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Copper ingot in the shape of an oxhide

-1200/-1050

British Museum

British Museum

'Cyprus is second to none of the islands of the Mediterranean; it is rich in wine and oil, produces grain in abundance and possesses extensive copper mines at Tamassos.'
Strabo, Geography (AD 23), 14.6.5.

Cyprus was renowned for its copper in antiquity, and the very word 'copper' comes from the Roman name for the metal Cyprium aes (literally 'copper of Cyprus'). From about 1225 BC the Cypriot metal industry was tranformed under foreign influence. A number of hoards were deposited between about 1200 and 1100 BC, among then the 'Foundry Hoard' at Enkomi.

It was discovered in 1897, probably in the north-western part of the site, although no precise records were made at the time. The hoard appears to be the contents of a smithy, comprising the smith's own tools and new tools for carpentry and agriculture. Fragmentary vessels and stands were all obviously used as scrap metal, which must have been set aside for re-melting. The ingots, of which this is the only complete example, are made of unworked copper. Thus would the copper have been transported, whether within the island or overseas. The mark near the edge of one of the surfaces may indicate that the piece is authentic, or perhaps identify the maker or city of origin.

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Details

  • Title: Copper ingot in the shape of an oxhide
  • Date Created: -1200/-1050
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 70.50cm; Width: 41.50cm; Thickness: 5.20cm; Weight: 36.92kg
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: cast; impressed
  • Registration number: 1897,0401.15
  • Production place: Made in Cyprus
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Enkomi
  • Period/culture: Late Cypriot III
  • Material: copper
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Excavated by Turner Bequest Excavations, Enkomi. Funded by Turner, Emma Tourner

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