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Ceramic Neolithic (Sotira culture) - 4,500 - 4,000 BC

Exhibition: There are a few sherds from the Cypriot Ceramic Neolithic period in the Bryn Mawr Collections Click here to view the collection of Red on White Combed Ware sherds. Click here to view Red on White Ware sherds.

Period overivew: Following the end of the Late Aceramic Neolithic/ Khirokitian phase, there is a significant cultural discontinuity on Cyprus. This gap in the archaeological record is about 500 years between 5000 and 4500 BC. Around 4500 BC, a new wave of settlers occupied the island. This society represents the Ceramic Neolithic period and is often referred to as the Sotira culture after the type site of Sotira-Teppes. Ceramic Neolithic sites were often located on the coast and on high ground as defensive planning was an important aspect to the settlements. Ceramic Neolithic sites are not found on the western part of the island or on the Karpass peninsula. Two important Ceramic Neolithic sites are Sotira-Teppes and Ayios Epiktitos-Vyrsi (see pictures to the right). Sotira had 47 structures and was abandoned at the very beginning of the 4th millennium BC. Ayios Epiktitos-Vrysi is well known for semi-subterranean houses with sunken floors. Some of the structures are nearly 6 meters in depth. Other sites during this period include Philia-Drakos (which also has subterranean chambers), Troulli and Khirokitia (the site had a Ceramic Neolithic phase as well as Aceramic).

In contrast to the Aceramic phase, the Sotira culture demonstrates fully developed ceramic technology. There is a dearth of evidence for any developmental pottery stages and combed ware pottery dominates this period in the southern sites. There is also evidence for household production of the pottery. In further contrast to the preceding period, the domestic structures of the Ceramic Neolithic are primarily rectangular with rounded corners and the burials are extramural instead of under the house floor. Despite evidence of settlers who brought new technologies and techniques, there is no evidence for external trade although intra-site contact on the island is probable. Social stratification is also difficult to ascertian during this period.

The Ceramic Neolithic is a short-lived period, especially in comparison to the Aceramic phase. The exact reason for the abandonment of the settlements at the end of the Ceramic Neolithic is a mysetery. Some scholars argue for an island wide gap in the archaeological record while others envision a direct transition into the Early Chalcolithic period. It is clear that the dearth of knowledge of the Early Chalcolithic period, from 4,000 until 3,500 BC, has really hindered our understanding of the end of the Neolithic period and the beginning of the Chalcolithic period.

Below: View of Sotira-Teppes. Notice the rectilinear structures with rounded corners.

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Below: View of Ayios Epiktitos-Vrysi. Notice the subterranean spaces of the structures.

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Red on White Combed Ware in the Bryn Mawr Collections

P-3989

P-3990

P-3997

Red on White Ware in the Bryn Mawr Collections

P-3934

P-3988

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