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Archaeologists to reassess locations of ancient sites after Troodos discovery

The areas at Agios Ioannis where the site was uncovered

This year’s excavations in the Troodos mountains have raised fascinating questions over the location of ancient sites in Cyprus which had previously believed to be focused solely in coastal areas and the central plain.

The antiquities department announced on Monday that the excavations by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki had revealed a large part of an impressive circular building which had first been identified last year at the prehistoric site at Agios Ioannis/Vretsia-Upper Rhoudias,situated on a terrace of the valley of the Xeros river in the Troodos mountains.

The identification and the gradual revealing of a seventh millennium BC site in a mountainous area of Cyprus came as a surprise to researchers who considered that, the developments in prehistory – especially in relation to the Aceramic Neolithic period which came to an end around 6000 BC – concerned coastal areas and sites, such as Choirokoitia-Vouni, Kalavasos-Tenta and Apostolos Andreas-Kastros.

The above picture has changed as a result of the discovery of the site that is being investigated by the team from the university.

“A question arising is why would such a monumental and well-built structure be constructed at a mountainous locality, unless it had a special function. However, it is possible that our current perceptions of such locations as marginal, are completely wrong.  All these questions will remain open issues, until the investigations are completed,” an antiquities department press release said.

“The building’s architecture has now become clearer and at the same time, a new series of questions have arisen concerning the building’s character and use, as well as its size and the possible extent of the upper Rhoudias site,” the announcement by the department of antiquities said.

Of special interest is the circular building’s monumental character since its diameter exceeds seven metres and its walls are comprised of two series of stones, a characteristic known from other contemporaneous sites on the island.

There is also evidence of other features in the interior of the building, possible rectangular pillars.

“Although the building has not yet been revealed completely it seems that, where the top soil layer is thin, the remains have not survived, although this will be confirmed with the completion of investigations.”

Another question is whether this circular building is the only one at the site or, whether it was one of more other similar or constructions. Although once more, the answer to this question will be given through future investigations, other built features have already been noted, such as a stone-built wall which possibly surrounded the site.

The team was under the direction of professor Nikos Efstratiou, in collaboration with educator/archaeologist Demetris Kyriakou.


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