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Mortuary Ritual and Society in Bronze Age Cyprus by Priscilla Keswani

Mortuary Ritual and Society in Bronze Age Cyprus

Part of the Monographs in Mediterranean Archaeology S. Series


Mortuary Ritual and Society in Bronze Age Cyprus by Priscilla Keswani

Mortuary Ritual and Society in Bronze Age Cyprus is a ground-breaking investigation of burial practices and social transformations in the era when Cypriot agricultural communities moved from village to urban life and became major players in the eastern Mediterranean copper trade. Confronting the many interpretive challenges posed by tombs used for multiple interments, the author develops an innovative theoretical and methodological approach that enables her to define and elucidate the shifting spatial relationships between tombs and habitation areas, the elaboration of rituals involving secondary treatment and collective burial, and changing patterns of mortuary expenditure and symbolism throughout the Bronze Age. Keswani proposes that during the Early-Middle Bronze periods, the growing elaboration of mortuary festivities and their crucial importance in negotiating status hierarchies contributed to the intensification of Cypriot copper production and the expansion of interregional exchange relations. This helped set the stage for the rise of urban polities early in the Late Bronze Age, when the presence of hereditary elites first becomes apparent in the Cypriot archaeological record. Subsequent changes in mortuary practice suggest that the importance of collective burial rites and traditional modes of ritual display diminished over the course of the Late Bronze Age, as urban institutions multiplied and the bases of social prestige were transformed.


The book is an indispensable tool for anyone attempting to come to terms with the extremely complex and highly variable resolution of the Cypriot mortuary record. ...Keswani presents a compelling case for moving beyond interpretation of 'prestige good
towards a more holistic approach incorporating the actions of the living in reconstructing society from mortuary practices.

Antiquity, Volume:79 (Sept 2005)

, pp 705-707 'Priscilla Keswani's comprehensive survey of Cypriot Bronze Age mortuary practices is a welcome addition to the literature on the archaeology of the island. Supported by detailed analysis of of ethnographic data and superb manipulation of the raw data from the major Bronze Age tomb groups that have been excavated throughout the island, Keswani puts forward convincing arguments for the social, political, and economic changes underpinning funerary ritual on Cyprus during the Bronze Age. The book will be of great value to other scholars working in the field and to students of Cypriot and Near Eastern archaeology.
Louise Steel, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, February 2006, issue


About the Author

Priscilla Keswani received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Michigan in 1989 and has taught at Washington State University and the Borough of Manhattan Community College. She has participated in archaeological field projects in Cyprus for many years and published a number of scholarly papers on Bronze Age burial practices, political organization, exchange systems, and pottery.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st July 2007


Priscilla Keswani

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Equinox Publishing Ltd


272 pages


Archaeology by period / region



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