Stone age well found in Cyprus

Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:11am EDT
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NICOSIA (Reuters) - Archaeologists in Cyprus have found what they believe are some of the world's oldest water wells, dating from the Stone Age 10,500 years ago and containing the skeleton of a young woman.

The wells, unearthed by an excavator at a building site close to the western coastal town of Paphos, adds to another five previously excavated in the region by a team from the University of Edinburgh.

"Radiocarbon dates indicate that these wells are 9,000 to 10,500 years old, which places them amongst the earliest water wells known in the world," the Antiquities Department said in a statement Tuesday.

The cylindrical shaft discovered by the excavator had a number of small niches cut out of its sides to enable those who dug the well to climb in and out. It was silted up, containing animal bones and the poorly preserved skeleton of a young woman, the department said.

"Unfortunately we shall never know how she came to be there," it said.

(Writing by Michele Kambas, editing by Ralph Boulton)