When Mrs. Bridges donated the collection to the university, the aim was to enhance the education of its students. But by taking these objects out of her home and into the academic sphere, she took the first steps to giving these artefacts back the context which was lost to them. This loss of context is one of the biggest failings of the collection itself, and indeed, it is one that it shares with countless collections of archaeological artefacts in both museums and private collections alike. While it was bought by the Bridges couple with the best intentions, it is highly likely that these objects were derived from the black market in Cyprus. Collecting items from dubious sources is not an unfamiliar situation for museums to find themselves. Often times, some of the most significant items in a museum’s collection is the consequence of some kind of illicit trade or source. Any guess as to the purpose of the objects in the collection, who used them, and what their significance to the culture is made infinitely more difficult due to the lack on information as to where they were originally found.
However, while unfortunate, all of this does not mean that there is nothing to learn from the Bridges Collection and collections akin to it. On the contrary, by reading widely and drawing comparisons to other sites and finds, as well as examining closely the details of each object, there are a number of conclusions to reach about themes ranging from manufacturing to burial practices. That is what this site will work to accomplish.
Setting the Stage: Ancient Cyprus
And so while we cannot place our artefacts into their original sites, we can familiarize ourselves with their general context: Ancient Cyprus. Cyprus is the Mediterranean’s third largest island located in the North-East corner of its basin, close to the coasts of Syria and Turkey. Though there is a map below, the above link will take you to a map which highlights some key archaological sites on the island. Cyprus has always held strategic importance to all major powers in different periods, including but not limited to the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Persians, the Crusaders and the English.
Take a look at the different sites highlighted above. These are the types of archaeological sites in which the objects of the collection could have been found. Whilst exploring the artefacts in the collection, it is important to always have the unknown original context in mind.