The Bichrome Ware Project


Bichrome Ware was, for a long time, considered to be a key marker for the beginning of the Late Bronze Age. However, recent studies indicate a slightly earlier appearance. It is found in many sites on Cyprus, in the Levant and in Egypt. It was produced in both handmade and wheelmade forms, and shows a large variety of decorations and motifs. Originally produced on Cyprus during the Late Cypriot I period, it was also manufactured in the Eastern Levant and possibly also in Egypt, as suggested by comparison of the fabrics.

The distribution of the material is widespread and known from various sites, for example:
Cyprus: Milia, Nitovikla, Ayia Irini, Tomba tou Skourou, Enkomi, Kalopsidha, and Kazaphani.
Levant: Turkey: Alalakh-Atchana, Tarsus; Syria: Ugarit-Ras Shamra; Israel: Megiddo, Hazor 
Gaza Strip: Tell el-'Ajjul
Egypt: Tell el-Dab‘a, Tell el-Heboua, Sedment

Aims of the study

  1. To locate the production centres by using chemical analyses and petrographic methods. To distinguish the imported wares from the locally produced wares
  2.  To trace the distribution patterns of the various types of shapes and fabrics in order of their individual stratigraphic appearance
  3. To show up links and interconnections between the various sites
  4. To demonstrate chronological links by the appearance of the wares in the LC IA period in Cyprus, at the turn of the MB II C to the LB I in the Levante, the end of the SIP/early 18th Dynasty in Egypt

Creation of a database for Bichrome Ware
The first goal was the creation of the Database. The database includes all the parameters requested by the members of the team. These are related to the typology – including ware, shape and decoration – as well as the chemical and quantitative results such as those from Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis. 
The Database forms the basis for a catalogue containing detailed descriptions of both sherds and complete vessels decorated in the Bichrome style. The entries will constitute a representative sample of the broad geographical distribution and stylistic variations within this pottery class. This work needs meticulous preparation. All team members work with this collected material, and contribute new entries. The database and the cataloguing procedure are still ongoing but some intermediary results can already be seen. The corpus contains many details, facilitating the study of vessel types, development of shapes and decorations. It has to be noted, that a large quantity of the basic information comes from previous research of M. Artzy on Cypriot pottery, which is an enormous help for the current investigations being carried out within this project.


  1. Building up a new typology of the Bichrome Ware vessels based on the D-base and to analyze the corpus for the purpose of organization into stylistic subgroups.
  2. Systematically reviewing the different types of decoration which appear on the Bichrome Ware, allowing us to quantify the decorative features and their variety, and correlate them with geographical distributions in the Ancient Near East and Levant.
  3. Samples of the ware have been analysed by quantitative methods: chemical analyses, petrographic analyses and Neutron Activation Analyses.
  4. To evaluate the NAA analyses of the Bichrome Ware material made by M. Artzy in the 1970s and 80s, with the addition of new samples from catalogued vessels, in order to match the pottery’s chemical profiles with its stylistic groupings and so elucidate regional styles.

Intermediary results: preliminary results are already visible in the grouping of the NAA data, (by Y. Salmon). We can postulate different production centres around the areas of Milia, Enkomi, Kalopsidha and Nitovikla in Cyprus. Further production centres in Canaan can be traced probably near Tell el-Ajjul, and around Megiddo. The final grouping of the wares awaits full evaluation of all available NAA-analyses.

Final goal
The final goal is the creation of a “Manual of Bichrome Ware”. The first part will comprise a catalogue of objects, typology, motifs, and analytical data. The second part will contain discussion of the material and consider regional developments. Finally, the study of the stratigraphic deposition of this pottery will result in a better understanding of its temporal distribution, and this data will be used for the purposes of comparative chronology, which is the principal goal of the SCIEM Project.

Work meetings
End of March 2004 a work meeting took place in Nicosia at the location of CAARI (Cyprus American Archaeological Institute) and the team recorded material held in the storerooms of the Archaeological Museum in Nicosia and the District Museum at Larnaca. In July 2004, material was recorded in the Louvre/Paris, some months later also material from Stockholm. In November 2004, the complete group was meeting in Vienna, discussing the preparation of the publication.

The Scientific Team
 Irmgard Hein, project director of the Cyprus Project (University of Vienna), evaluating the material from Egypt
Scientific Collaborators in 2002-2004 (in alphabetical order)
Michal Artzy (Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies, University of Haifa), directing the NAA Analyses, study of the material from Northern Canaan and other areas. Prof. Artzy gives great support for the project, this includes scientific research as well as offering material, work facilities and coordinating the collaborators at Haifa.
Celia Bergoffen (University of New York) study of the material from Southern Palestine and the decorations
Lindy Crewe (University of Edinburgh) detailed study for the material from Enkomi and Cyprus
Yossi Salmon (University of Haifa), creating the data base, maintaining and constantly updating the Database, working on the NAA Data
Ragna Stdising (Unversity of Haifa), intensive contributions for the database, creating the motif library, drawings
Paula Waiman-Barak (University of Haifa), preparing the NAA data and typing for the database.
NAA-Analyses: Berkely Laboratories and Helmholtz-Institut für Strahlen und Kernphysik/Universität Bonn - H. Mommsen.
Petrographic analyses and EMP by University of Vienna, Institute for Petrology, T. Ntaflos/C. Tschegg