Diameter: 14.000 cm
Room 54: Ancient Turkey
Silver two-handled cup
Trojan, around 2300
Said to have been found near Troy, modern Turkey
A cup for a hero?
This silver cup, which is said to have been found near Troy, is of a shape which is very common in this period. It is known as a depas cup, because the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann (1822-90), the first major excavator of Troy, was keen to identify his finds with objects described in Homeric epic. Homer uses the term depas amphikypellon for a two-handled cup.
The shape varies from site to site, but in general it has a flat or rounded base, an elongated body and two handles extending from the upper body to just above the base. Examples made of pottery are known from Troy itself right across Anatolia to Cilicia, demonstrating wide-ranging contacts.
The city of Troy at this time is thought to have covered about two hectares. It had a strong fortification wall with gateways flanked by massive projecting towers. Inside were large structures with stone foundations and walls of brick with wooden beams. A massive fire destroyed the citadel, but it was subsequently rebuilt.
Troy is well-known for its wealth in the Early Bronze Age (third millennium BC). Schliemann found treasures of gold and silver, and these included many vessels in precious metal. He called a group of rich jewellery 'The Jewels of Helen' but it is now recognized not only that Helen is a legendary rather than a historical figure, but also that the jewels are too early for any possible connection. The thirteenth to twelfth centuries BC provide the most likely background for any historical event that underlay the story of the Trojan War.
M.S. Joukowsky, Early Turkey (Kendall-Hunt, 1996)