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DRAFT MAY 5, 2014.


Settlement on Cyprus in the 7th and 8th Century

William R. Caraher, University of North Dakota
R. Scott Moore, Indiana University of Pennsylvania


The 7th and 8th centuries on Cyprus remain a vexing period for historians and archaeologists
alike. The obscure nature of the historical narrative for this period has provided an opportunity for
archaeology to fill the gap in our understanding of the history of the island. To do that,
archaeologists have reconsidered the traditional view of these centuries on Cyprus as a period of
economic, demographic, and cultural decline reflective of the large-scale disruptions in the Eastern
The needs of the capital in Constantinople and the military in both the Balkans and
the Levant enlivened the economic networks that engaged the island and the region during the 6th
and 7th centuries. These same networks, however, reeled under the collapse of Roman political
hegemony. Wars, plagues, and various official efforts to resettle disruptive or displaced populations
reshaped the population of the Roman Mediterranean and invariably had an impact on the
organization of settlement. In the traditional narrative of Mediterranean history in the 7th and 8th
centuries, these economic and demographic changes had a profound impact on the urban fabric, on
architectural innovation, and on the extent and intensity of rural settlement.
On Cyprus, Arab raids
during the middle decades of the 7th century presented a local anchor to the larger narrative of
Mediterranean disruption and decline at the end of Roman antiquity. Further complicating the
events of this period is the complex political situation on the island which may have seen some kind
of joint Byzantine and Arab control or at least taxation of the island, as well as the presence of an
Arab garrison.

A circular reading of archaeological evidence from the island has tended to reinforce a traditional
picture of the 7th and 8th century as a period of disruption and change. Archaeologists frequently
attribute destruction layers at Late Roman sites on the island to the depredations of the Arabs.

Scholars have used the Arab raids to explain the abandonment of the major urban site of Kourion
on the central coast.
They have long attributed to Arab raids the destruction of churches across the
island, from the rural basilica complex at Alassa,
to the multiple churches of the community at Ay.
the coastal church of Maroni-Petrera,
or at the site studied by the authors of this
volume at Pyla-Koutsopetria on Larnaka Bay.
The transformation of wood-roofed basilicas to barrel-
vaulted churches has become emblematic of the Cypriot response to the destruction caused by the
Arab raids.
In most cases, the date for the destruction of these buildings rests on the coincidence of
ceramics, coins, and the historical narrative. Archaeological artifacts that should provide a terminus
post quem consistently reinforce attributions to specific historical events rather than more

Metcalf 2009, 573-575 for a summary of the traditional perspective.
See Haldon and Brubaker 2011, 531-572 for the most recent survey of these centuries.
Papageorghiou 1985 for the effect of Arab raids on the basilica churches on the island.
Megaw 1993, but since revised in Megaw 2007.
Florentzos 1996, 2.
Bakirtsis 1995; Papacostas 2001
Manning 2002
Megaw 1946; See Stewart 2010 for a critical evaluation of this traditional view and a summary of subsequent
chronologically indistinct historical processes. The tendency to associate the end of these sites with
the Arab raids has produced a largely monocausal argument for a seemingly abrupt transformation
of the settlement on Cyprus.

Over the past two decades, however, scholars have become increasingly skeptical of the
monocausal explanation for the 7th century settlement change. For example, Marcus Rautmans
study of the village site of Kopetra in the Kalavassos Valley argued that the site depended upon the
integrated economy and administrative influences of Roman hegemony in the Eastern
Mediterranean which facilitated the export of agricultural products from the island and support of
mining operations in the copper rich Troodos mountains.
The abandonment of the settlement in
the late-7th century represented the disruption of economic and political networks brought about by
the Arab conquest of the Levant, incursions on the island, and activities in Cilicia in Asia Minor. The
decline of Kopetra, in this context, was a local adaptation to the changing place of Cyprus in the
political and economic life of the region.

The following contribution to this discussion shares more with Rautmans perspectives than the
traditional views. It will locate the transitional 7th and 8th centuries, first, in a regional context and
then as a series of archaeological problems. The regional situation and archaeological context
provides the basis for some generalizations about urban and rural settlement on Cyprus supported
by specific examples. Recent work by L. Zavagno, D. Metcalf, T. Papacostas, M. Rautman, and
others provide a comprehensive and sophisticated reading of the problems and prospects associated
with analyzing this period in the archaeological record and these efforts provide a solid guide for this
We have avoided sustained discussion of the complex literary sources for these centuries and
have focused on the complexities of the archaeological record with the understanding that the
material culture of the island can tell a complementary, but independent story of these opaque
centuries. The picture that arises from the lacunose and problematic archaeological perspective for
these centuries is of a population that adapted longstanding networks and settlement patterns to
contingent economic and political situations on the island.

The Regional Context for Settlement on Cyprus

As the contributions to this volume demonstrate, larger patterns exist in settlement of the 6th-
8th century Mediterranean. Increased attention to later levels at urban sites, the expansion of
intensive pedestrian survey, and growing interest in rural sites ranging from fortifications to villages
have created a landscape that is far more complex than earlier narratives of decline have suggested.
This recent work has provided not just a historical and archaeological context for the period on
Cyprus, but also a growing terminology for reconceptualizing the transformation of settlement.
scholars like A. Dunn and M. Veikou have noted,
the changing character of settlement has
confounded expectations grounded in the study of ancient landscapes. For example, there is reason
to suspect that the 7th century saw the blurring of the distinction between urban and rural sites, the
emergence of new kinds of rural sites, such as monasteries, without clear antecedents in earlier
periods, and the end of settlement types, like market towns, associated with the last great flourishing

Rautman 2003, 235-262.
Zavagno 2009, 2011, 2011-2012, 2013; Metcalf 2009; Papacostas 1999, 2001; Rautman 2003.
Haldon and Brubaker 2011.
Viekou 2009, 2010; Dunn 1994, 1997, 2005; Haldon and Brubaker 2011, 533.
of Roman economic activity in the Eastern Mediterranean. This new landscape did not coincide
neatly with earlier landscapes either in terms of types of settlement or their extent.

Haldon and Brubakers magisterial overview of society in the iconoclast era provides a point of
departure for any consideration of 7th and 8th century settlement in the Eastern Mediterranean.

While emphasizing regional variation, they nevertheless identify significant changes to the economic
and political foundations of settlement across the region. Urbanism of the Late Roman period
witnessed the last great investment in urban space in antiquity with the construction of churches,
baths, fountains, and walls, and the transformation of roads, amenities, and public spaces that
adapted urban space to the values and needs of the Late Roman community. Against the backdrop
of flourishing Late Roman urbanism, the 7th century saw a seemingly rapid decline in the size,
complexity, and economic prominence of urban areas throughout the Balkans and Anatolia,
revealing the impact of demographic decline, military instability, and economic disintegration across
the region. Communities across Asia Minor and the Aegean witnessed the ravages of the recurrent
Justinianic plague as well as military insecurity brought about by the Persian War and the growing
threat of Slavic and Arab raids of the 7th and 8th centuries. As a result, cities contracted in area and
constructed fortified enceintes enclosing only a small area of the earlier city. The economic and
administrative prominence of urban areas likely persisted, but at a reduced scale as military instability
undermined longstanding economic relationships between urban areas and local and distant markets.
The transformation of the highly urbanized world of Late Antiquity represented a crucial nexus of
administrative, economic, political, and social change.

The overall impact of these interrelated trends on the structure of settlement varied across the
Early Byzantine world with some areas like Anatolia and the southern Balkans seeing the rise of
highly nucleated, fortified cities, the displacement of urban populations to more dispersed
settlements, or the disappearance of urban areas almost entirely. Cyprus remained insulated, but not
isolated from these trends. The military disruptions and contraction of urban space and populations
in Cilicia and Pisidia over the course of the 7th century almost certainly led to the decline in nearby
markets for Cypriot commodities and trade in the region more generally.
Likewise, the more
complex disruptions in the northern Levant, particularly Antioch and environs, had an impact on
regional markets.
Even when these disruptions did not affect urban areas on Cyprus directly, as the
cities on the island appear to enjoyed stability until middle decades of the 7th century, they did
destabilize the longstanding economic, political, social, and even military relationships between
communities in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The transformation of the urban world in the 7th and 8th centuries accompanied changes in the
structure of rural settlement. While rural life in the 5th and 6th centuries boomed alongside urban
prosperity across most the Eastern Mediterranean, scholars have long recognized a steep decline in
rural communities starting in the late 6th century in the Balkans and continuing into the 7th century
in Asia Minor and the Levant.
Fortifications appeared alongside or in the place of rural farms and
villages either as the home for garrisons or as places of refuge for local populations rendered
vulnerable by the military instability of the borders.
At the same time, detecting the rise of villages

Haldon and Brubaker 2011.
Decker and Kingsley 2001.
Casana 2014.
Bowden and Lavan 2003.
Dunn 2005.
as both centers of settlement and as the basic unit for the emerging Byzantine economy has played a
key role in efforts by scholars to find the leading edge in the reorganization of productive landscape
in the post-antique era. Unfortunately, relatively few rural sites have seen systematic excavation in
the Eastern Mediterranean and intensive pedestrian survey has struggled to distinguish monasteries,
villages, and rural churches, in the archaeological record.
While the regional perspectives offered by
intensive survey hold forth the potential to produce a Byzantine landscape, at present the limitations
of our methods have obscured our ability to identify consistently the surface signatures of short-
term activities. Some of this has to do with ongoing difficulties recognizing and dating 7th and 8th
century ceramics on the surface as various authors in this volume have noted and we will discuss in
greater detail later. It also involves our difficulty in recognizing the signatures of small sites or short-
term occupation on the surface in any period.
The ambiguity associated with the basic structures of
rural life during a particularly dynamic period in Mediterranean history has led M. Veikou to argue
for the existence of new forms of settlement, third spaces, in the landscape that subvert and defy
the traditional categories of settlement linked to Classical understandings of rural and urban and
monumental or temporary.
Recognizing, for example, evidence for occasional squatting or
buildings made of non-permanent materials like wood or mud brick on the surface remains a
challenge for understanding contingent activities in the landscape.

Constructing a normative view of the Late Antique or Early Byzantine countryside remains
difficult. Traditional notions of decline, contraction, and abandonment have given way to more
nuanced and regional perspectives that complicate any universalizing perspectives.
At the same
time, we are more aware of the interconnections or, to use Horden and Purcells term,
connectivity between micoregions, sites, and communities in the Mediterranean basin.
systemic approach to understanding the effects of instability of on interdependent and connected
communities reminds us how insular places like Cyprus can nevertheless feel the effects of larger
changes in prosperity or integration elsewhere in the network. Indeed, the insularity of Cyprus, in a
literal sense, ensured its entrenched position within a large and complex Mediterranean system and
contributed both to the islands resilience as well as its vulnerability to economic, political, and social
change in the region.

Evidence for Settlement on Cyprus

Nowhere is the integrated position of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean more clear than in
the archaeological evidence for settlement. Traditionally, scholars have relied on the careful study of
ceramics, coins and seals, and architecture to provide evidence for the extent and character of
settlement. These objects also represent the degree to which Cyprus was integrated into a regional
social and economic system. Thus, each type of evidence presents its own interrelated challenges
that shape the kinds of landscape that these types of artifact produce. The material culture provides
evidence by analogy for settlement as well as evidence for the connectivity and economic strategies
at play among the island communities.


Sanders 2004 for a summary of many of these issues.
E.g. Bintliff et al. 1999.
Veikou 2009.
Kourelis 2010.
Horden and Purcell 2000.
Leonard 2005.

Ceramic evidence plays a key role in dating settlements, establishing local and regional trade
connections, and understanding production within the Cypriot economy. Fortunately, the last four
decades have seen a massive improvement in our ability to unpack the significance of ceramic
assemblages on Cyprus. The publication of production sites both on Cyprus and in the wider region
as well as significant assemblages from sites like Anemurium on the Cilician coast have provided a
regional context for Cypriot assemblages.
On Cyprus, excavators have systematically published a
range of deposits including both urban centers at Paphos and Kourion and more rural sites like
Kalavassos-Kopetra, Panayia-Ematousa, and Dhiorios.
Furthermore, survey projects and less
systematic publications offer a substantial and diverse body of ceramic material from both major
sites and landscapes across the island.
Finally, there is a wealth of important material still awaiting
publication from both major sites whose excavations were disrupted by the 1974 invasion and the
salvage excavation of dozens of basilicas and significant coastal sites at Pyla-Koutsopetria, Dreamers
and Ay. Georgios-Peyia,
as well as a growing number of shipwrecks.
The distribution and
chronology of ceramics on Cyprus provides a key indicator of settlement as well as the integration of
the island in the wider economy.

Since the publication of John Hayes magisterial Late Roman Pottery, our appreciation and
understanding of Late Roman fine wares in the Mediterranean has much more solid footing.
continuous, incremental revision of Hayess founding efforts have pushed the latest types of most
common Late Roman red slips - Phocaean red slip (Late Roman C), African red slip, and Cypriot
red slip (Late Roman D) ware - well into the 7th and even 8th century. The continued circulation of
these red slips has been central to arguments for the persistence of Mediterranean trade and the
production of red slipped fine wares for over a century longer than traditional assessments. For
example, well-forms of Cypriot red slip (LRD) from Anemurium date to middle decades of the 7

P. Armstrong, following H. Catlings excavations at Dhiorios on Cyprus,
has reminded
us that certain LRD forms including the common and long-lived Form 9 have appeared in contexts
dated securely to the middle decades of the 8th century.
The recent publication of kilns nearby in
Pamphylia indicates that LRD ware was not produced exclusively on Cyprus and may have entered
the island on the western side and circulated across the island from there.
Sites further east have
LRC and African red slip in higher percentages than those to the west.

The production of various kinds of utility wares across the island reflects a range of different
production strategies and economic networks. The best-known kilns at Dhiorios appear to have
produced cooking wares for both local use and regional exchange at least until the 8th century.

William 1989.
Paphos: Meyza 2007; Kourion: Hayes 2007; Kopetra: Rautman 2004, Panayia-Ematousa: Lund 2006, Jacobsen 2006;
Dhiorios: Catling 1972.
Manning 2002; Flourentzos 1996; Lund 1993; Moore and Gregory 2003; Catling 1970.
Leonard and Demesticha 2004
Bakirtsis 1995; 1996.
The Wanger 2013.
Hayes 1972.
Williams 1977.
Catling 1972.
Armstrong 2009. N.B. H. Meyza has muddied the waters by arguing that some of the traditionally late forms of LRD
could also appear early.
Jackson et al. 2012.
Calting 1972; Armstrong 2009.
Like LRD fine wares, Dhiorios ware are diagnostic and seem to appear more consistently in
assemblages on the western half of the island than in the eastern parts. On a more local scale, M.
Rautman has identified a class of handmade wares that were almost certainly produced on a
household or village level for very local consumption.
At the village site of Kalavassos-Kopetra,
these vessels appeared in contexts contemporary with imported fine wares like African red slip and
locally produced cooking wares from Dhiorios in the 7th century.
The contemporaneity of
transmediterranean, regional, and local pottery has complicated our chronological assumptions
about the development and access to various ceramic types on the island.

Perhaps the best known and most widely distributed ceramic type from the island is Late Roman
1 amphora.
As S. Demesticha describes in greater detail elsewhere in this volume, the third
generation of LR1 amphoras with clearly 7th century dates circulated widely in the Eastern
Mediterranean and most likely reflected, at least in part, an administrative convenience tied to the
provisioning the military.
It is clear that these amphora and their variants such as the widely
produced LR13, circulated into the 8th century suggesting that at least some of the administrative
and economic connections of the empire persisted into the Byzantine world.

Coins and Seals

The challenges associated with understanding the significance of Late Roman coins from
excavated contexts on Cyprus is well-known, but rarely discussed. Coins frequently serve to date the
abandonment or destruction of buildings in the 7th century and are assumed to be the latest object
in a level, fill, or on a surface. Archaeologically, this is a problematic assumption stemming in large
part from the unimpeachable chronological authority of the coin as a dated object. Unlike ceramic
chronologies which have proven particularly fluid in Late Antiquity, coins would appear to associate
archaeological features with political figures and events. At the same time, coins remain dependent
on supply, and during periods of economic instability, archaeologists have to consider most carefully
the relationship between the frequency of coins in circulation and their tendency to appear in
archaeological contexts.

This is particularly significant for Cyprus where issues of Heraclius and Constans II have often
played an outsized role in the dating of archaeological events on the island.
Not only did Heraclius
briefly mint coins on the island from 608-610 when he used the island as a staging area for his
but also during his reign troops cycled through Cyprus to his campaigns during the Persian
War in the Levant. The frequency of coins dating to the reign of Heraclius and his successor
Constans II to pay troops staged on Cyprus contrasts strongly with the nearly absolute collapse of
currency supply in the final quarter of the 7th century.
The disruption of regional mints owing to

Rautman 1998.
Rautman 2004; Rautman 2003, 212.
Riley 1979 and 1981.
Elton 2005: Demesticha 2013, 176.
Armstrong 2009.
For recent survey of numismatic evidence for the 7th century on Cyprus see: Zavagno 2011 and Metcalf 2009, 159-
181. For issues related to the use of coins in dating see Slane and Sanders 2005; Sanders 2005.
A quick survey of R. Maguires 2012 catalogue of churches on Cyprus produced nearly a dozen churches dated by
coins of Heraclius or Constans II. This is not limited to Cyprus, of course, but is an issue throughout the Levant, see:
Walmsley 2007.
Metcalf 2009, 159-161.
Metcalf 2009, 148-158.
the Arab conquests resulted in an almost singular dependence of Cyprus on currency minted in
Constantinople. Moreover, disruptions to the regional economy and the ambiguous condominium
arrangement on the island all contributed to a massive drop in the number of large, easily recognized
coins available on the island.

The significance of this situation is that we should approach buildings dated on the basis of
coins alone and, in particular coins of Heraclius and his successor with renewed caution. The
presence or absence of coins within an archaeological context reflects more complex processes than
archaeologists have sometimes allowed. The irregular supply of currency to the island in the last
decades of the 7th century poses a challenge to dating levels based on coins as well as understanding
the economic and political integration of the island. The date of the rural site of Kornos cave, for
example, has been dated on the basis of a coin early in the third year of Contans IIs reign, although
the investigator of the cave admitted that a date as late as the early 8th century was possible, he
preferred to associated the cave with the Arab raids of the 650s.
As D. Metcalf has shown, lead
seals have demonstrate that the island remained connected to administrative structure of the
Byzantine state.
In fact, a small group of seals from the coast near Polis have suggested that the
northwestern part of the island remained in contact with the Byzantine fleet stationed along the
Cilician coast as late as the end of the 8th century
. G. Sanders offers a possible solution to this by
suggesting that the seeming absence of numismatic evidence might reflect circulation of very small
issues common in the 7th and 8th centuries which would have slipped through typical 1 cm sieves
unnoticed unlike the larger imperial currency of the 6th and 7th centuries.
The smaller coins served
local residents and represent a resilient, if ultimately more local economy that remained monetized,
but in a way that benefited small-scale exchange rather than the consistent influx of imperial funds.
Until we have more systematic study of small issues, the value of coins for dating the transformation
of settlement on Cyprus will remain limited and the continued dependence of large imperial issues
reveals the codependence of connectivity and archaeological visibility that shaped the value of
ceramics in our understanding of settlement in these tumultuous centuries.


Identifying architecture datable to the 7th and 8th centuries on the island remains bound up in
issues of ceramic chronology and our use of coins. The traditional narrative saw the Arab raids
destroying many of the traditional wood-roofed basilicas on the island. Scholars have argued that
communities rebuilt some of these buildings after the destruction and, in a handful of cases, changed
from wood roofs to barrel vaults. This phenomenon is most evident on the Karpas peninsula where
a well-documented group of these churches stand: Panagia Chrysiotissa (Afentrika), Asomatos
church (Afentrika), Agia Varvara (Koroveia), Panagia Afentrika (Sykhada), and Panagia Kanakari
(Lythrankomi). These churches have attracted significant scholarly attention,
but there is no
stratigraphic or archaeological study of these buildings, and they remain dated on a basis of style and
historical probability. A similar process of barrel-vaulting appears to have occurred at the south
basilica at Polis-Chrysochous in northwest Cyprus. Recent archaeological work has securely dated

Zavagno 2011 for the problems associated with identifying Arab coins consistently.
Catling 1970.
Metcalf 2009; Metcalf 2004.
Metcalf 2009, 101-102.
Sanders 2005.
Most recently Stewart 2010 with references. See, in particular, Megaw 1946.
this transformation to the second half of the 7th century.
It remains impossible, however, to
associate the building with a specific historical event like the Arab raids.

There exists only a handful of buildings that can be clearly associated with the Arab raids. The
most dramatic example comes from Soloi where a long inscription dedicated the reconstruction of
the basilica after it was damaged during the Arab raids.
At Paphos, there are a series of poorly
preserved buildings near the Limeniotissa basilica which featured Arabic inscriptions. One of these
buildings used spolia from the Limeniotissa church and featured a series of Arabic inscriptions
suggesting that this entire neighborhood postdated the Arab invasions and garrison in Paphos.
Salamis-Constantia it appears that the house of lHuilerie was modified for industrial uses in the
later 7th or early 8th century,
as were the churches of Campanopetra and of St. Epiphanius.
evidence from these sites, however, remains relatively provisional as the buildings in Paphos are
relatively unpublished and those from Salamis remain dependent on the vagaries of numismatic and
ceramic evidence presented without comprehensive stratigraphic documentation. The fragmentary
picture derived from architecture does not offer enough of a foundation for an architectural
typology that could shed light on the extensive corpus of unpublished or under-documented
buildings from the end of antiquity.

Urban Settlement

Much of the evidence from Cyprus comes from the substantial, excavated contexts in Cypriot
cities. This is fitting as Cyprus was among the most urbanized areas of the ancient world (and even
modern times). Situated largely on the coastal plain, the cities of Cyprus connected their agricultural
hinterland and the important mineral resources, especially copper, of the Troodos mountains to the
larger Mediterranean world through access to the sea. The urban landscape of Cyprus, then,
depended economically upon connectivity and access to markets and trade networks that
crisscrossed the region with the cities serving administrative functions for their regions. First Paphos
and, then, Salamis-Constantia from the 4th century served as provincial capitals for the Roman
province. Throughout the 6th and 7th centuries, the island enjoyed substantial administrative
contact, access to maritime trade, and prosperous hinterlands. This economic situation created a
scenario where the Late Roman archaeology of Cyprus leaned heavily on the abundant artifacts
associated with this trans-Mediterranean connectivity including imported and exported ceramics,
coins, and, for the Early Byzantine period, lead seals. The highly visible, widely distributed and
abundant evidence from the 6th and first part of the 7th century presented a sharp contract with the
more obscure and fragmentary evidence from the end of 7th and 8th centuries. This dramatic
difference has tended to obscure the more fluid, but nevertheless persistent evidence for economic
activity on a much smaller and more local scale.

Cities and Churches on Cyprus in the Prosperous 7th Century

Any archaeological understanding of the 7th and 8th centuries on Cyprus occurs at the
intersection of larger regional consideration of settlement and the challenges and potential of the

Caraher and Papalexandrou 2012.
Des Gagniers and Tinh 1985, 115-125.
Megaw 1988; Christides 2006.
Argoud et al. 1980.
For the Campanopetra: Roux 1998; For the St. Epiphanius see: Stewart 2008, 63-90.
archaeological evidence. At the same time, scholars have had to accommodate the unique situation
of Cyprus as both an island and one of the most highly urbanized places in the ancient world. Late
Antiquity, in particular, witnessed a flourishing of Cypriot urbanism with both longstanding urban
centers like Kourion,
and Soloi seeing major building projects and
significant prosperity.
These urban areas coincided with a group of new settlement that A. Dunns
has described as non-civic, urban areas. These densely built up centers like Ay. Georgios-Peyia and
Pyla-Koutsopetria on the south coast of the island occupy places between village life and well-
established cities while taking advantage of the thriving maritime networks that intersect on the
Unfortunately, the invasion of 1974 cut off several important urban sites from continued
study, and other sites remain published in only superficial or fragmented ways making it difficult to
grasp the totality of Late Roman Cypriot urbanism.

It is clear that cities continued to attract the attention from wealthy patrons well into Late
Antiquity, and their access to wealth contributed to the great era of church construction on Cyprus
during the 5th and 6th centuries, it is likely that church building in urban areas continued into the
first half of the 7th century. The basilicas constructed at this time tended to be smaller, but remained
architecturally elaborate. The Acropolis basilica at Amathus featured an impressive atrium, porch,
and ambulatory,
and its particular form seems to have inspired modifications to the South Basilica
at Polis-Chrysochous (ancient Arsinoe) which ceramic evidence dates to the first half of the 7th
The Amathus basilica likely had a high profile patron befitting its location and its use of
spolia from the abandoned temple of Aphrodite at the site. Megaw, Stewart, and others have often
argued that the modification of urban basilicas throughout the 7th century was a response to the
destruction of earlier - mostly 5th century - buildings, but the archaeological evidence for this is
unpublished, grounded in architectural typologies, or completely absent.
Whatever the reason for
the modifications of basilicas on Cyprus during this period, they represent the continued prestige of
the church in these communities and their ability to marshal wealth. Bishops from Cyprus remained
active in ecclesiastical politics through the 7th and 8th centuries
, with prominent figures like John
the Almsgiver who was Patriarch of Alexandria in the early 7th century. In the 640s, Leontius of
Neapoliss composed two significant saints lives, the Life of St. John the Almsgiver and the Life of Symeon
the Holy Fool, set in Alexandria and the smaller urban areas in Syria respectively.
Both of these texts
depict prosperous, dynamic communities, but while the former acknowledged the first inklings of
political and economic disruptions, the latter showed a world filled with craftsmen, business owners,
trade, and community. Bishop Arcadius of Salamis-Constantia both commissioned The Life of St. John
the Almsgiver in the 640s, and also deployed the wealth of the church for civic affairs. Arcadius
repaired the extensive aqueduct that fed the city from the foothills of the Troodos in the reign of

Megaw 2007.
Stewart 2008, 63-72.
Megaw 1988.
Gagnier 1985.
Bakirtsis 1985, 1986; Caraher et al. forthcoming.
Aupert 1996; Maguire 2012, 2.8-10.
Caraher and Papalexandrou 2012.
Megaw 1946; Stewart 2008, 2010.
Dikigoropoulos 1965.
Kreuger 1996.
Kreuger 1996.
The cities of Amathus, Paphos, and Salamis appear to have received fortification walls during
the 7th century perhaps in response to either the threat of Arab raids or the earlier threat of the
The extent, character, and date of these walls remains difficult to assess. The fortifications
at Amathus appear to date to the reign of Heraclius.
Megaw argued that Paphos saw a new
fortification wall sometime during the 7
century, but the arguments for the dates of these walls and
exact course remains obscure. Metcalf was particularly critical of Megaws dating of the wall of
Paphos based on ungrounded, historical suppositions.
The walls at Salamis have generally been
seen as a response to the Arab raids rather than in anticipation of them, but the dating evidence is
problematically dependent on presence of burnt mortar that Megaw dates to the second half of the
7th century.
In general, the fortification of these cities is consistent with practices across the
Mediterranean that saw the contraction of urban areas into smaller, fortified enceintes. Walls at Soloi
and Lapethos might also date to the 7th century.
The lack of archaeological evidence to date these
walls or even clearly identify phases has made it impossible to associate these features with particular
events or developments in urban planning.

These transformations of the urban fabric provide only the narrowest windows into the end of
Late Roman urban life. It is clear that civic urban sites and non-civic urban sites saw prosperity into
the 7th century. The site of Polis-Chrysochous, ancient Arsinoe, has produced a massive assemblage of
early 7th ceramics from a fill level associated with the South Basilica.
This assemblage
demonstrates local connections to the ceramic kilns at Dhiorios and locally produced Late Roman 1
amphoras. The assemblage also produced regional fine wares including a full range of LRD or
Cypriot Red slip. Curiously, the assemblage produced a greater number of large LRD vessels,
particularly the Form 12 and Form 8 bowls that appear only rarely elsewhere on the island.

At the ex-urban site of Pyla-Koutsopetria on Larnaka bay, a built up area including at least one
basilica extended for over 40 ha along the coastal plain.
The site represents an example of a non-
civic, urban site like elsewhere on the south coast of the island. The assemblage demonstrated a
much greater degree of Mediterranean connectivity into the 7th century with a wide range of
imported fine wares from North Africa (African Red slip) and Asia Minor (LRC and LRD wares).
The number of Dhiorios wares was vanishingly small indicating another source of cooking and
kitchen wares perhaps either in the Levant or somewhere on the eastern half of the island. Evidence
for economic activity comes from the massive assemblage of Late Roman 1 amphoras suggesting
that this site served as a emporium for the local agricultural areas. The early 7th century text called
the Pratum Spirituale mentioned an emporium called Dadai on Cyprus which had a monastery with a
particularly pious monk,
and sites like Pyla-Koutsopetria, Dreamers Bay, or Ay. Georgios-Peyia
represent other examples of this kind of built up site without civic identity.

Challenges at the End of the 7th and 8th Centuries

Ballandier 2002; Megaw 1985.
P. Aupert et P. Leriche 1988; Aupert 1996, 194-197.
Megaw 1972; Metcalf 284-285.
Balandier 2003; Stewart 2008, 73-74 n. 75 for a full discussion of these issues; Metcalf 2009, 276-281.
Zavagno 2013, 8-9; Christides 2006, 21-24.
Caraher et al. Forthcoming.
Caraher et al. Forthcoming.
Moschos, Prat. Spirit., 30.
The limits of our evidence have a much more significant impact in our understanding of Cypriot
urbanism in the second half of the 7th and the 8th centuries. The difficulties associated with
identifying the Arab raids in the archaeological record and the persistent belief that these raids must
have defined life on the island in this period have shaped in profound ways our understanding of
It may be useful, however, to keep in mind Dikigoropouloss observation from 1961
that the destruction of wood-roofed basilicas need not have been caused by the Arab raids and
might have just as easily been the result of an earthquake or some other disaster.
More importantly,
Dikigoropoulos noted that the decision not to rebuild these buildings, which evoked the apogee of
Late Roman urbanism, was as much a result of depopulation from the plague and responses to the
changing economy.
Thus, urban change emerges less as a catastrophic event and more as a process
taking place over decades.

Salamis-Constantia and Paphos have stood apart in considerations of late 7th and 8th century
urbanism on Cyprus. While neither city has received systematic excavation focusing on the 7th and
8th century, a mosaic of fragmentary evidence from these sites provides narrow windows into the
life of these communities. For Salamis-Constantia, as we have noted, the city gained a new
fortification wall that primarily encompassed the precinct of the church of St. Epiphanios, but
excluded much of the ancient city. There was also a pair of cisterns constructed inside the walls to
provide the community with water in the event of a siege.
Likewise there is evidence that the
Huilerie complex which was originally a house, was developed as an industrial complex including an
oil press and the bath-gymnasium complex also saw some repairs and modifications.
The church of
St. Epiphanius saw rebuilding in the early 8th century and modifications sometime later according to
C. Stewarts recent analysis which has archaeological grounding based the parallels on pottery under
the bema floor that has parallels with admittedly unstratified material from Kornos cave.
Campanopetra basilica continued to stand outside the smaller enceinte and attract visitors
throughout the 7th and 8th century.
The bishop of Salamis-Constantia remained a prominent
figure in ecclesiastical politics and his see a safe harbor for those resisting the iconoclast policies
advancing elsewhere in the Byzantine world.
The community itself was wealthy and seems to have
preserved many of its traditional trading relationships especially with the Levant.
The pilgrim
Willibald visited the churches at Salamis-Constantia in 723 and left us his famous observations of
the island where those Cypriots dwell between the Greeks and the Saracens, and were disarmed,
because a great peace and friendship was then in force between the Saracens and the Greeks.

The city of Paphos may have been the home of an Arab garrison after the conclusion of the
second raid on the island in 653.
Excavations in various areas of the post-Roman city do not
provide a comprehensive picture of urban life, but evidence from Megaws excavations at Saranda
Colonnes, the University of Sydneys work at Fabrika hill, and various excavations associated with

Zavagno 2011-2012, 121-122 for a summary of the traditional view.
Dikigoropoulos 1961.
Papacostas 212-214 for the so-called condominium churches
Stewart 2008, 73.
Zavagno 2011-12, 142; Yon 1980; Argoud et al. 1980
Stewart 2008, 74-75 provides Dikigoropoulos unpublished report on the excavations at St. Epiphanius.
Megaw 2006; Roux 1998.
Dikigoropoulos 1966
Zavagno; Metcalf 2009; Stewart 2008
Wright 1969,14.
Zavagno 2013, 9-10; Megaw 1988; Christides 2006, 51-58, 65-66; But see Metcalf 2009, 285.
the citys destroyed Early Christian basilicas show that the city continued as a nucleated settlement
into the 7th and 8th centuries.
It is likewise clear that the city saw an influx of Arab settlers and
visitors in the aftermath of the Arab invasions.
The prevalence of Arab inscriptions in the city, the
apparent construction of a mosque there, and the appearance of Arab coins suggested to Megaw and
others the presence of an Arab garrison in the city.
Megaws suggestion that the Arab garrison
divided the city into a Christian and Arab quarter rests on very limited evidence.
The withdrawal of
this garrison in 683 has some grounding in historical sources, but in general, the continued presence
of Arab coins, particularly those excavated from the site of Saranda Kolones at Paphos,
and Arabic
inscription dated to the 8th century indicates that the Arab presence in the city was not exclusively
tied to the military garrison.
In fact, the continued appearance of Byzantine coins and inscriptions
suggests that the situation at Paphos, like at Salamis-Constantia, may have more closely approximated
the kind of middle ground recently appropriated by L. Zavagno in his study of the 7th to 9th on
the island.

The site of Kourion provides an alternate perspective on the nature of urban change in later 7th
century Cyprus.
The urban area of the site appears to have been largely abandoned by the final
quarter of the century. Dated on the basis of late issues of Constans II and a single coin of Justinian
II, the major episcopal complex and basilica appear to have collapsed in the final decades of the 7th
century probably as a result of an earthquake.
Evidence survives for some ad hoc efforts to
stabilize the damaged church and continued 8th century habitation on the basis of a handful of Arab
coins dating to after 695, an Arab funerary inscription as well as some Byzantine small issues and
lead seals including one of the Bishop Damianos from around 740.
Megaw argues that most of the
8th evidence is the work of salvage operations and that the city was large abandoned because of the
failure of the citys water supply after the late 7th century earthquake. This also prompted the
moving of the episcopal seat to Episkopi with its barrel-vaulted church at Serayia which included
spolia from the episcopal precinct at Kourion.
The evidence for occupation around the church at
this site is quite scant. If we see the founding of the church at Episkopi as a separate matter from
the complete abandonment of Kourion in the later 7th century, an image appears of the city that is
startlingly similar to that at Paphos or even Salamis. The site appears to have endured significant
decline in the closing decades of the 7th or start of the 8th century, but at the same time there is
strong evidence for Arab and Christian interaction at the site throughout the 8th century suggesting
that the city continued to represent some appeal as a settlement.

The history of Cypriot urbanism in the later 7th and 8th centuries remains opaque. The absence
of systematic archaeological excavation and the comprehensive publication of excavated sites
presents only a fragmented image of Early Byzantine urban life. Despite these limitations, we can see
some general directions. First, as events, the Arab raids had far less of an effect on urban areas than

Megaw 198x; Green et al 2004; Gabrieli et al. 2007; Rowe 2004.
Megaw xxxx; Metcalf 2009, Christides 2006 xx-xx.
Megaw 1988; Christides 2006
Metcalf 2009, 285.
Metcalf 2003,
Christides 2006, 53-58.
Zavagno 2013.
Megaw 2007.
Megaw 2007, 174-176.
Dunn (in Megaw) 2007, 539-540.
Megaw 1993.
conventional wisdom would have us believe. It is clear that the sites of Salamis-Constantia, Paphos,
Soloi, and even Kourion recovered to some extent from either raids or seismic events. Soon to be
published evidence from the urban site of Polis-Chrysochous shows continuous modification of
church architecture into the 8th century.
Next, we can see that urban sites became places for
interaction between Arabs and Christians on the island. Traditional views of the Arab presence on
Cyprus looked for evidence of a garrison or military occupation in the 7th century. The evidence
from urban centers, however fragmentary it is at present, would seem to indicate that Arab speaking
civilians spent time on the island, engaged in economic activity, and perhaps even settled in urban
areas on the island. Finally, Cypriot cities seem to have maintained economic and political
connections with the wider Mediterranean world throughout this period. If Cypriot urbanism
historically depended in part upon the islands position astride trade routes and the islands
connection to the wider region, the transformation of the political and economic networks in the
region, including the rise of Arab involvement in trade and the political and military instability as
Cyprus became a middle ground between two different political systems, invariably shaped the
character of Cypriot cities.

The Cypriot Countryside

The same problems with evidence that impact our understanding of the 7th and 8th century
urban landscapes exist for our understanding of settlement in the countryside. The first two-thirds
of the 7th century are a continuation of the prosperity of Late Antiquity. Marcus Rautman aptly
describes rural Cyprus of this era as a busy countryside.
David Pettegrew in describing this
period in Greece, noted that our ability to recognize widely distributed and abundant Late Roman
ceramic types, like transport vessels with ridges or grooves or highly diagnostic red slip wares,
complicating comparisons between the highly visible Late Roman landscape and the less visible
Pettegrew does well to identify the difficulty of studying the Late Roman landscape at
the precise intersection of archaeological methods and historical processes. While he does not
provide a simple solution to this problem, he nevertheless offers a key reminder that the nature of
rural land use and economic integration often dictates its visibility in the countryside.

A Prosperous Countryside

For much of 6th and 7th century, the countryside of Cyprus was densely occupied. Building on
the basic organization of rural settlement established under centuries of Roman rule and the
resulting economic integration of the Eastern Mediterranean, Late Roman settlement represented a
continuation and intensification of rural land use and settlement.
Extensive and intensive
pedestrian survey and excavation have documented Late Roman activity on landscapes from the
Troodos mountains to valleys and coastal plains of the southern coast.
It is probably not an
exaggeration to say that the Cypriot countryside is among the best-documented landscapes in the

Caraher et al. forthcoming
Zavagno 2013.
Rautman 2000
Pettegrew 2007
Leonard 2005; Rautman 2003; for a wider view of the East see Decker 2009.
Rautman 2003; Srensen and Rupp 1993; Caraher et al 2014; Given and Knapp 2003; Srensen and Jacobsen 2006;
Toumazou et al. 2012; Clarke and Todd 1993; Dikaios 1971; Fefjer 1995; Manning et al. 2002; Given et al. 2013;
Najbjerg et al. 2002; Plat Taylor and Megaw 1980; Rowe 2004; Hadjisavvas 1997; Catling 1972; Catling and
Dikigoropoulos 1970; Swiny and Mavromatis 2000.
Eastern Mediterranean. At the same time, the chronology, function, and character of rural activities
remain hampered by some of the same chronological and methodological limitations that have
shaped our knowledge of urban areas. As many scholars have noted, the quality of unstratified
surface data depends in large part on the quality of well-published, stratified deposits.
Cyprus is unique in possessing a number of excavated rural sites, they have still only provided the
narrowest windows into the character of 7th century settlement across the island.

We have already discussed the emergence of built-up, urban, non-civic sites that exceed 10 ha in
size on the island like Pyla-Koutsoptria or Ay. Georgios-Peyia in the 6th and 7th centuries. These sites
almost certainly represent emporia through which local agricultural goods entered the Mediterranean
market and important agricultural products, table wares, and other commodities came onto the
island. The massive quantities of Late Roman 1 amphora at Pyla-Koutsopetria on Larnaka bay, for
example, suggests that the site functioned to export olive oil and possibly wine.
A similar scatter of
LR1 sherds appears at Dreamers Bay, another emporium type site on the south coast of Cyprus,
indicating that these coastal sites may have served similar functions across the island.
It seems
probable that these emporia complemented the existing urban areas along the coast to support both
local trade as well as the demands placed by the state on Cypriot producers. The incorporation of
Cyprus into the quaestura Iustiniani exercitus along with parts of the Balkans and Aegean clearly
oriented some part of the economy toward the west.
Likewise, Bakirtsis has seen the development
of the coastal site of Peyia as a response to the movement of annona from Egypt to
The growing corpus of evidence from shipwrecks and offshore assemblages along
the Cyprus coast indicates that cabotage continued as well.
The development of these emporia in
the countryside undoubtedly reflect the vibrancy of the regional trade, the productivity of the
Cypriot countryside, and the demands placed on the island by the state.

Further inland from these large, well-developed areas, smaller villages populated the river valleys
along the south slope of the Troodos mountains. Village sites like Kopetra in the Kalavassos Valley
or, in hinterland of Kourion at Alassa, represent a second level of settlement that likely served as
both primary production sites as well as points of contact between the coastal economy and sites
situated on unproductive ground and involved with the extraction of copper from the slopes of the
Rautmans excavations at Kopetra demonstrated that village life was relatively well
integrated in local, regional, and trans-mediterranean economies. Imported fine wares, transport
amphora, Dhiorios type cooking pots as well as more locally produced handmade pottery
demonstrate the range of economic connections that shaped the character of village level settlement
on Cyprus. Similar assemblages appeared at the rural site of Panyia-Ematousa in the hinterland of
ancient Kition.
The material from these sites dates to at least as late as the middle decades of the
7th century. In short, the few village sites systematically excavated on Cyprus reveal communities
engaged in a wide range of economic relationships and embedded in the Mediterranean economy.

Sanders 2005 for this important critique.
Caraher et al. forthcoming; Caraher et al. xxxx.
Leonard and Demesticha 2004.
Chrysos 1993; Lokin 1986; Elton 2005.
Bakirtsis 1995.
Leidwanger 2013.
Rauman 2003; Flourentzos 1996.
Lund 2006; Jacobson 2006.
The presence of imported fine wares in areas documented through intensive pedestrian survey
suggests that 6th and 7th century fine wares are not concentrated just at village sites. While we have
not identified a significant number of villae rusticae in the Cypriot countryside, it seems probable that
they existed particularly on the coastal plains where a certain amount of monoculture allowed for
economies of scale. The villa rustica situated on the arid Akamas peninsula site of Ay. Kononas may
represent the exploitation of marginal areas suitable to niche farming strategies that are dependent
upon strong extraregional connections for staples.
Monasteries represent another kind of rural
activity on a similar scale and with a material signature as villae rusticae or even small settlements.

Rautman argued that the site of Sirmata at Kalavassos-Kopetra likely represented a monastic
establishment, and as we have noted, textual sources indicate that other monastic establishments
existed on the island dating to the 7th century.
Production sites like the kilns at Dhiorios or those
on the coast near the town of Zygi and the recent evidence for extractive activities in the Troodos
indicate that Late Roman period witnessed ongoing, non-agricultural production on a significant
Finally, most of the large-scale surveys on the island have produced a massive quantity of
small (<2 ha) farmsteads.
While the functional identification of small scatters of artifacts,
particular from less systematic and extensive type surveys, remains open to dispute,
widespread identification of Late Roman to Early Byzantine material in the landscape justifies
Rautmans famous claim that Cyprus was a busy countryside. The intensive use of the 7th century
landscape reflects the deep integration of the island in the Mediterranean economy. The visibility of
Late Roman and Early Byzantine ceramics, particular the twisted handles of Late Roman 1 amphora
and the well-made Late Roman red slips, and the wide distribution across the Cypriot landscape.

The landscape of Cyprus through the middle decades of the 7th century reflects the combination
of highly visible artifact types, a sustained period of political and economic stability, and imperial
policies that created outlets for Cypriot agricultural, mineral, and ceramic outputs. Unlike the Balkan
provinces, there is little evidence for direct, imperial investment in the Cypriot countryside although
the poorly documented fortifications along the Kyrenia range may well have Late Roman phases.

The settlement of Armenian mercenaries on the island reported in texts appear to have left no
archaeological traces.

Conclusion: A Contingent Cyprus

By the end of the 7th or the first quarter of the 8th century the structure of rural settlement on
the island appears have undergone a radical change. Regional survey has produced very few rural
sites conclusively dated to later than the first quarter of the 8th, but this is consistent with ongoing
challenges in dating Early Byzantine ceramics and the lack of strong stratigraphic context for the
dating of surface finds. Excavated sites with better chronological control, like Kalavassos-Kopetra,

the village near Alassa,
or the Ay. Kononas on the Akamas, appear to have been abandoned by the

Papacostas 2001.
Papacostas 1999, 55-90.
Rautman 2003, 89-90.
Catling 1972; Demesticha and Michalides 2001.
Rautman 2003, 247-255.
Pettegrew 2001.
Balandier 2002.
Kyrris 1970.
Rautman 2003
Flourentzos 1996.
start of the 8th century based on ceramic evidence and coins, but as we have noted, problems
remain with this approach.
Production sites like Dhiorios continued further into the 8th,
there is no reason to imagine that the site of Kornos cave did not continue into the latest decades of
this century.
The coastal site of Pyla-Koutsopetria and Ay. Georgios-Peyia appear to have been
abandoned by the start of the 8th century. Elsewhere the Cypriot countryside shows signs of
continued activity. For example, we can date, albeit in a tentative way, the series of small, barrel-
vaulted churches on the Karpas Peninsula. Charles Stewart has argued in the basis of the phasing of
the buildings and comparanda elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean that the barrel-vaulted
churches date to at least to the 8th century and perhaps as late as the 9th.
While we should
probably be hesitant to accept the dates of buildings on the basis of architecture alone, the date
assigned by Stewart is rather later than previous scholars have assigned, and it suggests that
communities on the Karpas continued not only to exist, but to invest in architectural innovation.
This short list of exceptions, however, does little to displace the general impression of settlement
contraction, and economic and demographic decline in the 8th century.

Our view of the contracting countryside is both archaeological and historical. The inscription
from the church at Soloi claimed that 120,000 individuals were taken by Arab raids from the
While this number is likely outside the range of possibility,
it does suggest that the Arab
raids removed a part of the population as slaves throughout the 7th century.
The long tail of the
so-called Justinianic plague also had a probable impact on the overall population of the island as the
hasty burial of 21 individuals in the Kopetra cistern suggests.
It is impossible to assess the effect
of events like the unusual and poorly understood effort by the Emperor Justinian II to relocate the
population of the island to the Hellespont in the final decade of the 7th century.
Likewise, we
have little idea how the influx of refugees from iconoclast persecutions impacted settlement on the
or how the departure of individuals voluntarily or involuntarily must have transformed the
landscape. What we can observe, however, is that settlement in the countryside, just like in urban
areas, entered a period of significant instability.

The economic boom of the 6th and 7th centuries was fed at least in part by key location of
Cyprus in the ongoing geopolitical and economic drama of the era. The impact of the annona trade,
the transfer of Cyprus to the quaestura Iustiniani exercitus, the arrival of Heraclius, and the Persian War
all created opportunities for Cypriot producers to engage with a larger economy spurred by imperial
policy. Likewise, the longstanding stability of the Roman East produced a responsive settlement
structure prepared to accommodate expansion and intensification under imperial and historical
pressures. With the end of the annona and the fall of Egypt, with the decline in Byzantine military
activity in the East, and with the military and political disruptions of large-scale economic contact
with communities in Asia Minor, Syria, and the Levant,
the conditions that produced the Late

Feifer and Hayes 1995
Catling 1972; Armstrong 2009.
Catling 1970; Armstrong 2009.
Stewart 2008; 2010.
Des Gagniers and Tinh 1985, 115-125.
Metcalf 2009, 400-401; Papacostas 1999, 24.
Zavagno 2010-2011, 152; McCormick 2001 for the possible significance of slaves and their archaeological invisibility.
Fox 2003.
Metcalf 2009 450-455; Theophanes, A.M. 6183.
Metcalf 2009.
Kennedy 2010; Walmsley 2007; 2008 for a more substantial understanding of the economy of Early Islamic Syria.
Roman settlement boom disappeared. This did not mean that the long standing economic
relationships vanished over night as the presence of Arab coins on the island,
the continued
production of ceramics for export at Dhiorios, and the persistent building activity on the Karpas
peninsula and urban sites showed. As much as the 8th century might appear to represent a
significant decline in the intensity of activity on Cyprus, we might be more prudent to observe that
the busy countryside of the 6th and 7th centuries were the exception.

Finally, the tools that archaeologist have at their disposal to understand landscapes marked by
demographic and economic contingency remain crude. As is noted throughout this volume, ceramic
chronologies continue to drift later as archaeologists continue to publish more stratigraphic
contexts. Numismatic dating offers a different set of problems based as much on how archaeologists
have interpreted coins as how coins circulated in Cypriot communities. Excavators and survey
archaeologists alike have struggled to recognize evidence for short term or contingent settlement on
Cyprus. In times of economic and demographic instability, we expect settlement strategies to
become more opportunistic as markets for produce underwent change and access to resources
shifted across the island. The use of handmade pottery, documented by M. Rautman at sites across
Cyprus from as early as the middle decades of the 7th century,
reveals that communities had
already developed local practices to manage the relatively modest risk associated with dependency
on imported cooking wares. It seems likely that very small coins, nummi or minimi, continued to
circulate on Cyprus even as access to larger imperial issues declined precipitously as administrative
trade and military activities in the region abated. Careful excavation has only begun to reveal the
persistent stirring of economic and political life in the urban areas on the island.

It is particularly important to recognize that a dynamic, contingent economy in the countryside
may remain virtually undetectable to intensive survey methods. Short term, contingent activity
calculated to weigh any investment carefully against opportunities presented in a changing world is
almost predestined to leave little trace in the surface record which is so vital to regional level studies
of rural landscapes. This is exaggerated all the more by the abundance of material associated with
Late Roman settlement prior to the end of the 7th century. The 5th to 7th century economic boom
appears to have represented systematic, long term investment in the landscape in response to
sustained economic opportunities and relative political stability. The abundance of material reflects
both chronologically and spatially extensive and intensive activities in the landscape associated with
production for export, integrated economic relationships between, for example, copper production
and agricultural areas, and administrative pressures on the economy that directed production toward
the needs of the capital and the military. By the end of the 7th century, the opportunities and
motivations for intensive investment in the landscape had diminished significantly. In this situation,
the economic activity on the island and the structure of settlement may have taken on a more
opportunistic appearance. The impetus to invest intensively in rural sites reduced the need to engage
in practices that would make these sites visible to archaeologists, ranging from the use of imported
fine wares to the construction of monumental buildings in villages.

To say that the economy of Cyprus declined, then, risks misunderstanding the complex
intersection between archaeological evidence and activities in the past. The disruption of intensive
economic networks that existed in the Late Roman Eastern Mediterranean compromised our ability
as archaeologists to recognize settlement. It did not, necessarily, compromise the settlement on the

Zavagno 2010-2011, 144; 2011; 2013.
Rautman 1998.
island, but the faint traces of evidence for life on Cyprus in the 8th century provides an enticing
challenge for a more sensitized archaeological practice.

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