Lemba Archaeological Project. Vol. II.1A
Excavations at Kissonerga-Mosphilia, 1979-1992.
by Edgar J. Peltenburg et al.
The Lemba Archaeological Project (LAP) is a multi-site excavation and survey programme designed to investigate the prehistory of western Cyprus.
This is the third volume of final excavation reports. The first (LAP 1) was devoted to results from the 1976-83 excavations at Lemba-Lakkous. The second to appear was Lemba Archaeological Project II.2, A Ceremonial Area at Kissonerga. It provided a detailed assessment of remains of a public ceremony which involved the burial of an extraordinary array of objects in an open area of the Period 3B MChal settlement at Kissonerga-Mosphilia (hereafter Kissonerga). This volume contains reports on remaining discoveries from Kissonerga, the major site of the Lemba cluster in the Ktima Lowlands. It includes material recovered from annual surveys conducted on the site from 1976, sondages from 1979 and area excavations from 1982. It also refers to finds recovered by other workers where provenance is relatively well assured.
In 1977, attention was drawn to the large size, complexity and richness of the site as well as to plans for excavation within our overall project strategy. Accordingly, we initiated a programme of area excavation in 1982. Plans were rapidly modified to address the threat of expanding agriculture. As a consequence, operations on a larger scale were put in hand. Thanks to the Department of Antiquities, central Plots 157E and 158 were obtained and fenced, so reserving a critical area of the site for future work and allowing our excavations to be brought to a satisfactory completion. The programme was completed in 1992 after thirteen campaigns, some conducted in the same year.
Excavation of Kissonerga was carried out to fulfill project aims described in LAP 1, 1 -2. These have been refined with increased knowledge. For example, settlement shift and single period sites are no longer seen as absolutes in Cypriot prehistory. Lemba demonstrated how some sites were intermittently occupied over a long time, and our surveys of Kissonerga showed that a lengthy sequence existed there. Thus, it was hoped that Kissonerga might yield evidence for the elusive 'formative junctures' of the punctuated equilibrium model of Cypriot early history. There are currently two principal hypotheses for settlement movement and abiding small size, ecological (Held, Kingsnorth) and socio-political (Peltenburg). Both eschew neo-evolutionary paradigms and they are probably complementary.
With a more refined ceramic chronology at our disposal, it was felt that components of clusters of prehistoric sites might not all be diachronic, the result of settlement drift, but that some might be contemporary and part of an hierarchical settlement pattern. The problem of why larger sites did not evolve into major population aggregates, and hence why the trajectory of Cypriot prehistory is so different from that on the adjacent mainland, or on Crete, still remains. With a size of some 12 ha, Kissonerga clearly provided the opportunity to investigate the characteristics of a major settlement within a cluster that included small contemporary 'satellites', to assess why inhabitants of such a major site eschewed alternative evolutionary paths and the nature of site hierarchies in small scale societies.
In practical terms, survey led us to believe that excavations at Kissonerga would disclose an important sequence of settlement plans with associated material culture generally of a higher standard than that known from contemporary Lemba and relatively deep stratigraphy rather than the shallow deposits of Lemba.
Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology