Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Stuart Swiny

Abstract

The Early Bronze Age of Cyprus is not a very well understood chronological period of the island for a variety of reasons. These include: the inaccessibility of the northern part of the island after the Turkish invasion, the lack of a written language, and the fragility of Cypriot artifacts. Many aspects of protohistoric Cypriot life have become more understood, such as: the economic structure, social organization, and interactions between Cyprus and Anatolia. Despite this improvement in some areas, religion is still largely not understood. With the arrival of new animals and symbols, there is clearly a shift in reverence. However, how this shift came about and what these new practices represented is not clear. This paper analyzes these new practices and symbols in light of the surrounding mainland, specifically the Levant, Anatolia, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. By analyzing the similarities between these various cultures and Cyprus through pottery and iconographic representations, and understanding the temporal contexts of these changes, the determination of whether or not ideologies were transmitted to Cyprus or originated on the island will be concluded. Three aspects of Early Bronze Age Cypriot religion will be examined: fertility, bulls, and snakes. Then, a comprehensive analysis of the possible transmission of a fusion goddess with Levantine, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian qualities will be undertaken. It is my conclusion that the bull cult originated in Anatolia and made its way through the mass migration of its population to Cyprus in the mid-third millennium. The snake cult has more shadowy origins but most likely began on the island itself, but took qualities from the populations the islanders interacted with. Last, Inanna-Ištar was brought to Cyprus during the latter half of the third millennium, most likely through the Temple of Byblos where Ba’alat Gebal was worshipped.

Included in

Anthropology Commons

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