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Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 79–120 | Cite as

Cyprus’s Earliest Prehistory: Seafarers, Foragers and Settlers

  • A. Bernard KnappEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Over the past 20 years, the earliest prehistory of Cyprus has been completely rewritten as a result of new excavations, survey work and high-resolution radiocarbon dating. This study attempts to summarise the earliest chapter in the prehistory of Cyprus, focusing on published and unpublished results from several new sites and surveys. I attempt to place these results in an interpretative context that focuses on early seafarers, fisher-foragers, and the people who were instrumental in establishing the earliest agricultural communities on the island of Cyprus. The pace of change in the study of both the Late Epipalaeolithic and earliest Neolithic is such that all current interpretations must remain open-ended. Nonetheless, these new streams of evidence demand an interim assessment, not least in order to integrate Cyprus into current interpretations of interaction amongst seafarers, fisher-foragers and early agriculturalists in the wider Mediterranean world.

Keywords

Cyprus Eastern Mediterranean Late Epipalaeolithic Early Aceramic Neolithic (Cypro-PPNA/B) Faunal extinctions Early seafaring Coastal adaptations Fisher-foragers Early agriculture 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Over the past decade, archaeologists working on Cyprus have produced an extraordinary amount of new and unprecedented information—based on new fieldwork and new research on individual classes of material—related to the earliest prehistory of the island. The complexity and breadth of materials and ideas I have attempted to summarise in this paper presented real challenges to me, not least because all these issues lie (or have lain) well beyond my own area of expertise. I am therefore deeply indebted to the following individuals, listed in alphabetical order, for their comments on earlier drafts of various sections, and/or for providing unpublished papers, lectures and very timely discussions related to this research. I relied heavily on their comments and criticisms, but the opinions expressed and the interpretations argued here remain my own responsibility, not theirs. Albert Ammerman (Colgate University); Paul Croft (Lemba Archaeological Project, Cyprus); Paula Louise Jones (Independent Scholar); Carole McCartney (Lemba Archaeological Research Centre); Sturt Manning (Cornell University); Edgar Peltenburg (School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Edinburgh University); Alan Simmons (University of Nevada, Las Vegas). I am also grateful for discussions and comments received following presentations of several earlier versions of this paper given in workshops, seminars or lectures at the following institutions: University College London, Cornell University (Mediterranean Colloquium, Dept. of Classics), 2008 Annual ASOR Meeting (Boston), University of California, Berkeley (Depts. of Anthropology, Near Eastern Studies, Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology), University of Glasgow (Dept. of Archaeology), and the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute, Nicosia. The perspectives provided by everyone from palaeontologists to classical archaeologists have, I hope, helped to sharpen the points I tried to make in this study.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cyprus American Archaeological Research InstituteNicosiaCyprus

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