A significant archaeological discovery was made in the area of Erimi, near the city Limassol on the southern coast of Cyprus, by a scientific mission from the University of Siena that managed to unearth a temple dating back some 4,000 years.

The excavation was conducted by the Erimi Archaeological Mission, in collaboration with Cyprus’ Department of antiquities and the Italian ministry of foreign affairs.

The lead researcher, Luca Bombardieri, told the Italian news agency ANSA that this find represents the oldest sacred site ever discovered on the large island.

Bombardieri described the temple as a large chamber where a massive monolith was illuminated day and night by a large torch.

This ancient sanctuary, dating to the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1600 BC), is located within what was once a craftsman’s workshop and spans over 1,000 square meters, encompassing workshops, warehouses and dyeing vats. Its existence predates other known temple sites, providing insight into the sophisticated and prosperous lives of the artisan residents in Bronze Age Cyprus.

During the excavation, the team also uncovered the skeleton of a young woman, approximately 20 years old, revealing signs of foul play. Her remains had been deliberately concealed, researchers said, possibly to cover up a crime.

The absence of valuable artifacts in the vicinity possibly shows that customary religious rituals may not have been observed, prompting speculation among researchers of an ancient murder.