PerspectiveArchaeology

Mediterranean Island Voyages

Science  16 Nov 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6109, pp. 895-897
DOI: 10.1126/science.1228880

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Summary

Some of the classical world's most innovative cultures developed on Mediterranean islands, but their earlier human use is poorly known. The islands, particularly those further from the mainland such as Crete and Cyprus, were thought to have been first colonized about 9000 years ago by late Neolithic agriculturalists with domesticated resources. Until about 20 years ago, claims of earlier, pre-Neolithic occupations on any of the islands did not stand up to critical scrutiny (1), but current investigations are challenging these perceptions. Discoveries on Cyprus, Crete, and some Ionian islands suggest seafaring abilities by pre-Neolithic peoples, perhaps extending back to Neanderthals or even earlier hominins. In Cyprus, Neolithic sites have been documented that are nearly as early as those on the mainland.