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Pre-Pottery Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlements and subsistence economy

Kissonerga-Mylouthkia early PPNB wells

Kissonerga-Mylouthkia, Cyprus: investigation of subsistence economies

Kissonerga-Mylouthkia is located on the southwest coast of Cyprus. Under the auspices of Professor Eddie Peltenburg (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Paul Croft (Lemba Archaeological Research Centre) and with the support of the Cypriot Department of Antiquities, excavations in the environs of the modern village began in the 1970s and have continued to the present day.

Over the c. 40-year period of research evidence of extensive prehistoric settlements dating from the earliest aceramic Neolithic (Cypriot early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, Cypro-EPPNB: c. 8,200-8,600 cal BC) to the early Chalcolithic period (c. 3,600 cal BC) has been revealed.

Building developments in the area began shortly after the earliest excavations and continued thereafter, and so where there was once a small rural village there is now a complex of hotels linked by tarmac roads. Much of the recent rescue excavation has been done in advance of the construction of foundations for the high-rise buildings, but despite these difficult circumstances it has been possible to recover and record evidence that has significantly contributed to the understanding of the early prehistory of the island, and more specifically, the initial colonisation events by Neolithic farming communities in the 9th millennium BC.

Sue Colledge's recent research at Mylouthkia has focused on the analysis of archaeobotanical remains (e.g., charred plant macro-remains) recovered from the excavated Cypro-PPNB structures, including a remarkable series of water wells dug to depths of up to 11 meters, which are amongst the earliest wells known anywhere in the world. The most significant finds have been domestic cereal grains and chaff from the earliest aceramic Neolithic phase (Cypro-EPPNB) that suggest crops together with cultivation techniques were brought to the island shortly after farming evolved on the Levantine mainland. This has been crucial to our understanding of the directions and timing of the dispersal of the earliest domestic species (e.g., the founder crops) and has also had important implications for archaeobotanical research in regions bordering the Mediterranean, and beyond.

Sue's work continues as more wells are excavated and more charred remains are recovered. She is also supervising Leilani Lucas whose thesis ‘Economy and Interaction: Exploring Archaeobotanical Contributions in Prehistoric Cyprus’ includes a comparison of subsistence economies on the island from the aceramic Neolithic to early Bronze Age.


Related outputs

  • Lucas, L., (in prep) Economy and Interaction: Exploring Archaeobotanical Contributions in Prehistoric Cyprus. PhD thesis (UCL)
  • Peltenburg, E. et al. (in press) Excavations of Neolithic Kissonerga-Mylouthkia, 2000-2006. Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus.
  • Lucas, L., Colledge, S., Simmons, A., Fuller, D. 2012. Crop introduction and accelerated island evolution: archaeobotanical evidence from ‘Ais Yiorkis and Pre-Pottery Neolithic Cyprus. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 21(2): 117-129
  • Colledge, S. and Conolly, J. 2007. A review and synthesis of the evidence for the origins of farming on Cyprus and Crete. In S. Colledge and J. Conolly (eds) The Origins and Spread of Domestic Crops in Southwest Asia and Europe. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, California, 53-74.
  • Colledge, S. 2003. Chapter 21: The charred plant remains in three of the pits. In E. Peltenburg (ed), The Colonisation and Settlement of Cyprus. Investigations at Kissonerga-Mylouthkia 1976-1996. Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology LXX:4, Paul Åströms förlag, Sävedalen, 239-245.
  • Peltenburg, E., Colledge, S., Croft, P., Jackson, A., McCartney, C. and Murray, M.A. 2001. Neolithic dispersals from the Levantine Corridor: a Mediterranean perspective. Levant 33, 35-64.
  • Peltenburg, E., Colledge, S., Croft, P., Jackson, A., McCartney, C. and Murray, M.A. 2000. Agro-pastoralist colonisation of Cyprus in the 10th millennium BP: initial assessments. Antiquity 74, 844-853.

Funding

  • British Academy
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • Jenny S. Gordon Foundation
  • The Lemba Archaeological Research Centre

Project Leader:


Project Partners:

  • Eddie Peltenburg (University of Edinburgh)
  • Paul Croft (Lemba Archaeological Research Centre)
  • Mary Anne Murray (UCL; Director of Archaeological Science for Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA), Giza)
  • Leilani Lucas (PhD student, UCL)

Keywords:


Further information:


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