The Japan Times
January 17, 2000

Cereals tamed in ancient Cyprus


NICOSIA (AFP-Jiji) Ancient Cypriots did it for themselves: Archaeologists have found evidence that domestication of cereal crops took place in Cyprus independently of the Near East, traditionally considered the pioneers in this respect.

A French mission excavating at the Pareklishia-Shillourokambos neolithic site under the direction of Professor Jean Guilaine has unearthed evidence suggesting Cypriots domesticated wild crops in the eighth millennium B.C.

The crucial evidence was found while investigating the remains of the settlement's circular earth-and-stone huts in the Limassol area.

"Impressions of cultivated species of wheat and barley were identified in the upper layers; in the lower layers, however, species of cereals still in their wild form were found," the Antiquities Department said Jan. 10.

"This is an extremely important finding as it establishes that domestication took place in Cyprus independently of the Near East," the statement said.

The dig also yielded new skeletal material thought to belong to humans who lived on the island 9,000-10,000 years ago.

Animal bones, such as deer antlers and pigs' skulls, were found near the human remains, presumably deposited as offerings to the dead.

The discovery of the remnants of meals (bones of domesticated animals and deer) indicated the huts were used for domestic purposes.

Querns, pounders, stone tools and vessels were also found, along with rarer objects, such as a small female anthropomorphic figure 2.5 cm high.

Archaeologists also found a well on the site.