UNESCO World Heritage Site #281: Choirokoitia

UNESCO World Heritage Site #281: Choirokoitia
UNESCO World Heritage Site #281: Choirokoitia

From the World Heritage inscription:

Located in the District of Larnaka, about 6 km from the southern coast of Cyprus, the Neolithic settlement of Choirokoitia lies on the slopes of a hill partly enclosed in a loop of the Maroni River. Occupied from the 7th to the 5th millennium B.C., the village covers an area of approximately 3 ha at its maximum extent and is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean. It represents the Aceramic Neolithic of Cyprus at its peak, that is the success of the first human occupation of the island by farmers coming from the Near East mainland around the beginning of 9th millennium.

Excavations have shown that the settlement consisted of circular houses built from mudbrick and stone with flat roofs and that it was protected by successive walls. A complex architectural system providing access to the village has been uncovered on the top of the hill. The achievement of such an impressive construction, built according to a preconceived plan, expresses an important collective effort, with few known parallels in the Near East, and suggests a structured social organisation able to construct and maintain works of a large scale for the common good. A house consisted of several circular buildings equipped with hearths and basins arranged around a small courtyard where domestic activities took place. The houses belonged to the living, as well as to the dead who were buried in pits beneath the rammed earthen floors. Among the finds such as flint tools, bone tools, stone vessels, vegetal and animal remains, noteworthy are the anthropomorphic figurines in stone (one in clay), which point, together with funerary rituals, to the existence of elaborate beliefs. Since only part of the site has been excavated, it forms an exceptional archaeological reserve for future study.

Like many archaeological world heritage sites, Choirokoitia is important but not much see when you visit. I usually budget an hour for visiting most singular cultural sites like this one. After 30 minutes I had seen everything there was to see.

The site is a series of circular stone rings which have been excavated from a hillside and 3 reconstructed dwellings….and that is it. It isn’t very big and doesn’t take a lot of time to visit. Assuming you read every sign, walk every path, and read everything in the brochure, it will be hard to spend more than 30 minutes here.

On the plus side, it is very easy to access from the highway and is only about 20 minutes from the Cyprus airport.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites which I have visited.