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Book: Mediterranean Resilience

Chapter: Cypriot Pottery as an Indicator of Adaptive Trade Networks

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.41501


Mediterranean connectivity, including trade, is an adaptation to the local conditions. Temporal changes in pottery imports reflect adaptation of maritime trade systems to economic, social, political, and environmental changes. In this paper I investigate the connection between diachronic changes in Cypriot imports to the southern Levant throughout the Middle Bronze Age and contemporary political and social processes. The eighteenth century BCE saw a paradigm shift within ancient Near Eastern connectivity networks, as networks formerly dominated by the powers in Mesopotamia and Anatolia turned their attention toward the Mediterranean. In the Middle Cypriot period Cypriot imports were integrated into the Levantine littoral systems, which suggests the rise of maritime trade as adaptive behavior both in Cyprus and within the emerging Levantine urban systems. Trade was further expanded during the sixteenth century BCE and in the transition from the Middle to Late Bronze Age, with an increase in the amount as well as the types of Cypriot ceramic imports to the southern Levant. This change is contemporary with the rise of (proto-)urbanism in Cyprus and the last phase of Hyksos rule, coinciding with the rise of the Eighteenth Dynasty in Egypt. This study includes the first results of an integrated analysis of Cypriot imported pottery found at Levantine maritime gateways, including Akhziv and Kabri, as well as inland hubs like Megiddo.

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