Cypriot large pottery poppy flask



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A large grey slip ware pottery “poppy flask” decorated with white painted lines on the body and a raised ridge separating the neck and body of the vessel.

This type of vessel is known as a poppy flask (or bil-bil) due to its resemblance to the seed head from the poppy plant from which opium is extracted. Chemical analysis of the content of similar vessels has confirmed that they were used for storing opiates; the drug was an extremely important trading commodity for ancient Cyprus and was exported throughout the Mediterranean. Large numbers of these vessels were found at the important 18th Dynasty site of Amarna in Egypt.

Cyprus, Late Bronze Age, 1650-1050 BC

29.5 x 14 cms

Body repaired, part of rim and handle restored, wear, encrustation and chipping as seen in the photographs

Ex. private collection, Austria; acquired between 1976-1981.