Archaeologists excavating a massive ancient burial mound in Cyprus have uncovered an even older structure hiding beneath it: a wall or part of a defensive wall, according to a statement from the Cyprus Ministry of Antiquities.
The great hill, known as the launa hill, is taller than a football field, or 328 feet long and 196 feet wide (100 x 60 meters) (Opens in a new tab) It is likely that it was built around the third century BC, when the successors of Alexander the Great They were fighting for control of Cyprus and large swathes of the empire. Researchers have progressively excavated and digitally documented the mound of earth over the past decade. But in a new discovery, archaeologists learned that the tomb was erected atop a broken wall older than the hill, dating back to the early 5th century BC.
The ancients in Cyprus buried the castle wall under about 484,000 cubic feet (13,700 cu m) of loose soil with sand, silt or clay, known as marl, and red soil, which was carried from elsewhere in Cyprus to build the burial. . Therefore, the castle of Launa is well preserved under the mound; Its northeastern corner remains at 20 feet (6 meters) high, making it one of the most important monuments of the “era of the Cypriot kingdoms,” according to the University of Cypress Circle of Antiquities (Opens in a new tab).
With the “unexpected discovery” of the broken wall under the “permanent monumental monument”, it is clear that “Launa combines a monument unique to date in Cyprus archaeology,” Department of Archeology in Cyprus (Opens in a new tab) He wrote in a statement posted on August 13th on Facebook.
The burial is located 1 km (1 km) northeast of the Aphrodite Sanctuary, an ancient site dating back to the 12th century BC. Professor of Ancient Visual and Material Culture at Trinity College Dublin, who was not involved in the excavation. Its geological identification as an artificial mound was confirmed in 2011.
In 2021, the team published a study in the journal Geoarchaeology (Opens in a new tab), describing the mound as an “ingenious architectural structure” that was built over time in several stages. “As the structure’s height gradually increased, the tumulus became an imposing physical sign that gave the landscape new meaning,” the researchers wrote in the study.
The newly discovered ramparts are Cypro-Classical, attributed to the royal dynasty that ruled Paphos until the end of the 4th century BC. Archaeologists He states that the wall is similar in functionality and fits the same schedule as the palace and workshop complexes at Hajibdula Castle, which is only 230 feet (70 m) from Launa.
This discovery is part of a larger project “whose main objective is to define the urban structure of the capital center of the ancient Paphos regime,” Papantonio told Live Science in an email.
During recent excavations, the archaeological team uncovered the eastern side of the wall and two ancient staircases. Further analysis revealed that the wall turned north under the highest point of the hill. “Its wall follows a northwest descending path, and is in an excellent state of preservation,” the team said in a Facebook statement.
The rare defensive monument is 16 feet (5 meters) wide and is made of mud bricks between two parallel walls of unoccupied stone. The wall is currently 525 feet (160 meters) long; The University of Cyprus stated in the statement that its internal area is not less than 18,729 square feet (1,740 square metres).
Investigations at the base of the wall indicate that the ancients leveled the land to begin the project. This flat land is topped with a thick layer of river pebbles, followed by a layer of red soil containing cracks, or broken pottery pieces, according to the statement.
However, it is unclear who built the monument.
“The burial was constructed from local soil and sediments, but since no mound builders are recorded from ancient Cyprus, the experienced engineers required must have been non-Cypriots, possibly Macedonians,” Papantonio said.
Additional excavation work on parts of the fence – such as the north staircase – has been halted for the time being due to safety concerns. From now on, the Launa project will focus on the Vault. The researchers said that constructing the massive burial mound would have required a huge and experienced workforce led by expert engineers. Further research at Laona will attempt to establish that it is a burial mound and attempt to determine who was behind its construction.
Originally published on Live Science.