Cypriot Picrolite cross pendant: (Middle Chalcolithic ?) ie 3000- 2700 BC

Picrolite cross pendant



A nearly unique stone pendant of pale green picrolite in the form of a flat cross, with the horizontal arms shorter but wider, and the top drilled horizontally for suspension. An ancient fracture at the back and a small mend at the top front.

This piece belonged to Desmond Morris, who argued that it was Chalcolithic and represented an abstract version of the familiar picrolite cruciform figures. Since his book another in the Zintilis Collection (Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens) has been published. It was found in the Limassol districting and has a less geometric, more freeform shape. Picrolite pendants were made in South East Cyprus from the Neolithic into the Middle Bronze Age, though by far the most in the Middle Chalcolithic, so it is difficult to be sure of its date. None of the other known pendants is anything like this and, indeed, the cruciform pendant figures seem the closest. Are they precursors of, or late, simplified variant of cruciform figures, or indeed simultaneous? The formal similarity might be a coincidence but I don't believe so. However, was the shape merely suggested by the picrolite cruciform figures, or was it meant to have a similar or linked meaning and use?

The figures are generally believed to depict a position for childbirth, and thus to enact an associated, sympathetic, protective magic, though some think they represent a fertility goddess.

(Published: Desmond Morris, The Art of Ancient Cyprus 1985, p125, Pl 173

Size: 4cm long

(Ex the collection of Desmond Morris (b 1928) (DM -ST 07))

(Aquired Acquired Art Ancient, London)

DJ 236 (Annex 216)