elegance and severity of form that have made them so appealing to modern tastes.