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14 June 2004
Bronze Age necropolis on Cyprus is being bulldozed

A fierce row has broken out between the Turkish Cypriot Department of Antiquities and Museums and a construction company over what the department claims is the “illegal destruction of a grade one archaeological site” at Vounos, near Kazafani, to make way for luxury homes.
     Antiquities Department head Ilkay Feridun said she had filed legal proceedings against the company following last-minute moves to declare the Bronze Age necropolis at Vounos a grade one site. "Our archaeologists did a detailed study of the site and found it had been damaged, and we have informed the Attorney-general of the situation," she said. She added that bulldozers had “completely flattened” the Vounos site, damaging the hundred or so tombs located there.
     Archaeologists describe Vounos as one of the most important early Bronze Age necropolises in the Eastern Mediterranean. Many of the objects discovered during excavations in the 1930s are display at the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia.
     The managing director of the company involved in the construction project argued that the Vounos site was of little or no archaeological significance, adding that whatever of interest had been there had been removed during excavations in the 1930s. He also denied causing damage to the underground tombs. “All I did was clear away the weeds and bushes.”
     Although local residents in the area say bulldozers were used in the “cleaning” operation, the company’s claim was partly backed by a visiting archaeologist who said that if work at the site was halted, up to 70 per cent of the tombs could be salvaged. But the company says it has no intention of halting its project to develop the area as a luxury home complex. “It hasn’t been put on hold because we have building permits from the government.” Feridun, however, said that unless the company could overturn the ruling which declared the site a grade one archaeological site in its official gazette on May 27, it would have to halt all work at Vounos.

Source: Cyprus Mail (11 June 2004)

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