Settlement and Community: Their Location, Limits, and Movement through the Landscape of Historical Cyprus: PhD Thesis, University of Glasgow (2005)

Luke Sollars, 2008

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Luke Sollars (2008) Settlement and Community: Their Location, Limits, and Movement through the Landscape of Historical Cyprus: PhD Thesis, University of Glasgow (2005) [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]



Settlement is an inevitability of human presence in a landscape; a collection of houses indicates settlement, but so too does a field system - the farmers must live somewhere. Wherever there are people there will be settlement, from large concrete and glass urban centres to the tented impermanence of a nomads' camp. Settlement is a result of the human presence, but remains a sterile idea without some discussion of community. Certainly settlement can be studied without community, but it remains an abstract assembly of parts unless the people that constructed or occupied it are taken into account. A single settlement is home to numerous communities that continuously form, divide and reform in response to the changing practical and social situations that everyday life presents. Before any settlement is established a series of decisions has to be made with due consideration of an area's topography and natural resources, as well as existing settlements in the landscape and any established social, economic or political systems. Physical considerations such as a settlement's location and extent, or the definition of its boundaries, can be viewed individually, but are more usefully considered in conjunction with one another so that a settlement is treated as a working unit that is part of a wider system, rather than an abstract collection of components.

This thesis approaches questions of settlement and community in historic Cyprus - from the Late Roman period to the end of the Ottoman period - through a presentation of the experience and results of fieldwork I carried out in 2003. The fieldwork comprised a survey project specifically conceived, planned and executed by myself for my PhD research. It focused on three discrete areas of Cyprus: Akrotiri, a low-lying area of salt marsh, batha and citrus groves in the south of the island; an area of agriculture and coastal maquis on the west coast, north of Peyia; and the Nikitari village territory, which stretches from the southern margins of the Mesaoria up into the lower reaches of the Troodos mountains. The topographical cross section evident in my chosen areas gave me the opportunity to study the diversity of settlement across most of the range of habitats of the island, from the coast, through plains, scrub and foot hills, to all but the highest reaches of the Troodos mountains. My experiences in the landscape undoubtedly influenced my observation, recording and interpretation of material evidence in the field, and are a vital, if elusive element of my data. I have exploited their influence to make my presentation the landscape I perceived coherent and vivid. Whilst they could not give me a complete understanding of the experiences of the erstwhile occupants of the settlements I have studied, my own experiences do lead me toward it through an appreciation of the landscape and the considerations necessary for anyone living, working or travelling in it. Through my data I examine the location of settlements in the landscape and their changing distribution over time, before endeavouring to identify evidence for community amongst the physical remains in the landscape.