Geometric & Archaic Patterns

The Bridges Collection has a variety of artefacts dating from the roughly the Iron Age (1050-750 BCE), including jugs, bowls and plates of varying sizes and decoration. The patterns of decoration mark stylistic changes that subdivide the Cypriot Iron Age into two categories: Geometric & Archaic.

Historical Background:

During this period, Cyprus was divided into around ten autonomous states, united in their focus on mining and copper exportation.

Potters began to favour geometric patterns, and later a pictorial style developed with stylized images of animals and plants, an example of which can be seen on HC1994.3(87).


In these artefacts we see the style change distinctly from the Bronze Age collection. The decoration as well as the method of manufacturing has clearly evolved.

One type of ceramic on display is the white painted ware. Some pots are handmade in red or brown clay covered in a pale slip, usually white in colour. They are decorated here with linear and geometric patterns in red or black paint. The geometric designs would have been made using a compass tool of some kind.

Many vessels of this era were hand-constructed, using a base of brown clay and covered with a brown buff, decorated with red and black paint. This next example, by way of contrast, is wheel-made. Evidence of wheel use can be seen on the underside circles on the pots.


Through these pots we can read foreign inspiration was well. Many of the ceramics excavated from this time in Cyprus with these foreign aspects reveal evidence in trade, connecting the island with Eastern Mediterranean communities in Greece, Phoenicia and Egypt.

As with most of the material in this collection, the intact nature of the pots coupled with the little evidence of practical use suggest the strong likelihood that these ceramics came from a burial context. Tombs from this era are frequently looted before archaeologists can even begin excavation, and thus are frequently encountered out of their original context.