The colonization of Cyprus

Agro-pastoralist colonization of Cyprus in the 10th millennium BP: initial assessments.

A startling variety of new evidence from Cyprus demonstrates that the introduction of the Neolithic occurred in the 10th millennium BP, over a millennium earlier than often assumed in studies of Mediterranean island colonizations (e.g. Stanley Price 1977; Cherry 1990). On the basis of evidence summarized below, we propose that the introduction of agro-pastoralism was by migration rather than a result of adaptations by indigenous foragers. The process does not fit the wave of advance model used to account for the spread of farming in Europe (Ammerman & Cavalli-Sforza 1984), nor its modification, jump dispersal (Van Andel & Runnels 1995), but is the outcome of regional environmental change. All dates in this paper are uncalibrated BP

I know that this is a fascinating article but I have a screaming headache and will read it tomorrow. these are the sites that show imported and therefore domesticated cattle in Cyprus at about 10,500 BP, along with goats and sheep.

Along the same lines is this pdf, The Earliest Prehistory of Cyprus, which has other information on the sites. Again, one for tomorrow.

5 responses to “The colonization of Cyprus

  1. “There are no signs of restructuring by putative indigenes to suit their own ideology”.

    Who were these ‘indigenes’ and when did they arrive on the island? As far as I know Cyprus has never been connected to the mainland so they must have arrived by boat. The answer to my questions may tell us when boats were first introduced to the Mediterranean. Animal extinctions on Cyprus would also help date the first arrival.

  2. Thanks, interesting.

    Migration to Mediterranean islands, therefore, was not part of an inevitable expansive disposition from the early PPN but was conditioned by local circumstances. What links the Cypriot and Cretan examples is the migration of farmers to essentially uninhabited islands. In the western Mediterranean, there was greater interaction with indigenous Mesolithic islanders.

    Hmm. I am unaware of “mesolithic islanders” in the Western Mediterranean, exception made of Sicily. I thought that Sardinia, Corsica and the Baleares were not colonized until Cardium Pottery Culture (exception made of some “shipwreck” antecedent in Corsica apparently). Do you know something that can mean otherwise?

  3. Who were these ‘indigenes’ and when did they arrive on the island? As far as I know Cyprus has never been connected to the mainland so they must have arrived by boat.

    If you read the papers, Terry, they mention Epipaleolithic “visitors”, not apparently colonists. And sure: they must have known the boat.

    The answer to my questions may tell us when boats were first introduced to the Mediterranean.

    “Boat” is a wide concept, from a rustic raft to a modern nuclear warship. I can tell you with almost 100% certainty that H. erectus used some type of “boat” or raft to reach Iberia from North Africa (while the main wave arrived via west Asia there’s evidence that there was a smaller migration into Iberia crossing the Gibraltar Strait, then much narrower but still needing some sort of boat to be crossed).

    So guess we can talk of “boats” in the Mediterranean since at least 600,000 years ago, long before the formation of our species.

    Nevertheless the crossing to Cyprus does suppose some sort of increased mariner ability, maybe the first sails in the area? In any case, soon later, the Cardium Pottery peoples were certainly in posession of high seas navigation abilities has has been solidly demontrated by the fossil record (fish remains especifically). A little later we find a peat-preserved longboat in Denmark.

  4. “the Cardium Pottery peoples were certainly in posession of high seas navigation abilities”.

    Obviously. But that was more recent than the period under discussion here. And is the evidence for H. erectus having crossed Gibraltar strait unequivocal?

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