Wednesday, June 02, 2010

"Stone Age Greek" Kythrea, "Turkish Cypriot" Değirmenlik - lazy propaganda

I just came across a nice example of lazy propaganda about cultural heritage, lazy nationalist claims about a village - "Stone Age Greek" Kythrea, or "Turkish Cypriot" Değirmenlik.

After the war of 1974, the occupying power, the Turkish Armed Forces, erected a statue of Atatürk in formerly Greek Cypriot Kythrea/Değirmenlik. Then, a Turkish soldier claimed that it had been a Turkish village 'turned into a Greek one after years of persecution', finally restored by the Turkish invasion (paraphrased by ROCPRUN, 1974c: 4).

The Republic of Cyprus Permanent Representative to the United Nations countered that 'this claim [wa]s totally untrue. No Turkish Cypriot ever inhabited Kythrea which has always been inhabited by Greeks since the stone age, as shown conclusively by recent archeological findings' (ROCPRUN, 1974c: 4-5).

"Turkish Cypriot" Değirmenlik

Kythrea had been a Maronite Cypriot village, which 'adopted Islam' in the Eighteenth Century (Hourani, 2007: 16); so, it had been a Turkish Cypriot village. (And the Greek Cypriot Orthodox Church 'confiscated' a Maronite church (Hourani, 2007: 18).)

But by 1960, Kythrea/Değirmenlik was neither Maronite Cypriot nor Turkish Cypriot; there were 2,907 Greek Cypriots, and 43 Turkish Cypriots (Goodwin, 1978: 475). So, technically (because more than 90% of the inhabitants were Greek Cypriot), it had become a "wholly" Greek Cypriot village.

Nonetheless, some Turkish Cypriots still inhabited Kythrea. They were driven out by the intercommunal violence, and thus the 98.54% Greek Cypriot, 1.46% Turkish Cypriot village was "turned into" a (100%) Greek Cypriot village.

"Stone Age Greek" Kythrea

As for the archaeology, immediately before the Greek Cypriot claim, archaeological findings suggested that 'the Mycenaeans' - in nationalist histories, ancient ethnic Greeks - 'had made their appearance in Cyprus as early as the seventeenth century B.C. and settled on the island as early as the fourteenth century' (Spyridakis, 1973: 62).

Thus, the first "Greek" contact with Cyprus was in the Middle Bronze Age, and the first "Greek" settlement of the island was in the Late Bronze Age.

Immediately after the Greek Cypriot claim, by the archaeological findings, it 'quite obvious' from the archaeological record 'that the relations between the two islands [of Cyprus and Crete] cannot go beyond the Middle Bronze Age' (Karageorghis, 1979: xi).


Indeed, recent official Greek Cypriot propaganda proudly proclaims that, 'through to the Bronze Age it [Cyprus] developed lively, independent prehistoric cultures' (Karageorghis, 2000: 45).

Yet these independent, indigenous "Eteocypriots" were also propaganda, albeit British, 'the offspring of imperialist manipulation and academic collaboration' (Given, 1998: 4). Sadly, this attempt to 'deflect Greek nationalism in Cyprus towards an invented "Cypriot patriotism"' was not simply a 'complete failure' (Given, 1998: 24).

"Indigenous Eteocypriots"' mythical existence has in fact been completely assimilated and converted into (potentially even more virulently) nationalistic "evidence" of Greek Cypriots' ultimate indigeneity.

In that ideology, it is no longer a struggle/compromise between earlier and later immigrants, but between Eteocypriot-Mycenaean Cypriot-Greeks and Muslim Ottoman Turkish Cypriots.

From that perspective, "Turkish Cypriots" are the only settler community (and only a settler community), eternally foreign, and without any say in the running of their "host society" (e.g. in its enosis with Greece).

Propaganda and scholarship

Given (1998: 5) rightly warned against 'a total division between "propaganda" and "scholarship"', because 'we all work and write in specific political contexts'. I agree with him, but I think there are circumstances in which we can still identify propagandists, rather than merely 'historically situated individuals' (Given, 1998: 5).

Anyone can unknowingly misinterpret the available evidence because they are politically misguided (or for many other reasons); but when they consciously contradict the available evidence, and/or when they knowingly manipulate the available evidence, in order to promote an ideology, the authors are propagandists.

Given, M. 1998: "Inventing the Eteocypriots: Imperialist archaeology and the manipulation of ethnic identity". Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, VOlume 11, Number 1, 3-29.

Goodwin, J C. 1978: An historical toponymy of Cyprus. Nicosia: Jack C. Goodwin.

Hourani, G G. 2007: An abridgement of the history of the Cypriot Maronite community [draft]. Nicosia: Republic of Cyprus Ministry of Education. Available at:

Karageorghis, V. 1979: "The relations between Cyprus and Crete, 2000-500 B.C.: A general survey". In Karageorghis, V, (Ed.). Acts of the International Archaeological Symposium "the Relations between Cyprus and Crete, ca. 2000-500 B.C.", Nicosia, 16th April-22nd April 1978, xi-xiv. Nicosia: Republic of Cyprus Department of Antiquities.

Karageorghis, V. 2000: "Cyprus: The coming of the Greeks". In CPCHC (Committee for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Cyprus), (Ed.). Cyprus: A civilization plundered, 42-49. Athens: the Hellenic Parliament.

ROCPRUN (Republic of Cyprus Permanent Representative to the United Nations). 1974c: Letter dated 26 November 1974 from the Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General [Ref. 74/71, 26th November 1974]. New York: United Nations Security Council.

Spyridakis, K. 1973: "The Mycenaeans in Cyprus". In Karageorghis, V, (Ed.). Acts of the International Archaeological Symposium "the Mycenaeans in the Eastern Mediterranean", Nicosia, 27th March-2nd April 1972, 62-67. Nicosia: Republic of Cyprus Department of Antiquities.

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