The Neolithic settlement of Choirokoitia, occupied from the 7th to the 4th millennium B.C., is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean. Its remains and the finds from the excavations there have thrown much light on the evolution of human society in this key region. Since only part of the site has been excavated, it forms an exceptional archaeological reserve for future study.
Le site néolithique de Choirokoitia, occupé du VIIe au IVe millénaire av. J.-C., est l'un des sites préhistoriques les plus importants de la partie orientale de la Méditerranée. Les vestiges retrouvés lors des fouilles ont permis d'en savoir plus sur l'évolution de la société humaine dans cette région si importante à cet égard. Le site n'a été que partiellement fouillé, et constitue donc une réserve archéologique exceptionnelle pour les recherches futures.
يُعتبر موقع شويروكويتا الذي يرقى إلى العصر الحجري والمأهول منذ القرن السابع والسادس ق.م أحد أهم المواقع التاريخيّة التي تعود الى العصر الحجري في الجزء الشرقي من المتوسط. ولقد سمحت الآثار التي تمّ اكتشافها أثناء التنقيب بالتعرّف إلى تطوّر المجتمع الإنساني في هذه المنطقة. ولم يتم التنقيب في الموقع إلاّ بصورة جزئية وهو يُشكّل بالتالي خزّاناً تراثيّاًً استثنائيّاًً لأعمال البحث المستقبليّة.
Поселение неолита Хирокития
Обитаемое с 7-го по 4-е тысячелетия до н.э. поселение периода неолита Хирокития – одно из самых ценных доисторических объектов в Восточном Средиземноморье. Его руины и археологические находки, обнаруженные при раскопках, пролили свет на развитие человеческих сообществ в этом исторически значимом регионе. Поскольку только часть объекта раскопана, он обладает исключительным археологическим потенциалом для будущих исследований.
El asentamiento neolítico de Choirokoitia, ocupado desde el séptimo hasta el cuarto milenio antes de nuestra era, es uno de los sitios prehistóricos mí¡s importantes del Mediterrí¡neo Oriental. Los vestigios encontrados en las excavaciones han permitido conocer mejor la evolución de la sociedad humana en esta región clave. El sitio, que sólo ha sido excavado en parte, constituye una reserva arqueológica excepcional para futuras investigaciones.
In de prehistorische periode speelde Cyprus een belangrijke rol in de cultuuroverdracht van het Nabije Oosten naar de Europese wereld. De archeologische site Choirokhoitia biedt belangrijke wetenschappelijke gegevens gerelateerd aan de verspreiding van de beschaving van Azië naar de mediterrane wereld. De neolithische nederzetting Choirokoitia werd bezet van het 7e tot het 4e millennium voor Christus. De overblijfselen en opgravingen hebben veel duidelijk gemaakt over de evolutie van de menselijke samenleving in deze regio. Choirokoitia werd waarschijnlijk gesticht door mensen uit Anatolië of de Levant en permanente menselijke bewoning begon ongeveer vanaf 7.000 voor Christus.
Outstanding Universal Value
Located in the District of Larnaka, about 6 km from the southern coast of Cyprus, the Neolithic settlement of Choirokoitia lies on the slopes of a hill partly enclosed in a loop of the Maroni River. Occupied from the 7th to the 5th millennium B.C., the village covers an area of approximately 3 ha at its maximum extent and is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean. It represents the Aceramic Neolithic of Cyprus at its peak, that is the success of the first human occupation of the island by farmers coming from the Near East mainland around the beginning of 9th millennium.
Excavations have shown that the settlement consisted of circular houses built from mudbrick and stone with flat roofs and that it was protected by successive walls. A complex architectural system providing access to the village has been uncovered on the top of the hill. The achievement of such an impressive construction, built according to a preconceived plan, expresses an important collective effort, with few known parallels in the Near East, and suggests a structured social organisation able to construct and maintain works of a large scale for the common good. A house consisted of several circular buildings equipped with hearths and basins arranged around a small courtyard where domestic activities took place. The houses belonged to the living, as well as to the dead who were buried in pits beneath the rammed earthen floors. Among the finds such as flint tools, bone tools, stone vessels, vegetal and animal remains, noteworthy are the anthropomorphic figurines in stone (one in clay), which point, together with funerary rituals, to the existence of elaborate beliefs. Since only part of the site has been excavated, it forms an exceptional archaeological reserve for future study.
Criterion (ii): In the prehistoric period, Cyprus played a key role in the transmission of culture from the Near East to the European world.
Criterion (iii): Choirokoitia is an exceptionally well-preserved archaeological site that has provided, and will continue to provide, scientific data of great importance relating to the spread of civilization from Asia to the Mediterranean world.
Criterion (iv): Both the excavated remains and the untouched part of Choirokoitia demonstrate clearly the origins of proto-urban settlement in the Mediterranean region and beyond.
The excavated site is intact and includes all attributes that express Outstanding Universal Value. A significant part of the settlement’s environs are within the property boundary. The wholeness or intactness of the property is a result of the actions taken by the State to preserve the original condition of the ruins and of the scientific work undertaken by the French archaeological mission of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), who have been excavating in Choirokoitia since 1976. Conservation works carried out on the site itself are confined to consolidation of the construction materials to ensure the structural safety of the ruins without interfering with the integrity of the site. Electromagnetic survey and excavations conducted on the entire hill by the French archaeological mission have clarified the limits of the built environment, which is delineated by strong enclosure walls. Development pressures on the site are being dealt with through land expropriation and the creation of a buffer zone, which is the Controlled Area surrounding the Neolithic Settlement of Choirokoitia.
The key elements of the site consist mostly of the exceptionally well-preserved archaeological remains. These together with excavated artefacts and human remains, truthfully and credibly express the value of the property as the most important Neolithic archaeological site in Cyprus and of exceptional significance in studying and understanding the evolution of human culture in this key area of the eastern Mediterranean. Excavations since the site was discovered have revealed only a small proportion of the total area, constituting the site as a precious archaeological reserve for future generations. Conservation works carried out on the site have been confined to the consolidation of the construction materials. The remains therefore retain their authenticity in terms of form, materials, location and setting. Temporary shelters have been constructed for the protection of the excavated remains. There has been no attempt at reconstruction on site. The reconstruction of five houses and a section of the defence wall have been erected off site, based on excavation evidence to make the site more comprehensible to visitors.
Protection and management requirements
The management of the site is under the direct supervision of the Curator of Ancient Monuments and the Director of the Department of Antiquities. Cultural and archaeological heritage in Cyprus is protected and managed according to the provisions of the national legislation, i.e the Antiquities Law and the International Treaties signed by the Republic of Cyprus. In accordance with the Antiquities Law, Ancient Monuments are categorized as of the First Schedule (governmental ownership) and of the Second Schedule (private ownership). Choirokoitia site is of government property. A large area directly to the west of the site has been listed as an Ancient Monument of the Second Schedule to enable control over development. Thus, listed Ancient Monuments of the Second Schedule are gradually being acquired according to the provisions of section 8 of the Antiquities Law, under which the Director of the Department of Antiquities has the power to reject or modify a project concerning the development of any plot declared as a monument of the Second Schedule. Furthermore, the Law provides, under Section II article 11, for the establishment of “Controlled Areas” within the vicinity of the sites. According to article 11, the Director of the Department of Antiquities controls the height and architectural style of any building proposed for erection within the Controlled Area, in order to safeguard the historic and archaeological character, the amenities and the environment surrounding an Ancient Monument. Choirokoitia Controlled Area will be extended further to the north, east and south of the site to facilitate better control over development pressures. The aim is to protect both the Neolithic settlement, as well as the surrounding natural landscape, which constitutes an integral part of the site.
The surrounding area of the site has already been considerably improved by cleaning and tree planting on the riverbanks. Information panels have been provided. The site is open to the public on a daily basis and works have been undertaken to facilitate the visit to the site. The site is adequately funded by the Department of Antiquities from the yearly government budget.
A Management Plan has been prepared for Choirokoitia, aimed at the conservation, promotion and preservation of the site’s unique value for future generations, through the production of basic guidelines and policies for all the parties involved. The Plan embraces both physical characteristics of the site and its landscape, as well as its cultural and historical significance. Actions proposed include the improvement of visitor facilities at the site, the development of an emergency evacuation plan, landscaping of the site and the development of educational programmes and activities.
Choirokoitia was given enhanced protection status by the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict in November 2010.
In the prehistoric period, Cyprus played a key role in the transmission of culture from the Near East to the European world. Choirokhoitia is an exceptionally well-preserved archaeological site that has provided, and will continue to provide, scientific data of great importance relating to the spread of civilization from Asia to the Mediterranean world. Both the excavated remains and the untouched part of Choirokhoitia demonstrate clearly the origins of proto-urban settlement in the Mediterranean region and beyond.
The Neolithic settlement of Choirokoitia is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean. It illustrates one aspect of the expansion of Neolithic culture in the special island environment. The long occupation of the village and the ample documentation of its cultural phases facilitate study of the evolution of this society. Burial customs and the use of figurines provide evidence for ritual and religious practices and beliefs of historical importance as manifested in some aspects of the material culture.
Permanent human occupation began in the Aceramic (pre-pottery) Proto-Neolithic period, starting around 7000 BC, when the Choirokhoitia site was founded, probably by people from Anatolia or the Levant - sedentary farmers, cultivating cereals and herding sheep, goats and pigs, all introduced from Asia Minor. For some reason Choirokhoitia and other sites were abandoned abruptly in the mid-6th millennium BC and were not reoccupied until 1,000 years later, in the Ceramic Neolithic period. There is less monumental evidence of occupation in the form of the remains of buildings from this period at Choirokhoitia, but new forms of plant and animal life, as well as the characteristic pottery, have been identified, suggesting that the new inhabitants were members of a fresh immigrant group, whose way of life was again based on agriculture and the raising of domestic animals. The site was finally abandoned in the early 4th millennium BC.
The settlement is located on the slopes of a hill in a meander of the Maroni River overlooking the fertile Vasilikos valley, about 6 km from the sea. It covers an area of about 1.5 ha. The earliest occupation, consisting of circular houses built from mud-brick and stone with flat roofs, was on the eastern side of the hill. It was protected by a massive wall barring access from the west (the other sides were protected naturally by the curve of the river and by very steep slopes). A second defensive wall was erected to protect a later extension of the village to the west. Both of the enceintes were pierced by gateways, an impressive example of which came to light during excavation. A staircase with three flights of steps was built within the thickness of an external stone bastion in the form of a parallelepiped, and still standing to a height of 2.50 m.
Some 20 houses have been excavated; they were constructed directly on the ground, without foundations, of undressed limestone blocks, mud-brick and rammed clay. The outer surfaces are frequently of stone and the inner of clay or unfired brick. Impressions in the debris have made it possible to deduce that their roofs were flat, made from branches and reeds topped with clay. In some places there is evidence of the internal surfaces of the walls having been painted.
Associated with the houses were the remains of hearths, cereal querns, and other domestic and agricultural equipment. A number of the houses had human burials beneath their rammed earth floors, showing evidence of inhumation rituals having been practised.
The finds from the settlement include many objects in stone and bone and, later, pottery, along with vegetable materials such as burnt grain (early forms of wheat and barley, lentils). Animal bones include domesticated species. The tools are diversified, ranging from bone needles to agricultural implements such as sickles. However, the most noteworthy finds are undoubtedly the anthropomorphic figurines in stone (and one in clay), which point to the existence at this early period of elaborate spiritual beliefs.Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
During the Proto-Neolithic Period (c 8100 BC) there was ephemeral settlement by hunter-gatherers on Cyprus, but they are believed to abandoned the island after a short time. Permanent human occupation began in the Aceramic (Pre-Pottery) Proto-Neolithic Period, starting around 7000 BC, when the site at Choirokhoitia was founded, probably by people from Anatolia or the Levant, on a hill overlooking the Maroni river. They were sedentary farmers, cultivating cereals and herding sheep, goats, and pigs - all introduced from the mainland of Asia Minor.
For some reason not yet understood, Choirokhoitia and other Aceramic Proto-Neolithic sites were abandoned abruptly in the mid-6th millennium BC and were not reoccupied until a thousand years later, in what is known as the Ceramic Neolithic Period. There is less monumental evidence of occupation in the form of the remains of buildings from this period at Choirokhoitia, but new forms of plant and animal life, as well as the characteristic pottery, have been identified, suggesting that the new inhabitants were members of a fresh immigrant group. Their way of life was, however, once again based on agriculture and the raising of domestic animals. The site was finally abandoned in the early 4th millennium BC.Source: Advisory Body Evaluation
- Four World Heritage sites in Cyprus and Italy granted “enhanced protection” in the event of armed conflict Monday, November 29, 2010
- UNESCO World Heritage Committee Adds 30 Sites to World Heritage List Wednesday, December 2, 1998