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date: 12 November 2019

Cyprus [Gr. Kypros; Turk. Kibris]locked

  • R. S. Merrillees,
  • Nicolas Coldstream,
  • Edgar Peltenburg,
  • Franz Georg Maier,
  • G. R. H. Wright,
  • Demetrios Michaelides,
  • Lucia Vagnetti,
  • Veronica Tatton-Brown,
  • Joan Breton Connelly,
  • Paul Åström,
  • Jean-Claude Poursat,
  • Elizabeth Goring,
  • Louise Schofield,
  • Wiktor A. Daszewski,
  • A. Papageorghiou,
  • Michael D. Willis,
  • Michael Given,
  • Elise Marie Moentmann,
  • Kenneth W. Schaar,
  • Euphrosyne Rizopoulou-Egoumenidou
  •  and Helena Wylde Swiny

Extract

[Gr. Kypros; Turk. Kibris]

Third largest island in the Mediterranean (9251 sq. km), 70 km south of Turkey and 103 km west of Syria (see fig.). The island’s geographical location and its natural resources of copper and shipbuilding timber have had a considerable impact on the destiny of its inhabitants. Cyprus has throughout its history been vulnerable to the geopolitical ambitions of the powers controlling the neighbouring countries, which have not hesitated to exploit its resources and to use it as a stepping stone or place of retreat. Although it possessed a vigorous and distinctive local culture in Neolithic times (c. 7000–c. 3800 bc), it lacked the population, resources and strength to withstand the external pressures to which it was subjected from the start of the Bronze Age (c. 2300 bc). Since then and over the subsequent millennia Cyprus has been invaded and colonized for varying periods by Achaeans, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Arabs, Byzantines, Crusaders, Venetians, Turks and the British. While its strategic position has always given it certain commercial and cultural advantages, it has also been the source of most of the island’s troubles since the beginning of recorded history, because too often the interests and concerns of the native inhabitants were subordinated to the ambitions and dictates of the powers around it. Yet, despite the ultimate demise of the native Cypriot style in the Late Bronze Age, the Cypriot craftsman’s ability to adapt and amalgamate the forms, designs and subject-matter of successive incoming groups produced a range of artefacts that ingeniously blended traditional with foreign concepts. While the forms of Cypriot expression after the introduction of outside influences could be mistaken for provincial imitation, the island’s art never lost its essential native characteristics: a strong underlying sense of inventiveness, superstition and wit. This has left a large body of captivating and whimsical material which, in turn, has inspired not only students and collectors of the island’s past art but modern Cypriot craftsmen as well....

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