By Kyriacos Kyriacou-Nicosia
Archaelogists believe that they discovered what could be the earliest documented formal human burials found in Cyprus to date. The human burials dated to 7800 BC were found in Kretou Marottou-Ais Yiorkis area, it was announced on Thursday. The escavation were carrying out by Drs Xenia-Paula Kyriakou and Paul Croft. The skeleton was found in a tightly flexed position in a grave cut into a larger, somewhat earlier pit. The Antiquities Department said that it consists of an adult individual, probably a male.
Similar sites in Cyprus have shown that the island was in early and consistent contact with the mainland Neolithic, and indicate that the island was colonised far earlier than previously believed Human remains, however, had been elusive at all early Neolithic sites, “thus a formal burial is very significant”, the department said.
Previously, parts of an infant burial were recovered at Kretou Marottou-Ais Yiorkis, and elements representing several individuals were recovered from Neolithic wells at Kissonerga-Mylouthkia. At Perekklisha-Shillourokambos numerous human remains were recovered in a large pit, and a flexed individual adjacent to a cat burial also was documented at that site. “These may be somewhat more recent than the Kretou Marottou-Ais Yiorkis burial, but this remains to be determined pending the outcome of radiocarbon dating,” the department added.
The newly-discovered site was discovered during the 2014 excavation season at the early Neolithic site by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), under the direction of Dr Alan H Simmons and funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.
The grave fill was especially rich in stones, animal bones and chipped stone, compared with the fill of the larger pit. The site is located in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains in the Paphos region, rather than near the coast, a more common Neolithic pattern. The department said it had many unique features, including circular plastered platforms, a huge chipped stone assemblage, and well-preserved paleoeconomic data, including cattle, which previously had not been documented on Cyprus until the Bronze Age.