Untouched tomb to unravel secrets of Cyprus's past

Fri May 21, 2010 10:22am EDT
 
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By Sarah Ktisti

NICOSIA (Reuters Life!) - Locals say it could be the final resting place of Ajax's niece, contain a golden chariot and will unleash a horrible curse.

But whether a tomb recently uncovered on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus contains the bones and booty of a close relative of a Trojan war hero straight from the pages of Homer or will just yield better evidence for understanding the rituals and lives of ancient Greeks is yet to be revealed.

Construction workers in the eastern coastal town of Paralimni, popular with tourists, literally stumbled onto a rare unlooted tomb dating back to the ancient world, when they were digging up the roadside to lay new paving stones in the "Fig Tree Bay" area.

"The ground just gave way," said Andreas Evangelou, the mayor of the once sleepy fishing village, told Reuters.

Beneath the road's surface, a burial chamber, untouched by looters was awakened from thousands of years of slumber, and will now give experts the opportunity to piece together a more accurate picture of the life and rituals of the ancients.

"It's a usual tomb found in the area of Protaras, which is unlooted. We don't know yet what it is, the only unique thing is that it is unlooted, which may give us a better understanding of their life and rituals during that period," said Dr. Maria Hadjicosti, the director of Cyprus's Antiquities Department.

At least four clay coffins (sarcophagi) were found, along with the usual offerings of pottery and glassware, accompanying the dead to the next life. At least one of the clay coffins is adorned with floral motifs.

"It looks like it was in continual use because there are four sarcophagi with their remains," Evangelou said.   Continued...