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Art Diary

Islanders: The Making of the Mediterranean

24 February 2023

The lost ancient civilisations of the three largest Mediterranean islands – Sardinia, Cyprus and Crete – are the focus of this exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (until 4 June) which brings together more than 200 rarely shown antiquities, including many on loan to the United Kingdom for the first time. Although there is no written record of the Nuragic culture of Sardinia, bronze votive figurines discovered on ancient burial grounds, such as those on loan from National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari, have provided important insights into the 4,000-year-old civilisation. Highlights include a figurine pair discovered in the Iron age sanctuary of Santa Vittoria Serri, depicting a mother holding her deceased child and a figurine of an archer from the Iron Age sanctuary of Abini Teti in Sardinia. Early examples of Cypriot art and religion are also on show, including early Bronze Age art objects from the cemetery of Bellapais-Vounous (c. 2200–1950 BC) such as elaborate ceremonial ‘tulip’ bowls decorated with animal heads. Find out more on the Fitzwilliam’s website.

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Bronze warrior with four eyes (c. 1000–700 BCE). © National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari

Model of a horse-drawn chariot and rider from the Sanctuary of Agia Eirini, Cyprus, (750–600 BCE). © Cyprus Department of Antiquities

Discoveries made at the Sanctuary of Agia Eirini, Cyprus. Courtesy Världskulturmuseerna, Sweden


Figure of a male from the Sanctuary of the Agia Eirini, Cyprus, (c. 750–600 BCE). © Cyprus Department of Antiquities