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ELLE, Cyprus in the feminine

Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean, has been on a path of development from as far back as the Middle Bronze Age (2600-2100 BC). Trade and maritime activities will eventually endow the island with a cultural identity of tradition merged with cosmopolitanism into an original amalgam. Exchanges with the civilizations and great political powers of the West (Aegean) and the East of the Bronze Age will leave ample space for a process of artistic fusion and religious syncretism within a solid society, adept at assimilating and adjusting.

The singularity of Cypriot art during the prehistoric period aptly reflects a flux between geographical insulation and contact with the external world.

The fruit of this interaction is an atypical art which, through selective processing of form and content, will give rise to distinct statuary and coroplasty. By integrating local traditions and, at the same time, the symbolisms, language and aesthetic codes of Greece and other cultures in the Middle East, from as early as the Geometric period until the Hellenistic and Roman periods, Cyprus goes on to develop a composite type of statuary and coroplasty, revealed to the wider public with the first archaeological excavations on the island, in the 19th century.

Sculpted depictions of goddesses, divinities and female statuettes and figurines forming part of the collections of Cyprus’ Department of Antiquities, on display at the Cyprus Museum in Lefkosia and at the Archaeological Museum of the Lemesos District. The statuettes and figurines illustrate different styles of Cypriot art, from the Chalcolithic (4th millennium BC) to the Roman period. The photographs therefore unveil artworks that, through the uniqueness of their form, bring out the particularity of the civilization of Cyprus.

Production, Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus

Research, Catherine Louis Nikita

Terracotta Figurine
Terracotta Figurine

Cypro-Geometric (950-750 BC) Unknown provenance at the Cyprus Archaeological Museum in Nicosia

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Plank-shapped figurine holding infant
Plank-shapped figurine holding infant

Early Bronze Age (around 2100-2200 BC) from Lapithos now at the Cyprus Archaeological Museum in Nicosia

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Limestone Hathoric pier-capital
Limestone Hathoric pier-capital

Cypro-Archaic (Ca. 480 BC), from Amathus, Palace. Now at the Archaeological Museum of Limassol

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Limestone torso of a woman carrying a bull
Limestone torso of a woman carrying a bull

Cypro-Archaic (600-480 BC) from Arsos and now at the Cyprus Archaeological Museum in Nicosia

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Limestone torso of a woman
Limestone torso of a woman

Cypro-Archaic (600-480 BC) from Arsos and now at the Cyprus Archaeological Museum in Nicosia

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Limestone head of a female statue
Limestone head of a female statue

Hellenistic period (310-30 BC) from Arsos and now at the Cyprus Archaeological Museum in Nicosia

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Marble torso of a woman
Marble torso of a woman

Hellenistic period (310-30 BC) from Arsos and now at the Cyprus Archaeological Museum in Nicosia

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Marble anthropomorphic sarcophagus
Marble anthropomorphic sarcophagus

Cypro-classical (5th BC), from Amathus Tomb and now at the Archaeological Museum in Limassol

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Terracotta statuette of a seated female figure
Terracotta statuette of a seated female figure

Cypro-Classical (4th BC) from Marion at Polis Chrysochous. Now at the Cyprus Archaeological Museum in Nicosia

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Cyprus museum store room
Cyprus museum store room

Heads and figurines at the store room of the Archaeological Museum in Nicosia

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