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15 June 2010
Ancient figurine 'factory' uncovered in Cyprus

A team of British archaeologists have uncovered evidence for the production of cruciform figurines (objects with a cross-like shape) such as the Idol of Pomos, which is depicted on the Cypriot one and two euro coins, the Cypriot Antiquities Department announced. The evidence comes from a settlement located at Souskiou near Palaepaphos and is believed to date from 3000 BCE. The Pomos sculpture, representing a woman with her arms spread, was likely used as a fertility symbol.
     "This is the first time that such detailed information on this subject has come to light in Cyprus," a statement from the Department said. "Among the remnants of a house lay the tools for making the figurines together with abundant fragments or chippings from the initial stages of production. These come from pebbles and blocks of raw material which the sculptors obtained, ultimately from the Troodos Mountains. A further production stage is evident from roughouts in which the figures begin to emerge from the parent rock. Also present were nearly finished figurines that were discarded because of imperfections."
     This unique discovery will allow archaeologists to reconstruct the techniques used by the prehistoric artisans and to see how the work on the figurines was organised within the Chalcolithic community. The Cypriot Antiquities Department has said it was already clear that the workshop functioned in a building where domestic tasks were also carried out. "There were many such houses at Souskiou which must have been a vibrant centre for the production of these iconic images. Eventually it may be possible to establish the characteristics of the Souskiou style and so to source some of the many figurines in museums," the announcement also added.
     In another part of the settlement, the team investigated 'rich economic data' including items such as animal bone, ceramics, charcoal and bone needles. ├ČNormally washed away by erosion, the material here was trapped beneath buildings that were constructed over this ashy dump of food remains. It may have been deposited by temporary visitors to Souskiou before it was formally settled,├« it said. The four-week excavation at the site was conducted by a team led by Professor Edgar Peltenburg. The team consists of members from the Lemba Archaeological Research Centre and the University of Edinburgh.

Source: Cyprus Mail (10 June 2010)

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