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3 December 2004
More debates over Cypriot Bronze Age site

The row over whether a Turkish Cypriot construction company should be allowed to build on the site of a Bronze Age necropolis in the village of Kazafani outside Kyrenia resurfaced with the company at the centre of the debate calling on the north’s authorities to join them in excavating the site.
     The offer coincided with a renewed debate over the site’s status within the Turkish Cypriot administration. In line with local law, the antiquities department has reissued its application for the site to be recognised as a grade one archaeological site. The argument first erupted in June, when the north’s antiquities department called a halt to development of a 40-donum site, known as Vounos, into a complex of luxury housing. The department had, unbeknownst to the company, declared Vounos a grade one archaeological site on May 27 this year, but not soon enough to prevent extensive bulldozing of the Bronze Age relic.
     Sercem Construction Ltd, the company at the heart of the row, say they did not know the site was of archaeological interest when they bought it and believe they are being victimised by the authorities. Company sales manager Hasip Izzet is adamant that little of interest remains on the site: “There were excavations here in the thirties and sixties, so whatever was here has long since been taken away. But if the antiquities department want to send archaeologists to watch over us while we work, they are welcome to do so.”
     Officials at the antiquities department insist, however, that a compromise over Vounos would lead to the destruction of an important part of the island’s heritage. “The experts have stated their case that the site is of major importance. I don’t see what people in the ministry or the Attorney-general can say on the issue,” said a source close to the antiquities department. Economy and tourism minister Dervish Deniz said there were 'conflicting' views over the status of the site and that he would be seeking a “fair and legal outcome” to the row. The antiquities department source was scathing over Deniz’s comments and said: “I don’t know what conflicts he is talking about. Either you protect your heritage or you don’t.”

Source: Cyprus Mail (26 November 2004)

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