This askos or flask was made in Cyprus and dates from the Early Bronze Age. It was probably used for storing oil and would have been used during ceremonial or ritual offerings. Askoi were often created in the forms of birds or animals and this design, representing a pig or boar, has a spout at its mouth and would have had a handle on its back for pouring. These vessels were decorated with incised, impressed or stippled motifs: this one has been tooth combed, perhaps to give the impression of hair.
The askos was donated to Berwick Museum at some point before 1897 by a Captain Rutherford and pre-dates the arrival of Sir William Burrell’s collection. It may have arrived prior to the British takeover of the administration of Cyprus in 1878, a time when the export of antiquities from the Turkish controlled island was difficult. Perhaps Captain Rutherford acquired his objects as part of a smuggled horde or in payment for a secret deal?
This item, together with 19 other artefacts, was ‘rediscovered’ in our Stores as part of the Ellerman Project (for more info see here): we will add more information to the story of this item in the coming weeks.
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