(1) Overview

Context

The Cypriot settlement dataset was collected as part of the project ‘EIDOS of a City: simulating the collapse and resilience of ancient Eastern Mediterranean urban environments via agent-based modelling’ and represents the first open access database of settlements across a broad timespan for Cyprus. This project aims to identify specific variables that contribute to urban collapse or continuity across a large timescale within the regions of Cyprus and the Northern and Southern Levant. The Cypriot periods of interest span from the Late Epipalaeolithic (11000 BCE) to the Ottoman period (1878 CE). Figure 1 shows the spatial distribution of settlements and survey area boundaries used within the dataset. Each point represents a settlement location dated to a relative chronological period.

Map of Cyprus showing the boundary of survey areas and the spatial distribution of settlements
Figure 1 

Map showing the distribution of sites and the boundary of survey areas.

Spatial Coverage

Description: Cyprus.

Geographic Coordinate System: World Geodetic System (WGS) 1984.

Datum: World Geodetic System (WGS) 1984.

Northern boundary: 32.918699 35.403266

Southern boundary: 33.033250 34.563851

Eastern boundary: 34.595651 35.699972

Western boundary: 32.267073 35.044590

Temporal Coverage

11000 BCE to 1878 CE, from the Cypriot Late Epipalaeolithic to the Cypriot Ottoman period.

(2) Methods

Within this dataset, settlements are broadly defined as well-defined places of human occupation [1], and are predominantly identified by pottery fragments or architectural features during archaeological surveys.

Steps

Settlement data were collected from published works, focusing on large-scale Cypriot surveys. A list of surveys and publications included within the dataset can be found in sources.txt. For a survey to be included within the dataset the following criteria were required: spatial coordinates or maps capable of being geo-referenced, the inclusion of site names or unique site identifiers, details on periods of occupation, and the inclusion of sites with multi-phase occupations when possible. Select well-known settlements were also included in the dataset. In these instances, settlements were either not included in surveys due to their spatial location being outside a survey area’s limits, or their time period being outside a particular survey’s foci. Sites used for only temporary occupation, such as mining camps, locations of raw material sources, and caves were not included in the present dataset.

The following relative chronological periods and absolute dates were used for all sites (Table 1). Absolute dates for Cypriot period chronology are still under re-evaluation by scholars, especially as a more detailed chronological resolution is gained from methods such as radiocarbon dating of sites [2, 3]. The periods and dates used in this dataset are based on both Knapp [4] and the Department of Antiquities [5]. Many of the surveys used slightly different variations of Cyprus’ chronological periods, in these instances periods and absolute dates were recorded following the chronological scheme detailed below (Table 1).

Table 1

Chronological scheme for Cyprus.


PERIOD PERIOD ABBREVIATION ABSOLUTE DATE

Late epipalaeolithic EPI 11000–9000 BC

Initial Aceramic Neolithic IAN 9000–8500 BC

Early Aceramic Neolithic 1 AEN 1 8500–7900 BC

Early Aceramic Neolithic 2 AEN 2 7900–7600 BC

Early Aceramic Neolithic 3 AEN 3 7600–6800 BC

Late Aceramic Neolithic LAN 6800–5500 BC

Ceramic Neolithic CN 5500–3900 BC

Early Chalcolithic Ech 3900–3400 BC

Middle Chalcolithic MCh 3400–2750 BC

Late Chalcolithic LCh 2750–2500 BC

Philia phase PP 2500–2350 BC

Early Cypriot I EC I 2350–2200 BC

Early Cypriot II EC II 2200–2100 BC

Early Cypriot III EC III 2100–2000 BC

Middle Cypriot I MC I 2000–1850 BC

Middle Cypriot II MC II 1850–1750 BC

Middle Cypriot III MC III 1750–1650 BC

Late Cypriot I LC I 1650–1550 BC

Late Cypriot IIA LC IIA 1550–1450 BC

Late Cypriot IIB LC IIB 1450–1300 BC

Late Cypriot IIC LC IIC 1300–1200 BC

Late Cypriot IIIA LC IIIA 1200–1100 BC

Late Cypriot IIIB LC IIIB 1100–1050 BC

Cypro Geometric I CG I 1050–950 BC

Cypro Geometric II CG II 950–900 BC

Cypro Geometric III CG III 900–750 BC

Cypro Archaic I CA I 750–600 BC

Cypro Archaic II CA II 600–475 BC

Cypro Classical I CC I 475–400 BC

Cypro Classical II CC II 400–312 BC

Hellenistic I Hel I 312–200 BC

Hellenistic II Hel II 200 BC–58 AD

Early Roman I E Rom I 58–50 AD

Early Roman II E Rom II 50–250 AD

Late Roman L Rom 250–400 AD

Early Christian eMed 400–750 AD

Byzantine Byz I 750–965 AD

Byzantine Byz II 965–1191 AD

Frankish Frank 1191–1489 AD

Venetian Ven 1489–1571 AD

Ottoman Ott 1571–1878 AD

The data were collected and digitized in ArcGIS and exported as a csv file. All subsequent data processing occurred in Python, which included providing unique identifiers to each settlement, standardizing periods of occupation, dates, occupation time spans, and determining if a settlement had continuity between phases of occupation.

A total of 1559 settlements were recorded with a total of 8766 occupation phases. We also detailed settlements that had uninterrupted occupation across multiple periods or breaks in occupation followed by re-occupation [6]. 1422 settlements were occupied for more than one archaeological period, while 487 had one or more non-continuous periods of occupation over time.

Sampling Strategy

The dataset was created primarily from existing published surveys. Only settlements that could be geographically located and had chronological information about their occupation periods were included. Several aspects of Cypriot archaeology and surveys need to be addressed which affect the spatial and temporal distribution of settlements recorded within the dataset. Due to the current political situation in Cyprus, the spatial spread of settlements within northern Cyprus is extremely limited. Surveys from this area, which are included within this dataset, predate the 1970s (see [7]). Concerning the whole island, survey methods and their intensity have also changed over time, affecting the quality of data collection and the information available concerning individual settlements. The collated data were derived from surveys that vary in their intensity, have different objectives in what is recorded, and have varying definitions of what is defined as and recorded as a site.

Quality Control

Only settlements that could be both spatially located and were provided clear chronological periods of occupation are included in the dataset. All settlement entries have been checked and any duplicate sites based on spatial location or toponyms recorded in more than one survey have been merged into one settlement data point, with each settlement receiving a unique ID.

Constraints

Settlements were recorded as georeferenced points within a GIS. A substantial amount of time was spent digitizing survey maps, including both maps using a clear coordinate system as well as hand-drawn plans showing approximate site locations. To account for location uncertainty due to how some maps were digitized, each settlement has a location quality (LocQual) entry that details the accuracy of a settlement’s spatial location. Due to how surveys have been traditionally conducted in Cyprus, which often focused on only one period of occupation (e.g. Chalcolithic period), settlement size could not be accounted for in this dataset.

Another issue concerns the dating of sites. Some of the surveys concern only recorded settlements existing during specific periods, with no consideration of the existence of occupation occurring before or after a survey’s foci period. Due to time constraints, it was not possible to research individual sites in greater detail. It is hoped that enabling this dataset to be open access will allow future additions to the chronological span of settlements. Another issue that needs to be raised is that early surveys tended to be less precise in dating, and only limited efforts have been undertaken by researchers to reassess period designations based on the pottery record. The current absolute dates are based on pottery chronologies which have a degree of uncertainty that also need to be acknowledged.

An additional constraint concerns settlement toponyms. Most settlements are named following a convention of using nearby village names plus a site toponym [8]. Some surveys use slightly different site naming conventions and may only record locality names. In other instances, minimally published surveys (e.g. [9]) only provide site name abbreviations. Every effort was made to ensure that duplicate sites with different toponym naming conventions were merged into one settlement record with the name adjusted to follow the standard Cyprus archaeological settlement naming conventions.

(3) Dataset Description

The following dataset has been created following FAIR principles. To ensure the data can continue to be edited and contributed to, it has been published openly via GitHub and linked to Zenodo (for a workflow description see [3]). This ensures that the dataset has greater visibility and data preservation by being given a DOI. Hosting on GitHub additionally allows for any necessary modifications to be made, such as updates to the chronology of settlements and the addition of additional settlements as new data become available or are digitized from existing site reports.

Object Name

  • Settlements – three separate files, the first consists of a spreadsheet (.csv), the second provides GIS shapefile data (.shp and associated files), and the third is a text file (.txt) with a description of all fields in the first two files.
  • Sources – a text file (.txt) recording all published sources recorded in the field ‘sources’ of the two main settlement files.

Data Type

Primary and secondary data from large-scale surveys and select special-purpose publications (see sources.txt).

Format names and versions

.csv, .shp, .txt

Creation Dates

The dataset was created in 2021–2022 as part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship ‘EIDOS of a City: simulating the collapse and resilience of ancient Eastern Mediterranean urban environments via agent-based modelling’. A part of the dataset was created as a part of a postdoctoral fellowship at the Chair “Sylvia Ioannou Foundation” for Digital Humanities at the Archaeological Research Unit, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Cyprus.

Dataset Creators

The researcher responsible for the data entry and management was Katherine A. Crawford. A portion of the settlements were added by Marc-Antoine Vella.

Language

English, toponyms use anglicized Greek.

License

CC-BY 4.0, Creative Common License.

Repository Location

The dataset is deposited at Zendo (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7271681) and linked to GitHub at (https://github.com/K-A-Crawford/Cyprus_Settlements/tree/v1.0.0).

Publication Date

1/11/2022

(4) Reuse Potential

This dataset represents the first large-scale, publicly available dataset of settlements across Cyprus from a broad timespan. It will not only serve as an invaluable dataset for any researchers working on settlements within Cyprus, but it will also serve as a valuable comparative resource to larger studies across the Mediterranean. In particular, it addresses the recent call for greater access to settlement datasets, which can be used for studying topics such as settlement persistence [1].

The dataset format enables it to be easily integrated with other larger regional datasets, such as the recent data from the Northern Fertile Crescent [10]. It will also be integrated within a more expansive eastern Mediterranean dataset including settlement data from the northern and southern Levant that is currently under development within the EIDOS project.

How the dataset is compiled will additionally enable scholars to adapt it for studying individual periods or geographic locations. Since all settlements are georeferenced, there is considerable potential for future temporal and spatial analyses to be conducted. The broad chronological span of the dataset will additionally enable various time-series analyses.