Choirokitia: A Neolithic Site in Eastern Cyprus

Choirokitia neolithic village
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One of the things that surprised me about Cyprus was how ancient and multi-layered its history was. The island was occupied not just by the Romans, but by the Greeks and the Egyptians as well, to say nothing of the waves of invaders who followed them. And I was certainly not expecting to find a neolithic village 9,000 years old, complete with stone huts and city walls. This is Choirokitia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site 35 km west of Larnaca.

Choirokitia neolithic village
Reconstructions of neolithic huts and walls at Choirokitia

An Advanced Neolithic Society

Choirokitia was occupied from the 7th to 5th millennia BC. By way of comparison, Stonehenge in England was built around 3000 BC and the Pyramids came around 2600 BC. Yet, despite its antiquity, the village was advanced for its time, with individual dwelling huts, and surrounded by a strong stone wall.

Excavations at Choirokitia
Excavations show the remains of several circular huts

Archaeologists have pieced together a picture of how people lived in Choirokitia. The population was around 300-400, and tools, vessels and animal remains have been found. There is also evidence of funerary rituals and religious beliefs. The walls (there were at least three walls at different times) are intriguing. Despite the considerable effort needed to build them, it isn’t thought that the walls were built to defend the community from enemies or wild animals. The purpose seems to have been social, perhaps a way of identifying the village and creating a sense of belonging.

Choirokitia, Cyprus
Pinnable image of excavations and reconstructions at Choirokitia
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Exploring Choirokitia

The village is built on a tall hill. In fact, there were a number of successive villages on different parts of the hill, because the first site was on a steep slope subject to erosion. Visitors can walk up the slope and see where the walls and huts were built at different times, and look at the excavated remains of huts. For many visitors the highlight of the site is the reconstructed wall and huts near the entrance. You can see the size and shape of the dwelling huts, and imagine what it might have been like to climb the stone stairway and enter the enclosed village.

Reconstructed stone stairway at Choirokitia
A reconstructed stone stairway leading into the village

Choirokitia was only discovered in the mid-20th century, meaning that only a small part has been excavated. One of the reasons for the UNESCO inscription is that there are untouched parts of the site which will be available to future generations of archaeologists. It seems as if there is a lot more to learn about Choirokitia!

Choirokitia, Cyprus
The excavations cover the hillside, with the reconstructions at the base

You can visit Choirokitia by car, or as part of a day trip from Larnaca.

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6 thoughts on “Choirokitia: A Neolithic Site in Eastern Cyprus”

  1. Choirokitia, the Neolithic Site in Eastern Cyprus, sounds intriguing, being much older than the Pyramids or even Stonehenge! Too bad the ruins re scanty but perhaps they will discover more.

  2. Another UNESCO site to put on our list! Choirokitia looks amazing and just the kind of place the hubby will particularly enjoy when we visit Cyprus. Fascinating that the huts and wall still exist!

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WorldWideWriter is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…

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