SCY102 : Agrokipia Paleokamina

lithics scatter

Grid reference: 514500/3878500
Cadastral plan: XXIX/55
Aerial photo: 1993, Run 177, No. 48
Survey units: 1025-28

SCY102: Topographical Map and Lithics Distribution

Agrokipia Palaeokamina is one of the most intriguing chipped stone POSIs found within the SCSP area. From the time it was first identified in 1993, SCY102 invited considerable attention because of its remarkable collection of chipped stone implements manufactured from good quality lithic materials. There are several notable examples of knife blades and scraper implements made from soapy-textured, translucent, cryptocrystaline chert. In addition to chipped stone, numerous groundstone objects, pottery sherds, slag and glass fragments were found scattered across the site. Several small pits or 'depressions' were noted throughout this POSI, some of which may have been collapsed tombs. Despite the number and quality of archaeological materials found at SCY102, its age and function remain enigmatic.

Physical Landscape

SCY102 is situated within the northern foothills of the Troodos Mountains on the edge of the floodplain and 500 m northeast of the modern village of Agrokipia. This POSI occupies the upper slopes of an eroding limestone knoll, and is bordered by a small river originating in the Troodos. The river appears to divide the low-lying range to the east and larger range to the west; directly across the river is a steep limestone scarp.

The knoll occupied by SCY102 is characterised by limestone bedrock covered with a thin layer of soil. The surface of the knoll likely once had a greater soil overlay. Erosional processes have transported small soil particles downslope, while larger rocks and artefacts remained at or near the top of the knoll. There are no rills or drainages on the knoll, but enough erosion has occurred to expose the limestone pavement. Thus the surface of the knoll that existed during antiquity is almost certainly not the same surface that exists today.

Description

SCY102's cultural features were found primarily along the upper north-, west- and south-facing slopes of the knoll. The adjoining ridge and surrounding easterly hills were also surveyed, but revealed no cultural remains except agricultural terrace walls. The denser concentrations of chipped stones, pottery and slag were recovered in pockets along the westernmost upper slope of the knoll, particularly in Units 1026 and 1027. Several groundstone objects were found along the northeastern face of the knoll.

Six depression features were identified along several faces of the knoll. Two of these were situated on the southwest-facing slope, two on the northwest and two on the northeast. The depressions on the west side of the knoll were made by enhancing naturally occurring limestone cavities in the ground, whereas the eastern depressions were created by excavating the surface soil. The function, purpose and age of these depressions is uncertain, but might be related to modern military or hunting activities (bunkers or shelters).

Three additional depressions -two on the north face of the knoll and one on the west -had very different characteristics to the others: they were smaller in size and appear heavily weathered, whereas the other six lacked lichens or other vegetative overgrowth. The characteristics of these depressions are similar to collapsed Roman tombs at Ayios Mnason (SIA 6), but contained no diagnostic pottery or artefacts.

Chipped Stone

In total, the chipped stone sample collected from SCY102 includes 642 pieces. This collection consists primarily of manufacturing debris (59% of the total). Although cores, core fragments, core trimming elements and four hammer stones were recovered, the low occurrence of these items suggests that the predominant activity here was tool manufacture rather than primary core reduction. Scrapers and 'knife' blades are relatively common as are utilised and marginally retouched flakes and blades. Other tools include trapezoids, a few boring implements, burins, hammer stones and blades exhibiting sheen. Despite the natural and human disturbances apparent at SCY102, many of the chipped stone implements were found in well preserved condition. Some pieces were actually pristine, whereas others were caked with calcium carbonate, at least on one side of the stones.

Technical attributes like the use of high quality translucent chert, bi-directional dorsal scars on the prismatic blades dominating the sample, and a number of well prepared butts including one punctiform example all suggest a relatively early Aceramic Neolithic date for at least part of the assemblage. The bi-truncated segments or 'trapezoids', some of which are microlithic, piŽces esquillŽes, and glossed blades with fine denticulation in the tool sample likewise argue for an early date. The presence of a significant proportion of more moderate raw materials (including basal Lefkara chert and jasper), the predominantly unidirectional blades exhibiting plain butts, as well as backed or truncated blades in the sample are elements which suggest a second, later phase in this Pre-Pottery assemblage dating to the latest stage of the early Pre-Pottery Neolithic, perhaps extending into the 'classic' Khirokitia phase.