Archaeologists Find Humans Inhabited Cyprus Thousands of Years Earlier

Cyprus was occupied by humans as long as 14,257 years ago, far earlier than previously believed, said a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences led by Prof. Corey Bradshaw of Flinders University in Australia.

Their work indicated that that Mediterranean islands attracted Paleolithic societies and challenged earlier research that claimed they were inaccessible to hunter-gatherers during the Pleistocene epoch, which began 2.588 million years ago and ended 11,700 years ago.

Bradshaw, along with Dr. Theodora Moutsiou and Christian Reepmeyer from James Cook University in Cairns, and other researchers, utilized archaeological data, climate assessments, and demographic models to determine when humans first settled on Cyprus.

By examining 10 of the oldest sites on the island, the team identified migration events coinciding with increasing temperatures, precipitation, and environmental productivity, which supported the sustenance of large hunter-gatherer groups.


Based on demographic models, the researchers indicated that groups of hundreds or thousands of people arrived within a span of 100 years. “These results suggest that the postglacial settlement of Cyprus involved a few large-scale, organized events requiring advanced watercraft technology,” Bradshaw wrote.

Within a span of 300 years, or approximately 11 generations, Cyprus experienced a population expansion to a median of 4,000 to 5,000 people, it was said, Moutsiou writing that prior claims linked human migration to demographic pressures on the continent following sudden climate change, which caused sea levels to rise and forced farming communities to relocate out of necessity rather than choice.

Reepmeyer added that the new interpretation of the data addresses gaps in the archaeological record in Cyprus, caused by differential preservation of archaeological material, uncertainty over dating, and limited DNA evidence.

He said the study was based on additional archaeological evidence and advanced sampling techniques, which significantly alter earlier understandings and provide new insights into the ancient period studied.


NICOSIA - Before meeting Cypriot Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos in Washington, D.

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