• Bowl. Red Polished Ware
  • Cup. White Painted Ware
  • Jug. White Painted Ware
  • Tankard. White Slip Ware
  • Twin juglets. Fragment
  • Kourotrophos. Statuette

Due to it its convenient position in the eastern Mediterranean Sea the island of Cyprus had always been of considerable political and economic interest.
Rich copper deposits as well as the production of copper and the trade with it connected the island to the surrounding regions (Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, the Aegean).
Thus diverse cultural influences entered Cyprus and formed the significant Cyprian culture.
The Early Bronze Age culture (Early Cyprian 2500-1900 BC) can be analyzed mainly through grave finds. The burials contained ceramic vessels of polished ware like the so–called Red Polished Ware, which are red-polished vessels with score-design and figurative decoration. During the Middle Bronze Age (Middle Cyprian, 1900-1600 BC) the White Painted Ware was predominant, which took up older types of vessels but changed the nature of these types entirely through a light coat and dark ornamental painting.
During the Late Bronze Age (Late Cyprian 1600-1050 BC) Cyprus experienced a period of prosperity due to vivid trading activity and diverse contacts with other countries.
The construction of cities as well as buildings for central administration, the production of ashlars with a smooth surface and the usage of script demonstrate the high culture of Cyprus.
Vessels of the White Slip Ware and the Base Ring Ware were exported as tableware and transport vessels for perfumes and opium to the Levant, to Egypt and to the Aegean. The extensive trade with these products show how highly estimated these types of ceramics were.
During the 11th century BC Cyprus underwent a time of discontinuity as well as a time of continuity of settlement sites, the cremation of bodies was introduced as well as the usage of iron. In Assyrian inscriptions (around 707 BC, 673/72 BC, 664 BC) the later well known city-kingdoms were mentioned.
The Phoenicians brought along Egyptian and Middle Eastern influences and together with the indigenous people the significant Iron Age culture was developed.
This culture is represented through Iron Age ceramics as well as through sculpture made of  the smooth local limestone.
Sanctuaries were frequently placed in rural contexts and combined open yards with small shrines. Palaces serve as a testimony for a hierarchically structured society.

(G.K.)

Bibliography

V. Tatton-Brown, Ancient Cyprus (Cambridge, MA, 1988)
A. Bernhard-Walcher - G. Dembski - K. Gschwantler - V. Karageorghis, Die Sammlung zyprischer Antiken im Kunsthistorischen Museum (Wien 1999)

Topics > Cyprus - Aphrodite's smile