The hybridising tree of life: a postcolonial archaeology of the Cypriot Iron Age city kingdoms

Lightbody, David Ian (2013) The hybridising tree of life: a postcolonial archaeology of the Cypriot Iron Age city kingdoms. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The people of early Iron Age Cyprus worshipped at sanctuaries where a sacred tree was the focus of their rituals. The tree was closely associated with a goddess thought to inhabit the natural landscape in which the fields and settlements grew, and in which the people lived and worked.

This thesis explores why the tree of life was the central symbol of Cypriot Iron Age rituals, covering the period from the end of the Bronze Age to 500 B.C. Although the tree of the goddess has been studied as an artistic motif, and ceramic material from Cyprus has been studied scientifically, material carrying the motif has never been studied within a fully contextualised archaeology that queries its prevalence in Cypriot material culture, its role within the sanctuaries and necropolises of the city kingdoms and the meanings the material carried in those places. This research project addresses the complex, abstract, iconography of the Geometric and Archaic material in a methodical and theoretical manner, and with respect to the local and regional landscape settlement contexts from which it was recovered. The study takes a fresh, postcolonial approach and follows contextualizing, multiscalar methods towards an improved understanding of cultural structures, meanings and individual events. Old concepts of race and fixed groups are discarded in favour of a more nuanced approach that sees individual identities as constantly changing and material culture as both a driver and an indicator of social hybridisation.

This research also serves as a vehicle to study a controversial transitional phase in East Mediterranean history, when the ancient agricultural empires gave way to the poleis and colonial systems of the maritime networks. Although the emergence of a ‘great divide’ between east and west has been postulated for this period, the alliances and cultural exchanges that preceded this transformation have not yet been adequately explored in mainstream academic histories. This research focussing on Iron Age Cyprus illuminates regional interaction between African, Levantine and Aegean cultures, and shows that the island existed within a continuous and contiguous cultural milieu that stretched from the Nile to Athens.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Cyprus, Iron Age, Mediterranean, archaeology, landscape, survey, postcolonial, tree of life, iconography
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Supervisor's Name: Given, Dr. Michael
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Dr David Ian Lightbody
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4374
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2013 07:47
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2013 07:49
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