Wednesday 29 January 2020

What a lot of old rubbish: an ancient single-use cup goes on show

The ancient disposable cup. Photo: PA
The ancient disposable cup. Photo: PA

Sherna Noah

It turns out that the blight of the disposable cup is nothing new.

An ancient cup, designed to be hurled out with the rubbish, is going on display at the British Museum, demonstrating that, even then, nobody wanted to do the washing up.

The 3,500-year-old, single-use vessel - which once held wine rather than coffee - was made by the Minoans, one of the first advanced civilisations in Europe.

Thousands of the handleless, conical clay cups have been discovered on archaeological sites on the island of Crete and at the palace Knossos.

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The cup will go on show at the display 'Rubbish And Us' at the British Museum, which has been under pressure over environment-related issues with its sponsorship deal with oil giant BP. Julia Farley, a curator at the museum, said: "People may be surprised to know that disposable, single-use cups are not the invention of our modern consumerist society, but in fact can be traced back thousands of years."

Minoans gathered at the palace for parties, feasts and gatherings. Ms Farley said: "People were getting together and much like today, nobody wants to do the washing up."

As well as being convenient, the cup was a means of showing off wealth because of all the resources "poured into making it".

Ms Farley said she hoped the display would make visitors think creatively about reducing waste.

Irish Independent

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