Feature

Archaeology in a divided land

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Science  06 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6359, pp. 28-30
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6359.28

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Summary

For the last 5 decades, the island of Cyprus has been riven by political strife. The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, controls the southern two-thirds of the island. But ever since Turkey invaded the island in 1974, the ethnically Turkish Cypriot community has had de facto control of the northern third. Because the international community considers Turkey's presence an illegal occupation, the north is politically isolated from the rest of the world, hit with boycotts, embargoes, sanctions—and a ban on archaeological digs. The political standoff has compromised scientists' understanding of a place that may have been a crucial stepping stone in the spread of the world's first farmers. One archaeologist has defied the Republic of Cyprus to dig at the site of Akanthou in northern Cyprus. This and other sites now show that the island was occupied by 10,000 years ago, far earlier than previously believed.