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Ceramics and Glass from Ancient Cyprus

Learn about Roman and Bronze Age Cyprus with excavated clay figurines

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This exhibition focuses on Cypriot artefacts in the collection of the National Museum of Ireland, many of which have never been exhibited before. Most of the pieces are ceramic and probably come from tombs uncovered in the 19th Century. The artefacts range in date from the Bronze Age, approximately 2500 BC, to the late Roman period, about 300 AD, and are arranged chronologically. The exhibition also includes five clay figurines on loan from the Cyprus Museum, Nicosia.

The variety of styles and decoration visible in the artefacts from each period illustrate the unique blend of cultural influences that characterises the archaeology of Cyprus.

2500 BC – 300 AD

Located in the eastern Mediterranean, and rich in copper deposits, the island of Cyprus was a place where European and Middle Eastern cultures met and fused, giving the archaeology of Cyprus its distinctive character. This blend of cultural influences can be seen in this exhibition of ceramic and glass artefacts. They have been chosen from the Museum’s collection of around 500 Cypriot antiquities, most of which were discovered in tombs during the 19th Century.

The artefacts range in date from the Early Bronze Age (2500 – 1900 BC) through to the Roman period (58 BC – 330 AD). All periods of the Bronze Age, as well as the Cypro-Geometric, Cypro-Archaic and Cypro-Classical periods are represented by a range of finely decorated ceramic vessels and figurines. A pair of gold earrings represent the Late Hellenistic period that followed Alexander’s capture of the island in 333 BC, while vessels of glass and ceramic and two terracotta lamps date from the period of the Roman occupation. The style of the Roman lamps may be contrasted with that of an earlier lamp of native type in use during the period from 950 BC to 50 BC.