Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, Vol 31, No 1 (2018)

Across the Surface of the Sea: Maritime Interaction in the Cycladic Early Bronze Age

Katherine Jarriel
Issued Date: 3 Jul 2018

Abstract


The creation of maritime network models has been a major focus of archaeological investigations of the Early Bronze Age in the Cyclades (Greece). While archaeologists acknowledge the importance of environmental variables for ancient seafaring, they have tended to treat the sea surface as an undifferentiated space onto which network models are imposed. The present study of Early Cycladic maritime connectivity incorporates the Aegean Sea as a varied and varying surface affected by seasonal and temporal changes. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, I create a cost-surface model of the ancient seascape that incorporates environmental, archaeological, and technological variables. The application of a cost-surface model enables the consideration of Early Cycladic settlements not merely as points in space but as embedded within a contiguous surface of land and sea. This study highlights the complex and variable conditions facing Bronze Age seafarers. The results of the study challenge the conceptualization of the Cyclades as a unified island group; while the central Cyclades exhibit high connectivity at the local scale, islands on the edges of the cluster may have relied on less-frequent travel at the regional scale, which nevertheless persisted throughout the Early Cycladic period. Variations in wind patterns due to seasonality and directionality indicate that most journeys would require an overnight stay at the destination, suggesting the importance of maintaining intercommunity ties.

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DOI: 10.1558/jma.36810

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