Jan Bartek – AncientPages.com – Archaeologists recently unearthed a significant find in Cyprus: a 4,000-year-old temple in Erimi. This discovery is potentially the oldest known sacred site on the island. The temple was located in an area previously serving as a craftsman’s workshop.

The excavation was conducted by an Italian archaeological team, the Erimi Archaeological Project, affiliated with the University of Siena and led by Professor Luca Bombardieri.

4,000-Year-Old Temple With Mysterious Large Monolith Discovered In Cyprus

A recreation of the temple depicts an amphora, a fire pit, and a monolith. Credit: University of Siena

Researchers are particularly interested in large, enigmatic monolith featuring a circular pattern of cups at its center. This artifact provides valuable insights into the ancient artisan community that once thrived in Cyprus.

The early settlement of Erimi-Bombardieri is located in the hinterland of Limassol. It extends over a high limestone terrace that dominates the course of the Kouris River and a large portion of the coast of the Gulf of Kourion and the Akrotiri peninsula. During the Middle Bronze Age (around 2000-1600 B.C.), a community of artisans settled on the Erimi hill and built a communal living space with very particular characteristics.

Recently, a discovery was made in the western wing of the artisan complex: a room containing a monolith of considerable size, about 2.30 meters high, completely smooth, with a circular motif of small cups in the center.

4,000-Year-Old Temple With Mysterious Large Monolith Discovered In Cyprus

Archaeologists excavating at the site. Credit: University of Siena

Professor Bombardieri explains in a press release that the monolith, which originally stood in the room’s center, collapsed onto the floor, destroying a large amphora placed at its feet in front of a small circular hearth. The room’s interior space allowed circulation around the monolith, amphora, and hearth occupying the central area.

The peculiarities of this space, especially when compared to the surrounding production laboratory areas, indicate it was a small sacred space—the oldest attested on the island. Its cultural function is particularly interesting due to its location within the laboratory complex. Thus, the activity that economically supported the community involved its members ideologically and symbolically.

In the recent excavation mission, archaeologists also uncovered the skeleton of a young woman estimated to be around 20 years old. The evidence suggests that she was the victim of a violent death, and her body was subsequently “sealed.” This practice may have attempted to conceal the crime and prevent her spirit from haunting the living.

The victim’s cranium shows signs of fracture, likely caused by a spear or a heavy object. Her body was positioned on the ground with a large stone placed on her chest, possibly to immobilize her remains. Notably, no valuable items or ceremonial objects were found near the body, indicating that no formal burial rites were performed.

Italian researchers propose that this discovery may represent an ancient case of femicide, potentially linked to the woman’s pregnancy. The entrance to the small dwelling where she was found was meticulously sealed, resembling a tomb. This incident dates back to the Bronze Age, approximately 2,000 and 1,600 B.C.

4,000-Year-Old Temple With Mysterious Large Monolith Discovered In Cyprus

The site of the 4,000-year-old temple seen from the air. Credit: University of Siena

Professor Bombardieri suggests that this case may be connected to other similar incidents recorded in various parts of Cyprus. Typically, the victims of these femicides were young women who were murdered and isolated from their families and communities.

See also: More Archaeology News

This finding offers a unique window into the island’s distant past, shedding light on the religious practices and craftsmanship of a civilization that existed four millennia ago. The temple’s location within a former workshop area suggests a possible connection between spiritual activities and artisanal production in this early Cypriot society.

Written by Jan Bartek – AncientPages.com Staff Writer

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