Aniconic Baetyl Cult Image from the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, District of Paphos, Western Cyrpus. Museum of  Palaepaphos, Kouklia, Cyprus. 

In Theogany, Hesiod relates that Kronos castrated Ouranos, his father, and cast the severed flesh into the surging sea:

They were swept away over the main a long time: and a white foam spread around them from the immortal flesh, and in it there grew a maiden. First she drew near holy Cythera, and from there, afterwards, she came to sea-girt Cyprus, and came forth an awful and lovely goddess, and grass grew up about her beneath her shapely feet. Her gods and men call Aphrodite, and the foam-born goddess and rich-crowned Cytherea, because she grew amid the foam, and Cytherea because she reached Cythera, and Cyprogenes because she was born in billowy Cyprus, and Philommedes because she sprang from the members. 

A Baetyl is a stone revered as the symbol of a deity. The Baetyl of Aphrodite is a meteorite. The goddess is said to have stepped ashore at nearby Petra Tou Romiou, which was regarded as her birthplace. Perhaps the meteorite was regarded as a symbol of the goddess because, like her, it was conceived in the heavens and discovered near Paphos.

Paphos has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was inhabited since the Neolithic, and traces of pre-Hellenic goddess-worship of have been documented with finds of female figurines, charms, and the early temenos (boundary of  the sacred precinct). The Mycenaean Sanctuary of Aphrodite was built in the 12th century BCE, and is mentioned by Hesiod and Homer. Statues and mosaics depicting Aphrodite from the classical period have also been discovered at the site. 

Worship of Aphrodite at her Sanctuary persisted through the many occupations of Cyprus: by the Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians, the rule of Alexander the Great and his successors, and the Roman Empire, until he decrees of the Roman Emperor Theodosius in 392 CE abolished polytheistic religious practices, and closed temples throughout the Empire.


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