Chronology, topography and social change: a multi-linear perspective on the Chalcolithic to Bronze Age transition in Cyprus
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Theories of socio-cultural change regarding the transition from the Chalcolithic to the Bronze Age in Cyprus have since the nascence of prehistoric archaeology on the island been the subject of lively debate between archaeologists who argue for internal versus external evolution processes. Yet, despite all efforts, a coherent model explaining the evident material culture differences between the two epochs remains elusive, an indication that the current polarization of theories masks inherent complexities of the archaeological record. Moving beyond the internal/external dichotomy, the present thesis argues for one such explanatory model and approaches this notable transition from three distinct and less explored aspects, namely chronology, pottery analysis and topography. Starting with chronology, the thesis assesses previous chronological schemata, examines issues of methodology, performs an in-depth data quality analysis, and, on the basis of the creative dialogue between absolute and relative dating data, proposes a novel chronology for the island. This chronology transcends linearity by adopting cultural period overlaps and differential regional adoption of technologies. Moving to spatial matters, the study disentangles space-time systematics for sites dating from the Middle Chalcolithic to the Philia Phase. In effect, it establishes a ceramic typology for the Chalcolithic that is applicable to the entire island; clarifies and records in a custom-made recording system, dubbed CARMA (Cyprus ARchaeological MAterials Relational Database System), the research history and material assemblages of each site; situates sites in the physical landscape of Cyprus and performs socio-spatial analyses, where the results of pottery analysis are interwoven with the spatial relationships between sites. The last analysis provides positive evidence for cultural uniformity in the Middle Chalcolithic, for the emergence of regional cultures in the Late Chalcolithic and the abandonment of settlements at the beginning of the Philia Phase, and for the co-existence of spatially distinct cultures during the Philia Phase. Lastly, the results of the chronology and spatial studies inform the data synthesis in the final section, where a different narrative of socio-cultural change is developed. This argues for the emergence of divergences already in the Late Chalcolithic, for the co-existence and uneven bi-directional interaction of indigenous and foreign populations during the Philia Phase, and for the development of regionalism in the Early Bronze Age as a result of variable adoption of technologies, entanglement and resistance to cultural identity assimilation.