Social complexity and ceramic technology on late Bronze age Cyprus : the new evidence from Enkomi
Crewe, Lindy Anne
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Utilising previously unpublished ceramic evidence from the important Late Cypriot settlement of Enkomi, this thesis focuses on the impact on Cypriot social organisation of increased involvement with the complex societies of the eastern Mediterranean at the beginning of the Late Cypriot period, c. 1650 BCE. The main focus is on one aspect of the material culture: the first appearances of wheelmade pottery and the relationship of the wheelmade ceramics to the remainder of the assemblage. The introduction of wheelmade pottery has long been seen as a component of the 'social complexity package' and considered to be indicative of highly complex societies, along with full-time specialisation and mass production. The ceramic and settlement evidence from Enkomi is addressed in detail to evaluate the degree of social complexity present for the initial stages of settlement transformation on Cyprus from MCIII-LCIIB, prior to the appearance of urban centres during LCIIC. The extent of excavation at Enkomi, compared to other sites of the period, and the wealth of finds from both mortuary and settlement contexts has led to assumptions about the site's relative importance to the processes of change occurring on Cyprus. The notion of Enkomi as a pre-eminent town or as an archaic state is questioned in relation to the evidence from other settlements. The thesis is divided into four parts. Part 1 discusses the theoretical background for social complexity and outlines the explanatory models which have been developed for the Late Cypriot. I address the importance of trade, and briefly outline the modes of contact and social organisation in the eastern Mediterranean region in order to provide a framework for the interaction of Cyprus within this sphere. I also discuss the significance that has been placed on the appearance of wheel made ceramics in archaeological assemblages. The identification of wheel made ceramics is more complex than is often assumed and an important distinction should be made between pottery with the superficial appearance of being wheelmade and pottery that is actually wheelmade. Part 2 assesses the evidence of ceramics and settlement from other early LC sites in order to investigate whether Enkomi may be considered to have played a dominant role on the island in terms of site hierarchy or control over resources. A brief summary of the evidence of the ceramic and settlement evidence for the EC-MC and the LCllC-lllA periods is provided for comparative purposes. In Part 3 the Enkomi settlement and ceramic evidence is considered in detail. The combined evidence indicates a more complex sequence of construction, occupation and abandonment than has been assumed. Additionally, the adoption of wheelmade pottery is found to be a sporadic and gradual process, with the handmade and wheelmade versions of the ceramic wares manufactured concurrently from LCl-LCIIB. The conclusions reached are presented in Part 4. The processes by which Cyprus came to play an important role within the trading networks of the Late Bronze Age are more complex and gradual than generally acknowledged. A combination of settlement and ceramic evidence indicates that social organisation during LCI remained small-scale with regional traditions persisting and limited influence between the emergent polities on the island. During LCllA-B, the degree of intra-island contacts increased and a uniform material culture is adopted, developing into a series of highly structured urban polities by LCIIC. It does not appear likely that any site or region exercised islandwide control during LCI and the autonomous polities of LCIIC therefore represent a continuation of the social organisation from the preceding periods, rather than a devolution of centralised control.