Detail of Cypriot Amphora, Abbey Museum,

Cyprus: A Little Island with a Big History

If you visit the RD Milns Antiquities Museum at the University of Queensland campus at St Lucia from 4th June you will see a fascinating new exhibition which is about to open. Cyprus: An Island and A People investigates the complex and fascinating history of Cyprus in the ancient world and the role of archaeology in the making of modern Cyprus. This exhibition looks at the amazing story of Cyprus, a small but strategic island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Spanning over 10,000 years of history, the exhibition traces Cyprus from the Neolithic to the Medieval period through a range of spectacular objects.  The exhibition also explores the people of ancient and modern Cyprus and the roles played by archaeologists in shaping the island’s story.

The Abbey Museum has loaned a number of significant artefacts to the RD Milns Antiquities Museum. They include a large and very impressive White Painted amphora, dating to around 750 BC, exquisite Roman glassware, an early 15th century icon representing the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and a superb 19th century Greek Orthodox embossed silver bible cover.

Cypriot Amphora in the Abbey Museum Collection,

 Cyprus Featured at the Abbey Museum

At the Abbey Museum we also have a significant display for the island of Cyprus. You may recall that John S M Ward,  who founded the Abbey Museum collection, lived the last nine years of his life in Cyprus. He died there in 1949, but even up until the end he continued to collect artefacts, some of which are on display at the Abbey Museum. However the majority were collected in England and include several items collected by the colourful but unprincipled Luigi Palma di Cesnola, an adventurer in the tradition of Indiana Jones who also managed to be the American Consul to Cyprus from 1865 to 1877.

One of my favourite pieces is an intriguing little bell figurine. This extraordinary figure has an outsize nose stuck high in the air and once a pair of articulated legs, now lost. We are uncertain of the use of these figures; were they dolls for the gods?

Bell Shaped Figurine from Cyprus at the Abbey Museum,

The Abbey Museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am – 4 pm. Visit us and explore the history and mystery of the island of Cyprus.