Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
First Committee Member
Alan H. Simmons
Second Committee Member
Barbara J. Roth
Third Committee Member
Karen G. Harry
Fourth Committee Member
Number of Pages
The Near East has the earliest and best documented Neolithic in the world. However, most research attention has focused on the mainland. The spread of the Neolithic to the adjacent Mediterranean islands was once considered relatively late. The last three decades of research has changed this perception, demonstrating that the spread of the Neolithic to Cyprus was contemporary with its continental development.
This work addresses the change between the archeologically defined cultures of the Cypro-Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (Cypro-PPNB) and the Khirokitian Culture (KC) on the island of Cyprus between the 9th and 6th millennia cal BC. The purpose of this work is to provide a robust explanation for the transition between these two periods as well as evaluate the commonly held assumptions that scholars in the field of prehistoric Cypriot archeology maintain surrounding the transition between these periods. This is necessary to address the under-theorization of this transition.
Scholars in the field maintain the peoples of the KC became increasingly insular/isolated; however, this view holds that both the process and the purpose for this change is insularity, which conflates process and purpose. This work corrects this discrepancy by contextualizing the period within the broader Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) and applying Liminality Theory to the transition. Using Liminality Theory, I explore how the periods of the Cypro-PPNB and KC relate in terms of migrants, established residents, and the production of new and shared identity by the Aceramic Neolithic peoples on Cyprus.
This work finds that the entire Cypro-PPNB period experienced a high degree of liminality. This produced a resiliency among the people of Cyprus. Events occurring at the start of the 7th Millennium cal BC produced a period of liminality that destabilized much of the Near East, resulting in a variety of changes including the modification in settlement patterns, increased regionalization, migration, and the end of the PPNB. During this chaotic period, the people of Cyprus continued absorbing immigrants and new technologies from the mainland. The combination of these events resulted in some changes to their lifeways such that archaeologists recognize a distinct cultural entity called the KC. On Cyprus the trauma of these changes was mitigated by their long history of liminality.
This research has relevance to the fields of Neolithic Cyprus, the Neolithic Near East, and liminality studies. Towards the study of Neolithic Cyprus, this work examines the mainland origins of the Cypriot Aceramic Neolithic, its relationship to the mainland, and proposes a novel model for considering the transition from the Cypro-PPNB to the KC. Toward the study of the Neolithic Near East broadly, this work provides a comparative look at the different regions built from site-specific data, provides comparably calibrated radiocarbon dates from across the Near East, and proposes modifications to the Levantine PPNB Interaction Sphere model (Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen 1989a). Toward Liminality studies, this work provides an introductory survey of the development of theory and demonstrates the value of Liminality Theory in addressing the problem of culture change in an archaeological setting.
Culture Change; Liminality; Near East; Neolithic; PPNB; Social Change
Archaeological Anthropology | Sociology
Keach, Levi, "Investigating the Role of Liminality in the Cultural Transition of the Late Eighth Millennium BC on Cyprus" (2018). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 3274.