Cypriot small bottle: Early Bronze Age II-III (2200-2050 BC)?
The shape and some of the decoration would normally date this as Early Cypriot I & II, but most of the decoration is very distinctive of Red and Black Ware, most famous from tall necked bottles from the West Karpas region in the Middle Bronze Age. These were first dated by Stewart (1962) as MC II-III from what is still the only provenanced example (tomb 6 at Ayios Iakovos). Red and Black was identified as a ware from 22 more varied examples by Herscher and re-dated MC I- early II. Morris identified and studied 200 more, including 2 tulip bowls almost identical to this. All are extremely precisely decorated with fine lines (here 9-10 lines per cm) and a unique repertoire of design motifs. Circles disappear. The amount of red and black varies hugely in different examples, but is unlike Red Mottled and Red Black Topped Wares. Horizontal zig-zags are normally absent in Red and Black Ware so I believe this piece is transitional. A date range of ECIII-MCI would make the most sense, with this piece and the small tulip bowl becoming simply late use of these forms. With no sanctioned digging in the region since the 1974 Turkish invasion, the dating range still awaits clarification
This Red/ Black Polished Ware bottle is somewhat similar to the refined tall necked jars from later in the Middle Bronze Age, though in this case the decoration and shapeis clearly from an earlier time, and (apart from being shorter) the transition between body and neck is more gradual. It is also heavier than many of the later type, but like most of the latter has a pierced rim, possibly to secure a stopper or hang it up. Desmond Morris had a large collection of the tall necked bottles (over 100) which he only sold recently, half of them to what was the Alexander Malios collection in Leipzig and is now AMRICHA, which is planned to become a Museum in that city.
Size: 15cm high
(Ex Desmond Morris collection Oxford, acquired prior to 1985. Published D. Morris, "The Art of Ancient Cyprus", Oxford, 1985, p.65, pl.92)
(Aquired Bonhams auction, London, 3rd July 2019, lot 11.)