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  Highlights of the Collection: Prehistoric Terracottas
  Cypriot pottery and clay figurines (continued) Page 3 of 9

Particularly from the Middle Bronze Age onwards, starting in the first half of the second millennium BC, a wide range of different pottery wares was produced, often concurrently. Some of these were exported in large quantities to surrounding areas of the East Mediterranean, and were clearly appreciated not just by the inhabitants of Cyprus but also by others.

Before roughly around 1600 BC all Cypriot pottery was handmade. Around this time, the potter's wheel began to be used for some wares, while others continued to be shaped by hand. During the following centuries, use of the potter's wheel gradually increased, until by the end of the second millennium virtually all types of pottery (both decorated and undecorated) were wheel-thrown. Small clay figurines, on the other hand, were invariably modelled by hand, though in the Cypro-Archaic period some especially common types (or parts of them) could be mass-produced in moulds.

Each of the different wares, particularly before the use of the potter's wheel became more or less universal, tended to have its own distinctive range of vessel types, which took the form of more or less standardised shapes with fairly predictable forms of decoration. Figurines, too, tended to consist of a relatively small number of well-defined and often quite standardised types. In some ways, this makes early Cypriot pottery and figurines quite easy to deal with, since it helps in the drawing up of tidy systems of classification and typology. This tendency to a well-defined range of standardised types is particularly noticeable in the pottery found in tombs; and, since down to the mid-20th century AD much of the Cypriot pottery known did indeed come from tombs, this meant that its classification was well advanced at a relatively early stage in the archaeological exploration of the island. Most of the basic Cypriot pottery terminology still used by archaeologists today is that originally introduced (or refined) by Swedish archaeologists from the 1920s onwards, and presented in the 4 volumes of The Swedish Cyprus Expedition (1934-1972).

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