Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 65 , some UNESCO sites of Cyprus

We are now off to Cyprus....
Steeped in history and mythology, the beautiful Mediterranean island of Cyprus boasts a wealth of archeological treasures, many of which date back thousands of years.
Located atop a hill in the valley of the Maroni River, the ancient settlement of Choirokoitia (also known as Khirokitia) provides a fascinating insight into Neolithic culture. Occupie
d from the 7th to the 4th millennium BC, the village is one of the most important and best preserved prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean. It was added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1998.

Excavations dating back to the early 1930s have brought to light one of the earliest Neolithic cultures in the world and the beginnings of civilisation in Cyprus, divulging a wealth o
f information about the village inhabitants and their daily lives. The origin of the Neolithic Cypriots is not known for certain, but it is possible that the Neolithic villages on the island were a result of colonization from the Middle East.

The beehive-shaped stone houses were believed to belong to primitive farmers, who spent their days farming wheat and barley in the surrounding lands in addition to herding cattle and hunting with stone tools. Women were engaged in spindling, weaving cloths and making pottery, which was beaut ifully decorated. Flint blades, implements, pottery and many other archaeological findings from Choirokoitia are displaye d in the Cyprus Museum.

We explored the circular stone dwellings and numerous tombs (dating back to 7000 BC) that lie within the settlement's thick fortified stone wall.

Although much of the site lies in ruins, four of the house s have been reconstructed from local mud and stone so we could see how these early farmers lived.

The huts are not very high, signifying that the Neolithic Cypriots were short and sturdy.
On average, the men were about 1.6m tall and the women were about 1.5m tall. Life expectancy was very short, the average age of death being around 34 years, and th ere was a high infant mortality rate. It was customary to bury the dead under the floors of the houses of the living relatives, keeping them close in death as in life.
A visit to this unique open-air museum was an ideal way to immerse ourselves in Cyprus' ancient history and rich cultural heritage.

Next stop....we are off to see teh painted churches of the Troodos region....
There are actually nine churches and one monastery in Troodos that are counted among UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in this area.
The nine Byzantine churches are:
1)Panayia tou Araka

2)Timiou Stavrou at Pelendri

3)Ayios Nikolaos tis Stegis
4)Panayia Podithou
6)Ayios loannis Lampadistis
7)Panayia tou Moutoula
8)Archangel Michael at Pedhoulas
9)Stavros tou Ayiasmati
The area has been known since ancient times for its copper mines, and in the Byzantine period it became a great centre of Byzantine art, as churches and monasteries were built in the mountains, away from the threatened coastline.

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