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4,000-Year-Old Temple And Monolith Discovered In Cyprus


Alongside the ancient monolith, researchers uncovered the skeletal remains of a young woman hidden away during the Bronze Age.

Luca Bombardieri et al.An overhead view of the Bronze-Age site at Erimi.

While excavating a Bronze-Age workshop complex in Erimi, Cyprus, archaeologists recently uncovered a 4,000-year-old temple containing a mysterious monolith.

Nearby, archaeologists also unearthed the skeleton of a young woman who was likely murdered in an act of femicide and “sealed” away to prevent her ghost from “disturbing” the living. Now, researchers hope the site will reveal even more ancient secrets.

The 4,000-Year-Old Temple Found In Cyprus

The Bronze-Age settlement of Erimi once housed a craftsman’s workshop. It was within this complex that a team of Italian researchers discovered the 4,000-year-old temple, now believed to be the oldest sacred site ever found in Cyprus.

The excavation was led by archaeologist Luca Bombardieri, who has overseen research at the site for 15 years in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Speaking with the Italian news agency ANSA, Bombardieri described the sacred site as a sort of “temple before a temple,” a site so ancient that it predates the common perception of what a temple would be.

“It’s the oldest sacred space ever found on the island,” Bombardieri said.

At the center of the temple, Bombardieri and fellow researchers found a 7.5-foot-tall monolith, which would have been illuminated by a massive brazier “day and night.” According to Philenews, Bombardieri said the construction of the temple within a working environment highlights “how complex and rich the lives of these people were — craftsmen who lived four millennia before us, just a few centuries before the first cities on the island were born.”

The monolith was not the only astounding discovery made at the site, however. Researchers also uncovered the skeletal remains of a young woman, suggesting a tale of ancient femicide.

A Young Woman’s Remains Also Unearthed At The Site

During the most recent archaeological excavation, researchers uncovered the skeleton of a young woman of around 20 years old. Evidence suggests that she was murdered and her remains then “sealed,” possibly to conceal the crime and prevent her spirit from “disturbing” the living.

Her skull had been smashed in, likely with a lance or rock. Her killers then laid her body on the ground and placed a heavy stone on her breast, “as if to keep her still,” Bombardieri said. The archaeologists noted that the door of the small residence in which the woman was found had been carefully sealed, much like a tomb. However, the distinct lack of grave goods buried alongside her indicated that this was no normal burial.

The killing dates back to the Bronze Age, sometime between 2000 and 1600 B.C.E. Bombardieri suggested this femicide “may be linked to other cases recorded in the past in other parts of Cyprus,” in which other women were killed “perhaps for issues linked to maternity.”

Archaeologists At ErimiArchaeologists At Erimi

Università di SienaResearchers working at the Erimi site.

The Importance Of The Archaeological Site In Erimi

The site at Erimi, Cyprus comprises more than 3,000 square feet of workshops, warehouses, and dyeing vats, all of which sit atop a hill on Cyprus’ southern coast near the city of Limassol. In its day, it was an ideal location for textile craftsmen, given that it was well-ventilated and close to fresh water.

Nearer to the base of the hill sat a tight cluster of homes, with a burial site not far away. Ancient elites were buried in large chamber tombs, whereas the poor were buried in simple pits.

The newly discovered temple was located in the innermost part of the workshop and could only be accessed by walking through the working sections. Bombardieri said he believes the monolith at the center of the sacred site was used for rituals linked to whatever cult worshipped there.

Erimi become a prosperous and powerful settlement, largely thanks to the wine-colored textiles it produced. However, for reasons unknown, the village was at some point abruptly abandoned and the workshop sealed along with the temple and monolith. Evidence suggests that a fire, perhaps set by fleeing villagers, caused the temple’s roof to collapse. Ironically, it was this very collapse that preserved the temple and made this find possible today.

“The collapse of the structure, sealing off those remains, has enabled us archaeologists to rediscover them after four thousand years,” Bombardieri said.

Researchers hope that future excavations at the site could reveal more about its lost history, and perhaps illuminate more details about the murdered woman.


After reading about this fascinating discovery in Cyprus, learn about the history behind nine of the world’s oldest structures. Then, read about the seven wonders of the ancient world.

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