‘Foreign’ jewelry items galore in an ancient underground tomb complex in Cyprus


The ancient city of Soloi in Northern Cyprus (now a part of the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) dates back to at least 6th century BC; though most of its extant ruins are from the latter Roman days. However, archaeologists from the Ankara University, have discovered an underground tomb complex that is around 2,400 years old, thus relating to post 5th century BC. In essence, this excavation project might shed some light into the actual status of this ancient Cypriot city and its burgeoning trade relations with mainland Greece (especially Athens). As for the tomb itself, the researchers have found a wealth of artifacts, including intricately designed jewelry items, weapons, figurines and specialized vessels used in drinking parties or symposium.

The ‘piece de resistance’ among these jewelry items arguably pertains to an exquisitely crafted gold wreath that is shaped like an ivy plant (such designs being prevalent in Macedonian tombs). On closer inspection, one could even comprehend the gold-made ‘berries’ along the ‘leaves’ that have survived in their magnificent form for over two millenniums. Interestingly, all of these objects were salvaged from only two burial chambers inside the tomb complex. The third burial chamber had long been looted by unknown perpetrators.


In any case, according to the archaeologists, the bevy of artifacts discovered from this ancient tomb complex alludes to the state of complex trade networks between Soloi and other parts of the world. For example, most of the symposium vessels (pictured above) were probably imported directly from the city-state of Athens, while in return Soloi exported its rich timber and copper quantities. Intriguingly enough, a few other symposium vessels and jewelry items bear the mark of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, a powerful realm that was often at odds with mainland Greeks. This in turn proves that Soloi merchants also traded with far-and-wide factions, with thriving commerce taking precedence over war alliances.

Lastly, as for the occupants of this tomb complex, the researchers had excavated the remains of a man, a woman and a girl child in one of the chambers; and a woman and a young girl in another chamber. Unsurprisingly, the third (looted) chamber was empty. Additionally, the archaeologists had also found iron-made weapons and spearheads by the side of the buried man. Judging by the tomb arrangement and its wealth of treasures, it is likely that the burial complex belonged to a rich, aristocratic family. And as of now, the researchers are trying to determine (by DNA testing) the actual biological relation between these buried people. This assessment procedure is complemented by an ongoing restorative project for salvaging and refurbishing the artifacts that hint at ancient ‘globalization’.

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Source: LiveScience / All Images Credit: Kadir Kaba

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