No.: G 57
Date Range: Late Cypriote I-II (ca. 1600-1200 BC), Base-ring Ware I-II
H. 6 cm
Material: Pottery
Provenance: unknown, bought between 1875 and 1910

  • Twin juglets. Fragment
  • Twin juglets. Fragment
  • Twin juglets. Fragment

The vessel is handmade and has a round body with a conical foot. At the body there are two vertically running rips visible at the one side, whereas on the other side there are the remains of a former vertical handle. The area between the ornament and the attachment of the handle is damaged, which indicates the place where a second vessel was attached.
The neck is broken but can be reconstructed as long, funnel shaped mouth. The sherd is grey, the vessel’s surface shining brown.
The vessel belongs to the Base Ring Ware, which dominated together with the White Slip Ware the late Bronze Age at Cyprus. This ware is characterized by its firm clay as well as by  the metallic-looking surface, which is created through polishing.
The types of vessels consist of closed juglets with long necks, due to the function of these vessels namely the transport of fluids. These twin juglets were exported for example to Egypt, to the Levant as well as to the Aegean. If you take a closer look at the vessel the resemblance with plants is obvious.
Robert Merrillees pointed to the fact that this vessel is shaped like a poppy capsule. This indicates that opium (extracted from the capsule of opium poppy, Papaver somniferum) was transported with these vessels.
Indeed this substance was found in such a Bilbil in the Martin-von Wagner-Museum if Würzburg.
The vertical lines could represent slots, where the chyle of the poppy capsule streamed out and was collected afterwards.
The horizontal strips around the neck could also originate from a vegetable motive. For this kind of rings an imitation of vessels made of metal is also possible.

(G.K.)

Bibliography

 P. Aström, The Late Cypriote Bronze Age. Architecture and Pottery, SCE IV 1C (1972) 168 Abb. 49, 8
CVA Great Britain, British Museum (1), Taf. 9, 19. 21. 24. 26
K. Koschel, Opium Alkaloids in a Cypriote Base Ring I Vessel (Bilbil) of the Middle Bronze Age from Egypt, Ägypten und Levante 6, 1996, 159-166

Topics > Cyprus - Aphrodite's smile