Throughout the last century, archeologists have uncovered rare and beautiful objects from beneath shifting sands and crumbling bedrock. Human rubble from civilizations long since extinct provide modern humans with a window into what life was like long ago. Ornate statuary, gold and jewel encrusted personal effects, and everyday household objects help identify the level of education, what type of government, and even what religion they followed. Most of the items recovered are highly sought after by merchants, private collectors, and museums. History seems to have a magnetic allure that cannot be ignored; everyone seems to want their own piece of the past. That is unless the piece of the past carries a curse of death to the owner. Such is the case of the Women from Lemb statue.
In 1878, a small statue carved from pure limestone was unearthed in Lemb (Lempa), Cyprus. It was dated around 3500 BC (during the early to middle Chalcolithic period), at the time when the islands inhabitants were known as Cypriots. In addition to natural limestone deposits, large copper deposits propelled the island to a position of economic strength in the period leading up to the Bronze Age. The Women from Lemb statue is similar to hundreds of other cruciform (cross-shaped) statues from the same time period, but not exactly the same. There is a consensus since more than one hundred statues have been found; some being more detailed than others. Smaller ones have been recovered from burial sites while the larger ones are thought to have ceremonial significance.
The Goddess of Death
There are no archeological records of an excavation or the actual discovery of the Women from Lemb statue. All accounts state that it was discovered in 1878, but there are no details including the name of the founder. At the time it was considered to be a either a fertility statue or a crude depiction of a Goddess whose name has been lost to time. The lack of detail on the surface of the piece makes it challenging to correlate with other works. Regardless of the origins, the statue has a dark reputation. Sometime, long ago, it earned the sinister nickname “Goddess of Death” due to so many fatalities connected with those who have either owned or touched it.
Four families are purported to have lost members in connection to the Women from Lemb statue. Chronologically, the tale is as follows. Lord Elphont was the first owner during the time Cyprus was a British colony. Within six years of buying the statue, he and seven members of his family members passed away. Sometime afterwards, Ivor Menucci obtained the statue in Europe and had a similar experience; his entire family died within four years. The third owner was Lord Thompson-Noel. His whole family also perished within 4 years. The statue eventually ended up the as property of and shortly after acquiring it, he, his wife, and their two daughters died. His two remaining sons donated the statue to the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh. The museum curator who handled the statue died within a year. The statue is currently in a glass case in the museum; untouched by human hands.
The Fear of the Unknown
Death seems to follow this primitive statue, and now it’s so feared that it’s kept in a fully enclosed glass case. It’s considered cursed and to this day, no one touches the piece without wearing gloves; no human contact whatsoever. The backstory is sensational, but lacks in both substance and documentation. Nevertheless, the number of fatalities seem to overrule any attempt to rationalize or debunk the tale. Something sinister seems to be attached to the Women of Lemb and there’s no way of telling if or when it will reveal itself.
Observations on the Structure of the Statue
The characteristics of the Women from Lemb statue are strikingly different from other Cypriot statuary from the same time period. The above frame shows three different statues from around the same time period for comparison. The major differences are obvious. The cruciform technique is distinct in all three; cross-shaped, arms protruding, straight or non-pronounced hips, and some degree of detail. The Women from Lemb statue however has very generous and protruding hips, little to no detail and no clear definition of the legs. The upper portion of the statue aligns closer with the look of the above group, but it still shows enough difference to bring up the question of the statue’s actual origins.
The village of Lempa, Cyprus is one of the oldest on the island and where constant archeological excavations are taking place. Since 1976, the Edinburgh School of Archeology teams have excavated over one hundred cruciform distinctly female figurines. Also, the team excavated a settlement – further reading can be found here.
Deconstructing the History of the Deceased
Exhaustive searches of the different families listed in connection with the statue produce very few, if any results. No record can be found of a Lord Elphont. The British government had been a protectorate of Cyprus since 1878. The list of Colonial Governors makes no mention of a Lord Elphont, nor does the registry of British nobility. Likewise, a search for Ivor Menucci comes up empty, except on articles specific to this topic. There are also no records of Lord Thompson-Noel or Sir Alan Biverbrook. What’s even stranger is that an on-line search of the National Museums of Scotland archives, doesn’t show the item in it’s inventory.
Regardless of any factual evidence, this object is believed to have a dangerous and deadly supernatural connection. Many may dismiss it as coincidence or a fabrications, but they do so with caution. Just because we don’t know all the facts doesn’t always mean we should discount the story.
Other Strange or Mysterious Object Stories