Cypro-Geometric Period (1050-750 BC)

Exhibition Selection


Large portions of the Cypriote ceramics at Bryn Mawr are from the Cypro-Geometric period. Many of the objects displayed in the exhibition were originally in the MET and part of the Cesnola Collection. The exhibition is arranged by ware type. Several of the ware types include geometric decorations, however figural decoration during the Geometric period is rare on ceramics.

Cypro-Geometric I - 1050 - 950 BC

Bichrome I - Click to go to exhibition page. Start Exhibition here or choose by pottery type :

Cypro-Geometric II-III (950-750 BC)

Period Overview: The Cypro-Geometric period is still not fully understood and often much debated. The main point of contention is the transition from the Bronze Age to the early Geometric. Traditional interpretations argue for continuity in the concept of kingship, language and social stratification. Other theories point to the lack of archaeological evidence in the 10th century and early 9th century and argue for a re-introduction of kingship and social stratification. Traditionally, one would envision the idea of kingship as present during the Late Bronze Age and that the idea was preserved through several centuries (although not visible in the archaeological record) and expressed again at the end of the Cypro-Geometric period and early Archaic period when Assyrian records document the existence of 7 (Salamis, Lapithos, Marion, Soli, Old Paphos, Kourion and Tamassos) and then later 10 city-kingdoms on Cyprus. Many of these city-kingdoms have mythological foundation legends; Greek heroes after the Trojan War were thought to have traveled to Cyprus and founded new settlements. Unfortunately, most of our understanding from the Geometric period comes from chamber tombs and not settlements. Further surveys and investigations of settlements will hopefully shed more light on this period. The Cypro-Geometric period is a time of ethnic mixing as Phoenician, Greek and Eteocypriots (indigenous Cypriots) lived on the island. The Phoenicians established a colony at Kition (modern Larnaca) in the 9th century BC; Kition was a significant Late Bronze Age site and the Phoenicians made several renovations to the site, the most noteworthy being a temple that was re-dedicated to Astarte. The Greek language appears in written form during the Geometric period, however it is written in Cypriote syllabary, which continues to be used until the 3rd century BC. Traditionalists would argue that the Mycenaeans first introduced the Greek language to the island in the 12th century in the form of Linear B. It is unclear whether Greek was used on the island in the Early Geometric period or whether the language was re-introduced. Underscoring the debate of the Geometric period are the magnificent 8th-7th century "royal tombs" at Salamis. The royal necropolis of Salamis is famous for its chamber tombs with elaborate dromoi and its mix of Greek, Egyptian, Phoenician and Assyrian motifs and grave goods. Even more perplexing is the so-called "Homeric nature" of these graves, leading some experts to argue that the Cypriots intentionally practiced burials in the form of Homeric epics. However, this conclusion is highly debatable and uncertain. David Rupp has argued that the royal tombs represent the reintroduction of kingship to the island whereby a set of elites needed to display and maintain their power and status through elaborate mortuary practices. Scholars who argue for continuity between the end of the Bronze Age and the Geometric period have questioned this theory often. Understanding of this period will be advanced with further investigation of the 10th and 9th centuries as well as excavations of Geometric settlements, when found by regional surveys.