Over 500 antiquities from Cyprus are housed in the National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology. Most are ceramic, but the collection also includes some glass and a small number of metal objects. The artefacts range in date from the Early Bronze Age (c. 2500 - 1600 BC) to the Hellenistic and Roman periods (c. 310 BC - 330 AD).
Metallurgy is thought to have been introduced to Cyprus by immigrants from Anatolia in the Early Bronze Age and by the Late Bronze Age there is evidence of trade and communications between Crete, Syro-Palestine and Egypt. Trading of the island’s copper resources brought great wealth to Cyprus during this period, and Cypriot pottery was exported as far west as Sardinia. White Slip ware, which is present in the collection, was indigenous to Cyprus at this time, and was made without the use of the wheel.
Black Slip ware is also present, and dates to the Cypro-Geometric period. This style of pottery known as Bichrome ware was introduced to Cyprus from the Near East. The pottery in this period reflects different cultural influences on the island at the time, and variations are also seen between the east and west of the island.
Most of the Cypriot antiquities in the Museum’s collections date to the Cypro-Archaic period. At this time Cyprus was ruled by series of various foreign powers. By the eighth Century BC the island was organised into a number of city-kingdoms. A large amphora of Bichrome ware represents a style produced in the city-kingdom of Amathus, in the south of the island.
Terracotta figurines were also widely produced during this period, and their production continued in the Classical period. They can be associated with specific cults and have also been found in tombs in the Cypro-Archaic period.
Oil lamps were both imported and manufactured locally in Cyprus in the Roman period. The collection contains examples found during excavations in 1882 undertaken by the South Kensington Museum, London, which had close links with the National Museum of Ireland at the time.
Three earrings on display represent the totality of the Museum’s collection of Cypriot jewellery. The pair of earrings with calf-head terminals dates to the Hellenistic period and is of a type commonly found in Egypt and Palestine. The single earring is plain and of a type commonly found in Cyprus during the Roman period.