Terracotta zoomorphic askos (vessel) with antlers

Period: Middle Cypriot III

Date: ca. 1725–1600 B.C.

Culture: Cypriot

Medium: Terracotta

Dimensions: H. 5 3/4 in. (14.6 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76

Accession Number: 74.51.795


Zoomorphic vases like this one are known as askoi. The animal represented is most likely a native species of deer, bones of which have been found at prehistoric sites throughout Cyprus. As is typical of White Painted Ware from this period, linear geometric patterns–crosshatching, checkerboard, and circles– decorate the entire surface of this vessel.
Imagination and exuberance characterize the Early and Middle Bronze Age ceramics produced on Cyprus. The vases, like this askos with antlers, are handmade, since the potter's wheel was not introduced until about 1600 B.C. They are richly decorated with painted, incised, and relief motifs. Their shapes are based on zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures, as well as on composite vessel forms, all of which illustrate the skill of the potter in the Early and Middle Bronze Age on Cyprus.