Immigration in the Eastern Mediterranean during the Bronze Age


Share post:

Immigration may be a hot topic in the 21st century but so is ancient immigration, at least among archaeologists. And how can it be tracked? Well, a just-released publication from the Anastasios G. Leventis Foundation is titled: “On cooking pots, drinking cups, loomweights and ethnicity in Bronze Age Cyprus and neighbouring regions”. 

Overview of the excavation site in what was the ancient Cypriot city of Bamboula, a Bronze Age city that was an important trading center for the Middle East, Egypt and Greece [Credit: Colleen Kelley]

According to the Foundation 26 scholars Cyprus, Greece, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Australia, and other countries of Europe, and the US thrashed out the controversial topic during a symposium in 2010. 

The aim was to investigate the true character of immigration of populations on a large scale, a phenomenon which is witnessed in Cyprus and other regions of the Eastern Mediterranean, both during the Early Bronze Age and at the very end of the Late Bronze Age, around 1200 BC.   

“This phenomenon is particularly crucial for Cyprus, as it is linked with problems of ethnicity, namely the settlement on the island of Greek-speaking people, who gradually brought about the Hellenisation of the island,” said the Foundation in an announcement. 

Similar phenomena occurred in other regions of the Eastern Mediterranean, from Tarsus of Cilicia and all along the Syro-Palaestinian coast.   

“Whereas previously the criteria for such movements of people were usually cultural innovations and novel artistic styles, the tendency now is to search into different domains of human activity, namely cooking methods and cooking vessels, dinking cups and weaving techniques, the Foundation said. 

The sudden appearance on a large scale of materials for such activities offers more concrete evidence for the installation of immigrants, who settled down in large numbers, together with their families, it added.  

Former Leventis foundation director and editor of the publication Vassos Karageorghis believes one reason for these significant migrations revealed in the findings is a large upheaval in the Aegean region, possibly brought on by a natural disaster that prompted people to flee to the shores of Cyprus, southern Turkey and the Levant. 

At that time, he said, most of the island’s residents were likely to be traders and Semitic peoples from the Syrio-Palestinian coast, although Karageorghis emphasised that modern ethnic distinctions are not applicable to the period. 

“A natural disaster might have prompted the first people – the sea peoples – to leave… They were large enough communities to become politically influential.” 

The results of these discoveries are contained within the new richly-illustrated volume published by the Foundation, it said, would “offer a new basis for the discussion of immigrations in the Eastern Mediterranean and place the arguments for the origin and the character of the Hellenisation of Cyprus on a more correct basis”.  

“At the same time it will be easier to understand why the immigrations in Cyprus had a different fate from that of the immigrations in the rest of the Eastern Mediterranean,” said the Foundation. 

The 350 page book, edited by Karageorghis and University of Cyprus Department of History and Archaeology’s Ourania Kouka is available from the Leventis museum and bookstores around the island, priced at €40. 

Source: Cyprus Mail [October 22, 2011]



Related articles

Egypt recovers New Kingdom mummy from France

After four years out of Egypt, a stolen and illegally smuggled mummy mask has been returned from France. The...

Isle of Man Viking jewellery found by metal detectorist

A "stunning" collection of 1,000-year-old gold and silver Viking jewellery has been discovered on the Isle of Man...

A manifesto for investigating the impacts of object flows on past societies: Objectscapes

World history is often framed in terms of flows of people and migration: humans coming 'out of Africa,"...

Five Byzantine tombs discovered in south Lebanon

Five Byzantine tombs were discovered in the southern city of Tyre, as well as parts of the old...

1,600-yr-old mosaic looted from Byzantine church

A mosaic has been looted from a 1,600-year-old Byzantine church at a popular bay area of the Turkish...

Archaeologists defy ISIS militants in Iraq

University of Manchester archaeologists are continuing to make significant new discoveries near the ancient city of Ur despite...

Foxes were domesticated by humans in the Bronze Age

In the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, between the third and second millennium BC, a widespread funeral practice...

Building site in Estonia’s Talin continues to yield medieval treasures

The haul of late medieval artifacts found in ongoing excavations on a Tallinn building site has continued to...