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MP1501

A fine Cypriot terracotta Bilbil, Late Bronze Age; c. 1550-1200 B.C

A large Cypriot base-ring ware pottery Jug , with single handle and tall cylindrical neck encircled by two molded bands, The vessel with rounded body and ring base , the relief decoration consisting of double-spiral motif on body, two bands around neck at join of handle and a further band around base of neck. 

Background: This period generally coincides with the vibrant New Kingdom period in Egypt when Palestine primarily was under Egyptian control, a rule that became more concentrated and demanding toward the end of the period. Canaan also maintained extensive trade connections with Aegean and northeastern Mediterranean powers. Cypriot pitchers called “bilbils” and shaped as poppyseed heads (upside-down), were among the most popular Palestinian imports. They may have been used to transport opium in wine or water from Cyprus to other Mediterranean sites.  
Base-Ring Ware was an important part of imported pottery in the Holy Land. Most typical of this group is the jug, with the slender oblique neck, standing on a ring. It featured a metallic, brown-gray-red burnished slip. The decoration is either painted or is relief lines. This type is known as ‘bilbil’. Analysis of substances found inside some bilbil has shown that they were used to hold the drug opium. The shape of the jug is strikingly (and fittingly) like that of an upturned poppy head.

For related example see:  Amiran, R. “Ancient Pottery of the Holy Land” (Rutgers University Press, 1970)  no. 7, plate 54 pp.176-177

Condition:   Intact and in very good condition overall.

Dimensions:  Height:  11.5 inches (29.21 cm),  Diameter at widest area: 6 inches (15.24 cm)

Provenance:  Private Collection, Maple Drive, LA, California 1983 - 1989, thereafter private Virginia collection until 2015.

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