Interests: Mediterranean Archaeology; Art and Archaeology of Cyprus; Bronze Age.
After undertaking archaeological research in Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan from 1967 to 1974 I began investigating the Early and Middle Bronze Age of Cyprus (ca. 2500-1600 B.C.) as viewed from the east instead of from a more traditional western Aegeo-centric perspective. My intention was to gain a more balanced understanding of a period renowned for its rich burials, but in the absence of excavated settlements, with little information on the culture of the living. Furthermore, major issues concerning the very origins and dating of the Cypriot Early Bronze Age remained unresolved at that time.
My excavations at Episkopi Phaneromeni and Sotira Kaminoudhia provided the first detailed picture of the evolving architectural traditions, subsistence economy and burial practices over a 600 year span in the south of the island. This was a formative period which saw the development of a stratified, complex society, and prepared the way for the emergence of Late Bronze Age Cyprus as a major player in the economic and political Mediterranean world system.
The publication of Sotira Kaminoudhia: An Early Bronze Site in Cyprus contains studies of the environment, settlement patterns, flora and fauna, human remains and the material culture. This culture is compared, where appropriate, with contemporary developments in the Aegean and the Near East. The Kent State University Excavations at Episkopi Phaneromeni provides a sequel to the earlier site.
The search for Cypriot origins progressively led me back in time to investigate the earliest occupants of Cyprus, namely pygmy hippopotami and dwarf elephants, and issues surrounding their sudden disappearance, apparently corresponding to the arrival of the first human colonists. In 1998 the University at Albany hosted a conference on this general topic with the title: The Earliest Prehistory of Cyprus: From Colonization to Exploitation.
Since joining the University and becoming director of the Institute of Cypriot Studies, I have organized several field projects on the island, mostly staffed by undergraduate and graduate students from UAlbany. Cypriot studies are enhanced by the availability of the Belcher Collection of Cypriot Antiquities, with representative materials from all periods.
The Sotira Archaeological Project has resumed excavations at Kaminoudhia and we are currently investigating, with the support of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, a probable ceremonial complex located within the settlement. If it can be conclusively demonstrated that a large and unique open building subdivided by parapet walls and approached by a wide street was the center of ritual activity, then we will have discovered the earliest (ca. 2230 BC) evidence for Bronze Age cult on Cyprus. Later, the island renowned for its shrine dedicated to the fertility goddess Ahprodite became a major center of religious worship in the Greco-Roman world.
Select Publications Since 2000
Sotira Kaminoudhia an Early Bronze Age Site in Cyprus. Eds. S. Swiny, G. Rapp and E. Herscher. CAARI Monograph Series, Vol 4. American Schools of Oriental Research Publications, Boston.
The Earliest Prehistory of Cyprus: From Colonization to Exploitation. (Ed.) Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute Monograph Series, Vol. 2. Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research Publications.
Articles and Book Chapters
Small Scale Archaeological Surveys in Cyprus. In proceedings of the International Conference on Archaeological Surveys in Cyprus. British School of Archaeology at Athens. Studies 11.
CAARI. The House of the Dancing Bird. A History of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus. 1978-2000. J. D. Seger (ed). Pp. 319-376. Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research.
Swiny, Stuary and C. Mavromatis. Land behind Kourion. Cyprus: Report of the Department of Antiquities. Pp. 433-452.