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A. Sampson & S. Katsarou, Cyprus, Aegean and the Near East During the PPN, Lithics

A. Sampson & S. Katsarou, Cyprus, Aegean and the Near East During the PPN, Lithics

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Published by: ArchaeoinAction on Oct 15, 2010
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hunter-gatherers did when confronted with boatloads ofPPN colonists, if that were indeed the case. Were thesenew people, artifacts and technologies, animals, and ideaswelcomed with open arms? Or was there a great deal ofskepticism, humoring, and even downright hostility?What filtering effects did the locals exact on what ele-ments were meaningful to them, and what kinds of syn-cretism were developed in those areas where assimila-tion was undertaken?Fundamentally, we are at a loss in understanding thenature of contact between Cypriot populations and main-land populations simply because they are invisible onthe map. We have little idea (if any) of the sea-faringtendencies and skills of the island population (who cer-tainly must have been familiar with the rougher parts ofsea activities), and we are completely
in the dark con-cerning the coastal skills of mainland PPN groups, nomatter what part of the Mediterranean coast we mightmention. Littoral orientations are most likely to be foundmost intensively along PPN shorelines, but it is not clearwhere those 10th and 1 th millennium cal BP beacheswere: PPNC Atlit Yam, south of Haifa, lies 10-12 mbelow modem sea level (Galili
1993), and PotteryNeolithic sites along the beach at nearby Newe Yam arealso submerged. It would perhaps be profitable to inves-tigate whether, and to what degrees, coastal subsidencein this tectonically active coastline (from Cilicia to Gaza,and all around the island of Cyprus) may have occurred,and how the relationship of elevation and post-glacialrise in sea level may have played out. Was there, possi-bly, an extensive littoral PPN and PN adaptation, forwhich we have only the Atlit and Newe Yam evidence?The close relationship of shoreline residents and theirfamiliarity with the sea would go a long way to explain-ing the success of what must have been repeated voy-ages in both directions, and it raises the question if thedirection of Neolithization was necessarily instigated bysailing groups leaving the mainland for the island; couldthe direction have been reversed, with sailors from Cypruspicking and choosing what they wanted to bring backwith them?If there were marine-oriented groups on both the islandand the mainland coasts, the exchange from one to theother may reveal that "cultural filter" in operation shouldany submerged settlements be discovered from the appro-priate time. Such evidence would clarify the immigra-tionist, indigenist, and integrationist models thatPeltenburg has offered, and it would add a new dimen-sion to understanding Neolithization processes all throughthe Near East. While this might seem speculative, theAtlit Yam evidence argues that more intensive sea floorinvestigations along both the mainland and the easternparts of the Cypriot shores might be successful in resolv-ing some of the issues currently facing us in this part ofCyprus' prehistory.
Galili E., Weinstein-Evron M., Hershkovitz
Gopher A., Kislev
Kolska-Horwitz L.
Atlit-Yam: A Prehistoric Site on the Sea Floor
theIsraeli Coast.
Journal of Field Archaeology
Aegean,andNearEastDuring thePPN
Athens<stelIa@ac@i.gr>The latest discoveries in Cyprus over the past severalyears not only prove that the dates from the island gofurther back than previously believed, but they alsoemphasize the importance of the Mediterranean islandsin ideological terms to peoples on the mainland. It isnow confirmed that a phase contemporaneous to thePPNA took place in Cyprus, even though it seems to bemore primitive than the Syro-Palestinian version, and amore recent phase, evident in the sites of Shillourokambos(Guilaine and Briois 200 1) and Milouthkia (Peltenburg2003), corresponds to an early stage of the PPNB.Furthermore, impressive discoveries about the EarlyHolocene took place not only in Cyprus, but also in theAegean during the1990s, and they have yielded newevidence that superseded long-held views about the totalabsence of inhabitants on the islands. New informationverifies that the Aegean islands were not only inhabitedin pre-Neolithic times (Woodman 1990), but they alsoconstituted
even though bare today
omplete ecosys-tems that could provide for adequate nutrition.More specifically, two research programs that wereinitiated simultaneously in the early 1990s yielded the
new information on the Aegean area; the first was under-taken at the Cyclops Cave on Youra Island in the NorthSporades in the northern Aegean, and the second on theCycladic island of Kythnos.In the Cyclops Cave (Sampson 1998; Sampson et
1998) consecutive undisturbed layers of habitation fromthe Early Holocene were unearthed, up to approximate-ly 3 m in thickness, under Neolithic deposits. The lithictypes comprise flakes, crescents and trapezoidalmicroliths from flint and obsidian. Of special interest isa collection of bone fish hooks. Finally, the food rem-nants contain plenty of shells and fish remains, bones ofbirds and wild animals, as well as suids and caprineswith signs of early domestication (Trantalidou 2003).What is assumed from the overall study is that the cavewas used by a small group of active people with advancedknowledge in seafaring. As the marine environment ofthe islands in the region is in the centre of the Aegean,and this would necessarily mean deep waters, difficult searoutes and rough weather, despite the lower sea level atthe time. These people had probably developed an exten-sive range of contacts in the area, as observed in theirfamiliarity to the networks of obsidian transportationand know-how from Milos Island, and the typologicalaffinities between the Youra microliths and similar toolsfrom caves in southeastern Turkey (Yalcinkaya 1995;Sampson et
1998). The association of this group ofpeople to the Asia Minor side of the Aegean is of par-ticular importance, due to the observation that the inhab-itants of Youra, although partly based on fishing andhunting as a means of obtaining nutrition, were alreadyinvolved in domesticating pigs and caprines. This prac-tice was most likely carried out either in a pre-coloniz-ing stage or through contacts with inhabitants of the AsiaMinor coast while people still lived on Youra.Human presence on Youra covers a long period of theHolocene, from the beginning of 9th millennium cal BCuntil the middle of 7th millennium cal. BC and typo-logically belongs to the Mesolithic. Nevertheless, thecharacteristic of early domestication on Youra, alreadypresent in the lower layers, adds a pre-ceramic charac-ter to the site and thus could place it as a marginal pointin the spheres of PPNA and PPNB, which chiefly pertainto the areas of Upper Euphrates and Syro-Palestine.Cyprus, thus, enlarges the area geographically, and theAegean even more, even though the gap created by theabsence of analogous sites in western Anatolia has notbeen bridged so far.Within this area, Youra offers a number of similaritiesto the nuclear zone (Upper Euphrates and Syro-Palestine),despite the geographical distance and the differencesbetween them regarding the complexity of symbolismin Asian sites and the periphery (Cyprus). Concerningthe nuclear zone, the presence of early domesticatedsuids at Youra shares common features with the con-temporary pig sites in the Upper Euphrates area in thefrontiers between Turkey and Syria, such asHallan Cemi(Vigne and Buitenhuis 1999), where pigs
and notcaprines
are considered to be the first and oldest domes-ticated animal. On the other hand, the presence of recent-ly domesticated goats in Cyclops Cave during the Lowerand Upper Neolithic has equivalents in modern sites inthe northern Levant, where goat domestication had justbegun.Additionally, the Cyclops Cave clearly shares com-mon characteristics with theAkrotiri phase of Cyprus,even though the latter is slightly earlier, at the border ofthe Epipalaeolithic period. The affinities between CyclopsCave and Aetokremnos (Simmons et
1999) are evi-dent as far as the type of the location (i.e., cave) and thecriteria of their selection in relation to the marine ecosys-tem (i.e., on steep seashores) are concerned, as well asthe contact with the 'exterior' aspect of the island (e.g.,view, maritime character of the location) and the 'inte-rior' (e.g., hunting areas, springs). But what is promi-nently common between the two sites is the tendencytowards the same survival means: namely, the inhabi-tants of both sites evidently employed efficient food-gathering and hunting techniques (Katsarou 200 1). InYoura they specialized in fishing, while in Aetokremnosin the hunting of endemic pigmy mammals. Both groupsseem to make use of their sites as a central station thatprobably belonged to a larger network of locations, usedperiodically by hunters, who would move and stay moreor less permanently in each area according to its pecu-liarities. The expertise in hunting in both sites is alsoconfirmed by the strong localized idiosyncrasies, the ten-dency towards microlithic types, and the limited vari-ability in tools that are noted in the areas. Furthermore,hunting is considered to be a widespread common sur-vival method in the wider area of theEpipalaeolithiclMesolithic and the PPNA. Finally, the domestication ofanimals, at a very early stage, is present in both sites
pigs are present also in Aetokremnos, but they representa lower rank source of food.The site of Maroulas in Kythnos island in the Aegean(Sampson et
2002) comprises a settlement of roundhuts and burials that date from the same period as Youra(from 9th to 7th mill. cal BC) and presents early domes-tication of suids. Franchthi Cave in the eastern part ofGreek mainland (PerlBs 1987) belongs to the same peri-od, but it does not offer signs of early domestication.The lithic industry of Maroulas provides evidence forthe site's Mesolithic character, already known from thecase of Youra. The two sites seem to have more featuresin common, such as the coastal and dominating location,the marine character, and the huntinglfood-gatheringeconomy that is chiefly attracted to sea resources.Maroulas, however, offers substantiation for the earlydomestication and new typological/cultural information,unparalleled in the Greek region, such as round or ellip-soid stone buildings, with pavements above burials.

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