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A Swedish archaeological expedition from the University of Gothenburg has made an extraordinary discovery of tombs outside the Bronze Age trading metropolis of Hala Sultan Tekke in Cyprus. These tombs are among the richest ever found in the Mediterranean region and provide valuable insights into the ancient city's history. The precious artifacts found in the tombs suggest that their occupants held positions of power and authority in the city, which was a significant hub for copper trade between 1500 and 1300 BCE.

Led by Professor Peter Fischer, the expedition team believes that the richness of the grave goods indicates that these were royal tombs, although the exact nature of the city's government during that time remains uncertain. The individuals buried in these tombs likely played a prominent role in governing the city, which was renowned for its involvement in the copper trade.

Situated outside the 50-hectare Bronze Age city, the tombs consist of underground chambers accessed through narrow passages from the surface. These chambers varied in size, with some measuring up to 4 x 5 meters.

The Swedish Söderberg expedition, which has been conducting excavations in Hala Sultan Tekke near the city of Larnaca since 2010, has previously uncovered chamber tombs with valuable grave goods. However, the recently discovered tombs stand out due to the sheer quantity and exceptional quality of the artifacts found within them.

More than 500 complete artifacts were unearthed from the two tombs. Many of these items were crafted from precious metals, gems, ivory, and high-quality ceramics. Approximately half of the artifacts were imported from neighboring cultures. Gold and ivory were sourced from Egypt, while precious stones such as lapis lazuli, carnelian, and turquoise were imported from Afghanistan, India, and Sinai, respectively. The tombs also contained amber objects originating from the Baltic region.

The expedition team utilized magnetometers, instruments capable of producing images revealing objects and structures up to two meters below the surface, to locate the tombs. By comparing the site where broken pottery had been unearthed through farming activities with the magnetometer map, the researchers identified large cavities below the surface, leading them to further investigate the area and ultimately discover the tombs.

Among the well-preserved skeletons found in the tombs was that of a woman surrounded by dozens of ceramic vessels, jewelry, and a polished round bronze mirror. Additionally, a one-year-old child was laid beside her, accompanied by a ceramic toy.

Diadems, adorned with embossed images of bulls, gazelles, lions, and flowers, were worn by several individuals, both men and women. The expedition team also found necklaces with high-quality pendants, likely made in Egypt during the 18th dynasty, a period associated with pharaohs such as Thutmos III, Amenophis IV (Akhenaten), and his wife Nefertiti.

Most of the ceramic vessels originated from Greece, and the expedition team also discovered pots from Turkey, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. The grave goods included bronze weapons, some inlaid with ivory, as well as a gold-framed seal made of the hard mineral hematite, featuring inscriptions of gods and rulers.

Professor Peter Fischer explains that the significant wealth of the entombed individuals was derived from copper production. Nearby mines in the Troodos Mountains yielded copper ore, which was refined in the city. The refined metal was then exported in substantial quantities to neighboring cultures. Copper held great importance as a commodity since it could be combined with tin to produce bronze, a strong alloy that gave its name to the Bronze Age.

The recent discovery of these lavish tombs near Hala Sultan Tekke offers a fascinating glimpse into the opulence and sophistication ofancient Cyprus during the Bronze Age. The rich grave goods found within the tombs provide valuable insights into the lives and status of the city's elite rulers. The University of Gothenburg's archaeological expedition's remarkable findings contribute to our understanding of the ancient Mediterranean region's trade networks and the significance of Hala Sultan Tekke as a center for the copper trade.

The ongoing excavations in Hala Sultan Tekke continue to unveil the secrets of this ancient city, shedding light on its political and economic importance during the Bronze Age. The artifacts discovered not only showcase the wealth and craftsmanship of the time but also highlight the interconnectedness of different cultures through trade and exchange.

The University of Gothenburg's expedition team's meticulous work and use of advanced techniques such as magnetometers demonstrate the significant contributions of modern technology to archaeological research. Through their expertise and dedication, they have unearthed these extraordinary tombs and provided a window into the lives of the city's ruling elite.

The findings from this expedition underscore the importance of archaeological research in uncovering the mysteries of our past. Each discovery adds to the collective knowledge of human history and helps us appreciate the richness and diversity of ancient civilizations.

As the excavations at Hala Sultan Tekke continue, we eagerly await further revelations and insights that will deepen our understanding of this remarkable Bronze Age trading metropolis. The University of Gothenburg's archaeological expedition has undoubtedly made a significant contribution to the field, and their discoveries will undoubtedly inspire future research and exploration in Cyprus and beyond.