Cyprus – 7,000 years of history
THE A.G. LEVENTIS GALLERY OF CYPRIOTE ANTIQUITIES
The Cyprus Collection at Medelhavsmuseet (the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities) consists of around 1,500 archaeological finds spanning over a period of more than 7,000 years – from Stone Age to Imperial Rome. The finds bear witness to frequent and long-term contacts between Cyprus and other cultures in the eastern Mediterranean area.
The location of Cyprus made the island the perfect meeting place for people, goods and ideas from ancient Egypt, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Greece.
The boldly designed exhibition found in the classical room of the museum is the joint creation of Mattias Lind and Kristofer Jonsson of White Arkitekter (Architects) in Gothenburg. In the centre of the exhibition is the sacred cult site of Ayia Irini. Visitors to the exhibition enter a large display case where they are met by close to 1,000 terracotta figures arranged in a semicircle around a sacred stone. The arrangement of the votive figures aims to recreate the way in which they were found by the Swedish archaeologists.
The Ayia Irini exhibition is surrounded by thematically arranged display cases of artefacts from the rich ancient times of Cyprus. It tells of the inhabitancy of Cyprus in Stone Age and the importance of the island's copper deposits for its development in Bronze Age.
The important role that religion played in the daily lives of the ancient people is a recurring theme throughout the exhibition.
The Swedish Cyprus Exhibition
Most of the artefacts shown in this exhibition originate from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition during 1927 – 1931 when over twenty locations around the island were excavated.
According to the practice at that time, the findings were divided between Sweden and Cyprus with permission from the British Colonial Government. More than half of the findings were allocated to Sweden, thanks to which Medelhavsmuseet now houses one of the largest Cypriot collections outside of Cyprus. This extensive collection is the reason for Medelhavsmuseet being founded in 1954.
The motives behind the Swedish Cyprus Expedition are presented in the museum's study area 'Expeditionen' (The Expedition), next to the museum café on the top floor.