by Dr Panicos Michaelides
Enamel is a kind of glass fused to metal, usually copper, silver or gold, at high temperatures (around 800 degrees Centigrade).
Although the technique of enameling may have been invented independently in widely different regions the history of "The Earliest Cloisonne Enamels" begins Cyprus.
An island in the Eastern Mediterranean, with a history of more than 8000 years, Cyprus was one of the earliest producers of Copper in the world, with a flourishing metal industry. During the Cypro-Mycenaean period [1400-1050 B.C.], the "Golden Age" of Cyprus, the island enjoyed a high level of prosperity which brought a great number of settlers and craftsmen from neighbouring countries. In order to escape troubles on the Greek mainland, Mycenaean refugees arrived in Cyprus establishing important workshops and introducing new ideas and techniques that played an important role in artistic creation. During this period a new decorative technique, that of cloisonné enameling, unknown elsewhere at the time, appeared in Cyprus.
In a Mycenaean tomb that was discovered at Kouklia, Cyprus, in 1952 and dated the thirteenth century B.C. there were six gold rings decorated with cloisonné enamel that appears to have been fused in place. A little later (dated 11th century B.C.) a magnificent Royal Gold Sceptre with cloisonné enamel was discovered in a tomb at Kourion.
These are the earliest findings with enamel that exist to-day in the world and indicate that the technique of cloisonné enameling was first practised in Cyprus during the thirteenth century B.C.
With the kind permission of:
The Cyprus Archaeological Museum , Nicosia and
"Glass on Metal", April 1989
Gold finger ring decorated with cloisonné enamel and granulation, diam. 2 cm. Kouklia, Cyprus, "Evreti".
13th century B.C.
Royal gold scepter decorated with cloisonné enamel and granulation, height 16.5 cm. Kourion, Cyprus.
13th century B.C.