Cypriot Red Lustrous Wheelmade Ware lentoid flask: Late Bronze Age (1500 - 1250 BC)

Red Lustrous Wheelmade Ware lentoid flask

A Red Lustrous Wheelmade Ware pottery lentoid flask with a disc shaped body, long neck and strap handle. At the base of the handle is an incised sign which was added prior to firing. Such signs are common on this ware, usually at the base of the handle or sometimes on the base. This sign, possibly a batch mark or potters mark, is thought to derive from the ancient Cypro-Minoan syllabic script, derived from Cretan Linnear A (though there is sometimes a circle which is not part of that script). It was used in Cyprus before the Greek alphabet and language gradually supplanted native Cretan in the Early Iron Age. Cypro-Minoan script is also found in Ugarit (Syria) and sometimes on Mycenaean wares.  It was burnished, probably with a smooth pebble, in the case of the flasks, radially (as can be seen here) and the spindle flasks vertically.                                        

This ware was originally thought to originate in Anatolia at the start of the Late Bronze Age but after petrographic analysis of the clay is now generally agreed to come from North Cyprus in the region of Kyrenia.  Although a rare ware, it was most common in the Late Cypriot IIA (1450-1375 BC)) and was exported very widely, especially to Anatolia and Egypt, but also to Syria, Palestine, Amuq, Crete and Rhodes, but not Mycenaean Greece, which exported their own wares to Cyprus as luxury goods. Like Base Ring ware I it is unusually hard for the time, because fired at a higher temperature. It was made in a limited number of shapes, the main one being the tall, thin “spindle bottle”in a thinner and less thin version.  The Lentoid (or Pilgrim) flask and Arm Vessel came about a century later (around 1450BC) along with a few other bowl shapes found only in Cyprus.       

 Along with the much rarer Wheelmade Bichrome ware (see my tankard above) and some plain white vessels, this was the first wheelmade ware in Cyprus until the influx of Mycenaean potters and imitation of their wares. The influence of the latter pervaded Cypriot styles at the start of the Iron Age.  Why the fast wheel was so rarely used in Late Cypriot I-II is unclear, but after 1200 it became the norm. Until then Red Lustrous vessels were the only wares never to have been handmade.

Body repaired, some minor restoration on the lip.  

DJ 68 Cl 

Size: 24 x 14.7cm

(Ex. private collection, Paris, France; acquired 1980's.)

(Aquired Helios Gallery, April 2016)