Limassol, so much to answer for

 

Last week I attended a talk by journalist and Municipal Councilor Titos Kolotas on the history of Limassol and its people. I enjoy lectures like this one and those given over the years by architect Tasos Andreou, because I really am interested in learning about my town’s past, even though I am a little concerned by where we seem to be heading in the future.

 

We Limassolians have a city we can rightfully be proud of. The town was home to Cyprus’ first major industries and Limassol continues to bring in a fair share of the island’s revenue. Our town has produced notable athletes, such as a winner of the Boston marathon, poets, writers, entertainers and philanthropists as well as a president. Cyprus’ first woman doctor also came from Limassol.

 

The Municipality has begun collating all the evidence of the town’s history into an archive which will be housed in the Prefect’s House, behind the Municipal Gardens.

 

For those more concerned with what happened a thousand or more years ago than what took place over the last few centuries, the Limassol castle, and a selection of ruins on the outskirts of the city, particularly at the sites of the ancient towns of Curium and Amathus, are well worth seeing. But me, I want to visit Shillourokambos (now try saying that after a few pints).

 

Located just a few miles east of the outskirts of Limassol, near the village of Pareklishia, the ruins of Shillourokambos bear witness to a Neolithic settlement almost 10 000 years old. Excavation of the site began in 1992, and soon unearthed objects like blades made with imported obsidian, suggesting that trade with other parts of the island had been established, sickles made of multiple parts, animal bones and burial sites.

 

The most remarkable of the graves contained a human skeleton, a skeleton of a cat, aligned in the same direction as that of the human, and a selection of offerings such as polished stones and ochre pigments. The discovery made headlines worldwide last year as it was suggested that this was the earliest evidence of the domestication of cats, predating the Egyptian findings by several thousand years.

 

The discovery also blew away the myth that cats were first brought to the island by St Helen to rid her monastery of snakes. Perhaps that may help explain why the story of the Shillourokambos findings never made the news in Cyprus.

 

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