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Kourion in the United Kingdom and Ireland

Given the intensive archaeological explorations around the site of Kourion during the 19th century, it is perhaps not surprising that material from this area can be found in many museums and collections throughout the world, including several institutions in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The following notes provide a brief overview of objects from Kourion known to the author, though more will be added as research into the dispersal of Cypriot antiquities within these islands develops over the next few years.

Dublin

Material from the Hake-Kitchener excavations of 1882 was donated by the South Kensington Museum to the Dublin Museum of Science and Art (now the National Museum of Ireland) in order to expand their archaeological collections (see Guide to the Collection II for details of these excavations). Many of the items from this donation can no longer be assigned a firm provenance, though it is possible that some of the items in this collection came from the Kourion area. In addition, a stone alabastron of Cypro-Archaic II to Cypro-Classical date from the British Museum excavations at Kourion was given to the museum of University College Dublin. This was at the suggestion of its curator Rev. Professor Henry Browne in the early 20th century. As with the Hake-Kitchener material, there may be other items from Turner Bequest expedition to Kourion in Dublin collections, which no longer preserve their find-spot information. Finally, a glass jug said to be from Kourion was also acquired by University College Dublin. All the Cypriot material in Dublin was published in detail by Dr Christina Souyoudzoglou-Haywoord in 2004.[1]

Eton College, Berkshire

In 1896, the Trustees of the British Museum donated a collection of antiquities from the recently completed excavations at Kourion to Eton College. This continued a policy begun the previous year with duplicate material from the excavations at Amathus to supply collections in regional museums and leading public schools with artefacts. A list of the objects preserved in the British Museum Central Archives mentions the following items: Mycenaean skyphos; bowl with white slip – black patterns; alabaster vase; four terracotta horses; terracotta draped figure; vase of red ware (sub-Mycenaean); 10 trefoil jugs (concentric circles); two lekythos (concentric circles); two jars (concentric circles); kylix (concentric circles); krater (concentric circles); two bronze mirrors; mirror-case; seven Roman glass bottles.[2]

Terracotta horses from the BM excavations at Kourion, 1895, probably form the Temple C, in the collection of Eton College, Berkshire

 

Many of the items, several of which almost certainly are among the crossed out entries in the Kourion Notebook, still exists in the museum of Eton College. The majority of the objects consist of White Painted, Bichrome and Black-on-Red vessels (the vases described as being decorated with concentric circles in the above list) but some of the Late Bronze Age material can also be identified. The author was able to examine this material in June 2010 with the kind permission of the then bursar, Mr Andrew Wynn. It is hoped that this material will be the subject of a future study.

Hastings

The largest surviving body of material from the collection of Lady Annie Brassey, much of which was excavated at Kourion in 1884, is now preserved in the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, East Sussex. Some of the material is currently on display in the magnificent Indian-style Durbar Hall, which was transferred from the Brassey family’s London home in 1919 along with most of Lady Annie’s collection (which included ethnography as well as antiquities). I am grateful to Cathy Walling, current curator of the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, for providing access to the reserve collection in May 2010. The collection is rich in Bronze and Iron Age ceramic vessels and figurines, Hellenistic and Roman pottery, lamps and glass.[3]

Liverpool

The University of Liverpool Garstang Museum collection includes a Plain White ware unguentarium (bottle for perfume or ointment), which is said to come from Kourion. No details are recorded as to its origins.[4]

London

A small number of glass and pottery items from the Kitchener-Hake excavations at Kourion in 1882 remains in the Department of Ceramics and Glass of the Victoria & Albert Museum.[5]

Oxford

Among the sherd collections of the Ashmolean Museum are a number of items from the Ceramic Neolithic site of Sotira.[6]

Wolverhampton

Some of the material from Lady Annie Brassey’s collection was given to Wolverhampton Art Gallery in 1888, soon after the collector’s death. Unfortunately only around 30 of the 60 or 70 items originally donated can now be identified with certainty, and only a few items can confidently be attributed to Kourion, though much of the Brassey material was probably found there. This material includes some typical Iron Age ceramic types such as White Painted ware jugs and Roman glass vessels. All the Cypriot items in Wolverhampton were published by Dr David Symons in 1984.[7]

  • ^ [1] - Souyoudzoglou-Haywoord 2004, 3–5 and cat. nos 177 and 242.
  • ^ [2] - BM Central Archives Original Papers, report of 10 Nov. 1896; also Parliamentary Returns 1896, 53.
  • ^ [3] - Cf. Taylor 2001, 244.
  • ^ [4] - Mee and Steel 1998, no. 142
  • ^ [5] - I am grateful to Mr Rowan Bain for this information.
  • ^ [6] - Brown and Catling 1975, 8–10 and pl. Ib.
  • ^ [7] - Symons 1984; see also Taylor 2001, 244.

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