A large number of important ancient artefacts and tombs have been discovered in Larnaca during ongoing construction of the town’s sewage system, it emerged on Tuesday.
The antiquities revealed the city to be “an iron age kingdom with a long history” the sewerage board said in a written statement.
The general manager of the Larnaca sewage board, Aggelos Hadjicharalambous told the Cyprus Mail that the discoveries delayed the project and created additional costs.
The completion of the system is now expected in 2023, Hadjicharalambous said, which means the project has now been delayed for about eight years.
Among the findings in 2016 was a 20-metre mosaic that depicts the twelve labours of Hercules. The mosaic was the floor of public baths of the time, either the Roman or Hellenistic era. It was found on Ayiou Neophytou Street. It was only partly uncovered at the time.
Since then, in an area spanning several kilometres, workers have uncovered unmarked graves, which revealed the existence of an extensive necropolis. The tombs date from the Early Bronze Age to the late Roman period.
Most tombs are subterranean rectangular chamber tombs, carved in the natural bedrock, consisting of one or two adjoining chambers, the department of antiquities said.
The entrance to the tomb was via a sloping corridor or a carved staircase. Sometimes, niches were carved on the walls of the corridor, possibly to place offerings for the deceased.
“These tombs were used for collective burials and in most instances, appear to have been used for centuries,” the department added.
Personal adornment items made of gold, bronze and semi-precious stones, were also found in the tombs.
A monastery of the late 15th and 16th centuries was also found during excavations on Ayiou Frangiskou Asizis Street.
The foundations of the rooms found may be identified with monastic cells of the Monastery of the Order of the Franciscans, mentioned in travellers’ accounts from 1546, as a hospice for pilgrims on their journey to the Holy Lands.
The discoveries “revealed a city inhabited for more than 5000 years, one of the most prominent city-kingdoms in the Iron Age and a stop for pilgrims on their way to the Holy Lands during the Medieval period” the department said.
The goal of the department is to allow modern development while preserving the rich past of the city.