Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, Vol 31, No 2 (2018)

The Obsidian Evidence for Trans-maritime Interactions in the Eastern Mediterranean: The View from Aceramic Neolithic Cyprus

Theodora Moutsiou
Issued Date: 4 Feb 2019

Abstract


This study presents an overview of obsidian use from archaeological sites located on the island of Cyprus and spanning the period broadly defined as the Aceramic Neolithic (ca. 8900-5200 Cal bc). Diachronic changes in the use of this exotic raw material are investigated through the study of the quantities, general typo-technological characteristics and context reflected in the obsidian assemblages. Traditionally, Cyprus has been regarded as a marginal and isolated region within the eastern Mediterranean until the appearance of copper metallurgy. However, the presence of artefacts made of obsidian from multiple sources located at least a few hundred kilometres distant suggests that the island's inhabitants during the Early Holocene engaged in an active social landscape both on the island and between the island and its neighbouring mainland. By using obsidian as a proxy for social communication, this study discusses the movement of obsidian objects between people, places and groups in the early prehistory of the eastern Mediterranean, and the social mechanisms of interaction between islands and mainlands at a time of change for the wider Mediterranean world.

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DOI: 10.1558/jma.38084

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