This doctoral thesis examines the role of seafaring and coastal adaptations (modes of subsistence, settlement and economy) in the rise of social complexity in Cyprus from the Late Epipalaeolithic to the beginning of the Early Iron Age, ca. 11,000–1050 Cal BC. The study draws on five seasons of fieldwork on the maritime landscape of western Cyprus, including a case study of an underwater survey near the Late Bronze Age site at Kouklia Palaepaphos and the discovery of 120 stone anchors and line weights (Howitt-Marshall, 2012). The extended chronological framework, broadly couched between the dawn of agriculture and the aftermath of the ‘systems collapse’ of Late Bronze Age palatial centres throughout the eastern Mediterranean, aims to establish Cyprus within its broader, regional and temporal setting. This research, therefore, is rooted in the Braudelian approach to the longue durée of Mediterranean history and closely adheres to Horden and Purcell’s (2000) theme of (maritime) ‘connectivity’.
The evidence for seafaring and coastal adaptations is often overlooked in the study of the development of socio-political forms on early Cyprus. During the Late or Protohistoric Bronze Age (ProBA, ca. 1750/1700–1100 Cal BC), for example, the island is frequently referred to as a ‘crossroads of civilisations’, yet very little research has focussed on the development of maritime coastal communities or the role of seafaring during this period (cf. Howitt-Marshall, 2002, 2003; Knapp, 2014), save periodic references to Cypriot pottery on the Uluburun (Lambrou-Philipson, 1991: 14) or Point Iria (Lolos, 1995) shipwrecks, and the topographical typologies of Bronze Age harbours (e.g. Gifford, 1985; Blue, 1997).
By contrast, in earlier periods, from the end of the Late Aceramic Neolithic (Khirokitia phase) to the Late Copper Age (Chalcolithic), a period spanning approximately two and a half millennia, the island is widely assumed to have undergone social and cultural development in almost total isolation, and is often referred to as a ‘sequestered island society’ (Broodbank, 2010: 251, 255). During this time, there is very little evidence for external contact with the Levant or Anatolia, creating a degree of ‘insular idiosyncrasy’ in the archaeological record and a perceived indifference to alternative, comparatively more advanced technologies and modes of existence on the adjacent mainland (Broodbank, 2013:216).
In the last thirty years, there has been a significant number of small-scale underwater archaeological surveys along various sections of the Cypriot coastline (e.g. Giangrande et al., 1987; Leonard and Hohlfelder, 1993; Hohlfelder and Leonard, 1994; Hohlfelder, 1995a, 1995b; Leonard, 1995a, 1995b, 2005; Manning et al., 2002; Howitt-Marshall, 2002; 2003; 2012; Leidwanger, 2005a, 2005b; Leidwanger and Howitt-Marshall, 2006; 2008; Howitt- Marshall et al., 2016; Howitt-Marshall and Leidwanger, in press;). All have provided valuable insight into the longue durée of the island’s maritime past from the Bronze Age to the present; the location of shipwrecks and cargo scatters, anchorage sites, stone anchors, and so on. Very few, however, have attempted to develop a more holistic approach to the wider maritime cultural landscape, seafaring, marine subsistence, and archaeologies of maritime culture during the prehistoric and protohistoric periods (c.f. Howitt-Marshall, 2002, 2003; Knapp, 2014). The motivation for this study, therefore, is to engage the available evidence for seafaring and maritime lifeways from a range of archaeological contexts on the island, and develop a more holistic approach to the study of early Cypriot society in its broader Mediterranean, maritime context.