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Book: Animal Iconography in the Archaeological Record

Chapter: Animal figures on 12th c. BC pictorial pottery from Cyprus

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.38880


The period ca. 1200 B.C. is a critical one for the Eastern Mediterranean as a result of prevailing conditions of political turmoil. Cyprus did not remain a passive recipient but became an important player in the new horizon of the Eastern Mediterranean after the Collapse of the old empires. Cypriot pictorial pottery of the 12th c. BC marks the transitional period between the end of the Late Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age. The figurative motifs of the Pictorial White Painted Wheelmade III pottery derived mainly from the animal kingdom: birds, fishes, seahorses, horses, bulls, lions, goats, deer, boars, dogs, hedgehogs. Motifs from the fauna are also common: palm trees, pomegranates, different kinds of flowers and the sacred tree, which, most of the times, are
combined with animal motifs. Cypriot potters have adopted various elements from different place of provenance according to their taste and needs. Local styles have been formed by the combination of decorative elements originated from the Aegean world, the Syro-palestinian coast and Anatolia. This exchange of animal figures stifles to innovation and indicates a line of communication between different regions of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East. Although, the interpretation of the images starts from the environment and its relation to human activity and the dietary habits, images visualize ideas. Our research include the study of texts in an attempt to interpret animal representations. The study of a vast number of myths and traditions leads to interesting conclusions concerning the religious syncretism.

Chapter Contributors

  • Anna Lekka ( - alekka) 'Greek Ministry of Culture'