Department of Antiquities


Kissonerga: stone age water well: Edinburgh University, Department of Antiquities


An infilled shaft revealed by an earth-moving machine on a building site beside the main coastal road at Kissonerga, Pafos was investigated by the Department of Antiquities and Edinburgh University between 7th May and 4th June. The shaft proved to be cylindrical, 75cm. in diameter, and preserved to a depth of 5 meters below the surface of havara bedrock. A number of small niches had been cut into the side of the shaft on the east and the west to accommodate the hands and feet of the people who originally dug the well as they climbed in and out of it. At the base of the shaft were several small natural channels in the bedrock through which water would have flowed, confirming that this was a water well. Water would presumably have been extracted by some sort of bucket, possibly made of leather, on a rope.

Once the well had gone out of use as a water source, it silted up. During the course of its infilling various items fell into the well, or were deliberately dumped or placed there by people. These items included animal bones (of sheep, goat, pig and fallow deer), worked flint, a few stone beads and pendants, and pieces of broken stone vessels that are typical of the early (aceramic) Neolithic period in Cyprus, before pottery came into use. About half way up the shaft was found the poorly preserved skeleton of a young woman. Unfortunately we shall never known how she came to be there.

Neolithic water well, Kissonerga, Pafos, 2009

Towards the base of the well were found an intact small, crude bowl and a dish of much finer quality that had clearly smashed when it fell, or was thrown, in Both were carved from chalk, and were perhaps vessels that had been around the well-head. These and the other finds indicate that this latest well to come to light is of broadly similar date to six other wells that have previously been excavated in the vicinity by a team from the University of Edinburgh. Radiocarbon dates indicate an age of 9,000 to 10,500 years for these wells, placing them amongst the earliest water wells known anywhere in the world.

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