Ancient Cemetery Discovered Under Street in Larnaca, Cyprus



Ancient Cemetery
A grave from the 12th Century found recently on Cyprus as a result of anti-flooding works. Credit Cyprus News Agency

An ancient cemetery was found recently as a result of anti-flooding works in the city of Larnaca, Cyprus. Dating back to the 12th century BC, but in use up to Roman times, the find is considered quite significant by archaeologists.

The cemetery, which contained approximately ten graves, was uncovered on Larnaca’s Petrakis Kyprianou Street during excavations for the “S9” antiflooding project, in which gigantic drainage pipes are being laid under the street.

View of one of the ten graves found under Petrakis Kyprianou Street in Larnaca. Credit: CNA

Polina Christofi, an archaeologist at Cyprus’ Department of Antiquities, says that “numerous” archaeological discoveries have been made in the last year in the ancient city of Larnaca as a result of the enormous project.

The street under which the new drainage is being constructed was already known to have been in the middle of all the necropolises of ancient Kition.

The drainage works under Petrakis Kyprianou Street in Larnaca, Cyprus, where the ancient cemetery was found. Credit: CNA

The Cyprus News Agency, in a report on the find, stated that Christofi said that more than 60 tombs have been identified along Petrakis Kyprianou Street and its side streets, which date all the way back to the 12th century BC and up to the Roman period.

The oldest tombs were fewer in number and constructed in a more rough way compared to the later graves, according to Christofi. “These are tombs carved from the natural rock of the area and are of a rectangular floor plan,” she explained to the Cyprus Mail.

The archaeologist went on to say that even at that time, people could only gain access to the tombs by a set of stairs. All the movable objects from the finds, after being documented, were transferred to the Larnaca district’s archaeological museum for preservation and storage, according to Christofi.

Naturally, the care taken to manage this process with respect for the remains also means significant delays regarding the much-needed construction of the rainwater drainage system for the city.

Angelos Hadjiharalambous, the head of the Larnaca Sewage Board, told the Cyprus News Agency that the drainage project was indeed a very important project, but the discovery of antiquities has greatly delayed its completion.

Possible further delays if additional graves found

The official explained that workers were just about to lay the last 170 meters (558 feet) of pipeline along Petrakis Kyprianou Street when they came across the ancient cemetery. Ever since that time, because of all the delays which took place, they have only been able to lay five meters (15 feet) of pipeline per week, he said.

“In the event the cemetery grounds extend throughout the entirety of Petrakis Kyprianou Street, then a great delay is expected as regards the project,” Hadjiharalambous stated.

Of course, the additional time lag translates to a great increase in costs for the desperately- needed drainage project. The anti-flooding measures are expected to provide a solution “to the many and serious problems faced in the area with rainwater and heavy rainfall observed in Cyprus in recent years,” he explained.

The approximately five-foot diameter drainage pipe will serve the areas of ​​Mitropolis and Prodromos, which are “very sensitive areas with multiple and long-term problems regarding rainfall,” Hadjiharalambous stated.