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Book: Animal Iconography in the Archaeological Record

Chapter: Bird-shaped vessels of Bronze Age Cyprus as three-dimensional objects

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.38879


Cyprus is home to nearly 400 bird species, and is annually visited by millions of birds during great spring and autumn migrations. This paper discuss presence of birds in Cypriot prehistoric culture, with an example of Bronze Age bird shaped vessels (askoi) representing a rich variety of island’s avifauna, from numerous ducks and pigeons to rare examples of partridge, vulture and owl. They include vessels of simple forms, just generally resembling a water bird (duck?), along carefully modelled objects, which allow us a precise species identification. When identification is possible it often reveal species and subspecies, which still are characteristic for Cyprus, even endemic, or nowadays endangered. Careful study of this vessels assemblage and their context (when possible) provides insight to practical and symbolic role, which birds played in lives of prehistoric inhabitants of Cyprus. Another aspect of these objects, which is going to be discussed is their three-dimensionality. These are things which were meant to be manipulated, touched, and seen from different angels, they also had a practical function, which was pouring liquids (and that also could be done differently, depending on where the openings
were). This paper is an attempt to answer questions how the three- dimensionality affected both meaning and function of bird-shaped askoi and how can it be included in modern research and perception of these objects, i.e. with the aid of 3D models.

Chapter Contributors

  • Katarzyna Zeman-Wisniewska ( - kzeman) 'Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University, Warsaw'