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    Review of 'Rural Complexities: Comparative Investigations at Small Iron Age Sites in South-Central Cyprus'

    Rural Complexities: Comparative Investigations at Small Iron Age Sites in South-Central CyprusCrossref
    A paper for all archaeologists who study rural hinterlands
    Average rating:
        Rated 5 of 5.
    Level of importance:
        Rated 5 of 5.
    Level of validity:
        Rated 5 of 5.
    Level of completeness:
        Rated 5 of 5.
    Level of comprehensibility:
        Rated 5 of 5.
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    Rural Complexities: Comparative Investigations at Small Iron Age Sites in South-Central Cyprus


      Review information

      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

      Review text

      The 2021's paper 'Rural Complexities: Comparative Investigations at Small Iron Age Sites in South-Central Cyprus' by Catherine Kearns and Anna Georgiadou examines central places' peripheral rural hinterland areas (' backwaters') by micro- and non-invasive methods such as systematic fieldwalking, geophysical surveys, and test trenching. The authors focused on yet understudied rural small-scale Iron Age sites (c. 11th–4th cent. BC) in the south-central part of the island of Cyprus in the Vasilikos and Maroni river basins (near Amathus) by analyzing existing legacy data and by utilizing comprehensive new primary data collected actively by themselves. This approach allowed them to better understand the hinterland as a dynamic interaction area between urban and rural areas.
      The authors carried out their work excellently: Aside from the concise outline and argumentation throughout, this especially counts for the multiscalar, state-of-the-art approach of combining several non-invasive and invasive methods, including building the concept on 'legacy data' regarding the earlier excavations. Among other things, the high methodological level at which the work was done is also reflected in the high accuracy, aesthetically appealing GIS-based maps, and given meta-information, e.g., by emphasizing the devices used for the surveys in table 1. 
      Aside from visualizations and methodology, the paper's true strength generally lies in the approach chosen: Studies focusing on small rural sites are mostly lacking a concise publication, not only in the Mediterranean but also in other parts of the world, e.g., in Austria in the case of so-called Roman non-villa sites, which are entirely understudied or even unknown, therefore. Often such sites (if at all) get 'published' in a short technical report with local or at most regional coverage, making them de facto disappear for a broader, international scientific audience. The reasons can be many, but perhaps it is pretty banal: Due to the sites' small sizes and the ostensibly lower 'status,' scholars studying these places may assume that they get more reputation for a 'bigger' and, therefore, apparently 'better' site. Whether this is the case or even small sites have their importance for research, everyone may decide for himself, with the paper's authors definitely opting for the latter. As they say in their article (p. 461–462), dealing with the small sites is inevitable to draw a bigger picture which may enable us to finally understand the rural hinterlands' dynamic development. Moreover, studying small sites is the only way to gain ideas to define what constitutes a 'hinterland' in the first place. Making state-of-the-art primary research of small rural sites accessible in terms of method and theory applied as well as regarding the results by publishing for an international audience is, therefore, for sure one of the most crucial points of the paper. 
      Studies and critical approaches like the ones presented by Kearns and Georgiadou have the expressive potential to surely advance further the discussion of rural hinterlands for Cyprus and beyond. 


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