Ancient Religious Site Uncovered

If you’re interested in history, there is plenty of it to be found in Cyprus. Recently, the Cyprus Weekly and the Financial Mirror, along with a number of international newspapers, reported on an Italian archeological find close to Limassol.

An Italian archeologist, Maria Rosario Belgiorno, claims to have discovered Cyprus’ oldest religious site – a 4,000 year-old triangular temple which predates any other found on the island. She believes that her find confirms that that religious worship in Cyprus began much earlier than was previously thought.

The 200m2 building was discovered last year outside Pyrgos, a village near Limassol and Belgiorno said that evidence points to a temple with a sacrificial altar that resembles Canaanite places of worship described in the Bible, noting that the temple has a very unusual, rare shape.

Belgiorno said a key piece of evidence linking the site to Biblical accounts of temples in ancient Palestine is a pair of 6 metre stone "channels" extending from either side of the altar that allowed sacrificial animals' blood to flow out of the structure. Belgiorno said the temple was situated across from the industrial area in the heart of the settlement, which she estimates covered some 35 hectares (86 acres) and most of it now lies beneath village houses and holiday villas. She estimates that the settlement was home to around 500 people, who had trade links with ancient Egypt and Palestine, she said. A major earthquake destroyed the settlement in 1,850 B.C.

Belgiorno, initially disclosed the find to English-language The Cyprus Weekly, but Cyprus Antiquities Department official Maria Hadjicosti said they are unable to confirm her claim until they have carried out further study. "That the site is dated to around 2,000 B.C. is certain, but the interpretation that it's a temple or a sacred site has yet to be confirmed."

Author: Anne Hall