ABSTRACT

What are the key conclusions that can be drawn from this study? Theoriesand data can now be brought together to gain a better understanding ofthe complexities of colonisation and abandonment in the Mediterranean islands, in terms of causes, processes, and effects. Regularity and variation seen in the development of island cultures over long time periods contribute equally to our grasp of these processes. Many researchers have followed Cherry’s lead in claiming that island colonisation was an irregular process, one that displayed a high level of ‘noise’, which was generally put down to either uneven exploration or to the fact that chance had contaminated the more regular pattern of human presence on islands as predicted on the basis of biogeographical variables (or both). As this study moved from the pan-Mediterranean and east-west level of analysis towards a regional and island-based scale of enquiry, the relative importance of these factors started to emerge. We began to discern, for example, the islands that had not received sufficient research and where this lack of study was likely to be responsible for the uneven patterns; where biogeographical factors were really prominent; and where elements of a more contingent nature, such as specific historical conditions, were likely to have been involved in shaping the patterns of prehistoric island colonisation.