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Book: Critical Approaches to Cypriot and Wider Mediterranean Archaeology

Chapter: 7. The Mountainous Landscapes of Cyprus in Antiquity: Deconstructing “Troodos”

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.42483


This paper examines the relationship between colonial geographical narratives and the archaeology of Cypriot landscapes. It highlights the ways colonial forms of environmental knowledge, particularly geographical categorisations, have been reified and largely appear as archaeological entities themselves. To illustrate that point in the context of Cypriot archaeology, I examine the history and usage of “mountain” as an archaeological category, using the Troodos Mountains as a case study. Although a widely applicable geographical category and emblematic feature in the island’s economic history, the Troodos Mountains is a rather static and ambiguous geographical term. Due to its notably patchy archaeology, the Troodos Mountains is described based on its environmental properties and has thus become largely synonymous with copper, timber and pastoralism. Problematically, this conceptualisation has become so capacious as to describe parts of the island that are quite varied in terms of material evidence and environmental characteristics (e.g. elevation, vegetation, precipitation). Drawing on the history of geographic thought with focus on postcolonial geography, this paper emphasises alternative geographies that can yield more nuanced understanding of the ancient landscapes of Cyprus. More broadly, I draw attention to the fact that employing reified archaeological categories sustains a dissociated gaze on the ancient landscape. Instead, reflexivity, topological maps and interdisciplinary approaches raise new possibilities for rethinking traditional interpretations and long-held assumptions.

Chapter Contributors

  • Georgia Marina Andreou ( - 0898679) 'University of Southampton'