As far as I know, Raphael Patai was the first to identify the pillar figurines with Asherah. See Patai, The Hebrew Goddess (New York: Ktav, 1967), pp. 29–52. For the view that the plaques or figures cannot be associated with any particular goddess, see Marie-Therèse Barrelet, “Deux déesses syro-phéniciennes sur un bronze du Louvre,” Syria 35 (1958), pp. 27–44, and James B. Pritchard, Palestinian Figures in Relation to Certain Goddesses Known Through Literature (New Haven, CT: American Oriental Soc., 1943), p. 86.