Archaeological fragment "Kourion"
Cypro-Archaic Period I & II, Kourion, Republic of Cyprus, c. 700–475 BC, private collection from Denmark.
The island of Cyprus, officially called the Republic of Cyprus is located in the northeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey, west of Lebanon and Syria, north of Egypt, and southeast of Greece. Cyprus' geographical location was strategic crossroads linking the Aegean, Anatolia, the Levant and Egypt, and as such played an important role in the ancient Mediterranean commercial network. From the beginnings of settlement in the Neolithic period its history has been interwoven with that of the surrounding areas, yet, in spite of this close contact, its people have constantly been noted for their independence and individuality.
The earliest known human activity on the island dates to around the 10th millennium BC. Archaeological remains from this period include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Khirokitia, and Cyprus is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world. Cyprus was settled by Mycenaean Greeks in two waves in the 2nd millennium BC. As a strategic location in the Eastern Mediterranean, it was subsequently occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians, from whom the island was seized in 333BC by Alexander the Great. Subsequent rule by Ptolemaic Egypt, the Classical and Eastern Roman Empire, Arab caliphates for a short period, the French Lusignan dynasty and the Venetians, was followed by over three centuries of Ottoman rule between 1571 and 1878.
The pottery of ancient Cyprus starts during the Neolithic period. Throughout the ages, Cypriot ceramics demonstrate many connections with cultures from around the Mediterranean. During the Early and Middle Bronze Ages, it is especially imaginative in shape and decoration. Absolute dates are hard to pinpoint, but scholars generally agree on the broad outline of developmental stages of the island's art, technologies, and culture.
Neolithic Period (Stone Age): 7,000-4,000 BC, Chalcolithic Period (Copper Age): 4,000-2,600 BC, Early Bronze Age: 2,600-2,000 BC, Middle Bronze Age: 2,000-1,600 BC, Late Bronze Age: 1,600-1,050 BC, Cypro-Geometric Period I: 1,050-950 BC, Cypro-Geometric Period II: 950-850 BC, Cypro-Geometric Period III: 850-700 BC, Cypro-Archaic Period I: 700-600 BC, Cypro-Archaic Period II: 600-475 BC, Cypro-Classical Period I: 475-400BC, Cypro-Classical Period II: 400-323 BC.
Cypriots of the Archaic Period (700BC to 475BC) produced simple handmade figurines with crude faces, cylindrical bodies and plain clay trail or pellets to form hats, eyes, ears, etc., known as the snowman technique. Predominantly found in a sanctuary context, these models included not only priestesses and worshipers, but scribes, actors, musicians, mythological creatures, animals, and scenes of rural life. Riding horses, in warfare or for transport, was the privilege of an elite society at this time. The prevalence of such horse and rider figurines (soldiers, horsemen, charioteers, worshipers) suggests a great amount of strife in Cyprus during the Iron Age Horse and rider figurines were particularly suited as offerings to a male divinity, and numerous examples have been found in the sanctuary of Apollo Hylates (Ἀπόλλων Ὑλάτης) at Kourion. Hylates (Greek: Υλάτης) was a god worshipped on the island of Cyprus who was later likened to the Greek god Apollo (His name probably derives from ὑλακτέω [ʰylaktéō] "barking" or ὕλη [ʰýlē] "forest") which is why Lebek calls him "Apollo of the woods". He was worshipped from the 3rd century BC until the 3rd century AD.
A fine fragment of a ancient horse figure. A fine example of this iconic form of Cypriot visual culture. Horse has long slender neck, pointy ears, flowing mane with noticeable forelock and bridle with heavy reins. A hand-modeled terracotta horse delineated in an abstract style characteristic of the Cypro-Archaic period of Iron Age Cyprus. Good condition. Age-related heavy wear, abrasion and corrosion. Rich deposits on exterior. Dirt, dust and soil. Size approx. 5,2cm x 3,0cm x 3,0cm. Weight c. 27g.
Provenance: According to information, from the collection of professor Dr. Med. Albert Fischer, 1891–1956. Founder and director of the Carlsberg Foundation biological institute, Copenhagen (1932–1956). Albert Fischer acquired antiquities during his travels in the 1930s-1950s.
References, citations and sources:
Terracotta Figurines from Kourion in Cyprus, John Howard Young & Suzanne Halstead Young, Published by: The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1955.
Handbook of the Cesnola Collection of Antiquities from Cyprus, John L. Myres, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1914.
Horse and Rider Figurines from Ancient Marion, Chelsea Walter, Arizona State University, December 2014. (https://keep.lib.asu.edu/_flysystem/fedora/c7/121363/Walter_asu_0010N_14361.pdf)
The Art of Ancient Cyprus, D. Morris, Oxford, 1985, p. 207, pl. 237.
Learning from Dead Animals: Horse Sacrifice in Ancient Salamis and the Hellenisation of Cyprus, Animal Death, Mrva-Montoya, Agata, edited by Jay Johnston and Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, Sydney University Press, 2013, pp. 169–88.
Pigment Analysis of Wall Paintings and Ceramics from Greece and Cyprus. The Optimum Use of X-Ray Spectrometry on Specific Archaeological Issues. Aloupi, Eleni & Karydas, Andreas & Paradellis, T. X-RAY SPECTROMETRY. 29. 18-24. (10.1002/(SICI)1097-4539(200001/02)29:1<18::AID-XRS397>3.0.CO;2-5.)
Collections, Cypriot Antiquities, Archaic Period, National Archaeological Museum (www.namuseum.gr/en/collection/archaiki-periodos-4/)