A Linguistic Approach to Population Movement to Ancient Cyprus
Philippa M. Steele Στο R. Maguire & J. Chick (eds) 2016. Approaching Cyprus. Proceedings of the Post-Graduate Conference of Cypriot Archaeology (PoCA) held at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, 1st-3rd November 2013, Newcastle upon Tyne): 2-21.
The question of how and when Greek speakers arrived on Cyprus somewhere around the end of the Bronze Age has been a sometimes contentious topic, and the archaeological evidence has been used to support very different views of this event or process. Such arguments rely on the identification of “Greeks” in the material record, but largely ignore or under-treat the direct evidence we have for the use of the Greek language, which should be an important factor in identifying “Greeks” in this historical period (in which writing is attested, albeit sparsely). This chapter seeks to integrate the direct linguistic data with the archaeological, and suggests that a wholescale migration episode does not reflect the evidence well. Instead, it is argued that we should view the arrival of the Greek language on Cyprus as a long-term process during which speakers of other Cypriot languages chose to start speaking Greek, a hypothesis not incompatible with the “hybridisation” model of understanding social change on the island in this period.