The Neolithic Settlement of Khirokitia In Cyprus - Folk Arts Program



On March 8, 2013, CYPRECO of America, Inc., revived the history and culture of the Neolithic settlement of Khirokitia, one of the most important pre-historic sites of Cyprus and of the eastern Mediterranean during a screening of an original documentary by filmmaker Elena Maroulleti at the Stathakion Cultural Center in Astoria, NY.  This event was part of CYPRECO's ongoing folk art series which highlight during each new production different aspects of the rich heritage, folklore, culture and history of Cyprus the successful event was attended by Greek and Greek Cypriot Americans and members of the general audience of all ages, including dignitaries and representatives from the Greek and Cypriot governments.

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Cypreco Khirokitia Kamilaris ElenaPhoto by: ETA PressA special note to the program was added with a performance of traditional Cypriot dances and songs by the youth division of the Lampousa Cyprus Association. Organizers welcomed and thanked the participating children whose ages range from 5 to 12 years old and who travelled to New York from Bergenfield New Jersey to participate in the event. Their performance was indeed well-received and much appreciated by all in attendance who rewarded them with non-stop applause. The youth division of Lampousa, is part of the association’s mission of educating the younger generations about the culture, history and folklore of Cyprus so that they can and continue the association’s mission when they grow up, explained Mr. Stavros Kamilaris, President of Lampousa, Mr. Kamilaris also thanked the group’s teacher Ms. Eliana Antoniou for her volunteer work, the participating children and CYPRECO for the invitation. Referring to the featured documentary dedicated to Khirotikia, Mr. Kamilaris congratulated the organizers and praised them for their ongoing commitment of producing such unique programs which promote Cyprus and the island’s rich cultural inheritance. 


Another highlight during the event was the attendance of a family who comes from Khirokitia among them Mr. Louis Andreou who after the screening expressed his thoughts about the documentary. Very moved Mr. Andreou shared his childhood memories growing up in such close proximity to the ancient site including his memories from the first excavations that took place. Thanking and congratulating the filmmaker for this production and presentation, he stressed that the documentary truly highlights the importance of this pre-historic site and enriches our knowledge about the history of Khirokitia. He further stressed that although he comes from Khirokitia he was not very familiar with the historical facts surrounding the ancient site. The screening of the film he noted helped him appreciate even more his village and his rich inheritance. 


Cypreco Khirokitia Consul ElenaPhoto by: ETA PressCongratulations were also extended to the organizers by the Consul of Greece to New York Mr. Evangelos Kyriakopoulos who also stressed that it was an exceptional pleasure for him to participate to yet another successful event by CYPRECO. Mr. Kyriakopoulos noted that he had the opportunity to visit Khirokitia. The film he said film revived unique memories but also enriched further his knowledge about the historical importance of this pre-historic site. Ms. Kyriakopoulos also congratulated the filmmaker and producer of the documentary for her true commitment to promoting Cyprus and rich history and culture.


A written message from the Consul General of Cyprus to New York Ms. Koula Sofianou who was present earlier at the event was also read. In her greeting message Ms. Sofianou conveyed her most heartfelt wishes and congratulated CYPRECO for “enriching once more the cultural life of the diaspora”. Referring to the screening of the documentary dedicated to Khirokitia, an archeological site of such importance as to be listed in the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List, Ms. Sofianou praised Ms. Maroulleti for her talent stressing that it another example of her effots to enlighten her loyal audience on the rich history and culture of Cyprus. 


Khirokitia SettlementsFilmed on location and based on research on the archeological findings at the site from ongoing excavations the documentary highlights step-by-step with video and narration the history and establishment of the Neolithic Settlement of Khirokitia which dates back to the 7th millennium BC. The unique architecture of this Aceramic village, the methods and materials used to build it is explained at the beginning of the documentary. The Khirokitia complex, unique to Cyprus and the near east, as further explained in the documentary shows the full extent of the exceptional skills of its first the inhabitants who built this village with unique circular houses with flat roofs in comparison to most villages of that period in the Near East which feature rectangular units. 


The documentary also provides an in depth look into the customs, traditions, beliefs and the way of life of the first inhabitants of Khirokitia which are revealed from the discovery of important artifacts such as pottery, tools, jewelry, utensils, rocks of various origins and human remains among other.  In the last part of her documentary the filmmaker brings attention to some remarkable archaeological discoveries during the last decade of the 20th century which challenged Khirokitia as one of the oldest prehistoric settlements of Cyprus. Excavations at the rock-shelter known as Aetokremnos on the Akrotiri Peninsula brought to light archaeological findings dating back to around 10,000 BC while excavations at Pareklissia Shillourokampos brought to light what appeared to be a pre-Khirokitia type architectural remains dating back to the end of the 9th millennium and to the second half of the 8th millennium BC. In Spring 2004 archaeologists digging at Shillourokampos also unearthed a 9,500 year old grave containing the remains of a human and a cat buried with seashells, polished stones, artifacts and other offerings. As stressed in the documentary, despite these new discoveries, to this day the pre-historic site at Khirokitia boasts the largest exposure of architectural remains and it is one of the most comprehensively studied Aceramic Neolithic settlements in the eastern Mediterrannean and one of the most popular archaeological sites on Cyprus visited by thousands of tourists each year. In recognition of its importance, UNESCO included Khirokitia in its World Heritage List in December of 1998 making it the third Cypriot site to be included in this prestigious list.


The event dedicated to Khirokitia which was offered with free admission as a public service was under the auspices of the Cyprus Federation of America and supported by the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York. It was made in part by Arch Capital Services, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cyprus Federation of America.


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