It is called “Ceramic” because during this period the manufacture of ceramics appears in Neolithic Cyprus. According to Clarke (1992), “perhaps one of the most interesting features of the Ceramic Neolithic period is the island-wide uniformity that is evident in the architecture, religious practices and material culture. Even the ceramic tradition shows, on a technical and functional level, a high degree of homogeneity between the north and the south of the island. This cultural similarity tends to signify that the separate village populations must have been in fairly regular contact with each other” [Joanne Clarke, 1992].
In contradiction with the technical and functional uniformity apparent in the ceramic industry of the south and the north of Cyprus during this Period, regarding the style of the ceramics, according to Peltenburg (1975) two major traditions exist: In the south, it is characterised by the predominance of Combed decoration seen at Sotira-Teppes, Khirokitia-Vounoi and others [Kalavasos-Kokkinoyia and Kantou-Kouphovounos excavated later], and in the north, the primary decorative technique is the application of red paint to plain or white slipped surface and is known as Red on White [Philia-Drakos, Ayios Epiktitos-Vrysi] [Joanne Clarke, 1992].
According to Clarke, the repertoire of the vessels created “is limited and consists primarily of large milk bowls with and without spouts, hole mouth jars, and large, narrow-necked flasks with globular body and flat, rounded or omphalos bases” [Joanne Clarke, 1992].
According to Mantzourani (2003), the Late Neolithic Cypriots did not follow only one burial norm; the dead could be buried inside or outside the houses, in specially reserved ground. “Common features remained the type of tomb and burial, and the type of offerings: simple pit graves, primary and secondary burials, and minimum or no gifts at all” [Eleni Mantzourani, 2003].
Kantou-Kouphovounos [5,370 – 4,050 BC]
The site is located on a hill, 243 metres above sea level, on the plateau and the slopes of the hill Kouphovounos of Kantou, and according to Mantzourani it “seems to have covered a rather large area”. An electromagnetic survey carried out in 1996 had located scattered architectural remains over an area of 20,500 m², of which only 900 m² have been excavated. This part revealed a large number of monocellular structures, belonging to different building phases. The so-far excavations revealed 39 houses of different size and building phase and their respective open areas. Later structures have been completely wiped out due to erosion and other factors [Eleni Mantzourani, 2003].
According to Mantzourani, the site was so densely built that “there are instances where independent units share the same entrance and part of the same wall. The ground plans of the houses are generally rectangular with rounded corners [subrectangular] and have an average size of 20-25 m². “The walls of the buildings were made of limestone rubble and are generally preserved to an average height of about 40 cm above foundations, keeping in good condition three or four courses of stone”. The width of the walls extends from 35-40/45 cm and “on these lower stone courses rested the superstructure made up of pise or mudbricks”. Interiors, as well as exteriors, had beaten earth floors. Circular hearths “remain the dominant feature within buildings in an off-cental position”. Fireplaces also are present. Evidence for shelves or lofts seems inconsistent and internal divisions rarely occurred. Regarding the roof, Mantzourani writes “it is plausible to assume that there was a central wooden column on which other horizontal beams rested, in order to support a flat or pitched roof of light construction made of successive layers of timber, reed and mud plaster”. The initial structures were larger than the ones built afterwards [Eleni Mantzourani, 2003].
Ground stone tools, chipped stone tools and other artefacts
According to Mantzourani, thousands of ground stools have been excavated of which 2275 items have been listed and numbered. Most raw material comes from natural river stones easily collected from the Kouris nearby river, such as diabase, andesite, gabbro, micro gabbro, serpentinite and less limestone. The tools include grinders, rubbers, hammers, pestles, pounders, pecking stones, axes, hammer-axes, adzes, mortars and querns. On the other hand, the total number of chipped stone artefacts has been estimated at over 10,000 pieces, of which “the most remarkable feature of the Kantou industry is the long blades, frequently bearing retouch or traces of silica gloss”. Apart from the blades and flakes, sickle elements, notches, end scrapers, burins, denticulates and perforators appear [Eleni Mantzourani, 2003].
Other types of artefacts that occurred in Kantou-Kouphovounos are the following: a few anthropomorphic figurines made of picrolite and limestone, pendants, amulets, beads, dress pins and others, all made of picrolite, as well as an adequate number of small pierced limestone discs “of uncertain use” [Eleni Mantzourani, 2003].
According to Mantzourani, “the settlement yielded considerable quantities of pottery, although the state of its preservation is often very fragmentary and worn”. They bear the Combed ware type [the most popular in production, 47% in the initial phase and 35% in the final], the Red Monochrome [Red Lustrous or Matt or Red Slip, 29.5% in the initial phase and 23% in the final] type, the Red on White type, the Red on White and Combed style, as well as the Coarse ware type. Painted pottery motifs show a great variety; the main patterns are wavy bands and lines set vertically, horizontally, diagonally, circles, lattice, hatching, chevrons, dot borders, crescents and others. “It is obvious that Kantou pottery is very much like that of Sotira [Teppes] in both shapes and decoration techniques, motifs and styles” [Eleni Mantzourani, 2003]. It mainly includes both open and closed vessels such as bowls of various sizes, flasks, a small number of hole mouth jars and a few types of coarse ware shapes of which the most abundant was the tray [Eleni Mantzourani, Ioannis Voskos 2019].
According to Mantzourani, in house 15 two tombs were found in two pits dug in the floor. The first, 32 x 40 cm contained an infant, and another 99 x 46, contained the remains of the skeleton of a man in a flexed position. The filling of the tomb brought to light a few shells, chipped stone flakes, a ground stone tool, pottery sherd and debris, but according to Mantzourani “no burial gifts were deposited in either tomb”. Generally in Kouphovounos, “the dead could be buried inside or outside the houses, in specially reserved ground” [Eleni Mantzourani, 2003]. According to Korali remains of a total of four people have been found during the excavations, inside or outside the houses [Eleni Mantzourani, Ioannis Voskos 2019], but no cemetery has been found/excavated up to date.
Remains of flora and fauna
According to Mantzourani, the flora found represents primarily einkorn, and at much less emmer, domesticated barley, lentil, vetch, pea and grape. The animal bones were found in very poor condition and in small quantities [Eleni Mantzourani, 2003] and according to Korali, they included primarily sheep, goat and deer, as well as a plethora of marine species, and some evidence of pigs [Eleni Mantzourani, Ioannis Voskos 2019].
The importance of the site of Kantou-Kouphovounos
Kantou-Kouphovounos was more (continuously, non-interrupted) long-lived than its contemporary sites, since it was inhabited earlier and abandoned later than Sotira-Teppes and Ayios Epiktitos-Vrysi [Eleni Mantzourani, Ioannis Voskos 2019].
Sotira-Teppes [5,000-4,000 BC]
The Ceramic Neolithic site at Sotira, according to Dikaios, illustrates the phase of culture which falls between that of Khirokitia and that of Erimi, somewhat later and more developed. The Sotira site “is thus an important link in the development of the Neolithic culture of Cyprus. The settlement covers an area of 810 m² and on the plateau 23 house units were excavated [Porphyrios Dikaios, 1952].
A well-defended location
The site is named after the hill Teppes on which’s top exclusively it is located, which is clearly a defensive location. According to Dikaios, it holds a commanding position and forms a prominent feature easily identified from all directions. “The slopes chosen for this purpose are the southern and southeastern ones, while the northern and western ones, being abrupt, remained uninhabited. They were, however, strengthened with a massive wall”. Regarding the water sources, “there exist two springs of perennial water, one within the modern village and another rising from an impressive cave a few hundred yards south of the ancient site” [Porphyrios Dikaios, 1952].
According to Dikaios, the ground plans of the exposed houses belong to three main types: (1) the circular, which may be slightly elongated; (2) the circular with one straightened side, forming a horse-shoe plan; (3) the rectangular with rounded angles. The placing of the house units on the site does not show any systematic arrangement with deliberate planning of houses and streets. Houses are erected rather haphazardly with narrow spaces for circulation left between them. In some cases, larger irregular spaces are left between house units, but these spaces are occupied by subsidiary light structures used as kitchens or workshops. “The walls of the dwellings of all types have a lower part built of stones (mostly limestone boulders) while the superstructure which has not survived”, and Dikaios presumes it was made of sun-dried mudbricks with a small quantity of stones “probably inserted to strengthen the mudbrick”. Regarding the roofing, it “must have been different in the various types of dwellings. The circular or oblong houses must have had thatched roofs” and “the roof of the horse-shoe shaped hut must have been a half-dome of pisé”. As far as the rectangular houses are concerned “the roofing must have been of beams and thatching, probably flat with vertical posts resting in the floor and supporting the roof-beams. Central post-holes have been found in nearly all the floors of the rectangular houses but post-holes are also found in other parts of the floor and in some cases near the walls”. Regarding the flooring and hearths, “the floors were made of yellowish mud or soil, beaten hard. The main feature on them was the hearth. Nearly all the houses possessed a hearth, some even having two. These hearths were built of yellow pisé and were circular in plan approximately one meter across. They were raised 15-20 centimetres above the general level of the floor and had at the centre a circular depression in which the fire was made … The position of the hearth varies, but central hearths have been found” [Porphyrios Dikaios, 1952].
Cooking was done in subsidiary huts adjoining the main ones. Here the floors were burnt by the continuous use of fire, and charcoal was found in quantities [Porphyrios Dikaios, 1952].
According to Dikaios, the pottery found on the floors included Red Lustrous ware [Red Slip or Red Monochrome ware], Combed ware, and Red on White ware. Deep bowls, open bowls with spouts, milk bowls and jugs were the four common shapes. The Combed ware is the most abundant of all and is most characteristic of the site [Porphyrios Dikaios, 1952].
Dikaios, who excavated the site, mentioned in 1948: “A number of floors paved with pebbles were brought to light with, in two of them, two burials” [Porphyrios Dikaios, 1948].
Philia-Drakos is a village settlement located on the southern slope of the shallow Ovgos river valley, consisting of small sub-rectangular buildings with stone-built foundations supporting walls of mud or other materials. According to Croft (2013), the settlement was at least partly surrounded by a substantial wall and ditch arrangement. “It was occupied probably discontinuously, from an initial phase of the Ceramic Neolithic Period” [Paul Croft, 2013].
According to Watkins (1970), pottery in Philia-Drakos passed through four phases [Joanne Clarke, 1992]. According to Watkins (1969), during the initial phase, the pottery was characterised by the Dark-Faced Burnished Ware [DFBW], with an absence of the Red on White ware that characterises the three subsequent phases on the site [Paul Croft, 2013]. Red on White pottery appears initially in small percentages in the second phase [Joanne Clarke, 1992].
According to Croft (2013), a part (3343 fragments) of the bone remains of mammals found at the site belong to deer (66,5%), sheep and goats (22,6%), pig (9,1%), dog (1,2%), fox (0,5%) and cat (0,1%). Non-mammalian remains include three bird bones, a carapace fragment of a freshwater turtle, and nine claws of freshwater crab [Paul Croft, 2013].
Paralimni-Nissia [4,600-3,900 BC]
According to Flourentzos, Paralimni-Nissia is a settlement from the Ceramic Neolithic (4600 to 3900 BC), excavated between 1995-2000. It is located near Paralimni, on the southeast coast of Cyprus, on a rock above a small bay. In the north, the torrent “Potamos tou Lombarti” carried fresh water until the 1930s [Wikipedia].
Not more than 40 circular and subrectangular buildings were exposed at a depth of 20 to 30 cm. The development of the 3250 m² site is arranged around a central plateau. The architecture of the building is reminiscent of that of Kantou-Kouphovounos and Sotira-Teppes in the central Limassol region. The building walls are made of rubble or boulders. Occasionally, walls separate the space between the buildings, a feature also known from Be’er Sheva . It is believed that the shape was adopted from the Levant [Wikipedia].
According to Flourentzos, the 1.8 m wide enclosure wall of the settlement at the base begins on the unpaved coastline and wraps around the land side of the settlement. In the south, there is an entrance near the cliff. In the north, there is a narrower entrance to the river. While the settlement still existed, the wall became less important and development continued outside [Wikipedia].
According to Croft (2013), an assemblage of 1034 identified bones of large mammals comprise of deer (77,1%), sheep and goat (16,7%), pig (4,1%) and some fragments of dog, fox and cat. Marine turtles seem also to have been exploited to some degree at Paralimni-Nissia [Paul Croft, 2013].
Kalavasos-Kokkinoyia [4,500-3,800 BC]
Kalavasos-Kokkinoyia is a Late Neolithic / Early Chalcolithic site, situated in farmland, approximately 4 km south of the village of Kalavasos. It is the most southerly of a cluster of sites located around the intersection of the old Lefkosia/Limassol road and the road to the coastal village of Zygi that include the Early Chalcolithic site Kalavasos-Ayious [2 km away] and the Chalcolithic site of Kalavasos-Pamboules [0.5 km away] [Cyprus Department of Antiquities].
Unusual location, unusual subterranean settlement
Kokkinogia, located on the coastal plain with fully and partly subterranean features, appeared very different from sites usually considered typical of the Late Neolithic Period, as Late Neolithic sites in the southern part of the island are more typically located on hilltops with substantial above-ground architecture, e.g. Sotira-Teppes and Kantou-Koufovounos. According to Clarke, it is within the realms of possibility that Kokkinogia had been a settlement, of which negative features cut into the bedrock were all that survived. “By 2004 excavations had unearthed over nine pit-like features, plus four chambers inter-connected through a series of intricate tunnels, entranceways and portholes [Joanne Clarke, 2009].
At Kokkinogia was uncovered an impressive “chamber and tunnel complex” and a series of individual and inter-joining chambers. The purpose of these underground features remains enigmatic. In addition to the chamber and tunnel complex and the individual chambers, excavations uncovered a single circular structure, partly sunk into the bedrock, with a central post hole, fire pit and a series of crushed limestone floors. This structure appears to have been associated with at least some of the underground chambers but clearly had a different use [Cyprus Department of Antiquities].
Absence of economic data and of the full range of material culture
According to Clarke, ”Kokkinogia lacks the full range of material culture usually found at Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic sites. There are no bone tools (which are common on most prehistoric sites), no small objects, such as hooks, spirals, beads or pendants, and there are no figurines. The absence of figurines would not be unusual for a Late Neolithic site, where imagery of any kind was uncommon, but it is certainly unusual for the Early Chalcolithic period. If Kokkinogia was partly contemporary with Agious one would expect to observe similarities in the pottery and just as importantly, in the types and variety of other objects. Instead, the range of material culture represented is a depleted version of that which might be expected on a typical Late Neolithic settlement site”. Within the artefacts found are included hammerstones, rubbers, utilised pebbles, an anvil, grinders, flint blades, pottery and a moulded unfired cylindrical mud “lamp” [Joanne Clarke, 2009].
According to Clarke, At Kokkinogia, thousands of sherds have been found, “considerably less than what might be expected from a Late Neolithic settlement site, where sherd counts number in the tens of thousands”. The assemblage is characterised by Combed ware and Red Monochrome Painted ware in predominantly Late Neolithic forms, including hemispherical bowls with flat or omphalos bases. “Although a standard range of Late Neolithic pottery is represented, there is a significantly higher proportion of Coarse ware than in other broadly contemporary assemblages” [Joanne Clarke, 2009].
At least six individuals were interred in pits and chambers [chambers appear in Chalcolithic Period] around the only structure unearthed. In one shallow pit was found the fully articulated bones of a young female and the long bones of a second individual. In another pit were three fully articulated skeletons, one on top of the other, and in a chamber-like feature were the stacked bones of another individual [Cyprus Department of Antiquities].
Flora and Fauna
At Agious, the botanical evidence is poor (Hansen 2004) but faunal preservation is good and suggests that deer were predominant (Croft 2004) [Joanne Clarke, 2009].
Ayios Epiktitos-Vrysi [4,400-3,900]
According to Croft, the village settlement of Ayios Epiktitos-Vrysi consisted of superimposed small stone buildings clustered in artificial hollows located on a small headland on the north coast of Cyprus. According to Peltenburg (1982), a substantial ditch defined the landward edge of the settlement in its early phases. According to Peltenburg and Spanou (1999), radiocarbon dates encompasses three phases of occupation, running from circa 4400 to 3900 BC [Paul Croft, 2013].
According to Croft, “a rather small amount of faunal material was reported by A. J. Legge”, and more specifically, 667 fragments were identified. Those, according to Croft belong primarily to goats and sheep (50,4%), fallow deer (37,2%), pig (10,5%), and a few fragments belong to dog, fox and cat. Fish remains were recovered “in surprisingly small quantities in view of the coastal location of the site” [Paul Croft, 2013].
Other settlements include Klepini-Troulli and Orga-Palialona.