Beyond Gender and Status: Rethinking the Burial Record of Bronze Age Cyprus

  • Sarah Douglas

Student thesis: Phd


The difficulties of the Bronze Age burial record on Cyprus have been well documented. Until recent years, limitations to the body of demographic data, obtained from the mortuary arena, have prevented a substantial investigation into the relationship between biological aspects of human identity (sex, age, and health) and funerary treatment. As a result, discussion of identity structures in the Cypriot Bronze Age, based on the mortuary evidence, have been largely focused around traditional gender and status focused hierarchies which are fixed to binary notions of biological sex and grand narratives of wealth-based prestige. This thesis has consolidated the full body of osteological information from the onset of the Bronze Age until the LCIIB period into one body of data. This dataset is more plentiful than ever before due to the growing catalogue of osteological reports and studies which are revisiting previously excavated remains. Through this, it has been possible to explore aspects of Bronze Age identity construction, which - in keeping with the current climate of gender-based research in archaeology – goes beyond simplistic binary narratives. Apart from ceramic vessels, tools, weapons, and adornment items are the most frequently deposited categories of grave good in Bronze Age tombs and their use is heavily entwined within traditional narratives of social structuring. Interrogating the deposition of these items, in tandem with biological affiliations, has offered an insight into technological practice, the role of violence in the construction of Bronze Age identities and bodily aesthetics and display as central aspects of identity formation and display in funerary practice. An analysis of use-wear of tools and weapons from tombs adds a unique aspect to this study which has allowed further exploration of grave goods as objects that are entwined with the actions of lived bodies. Overall, the evidence suggests a complex operation of identity construction and display which embodied interactions between people and place, raw materials and objects which evolved and fluctuated against the backdrop of ongoing social change during the Bronze Age on Cyprus in a non-deterministic manner.
Date of Award1 Aug 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorEleanor Casella (Supervisor) & Lindy Crewe (Supervisor)


  • gender, identity, burial, use-wear, grave good assemblages

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