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THE NATION | SCIENCE FILE

Eavesdropping Yields Archeologist a Rare Find

January 25, 2003|Thomas H. Maugh II | Times Staff Writer

Sitting in a Cyprus cafe near the end of the summer digging season, University of Cincinnati archeologist Gisela Walberg overheard locals discussing an apparently undisturbed ancient site.

She thought it might be only a local legend, but when she investigated, she discovered a late-Bronze Age tomb containing more than 200 artifacts from the 13th to 11th centuries BC.

Two other tombs, near the town of Bamboula, where Walberg had been excavating another site, had been looted. But one remained intact. "I was thrilled," Walberg said.

One rare discovery was a jar, or pithos, containing bones belonging to a person who had suffered from thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder that causes bones to become extremely porous. The find was unusual because bones placed in such containers are usually burned first.

A nearby well yielded a pottery shard with a relief of men and bulls. The well also contained skeletal remains from 36 dogs. "There are no signs of trauma," she said. "The dogs are young, but not puppies. It's not clear why there are so many together in this spot. It's a puzzle."

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