Introduction to the Bronze Age Archaeology of Cyprus.
by Robert S. Merrillees
This handbook is intended to serve as a general guide to the ecological, cultural and chronological aspects of Cypriote Bronze Age archaeology. It has sought not merely to give a descriptive account of and commentary on the island’s ancient environment, ceramic industry and relative and absolute dates but to set the process of reconstructing the past in its proper historical and methodological contexts. However hard archaeologists might strive for objectivity and infallibility in the task of recreating ancient civilisations, they are no less a product of their respective ages than the creators of the civilisations themselves, and hence prone to the prevailing political, intellectual, social and moral values and fashions of the day, The results of this are nicely reflected in the writings of successive generations of scholars, whose philosophical attitudes to the history of Cyprus have been coloured by various preconceptions or prejudices derived from contemporaneous thinking in the milieus to which they belonged.
By adopting a similar historiographical approach to the geographical setting of Bronze Age Cyprus and to the elaboration of the ceramic and chronological nomenclatures currently in use, it is possible not only to see these academic efforts in their true humanistic perspective but to assess, with the benefit of nearly a century’s experience and knowledge, the validity of the systems which are now taken largely for granted. In the absence of intelligible written records or graphic representations, which would enable a cross check to be made of deductions and impressions based on individual artefacts, there is, of course, no way in which the terminologies to which archaeologists are accustomed can be definitively proved or rejected. Since we do not know how the ancient Cypriotes themselves described their own pottery or measured the passage of time, our modern day titles serve as tools of analytical convenience and are subject to amendment or outright replacement. What, however, we can be reasonably sure of is that even if the ancient Cypriotes did not give their products or the time in which they lived generic names of the kind archaeologists of today have invented, they had some way of identifying and referring to both dimensions of their cultures.
Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology
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