Smithsonian Associates Lecture Series: “The First Argonauts: Voyaging to Cyprus at the End of the Last Ice Age”
Washington, DC, Apr 17 - On Wednsday April 16, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC presented “The First Argonauts: Voyaging to Cyprus at the End of the Last Ice Age”, a lecture by archaeologist Dr. Albert Ammerman of Colgate University, on the earliest evidence of long-distance, open-water seafaring in the Mediterranean.
Over the last three years, Dr. Ammerman has conducted archaeological surveys and excavations at three coastal sites on Cyprus (Aspros, Alimman, and Nissi Beach), leading to his theory that voyaging foragers were already going out to the island in the Younger Dryas - a cold snap at the end of the Pleistocene era - well before the arrival of the first farmers. Through his work Dr. Ammerman stresses the importance of Cyprus in the study of the global origins of seafaring.
Dr. Ammerman’s work on the coast of Cyprus reveals that seagoing foragers made seasonal trips to the island about 12,000 years ago. New early sites are found on formations of aeolianite rock there - a barren and unpromising landscape at first glance. However, such fossilized sand dunes provided the perfect place for a short-term campsite, offering what amounts to built-in Stone Age furniture. This coastal adaptation indicates an alternative lifestyle present at the end of the last ice age and triggers the hypothesis of seagoing as a response to the cold sudden era of the Younger Dryas.