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Friday, August 14, 2009

NYU Excavations Point to Temple Site on Island Off Cyprus

New York University Digs in Cyprus Show Worship of God Apollo

By Paul Tugwell

Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Archaeologists in Cyprus found evidence that an island off the Mediterranean country’s south- west coast was the site of a temple for worshiping Apollo, the ancient Greek god of light, prophecy, music and healing.

Excavations led by New York University on Geronisos unearthed fragments of pithoi, or storage vessels probably used to hold olive oil, that could be repaired to stand to a height of 1.20 meters, among the largest storage containers ever found on Cyprus, according to a statement today on the Web site of the Cypriot Interior Ministry’s Public Information Office.

The vessel fragments, which date from the 1st century B.C., were found in what appears to be a storeroom or pantry facility, probably servicing a complex of previously found dining rooms, the statement said.

The digs also unearthed a sculptured lion’s head that “would have been plastered and painted as a fitting adornment for a monumental structure, possibly a temple,” according to the statement.

Previous digs on the island showed that Geronisos was an ancient religious tourist center for worshiping Apollo, son of the king of the Greek gods, Zeus, and the nymph, Leto.

“The discovery of this storage facility represents an important breakthrough in our understanding of the experience of ancient pilgrims on Geronisos,” the Cyprus Department of Antiquities said in the statement, “and the ritual dining that seems to have taken place within the complex of rooms in the central south sector of the island.”

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