Ayia Varvara Asprokremnos
Excavations on the site started in 2009 under the direction of Dr. Carole McCartney on behalf of the Archaeological Research Unit of the University of Cyprus working in partnership with Cornell University and the University of Toronto. The site of Asprokremnos provides the first dated site illustrating the occupation of Cyprus during the beginning phase of the Neolithic, documenting evidence of an Early Neolithic or Pre-Pottery Neolithic A as it is known in mainland sequences. This very early phase of the Neolithic shown at Asprokremnos is currently dated by radio-carbon to between 8,800-8,600 BC cal predating previously known Neolithic sites on Cyprus by between 400-600 years.
The site is located located about 3 km southeast of Ayia Varvara, Nicosia, adjacent to the Lefkara chalk belt and the sulfide deposits of Mathiatis and approximately 30 km from the Mediterranean coast. The excavations revealed evidence of significant manufacturing activity associated with the production of chipped stone tools and ochre grinding.
A curvilinear semi-subterranean structure dominates the northern end of the site. A large array of stone tools deposited on the floor of this structure along with numerous pits and postholes cut into the floor were documented. Unique among these finds were two large pits each with a thick clay lining that could have facilitated the storage of water within the structure. Postholes and burnt mud plaster encircling the circumference of the interior pit wall of the structure provide evidence of a substantial timber super-structure used to roof the building.
Two new structures were constructed after this initial feature was abandoned. The earlier one of the two is of a much simpler architectural form, although it is of similar semi-subterranean pit structure. One of the most exciting discoveries associated with this building is a collection of four igneous stone objects including two flat cobbles, one with an extensive red ochre reside, a perfectly pecked stone sphere and a complete female statuette. This cache of artifacts was used to mark the abandonment of the structure and provides the earliest complete human figurine currently known on Cyprus. The latter was unearthed beneath a thick midden and is also a large semi-subterranean building. A substantial cache of river stones and ground stone tools placed on the floor and used for the processing of ochre throughout the life of the structure, implying the intensification of the ochre industry during this phase of occupation at the site.
The processing of multi-coloured pigments was facilitated by a large array of ground stone tools dominated by pounding tools and grinders that facilitated the processing of pigments as evidenced by significant numbers of tools with ochre residues. Such tools were cached in features dug into structure floors or placed in heaps along with other evidence of occupation including discarded chert tools and animal bones. A small amount of picrolite objects have been discovered among the material remains, which was used for the manufacture of ornaments. No obsidian or carnelian has been documented from the site.
Choirokitia, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, constitutes the most impressive example of the initial establishment of sedentary communities on the island and the development of an original civilisation: the Cypriot Aceramic Neolithic.
It is located in the Maroni valley on the eastern foothills of the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus and 6 km from the Mediterranean Sea. This site was discovered in 1934 by Porphyros Dikaios, who was then assigned to excavate the area from 1936 to 1946. From 1977 to the present, a French team directed by Alain Le Brun of the "Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique" have been excavating the site.
The settlement was protected by a large defensive wall (3m in height) on its western border and by a river and the slopes of the mountain range on the other sides. A complex architectural system, unique in Cyprus and the Near East, provided control over access to the village. The houses were circular with various diameters, ranging from about 2-9m. They were made of limestone, mud, and rammed earth (a mixture also known as pisé). Usually, the outside consisted of stone, while the inside was made of clay, brick, or pisé. The flat roofs were made of tree branches, straw, and reeds, and clay and mud were put on top of them. The dead were buried in pits inside the dwelling units with rich offerings (e.g. carnelian necklaces) on occasion which were then filled to recreate the house floors.
The discovery of cereal harvesting (and other agricultural) tools, along with burnt wheat and lentils, indicates that the inhabitants of Choirokitia practiced farming. Furthermore, the presence of bones of sheep, goats, and pigs shows that these people brought animals from Asia Minor to Cyprus and participated in raising livestock.The inhabitants of Choirokoitia used diabase, a hard stone, for the manufacturing of stone vessels, which constitute a particular characteristic of the Cypriote Aceramic Neolithic. Obsidian, carnelian and picrolite was used in the manufacture of stone objects.
The brilliant civilisation vanished suddenly, and no adequate explanation has been given regarding its disappearance.
The archaeological site of Tenta lies in a dominant position to the west of the Vasilikos river valley, situated on a small hill overlooking the Vasilikos valley from its west side, 5 km from the Mediterranean coast to the south and only 6 km (as the crow flies) from its approximately contemporary Choirokitia. Tenta is a characteristic example of an Aceramic Neolithic village.
The site was initially excavated in 1947 by Porphyrios Dikaios for the Department of Antiquities. Research stopped for many years until 1976 when the Vasilikos Valley Project commenced with the fieldwork of the Vasilikos Valley Project by the American Mission of the University of Brandeis under the direction of Prof. Ian Todd.
The settlement is surrounded by walls and consists of a cluster of buildings with simple circular or double circular ground plans built with stone and mudbrick or a combination of both. The buildings are primarily interpreted as domestic structures although a building/complex of structures of an unusually large size is preserved on the wesit side of the top of the site. The roofs were principally flat (although examples of domed roofs also exist)and were made of a wooden frame consisting of branches, reeds, pisé and earth. The interior of the buildings had double rectilinear piers, which supported a partial upper wooden floor, hearths and benches. The plastered surfaces of the walls were occasionally decorated with paintings. The dead (a total of 14 human burials) were buried beneath the floor of houses or in the open space between domestic buildings.
The faunal and plant remains that have been unearthed suggest that the inhabitants of the site exploited a mixture of wild and domesticated species.
The inhabitants of Kalavasos Tenta were also involved in the manufacturing of stone vessels using diabase, which constitute a particular characteristic of the Cypriot Aceramic Neolithic. Picrolite is present on site and it was used both for ornaments and small bowls/containers. A small quantity of obsidian was also discovered on site and used for stone tools. No carnelian has been found in Tenta.
As with its neighbouring Choirokitia, Tenta was suddenly abandoned in the end of the Aceramic Neolithic period with no adequate explanation.