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Cypriot Cultural Details: Proceedings of the 10th Postgraduate Cypriot Archaeology Conference

July 2017 (121.3)

Book Review

Cypriot Cultural Details: Proceedings of the 10th Postgraduate Cypriot Archaeology Conference

Edited by Iosif Hadjikyriakos and Mia Gaia Trentin. Pp. vii + 224, figs. 106, tables 12. Oxbow Books, Oxford 2015. $66. ISBN 978-1-78570-066-8 (paper).

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This handsome volume published by Oxbow Books is the proceedings of the Postgraduate Cypriot Archaeology (POCA) Conference at the Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice, in October 2010, the 10th such meeting held.

POCA is an international forum for postgraduates and young scholars of Cypriot archaeology and related subjects, with the noble aim of providing an opportunity for the developing research community to present their work, exchange new ideas, and meet in an informal context. The very publication of such a volume is to be commended as a means for enabling early-career researchers a format in which to present their work to a wider audience. The success of the series of conferences is demonstrated by the fact that there have been five subsequent meetings. The growth during the series of conferences from sessions focused solely on Cypriot archaeology to a broader study of many historical activities on the island was reflected in the 10th incarnation, with papers by archaeologists, art historians, anthropologists, and historians of modern eras as well as antiquities. Understandably, the Venetian occupation of the island received considerable attention in a number of papers.

As editors Hadjikyriakos and Trentin write in their foreword, the hosting of this event in Venice in 2010 was specially fortuitous, as Cyprus is closely linked historically with the city, and, specifically, the conference celebrated the 500th anniversary of the death of Caterina Cornaro, the last queen of Cyprus, who abdicated the administration of the island to Venice in 1489. The range of presenters also demonstrates the international appeal of Cypriot studies; not only did Cypriot students give papers but so also did young researchers from Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Sweden, the United States, and Belgium.

The conference papers are organized into four sections to focus on four key themes: “Production, Trade and Identity,” “Artifacts and Decorations,” “Landscape and Urban Organization,” and “Cypriot Society.” Thirty papers were presented in Venice; this volume, its editors say in the preface, is intended to be a summary of those three days, with the publication of 12 contributions ambitiously representing all eras and areas.

The section “Production, Trade and Identity” covers some of the key interests of Cypriot studies. The first paper, by Gonzato, provides an overview of the evidence for textile production through spindle whorls and other archaeological material excavated at Bronze Age Pyrgos-Mavrorachi. Paule’s paper aims to examine cultural interconnectivity between Cyprus and Greece in the Early Iron Age, focusing on trade in jewelry. Michail’s interesting paper on the neglected study of engravings in the form of ships from the Late Bronze Age to the Ottoman empire highlights the impact maritime life had on all who lived in island communities like Cyprus. The two papers grouped under “Artifacts and Decorations” are Caloi’s review of the palm tree in cylinder seals and other Late Bronze Age figurative art on the island and Ellina’s proposal for the development of a database of Early and Middle Bronze Age bone artifacts with context for systematic functional analysis.

In recent decades, a growth in landscape archaeology and an interest in urban spaces on the island has developed at a pace commensurate with the archaeology of other Mediterranean localities. Three papers appear in the “Landscape and Urban Organization” section. In the first, Bombardieri, Chelazzi, and Amadio examine water procurement and consumption, an issue affecting all urban and industrial activity on the island. They present scientific analysis of pithoi and a survey of water basins and flow channels to argue for a complex hydrologic system of water acquisition and control for the process of textile manufacture at Middle Bronze Age Erimi-Laonin tou Porakou. Vitas’ fascinating paper raises some new thoughts on the topography of Hellenistic Salamis, although, as he laments, the impossibility of archaeological work in the north of the island means that the city’s significance is often relegated now. Trèlat’s paper on Nicosia between the 13th and 16th centuries notes urban expansion and contraction and parallels with contemporary western European cities.

The “Cypriot Society” section includes four papers. Cannavò’s historiography of Iron Age Cyprus from W.H. Engel to Eduard Meyer to Einar Gjerstad explores the significance of colonial and national ideologies on scholarship on Cyprus kingdom-states. Vernet explores the cult of Apollo on the island, focusing on the evolution of the Cypriot form of Apollo, whose association with natural fertility explains his popularity in Hellenistic Cyprus. Korrè and Hadjikyriakos, in their respective papers, examine Venetian Cyprus, looking at the social gap between rural populations and the Venetian administrative elite and at the Venetian fabric trade in the 18th century.

As always with this type of volume, covering such a wide range of topics and with such a broad chronology, individual papers can be hit-and-miss, and the reader may not find interest in every article in the volume. However, as a presentation of recent postgraduate research into the archaeology and history of the island, this work demonstrates that the future of Cypriot archaeology is in safe hands with many bright young researchers asking some very interesting questions.

Craig Barker
Sydney University Museums
University of Sydney

Book Review of Cypriot Cultural Details: Proceedings of the 10th Post Graduate Cypriot Archaeology Conference, edited by Iosif Hadjikyriakos and Mia Gaia Trentin

Reviewed by Craig Barker

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 121, No. 3 (July 2017)

Published online at

DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1213.Barker

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