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Cyprus in Context: Researching and Re-assessing the Cambridge Cypriot Collection

Event Details:

  • Date: Thursday 6th April 2017
  • Time: 16:00 - 17:00
  • Venue: The Cyprus Institute – Guy Ourisson Building, Seminar Room, 1st Floor, Athalassa Campus
  • Speaker: Dr Anastasia Christophilopoulou , Cyprus Curator-Assistant Keeper, Department of Antiquities, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

*The colloquium will be in English, the event is open to the public, light refreshments will be served after the talk.

The University of Cambridge is fortunate to hold one of three major collections of Cypriot antiquities in the UK, a collection comprising over 1,000 artefacts spread across three University Museums (the majority of objects currently located in the Fitzwilliam Museum). The collection was first studied in 1996-7 by Prof. Vassos Karageorghis and the Fitzwilliam’s then Keeper of Antiquities, Dr Eleni Vassilika, and resulted in the current display of Cypriot Antiquities in the Fitzwilliam Museum.

However, the collection has not been holistically studied or published, despite it including some of the finest examples of ceramics, glass, bronzes and marble sculpture from prominent sites such as Salamis, Palaepaphos, Marion, Tamassos and Vounous. Moreover, both the Fitzwilliam’s Egyptian and Greek and Roman collections have recently been the subject of extensive research projects, engaging current research approaches to Classical and Egyptian Archaeology, this work heavily influencing the redisplay of both the Greek/ Roman and the Egyptian galleries.

Given the intensification of theoretical advances in the fields of Aegean and Cypriot Archaeology (paired with important developments in the field of Island Archaeology) and important new archaeological discoveries in Cyprus, the time is now ripe for a complete re-assessment of the Cambridge Cypriot collections. A recently established, 3- year research project on the Cambridge Cypriot material aims to address these advances and re-frame the material both in its original archaeological context, and in relation to Cyprus’s wider identity as a ‘big island’. Working collaboratively between conservation and curatorial staff, the project will build a body of research into the archeological context, material and technology, and condition of the Cypriot material. This project will ultimately ensure that the collection reflects the fundamental role the island played in trade across the Mediterranean region; the way its insularity shaped a unique cultural identity allowing indigenous cultural forms to be preserved and transmitted, whilst new ideas and external influences were assimilated.

This paper presents the material culture categories currently under study (EBA pottery from the Vounous excavations, Archaic terracottas from Salamis and EIA and Archaic metalware in our collections) as well as the early research results of this project, while addressing the question of whether it is possible to integrate current theoretical debates and advances in archaeology into museum displays.

About the Speaker
a christophilopoulouDr Anastasia Christofilopoulou is the Assistant Keeper and Cyprus Curator for the Department of Antiquities of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Anastasia focused on the Archaeology of the Greek EIA and Archaic periods, particularly the architecture and material cultures of the Greek domestic environment as part of the doctoral thesis is Cambridge.

She is currently leading a 3-year research project building a body of research into the archaeological context, material and technology of the Fitzwilliam Cypriot Collections. Through this Anastasia is also addressing questions in relation to Cyprus’s wider identity as a ‘big island’ and more generally questions of insularity as a factor shaping the unique cultural identities of the Mediterranean islands.

Anastasia has also been engaged with a research project titled ‘Material Cultures in public engagement’, essentially a cross-over between material culture studies and public archaeology since 2014 and she is curating (together with Dr. I. Galanakis) an interdisciplinary exhibition on the history of codebreaking, coming to the Fitzwilliam Museum in October 2017.

Her research topics cover: Archaeology of the Greek Early Iron Age and Archaic periods, Island Archaeology and the Archaeology of Cyprus, Public Archaeology and Public engagement with Museums.

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This event is part of the CyI Colloquium Series.  View all CyI events.

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