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European Kingdoms

Early Cultures


Philia Culture (Early & Middle Bronze Age) (Cyprus)
c.2500 - 1600 BC

The Philia culture was representative of a new phase of settlement on Cyprus, probably that of Indo-European arrivals via Anatolia. From about 2800 BC bronze began to replace Erimi culture copper and new burial practices appeared. These changes heralded the start of the early Bronze Age, which lasted between 2500-1900 BC. Trade links were set up, and traders found important sources of copper on the island.

Prospectors from Anatolia arrived from around 2400 BC, possibly related to the regionally-dominant Hatti or, more probably, being southern coastal natives of what would become Pamphylia, theoretically migrating outwards in the face of increasing Luwian arrivals. They brought with them new methods of house building, cooking, spinning, and weaving.

Settling on Cyprus, they introduced cattle and the ox-drawn plough, creating an agricultural revolution. Ploughing brought new ground into use, which led to a boom in food production and a population which increased rapidly. The new arrivals settled across the island, especially around the copper-rich foothills of the Troodos Mountains, and gradually blended into the existing population.

MapThe middle Bronze Age on Cyprus lasted between 1900-1600 BC and produced several styles of pottery. Bronze-work was advanced and trade flourished between the island and the Hittites in Anatolia, Minoan Crete, Egypt, and the city states of Syria (see map link, right, for locations).

Cyprus was a vital source of copper for all of the major states of this period, and the island's culture flourished as a result of the rich trade. It is probably these extensive trade links which account for the foundation of new settlements on the east of the island. These gradually developed into early cities which acted as major trade hubs.

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), 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.2500 BC

Having been under pressure for around three centuries, the Erimi culture of Chalcolithic Cyprus is now superseded in its entirety by the Bronze Age Philia culture as new, more advanced people seemingly arrive on the island who probably subjugate the natives.

Karmi necropolis
The necropolis at Karmi shows Bronze Age Cyprus at the height of its fortunes, with more powerful and rewarding international trade routes than ever before

c.1900 BC

The 'Necropolis of Karmi', in Kyrenia in northern Cyprus, is probably brought into use from around this point and perhaps remains so for the remainder of the middle Bronze Age. Archaeologists find a number of rich chamber tombs, and a crude relief of a human figure survives on an access wall, making it the earliest relief of a human figure to be discovered to date on the island.

c.1600 BC

Mycenaean culture appears on Cyprus, gradually displacing any Minoan cultural influences which may have entered through mutual trade between Cyprus and Crete.

The Mycenaeans are entering their cultural golden age, with shaft graves in Greece clearly demonstrating their dominance. The changes herald the start of the Late Bronze period on Cyprus.

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