History of Cyprus

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Cyprus was settled by humans in the old stone age, who may have coexisted with various dwarf animal species, such as dwarf elephants (Elephas cypriotes) and pygmy hippos (Hippopotamus minor), well into the Holocene. There are claims of an association of this fauna with artifacts of Epipalaeolithic foragers at Aetokremnos near Limassol on the southern coast of Cyprus. The first undisputed settlement occurred in the 9th (or perhaps 10th) millennium BC from the Levant. The first settlers were agriculturalists of the so called PPNB (pre pottery Neolithic B) era, but did not yet produce pottery (aceramic Neolithic). The dog, sheep, goats and possibly cattle and pigs were introduced, as well as numerous wild animals like foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and Persian fallow deer (Dama mesopotamica) that were previously unknown on the island. The PPNB settlers built round houses with floors made of terrazzo of burned lime (e.g. Kastros, Shillourokambos) and cultivated einkorn and emmer. Pigs, sheep, goat and cattle were kept but remained, for the most part, behaviourally wild. Evidence of cattle such as that attested at Shillourokambos is rare, and when they apparently died out in the course of the 8th millennium they were not re-introduced until the ceramic Neolithic.

In the 6th millennium BC, the aceramic Khirokitia culture was characterised by roundhouses, stone vessels and an economy based on sheep, goats and pigs. Cattle were unknown, and Persian fallow deer were hunted. It was followed by the ceramic Sotira phase. The Eneolithicaracterised by stone figurines with spread arms.

Water wells discovered by archaeologists in western Cyprus are believed to be among the oldest in the world, dated at 9,000 to 10,500 years old, putting them in the Stone Age. They are said to show the sophistication of early settlers, and their heightened appreciation for the environment.[1]

In 2004, the remains of an 8-month-old cat were discovered buried with its human owner at a Neolithic archeological site in Cyprus.[2] The grave is estimated to be 9,500 years old, predating Egyptian civilization and pushing back the earliest known feline-human association significantly.[3]

In the Bronze Age the first cities, like Enkomi, were built. Systematic copper mining began, and this resource was widely traded. The Cypriot syllabic script was first used in early phases of the late Bronze Age (LCIB) and continued in use for ca. 500 years into the to LC IIIB, maybe up to the second half of the eleventh century BC. Most scholars believe it was used for a native Cypriot language (Eteocypriot) that survived until the 4th century BC, but the actual proofs for this are scant, as the tablets still have not been completely deciphered.

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