Diameter: 18.700 cm
Length: 16.000 cm (largest fragment)
Width: 7.500 cm (smallest fragment)
Room 57-59: Ancient Levant
Silver bowl with scenes in relief
Phoenician, 8th-7th century BC
From Amathus, Cyprus
This fragmentary silver bowl was discovered in a tomb at the end of the nineteenth century. The tomb had been looted, and its two chambers contained the broken fragments of fifteen sarcophagi. This bowl was found in a copper cauldron along with an iron dagger and the fragments of a shield. They may have been discarded as of little value - the bowl was heavily corroded and the silver only obvious after conservation.
The bowl is decorated in low relief with Canaanite and Egyptian deities, couchant sphinxes wearing Egyptian headdresses, and a scene showing the siege of a city. The decoration shows clear Egyptian or Egyptianizing and Canaanite motifs, but such mixed influences are typical of Phoenician products. It is comparable to bowls found elsewhere, such as the bronze bowls from Nimrud, several of which are in The British Museum. The outer frieze, with the seige scene, may illustrate a forgotten episode from Phoenician or Syrian mythology.
The use of similar artistic motifs over a wide area shows the extent of commercial contacts established by the Canaanites of the Levant coast (known as Phoenicians) in the first millennium BC. They grew rich by supplying luxury materials to Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Iran. Their natural harbours became major ports for handling international shipping.
L.P. di Cesnola, Cyprus: its ancient cities, to (London, John Murray, 1877)
B.F. Cook (ed.), Cypriot art in the British Mus (London, The British Museum Press, 1979)
S. Moscati, The Phoenicians (New York, Rizzoli, 1999)