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Dwelling With The Dead: Mortuary Landscapes And The Production Of Community During The Prehistoric Bronze Age On Cyprus

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The Prehistoric Bronze Age is a tremendously important period on Cyprus for understanding the later development of the island. During this period architecture, settlement patterns, technologies, and subsistence practices changed drastically, and of greatest interest to this thesis, the dead were buried in discrete cemeteries. It has been historically stated by scholars that these cemeteries were located outside, and within view, of the associated settlements. The recent publication of the excavations and surveys of several Prehistoric Bronze Age sites allows these assumptions to be tested, and their implications considered. The shifts in settlement form and organization and in mortuary behavior clearly reflect major changes in the organization of society during this time period. By analyzing the various relationships between settlement and cemetery within the landscape, this thesis attempts to better understand the dimensions of variation and patterns of practice that shaped the changing society of the Cypriot Bronze Age. Using data from the excavations and surveys at Marki-Alonia, Alambra-Mouttes, and SotiraKaminoudhia, and the survey data from the Vasilikos Valley Project, as well as a reconnaissance survey undertaken by the author during the summers of 2008 and 2009, this thesis takes a behavioral and phenomenological approach to the PreBA Cypriot mortuary landscape, addressing four key aspects. Placing the Dead encompasses the issues surrounding the choice of cemetery location, in the topographical sense, as it relates to the location of the associated settlement. While the expected pattern of spatial organization is shown to apply to some of the case studies, others challenge these assumptions. Viewing the dead considers intervisibility between settlement and cemetery, the viewing of the cemeteries being the most common, and likely daily, interaction between the living inhabitants of the landscape and the dead. Marking the Dead investigates the evidence for the intentional and formal marking of individual burial sites. Such markers would have allowed individual burials to be relocated, prevented the inadvertent destruction of previous burials, and the way in which they were marked could have symbolic meaning. Finally, Visiting the Dead will consider the evidence for other activities that may have taken place within the cemetery, besides internments, including feasting, gaming, and even daily chores such as food preparation. These four aspects of human action taken together show that the mortuary landscape was neither static, nor empty. Instead, the mortuary landscape of PreBA Cyprus was dynamic and contested, where the inhabitants constructed and renegotiated their identities and their social organization.

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2010-10-20

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dissertation or thesis

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