miércoles, 4 de septiembre de 2013

Bronze Age city reveals extensive trade (Cyprus)

The area around Larnaka Bay was home to numerous communities, which thrived during the later second millennium BCE because of its strategic position facing the key economic and political centres of the eastern Mediterranean, from Egypt and the Levant to the Aegean world.
In fact, the area was one of the most heavily populated areas of the island at this time and has been referred to as the ‘fertile crescent of Cyprus’, on account of its productive agricultural land and the density of its population.

A central site in Mediterranean trade

Hala Sultan Tekke is located near Larnaca airport on the island of Cyprus and covers approximately 25-50 hectares, making it one of the largest Bronze Age cities in the Mediterranean region. In 2010, Peter Fischer and his team of archaeologists and students continued the excavations of the city that were initiated in the 1970s by Fischer’s former teacher, professor Paul Åström.
Now a Swedish archaeological expedition from the University of Gothenburg has excavated a previously unknown part of the Bronze Age city which was occupied around 1600–1100 BCE.
The finds include a facility for the extraction of copper and production of bronze objects, evidence for the production of luxurious textiles, as well as ceramics and other objects that have been imported from all over the Mediterranean and even central Europe.

Remote sensing technology

The recently excavated part of the city was first discovered in 2012 using a ground penetrating radar, which allowed remote sensing of the area down to a depth of about two metres.
The seasons work uncovered a residential area with facilities for extraction of copper from copper ore and copper slag with remains of smelting furnaces and about 300 kilos of ore and slag.
Even more exciting was contained in a room nearby, where they found evidence in the form of crushed murex shells for the production of purple dye for textiles, which was among the most valuable commodities during the Bronze Age.

A Rich and mobile society

The archaeologists exposed living quarters where they found locally produced pottery of high quality and ceramics from Mycenae and the Levant. The finds also include a complete decorated bronze brooch, imported from northern Italy or central Europe around 1200 BC, a decorated faience bowl from Egypt, faience cylinder seals depicting warriors and hunters and figurines of people/gods and animals.
All finds can be dated to the period 1400-1175 BCE and this underscores the mobility of Bronze Age people far beyond their immediate surroundings.
Their connections with Greece, Turkey, Egypt and the Levant may not come as a surprise, but those with Italy and central and northern Europe are very exciting. These finds lend further credence to the hypothesis about major migration taking place around 1200 BCE, creating the so-called Sea Peoples.
Recent analyses of Swedish bronze objects from this period, led by Johan Ling, reader at the University of Gothenburg, ‘suggests that bronze or copper was imported from Cyprus,’ says Fischer.

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