Archaeologists excavated a series of upper-class tombs on the island of Cyprus, containing treasure troves such as pure gold crowns and lapis lazuli.

Engravings on golden crowns excavated from tombs on the island of Cyprus. Photo: Peter Fischer

Hundreds of artifacts, including pure gold headbands, have been unearthed from Bronze Age tombs on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. The discovery revealed the wealth of those buried in the graves, based on the island’s trade in copper, an essential metal used to produce copper cigarettes, Live Science reported on July 13.

The antiquities include many imported to Cyprus from many other major civilizations in the region, including Minoan on Crete, Mycenaean in Greece and ancient Egypt. Archaeologist Peter Fischer, professor emeritus at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, said the imported objects help confirm the scale of trade in the Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age, between 1640 and 1640. 1050 BC. “Gold artifacts, mostly imported from Egypt but with Minoan motifs, prove that the Egyptians received copper in exchange,” Fischer said.

Fischer and his colleagues have been excavating a Bronze Age market at Hala Sultan Tekke on the southern coast of Cyprus since 2010. They discovered upper-class tombs earlier this year. The two tombs contained more than 500 artifacts, including ceramics from Crete, Greece and Sardinia, ornaments made from Baltic amber, precious stones such as blue lapis lazuli from Afghanistan and red carnelian from India, and mirrors. bronze, dagger, spear tip. Some objects made from ivory are coated with a characteristic glaze called faience.

Most notable among the artifacts are gold crowns embossed with images of cows, gazelles, lions and flowers. Although Minoan in style, the crowns were probably made in Egypt during the 18th Dynasty, between 1550 and 1295 BC, during the reigns of pharaohs Akhenaten and Nefertiti. According to Fisher, the wealth of the island’s upper class comes from control of copper mines in the Troodos Mountains of western Cyprus. Copper was smelted with tin to create bronze, so the demand was huge.

The team found the tombs outside the ancient city at Hala Sultan Tekke using magnetometers, devices that measure geomagnetic fields that reveal locations of past underground disturbances. Each tomb has several compartments connected to the ground through narrow corridors, containing the remains of several people. They may have belonged to the royal family, but researchers know little about the government on the island of Cyprus at that time.

Researchers will use DNA analysis to determine the relationships between the people buried in the grave. Analyzing strontium isotope ratios in bones can reveal their geographical origin.

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