David Lightbody

David Lightbody

PhD Candidate
MPhil(R) (University of Glasgow)
MPhil (University of Glasgow) 
PGCE (Jordanhill College of Education)
BEng Hons (University of Strathclyde) Dave Lightbody

Gregory Building, LillyBank Gardens, Glasgow, Scotland, UK.

Telephone: +44 (0)141 330 3925 (department)
Mob +44 (0)7887-856-085 (personal)
Email: davelightbody@hotmail.com
Personal website: http://www.arky.eu/

Research title

The Hybridising Tree of Life: A Postcolonial Archaeology of the Cypriot City Kingdoms

Research abstract

Cyprus, with its prominent position in the East Mediterranean provides an excellent foothold for re-examining the development of the major cultures of Antiquity, and for re-examining the interpretations that have been made of these based on the archaeological evidence. The period covered by the study was the proto-historic Iron Age (c.900-550 B.C.), when Cyprus was entering the so-called Orientalising and Egyptianising periods, and the city-kingdoms were on the rise. The study is based on postcolonial theory in archaeology, and investigates the interaction and hybridisation of the groups of the time by examining the hybridisation of their material culture. 

Representations of the 'tree of life' form the material focus of the study, and they serve as a vehicles for studying the abstract theoretical concepts of hybridisation and symbolism. The tree or flower of life was a central element of Cypriot ritual and belief during that time, and although it has been studied before as an artistic motif, it has not been properly considered within a contextualised archaeology that evaluates why it was so widespread and significant, and how it was understood and used by the Cypriots within their sanctuaries, necropolises and living communities. It appears time and time again in the archaeology of the Iron Age city kingdoms, and in the ritual objects used in the sanctuaries, temples and tombs. The way in which the items were used within this Iron Age landscape reveals what their ritual significance was, beyond their value as prestige decorated items. Evidence associating these symbols with the East Mediterranean fertility goddesses, and with the concepts of life and rebirth is judiciously evaluated.

An extensive data set of the material cultural artefacts and their iconographic detail is being assembled and addressed systemically, within a geo-referenced system that takes location in the landscape and archaeological contexts into consideration, rather than treating the artefacts in isolation, as has been done in the past. Postcolonial theory is then applied to the data set to develop a more complex and nuanced understanding of the meanings expressed by the material, within local and regional cultural contexts, and as it developed into new hybrid styles through time.

The tree of life also formed a central element of Aeolic Architecture. This is a term used to refer to an architectural style that is geographically and chronologically distinct from the other more widely known orders such as the Ionic, Doric and Corinthian. The Aeolic and Proto-Aeolic classifications are based on groups of architectural elements and archaeological artefacts that have survived from the early Iron Age Eastern Mediterranean and East Aegean. The area from which they were recovered is from the Levant, Cyprus and East Anatolia, as well as farther west where the style spread to through the actions of merchants and colonisers.

As possibly the earliest of the Iron Age architectural orders, it went on to influence architecture in Anatolia and the Aegean, including the Greek temples with their Ionic, Doric and Corinthian capitals. Studying the arrival, development and transmission of this style on Cyprus is to study the development of 'European' architecture from a key viewpoint, right in the middle of the Mediterranean, where Egyptian, Syro-Hittite, Phoenician, Greeks and Mesopotamian cultures met and mixed.

My research has allowed me to work on several archaeological survey and excavation projects across Cyprus, notably at Kourion and Idalion. I have also excavated at several sites on Cyprus and in Scotland, and have carried out walkover survey and museum based research in Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Italy and France. During my research I have been lucky enough to have worked with several excellent archaeologists and organisations, including the University of Glasgow, Brock NY, Lycoming College Pennsylvania, the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, and the Cypriot American Archaeological Reasearch Institute. 


Dr Michael Given

Teaching Experience

Lecturer in CERT HE Egyptology at the Department of Adult and Continuing Education

Lecturer for DACE open course in Ancient Science and Technology

Graduate Teaching Assistant: Level 2 Field Archaeology in Theory and Practice

Qualified teacher of Technological Studies. Registered with the GTC (Scotland)

Research Interests

My wider studies focus on Ancient Egypt and the East Mediterranean in Antiquity, and more specifically, on aspects of the architectural design and symbolism used in that context. In Egypt I have studied the royal tombs, temples and pyramids. In Greece and Cyprus I have focussed on the use of the standardised cubit measurement system, and my PhD is now taking me into the study of the symbolic ideology used in architecture and material culture.

I study the development of technology as a social and cultural phenomenon, in particular through the history and archaeology of Egypt, Greece, the Levant and the East Mediterranean region, from the Bronze Age to the end of the Iron Age. Numeracy, weights and measurement systems, architectural and mechanical techniques, and traditional methods of building and construction are all important aspects of technology that were developed during Antiquity, and on which our modern systems are still founded. The social implications of the use of these traditional technical systems, and their usefulness to archaeologists today as culturally specific or hybridised elements are valuable reasons for studying these subjects. The associated developments of more complex systems such as writing, monetary systems and the use of formalised iconography is also an area into which my studies are extending.


2008 Egyptian Tomb Architecture: The Archaeological Facts of Pharaonic Circular Symbolism. British Archaeological Reports: International Series Number 1852

2008 The Cubit in Iron Age Cypriot Architecture. Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus. 291-306.


9 Nov 2010 Scottish Hellenic Society. Stepping Stones Across an Iron Age Sea: Interconnections Between Egypt, Cyprus and Greece in Antiquity

12 Sept 2010 British Egyptology Congress, British Museum. Royal Circular Protective Symbolism in Egyptian Tomb Architecture.

27 May 2010 Carlisle Egyptology Society. Egyptian Scribes and Mathematics and the Main Papyrii and Sources Regarding These

11 Nov 2008 Egyptology Scotland, Burrell Collection Museum. Architecture, Symbolism and the Afterlife: The Pyramids of Giza Demystified

Additional information

Member of Egyptology Scotland

Rescue Nabta Playa! Facebook group organiser

Conference organiser for STAG 2008

Peer Reviewer panel for the 'eSharp' online journal, based at the University of Glasgow