Ancient Cyprus in the British Museum

Edited by Thomas Kiely

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Notes on Museum registration numbers, dating and place of production

Object registration sequences

1897,0401.1-1572: contains the bulk of the material (1,638 objects). There are gaps in the sequence as some numbers were not assigned. Other numbers included more than one object and these were later sub-divided, using a lower case letter or an asterisk, giving each object an individual number. Occasionally, fragments of an object were registered separately and later joined.

1898,0224.1: purchased from Charles Christian.

1899,0604.3: purchased from Percy Christian.

1900,0615.1-72: 72 objects purchased from J.W. Williamson in 1900. The register notes that this sequence are objects purchased in Cairo but 'almost certainly found at Enkomi in 1896'. Some certainly originated in Tomb 93 (1900,0615.1 joins to 1897,0401.532) and there is a distinct probability that all originated in Tomb 93. Further evidence lies in the fact that Tomb 93 is the only tomb excavated which contains gold scrap and ingot droplets (apart from the five cut fragments of gold spiral registered in 1969 and assumed to come from Tomb 1). The BM notebook mentions that the tomb was looted but obviously not thoroughly as it remains the wealthiest tomb ever excavated at the site. It is possible that the looting was carried out during the BM's excavations. For these reasons this sequence of numbers has been attributed to ‘Tomb 93 probably’.

1921.0617.1: found unregistered with ‘Enkomi’ written on the object, probably from a tomb.

1938,1120.1-6: six krater fragments found unregistered but may equal 1897,0401.1556.

1966,1103.2: originally inscribed with a duplicate 1897 registration number so re-registered.

1969,0515.1-14: 14 previously unregistered pieces of bronze scrap, almost certainly from the Foundry Hoard.

1969,0701.1-57: 59 previously unregistered objects, mainly gold fragments, found with tomb numbers marked but no further details. Most correspond to original notebook entries and are almost certainly from the Enkomi tombs with which they are numbered.

1974,1101.39 = 1897,0401.1563: ivory pomegranate pin-head re-registered in error.

1982,0315.1-2: two textile fragments found unregistered but found in a box marked ‘Enkomi’. From the vicinity of the site, not the Late Bronze town.

1998,0316.1: a Roman coarseware pot said to have been acquired at Enkomi.

2006,2401: one Limestone pestle found unregistered with ‘Enkomi’ written on the object.

A small number of 38 objects from Enkomi registered in 1897 or 1900 are no longer identifiable in the British Museum collections. Some may have been lost because of physical decay of delicate materials before the development of modern conservation science. The majority of these items, however, have lost their association with the original site records because they no longer have registration numbers written on them. They are difficult to identify because most are of fairly common types, such as simple rings and beads. Some will have been re-registered in later years and are no longer identifiable as coming from Enkomi. It is hoped that most of these anomalies will be resolved when the Cyprus Digitisation Project is complete. These objects are included in the Enkomi catalogue to provide as full a record as possible of the original tomb groups and other associations recorded by the original excavators. The items are listed here in registration order:

Jewellery 204. 632-636 (no. reg. number); 1897,04-01.83, 131, 161, 181, 219, 332, 389, 433, 507, 509, 550, 633, 635-6, 645, 710-11, 731, 771, 810, 1057, 1167, 1310, 1410, 1492. 1506, 1520 (31), 1522, 1556-58, 1900.06-15.65.

Dating the material and location of production

Many of the objects found on Late Bronze Age Cyprus and the surrounding region reflect the development of an international style. Technologies were transferred to a new area, adopted and modified. Raw materials not found on Cyprus (such as ivory) were imported and used to manufacture finished goods. Therefore, there is considerable ambiguity in the location of production for many of the objects and this is reflected in the database. Many of the objects have more than one location of production or no location assigned. In addition, it is often extremely difficult to establish the period during which certain objects were manufactured. This arises partly from the Cypriot practice of using tombs for multiple burials for up to 500 years. The conditions in the tombs, as well as the high extent of looting and disturbance in antiquity make it often impossible to assign groups of objects to specific burials, even when the tombs have been carefully excavated and recorded. The main class of object generally found in Late Cypriot tombs, and the most chronologically sensitive, is locally produced pottery. It is apparent from the material in the stores, and from the notebooks, that very little of the local pottery was collected or kept and it is not possible to be certain that the objects retained represent the entire span of tomb use.

The database includes only the relative chronological period (or periods) during which an object may have been manufactured. It should be noted that dates given, either within the general discussion of the tombs or for the objects themselves, are all extremely broad and based upon what is known about that type of object, rather than the date of construction and use of the tomb itself. Absolute dates are not included for each object but the chronological chart below gives approximate dates for the relative chronological phases. Where possible, the standard terminology for the specific region of manufacture has been used. For example, Late Cypriot (LC) for Cyprus, Late Helladic (LH) for Mycenaean Greece, Late Minoan (LM) for Crete and Late Bronze Age (LBA) for the Levant. For Egypt, the term Second Intermediate Period (SIP) is used for the Hyksos phase and New Kingdom (NK), or where possible the dynasty in question, for the period equating with the Late Bronze Age.