Go to Museum's Home Page Visiting Features The
Services Online
  Back to Ancient Cyprus Introduction Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology To Presentations page
Ancient Cyprus
in the Ashmolean Museum
  Highlights of the Collection: Prehistoric Terracottas
  Dagger and Sheath (AN1974.355) Back to previous page

Dagger and ShearthModel of a dagger and of a sheath in Red and Black Polished ware. The hilt of the dagger is decorated with incised circles, the sheath also with incised patterns. The incised ridge down the centre of the sheath simulates stitched leather and indicates what such sheaths (which do not survive) were made of.

Although these two do not actually belong together (they were probably found in separate places), several clay models of daggers like this with their own accompanying sheaths are known, and they may have been specially produced as tomb furnishings. They appear to be thoroughly realistic in that they clearly replicate the form and design (as well as the size) of actual Early Cypriot copper or bronze daggers, which often have similar leaf-shaped blades and long tangs to which a hilt was once attached. They are particularly valuable for the information they give us about the hilts and sheaths which do not survive on real daggers. The incised circle decoration on the hilt of this example suggests that its real-life prototype may have had a bone hilt encasing the metal tang.

  A nice touch on this example (also found on others) is the way in which the dagger blade has been deliberately fired red. While this may have been done to convey the idea of a copper blade, the fact that the tip of the sheath (as in other cases) is also fired red raises the more gory suggestion that it may have been intended to represent blood covering the blade of the dagger and seeping through the sheath.

Other Details:
Red Polished III, c. 2000 BC. No provenance.
Vassos Karageorghis, The coroplastic art of ancient Cyprus, vol. I, p. 111 no. 5, p. 109 no. 5.

  Other Views:
  Sheath Dagger
  Sheath Dagger
  Back to previous page
© Copyright University of Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, 2004
The Ashmolean Museum retains the copyright of all materials
used here and in its Museum Web pages.
Last updated: 22-sep-2004
  E-mail Webmaster HomePage | Visiting | Features | The Collections
Services | Online Resources | More Resources | SiteMap | Top of Page