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Cyprus at the End of the Late Bronze Age: Crisis and Colonization or Continuity and Hybridization?

Bird-faced, nude female figurine holding an infant
Bird-faced, nude female figurine holding an infant

Ancient cultural encounters in the Mediterranean were conditioned by everything from barter and exchange through migration and military engagement to colonization and conquest. Within the Mediterranean, island relations with overseas polities were also affected by factors such as insularity and connectivity. In this study, we reconsider earlier interpretations of cultural and social interactions on Cyprus at the end of the Late Bronze Age and beginning of the Iron Age, between ca. 1200 and 1000 B.C.E. Examining a wide range of material evidence (pottery, metalwork, ivory, architecture, coroplastic art), we revisit notions (the "colonization narrative") of a major migration of Aegean peoples to Cyprus during that time. We argue that the material culture of 12th–11th-century B.C.E. Cyprus reflects an amalgamation of Cypriot, Aegean, and even Levantine trends and, along with new mortuary traditions, may be seen as representative of a new elite identity emerging on Cyprus at this time. Neither colonists nor conquerors, these newcomers to Cyprus—alongside indigenous Cypriots—established new social identities as a result of cultural encounters and mixings here defined as aspects of hybridization.


DOI: 10.3764/aja.112.4.659

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