28 May 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

Tombs rich in artifacts discovered by Swedish archaeologists in Cyprus

A Swedish archaeological expedition made the extraordinary discovery of tombs outside the Bronze Age trading metropolis of Hala Sultan Tekke in Cyprus.

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg say these tombs are among the richest tombs ever found in the Mediterranean region and provide valuable insight into the ancient city’s history.

The precious artifacts found in the tombs suggest that their occupants held positions of power and authority in the city, which was a significant hub for copper trade between 1500 and 1300 BCE.

Led by Professor Peter Fischer, the expedition team believes that the richness of the grave goods indicates that these were royal tombs, although the exact nature of the city’s government during that time remains uncertain. The individuals buried in these tombs likely played a prominent role in governing the city, which was renowned for its involvement in the copper trade.

Situated outside the 50-hectare Bronze Age city, the tombs consist of underground chambers accessed through narrow passages from the surface. These chambers varied in size, with some measuring up to 4 x 5 meters.

The Swedish Söderberg expedition, which has been conducting excavations in Hala Sultan Tekke near the city of Larnaca since 2010, has previously uncovered chamber tombs with valuable grave goods. However, the recently discovered tombs stand out due to the sheer quantity and exceptional quality of the artifacts found within them.

Detail of the ”Bull Diadem” (c. 1350 BCE). Photo: P.M. Fischer

More than 500 complete artifacts were unearthed from the two tombs. Many of these items were crafted from precious metals, gems, ivory, and high-quality ceramics. Approximately half of the artifacts were imported from neighboring cultures. Gold and ivory were sourced from Egypt, while precious stones such as lapis lazuli, carnelian, and turquoise were imported from Afghanistan, India, and Sinai, respectively. The tombs also contained amber objects originating from the Baltic region.

The tombs were discovered using magnetometers, a type of instrument that can produce images showing objects and structures up to two meters beneath the surface.

By comparing the site where broken pottery had been unearthed through farming activities with the magnetometer map, the researchers identified large cavities below the surface, leading them to further investigate the area and ultimately discover the tombs.

Among the well-preserved skeletons found in the tombs was that of a woman surrounded by dozens of ceramic vessels, jewelry, and a polished round bronze mirror. Additionally, a one-year-old child was laid beside her, accompanied by a ceramic toy.

Diadems, adorned with embossed images of bulls, gazelles, lions, and flowers, were worn by several individuals, both men and women. The expedition team also found necklaces with high-quality pendants, likely made in Egypt during the 18th dynasty, a period associated with pharaohs such as Thutmose III, Amenophis IV (Akhenaten), and his wife Nefertiti.

Large Mycenaean (Greek) "Chariot krater" (c. 1350 BCE). Photo: P.M. Fischer
Large Mycenaean (Greek) “Chariot krater” (c. 1350 BCE). Photo: P.M. Fischer

Most of the ceramic vessels came from what we now call Greece, and the expedition also found pots from Turkey, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt.

The grave goods also included bronze weapons, some inlaid with ivory, and a gold-framed seal made of the hard mineral haematite with inscriptions of gods and rulers.

“The vast wealth of the entombed individuals came from the production of copper. Nearby mines in the Troodos Mountains produced copper ore, which was refined in the city. This port city then exported the refined metal in large quantities to neighboring cultures. Copper was an important commodity because, combined with tin, it becomes the hard alloy bronze, which gave its name to the Bronze Age,” says Peter Fischer.

The recent discovery of these lavish tombs near Hala Sultan Tekke offers a fascinating glimpse into the opulence and sophistication of ancient Cyprus during the Bronze Age. The rich grave goods found within the tombs provide valuable insights into the lives and status of the city’s elite rulers.

The University of Gothenburg’s archaeological expedition’s remarkable findings contribute to our understanding of the ancient Mediterranean region’s trade networks and the significance of Hala Sultan Tekke as a center for the copper trade.

University of Gothenburg

Cover Photo: One of the skeletons with tomb gifts (c. 1350 BCE). Photo: P.M. Fischer

Related Articles

Artificial Intelligence Project That Will Revolutionize Archaeology

5 April 2021

5 April 2021

Polish Scientists to opening a new era in archeology They plan to use artificial intelligence to detect prehistoric cemeteries, castles,...

A massive Rune stone found under a kitchen floor in Denmark declared treasure

8 June 2023

8 June 2023

A couple in Denmark discovered a massive rune stone weighing approximately 900 kilograms during a home renovation project that planned...

Origin of Ivory Rings Found in Elite Anglo-Saxon Burials

2 July 2023

2 July 2023

An elite class of ancient Anglo-Saxon women were buried with hundreds of ivory rings, and the origin of these ivory...

The first ivory work of art recovered from the World Heritage cave Hohle Fels was believed to be a horse – until archaeologists made a new discovery-

30 July 2023

30 July 2023

For more than 20 years, the first ivory work of art recovered from the World Heritage cave Hohle Fels was...

A cave painting found in Egyptian Sahara depicts a nativity scene 3,000 years before Jesus’ Birth

21 December 2023

21 December 2023

5,000-year-old rock art depicting the oldest nativity scene ever found has been found in Egypt’s Sahara Desert: A newborn between...

Sumatran fishing crews may have found the legendary Gold Island in the Mud of the Indonesian River

24 October 2021

24 October 2021

The site of the Srivijaya kingdom, known in ancient times as the Island of Gold, may have been found by...

Ancient Funerary Stones Looted from Yemen Will Be Exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum

14 September 2023

14 September 2023

The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) has signed a historic agreement with the Yemeni government to temporarily keep and display...

A first-of-its-kind Ayyanar stone idol found in Vellore, India

25 June 2022

25 June 2022

An Ayyanar stone idol, the first of its kind in Vellore, was discovered at Thandalai Krishnapuram (TK Puram) in Tamil...

New Evidence could Change the Date People First Arrived in North America

2 June 2021

2 June 2021

While investigating the origins of agriculture, researchers made an unexpected discovery. According to an unexpected finding made by an Iowa...

Hellenistic cremation tomb found in Istanbul’s Haydarpasa excavations

11 April 2022

11 April 2022

A brick tomb belonging to the Hellenistic period (330 BC – 30 BC) was found during the Haydarpaşa excavations, which...

Hellenic and Roman statue heads unearthed in Knidos

9 December 2021

9 December 2021

Hellenic and Roman sculpture heads were unearthed in the ancient Carian settlement Knidos, located in the Datça district of Muğla...

2,700-Year-Old Pre-Roman Iron Age necropolis Unearthed in Naples, Italy

8 May 2024

8 May 2024

An approximately 2,700-year-old Pre-Roman necropolis was discovered by archaeologists during excavations conducted in advance of a planned electric power plant...

In Egypt, archaeologists have discovered a 4,500-year-old Sun temple.

16 November 2021

16 November 2021

Archaeologists discovered an ancient Sun temple in the Egyptian desert that dates back 4,500 years. The remains were discovered under...

Archaeologists Find Mysterious 2,800-year-old Channels in Jerusalem

30 August 2023

30 August 2023

Archaeologists excavating in Jerusalem have uncovered a network of mysterious channels dating back to the days of King Joash and...

Puzzling rings may be finger loops from prehistoric weapon systems

24 May 2023

24 May 2023

When many researchers looked at an astonishing group of artifacts discovered at French archaeological sites, they presumed they were ornaments...