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23 October 2014
Neolithic barbeque pit found in Cyprus

Archaeologists have uncovered what could be a prehistoric barbeque pit used by large bands of hunters at the Prastio-Mesorotsos site in Cyprus. According to the antiquities department, the team of archaeologists led by Dr Andrew McCarthy, Fellow of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, and Director of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI), examined the prehistoric remains from the site, which was later settled during various other eras in antiquity. It said the earliest deposits on the site dated to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period - around 8000 BCE to 7000 BCE - and revealed storage pits and food preparation areas.
     Two features from different areas of the site also revealed sophisticated  pyrotechnology. In one instance, a large stone-lined pit showed evidence of burning and was filled with a concentration of ash. "If this feature was for roasting food, this pit-roast technique would have served the needs of a great number of people, possibly bands of hunters exploiting the upland resources," said a statement from the antiquities department.
     In another area, a smaller scale but roughly contemporary feature was an above-ground mud-built (pisé) domed structure similar to a tanour or kleftiko type oven. "his smaller domed oven could have been used for baking bread or roasting meat, but represents domestic-scale usage attesting to a diversity of activities," it added.
     Very close to the domed oven was an 'enigmatic' series of 12 shallow pits that were cut into one another by the ancient inhabitants over a long period of time, from the Pre-pottery Neolithic to the Ceramic (Late) Neolithic phase of the site. Many of these pits were filled deliberately with carefully-placed special objects, attesting occupational longevity and social memory of activity spaces. Archaeologists believe that the concentration of pits and the repeated use of them for disposing of unusual objects hinted at special behaviours and rituals.
     Previous excavations at the site have revealed an extensive and complicated Bronze Age sequence of occupation complete with houses and work areas. Major changes in artefacts and architecture showing the transition of the site from the Early (2400 BCE) to Middle Cypriot Bronze Age (1900 BC-1600 BCE) have also been noted. Massive construction had taken place just before the site was abandoned near the end of the Middle Cypriot period, not to be resettled again until after the Late Bronze Age (1300 BCE-1200 BCE).

Edited from Cyprus Mail (14 October 2014)

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