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    Posted: 20-Jan-2008 at 21:12
I really enjoy Bronze Age pre Greek civilizations such as the Minoans and what we now call Cycladic civilization. I have a paper which I have posted before but before I do this what are your thoughts about this civilization. I prefer this topic to the more wastefull controversal ones. The Bronze Age Mediterranean is such a mystery!!

They were connected to the Minoans but I am not sure if they were simply trading partners or the same race.

I did all of my research during the fall of 2001 so it could be outdated by now with new archaeological discoveries.

I know they did not have a written text unless someone has made a recent discovery, any news about this? I have been to the buried ruins on Santorini and it is hard to believe such an advanced culture did not have a written language. It would be a great discovery if they not only found something but also deciphered it.

Sadly, it was the eruption of Thera which put an end to this civilization.

I will post my work only if I see a good response here.

My question is- who were they and what was their world view like?? Anyone is welcome to join me in researching this.


The ruin at akrotiri- I will have to find a scanner so I can post my photos.


http://www.cycladic.gr/index.htm

Cycladic Art Museum

Edited by eaglecap - 20-Jan-2008 at 21:20
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Jan-2008 at 22:16
Well, eagle, you are opening up a can of veritable speculative worms in merging the Cycladic/Helladic to the Minoans [as clearly obvious at Thera]. To run to the shelter of the careful archaeologist, the matter remains so fluid as to be entirely relative with regard to dating. Cry  Is Akrotiri Late Cycladic or simply Early Minoan?
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Jan-2008 at 23:47
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Well, eagle, you are opening up a can of veritable speculative worms in merging the Cycladic/Helladic to the Minoans [as clearly obvious at Thera]. To run to the shelter of the careful archaeologist, the matter remains so fluid as to be entirely relative with regard to dating. Cry  Is Akrotiri Late Cycladic or simply Early Minoan?
 

 


You are correct but speculation is what makes this topic such a mystery! During the eruption of Thera it would have been Early Minoan. Here are some dates from the research I did for the Cycladic Art Museum in Athens.

Early Cycladic Civilization is divided into three major cultural units:

Early Cycladic I 3300/3300 – 2800/2700 BC

Early Cycladic II 2800/2700 – 2400/2300 BC

Early Cycladic III   2400/2300 – 2100/2000 BC

The end of the Cycladic Civilization and Cycladic Art is dated to about 2000 BC, a time when the Minoans were competing with the islanders for domination in the Aegean. Minoan and later Mycenaean art gradually came to dominate all forms of cultural expression in the Cyclades down to the end of the Bronze Age, about 1100 BC
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 01:45
I especially like cycladic idols. Did modern sculptors copy the design or is it some bizzare coincidence?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 02:15
Originally posted by Vorian Vorian wrote:

I especially like cycladic idols. Did modern sculptors copy the design or is it some bizzare coincidence?


I think it is a coincidence but are you in Athens Vorian? I was in Thrake the summer of 2006, my relatives live somewhere around there.

http://www.cycladic.gr/en_version/cyc_collection.htm
This link shows some of the Cycladic statues. I spent a month at the Cycladic Art Museum doing an internship and I would just spend hours looking at the different exhibits.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 13:48
I study in Patra now, so I go to Athens every month or so.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 16:38
Originally posted by Vorian Vorian wrote:

I study in Patra now, so I go to Athens every month or so.





I have been to Patra. My mother was from Korinthos and I also have relatives in Athens. Also in Thrake near the Turkish border, a town called Nea Orestiada. Cycladic Art Museum is one of my favorite in Athens but I have been to many of the Museums and archaeology sites.

Edited by eaglecap - 21-Jan-2008 at 16:38
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 16:46
I love cycladic art too! As for the dates Eaglecap, last time i was in New York, I saw sculpures from ~4000BC which would mean that the early cycladic I might have been stretched a bit.

As for the written language you will have to wait a bit or forever. There's a big problem there. You have cretan hieroglyphics and Linear A. None has been officially dechiphered. There are 3 versions of decipherment that look reliable but...You simply can't have 3 valid decipherments and since there're no complete verifications, we're still in deep waters...


Edited by Flipper - 21-Jan-2008 at 16:49


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 17:06
About akrotiri...I was in Santorini two years ago and the damn archaeological site was closed since an accident had happened a few months before.....*hits head on the wall*
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 17:33
Originally posted by Flipper Flipper wrote:


I love cycladic art too! As for the dates Eaglecap, last time i was in New York, I saw sculpures from ~4000BC which would mean that the early cycladic I might have been stretched a bit.As for the written language you will have to wait a bit or forever. There's a big problem there. You have cretan hieroglyphics and Linear A. None has been officially dechiphered. There are 3 versions of decipherment that look reliable but...You simply can't have 3 valid decipherments and since there're no complete verifications, we're still in deep waters...


From what I have learned in college 40% of Linear A has been deciphered but only because they deciphered Linear B, Mycenaean Greek. That date sounds right. When I did my internship at the Museum of Cycladic Art I would study these figures sometimes for hours. I have my own black and white photos but I have to find a scanner to put them on with. It would be nice if I could post my pics with this.

I decided to put on the rest of the work I did for the Cycladic Art Museum- go visit their web site.

Cycladic Civilization- Teacher’s Book

Cycladic civilization

The term “Cycladic Civilization” was first used at the end of the 19th century by the archaeologist Christos Tsountas, to describe “the picture of the ancient island civilization” investigated by him, which evolved in the Cyclades during the Early Bronze Age, from about 3200-2000 BC.

The Cycladic islanders were a seafaring people who crisscrossed the Aegean in their boats, exchanging goods and ideas. Farming, stock-raising, fishing, and hunting were the daily pastimes of the inhabitants, who lived permanently in small settlements, at first by the coasts and later on the slopes of hills. The existence of an abundance of excellent quality marble, obsidian- a volcanic rock found on the island of Milos- and Naxian emery, had a decisive influence on the life and art of the islanders. At the same time, use of metals and the flourishing of metal-working led to the creation of new, more specialized tools, making it easier and quicker to produce artifacts, and consequently leading to the flowering trade.

Early Cycladic Civilization is divided into three major cultural units:

Early Cycladic I 3300/3300 – 2800/2700 BC

Early Cycladic II 2800/2700 – 2400/2300 BC

Early Cycladic III   2400/2300 – 2100/2000 BC

The end of the Cycladic Civilization and Cycladic Art is dated to about 2000 BC, a time when the Minoans were competing with the islanders for domination in the Aegean. Minoan and later Mycenaean art gradually came to dominate all forms of cultural expression in the Cyclades down to the end of the Bronze Age, about 1100 BC.

Metal-working
The use of metals, especially bronze, in the 3rd millennium BC, made a major contribution to the evolution of Cycladic Civilization. The “metal revolution” was slow to develop, but when it was firmly established it brought about enormous changes in spheres such as the manufacture of weapons and tool. This change in turn had repercussions for trade, since the use of more specialized tools led to greater production of goods in a shorter space of time. The difficulty involved in finding sources of the various metals, and their transportation and processing meant the metal objects were comparatively rare. In addition to bronze, the islanders were also familiar with and used other metals, such as lead and silver.

The source of bronze in the Early Cycladic period had not yet been established. Recent analysis of bronze objects have revealed that the Cycladic islanders used arsenic-containing alloys: the admixture of arsenic makes bronze easier to work at different temperatures, and also harder, so that it can be used for durable tools. Bronze was used mainly in the manufacture of weapons (spear-and arrow-heads, daggers, etc. ) and for various other items, such as tweezers and pins.

The source of lead, and by extension of silver, which is extracted from lead by the process of cupellation, is thought to have been the island of Siphnos. Lead, which is a very soft metal, was used to make a variety of small objects, such as finger rings, “clamps” to repair broken pots, and more rarely, models of ships and figurines. Silver, finally was used mainly for jewelry: bracelets, beads and diadems.

Daily life
Architecture

The evidence for Cycladic Civilization derives exclusively from archaeological finds, since there are no written records for this period. Very few settlements have been excavated, and our knowledge is accordingly based mainly on cemeteries and the finds yielded by them. On Naxos, a little precious evidence for the architecture of the Early Cycladic period is furnished by the settlements of Korphi t’ Aroniou, Korphari ton Amygdalon, Kastraki and Grotta.

From the EC I period there are virtually no architectural remains, a circumstance which suggests that the houses were huts made of perishable materials. According to recent archaeological finds from Phylakopi on Milos, however, at least some of the buildings of this period must have been of stone.

When Cycladic Civilization was at its zenith (EC II – EC IIIA), the builder’s art had developed to a high level. The house-plans were rectilinear or curved, depending on the space available. The walls were built of small stones and a binding agent, and in some cases the interiors were plastered with a clay solution containing straw. The doors had wooden leaves and the floor consisted of trodden earth or stone slabs.

The houses were probably heated by portable braziers and by hearths that were sunk in the floor or built of stone, which were also used for cooking purposes. Clay or stone lamps and probably also torches provided lighting inside of the houses after dark.

Furniture

Our information about the way houses were furnished at this period is derived from certain types of marble figurine. Male and female figures are depicted seated on stools and thrones (a kind of high-backed seat). The variety of seats indicates that the furniture of the period was not confined to purely functional items, but aspired to more complex forms. The technological advances of this time, moreover, led to the making of specialized wood working tools, such as axes, drills, chisels and saws.

Diet

Most of the everyday tasks performed by the inhabitants of the Cyclades during the Early Bronze Age were associated with the securing and production of food.

Cultivation of the soil was one of the basic occupations of the islanders, especially on the larger islands, and above all on Naxos, which will have possessed fertile, cultivable areas at this early date, as today. The basic diet consisted of cereals (barley and wheat), pulses (lentils and peas), olives, and various kinds of fruit and nuts. Fish and sea-food, as well as game, supplement the daily table.

In addition to farming, stock-raising was also one of the daily occupations of the inhabitants of the Cyclades. Sheep, goats, cows, and pigs provided them with meat and milk, as well as with hides and wool. They were also used in a variety of agricultural tasks, such as ploughing, and for transportation purposes.

Clothing

Very little evidence is available for the kind of clothes worn during the Early Cycladic period. The loomwieghts, brooches for fastening clothing, and pins that have been discovered suggest that spinning and probably also weaving were already quite advanced, and that the ancient inhabitants of the Cyclades wore not only sheepskins and leather, but also wool textiles.

Trade
The sea that washes the islands at once isolates and unites them, played a decisive role in the evolution of Cycladic Civilization. Despite being self-sufficient in agricultural produce, Naxos also engaged in trade, the bartering of goods giving the inhabitants an opportunity to become acquainted with other men, ideas and civilizations.

Finds like the obsidian arrow-heads from Milos attest to relations between the two islands as early as Neolithic times, in the 14th millennium BC. During the early Cycladic period, bronze and lead came from Siphnos, and Naxian emery, valued for its abrasive properties, has been found at almost every known Cycladic settlement. The goods exported by Naxos will certainly have included the farm produce needed by smaller, frequently barren, islands.

Our only evidence for the form of Early Cycladic ships comes from representations on frying-pans vessels, and from the marble slab depicting a ship and two human figures, and from three lead models of ships found in a tomb on Naxos. Cycladic ships were apparently long and narrow, were driven by oars and equipped with a keel.

Burial Customs
Most of the artifacts associated with Cycladic Civilization have been discovered in tombs, since archaeologists have concentrated their interest on the investigation of tombs and cemeteries. Consequently, we have greater knowledge of burial customs of the period than everyday life.

The tomb of the Early Cycladic I period are cist-like pits with a rectangular plan. Their dimension range from 0.80 to 1.20 m. long and 0.30 to 1.00 m wide. Their sides were lined with upright slabs of stones, corbelled out. Each tomb was intended for only a single occupant, who was buried in the contracted position, with the knees drawn up to the stomach. The dead person was frequently accompanied by personal objects, such as vases, figurines, weapons, jewelry, etc.

In the Early Cycladic II period, tombs continued to be mostly rectangular, though more rarely also circular in shape, but they were now used for successive burials; one consequence of this practice was the creation of two- or three storey tombs. The lower section of the tomb were used as ossuaries on the occasion of each new internment. When the bones were moved, the islanders took care not to move the skull of the dead person, a custom with their belief about the life after death. The special attention paid to the head is also attested by the discovery in many of the tombs of this period of a small slab used as a pillow.

The Cycladic islanders, then, believed that their loved ones lived on after death, in a different world that was unknown to them. They probably believed that if the personal effects of the dead person were placed in the tomb, the deceased would have no reason to return and harm the living. Their fears for the dead may also account for their being buried in a very small space: in some cases bodies were so strongly contracted that it seems likely that they were originally tied with open ropes or bands.

Religious beliefs
Our knowledge of the religious beliefs of the Cycladic islanders is very scant indeed. The complete lack of written sources makes it very difficult to understand their religious convictions. Furthermore, the fact that very few Early Cycladic settlements have been excavated, in comparison with the cemeteries, obliges us to approach the subject mainly from the point of view of the burial customs of the time. As we have already seen, the inhabitants of the Cyclades believed that life continued in some form after death. Their respect for the dead went beyond the placing of the deceased person’s personal items in the tomb, and probably also found expression in ceremonies conducted in the cemeteries. This thesis supported by the discovery of exedrae in cemeteries, accompanied by ritual vessels in the case of the cemetery at Ayioi Anargyroi on Naxos. A large number of vase types are considered to have been ritual vessels: the large flat vases in the form of animals with several containers (kernoi), footed krateriskoi (“lamp”), and probably also the “frying- pan” vessels. In the case of the last named, it has been asserted both that they had a practical use (as mirrors, astrolabes, or plates) and they were ritual objects: their frequent presence in tombs, along with the fact that they are decorated with religious symbols, are strong indications that these vessels had a sacred character. Apart from the cemeteries, little is known to scholarship bout the cult places of the Cyclades. The remains of a makeshift structure at Korphi t’ Aroniou on Naxos, where ten marble slabs with pitted representations were also discovered, may be regarded as a place in which cult rituals took place. These slabs were dedicated by the inhabitants of the island to the deity, probably in order to secure divine protection for their daily tasks, such as hunting, stock raising, trade, etc.

The marble figurines, finally, are thought to be unique representations of the supernatural forces in which the Cycladic islanders believed. The significance of the figurines in the eyes of the ancient islanders is beyond our knowledge, however, since all attempt to interpret them (see below) are base exclusively on the evidence of excavations.

Pottery
Clay, found naturally in great abundance and presenting no difficulties in working, was the raw material used in making vases and vessels, both for everyday use an for ritual purposes. Pottery is the most common of archaeological finds and furnishes evidence for life and art in the ancient world.

During the Early Cycladic I period, the clay used was in its natural form, impure and unsieved. Vases were handmade, and in no case is there anything to suggest the use of the potter’s wheel. The shapes were few in number and very simple: semiglobular vases with or without a foot (krateriskoi) and Pyxides (vases in which small objects were kept, which were imitations of wooden models). After being shaped, the vases were left to dry and then given a coating of better-quality clay. After this they were smoothed, probably with the aid of a bone tool, and the surface was decorated with incised linear designs, frequently arranged rather like a herring bone pattern. Vases had a variety of shades of colour, ranging from a dark brown to black, and occasionally red, depending on the degree of firing.

In the Early Cycladic II period there was a greater variety of vase shapes: piriform vases, askoi, krateriskoi, bowls (shallow plates, resembling the modern soup bowl), aryballoi, ect. This period also saw the first appearance of “frying pan” vessels, the function of which is still unknown. They have been interpreted as mirrors, astrolabes, plates, and offering vessels. The motifs with which these vessels are decorated are mainly spirals, and circles, and also sun, boats, and fish. The clay used is pure, and the vases have thin walls. The firing is normally of a better quality and the vases have a more lustrous surface. The predominant motif is the spiral, and the decorative techniques employed are embossing, with wooden stamps and painting.

In the Early Cycladic III period, the quality and charm of the shapes declined. A characteristic feature of this period is interest in detail, which makes the vases more functional.

Marble vases and vessels
The white marble found on the islands, especially Naxos and Paros, was the normal material used by the islanders to manufacture stone vases. Naxos, indeed, was an important centre of stone-carving, as is clear from a large number of finds.

Initially, there was limited range of shapes. Those widely found were shallow bowl, conical cups, krateriskoi (“lamps”) and rectangular plates (“palettes”) with holes in the corners. The lack of variety and the limited number of versions of the shapes known is probably the result of the undeveloped technology of the time, though the symmetrical shape of the majority of vases betrays the use of some kind of slow drill.

During the time when Cycladic Civilization was at its zenith there was a greater range of shapes: pyxides of various types, frequently zoomorphic, bowls, kylikes, and also “frying pans” vessels. The rich decorative motifs were rendered by incision, in relief, and more rarely carved in the round. The type of vase with doves – a tray decorated on the inside with stylized doves worked in the round – also dates from this period.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 17:36
Originally posted by Vorian Vorian wrote:

About akrotiri...I was in Santorini two years ago and the damn archaeological site was closed since an accident had happened a few months before.....*hits head on the wall*


what happend some tourist bump their head. Probably for legal reasons but it will be opened. I was there a few years ago although Santorini is getting too touristy for me now.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 21:24
Eaglecap do you have more info on that 40% of Linear being deciphered? I have many PDFs from the international linguist symposiums in Crete and from what I know you have some words like REI, ASTARTE, TINU (tinos???) and JIATI. Do you have any examples of this 40%? I would like to see it.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 21:53
Originally posted by Flipper Flipper wrote:

Eaglecap do you have more info on that 40% of Linear being deciphered? I have many PDFs from the international linguist symposiums in Crete and from what I know you have some words like REI, ASTARTE, TINU (tinos???) and JIATI. Do you have any examples of this 40%? I would like to see it.


I learned this from my old professor at Eastern Washington University in a class about Hellenism. He is retired now but I can email him or Dr. Bazemore who was an Archaeologist in Cyprus for 20 years. Her expertise is Bronze Age cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean. It could take up to a week to get a reponse.

I can try and yahoo it as well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 22:07
Oh, don't worry...Please do that if you don't mind. I would love to know.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 23:58
Originally posted by Flipper Flipper wrote:

Oh, don't worry...Please do that if you don't mind. I would love to know.


I would be happy to so I will email them tonight but today is a legal holiday-Martin Luther King Day- so they won't get it till tomorrow. I came across one article in Archaeology which had an article about one man's theory that connected the Minoan language with semitic languages but that was about 4/5 years ago.
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Hug


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Leonidas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2008 at 09:17
i am also waiting eagle, Tongue
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote xristar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2008 at 10:45
Mmm...I had a book on Linear B. There it mentioned Linear A as well. What seems to have happened is that some symbols (letters) are the same in Linear A and B. However, when applying the same sound on these letters in Linear A as in Linear B, the words produced have no meaning.
Which leads into two conclusions: Either the same symbols do not have the same phonetical value (do not represent the same sound), OR the words decyphered and the whole Linear A script are part of a language different to that of Linear B (greek that is), which would make decyphering very difficult.

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For those without background but with infinite curiosity there is a good web site that provides a sound introduction: The Prehistoric Archaeology of the Aegean
 
 
Now, in a statement that is not calculated to raise ethnic ire but probably will with regard to the pre-Helladic Aegean, one must assume in view of Neolithic Saliagos and the Kephala culture of Kos that Linear A must reflect an Anatolian language in the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. In this respect, one has to integrate the evidence at Kos, which not only is indicative of a fourth millenium commonality with early Knossos and with Varna, Maxos, and coastal Laconia, but also reflects artistic characteristics that later become typically Cycladic. True Kephala has its closest parallel in Attica (e.g. Kolonna and Thorikos); nevertheless, when surviving artifacts with an in situ provenance are considered the association of insular Aegean with the Saliagos culture and its maritime associations (a fishing culture) can be strongly inferred. The Neolithic strata of the Cyclades has to be considered a priori before any speculation on Cycladic culture in terms of precedence to the Helladic culture period as represented by Eutresis and the evidence for a smooth and pacific transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze, which is not evidenced on the Greek mainland . 
 
Sorry to appear to diverge from the inquisitiveness over Linear A and B; yet, consideration of such really distracts from any analysis as to the origins of the Cycladic.
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PS: Above, eagle makes reference to tombs and the Cycladic. Juxtapose the description found there with this summation of burials from Kos and Kephala Culture:
 
 
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