Diggers discover Phoenician army complex in Cyprus

NICOSIA Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:20pm IST

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NICOSIA (Reuters Life!) - Archaeologists in Cyprus have discovered what could be the remains of a garrison used by Phoenician soldiers in an ancient city founded by a hero of the Trojan war.

Buildings overlooking a previously discovered Phoenician complex more than 2,000 years old were found at the ancient city of Idalion, the island's Antiquities department said on Friday.

The complex, linked by a tower, were found to discover metal weapons, inscriptions and pieces of a bronze shield.

"The complex may have been used by the soldiers who guarded the tower," the department said in a news release.

Idalion was founded by Chalcanor, a descendant of Troy's King Priam, according to the Antiquities department.

The earliest remains of human occupation in the area date to 7,000 B.C.

Phoenicians captured the city in the middle of the fifth century B.C, and governed it for 150 years.

The wider complex, believed to be either a palace or administrative center, is considered to be the largest identified so far in Cyprus. Excavations started in 1991.

Strictly defensive in character, the complex has interior streets and courtyards guarded by towers, while inscriptions have been found in the area recording tax collecting, the antiquities department said.

It said it planned to open the complex to the public soon.

(Writing by Michele Kambas, editing by Paul Casciato)

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