Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


8 September 2012

Long-term agrarian landscapes in the Troodos foothills, Cyprus

Patricia L. Fall, Steven E. Falconer, Christopher S. Galletti, Tracy Shirmang, Elizabeth Ridder & JoAnna Klinge Journal of Archaeological Science 39:7 (July) 2012: 2335-2347.


We investigate the temporal and environmental relationships between the terraced hill slopes of Politiko-Koloiokremmos and the adjacent Bronze Age settlement of Politiko-Troullia in foothills of the Troodos Mountains, central Cyprus. Mapping of 102 stone walls on Koloiokremmos is compared with 66 walls farther afield on Cyprus to create a six-part terrace typology. Sherd counts from 174 2-m radius collection circles over approximately 20 ha on Troullia and Koloiokremmos were used to create interpolated sherd density surfaces revealing distinctly different patterns of land use for four major archaeological eras between the Cypriot Bronze Age and Medieval Period. We compared sherd density patterns according to terrace types, length, slope and vegetation cover determined by SAVI (Soil-Adjusted Vegetation Index) from Ikonos and Quickbird satellite imagery.

The most robust sherd patterning indicates Prehistoric Bronze Age settlement at Troullia, as confirmed by soil resistivity and excavation, and multi-period land use on Koloiokremmos immediately upslope of the village that may be associated with agricultural terracing. Scattered sherd concentrations indicate later use of this landscape as an agricultural hinterland for the Iron Age city of Tamassos. Sherds and a down slope spread of roof tiles from the Roman through Medieval periods suggest an isolated structure near the crest of Koloiokremmos. Longer terraces correlate with greater vegetation cover and are interpreted as agricultural, while shorter terraces, apparently for erosion control and arboriculture, are significantly related to Prehistoric Bronze Age sherd patterns. Our results suggest that coordinated analysis of archaeological, geographical and remotely sensed environmental data associated with terraced landscapes can be used to infer long-term patterns of agricultural land use.



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