Michael "Bodhi" Rogers Receives NSF Award for Noninvasive Study of Late Bronze Age Cities in Cyprus

08/26/2009

Contributed by Julia Yang

Award: $60,638 to Ithaca College and $107,570 to Cornell University

The Kalavasos and Maroni Built Environments Project is an interdisciplinary and collaborative effort by Cornell University and Ithaca College to investigate the relationships between architecture, social interaction, and social change during the Late Bronze Age (c. 1650-1100 BCE) of Cyprus.

This important period saw the island of Cyprus shift from a relatively insular and egalitarian, village-based society to an urbanized, cosmopolitan civilization. Previous research indicates that the new cities played a vital role in this profound social transformation by promoting social interactions that favored the interests of emerging elites and underpinned their political power.

The dynamics of this process, however, are not well understood and have not been systematically investigated. The major problem is that, while a number of Late Bronze Age sites on Cyprus have been partially excavated, there is still no clear picture of the anatomy of a Late Bronze Age city, i.e. how individual buildings were integrated into an overall urban landscape that structured social interaction. With advancements in archaeological geophysics, one now has the ability to investigate these processes by detecting buried walls, streets, and other architectural features without the tremendous expense of a large-scale excavation.

Using equipment obtained by Ithaca College from a previous NSF grant, this collaborative project will conduct three, four-week sessions of geophysical surveying at two important Late Bronze Age urban centers in south-central Cyprus: Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios and Maroni. Combined with digital mapping and 3D modeling of previously excavated architecture, this work will allow the researchers to assemble complete urban plans of these sites.

This will significantly expand the dataset of Late Bronze Age architecture and, by applying analytical methods such as access and visibility analyses, provide unprecedented new insights into how the new urban environments organized social interactions that supported or undermined broader social structures.

In addition, the project will develop a geographic information system-based database of architectural and archaeological data that will be made available to any interested parties on the project website. The project will also further the development of collaborative training opportunities in archaeological geophysics for students from Cornell University, Ithaca College, and the University of Cyprus.

The results of this research will be broadly applicable as its methods and objectives are interdisciplinary in design and scope, combining social archaeology with physics, environmental psychology, architecture, planning, and urban geography. The work will be widely disseminated in a variety of media, including peer-reviewed journals, major conferences, public lectures and a project website which will serve as an important research tool. In addition, the project will forge international collaboration with research institutions on Cyprus, including the Cyprus Institute and the University of Cyprus.

Given the current importance of understanding the dynamic effects of cities on ever-growing urban populations, the research brings some much-needed time depth and historical perspective to this issue. Ultimately, this project has the potential to shed new light on a transformative period in the Cypriot past while at the same time enhancing the infrastructure for scientific research and providing several students with exciting opportunities in experiential learning.

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