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2010-10-03 06:11:42   •   ID: 1005

Khirokitia: The insularity of the late aceramic Neolithic in Cyprus

Figure 1
These are typical artifacts (blades) from the World Heritage site of Khirokitia (Choirokoitia) an early aceramic Neolithic site in Cyprus near the Maroni river and about 33 kilometers west from Larnaca. Khirokitia gives evidence of an organized society using surrounding fortifications for communal protection. The buildings within this wall consist of “anachronistic” (compared to the mainland) round structures merged close together (Fig.2). The lower parts of these buildings are often of stone. Their external diameter varies between 2.3 m and 9.2 m while the internal diameter is only between 1.4 m and 4.8 m.

Khirokitia was not the first aceramic Neolithic village on the island, indeed it was late and about 20 other villages from this culture are known in Cyprus. In contrast, the site of Shillourokambos represents an earlier period of colonization from the Anatolian mainland. Parekklisha-Shillourokambos was occupied from 8300 BC to 7000 B.C. Here large quantities of obsidian blades and bladelets were found which were brought from Cappadocia (Anatolia) in finished form. Naviform cores and Byblos points show, that the first farmers at  Shillourokambos were part of the PPNB sphere.

Until recently the cat was commonly believed to have been domesticated in ancient Egypt, where it was a cult animal. But at Shillourokambos the remains of an 8-month-old cat buried with its presumed human owner was excavated. The date of the burial far precedes Egyptian civilization. Together with the new genetic evidence, it places the domestication of the cat in a different context.

Figure 2
At Khirokitia the stone tools were mainly unretouched blades; there are some denticulates and sickles but no projectile points.  The tools are made from local chert and obsidian imports are extremely rare. These features clearly reflect that the communities of the late aceramic Neolithic in Cyprus did not participate in the networks of the Levantine / Asiatic mainland any more.