Project Background

The Late Bronze Age (c. 1600-1100 BCE) represents a period of substantial social, political and economic complexity in the Eastern Mediterranean (to include, broadly speaking, the Aegean, Anatolia, Levant, Egypt and Cyprus). During this period, the island of Cyprus appears to have witnessed a significant transformation from a small-scale, subsistence-focused, village-based society to a large-scale, international player, evidenced by the intensification of copper mining and smelting, an increase in overseas trade and exchange, and the establishment or embellishment of a number of large, centralized settlements.  The construction of monumental buildings, and the organization of built space appears to have been of crucial important to these first urban settlements. Research suggests that these new built environments were not merely by-products of sociopolitical change, but rather a primary means by which the change occurred.  They were a fundamentally different experience from those of the Prehistoric Bronze Age that preceded it, providing new patterns of movement, surveillance, interaction and daily practice that generated social change.  Unfortunately, the dynamics of this process are not well understand and have not been systematically investigated.  That major problem is the fact that, while a number of Late Bronze Age sites on Cyprus have been partially excavated (5-20% of the settlement exposed), we still do not have a clear picture of the anatomy of a Late Bronze Age city, i.e. how individual buildings were integrated into an overall urban landscape that structured social interaction.  Various issues of expense and conservation make the complete excavation of entire cities impossible, if not undesirable.  With advancements in archaeological geophysics, however, we not have the potential to obtain detailed urban plans, which we can use to investigate these processes.

The current phase of the KAMBE project focuses on two important urban centers located in adjacent river valleys in south-central Cyprus: Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios (KAD) and the Maroni settlement cluster.  Both sites flourished during the 14th and 13th centuries BCE.  Employing a combination of archaeogeophysical survey, test excavations, digital recording or extant architecture using terrestrial LiDAR (3D laser scanning) and photogrammetry, spatial analysis and 3D modeling, we are investigating the organization of these Late Cypriot (LC) cities, in order to understand how they “became” urban, and to understand how the built environment was used in the creation and maintenance of societal boundaries.

The KAMBE project undertook two preliminary field seasons in 2008 and 2010 to established the most effective parameters for geophysical survey in the region under different environmental conditions.  With these parameters set, we then significantly expanded our survey coverage in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and began assessing the geophysical data through small-scale excavations at both sites.

Our research has a number of specific research objectives.  First and foremost, we aim to obtain as much data as possible to fill in the urban plans at KAD and Maroni.  These data significantly expand our understanding of Late Bronze Age urban organization and architecture and, by applying analytical methods such as access analysis and visibility analyses, provide us with an unprecedented insight into how these innovative urban environments organized social interactions that supported or changed social structures.  We also aim to develop and test methods for analyzing ancient built environments that would be applicable to data from any period or region.  We are further developing a GIS-based database that will combine environmental and archaeological data obtained from our work with those from earlier excavations and archaeological surveys at both sites.  This will create a powerful research tool for the study of Late Bronze Age social dynamics as well as a powerful cultural resource management tool that can assist in land-use decisions in an area that is under threat from various forms of development.  All data will be made available to interested parties and is house on this website.  Last, but not least, we hold the development of collaborative student training opportunities in the use of archaeological technologies as a central tenet of the KAMBE Project.

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