Technological Innovations in Architecture During Antiquity. The Case of Cyprus

  • Maria PhilokyprouEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 961)


Stone, adobe and mortars have constituted the primary building materials throughout antiquity in Cyprus and many other countries in the Mediterranean area. What is impressive is that many structural innovations took place during the first periods of antiquity such as the first use of adobes, the investigation of gypsum and lime manufacture technology as well as the appearance of ashlar stone. In this paper the results of a systematic research regarding the different building materials used during the earliest periods of antiquity in Cyprus are presented. The investigation of prehistoric mortars demonstrated that the discovery of lime and gypsum technology occurred on the island during the Neolithic period while lime mortars were widely disseminated during the Chalcolithic period. Although the production of adobes in Cyprus seems to have been known since the Neolithic period, the use of moulds during their preparation was identified during the Late Bronze Age. The appearance of ashlar stone occurred during the Late Bronze Age, while in the earlier periods only rubble stone was used. It is interesting that each innovation in building technology is associated with other social, economic and political factors of each period. Thus, the first appearance of lime and gypsum mortars as well as the first use of adobe coincided with the first permanent habitation on the island. In parallel, the discovery of crushed-brick lime mortars, the use of moulds in the manufacture of adobes as well as the use of ashlar during the Late Bronze Age can be connected with the development of the first urban settlements with monumental public buildings.


Adobes Ashlar stone Mortars and plasters 


  1. 1.
    Philokyprou, Μ.: Building materials and structures in ancient cypriot architecture. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Cyprus (1998)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Dikaios, P.: Enkomi. Exvavations 1948-58. The Architectural Remains, vol. 3. Philipp von Zabern, Mainz am Rheim (1969)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Philokyprou, M.: Building materials and methods employed in prehistoric and traditional architecture in Cyprus. In: Ethnography of European Traditional Cultures, Arts, Crafts of Heritage, Athens, pp. 150–164 (1998)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hult, G.: Bronze Age Ashlar Masonry in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus, Ugarit and the Neighbouring Regions. Studies in the Mediterranean Archaeology, vol. LXVI. Paul Åströms Förlag, Göteborg (1983)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Philokyprou, M.: The initial appearance of ashlar stone in Cyprus. Ιssues of provenance and use. Mediterr. Archaeol. Archaeom. Int. Sci. J. 2011(2), 37–53 (2011)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Coulton, J.J.: Lifting in early Greek architecture. J. Hell. Stud. 94, 1–19 (1974)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Karageorghis, V., Demas, M.: Excavations at Kition V. The Pre-Phoenician Levels, I-II. Department of Antiquities, Nicosia (1985)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Negbi, O.: The climax of the urban development in Bronze Age Cyprus. Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus, pp. 97–121 (1986)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hadjisavvas, S.: Ashlar buildings and their role in Late Bronze Age Cyprus. In: Acts of the Third International Congress of Cypriot Studies, Nicosia, pp. 387–398 (2000)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Philokyprou, M.: Τhe earliest use of adobes in Cyprus: issues of provenance and use. In: Proceedings of Terra 2016: XIIth World Congress on Earthen Architectures, Lyon (2018)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Thomas, G.: Prehistoric Cypriot mud buildings and their impact on the formation of archaeological sites. Ph.D. thesis, University of Edinburgh (1995)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Costi di Castrillo, M., Philokyprou, M., Ioannou, I.: Comparison of adobes from pre-history to-date. J. Archaeol. Sci.: Rep. 12, 437–448 (2017). Scholar
  13. 13.
    Leick, G.: A Dictionary on Ancient Near Eastern Architecture. Routledge, London (1988)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Guest-Papamanoli, A.: L’Emploi de la Brique Crue dans le Domaine Egéen à l’ Époque Néolithique à l’Âge du Bronze. Bull. Corresp. Hell. 1, 3–24 (1978)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Le Brun, A.: Fouilles Récent a Khirokitia (Chypre) 1977-1981. Editions Recherche sur les civilisations, Paris (1984)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Todd, I.: Vasilikos Valley Project 6. Excavations at Kalavasos Tenta. Sima, vol. LXXI:6. Åström, Goterberg (1987)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kingery, W.D., Vandiver, P.B., Prickett, M.: The beginnings of pyrotechnology, part ii: production and use of lime and gypsum plaster in the pre-pottery neolithic near east. J. Field Archaeol. 15, 219–244 (1988)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Moropoulou, A., Bakolas, A., Bisbikou, K.: Investigation of the technology of historic mortars. J. Cult. Herit. 1, 45–58 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Philokyprou, M.: The beginnings of pyrotechnology in Cyprus. Int. J. Arch. Herit. (Taylor Fr.) 6(2), 172–199 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Theodoridou, M., Ioannou, I., Philokyprou, M.: New evidence of early use of artificial pozzolanic material in mortars. J. Archaeol. Sci. (Elsevier Ed. Syst.) 40(8), 3263–3269 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Wright, G.R.H.: Ancient Building in Cyprus. E.J. Brill, Leiden (1992)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ArchitectureUniversity of CyprusNicosiaCyprus

Personalised recommendations