With contributions by Priscilla Keswani and Ariane Jacobs
During the Late Bronze Age a number of important towns with diverse elite and public architectural complexes developed in Cyprus in conjunction with the expansion of the local copper industry and the intensification of external trade. One of the most impressive centers of this era is the site of Alassa, located 34,758° North, 32,922° East, set on a triangular plateau in the Troodos foothills of southwestern Cyprus. At the locality Paliotaverna on the upper part of the plateau, excavations uncovered a group of three large ashlar buildings, one of which contained a wine press, the only one thus far discovered from this period. At the locality Pano Mantilaris 250 m to the southeast, settlement remains revealed evidence for metalworking in the midst of domestic and ritual activities. Alassa's far-flung international connections are attested by the Aegean characteristics discernible in its monumental architecture, the presence of imported and Aegean-inspired pottery, the Mycenaean and Syrian influences apparent in the pithos seal impressions, and the occurrence of tomb goods made from imported materials such as gold and chlorite.
It is probable that Alassa was the seat of a regional polity that controlled the adjacent copper-producing areas of the Troodos to the north, along with a series of settlements extending 10 km south to Episkopi Bamboula and the coast near ancient Kourion. In addition to metallurgical and trading pursuits, members of the ruling elite at Paliotaverna also engaged in wine production and the collection and storage of agricultural products, possibly for the purposes of staple finance (redistribution) and/or ceremonial feasting. These activities may have supported and legitimized their control over local economic resources and labor.
This final report on the 1984–2000 investigations at Alassa begins with the presentation of the rescue excavations of the settlement (Chapter 2) and tombs (Chapter 3) at Pano Mantilaris. This is followed by the account of the elite architecture and associated finds uncovered at Paliotaverna (Chapter 4) and a detailed description and discussion of the remarkable seal impressions found on many of the Alassa pithoi (Chapter 5). In-depth studies of the Alassa pithoi and all of the other pottery found at the site are presented in Chapters 6 and 7 by Priscilla Keswani and Ariane Jacobs, respectively. Reports by other specialists on a variety of topics may be found in the 10 appendices: the cylinder and stamp seals (Aruz), metallurgical finds (Kassianidou and Van-Brempt), marked pottery (Hirschfeld), C14 dates (Manning), human remains (Lorentz), faunal remains (Croft), coins (Destrooper), ground stone objects (Souter), and archaeometric studies of the pithoi (Nodarou) and other pottery (Jacobs et al.). The results from all of these studies are integrated within the conclusions that the author offers in Chapter 8 regarding the chronology and importance of Alassa within the broader cultural and sociopolitical context of LBA Cyprus.