By Anna Hassapi
POLICE ARE investigating what they believe to be the attempted theft of a giant 2,000-year-old standing stone (tripiti), which was been removed from the archaeological site in Pissouri.
Although police later found the stone in a nearby field, it is believed that thieves intended to return with proper equipment to transport the massive monument.
“This attempted theft is an act of mindless vandalism, of contempt for the people of Cyprus and the community this ancient monument belongs to,” said one concerned local, who asked to remain anonymous.
“It was a site of considerable beauty and archaeological interest,” he added.
Archaeologists believe that these stones were the height of olive oil extraction technology 2,000 years ago, before the superior Roman screw-press was invented.
In addition, they were always associated with a temple, and later a church as they were institutions with considerable power and wanted to control the important income from the olive mills.
The incident took place approximately a week ago and was immediately reported by a local resident to the Pissouri Police Station and the village council.
The village council has been trying to reach the Antiquities Department to report the case, but claims that the state authority will not answer its telephone calls.
“Someone illegally entered the site and removed the stone. It appears that because of its massive weight, the thieves were unable to take it far and left it in a nearby field.
“We have already alerted the police and have been trying to reach the Antiquities Department for the past two days without success,” said Pissouri Village Council Secretary Petros Foutas.
“The stone used to lie on high ground next to an Aristo Development plot. It has significant archaeological value, as does the area where it was found, which has been proclaimed a site of archaeological significance. The stone was a remnant of the historical value of our village,” he added.
It is believed that a bulldozer was used to remove the priceless relic but was unable to transport it far.
“We will definitely be investigating the case, but at present cannot point the finger at anyone,” Foutas explained.
The stone was the last remaining of three tripiti stones that used to lie on the site, with the two other stones already having been stolen, presumably to decorate private gardens.
“The history of Cyprus is written on the surface of the land, and the landscape is being obliterated by a monstrous army of earth-moving plants whose drivers and owners seem to think it is great to rip the landscape apart, destroying the historical record, the beauty of Cyprus and the environment, and burying it under an ocean of concrete as they please.
“Few seem to be either particularly shocked or even very interested in stopping this,” the Pissouri resident added.