Figurine Makers of Prehistoric Cyprus: Settlement and Cemeteries at Souskiou [Hardback]

Edgar Peltenburg (Editor); Diane Bolger (Editor); Lindy Crewe (Editor)

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ISBN: 9781789250190 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2019 | Language: English 368p, H297 x W210 (mm)

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Figurine Makers of Prehistoric Cyprus


The Chalcolithic period in Cyprus has been known since Porphyrios Dikaios’ excavations at Erimi in the 1930s and through the appearance in the antiquities market of illicitly acquired anthropomorphic cruciform figures, often manufactured from picrolite, a soft blue-green stone. The excavations of the settlement and cemetery at Souskiou Laona reported on in this volume paint a very different picture of life on the island during the late 4th and early 3rd millennia BC. Burial practices at other known sites are generally single inhumations in intramural pit graves, only rarely equipped with artefacts. At Souskiou, multiple inhumations were interred in deep rock-cut tombs clustered in extra-mural cemeteries. Although the sites were also subjected to extensive looting, excavations have revealed complex multi-stage burial practices with arrangements of disarticulated and articulated burials accompanied by a rich variety of grave goods. Chief among these are a multitude of cruciform figurines and pendants. This unusual treatment of the dead, which has not been recorded elsewhere in Cyprus, shifts the focus from the individual to the communal, and provides evidence for significant changes involving kinship group links to common ancestors. Excavations at the Laona settlement have furnished evidence suggesting that it functioned as a specialised centre for the procurement and manufacture of picrolite during its early phase. The subsequent decline of picrolite production and the earliest known occurrence of new types of ornaments, such as faience beads and copper spiral pendants, attest to important changes involving the transformation of personal and social identities during the first centuries of the 3rd millennium BC, a topic that forms a central theme of this final report on the site.

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Plates
Abbreviations and special terms
1 Introduction (Edgar Peltenburg)
Part I Chronology and environment
2 Chronology (Charalambos Paraskeva)
3 The setting (Katleen Deckers and David Sewell)
4 Quaternary landscape evolution in the vicinity of Souskiou (John E. Dixon and Tim C. Kinnaird)
Part II Settlement: built and open environment
5 Site survey and surface collection (Andrew McCarthy)
6 Chalcolithic settlement on the Laona ridge (Edgar Peltenburg)
7 Geoarchaeological analyses of domestic space and building technologies (Matthew Dalton)
Part III Mortuary contexts
8 The cemetery (Lindy Crewe)
9 Human remains (Kirsi O. Lorentz)
Part IV Integrated studies
10 Chalcolithic pottery (Diane Bolger)
11 Figurines and figurative pendants (Elizabeth Goring)
12 Other body ornaments and objects (Edgar Peltenburg)
13 Picrolite: procurement, manufacture and use (Edgar Peltenburg)
14 The ground stone industry (John E. Dixon, Romesh Palakumbura and Edgar Peltenburg)
15 The chipped stone industry (Carole McCartney)
16 Chemical analyses of copper objects and faience beads using portable X-Ray Fluorescence (Vasiliki Kassianidou and Andreas Charalambos)
17 Animal remains and the bone and antler industry (Paul Croft)
18 The plant remains (Leilani Lucas)
19 Mollusca (Janet Ridout-Sharpe)
20 Periods III–VI (Peter Cosyns, Agata Dobosz, Lisa Graham and Edgar Peltenburg)
21 Ritual, identity and community at Souskiou: traditions and transformations (Diane Bolger, Lindy Crewe and Edgar Peltenburg)
List of References
Appendix A: Catalogue of registered objects (full version on ADS)
Appendix B: Objects from buildings, features and trenches

Reviews & Quotes

"This volume is a true guide to the publication of archaeological data, not only in the form of a standard framework focused on observations, high quality documentation and publication of the material in question. It lives up to its task of dealing with controversial topics such as local burial practices."
Fabian Heil
Gnomon (31/07/2023)

"[… a] dense but handsome volume that covers all aspects of the site, its setting, finds and significance (much supplementary data will be found online through the Archaeology Data Service). It is a fitting tribute to a much-valued colleague."
David Frankel
Antiquity (20/02/2020)

"[A] volume that will attract the interest of scholars working specifically on Chalcolithic Cyprus, but also of those working on contemporary periods in other areas of the eastern Mediterranean and Near East, as well as of researchers working at other parts of the world, in search for good practices for site excavation, the identification, documentation and study of archaeological materials derived from settlement and mortuary contexts, as well as integrative approaches for data and material contextualisation and archaeological interpretation."
Dr Maria Dikomitou-Eliadou
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society (09/10/2020)

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