SCY010 : Aredhiou Vouppes

Protohistoric Bronze Age Agricultural Support Settlement

Grid reference: 519015/3878700
Cadastral plan: XXIX/56
Aerial photo: 1993, Run 177, No. 54
Survey unit: 338
SIA: None

 
Eastern part of Aredhiou Vouppes, from the north.
Photograph: Michael Given

Introduction

Aredhiou Vouppes was found during regular transect survey. Although none of the pottery was recognisable by type/date in the field, after washing a Late Cypriot (LC) wall bracket and a Black Slip Wheelmade sherd were identified amongst the material collected. On a revisit to Unit 338, several LC pithos sherds were collected. The predominance of utilitarian wares and the presence of the wall bracket fragment, along with the occurrence of groundstone implements, indicate that SCY010 was a settlement, not a cemetery. Of course, tombs may have been situated adjacent to or nearby the settlement - in 1992 SCSP collected a few White Slip 2, Black Slip Wheelmade, and Red-on-Black sherds eroding from a hillock less than 1 km east of Vouppes, at Aredhiou Koladhes (SCY001). In addition, there are probable tombs at the south end of SCY010.

Aredhiou Vouppes can be described as an 'agricultural support village'. The pithos fragments found there come from storage vessels of diverse sizes, including some very large examples. Such finds first led to the suggestion that Vouppes may have been an officially managed agricultural village involved in provisioning one or more mining or smelting sites in the Troodos foothills (e.g., Politiko Phorades 1; SCY100). A similar agricultural village and collection centre was probably located at Analiondas Palioklichia some 10 km southeast of Vouppes. The recovery of a Mycenaean sherd from the surface of Vouppes in 1995 offers some evidence of trading contacts with other sites that had access to imported goods..

Aredhiou Vouppes is located on an alluvial terrace on the banks of the Aloupos River drainage where the sedimentary plains and the igneous foothills meet. Today, the land at and around Vouppes is given over to cultivated barley fields and a dairy farm. Overall, the landscape in the immediate area seems to have been relatively stable over the last few thousand years, except for minor episodes of soil removal/filling associated with terracing and construction of various sorts. At least part of this POSI, from the area just north of lane up to the hawthorn bush, consists of in situ soils, a factor that was critical in choosing where to place our grid for intensive collection.

 
SCY010: Pottery distribution in fixed grid and gridded circles.

Field Methodology

Aredhiou Vouppes was found in the course of standard transect survey, and surveyed as Unit 338. During the 1996 season, we carried out an intensive collection of surface finds at Vouppes (Figure 4.010.1). The grids for intensive collection were established only where the geomorphologist had identified in situ soils. The visibility of material on the ground had improved considerably from the 1995 season. The densest scatter of archaeological data was recovered along the western side of the fields adjacent to the cliff, an area that fortunately is characterised by in situ soils.

Vouppes is representative of various POSIs, which require a variety of approaches for gridded collection. Because only a small portion of the modern fields at SCY010 had an intact, Bronze Age surface, we carried out a 10 m fixed grid collection in those fields (Sub-Units W3S0-S6S2). The collection included three squares along the bank where visibility was excellent. In addition, half of the squares in the stubble fields were collected, according to a checkerboard pattern. Because the surface of the adjacent part of the stubble field had changed dramatically since antiquity (so that no material would be in context), we carried out an iron cross collection of 11 circles (Sub-Units E0N0-W1N0), partly to test the geomorphological observation, and partly to obtain a representative collection of material from the four quadrats. In line with Keswani’s goal of collecting a broad and representative sample of material, the team also obtained separate representative collections, walking at 5 m spacing, in a part of the 1995 survey unit 338, where visibility was excellent and there was a lot of material.

Pottery

The distinctive, Late Cypriot (LC) character of the pottery from SCY010 was not immediately apparent in the field, even with a prehistoric pottery specialist (Priscilla Keswani) on the team. After the sherds were washed, however, characteristic LC materials were identified and during a revisit the following day, several LC pithos sherds were collected.

The densest scatter of material lay in the westernmost sector of the agricultural fields, immediately adjacent to the cliff, where the soils are essentially preserved from the Bronze Age. The pottery certainly indicates that the primary period of occupation was toward the very end of the Bronze Age (LC IIC), and the few lithics collected do not contradict that placement.

The surface pottery from Aredhiou Vouppes included 22 pithos sherds, 10 Plain Ware sherds, one fragment of Black Slip Wheelmade ware, one sherd tentatively ascribed to White Painted Wheelmade 2/3 ('pastoral' style), and one terracotta (Plain Ware) wall bracket, all of which are Late Cypriot in date. A single sherd from a Red Polished bowl may attest to an earlier, PreBA 2 (Middle Bronze) component at the site. The pithos sherds recovered from SCY010 by the SCSP teams reveal various types and sizes of storage vessels, ranging from the relatively small, short-necked variety (Group I - Keswani 1989b) to the very large, usually long-necked vessels, which may have been used for supra-household level storage over long periods of time (Groups II and III). One pithos ware sherd also belonged to a large rectangular tub. Amongst the Plain Ware were two rim sherds representing medium to large utilitarian bowls, and one flat strap handle fragment possibly deriving from a crater. The fabrics, rim profiles, and pithos body decoration (parallel raised lines, incised horizontal and wavy lines) observed in this material are closely paralleled by pithos ware from Kalavasos Ayios Dhimitrios, Kition Chrysopolitissa, Maa Palaekastro, Pyla Kokkinokremmos, Myrtou Pighades, and Apliki Karamallos. Occupation of Aredhiou Vouppes must have been at least partly contemporaneous with these other Late Cypriot sites.

 
SCY010: Topographical Map.
Based upon the Aerials of the Department of Lands and Surveys, Republic of Cyprus.
State Copyright reserved.

Conclusion

The Protohistoric Bronze Age in Cyprus was a time of increasing population when new urban centres were built, overseas contacts multiplied, and internal production (pottery, copper) and interregional contacts became more intensified and developed. Settlements like Aredhiou Vouppes would have been common elements of the habitational, locational and trading systems that prevailed in the LCIIC/ProBA 3 period.

The pottery recovered from Vouppes, in particular the abundance of large pithos sherds, supports the notion that this was an agricultural support village. Such villages functioned as one element in a micro-regional production system. At the same time, Vouppes would have formed part of a broader, hierarchical settlement system. In such villages, surplus agricultural produce (grains, olive oil) were collected, processed and redistributed, but whether to mining sites or 'up the line' to secondary or primary centres we do not know.

SCY010 was and remains important with SCSP because it was the first and only, definitive, Late Cypriot settlement site found, and one of the very few known in this region. The striking quantity of pithos material strongly suggests the storage function of this POSI. Although we have suggested a model wherein villages like Vouppes provide agricultural support and habitation for miners and other copper-producing specialists, it must be noted that there are no industrial sites in the igneous zones covered by SCSP which are strictly contemporary with SCY010. Politiko Phorades 1 (SCY100) belongs to a phase of the Bronze Age that could be up to 400 years earlier than Vouppes. The rarity of sites like Vouppes, and the ongoing disinterest in excavating the small rural sites of Cypriot prehistory, make it all the more significant; it is but one of several 'sites' recovered by SCSP that would repay archaeological excavation.