|14 October 2018
Neolithic and Bronze Age finds in Cyprus
The multi-period site of Prastio-Mesorotsos is situated around a prominent rocky outcrop in the Dhiarizos Valley, with dramatic views to both the mountains and the sea and easy access to abundant natural resources. In 2018 - the tenth excavation season at the site - digs in four areas exposed remains from the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and the Early and Middle Bronze Ages.
In Area 5 an impressive structure was uncovered in contexts dating to the Aceramic Neolithic period circa 6000 BCE - a very rare find of a built structure from this period. It appears to be a circular stone structure topped with plaster, resembling circular platforms from Kritou Marottou-Ais Yiorkis, though it could be a wall of a small building similar to those found at Khirokitia. Above this were Late Neolithic deposits in what appears to be an unbroken sequence from the Aceramic into the Ceramic Neolithic period - a poorly understood period of Cypriot prehistory.
In Area 4 evidence for Early Bronze Age occupation circa 2000 BCE was found. An extension of a previously excavated roundhouse revealed a large open bowl with an unusual knobbed interior base sitting directly on the floor. The bowl had been placed into a special setting surrounded by stones within the larger arc of the roundhouse, indicating special significance. The size of the bowl suggests something other than everyday eating and could indicate feasting activities. This building's use would have been contemporary with the construction of the famous "Vounous Bowl" with its complex depiction of a building with humans and animals in it. At a time when rectilinear achitecture was common, the fact that this building from Prasteio and the "Vounous Bowl" are both curvilinear and feature areas of special communal nature is striking.
The final prehistoric activities on the site were investigated in Area 11 where the remains are extremely well preserved - in some cases more than 2 metres in height - probably due to the deliberate infilling of the internal spaces during the terracing event. The interior spaces in the well-preserved rooms were excavated this season and on the first terrace a plaster floor was found with a figurine of a bull resting on the surface - further evidence for the types of activities that took place in this space and for the type of society in the Middle Cypriot period at the site.
The settlement, its architecture, and probably lifestyle in general was significantly reconfigured around 1900 BCE in the Middle Cypriot period, with a massive series of terraces in several areas of the site, a more sophisticated style of rectilinear architecture, and new elements of material culture - changes representng growing social stratification, culminating in the abandonment of the site towards the end of the period.
Edited from Tornos News (12 September 2018)
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