The Pierides Archaeological Foundation in Larnaca is a small archaeology museum sponsored by the Bank of Cyprus, housed in an old mansion from 1825 belonging to the Pierides family. The museum was established by Demetrios Pierides in 1839, who wanted to protect Cyprus’ cultural heritage from tomb raiders and the black market for ancient artefacts. His descendants have expanded the family’s archaeology collection and carried on with Demetrios’ mission.
The centerpiece of the collection is a ceramic figure showing a screaming man. The inside is hollow, and if you pour water into the mouth of the figure it flows out of his phallus. The purpose or significance of the figure is not known, and it is difficult to pinpoint its age. However, it is certain that it originates from the Chalcolithic Period, which means that it could be over 5,500 years old! Nothing like it has been found anywhere on Cyprus.
Also found at the museum are plank-shaped idols from around 1900 BC, other Bronze Age ceramics, and the beautifully decorated Iron Age pottery characteristic of Cyprus’ city-kingdoms. There are also several black and orange/red vases from the Hellenistic period, similar in style to ceramics found throughout the Greek world.
A pleasant surprise at the Pierides Archaeological Foundation were half a dozen old maps of Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean, some of them dating all the way back from the 16th century.
Other notable objects exhibited at the museum include Roman glass containers, and bowls from the 14th century which are decorated using sgraffito, a technique that originated in Italy.