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European Kingdoms

Early Cultures


Early Aceramic Neolithic (Cyprus)
c.8200 - 7000 BC

With the first true native culture to appear on Cyprus being the later Khirokitia culture (around 7000 BC), the Aceramic Neolithic on Cyprus differed greatly from other contemporary societies in Anatolia and the Levant (which was part of the Khiamian culture at this time), showing no signs of contact between the two. There was never a land bridge to connect Cyprus to the mainland, so all arrivals had to be by sea which tended to limit access.

Due to the insular and fragile environment of an island like Cyprus, hunter-gather settlements could not have survived long term. Humans in this period probably only visited for selective periods before returning to the mainland. Following the Akrotiri phase, there is a gap of about a thousand years before the appearance of an aceramic Neolithic Farmer culture around 8200 BC (which was only discovered by archaeology in the early twenty-first century).

This new period is represented by negative architecture with pot holes and cuttings into the havara bedrock, as is attested at five sites, these being Parekklisha-Shillourokambos, Kissonerga-Mylouthkia, Kalavasos-Tenta (Level 5), Akanthou, and Asprokambos. These sites demonstrate a preoccupation with wells and cuttings into the bedrock to access underground water channels.

The material evidence has strong parallels with the Levant. Early farming communities migrated to Cyprus during this period and introduced domestic plants and animals (the discovery of a previously unknown farming site at Klimonas in 2012 further confirmed this).

A large amount of obsidian from these sites also suggests overseas contact, most likely with Anatolia. This would have been with people of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A, shortly prior to the explosion in Neolithic farmer migrations into Southern Europe via the Sesklo culture.

Overall, it seems that the Akrotiri culture saw hunter-gatherers visit briefly to exploit the island's resources while, after a gap of a millennium, the Early Aceramic Neolithic saw a period of initial permanent settlement on the island, from about 8500 BC following the end of the Near East's Khiamian culture.

Khirokitia inhabitation on Cyprus

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC, David W Anthony (Princeton University Press, 2009), from The Lost World of Old Europe The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC, Douglass Whitfield Bailey (Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, 2010), and from External Links: Cyprus Archaeological Sites (Cyprus Ministry of Culture & Sports), and Earliest Prehistory of Cyprus (Bryn Mawr College, an archaeology-led look at the early cultures on the island - dead link), and Ancient Origins, and Akrotiri (World Archaeology).)

c.8200 BC

The first settled village communities of the Early Aceramic Neolithic period start to appear, the island's first apparent human habitation since the Akrotiri hunter-gatherers had ceased their activities.

These early Neolithic Farmer settlers begin to build more sophisticated forms of shelter. This progression in the adaptation of habitation also requires advances in storage and food preparation. These advances will lead to the emergence of the Khirokitia culture within a millennium.

Coast of Cyprus
While the mountainous terrain may have been daunting to early visitors, the island would have provided fairly rich pickings in both pygmy game and Mediterranean fruits

c.7500 BC

The remains of an eight month-old cat are discovered by archaeologists in 2004, dated to this period. The cat had been buried alongside its human owner in a Neolithic burial site. This find pushes back the date for the beginnings of feline domestication considerably, and predates any such finds made in ancient Egypt.

c.7000 BC

The Southern European culture of Early Aceramic Neolithic Farmers on Cyprus now gives way to the emergence of the island's earliest solid culture in the form of the Khirokitia.

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