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Stone Age Artefacts in Cyprus

Discovery Reveals Cyprus was part of Neolithic Revolution

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Artefacts found at an archaeological site in Cyprus suggest that humans occupied the Mediterranean island about 1,000 years earlier than previously believed. The implication is that Cyprus was part of the Neolithic revolution that saw the growth in agriculture and domestication of animals.

Archaeologists from the University of Toronto, Cornell University and the University of Cyprus were excavating at the Ayia Varvara-Asprokremnos site, which was first discovered in the 1990s, when they uncovered a complete human figurine dated to between 8800-8600BC – the earliest ever found on the island.

This period in history was when the Neolithic Period was beginning and hunter-gatherer groups were beginning to make settlements and start farming activities. However, until now Cyprus was thought to have been permanently settled much later than the Middle East and mainland areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Now it seems that settlers may have crossed the water from what are now northern Syria, Turkey and Lebanon.

"With these discoveries we really are getting a clearer picture of how much was going on Cyprus," said Sally Stewart, a research fellow at University of Toronto's Archaeology Centre and Department of Anthropology. "We can no longer think of it as being on the fringe of what was happening across the region at the time."

Archaeologists also uncovered stone tools, one with significant traces of red ochre, which provides evidence of the production of stone instruments and the processing of ochre.

"This tells us that Cyprus was very much a part of the Neolithic revolution that saw significant growth in agriculture and the domestication of animals," says Sally Stewart, a research fellow at University of Toronto's Archaeology Centre and Department of Anthropology. "With farming came a surplus of wealth, in both food and time. People now had the time to specialize in other roles such as manufacturing, and they had the time to spend making figurative art."

The results of the study have filled an important gap in Cypriot history.

By April Holloway

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