- Museum number
Modified shell of the black-lipped pearl oyster (Pinctada margaritifera) carved with dots and a dolphin's head, probably a cosmetic palate or container for personal items such as jewellery.
- Production date
- 300 BC-300 AD
Diameter: 17.78 centimetres
Width: 14.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- The precise findspot of this item is unknown as this information is not provided in the Register. Give the association of both the material and dolphin symbolism with the Aphrodite, it could have been a dedicaiton to the Goddess in her sanctuary, though it could just as well have been a personal item left in a tomb.
The Black-lipped pearl oyster (Pinctada margaritifera) is found in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Its shell was regarded as a luxury product that could be used as a cosmetic palate or simply as a status symbol. Over 40 are known from Cyprus which has the highest documented concentration in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. See Michaelides 1995 for a complete survey, and also Lund 2006, 42 and fig. 12 (distribution map of examples from Cyprus). Most Cypriot examples have been found at sites on the south to south-west coast between Amathus and Nea Paphos.
Lund J. 2006, 'On the circulation of goods in Hellenistic and early Roman Cyprus: the ceramic evidence', in L. Wriedt Sørensen and K. Winther Jacobsen (eds), Panayia Ematousa II. Political, cultural and social relations in Cyprus. Approaches to regional studies. Monographs of the Danish Institute at Athens 6,2 (Athens), 31-49.
Michaelides D. 1995, 'Cyprus and the Persian Gulf in the Hellenistic and Roman periods: the case of Pinctada margaritifera', in eds. V. Karageorghis and D. Michaelides, Cyprus and the Sea (Nicosia), 211-26.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number