A remarkable discovery was announced recently at an archaeological site in western Cyprus, indicating contact between its early inhabitants and other Neolithic settlements in the region.
Excavations occurring at the Prastio-Mesorotsos site, a multi-period archaeological dig in the Paphos district, revealed a number of shallow pits within this season’s field work. Within the pits were a number of objects, ranging from stone vessels and a small, human-shaped figure made from clay, to a number of broken artifacts that appear to have been arranged in “a ritualistic manner” by human hands long ago. However, arguably the most significant find at Prastio-Mesorotsos this year was an unusual looking stone, engraved with markings that form series of acute angles, along with occasional circular impressions, which give a clue to their origins.
In fact, these rare engravings are similar enough to objects that appear elsewhere at other locations in the region, such as the Choletria-Ortos site. While the exact use of these mysterious engraved stones remains in question, their appearance in multiple distant locales has helped confirm that the Cyprus site was in use during the rise of the Aceramic Neolithic Period, and that its inhabitants were in contact with the inhabitants of other coastal areas at that time.
During previous dig seasons, a number of Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Early and Middle Bronze Age artifacts have been recovered already, under the direction of Andrew McCarthy, of Edinburgh University’s School of History, Classics, and Archaeology, working jointly with the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute. In addition to artifacts, unusual structures that include roundhouses dating back to the Early Bronze Age were also uncovered and excavated.
According to the researchers, some “significant architectural and social change seems to have occurred near the end of the Early Bronze Age and the start of the Middle Bronze Age,” as reported by Cyprus Mail Online.
In recent years, the University of Edinburgh has conducted field schools at the Prastio-Mesorotsos site, which have included excavations of numerous periods dating back throughout antiquity. Excavations of burning pits and neolithic pit ovens at the site were further explored using recreations at the site, in which prehistoric "pit oven BBQs" were recreated and tested.
As far as the unique stone engravings found during this season's excavations go, no significant contests have been raised regarding the discoveries at Prastio-Mesorotsos. The engravings are presently considered by archaeologists inv0lved with the discovery to be definitive evidence of exchanges between the Neolithic cultures in Cyprus, and cultural groups that resided along adjacent coastlines in the region.