The First Colonization of the Meditterranean Islands

A Review of Recent Research


  • John F. Cherry Brown University



Colonization, Paleolithic occupation, Aktrotiri Aetokremmos


This paper attempts to synthesize the significant developments that have taken place during the 1980s in the study of the earliest occupation of the Mediterranean islands. It has become clear that there do exist a few instances of Paleolithic occupation of true islands, but many similar claims have been refuted, remain contentious, or are irrelevant to the issue of insular colonization. A ninth millennium BP human presence can now be demonstrated, admittedly with data of very variable quality, on all the larger islands or island groups; on Cyprus, the Aktrotiri Aetokremmos site offers evidence one or two millennia earlier. The main colonization phase for smaller islands, however, lies between the seventh and fourth millennia BP, beginning in the Aegean slightly earlier than had previously been supposed. Important interpretative advances have been made in areas such as the late Pleistocene and early Holocene palaeogeography of the Mediterranean islands, the relationship of man to faunal extinctions or introduction, and the predictive modelling of island colonization.

Author Biography

John F. Cherry, Brown University

John F. Cherry is Professor of Archaeology, Classics and Anthropology in the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University. Research and teaching interests include Aegean prehistory, state formation, island archaeology, lithics, and archaeological ethics. His most recent book is Prehistorians Round the Pond: Reflections on Aegean Prehistory as a Discipline (Ann Arbor, 2005), co-edited with Despina Margomenou and Lauren Talalay



How to Cite

Cherry, J. F. (1990). The First Colonization of the Meditterranean Islands: A Review of Recent Research. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 3(2), 145–222.




Most read articles by the same author(s)