Abstract: Of Hippo Hunters, Neolithic Voyagers, and Early Cows: Early Seafaring and The Curious Case Of the First Cypriots


For many years, the Mediterranean island of Cyprus was considered a relatively insignificant outlier to the Neolithic Revolution.  Conventional wisdom was that the island was not occupied prior to ca. 7,000 B.C., relatively late in the mainland Pre-Pottery Neolithic.  The past two decades have radically challenged this perspective, however, asking questions relating to when humans first came to the island and what they did once they got there.  We now know that Cyprus was initially visited by Late Epipaleolithic peoples around 10,000 B.C. who may well have been responsible for the extinction of endemic pygmy hippopotami.  Furthermore, recent investigationsmake it clear the transmission of the “Neolithic Package” to the island was much earlier than previously believed.    These early voyagers were well-versed in sea-faring technology and set the stage for  permanent colonization.  We now know that Cypruswas part a complex and expanding Neolithic world much earlier than previously believed. 


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):

Ammerman, A., and Noller, J., New Light on Aetokremnos. World Archaeology:37:533–43, 2005

Simmons, Alan, Faunal Extinctions in an Island Society: Pygmy Hippopotamus Hunters of Cyprus. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York. 1999

Simmons, Alan, The Neolithic Revolution in the Near East: Transforming the Human Landscape. The University of Arizona Press, 2007

Simmons, Alan (senior author with R. Mandel), Not Such a New Light: A Response to Ammerman and Noller.  World Archaeology39:475-482, 2007

Simmons, Alan,  American Researchers and the Earliest Cypriots.  Near Eastern Archaeology 71:21-29, 2008

Steel, L., Cyprus Before History.  London:  Duckworth, 2004

Swiny, S. (ed.), The Earliest Prehistory of Cyprus: From Colonization to Exploitation. Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research, 2001

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