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Khirokitia – Choirokoitia

Choirokitia ancient Cyprus

Choirokoitia is the name of a village nearby, and “Khirokitia” is used to refer to the Neolithic settlement listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1998. The site, discovered in 1934, is known as one of the most significant and best preserved prehistoric sites of the eastern Mediterranean. The settlement of Khirokitia is situated on the slope of the hill in the Maroni River valley towards the southern coast of the island, approximately 6 km from the sea. According to the dominating opinion the name of the village is a composite of the word “Khiros” (hog / pig) and the word “Kiti”, thereby suggesting an area where pigs were raised.

The Choirokoitia findings

Much of its importance lies in the evidence of an organised functional society in the form of a collective settlement, with surrounding fortifications for communal protection. It was occupied from the 7th until the 4th millennium BC. Whilst walking around the site, detailed information plates explain how organized this community was. Subsistence methods practiced by its Neolithic inhabitants included farming crops, herding sheep and goat and raising pigs. The village was cut off from the outside world by a strong stone wall of 2.5m thick and 3m at its highest preserved level. Access into the village was probably via several entry points through the wall and also by river.

Extraordinary houses

The buildings within this wall consist of round structures built close together. The lower parts of these buildings are often stone and attain massive proportions by constant additions of further skins of stones. Their external diameter varies between 2.3m and 9.2m whilst the internal diameter is only between 1.4m and 4.8m. Recently one building was found with a flat roof indicating that not all roofs were dome-shaped as was originally believed.

The Civilization

The population of the village at any one time is thought to not have exceeded 300 – 600 residents. The people living in these small domes were much shorter than we are now. The men were approx. 5′ 3″ on average and the women, 4′ 11″. Infant mortality was very high and their burial methods also differed; the dead were buried in crouched positions just under the floors of the houses.

A must see

Choirokoitia is a must place to be for the history lovers or explorers.