Wednesday, December 22, 2010

archaeological destruction through looting, Dali Kafkallia, Cyprus

In 1972, John C. Overbeck and Stuart Swiny jointly published Two Cypriot Bronze Age Sites at Kafkallia (Dhali); Overbeck wrote about the Necropolis, and Swiny the Fortified Settlement. Their information from Dali Kafkallia hints at the amount of archaeological destruction done through looting.

The fortified settlement's buildings had been 'totally destroyed by stone robbers of past generations' (Swiny, 1972: 27); but the remains of the necropolis were more intriguing.

Overbeck and Swiny visually identified 'about 110 looted chamber tombs' in the necropolis, and cleared one of those in order to record the tomb and recover its unlooted artefacts (Overbeck, 1972: 7).(1)


Unsurprisingly, the looting had destroyed almost all of the unlooted artefacts, all of the layers and boundaries that showed those artefacts' groupings and their chronological order (Overbeck, 1972: 7; 19).

Overbeck and Swiny recovered 111 artefacts, only three unbroken. So, the looters have ruined much of the archaeological evidence for their community's ancient past.

Furthermore, 1 in 110 is too small to be a representative sample; and since the tomb had already been looted (c.f. Overbeck and Swiny, 1972: 30n2), the leftovers cannot tell us how many collectible antiquities the looters found in that tomb (or by extension, in the entire cemetery).

Hint of destruction through looting

Nonetheless, Overbeck and Swiny's Tomb G hints at the possibility - if it were average - that Dali Kafkallia's (overwhelmingly Greek Cypriot) looters could have destroyed around 11,880 artefacts.
108 destroyed artefacts x
110 looted tombs =
11,880 destroyed artefacts in one looted cemetery
  1. There were also three looted tombs in the settlement (Overbeck and Swiny, 1972: 31n28).

Overbeck, J C and Swiny, S. 1972: Two Cypriot Bronze Age sites at Kafkallia (Dhali). Göteborg: Paul Åströms Förlag.

Overbeck, J C. 1972: "The necropolis". In Overbeck, J C and Swiny, S, (Aus.). Two Cypriot Bronze Age sites at Kafkallia (Dhali), 7-24. Göteborg: Paul Åströms Förlag.

Swiny, S. 1972: "The fortified settlement". In Overbeck, J C and Swiny, S, (Aus.). Two Cypriot Bronze Age sites at Kafkallia (Dhali), 25-28. Göteborg: Paul Åströms Förlag.

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