The ongoing research project MuseCo concerns a large-scale interdisciplinary study of ancient ceramics from the modern-day districts of Famagusta, Keryneia, Nicosia and the regions of Karpasia and Morphou, in the northern and eastern parts of Cyprus. These artefacts constitute an important corpus of the Cyprus Museum pottery collections that have been formed before 1974, but, despite their significance, they remain unknown to scholarly literature. The ceramic evidence under examination spans chronologically from the 11th to the 4th centuries BC, covering the entire Cypriot Iron Age. This material derives mostly from tomb-groups which are the result of excavations and field surveys of the Cyprus Survey branch of the Department of Antiquities initiated in 1930 and abruptly interrupted in 1974, following the Turkish invasion.

Research objectives and methodology

MuseCo‚Äôs principal research goal is to create new knowledge on the Iron Age polities of Salamis, Soloi, Lapithos and Chytroi through the study and definition of their respective regional pottery production and its spatial distribution by means of an interdisciplinary methodology that combines thorough ceramic studies, with mineralogical and chemical analyses. In an attempt to tackle the 46-year long gap in fieldwork research from 1974 onwards, such an approach will substantially contribute to our fragmentary understanding of the distinct politico-economic peripheries and the socio-cultural phenomena that characterised the respective city-kingdoms. This will be achieved through: 

  • The digital recording of the tomb-assemblages together with the joint inventory of all the accompanying archival and excavation records in order to safeguard and promote the moveable cultural heritage from the sites under study, in the occupied areas.
  • The ceramological study including the chronological, typological/morphological and stylistic (decorative motifs and pottery wares) analysis of the examined vessels, as well as macroscopic fabric descriptions. The study will result in the establishment of ceramic typo-chronological sequences of the Cypro-Geometric, Cypro-Archaic and Cypro-Classical periods for each of the regions examined, which will provide an updated review of the current system, established by the Swedish Cyprus Expedition in 1948. The meticulous ceramic analyses proposed will contribute to the designation of the regional pottery production of Salamis, Soloi, Lapithos and Chytroi.
  • The technological and compositional characterisation of a representative sample of the defined pottery production of the polities under study, employing different methods of mineralogical and chemical analysis, i.e. optical polarizing microscopy for ceramic petrography and wavelength-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (WD-XRF) respectively. The chemical characterisation will allow the methodological testing of the correspondence between the mineralogical and chemical groupings, measuring rare earth elements and defining the respective chemical profile of the examined pottery production centres.