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Ivory cosmetic box

 

Length: 24.500 cm

Miss E.T. Turner Bequest excavations

GR 1897.4-1.1125

Room 72: Ancient Cyprus

    Ivory cosmetic box

    Late Bronze Age, 12th century BC
    From Enkomi, Cyprus

    Ivory cosmetic boxes from the Late Bronze Age (about 1650-1050 BC) have been found in many of the lands of the Eastern Mediterranean, from Greece and Cyprus to Anatolia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. They were clearly considered desirable luxury items. Duck-shaped boxes were particularly widely distributed; a variant was shaped like a swimming girl pushing a bowl, which could be either duck-shaped or plain. It is not clear if the vessel shown here had a duck-shaped bowl, but some sort of a lid is missing so the object is a box and not a large spoon.

    In the richly mixed cultural world of the Late Bronze Age, ideas could pass from one area to another quickly. A fashion started in the Syro-Palestinian region could very soon be adopted or adapted in Egypt, and vice versa. The makers of Cypriot ivories incorporated influences both from the East and from the Mycenaean Greek west and it is often difficult to trace them to a specific origin. However, the carver of this particular piece had certainly looked eastwards for inspiration.

    J-Cl. Courtois and J. and E. Lagarce, Enkomi et le Bronze Récent à C (Nicosia, Impr. Zavallis, 1986)

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    On display: Room 72: Ancient Cyprus

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