West KarkotisAtsasMandresAsinouKoutraphasLagoudheraEast
Iron Age 

4.17 Koutraphas: Prehistoric

The Koutraphas area has some of the oldest and most stable surfaces in the TAESP survey area. Most of the soils derive from the Pleistocene. Apart from the centre of the area, there was little evidence of erosion or instability.

A thin blanket of both chipped and ground stone was spread across the area. Much of the ground stone appeared rougher than the Bronze Age examples recovered at Mandroudhes (TP239) and Koutroullis (TP135), but was similar to the aceramic material found at Kambos tou Lemonari (TP095). Some of the chipped stone also appeared to be Aceramic Neolithic in date.

It is possible that these lithics were made, used and discarded by small agricultural groups working seasonally in the area. These may have been mobile foragers in the period before the Aceramic Neolithic, or they may have been task groups sent out from Aceramic Neolithic settlements. If Neolithic, their permanent settlements were presumably close to sources of the chert from which they made their tools, such as at Politiko Kelaïdhoni and Agrokipia Palaeokamina (Given and Knapp 2003, 182-6; McCartney 2005).

In the east of the Koutraphas area is a clear focus to this seasonal activity, which was probably the temporary settlement of one of these groups. This is shown by the significant concentrations of chipped and ground stone at Potami Kambos tou Lemonari (TP095).

TP095 Potami Kambos tou Lemonari

The lithics at Potami Kambos tou Lemonari (TP095) lay in the gently sloping ploughed fields along the road running north from Vyzakia. Worked jasper, perhaps the result of an ad hoc flake industry, was scattered fairly evenly across the surface, and was accompanied by an unusual density of ground stone.

There was a large number of cores and flake tools at Kambos tou Lemonari. The lack of pottery on the site, the range of tools, and the knapping techniques evident in the cores and debris recovered all indicate an aceramic date. Similar core technologies have been documented at sites dated from the Aceramic Neolithic elsewhere on the island (McCartney 2005; McCartney and Todd 2005), though this material could also date to before the Aceramic Neolithic.

There was both local jasper and chert imported from outside the survey area at Kambos tou Lemonari. This pattern suggests that it was a temporary camp, seasonally occupied by farmers collecting and processing cereals grown nearby. Most tools made from good-quality cherts would have been too valuable to leave behind, unless they were too worn to be of further use, or were lost accidentally. There was, however, one blade segment of relatively high-quality 'Lefkara-translucent' chert, which is characteristic of the Early and Middle Aceramic Neolithic (TCL173).

The early prehistoric types of ground stone querns, rubbers, grinders, and a mortar would all have been of great importance at an agricultural camp, and they were found in sufficient numbers to suggest intensive food preparation. Stone axes, which would have been of limited use to those gathering and processing cereal crops, were notably absent.

No evidence for Bronze Age activity was recorded within the Koutraphas area itself. At Nikitari Petrera (TP242) just outside it, on north-sloping ground to the south of the Elaia River, there was a small amount of pottery. This included some very distinctive handles with four or five slashes. There was also an impressive collection of ground stone, including four well-made rubbers of two distinct types, a rubbing stone, querns, an anvil stone and a pounder. It is clear that intensive cereal production and processing was a major activity at and around Petrera. Subsistence was not the only activity, however. A senet board implies that game-playing was a significant part of the lives of at least some of the inhabitants.

On the whole it would appear that, while there was Bronze Age activity in the wider area, the Koutraphas area was not heavily used or exploited during the prehistoric periods, perhaps because it was too far from larger centres of occupation or exploitation.