Meet the Collection: Bronze Age

The Bridges Collection has an impressive collection of Bronze Age pottery, dating to around the Early and Middle Bronze Age (2500-1650 BCE). These items are typical of these periods in the from of red-polished ware, white-painted ware, and red-on-black ware. The former two were in use widely across Cyprus during this time, while the red-on-black was limited to the Eastern part of the island. The pottery is all handmade, the decorations and shapes becoming more elaborate towards the late Bronze Age.

Historical Background

The Bronze Age was generally a time of growth and foreign occupation on Cyprus, spanning around six hundred years. As was the case in other areas of the Eastern Mediterranean, Myceneans began to permanently settle on the island around 1100 BCE. This began to create a more ‘Greek’ culture, adopting both the Greek language and religion (Loizides, 2012).

The sites of Bronze Age Cyprus are linked with the availablility of water and agricultural land. As the Bronze Age progressed, there was increasing evidence for copper mining to use to make bronze. While the whole island gradually became fully occupied, the material culture across Cyprus remained distinguishable in this period.

Trade and the importation of foreign goods became more commonplace in the Late Bronze Age (1650-1050 BCE), which is reflected in much of the material evidence available.

The Bridges Collection

The Bronze Age artefacts of the Bridges Collection encompass a variety of shapes, including jugs and bowls of various sizes and types. To explore these objects, navigate to the Bronze Age Gallery.

Where would these objects have been located originally? It is quite likely that most of these objects would have been located in a tomb context. Very similar objects in the British Museum’s collection were indeed found in tomb sites.

These artefacts did not necessarily have a solely funerary function, however. They also could have practical or decorative uses. For instance, bowls with small handles (such as HC1994.3(120) shown below), could suggest they were meant to hang on the wall or on a person.