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Cyprus History

Cyprus in Chalcolitic Age

Cyprus Chalcolitic Age statue The period of some 1,500 years from about 4,000 to 2,500 B.C. witnessed unprecedented developments in the history of Cyprus. There is clear evidence for a significant growth in population and the emergence of social ranking.

Copper was used for the first time on the island whose later prosperity and very name were to become synonymous with that enviable resource. Metallurgy and social hierarchies have often brought conflict with them, yet fortifications and weaponry were entirely lacking in this period. 

Throughout the island, settlements of varied size, none of which could be classed as urban centres, consisted of novel circular buildings that strike one as anachronistic insofar as there had been a tendency to rectangularity in the preceding Neolithic period. Once established, this circular architecture remained the norm for over a millennium. Amidst these innovating and conserving tendencies there arose highly distinctive sculptural traditions that mark the zenith of artistic achievement in Cyprus before the Bronze Age. 

Cyprus Chalcolitic Age statue Despite the evidence for occasional overseas contacts, the islands flourishing Erimi Culture, so named after a type-size near the south coast, remained essentially unaffected by foreign influence. Recent research has demonstrated that the conventional division of this lengthy epoch into periods known as Chalcolitic I and II is no longer capable of satisfactorily encompassing all the evidence, and hence some modification is called for. In particular, we need to take into account the discovery of a formative stage (which would only be vaguely discerned at the key site of Erimi) and much better defined post-Erimi stage. So distinctive are these episodes that, without wishing unduly to separate what was essentially a cultural continuum, it will be useful to refine the traditional scheme proposed by P. Dikaios into Early, Middle, and Late Chalcolitic periods. Such a refinement, it should be emphasized, is necessary if we are to grasp the causes of change and evolution in what must be regarded as one of the most distinctive and artistically prolific prehistoric societies of the Mediterranean region. 

It should also be stressed that because so few sites of this neglected period have been investigated, any reconstruction must still be regarded as tentative.



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