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European Kingdoms

Early Cultures


Late Bronze Age (Cyprus)
c.1600 - 1050 BC

The Late Bronze evolved out of the middle Bronze Age Philia culture on Cyprus. It witnessed the end of Minoan influence on the island and the beginning of Indo-European Mycenaean (Achaean) influence. These South-West Indo-Europeans in Europe emerged into the archaeological record rather suddenly. Descending out of the Balkans, they can be noted in Greece with the appearance of shaft grave royal burials around 1650 BC.

Whilst the first city states had emerged by 1600 BC (the same time at which Mycenaean culture also appears on Cyprus), the Mycenaeans did not form a single nation state. Instead they banded their independent city states together under one leader in times of trouble. Nothing is recorded of their existence in writing until the time of the Trojan War, around the start of the twelfth century BC, and even that was only written down many centuries later.

The later part of the period was an intensely disturbed one. It saw disruption by the Hyksos, who had commanded lower Egypt from the beginning of the period. It seems likely that the Hyksos launched raids against Cyprus from time to time. From about 1400 BC, the Mycenaeans were freed from domination by the Minoans and they flourished, making much of the eastern Mediterranean a Mycenaean sea. They arrived on Cyprus probably as merchants, introducing their culture and gradually displacing Minoan culture.

Climate change and related drought at the end of the thirteenth century BC saw city states and empires fall on the mainland, the most notable casualty being the Hittites. During the twelfth and eleventh centuries BC, several waves of Achaean Greeks settled Cyprus, bringing with them early Greek language, religion, and customs.

These migrants were escaping a Greece which was gradually being overrun by Doric invaders who eclipsed the Mycenaeans in their homeland. On Cyprus, and on many other islands in the eastern Mediterranean, they built new cities, such as Kition, Kourion, Paphos, and Salamis. The island was now an Hellenic domain, and for much of the period it was dominated by the island kingdom of Alashiya.

Egtved girl of the Bronze Age

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Archaeology in Greece, 1933-34, H G G Payne (The Journal of Hellenic Studies, The Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, 1934), from Ancient Israel and Its Neighbours: Interaction and Counteraction. Collected Essays Vol 1, Nadav Na'aman, from The Cambridge Ancient History, edited by I E S Edwards, 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.)

c.1600 BC

The Late Bronze Age evolves out of the middle Bronze Age Philia culture on Cyprus. Minoan influence on the island is replaced by Mycenaean (Achaean) influence.

Mycenaean cups
Mycenaean one-handled cups such as these examples appeared on Cyprus during the Late Bronze Age, when Achaean culture dominated parts of the eastern Mediterranean

1580 BC

Egypt is freed from Hyksos rule by Pharaoh Kamose. Nubia is soon regained, and normal trade relations are subsequently restored between North Africa and Cyprus of the immediate pre-Alashiya period. Larger trading centres begin to flourish on Cyprus, most notably at Enkomi, immediately to the north-west of the modern port of Famagusta.

1450 BC

Egypt takes control of Cyprus during the reign of Thutmose III, and the pharaoh imposes a land tax. It is around this time that the island's first definitive kingdom emerges, perhaps as an Egyptian sub-state or as a reaction against Egyptian dominance.

Any potential Egyptian dominance is brief, however, and the island soon regains its independence. The Cypriot Bronze Age continues with the island being dominated by the city state kingdom of Alashiya.

Tushratta tablet to Amenhotep III
The clay which was used to make tablets for those of the Amarna letters which were sent from Alashiya contained clay which can be matched closely to deposits on Cyprus

c.1050 BC

The Bronze Age on early Cyprus has largely been led by the city state of Alashiya. That appears to fade around this time, leaving no immediate clear successor, but soon witnessing the advent of Iron Age Cyprus.

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