Choirokoitia Archaeological Site (World Heritage)

By | September 24, 2021

The Neolithic settlement of Choirokoitia was founded from 7th to 4th centuries. Millennium BC Inhabited. It consisted of a series of round houses surrounded by a protective wall. Choirokoitia is one of the most important prehistoric places in the Eastern Mediterranean and gives an insight into the world of people at the interface between Asia and Europe.

Choirokoitia Archaeological Site: Facts

Official title: Choirokoitia archaeological site
Cultural monument: a settlement consisting of round buildings (tholoi) with a defensive wall; in grave finds in 26 graves under the floor of the houses, the discovery of the dead in a huddled position together with accessories such as jewelry and storage vessels as well as obsidian blades; in Tholos C the discovery of a corpse of a woman with a necklace made of carnelian pearls and tubular shells; Age of the dead about 35 years of age
Continent: Europe
Country: Cyprus
Location: Chirokitía, halfway between Larnaka and Limassol, northeast of Kalavassos
Appointment: 1998
Meaning: one of the most important prehistoric places of the Eastern Mediterranean, testimony to the spread of cultures from Asia to the Mediterranean

Choirokoitia Archaeological Site: History

around 7000 BC Chr. earliest settlement
around 5500 BC Chr. to this day unresolved abandonment of the settlement
around 4500 BC Chr. Resettlement of the place by newly immigrated culture
around 3000 BC Chr. final abandonment of the settlement
1878 Excavations
1976-95 Excavations of the French Archaeological Mission
2010 Because of its outstanding cultural significance for mankind, the world cultural heritage has been awarded the status of a heritage site that is particularly worthy of protection (in armed conflict areas) by UNESCO

One of the first settlements in world history

This place, which is one of the oldest and best preserved settlements of the “Fertile Crescent”, which extends from Mesopotamia to Syria and Cyprus down to Egypt, is located on the slope of a steep rocky promontory around which a stream flows. This location was surely carefully chosen by the Stone Age people: the stream served to supply water and irrigate the fields in the fertile plain, and people settled on the rock for reasons of defense and hygiene.

Without any recognizable order, the foundations of the round houses stand to the left and right of a thick wall that leads up from the river to the hill. The house walls are up to two and a half meters thick and partly consist of several thinner parallel walls. Many houses have one or more pillars in the middle that once supported the beams of a mezzanine. The roofs of the houses were flat and made of beams, clay and brushwood. A fire in the middle of the circular buildings was used for heating, while the smoke was drawn off through air holes in the walls under the roof approach.

According to topb2bwebsites, The Stone Age settlement was settled during two phases between 7000 and 5500 and also between 4500 and 3000 BC. The first phase was ceramic-free, in the second, fired comb-streaked ceramic was used. Archaeological research has not yet been able to answer two questions: Why did the residents disappear between the first two phases of settlement, and why did they leave their city for good around 3000 BC?

The archaeological finds of the Stone Age settlement are – apart from a few mortars and rubstones left in place – in the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia. They clearly show how people lived and worked in that settlement and what burial customs were common. Findings of bones from goats, sheep and pigeons suggest domestication of these animals. Flint arrowheads attest to the hunt. Grain mortars and sickle leaves made of obsidian, which was brought here from the Greek island of Melos, among other places, indirectly document the cultivation of grain.

Investigations of the skeletons found in the residents showed an average life expectancy of 35 years for men and 33.5 years for women. So that’s when men got older! Did they live more comfortably than women? Child mortality must have been quite high: In Tholos F, for example, the bodies of over two dozen small children who were believed to have died in an epidemic were found.

The dead were hunched over and buried directly under the floor of their homes. Does this embryonic position express the expectation of a rebirth? Often a heavy stone was placed on the dead. And this again raises a question: Was this the way to prevent their rebirth? Many stone bowls were found as grave goods, but they were apparently deliberately broken. Was this a particular rite? Other grave goods consisted of jewelry, storage vessels – some with their contents -, tools and small religious idols. Tholos C contained the tomb of a woman with a beautiful necklace of carnelian pearls and shell shells. This as well as other women’s graves were often more splendidly furnished with grave goods than those of the men.

None of the excavated buildings is significantly larger than the others: an indication of a fairly homogeneous society. The productivity of the work was so low that no one could be released from the necessary work and thus no ruling class could be endured.

Choirokoitia Archaeological Site (World Heritage)