Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


22 September 2013

Ayia Varvara-Asprokremnos 2013

Cyprus Department of Antiquities

The Department of Antiquities, Ministry of Communications and Works, announces the completion of the 2013 excavations at the PPNA (9th millennium) site of Ayia Varvara-Asprokremnos. The excavations were conducted from the end of March to mid-June 2013 under the direction of Dr. Carole McCartney on behalf of the Archaeological Research Unit of the University of Cyprus working in partnership with Cornell University and the University of Toronto.

This season of excavation focused on the recording of three structures, evidence of the industrial activities carried out at the site and documenting the sequence of occupation. The site, currently dated by radio-carbon to between c. 8,800-8,600 BC cal., marks the initiation of the Neolithic period on Cyprus at a time when the transition from hunting to farming economies was beginning throughout the Middle East. Taking the Neolithic Revolution into the Mediterranean zone, the occupants of Ayia Varvara-Asprokremnos carried cultural traditions and intensive resource procurement and manufacturing activity to the island some 11,000 years before present.

Excavations during 2013 continued to unearth evidence of significant manufacturing activity associated with the production of chipped stone tools, which together with a second resource, namely ochre, combine to explain the choice of site location adjacent to the Lefkara chalk belt and the sulfide deposits of Mathiati. The processing of multi-coloured pigments was facilitated by a large array of ground stone tools dominated by pounding tools and grinders that facilitated the processing of pigments as evidenced by significant numbers of tools with ochre residues. Such tools were cached in features dug into structure floors or placed in heaps along with other evidence of occupation including discarded chert tools and animal bones. One new artifact type associated with the processing of ochre is marked by a number of large chalk slabs exhibiting ochre residues in conjunction with clear cut marks on working surfaces that appear to have functioned as cutting boards.

The 2013 season saw continued excavation of the curvilinear semi-subterranean structure that dominates the northern end of the site, Feature 300. A large array of stone tools deposited on the floor of this structure along with numerous pits and postholes cut into the floor were documented. Unique among these finds were two large pits each with a thick clay lining that could have facilitated the storage of water within the structure. Postholes and burnt mud plaster encircling the circumference of the interior pit wall of the structure provide evidence of a substantial timber super-structure used to roof the building.

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