Maher in Cypress.

The recent recognition of Late Epipalaeolithic sites on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus moves the date of early explorers to the island back at least 3000 years, changing our preconceptions about the nature of these first settling communities. Evidence at these early sites suggests that people were bringing plants and animals with them from the mainland (Simmons 1999), creating a sense of home in an unfamiliar landscape. It seems that early occupation of Cyprus was characterized by a few widely dispersed sites occupied or used by small groups of settlers testing resource possibilities in a new landscape (Stewart, 2006; McCartney et al. 2007, McCartney et al. 2010, Stewart et al. 2017). Building on past research, and after two seasons of survey (2018-2019), the Ancient Seafaring Explorers of Cyprus project excavated two recently discovered Epipalaeolithic sites in May 2023. This fieldwork built our knowledge of the earliest explorers to Cyprus. These sites are located on the southern coast of Cyprus, in the Larnaca District near the village of Mazotos (Stewart et al. in review). Perched above the Mediterranean Sea on the top of a cliff, these two Epipalaeolithic occupations provide a window into the lives of these early settlers and allow us to construct a more complete picture of the earliest occupations on Cyprus. Excavations of these sites links material culture between these occupations and other Epipalaeolithic sites across the landscape, providing a testable means of establishing potential pathways established by early settlers. From this evidence, we can examine landscape use beyond simple connections between sites and resources to consider other more nuanced economic and social patterns of use for first landfall sites, established settlements, and pathways linking these sites to a variety of local resources, landmarks, and socially constructed places.

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