Choirokoitia in Cyprus was a prehistoric agricultural settlement from 7000BC and the first site of human habitation on the island. According to UNESCO, who have inscribed it as a World Heritage site, Choirokoitia is ‘one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean’, particularly as it played a significant role in the area’s cultural development.
Today, visitors can see the remains of Choirokoitia as well as reconstructions of the circular huts which once characterised it.
History of Choirokoitia
Located in the district of Larnaka, about 6km from the southern coast of Cyprus, the Neolithic settlement of Choirokoitia lies on the slopes of a hill partly enclosed in a loop of the Maroni River.
The village was occupied from around 7 BC to 5 BC, and represents the Aceramic (no pottery) Neolothic of Cyprus at its peak, and the success of the first human inhabitants of the island in farmers travelling there from the Middle East mainland at the beginning of 9 BC.
The archaeological remains are significant and exceptionally well-preserved. It would have consisted of circular houses built from mudbrick and stone with flat roofs, and walls around it for protection. The design and building of such a site demonstrates collective social effort, with few known parallels known in the Middle East.
A house consisted of several circular buildings equipped with hearths and basins that were arranged around a small central courtyard, where domestic activities took place.
Among the finds of flint and bone tools, stone vessels, vegetal and animal remains, are anthropomorphic figurines in stone, which, together with funeral and death rituals, point to the existence of elaborate beliefs.
Today, five characteristic cylindrical shaped dwellings have been reconstructed near the settlement, using the same materials and construction methods as used during Neolithic times. Visitors can go inside and see replicas of household objects found inside the original dwellings, which provides a very visceral and detailed idea of how the settlement would have appeared.
Similarly, around the settlement is vegetation, fauna, and flora that has grown in Cyprus since Neolithic times.
After looking at the reconstructed houses, visitors can spend a few hours walking around the remains of the original site.
Getting to Choirokoitia
From Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, the site is reachable in around 45 minutes by car, via the A1.
Public transport is also available – take the Larnaca-Limassol bus and get off at Choirokitia (about 35 minutes from Finikoudes), from where it is only a 5 minute walk to the site.