This book examines social change in Cyprus during the 6th to 4th millennia BC; a period that is traditionally viewed as one of prolonged cultural continuity and isolation from the mainland. Through the documentation and integration of technological practice and up-to-date climatic, ecological and environmental data, it is proposed that many of the observable differences between mainland southwest Asia and Cyprus during this period are the result of divergent adaptive strategies in response to different environmental conditions, low population density and low resource stress. The book draws upon theories in ecological and evolutionary biology and adapts it to cultural change in general. By employing a holistic approach with a focus on technological practice the book seeks to show that cultural change on Cyprus is concomitant with broadly similar cultural trajectories taken in other regions on the margins of southwest Asia. The conclusion reached is that if all of the pressures that drove cultural change on the mainland were relaxed the result would be a stable hunter-gatherer economy with a bit of farming and herding: exactly what appears to be the case on Cyprus.
Joanne Clarke is lecturer in material culture studies and archaeology in the School of World Art Studies at the University of East Anglia.