Cypriot ‘Milk Bowl’

Image courtesy of the Fitzwilliam Museum

This type of bowl is commonly found across the Eastern Mediterranean during the Bronze Age (this particular example belongs to the collection of the Fitzwillian Museum and is dated to 1450-1200 BCE). They are decorated with a white slip and black painted geometric decoration.

The use of these bowls has often been the subject of speculations. At one point, it was widely believed that they were made to process yogurt but there is no actual evidence that this was the case. The name ‘milk bowl’ is progressively being dropped because it is misleading as the use of these bowls is still unknown. They were exported in quite large quantities, but we do not even know if it was for their contents or as the bowls themselves.

I think it is interesting that we have so little information about a type of object that can be found in many different archaeological museums all over the world and is generally this widespread. Also, it isn’t like there are no studies about these bowls; there is just no consensus that has been reached yet.

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