This article proposes that the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) hunter-forager-cultivator introductions to Cyprus from the northern Levant had a much more enduring impact on the Cypriot Aceramic Neolithic than subsequent agricultural introductions associated with the Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB). The presence at Ayios Tychonas-Klimonas of imported wild emmer wheat, a chipped stone assemblage bearing strong similarities to Mureybet IIIA and a circular communal building with close parallels in the northern Levantine PPNA (Vigne et al. 2012: 8446–47), confirm that by the beginning of the 9th millennium cal BC communities on Cyprus had adopted technologies, behaviours and perhaps the ideology of the mainland PPNA. Many PPNA-derived practices survived, or were deliberately maintained, after the introduction of agriculture to the island in the mid 9th millennium cal BC. On the basis of a critical re-evaluation of the important Cypriot Aceramic Neolithic site of Kalavasos-Tenta, the significance of this assertion is explored. The possibility is discussed that cultural archaism, observed in many aspects of the Cypriot Neolithic, was the result of deliberate choice, constituted within an ideology that rejected the shift towards the more structured, corporate way of living which was gathering pace on the mainland by the 8th millennium cal BC (Benz et al. 2017). Instead, mainland PPNB technologies and materiel were differentially adopted, or disregarded, under unique conditions that enabled Cyprus to maintain a predominantly hunting economy long after agriculture had been introduced to the island. A re-analysis of three impressive circular communal buildings at Tenta and their relationship with the surrounding, much smaller pillar buildings lead us to argue that Tenta was occupied virtually continuously from at least the mid 9th to the mid 7th millennia cal BC, that its extraordinary longevity and archaism can be attributed to its socio-ideological significance; and, that the top-of-site communal buildings may have been the successors to the early 9th millennium cal BC examples epitomised by Building 10 at Klimonas. In addition, the smaller circular pillar buildings surrounding them are interpreted here in the context of a new influx of people with links to Upper Mesopotamia at around 7500 cal BC, who may have been seeking refuge from the rapidly intensifying and changing world of the mainland PPNB.
- communal buildings