Flights to Cyprus - Hippo burial ground holds clues to ancient Cypriot culture

People flying to Cyprus could soon find out more about the ancient culture of the Island's residents, thanks to the discovery of an ancient dwarf hippo dying ground.

Wednesday 05 Dec 2007 15:56:13

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The discovery of an ancient hippo dying ground which could hold the key to some of Cyprus' ancient secrets may prompt the number of flights to Cyprus to soar.

Cypriot and Greek scientists are currently working on the painstaking task of unearthing the fossilised remains of around 80 extinct dwarf hippopotamuses found in a collapsed cave close to Ayia Napa.

Palaeontologists believe hundreds more hippos, dated to around 9,000 to 11,500 BC, could be lying beneath them and around an ancient coral reef on the south-eastern coast of the island.

Such a find could help experts work out the earliest human presence on the island, as Ioannis Panayides, the Cyprus geological survey department official in charge of excavations carried out in conjunction with the University of Athens, explained.

"It's about our origins," he said. "Knowledge of our geological history makes us more knowledgeable about ourselves."

Theories suggest that the hippos could have either swum or floated to Cyprus from Turkey and Syria during a Pleistocene ice age, clinging onto tree trunks and other debris during the crossing.

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