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Inventing the Eteocypriots: Imperialist Archaeology and the Manipulation of Ethnic Identity

Issue: Vol 11 No. 1 (1998) June 1998

Journal: Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology

Subject Areas: Ancient History Archaeology

DOI: 10.1558/jmea.v11i1.3


For 60 years the 'Eteocypriots' have been seen as the Iron Age survivors of the indigenous population of Cyprus. In the 1930s, however, when the Eteocypriots first appeared in the literature, the British colonial rulers of Cyprus were exploiting ancient history and archaeology to combat Greek nationalism. This article investigates the ideology and mechanisms of imperialist archaeology, examines the textual and artefactual material used to 'invent' the Eteocypriots, and demonstrates that there is no secure archaeological or historical evidence for their existence. By encouraging the creation of an 'authentically' Cypriot ethnic group which pre-dated the Greeks, the British colonial regime denied the Hellenic character of ancient and modern Cyprus.

Author: Micheal Given

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